|The Apex of Western Civilization|
Afscme Local 444, retired
Whenever I am not quite sure what position to take on an issue, I try to think deeply about which choice advances the interests of the working class, not just domestically, but internationally. That choice is the correct one. Every worker should openly oppose racism for example because it is harmful to our class interests. Racism is important to the ruling class, to capitalism, as it is an obstacle to working class unity and without this unity, it will be impossible to build a future for our children and save the planet from the environmental catastrophe that capitalism has in store.
The United States is still the most powerful economy in the world. It has been in a perpetual state of war since its formation in order to reach this point. Since the collapse of the monstrous Stalinist regime in the former Soviet Union and a similar though not identical process taking place in China that has yet to play out, we are witnessing increased tension between major nation states as they compete with each other for control of the world’s resources and profits.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The US ruling class welcomed a shift to the so-called free market economy from former Stalinist states, but what Washington wanted was a subservient ally that would give US capitalism access to cheap labor power and new markets. The collapse of the old Soviet Union and the old bi-polar world with a sharing of influence between these two great powers gave a certain stability that no longer exists.
After two global wars that cost millions of lives, the US emerged as the dominant world power controlling over 50% of world trade after World War Two. After the Soviet Union’s demise under its own weight, the 21st century was supposed to be the American Century we were told, and the Wall Street Journal announced “We Won”. Another major capitalist journal pointed out that The Eagle Has Landed. The “American” century lasted about 10 years.
With the rise of China and to a lesser extent Russia, there is increased tension and conflict between these great powers, particularly between the US and China. This is a natural outcome of capitalism which is a competitive system of production, a global economic system in which competing nation states vie for dominance within the framework of a global economy.
The initial glee at the collapse of Stalinism has turned in to its opposite as China threatens US capitalism’s global dominance further. While the threat is not immediate as the existence of nuclear weapons has acted as an obstacle to a war between major powers, it would be foolish to think that they have all these nuclear bombs and weaponry never to use them. It's unlikely because the consequences are so dire, the potential for the end of life as we know it. There are numerous proxy powers that might do so, a rogue state like Israel for example, the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
With the rise of the degenerate Trump, and the November elections ahead, there is a feeling among millions of US Americans that the world will end if he isn’t voted out of office. The political choices in the US are very limited, with the US being home to two of the most powerful capitalist parties in the world leaving workers and much of the middle class without a political voice. In desperation, there is a huge drive to elect the corporate shrill Joe Biden.
“Whatever you do, vote blue”, is one of the slogans. The choices are so distasteful that more often than not we are told in the mass media and by celebrities, sports millionaires and the like, to simply, “VOTE”. Raising the banner for the alternative to Trump and the Republicans is not easy to do and seeming to defend the right to vote and encouraging you to do so is a dishonest way of calling for a vote for Biden and the Democratic Party without mentioning them.
But when it comes to China and US foreign policy in general, Biden and the Democrats, should they oust Trump, will continue the aggressive stance toward one of the few states that can challenge it for global influence. China has already surpassed the US as the world’s largest trading partner. And Biden, who Trump has accused of weakness, with regard to China, will have to prove Trump wrong; his manhood depends on. More importantly, the dominance of US capitalism is at stake and like any US president, his job is to defend it. Biden represents that section of the US ruling class that longs for a more stable world where profit taking is not so much of a roller coaster ride, but that will not be easy, especially as the pandemic has changed everything and US capitalism has shown itself to be the least prepared for a global crisis like the coronavirus.
What is important for wage workers to understand is that whether they reside in the capitalist parties of the world or the repressive bureaucratic clique that dominates what they refer to as the Chinese Communist Party, none of these squabbles between the leaders of major powers, are conflicts in which workers should take sides or have any interests.
Many of Biden’s advisors are from the Obama era, “I think there is a broad recognition in the Democratic Party that Trump was largely accurate in diagnosing China’s predatory practices,” Kurt Campbell, who was Obama’s top Asia advisor told the media. I think if Biden is elected, we will find that many of Trump’s decisions and executive orders will stay in place.
Many Congressional Democrats are pressuring Biden to keep some of the Trump Tariffs, and here’s where that language thing is important; their reason for this is to “protect American workers”. This is a lie of course; it is to protect American capitalist’s profits. The Democratic Party has not protected US workers at all as the declining living standards and attacks have continued under Democratic and Republican administrations alike.
The very best that could be said of the Democratic Party is that the decline in living standards and worsening conditions continues at a slightly slower pace.
It’s the same lie they tell when they claim in the mass media that raising wages will mean a loss of jobs or that they won’t hire. Wages and prices are not organically linked---wages and profits are. If the market can bear it, (supply and demand) a capitalist will raise prices anytime, and if they can’t and workers, through withholding our labor power or slowing the labor process down in some way, force a wage increase on them, then they eat it in profits. They won’t go on that holiday this year. They won’t buy the SUV, send their kid to that private school. But they never explain it this way because they want us to think that raising wages means job losses or higher prices for us as consumers. Better have a low paying job than no job.
