Tuesday, June 30, 2020

BlackRock’s Rise Reveals The Dark Direction Of Monopoly Capitalism

Matt Taibbi concluded that the 2008 Wall Street bailout had “built a banking system that discriminates against community banks, makes Too Big to Fail banks even Too Bigger to Failier, increases risk, discourages sound business lending and punishes savings by making it even easier and more profitable to chase high-yield investments than to compete for small depositors.” In this post-crash environment, the largest financial institutions gained more of a hegemonic grip than ever, with the five biggest banks having come to own almost half the industry by 2015.

With this year’s even larger economic crash, the process of monopolization and financialization has gone several steps further. The re-bailout of Wall Street began last fall, when the Federal Reserve had to respond to the first undeniable indications that another crash was approaching. Since then, the Fed has given out hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare as part of its Covid-19 stimulus package, with the big banks getting the best deals from the bailout. The big banks have also exploited the crisis to gain long-wanted deregulations, with the post-2008 rules on financial risk-taking having recently been lifted.

But the type of monopoly finance capitalism that’s emerged with this latest crash involves more sinister developments than these reinforcements of the power of the biggest banks. The entity that’s benefitted the most from the crisis isn’t a traditional bank like Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan, but a corporation called BlackRock-which has been called the world’s largest shadow bank. Since the Fed tapped BlackRock to carry out three government debt-buying programs that relate to the Covid-19 stimulus, the company has made millions off of this job while gaining unparalleled dominance over finance. BlackRock’s pivotal role in the operation was no accident; BlackRock itself authored the plan for a bailout before there even was a crisis.

The initial implication of BlackRock’s facilitation of the Fed’s pandemic response is what Pepe Escobar has called the “Wall Street-ization of the Fed.” The plan behind this, as Escobar explains, is essentially a scheme to consolidate the economy so that BlackRock can increase its profits and its leverage over industry:

Wall Street has turned the Fed into a hedge fund. The Fed is going to own at least two thirds of all U.S. Treasury bills wallowing in the market before the end of the year. The U.S. Treasury will be buying every security and loan in sight while the Fed will be the banker — financing the whole scheme. So essentially this is a Fed/Treasury merger. A behemoth dispensing loads of helicopter money — with BlackRock as the undisputable winner. BlackRock is widely known as the biggest money manager on the planet. Their tentacles are everywhere. They own 5% of Apple, 5% of Exxon Mobil, 6% of Google, second largest shareholder of AT&T (Turner, HBO, CNN, Warner Brothers) — these are just a few examples. They will buy all these securities and manage those dodgy special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) on behalf of the Treasury.

Both financially and politically, BlackRock has become the dominant force of the corporatocracy. BlackRoch is bigger than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank combined, and it’s a major donor to both Republican and Democratic candidates. Now that it’s the operating system of the Fed and the Treasury, it holds a monopoly on the currency system of the United States; since it controls how the money is distributed, it controls who gets the money.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that federal aid will now excusively go to the big banks and corporations. But it represents a shift towards a dark phase in monopoly capitalism, one where BlackRock and its political and business partners use their newly consolidated economic control to further the process of neoliberal inequality. While the country’s crises bring profits for the ruling circle of business elites in Wall Street and Silicon Valley, the people at large are falling into poverty and being exploited more. The job market has shrunk as tens of millions have permanently become unemployed, and all the household debt that working class people have accumulated since the Great Recession is becoming far less manageable. In addition to the big banks, the only winners are the big companies that can save money on shrunken labor costs, or that can profit from the pandemic in various ways.

BlackRock, with its dominance over the system’s means of financial distribution, represents the structural foundation of the global corporatocracy that’s oppressing people within and outside of the imperial core. In Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin described finance capital as serving the central function of generating profits from imperialist exploitation. So the big financial institutions serve the role of the empire’s engine for transferring wealth upward to the ruling oligarchy, with BlackRock now being the dominant facet of the great financial machine.

