Thursday, February 09, 2017

On the meme "Putin's a killer"

Thomas Riggins

"Putin's a killer."
"You think our country's so innocent?"
So, let's get real. Since the collapse of the USSR and under Yeltsin, Medvedev and Putin about 165 journalists have been murdered and 47 to 50 political opponents of the Russian government. None of these murders have ever been proven to have been ordered by any of the three Russian presidents, nevertheless the Russian government is far from exemplifying the ideal of a state completely subject to the rule of law and Russian security forces have been known to have employed assassination and murder as tools of statecraft from the Middle Ages up to the present. Putin, unlike Obama, is not known to have a list of enemies that he goes over every week and then orders killed by drones. Not counting Chechnya (unreliable figures) if we just add up Russian political and journalist killings plus civilians killed in Syria by the Russian military (under Putin's control) [about 2686 including 368 children have been killed -- up to 2015) the Russians have murdered about 2895 citizens (their own and others). In this regard Putin is a killer.
Over the same time period the United States under Bush and Obama has assassinated many "enemies of the state", including children, using drones and its security forces and military alone. In the Middle East not counting Iraq or Syria the US has killed 13,500 civilians including 2,908 children (mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan). In this regard both Bush and Obama are killers. All these figures have been gleaned from news sources on the internet and they are constantly being changed and modified!
Killer Scorecord: Team Putin: 2895 Team Bush/Obama: 13,500
Conclusion: NO our country is not so innocent. The "Putin killer" meme is simply hypocritical US right-wing propaganda whether mouthed from Republicans or Democrats and spread by either deliberate lies or ignorant know nothings -- if it is meant to imply there is some sort of special "evil" about Putin that is not found in US politicians OR there is some sort of moral equivalency between the US and Russia: the US is much worse morally than Russia with respect to the wholesale killing of children and innocent civilians. But none of these leaders can be particularly proud of what their military does nor how they treat innocent civilian populations. Trump will be no different as his failed exercise in Yemen indicates.

Monday, February 06, 2017


Thomas Riggins

Trumpism is not a uniquely American phenomena. It is the local variant of an ultra-right anti-establishment ideology that has a worldwide manifestation. In Europe there are right-wing anti-EU parties growing in many of the member states in the EU based on anti-immigrant policies and appeals to nationalism and economic protectionism to preserve jobs for native born citizens, as well anti-Islam propaganda , and paranoia over terrorism. The term neofascism has been used to
describe these movements and to differentiate them from traditional conservative and liberal, including social democratic parties. 

There are also left-wing objections to the EU as an antidemocratic neoliberal institution for the concentration of capital and the more efficient exploitation of the working class for the benefit of monopoly capitalism. This allows the right to pirate legitimate concerns and demands of the workers to build their own faux populist base. This explains the appeal, in the US, of Trump’s denunciations of Wall Street bankers on the one hand to gain popular support, and on the other to appoint these same bankers to positions in his administration to allay suspicions within the ruling class that he might be a real threat to the capitalist system.

Unique circumstances  in the US allow us to understand the differences between Trumpism and European neofascism. After WW2 Communist states ruled in Eastern Europe allied with the Soviet Union. Western European states were reconstructed on a social democratic model with many social benefits to placate the workers and the middle class so as diminish the lure of Communism which promised full employment and universal medical care,  subsidized education, affordable housing and other social "safety net" features. 

With the collapse of Communism the Western European ruling elites no longer saw the need to maintain social benefits at the pre-collapse level  and with the economic crisis beginning in the US in 2008, and quickly spreading world wide, austerity programs began to be instituted that negatively impacted the general population. These programs were instituted by the traditional ruling parties, conservative or liberal, and have resulted in a backlash against establishment rule, immigration, and the European Union which is the transnational governing political entity the European ruling class has constructed to better solidify and institutionalize its dominance. 

Neofascism is a throwback to the nationalistic authoritarian populist political movements of the pre WWII era which had developed as a result of the economic failures gripping Europe as a consequence of the destruction caused by WWI. Left populist socialist and Communist movements are also being energized in the wake of the fightback against austerity instituted by the social democratic as well more traditional pro capitalist parties as the ruling class eliminates the post WWII gains made by the working class in the wake of the Soviet victory over fascism in 1945.

Trumpism has a different origin. It is based on the historical development of US capitalism and the slave system and the virtual genocide of the native cultures and societies found within the territories settled and conquered by Western Europeans who founded and expanded the US. Defeat in war and the growth of Communist political power within its borders were not the causative agents of its appeals. Its base is rooted in the endemic institutional racism of American society and the demagogic appeal to the ignorance of masses of deliberately under educated people whose jobs and incomes are threatened by the continuing crisis of the collapse of the neoliberal economic policies instituted by the two major political parties, Republican and Democratic, of monopoly capitalism. 