Biden will undoubtedly have a different personal approach and will return to the more polite two faced dishonesty of diplomatic relations between capitalist powers than Trumps’ crude gangster like style. But while Biden, like many of his class colleagues, is overconfident and underestimates the situation, telling an audience in Iowa in 2019 “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” in order to show what a tough guy he is, the nature of the system drives these powers in to further conflict.
The US government’s attack on Huwei is about blocking China’s tech industry and preventing it from competing successfully with the US in a field where the US has global dominance up to now. But either way, this too is a war in which working people have no side. And what must Chinese workers think hearing statements like that from a US politician? The US mass media broadcasts any negative statements about the US when foreign leaders make them in order to draw US workers on to their boat.
They will try to make it work, after all, US and China trade in 2019 was more than $500 billion. Plus, Biden has made climate change an issue. He has referred to it as an “existential threat” and millions of people, especially the youth, agree with that. Biden needs China’s cooperation on climate issues.
The US also claims, as does Trump, that China is authoritarian and doesn’t respect democratic values. Biden claims that his attitude toward China would be to promote democracy and human rights. If they were to be honest, surely most US workers find this somewhat hypocritical. US capitalism has supported or installed some of the world’s most ruthless authoritarian regimes. Mobutu, the Shah of Iran. Pinochet in Chile. US intelligence has confirmed that the present head of Saudi Arabia is behind the killing of the Saudi dissident Kamal Kashoggi who was a US citizen but no sanctions there. The CIA itself is no stranger to assassinations and the overthrow of regimes that are not friendly to US corporations like the Albenz regime in Guatemala, Mossadegh in Iran or the billions spent supporting right wing fascist elements in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Unfortunately, most US workers learn about geography after the US bombs a country and we see little maps of it on CNN. The heavily censored US mass media has been very effective in keeping workers in the dark about world affairs and geopolitical relations. In a summer Pew Research Center poll, 73% of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of China, just 22% a favorable one. In 2011, 51% had a positive view, 36% a negative one.
But. Can they point to it on a map?
The world economy is more integrated than ever before. Companies like Apple, WalMart, and other retailers not to mention Caterpillar and airline manufacturer Boeing, or Motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson depend heavily on foreign markets for profits and labor power.
I believe US workers know how rotten our government is, but at least it’s ours is the excuse. But the government is not “ours” it is a capitalist government just as the government of England’s Elizabeth 1st was a feudal state despite the rural peasantry being the most populous. Class solidarity both at home and abroad is the only way out of this nationalist trap.
As I am quite critical of the Democratic Party here, and always have been, I need to stress a point. In the US if you are either a Republican or Democrat and being political for the most part simply means voting, sticking a piece of paper in a ballot box. But this criticism isn’t an attempt to support the Republican Party, and certainly not suggesting anyone should vote for the sexual predator and racist, Trump.
Kimberly Klacik is a Black woman running for Congress from Maryland’s 7th District which includes Baltimore. She has produced a very effective ad that shows her walking through Baltimore past dilapidated homes and shattered buildings. She gives alarming statistics about crime and poverty and how the Democrats have governed cities like Baltimore and Black people have nothing to show for it. It is a very powerful ad and I understand Trump has used it to strengthen his argument that the cities, mostly run by Democrats are a dismal failure and he’s the “law and order” president. This will resonate with some. Trump has already called for the death penalty for the person(s) who critically wounded two cops in LA as defended the 17 year-old fascist who murdered two peaceful demonstrators protesting police violence in Kenosha WI.
The problem with Ms Klacik’s ad, and her politics of course, is that she never mentions what her solution to this urban blight is. But we know what her solution is and what Trump’s is as well; that is law and order, mass incarceration, weak or non-existent unions and continuing the school to prison pipeline.
Trump has yet to apologize for taking out a full-page ad calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five who were wrongly imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. They were young children basically.
The crisis in the inner cities is a product of the so-called free enterprise system. It is also a racial problem as it is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and people of African descent being completely ostracized and denied access to any of the benefits of a so-called democratic society for hundreds of years. That median household net worth of Black families is 10 times less than whites, ($17,000 and $171,000 respectively) is a legacy of this racial history not personal flaws or weaknesses in the Black communities.
The only thing we need to know about Ms Klacik is she is an opportunist, an enemy of the working class, in particular Black workers, and that while she highlights the violence and serious social problems that the free market generates, her solution is to attack workers and the poor and serve the interests of Wall Street, hedge fund managers and other parasites like the present occupant of the White House.
We can expect no relief from these two parties of Wall Street, Michael Bloomberg, the 12th richest man in the world is donating $100 million to help Joe Biden in Florida, Bloomberg, Bernie, Biden, all in the same pot together. You think for one minute he doesn’t want something in return.
No, workers find ourselves once again without a political voice in the electoral arena. Building a powerful anti-capitalist workers movement and an independent political party rooted in this movement is the task before us.