“Finance capital, concentrated in a few hands and exercising a virtual monopoly, exacts enormous and ever-increasing profits from the floating of companies, issue of stock, state loans, etc., strengthens the domination of the financial oligarchy and levies tribute upon the whole of society for the benefit of monopolists,” Lenin wrote in Finance Capital and the Financial Oligarchy. “Here is an example, taken from a multitude of others, of the business methods of the American trusts, quoted by Hilferding. In 1887, Havemeyer founded the Sugar Trust by amalgamating fifteen small firms, whose total capital amounted to 6,500,000 dollars. Suitably ‘watered’, as the Americans say, the capital of the trust was declared to be 50 million dollars. This ‘overcapitalisation’ anticipated the monopoly profits, in the same way as the United States Steel Corporation anticipates its monopoly profits in buying up as many iron ore fields as possible.”

The modern versions of those trusts are using similar methods to gain an unprecedented amount of control over the economy, and to accelerate the decline of living standards for everyone but the rich. The only thing the working class has to look forward to is a “gig economy” where housecleaning, delivery service, and what remains of retail are the main employment options, while unemployment remains so high that you’re lucky if you can get a job. This will be exacerbated by the coming austerity measures, which BlackRock’s Trump administration allies aim to carry out. The climate crisis, which BlackRock is hugely contributing to, will be the next phase in the pushing of Americans and others towards Third World conditions; storms, floods, and droughts are expected to drive over 100 million people into poverty by 2030 alone.

BlackRock has emerged as the top player in this brutal late-stage neoliberal order, a “vampire squid” that profits from the intensifying exploitation of the proletariat and the overall decay of society. The fact that it’s now the central part of American capitalism has exposed our system for what it is: a plutocracy that’s slowly imploding in on itself and feeding off of the resulting carnage.
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If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here:

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Bloody Horrors Of Pinochet Showed How Capitalism Will Respond When It’s Threatened

The reason why Pinochet’s regime tortured and killed tens of thousands of people, and why Pinochet’s far-right modern admirers glorify his actions, has to do with the psychology of power. Namely, the desire of the powerful to assert their power over the dominated group. When it’s in the context of the powerful stamping down a rebellion from the underclass, this desire to enact violence and cruelty in order to maintain one’s own control is especially strong.

So it’s no coincidence that Pinochet had the mission of suppressing a potential lower class revolt. His regime came to power after the CIA ousted Chile’s democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende, and Pinochet and his “Chicago Boys” had the task of proliferating neoliberal policies despite the broad popular opposition that these policies were naturally met with. As Margaret Thatcher said about why the global capitalist class embraced neoliberalism, “there is no alternative”-if these radical austerity and privatization measures weren’t carried out, the recession of the 70s would keep making capitalist profits drop, and the whole system would potentially fall apart. If the ruling class wanted to keep their power, neoliberalism would have to be realized by any means necessary.

By the judgment of Pinochet and his supporters in the neoliberal and imperialist elite, the things that his regime’s victims endured were merely the cost of making this task to preserve the power structure succeed. Neoliberal economist Friedrich Hayek said about Pinochet that it’s possible for a “dictator to govern in a liberal way,” and that he preferred a “liberal dictator” to “a democratic government lacking liberalism.” Henry Kissinger said about Pinochet’s regime that “I think we should understand our policy — that however unpleasant they act, the government is better for us than Allende was. So we shouldn’t support moves against them by seemingly disassociating.”

It’s important to understand exactly which actions these figures were condoning. Lux de las Nieves Ayress Moreno, one of the people who was arrested by Pinochet’s police for actively opposing the regime, wrote about her experiences:

I was in various detention centers but the one I remember most was called Tejas Verdes…This is how Pinochet tortured me: they took me prisoner with my father and my fifteen year-old brother Tato…it was an impressive operation [and] they took us to a house where the Military Intelligence Service was stationed…they threw me on the floor covered with water and applied electric shot to my entire body, but especially the breasts, vagina, anus, eyes, mouth, and neck…then they called my father and began to torture him in front of me so that I would speak, all the while beating me…then they called my brother and did that same to him…they pulled my nipples and made cuts with knives and razors. They violated my vagina with their filthy hands, bottles, fingers, sticks, things made out of metal, and then again, with electric shocks. They took me out and pretended to shoot me. Along with a woman who was five months pregnant, I was one of the most tortured prisoners in Tejas Verdes…I was left for dead. I believe many people were killed in Tejas Verdes, but I do not know how many, or their names; I was always unable to communicate.