These policies  enrich the 1% at the expense of the mass of working people and are maintained by fostering ignorance of the true causes of the economic crisis through ruling class control of the media, education system, and circuses (without the bread) provided by the entertainment and sports complex created to induce intellectual narcolepsy in the population at large. These policies seek to cast the blame for the economic woes facing the working people on minorities, immigrants, radical movements demanding unrealistic labor changes (higher wages, more unionization at the cost of jobs), Islamic terrorism, illegal voting fraud, climate change hoaxes, fake news, gay rights, and repression of religious freedom. 

These are the issues both Democrats and Republican focus on taking either liberal or conservative sides but neither party questions the fundamental basis of the capitalist society based on the private appropriation, by a small minority, of the socially created wealth sweated out of the vast majority of the American working people who stand outside and starving without decent housing or medical care  or education midst the wonders they have made.

Trumpism, the subspecies of neofascism peculiar to the US, has come to power prematurely. It, along with the Tea Party were nurtured for a future contingency of a breakdown of the establishment parties and their ability to rule in their accustomed manner. The Sanders movement and distrust of HRC, however, panicked elements of the ruling class into to supporting Trump (some now have buyers remorse) and the freakish Electoral College system of determining the presidency  allowed the executive branch to fall into Trump’s hands while the Republican Party also captured both houses of Congress.

Updating Georgi Dimitrov’s explanation of the victory of Fascism in Germany and Italy in the 1930s (Main Report: Seventh World Congress of the Communist International, 1935) we can cast some light on the nature of Trumpism today. Here are the relevant quotes from the opening of his report. Keep in mind they have reference to the economic crisis of capitalism in the 1930s and the need to keep the masses of working people in a repressed state so they would not be attracted to radical movements questioning the capitalist system and the right of the ruing bourgeoisie to plunder not only the domestic population but to engage in military adventures and wars abroad.

It is also important to note that these quotes describe full blown fascist governments set up by the ruling class to replace constitutional democratic governments which could not the solve the economic crisis of capitalism by normal parliamentary methods and needed Draconian measures to maintain control of the population. This is the situation that the US was headed for but had not yet matured to the extent that a fascist government was called for and a Clintonist corporate center right alliance  masquerading as a progressive coalition was the perfect solution for the contemporary problems facing US monopoly capital. The unexpected appointment of Trump as president by the Electoral College disregarding the popular vote was thus a premature assumption of power of a crypto-fascist movement whose role was not to win the election but to prepare the way for a more stringent and intelligently structured future fascist government should the Clinton alliance fail to reestablish the uncontested sway of US imperialism.

Dimitrov maintained that fascism was needed because: "The imperialist circles are trying to shift the whole burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working people." So far the ruling political establishments of the "free world" have been able to do this without fascism but ultra-right and neofascist political movements have been growing in the expectation of achieving future political power.

"They are trying to solve the problem of markets by enslaving the weak nations, by intensifying colonial oppression and repartitioning the world anew by means of war. That is why they need fascism."  The beginning of this stage is well underway with the US involvement in trying to realign the entire Middle East to its interests and thus being forced to confront Russia's interests (thus the trumped up charges against Putin "hacking" our elections to fuel a new Cold War). We are also challenging Chinese regional interests in the South China Sea (not  a US Mare Nostrum). We are likewise building up NATO forces along the Russian border in retaliation to Russia's push back against a US sponsored ultra right coup in Ukraine. 

Finally, the Trump victory is a modern day  exemplification of the weakness of both the working class and the ruling establishment in the face of deteriorating conditions of world capitalism which can only maintain its profitability through military spending and environmentally destructive industrial practices that threaten the continuing existence of civilization as we know it. When capitalism is squeezed fascism and human destruction drip out as naturally as orange juice from an orange.

The growth of fascism is related to the disruption and disorganized behavior of the working class due to "a policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie"(the result of poor leadership) as well as "the weakness of the bourgeoisie itself, afraid of a united struggle of the working class" and afraid of its loss of power (Sanders political revolution?) it finds itself "no longer in a position to maintain its dictatorship over the masses by the old methods of bourgeois democracy and parliamentarism." Well, these old methods worked for the Republicans in this last election for the Congress and on the state level, but the premature and unexpected Trump victory has put the working  and progressive people of America on notice of what the future portends. We have two years to organize and fight back to regain the Congress and many of the states in the 2018 bi-elections: la lucha continua!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Romanian Government Caves In Face Of Mass Protests

Thomas Riggins
safe_image.php.jpgIf the Romanians can make their government backdown, so can we make ours! Mass demonstrations work (of course the Romanian government was Social Democratic i.e., liberal capitalist not cryptofascist i.e., hard nosed capitalist; either way anti-working class). We need our own Union to Save American Democracy from Trumpism and even if the Trumpites turn out to be intransigent mass demonstrations can enlighten millions of non voters and deluded Trump supporters to vote the Republicans down in the 2018 bi-elections. The Sanders movement and other progressives will find this an easier task with Keith Ellison leading the DNC rather that an Establishment standin.
The move was a remarkable and rapid turnaround for a government that had shown every sign of holding firm against five days of mass protests.