Since then, the U.S. has sought to disassociate itself from Pinochet’s atrocities while at the same time regularly carrying out violence of a similar degree. The Bush White House expressed sympathy for Pinochet’s victims, yet it created a torture program that consisted of waterboarding, electrically shocking men’s genitals, and even worse things; Fatima Boudchar has written about her experience in one of the CIA’s black sites: “Some of what they did to me in that prison was so awful I can’t talk about it. They hit me in the abdomen just where the baby was. To move me, they bound me to a stretcher from head to toe, like a mummy. I was sure I would shortly be killed.”

Practices like waterboarding have since been defended by Dick Cheney, and infamously by right-wing Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens. And the most extreme acts of physical punishment on prisoners during the War on Terror have been implicitly forgiven by the Washington establishment. Gina Haspel, who ran one of the black sites that performed the kinds of atrocities Boudchar described, has since been made CIA director by the Trump White House. Trump has also made Marshall Billingslea the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, even though Billingslea facilitated the human rights abuses from the Bush era.

Just like invading countries to advance corporate profits, incarcerating millions of people for the benefit of the prison-industrial complex, or killing people of color to strengthen the police state, torture serves a function for the capitalist class: to quell opposition. The introduction of torture into U.S. counter-terrorism policy since 9/11 has created an implicit threat towards political actors who the state might decide to deem “terrorists.” This has become apparent from the torture that whistleblower Julian Assange has received while being imprisoned in Belmarsh, the British version of Guantanamo.

As the empire loses its grip over the globe, and as capitalism now undergoes its worst crisis in the last century, Pinochet’s methods will keep looking more appealing to the ruling class. Operation Condor, the U.S.-backed campaign of political repression throughout Latin America that Pinochet’s regime contributed to, is now being repeated as Washington steps up its attacks against the Latin American left; the genocidal U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, the recent U.S. coup in Bolivia that’s resulted in ethnic cleansing against indigenous people, and last year’s violent U.S.-backed repression against protesters from neoliberal states like Chile and Ecuador all represent the growing reaction to class struggle.

The Bolivian coup regime’s creation of legally impune death squads, killings of critical journalists, and torture of those who’ve sought to expose its crimes forshadow how capitalist “democracies” like the U.S. will wage class warfare against the poor in the coming years. The imperialist veneer of freedom and justice, which has been largely abandoned amid the War on Terror and the brutal repression against recent protests, will disappear completely. What will be left is a campaign of horrendous barbarism, sold under the deceptive rhetoric that Henry Kissinger used in an article from this year: “The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values…(and) safeguard the principles of the liberal world order.”

For the Trump government whose policies Kissinger has himself helped guide, this task has so far meant shooting protesters’ eyes out of their sockets, using police to attack journalists at protests, and using curfews as weapons to enact violence against peaceful protesters. The militarization of police, erosion of liberties, and increase of rights abuses that’s occurring throughout the capitalist world shows how this ruling class reaction extends far beyond America.

The slide into dictatorship which is occurring in fascist-run countries like Modi’s India and Bolsonaro’s Brazil, and that’s already reached its conclusion in Orban’s Hungary, reveals how easy it’s been for many more Pinochets to rise during late-stage capitalism. All it’s taken is a series of destabilizing developments-9/11, the two great economic collapses of the last twelve years, the global environmental crisis-that have made made dictatorship look like a better option for the ruling class.

Pinochet continues to have apologists for the same reason that the capitalist powers increasingly emulate his actions: those who support the current power structure believe any action that preserves it is right. If there’s no alternative to capitalist hegemony, there’s no alternative to breaking the bodies of those who resist.
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If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Covid-19 Commercialism Is Part Of The Neoliberal Effort To Undermine Social Cohesion

There’s an initially obvious dissonance around the advertisements and business schemes that corporations are carrying out amid this year’s pandemic. It’s clearly distasteful for these companies to be profiting off of a disaster, and this naturally creates a sense of unease despite the attempt from these companies to convey earnest intentions. But it seems like nothing more than the usual commercialized shallowness until you realize that it has a very political purpose: to keep the people confused and socially fragmented during a time of economic crisis and growing class conflict.

In the last few months, tens of millions of people have permanently lost their jobs, which is creating a collapse of retail, exacerbating the new housing crisis, and bringing financial ruin to much of the American population. In August, which is when the government will stop givingspecial relief funds for the unemployed, the situation will get even worse. As this prompts our society to gain more negative attitudes about capitalism, the ruling oligarchy is trying to perpetuate the status quo by keeping people politically demobilized and uneducated about how to bring about revolution.

Throughout the history of neoliberalism, these traits have been instilled among the masses through a combination of engineered scarcity and propaganda. When poor and working people are struggling to survive, they’re more prone to ignore politics in favor of day-to-day concerns. And when the only information they’re exposed to is pro-capitalist political propaganda or advertising, they can’t develop the consciousness required for joining a revolution.

The pro-capitalist propaganda that we’re being exposed to in this moment usually involves the promotion of imperialist narratives; the anti-Chinese and anti-Venezuelan bluster that’s now being weaponized by both major presidential candidates represents the kinds of anti-socialist, nationalistic sentiments the ruling class seeks to propagate among the people. And to keep the population loyal to capitalism, or at least sympathetic towards those who profit from it, there’s an onslaught of Covid-19 commercialism and public relations campaigns for corporations.

We’re seeing companies create comforting ads about life in quarantine, seeing somber messages from companies about how much they care about our experiences during the pandemic, and sometimes seeing corporate brands be awkwardly placed next to directions towards Covid-19 testing sites. We’re also seeing the companies and wealthy figures who stand the most to gain from this crisis work to sell the solutions they’ve come up with. Google’s CEO is marketing a series of technological fixes to the state of New York. Bill Gates is also partnering with Governor Andrew Cuomo to proliferate his technologies throughout the state.

“It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent pandemic shock doctrine is beginning to emerge,” commentator Naomi Klein wrote last month. “Far more hi-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.”

In another fulfillment of the established patterns of neoliberalism, the social conditions that these companies are profiting off of is an exaggerated version of what life has long been like under late-state capitalism: systematically isolated from the community at large, filled with transactions that make daily activities commodified and artificial, and culturally defined by consumerism. Reflecting how advertisers have long tried to get people to associate their products with their personal identities, companies like Google and Amazon are now trying to get people to see them as friends that will help us all out during a difficult time.

And as far as the goods and services of these companies will benefit people during the pandemic, they’ll be able to make a case that they’re improving people’s lives. But look below the helpful Amazon deliveries and useful Google communications tools, and you’ll find the realities of current global capitalism that the Covid-19 ads don’t talk about.

You’ll find large corporations refusing to re-hire many of the workers who lost their jobs this year, all in order to save money. You’ll find that the executives of these companies have collectively gained hundreds of billions of dollars by profiting off of the pandemic, all while poor and working people suffer under a plutocrat-controlled government that’s soon to impose even more austerity. You’ll find that these companies are getting hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare. You’ll find that at the same time, income inequality throughout the neoliberal world is sure to vastly increase as a result of the pandemic.

You’ll also find that despite the humanitarian image these companies project, the system they’re perpetuating is making Covid-19 lead to a myriad of human rights abuses and humanitarian crises. ICE is putting putting and more refugees and undocumented people into overcrowded and unsanitary detention facilities. U.S. global bombing campaigns have been increasing during the pandemic. Recently tightened U.S. sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, and other countries are killing people in what amounts to genocide. The Navajo nation is being devastated by the virus, and other colonized communities dying from the pandemic far more than white ones are. America’s broken neoliberal healthcare system is unable to protect the poorest people from the pandemic, and the homeless are among the most vulnerable.

But these things aren’t shown in the messages that the corporatocracy produces. We’re supposed to think about how much a certain company cares about us, or how much a certain product can improve our lives during the pandemic, or which imperialist presidential candidate is tougher on China. And despite the advertising slogan “we’re all in this together,” we’re not encouraged to think about what’s happening to those in less comfortable positions than us. The cruelties and horrors that are happening can’t be acknowledged, because this would expose the deep rot of the system. And when evils like police brutality can’t be ignored, companies try to co-opt and sanitize the calls for justice.

The result is an environment where people can’t find a cohesive cultural narrative to grasp onto, aside from what’s presented to them by corporations and imperialist demagogues. Perhaps more than ever, neoliberalism has separated them from the rest of society and subjected them to the influence of advertisers. Covid-19 commercialism isn’t just about making money, it’s about deterring capitalism’s victims from thinking for themselves.
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If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here:

Intelligence Leaks Reveal Just How Ready The Police State Is To Crack Down On Dissent

Note: above image is from the “Blue Leaks”
Note: above image is from the “Blue Leaks”

Since Cointelpro, the program where the FBI infiltrated anti-war, environmental, and civil rights groups, revolutionary-minded people in America have had an intuitive suspicion that the state is monitoring them more closely than it appears on the surface. People have developed sometimes overly paranoid theories about the government “gangstalking” certain individuals through targeted harassment, the potential for infiltrators within movements has become common knowledge, and leftists or communists often get the vague sense that they’re “on a list” or that they’re being closely monitored.

With this week’s “Blue Leaks,” where hacked law enforcement documents have been revealed, we’ve gotten a clearer picture of how closely the state will track us and target us if we step too far out of line.

And what we’ve found out is chilling. Firstly, these leaks have made it apparent that the FBI has responded to the last month’s backlash to police brutality by working with local police departments to surveil anti-racists; not just anti-racist groups, but individuals who speak too bluntly about their distaste for white supremacist symbols and institutions. Last month, an FBI “documentary source” made a private statement saying that “on 27 May 2020, an identified Twitter account dedicated to anarchist ideology in the Long Beach, California area publicly tweeted the following statement: ‘See a Blue Lives Matter flag, destroy a Blue Lives Matter flag challenge.’” It was part of a “potential activity alert” from the Los Angeles Division of the FBI, which said that “Civil unrest in response to death of George Floyd threatens law enforcement supporters’ safety, as of May 2020.”

This is the kind of language that the FBI and its partnered local police departments are using right now: a series of terminologies that all in some way frame those who resist capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism as terrorist threats. Such language comes up in Blue Leaks correspondences from the one where the Southeast Florida FBI fusion center made a note about recent anti-imperialist tweets pertaining to Iran, to the one where an agency made a graphic about “anarchist extremists.”

This rhetoric from local fusion centers and police departments about radical groups being potential terrorist elements reflects the way that the highest levels of government, including the U.S. military, have long talked about those who oppose the capitalist state. In 2016, the U.S. Army War College predicted that in the future the military would have to participate in “contemporary Stalingrads” where the U.S. is fighting against opposition groups that potentially exist within America itself. “Joining extremist or terrorist organizations might also appear attractive as a way out,” its. report says, referring to an anticipated future where poverty and unemployment have increased. “At the very least, in the event of some kind of conflict, these young men would provide a pool of potential recruits for those opposing the United States.”

Unsurprisingly, the military has now been sent in to help the militarized police kill and maim protesters. And both local police and the FBI are carrying out the spy work needed to make this domestic war effort successful. The Blue Leaks give us hints into just how insidious and dangerous this modern version of Cointelpro is; a leaked 2017 email from a man named Alexander David Hooper observed efforts by law enforcement to use terrorism to carry out their goals for movement sabotage:

Apartment 404 is a terrorist threat working with the law enforcement…gang stalking tactics that come off as dangerous are getting old to myself and the public. 1/18/2017 8:27 P.M. at the Muni station at Fisherman’s Wharf there was a white male that resembled my style, but was committing acts of trespassing and suspicious activity, which isn’t my style. He tried to use black umbrella to hide his face. They’re still attacking the 1st…

The city of San Francisco now has several terrorist threats that were sparked by federal agents and law enforcement. The Al-Qaeda terrorist group was used as a tactic, and targeted the Transamerica building…they’re slaughtering the public, and causing mayhem among good people…the local law enforcement/feds of San Francisco, CA have been reluctant to care or be concerned about the threats that have been made on particular individuals and majorities of people.

If this sounds crazy, remember that the FBI is known to regularly manufacture terrorist threats in order to inflate the official number of terrorism plots that it “solves,” and that false flags have been a routine U.S. warfare and propaganda tactic for decades. Also remember that the U.S. has aided terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS when this has been useful for its latest regime change proxy war against Syria. U.S. intelligence actors become alarmed about “terrorism” when dealing with political opponents, yet are glad to facilitate terrorism when it fits their own goals.

This is also made apparent by a Blue Leaks email from an individual named Terry Atkins, who’s written about the psychological tactics the state uses to wear down its targets:

The goal is to identify the victim’s strengths and vulnerabilities. With that information, perpetrators begin to publicly trivialize the target. Perpetrators are often fixated on the past [mistakes of the target]…they often publicly label targets as unstable, drug addicted, or threat to society either through misinformation or the repeated conjuring of past events. The goal is alienation and isolation. The next phase includes psychological attacks through cognitive and emotional infiltration. Organized stalkers attempt to invoke self-doubt through misinformation aimed at the manipulation of memory and perception often referred to as gas-lighting. Emotional infiltration includes the befriending or consoling the attacked individual and conversely initiate emotional aggression using language and implications.

Physical attacks against property include breeches of privacy and invasion of personal space, pseudo-random acts of violence and poisonings.

Again, none of the claims made throughout these leaked communications contradict the tactics that U.S. intelligence agencies are already known to use. These agencies send spies to infiltrate activist groups. They carry out psychological operations, whether through the media or through spying practices, with the goal of manipulating people’s emotions and instilling counter-revolutionary thoughts into people’s minds. They assault, harass, and attempt to assassinate their enemies, like when the CIA tried to poison Fidel Castro’s ice cream.

All of the warfare methods that they use against their targets abroad, from strategic misinformation to espionage to terrorist attacks that get falsely blamed on the enemy, have been and will be used against the elements of American society that the state sees as a threat. If they’re willing to kill random civilians in the streets to subdue protests, they’ll employ all the tools for regime change that Steve Kangas described in his essay A Timeline of CIA Atrocities:

Propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder.

A different version of such a regime is already in place within the United States. And it aims to use all of these measures and more to crack down on dissent in the coming years. The information from the Blue Leaks only helps confirm some of people’s most frightening suspicions about what the state is capable of doing.

Namely: targeting individuals through organized harassment, monitoring people’s statements on social media and elsewhere, using false flags to incriminate or terrorize people, and psychologically manipulating people into mental breakdowns. Now that many of our subconscious fears as U.S, political radicals have been vindicated, let’s exercise more caution about who we trust and how we organize our groups.
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If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here:

Monday, June 22, 2020

Social Democrats Helped Usher In Fascism In Germany. They’re Doing The Same In America.

There are a lot of parallels between modern America and Germany during the leadup to the Nazi era: growing racism and xenophobia, economic decline, deteriorating democratic institutions, an obsession with militarism, violent political polarization. But the defining factor that the two countries share in their descent into fascism is a decision by each country’s liberals to participate in the campaign to repress the revolutionaries.

The operation by Weimar Germany’s majority Social Democratic government to crush the communist-led revolt of 1919 showed just how far social democrats can go when the bourgeois system they align with is threatened; they sent in paramilitary forces to assassinate the leaders of the Spartacus League, including the communist Rosa Luxemburg. This prevented Germany from becoming socialist (which would have stopped it from becoming fascist), and kept the opposition to the fascists incurably divided throughout the decade leading up to when Hitler came to power.

It’s notable that the main purpose of the Spartacus League was to be anti-war, because the issues of war and imperialism are what drive the reactionary tendencies of today’s social democrats. Namely, the desire among these modern U.S. liberals to side with the imperialists on foreign policy issues is what’s primarily driving them to go on the offensive against the communist and anti-imperialist movements. Look at how the social democrat commentator David Pakman attacked anti-imperialists and what he called the “Leninist left” last year for opposing Venezuela regime change narratives, or for decrying the coup in Bolivia. Look at how Bernie Sanders has promoted cold war narratives about Russia and China while legitimizing the regime change campaign in Venezuela. Look at how the progressive network TYT has blatantly misrepresented facts about Venezuela and participated in the media’s anti-Russia frenzy. All of these things have served to legitimize both Washington’s recent terrorist actions abroad, and the campaign of censorship against anti-imperialist voices within the imperial core.

The examples of social democrats acting complicit in imperialism go on, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ meeting with Bolivian coup organizers to Sanders’ endorsement of sanctions on the DPRK. In this moment where the American ruling class is reacting to the decline of U.S. global power and the rise of class conflict, this insistence by the country’s mainstream left to align with imperialism is an ominous sign; it shows that they’ll continue to enable the descent into fascism in order to remain loyal to the idea of American patriotism.

As capitalism’s contradictions come to a head through the recent backlash to racist U.S. police brutality, liberals-including social democrats-are indeed taking the side of the fascists. Sanders has responded to the police murder of George Floyd and the onslaught of police violence against peaceful protesters not by calling to abolish the police, but by stating his opposition to police abolition and endorsing a statement that includes a pay raise for the police. This reflects the general American liberal trends right now of making peace with the cops, making compromises with reactionary politicians, and redirecting the energy of social movements towards their own ineffectual reformist sloganeering.

In a time like this, all of these behaviors from liberals aren’t just discouraging; they’re frightening. Columnist Genevieve Leigh recently observed the fascistic leaders and policies that social democrats and other liberals are enabling:

Since Trump came to power, the Democrats have worked hand over fist to suppress popular opposition to his administration and have instead elevated the most right-wing military figures as the “official” opposition. The Democrats — Sanders included — have said nothing about Trump’s efforts to overturn the Constitution and establish military rule. Instead, they have relied on the military as the arbiter of politics in the United States. It is notable that in Sanders’ interview with the New Yorker he made a point of praising General James Mattis’s condemnation of Trump’s response to the protests, saying that he was “very impressed” by the general’s statement. Mattis earned the nickname “Mad Dog” for leading the bloody US campaign to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 and boasted to his troops during his command of US forces in Afghanistan that “it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot” Afghans.

There’s the historical phenomenon of liberals dividing the opposition to fascism. And again, there’s the relationship that Trump’s liberal and “progressive” enablers have with imperialism. Empire is the foundation of the U.S. capitalist machine, the engine through which multinational corporations sustain the plutocracy’s wealth. More broadly, it maintains the very structure of American capitalism; if the country loses its ability to exploit the Global South and the Third World, its economic balance will be completely thrown off and it will be more susceptible to revolution. It will become much like the Third World countries it’s oppressed, which are historically prone to experiencing such lower class uprisings.

What horrifies the American ruling class is that the more the empire declines, the closer it gets to this point. The rise of China, and America’s subsequent anti-Chinese economic isolationism, are exacerbating the economic crisis that neoliberalism has already produced. Trump is willing to cut off all Chinese exports to the U.S., which would make an additional economic bomb go off and create even more lower class dissension. The collapse of capitalism and U.S. imperialism are driving the system to take increasingly drastic measures, measures that history shows lead to fascism.

So it’s natural that social democrats and centrist liberals, who have always defended the American experiment in spite of their partial critiques of it, are going in the same fascistic directions of the reactionaries. These directions are nationalism, chauvinism, militarism, and a focus on “law and order.”

What will be the next actions that liberals help facilitate? No doubt they’ll be an increase of arrests against socialists and anti-racists, a further erosion of civil liberties, and quite possibly a new version of the violent anti-communist repression that the German ruling class carried out. The first step is an increase of censorship against anti-imperialist voices, which has been happening recently as the cold war with China has escalated.

Throughout this crackdown on dissent, the political and media establishment will continue appealing to the American impulse towards super-patriotism, especially as it’s concerned with the military. The fact that the 2021 Pentagon budget focuses on military buildup for confronting Russia and China shows just where the ruling class, and social democrats by extension, will shift their attention in the coming years: advancing the perpetual great-power war while repressing those who oppose it.
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