Canadian Foreign Policy and Why it Matters to Workers

Originally posted on what's left:

Two Lectures to the Unifor-McMaster University Labour Studies Program, Oct-Nov, 2014

Stephen Gowans

Lecture I

I became interested in foreign policy in 1999, when Canada joined the 3-month long air war on the former Yugoslavia. What interested me was that Canada had abandoned what I, at the time, believed was its traditional peace-keeping role for a role of waging war in cooperation with the United States and other NATO powers against a country that posed no threat whatever to Canada, or its allies. I followed the war very closely and considered the reasons politicians and people in the media said the war needed to be fought, and the reasons didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

So I started to look at critical analyses of the reasons that had been offered for why the war was being waged, and those analyses demonstrated in a very convincing way that…

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Pravda: The Real Truth

Pravda was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It began publication in 1912, but was suppressed by the Tsar, and then by the short-lived bourgeois government, until the Bolsheviks took power during the October Revolution of 1917. Pravda means “truth” in Russian and despite the ravings of bourgeois and imperialist scum, it really was the truth. It reported the news and statements of communist party leaders. It conveyed the party’s official position on any given situation or event to all members of the party throughout the Soviet Union.

Bourgeois pundits continue to chuckle with smug satisfaction when accusing Pravda of being Soviet propaganda, which of course it was in the original and untainted sense of the word (political pronouncements and persuasion), but they continue to maintain that it was misinformation. George McGovern, the former CIA analyst who appears fairly regularly on RT, consistently brings up Pravda and mocks it by claiming it was poor propaganda and that, according to him, everyone knew it wasn’t true. Americans, on the other hand, are in a worse state because they actually believe the false propaganda perpetrated by the media organs of U.S. elites, he goes on to add; that much at least is true. As Grover Furr, an expert on the Soviet Union, recently replied to me, whether or not something is widely believed has no bearing on whether or not it is true, but in his opinion Pravda was widely believed to be telling the truth by party members even toward the end of the USSR in the late 80′s and early 90′s. In addition, Pravda indeed might have been considered poor propaganda in the sense that it could, according to journalists Andre Vltchek, Gaither Stewart and others, make for incredibly dry reading that apparently did not rouse the public outside of faithful party members.

In the words of Mr. Vltchek:

“East European propaganda was clumsy, compared to elaborate Western one … It was just repeating again and again, mechanically, what was actually the truth. So people got fed up and instead turned towards those colourful and well-packaged lies produced by Western propaganda.”

There was, in fact, a big difference between Pravda and the recently dubbed “Pravda of the Potomac” (Washington Post) and other U.S. organs such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Pravda was telling the truth and did not lie through journalistic acts of either commission or omission. Pravda did not package or brand itself in an exciting Western fashion, but it simply told the plain, hard truth. It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction. It is an interesting phrase, but whether or not it is actually the case, depending on your point of view, strange certainly doesn’t seem to be synonymous with either exciting or alluring.

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WSJ Propaganda Editorial: “Putin’s Disinformation Matrix”

Deconstructing American propaganda is just too easy. I will simply underline the most outlandish portions below of the WSJ’s editorial of November 14 with brief comments followed in brackets. You should get ready for a lot of instances of projection and “flipping the script” or what I like to call, “I know you are, but what am I?” Traditionally, the CIA has been responsible for planting stories (media operations/propaganda/psychological warfare) in foreign as well as domestic media. It’s a near certainty that one or more editors of the Wall Street Journal are connected to U.S. intelligence. – PC

Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language TV organ ["organ" implies something ideologically and politically charged and thus subjective at best or lying at worst], launched a U.K. edition earlier this month. Headquartered near Westminster, the channel will beam RT’s signature blend of propaganda and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorizing [mockery and the tried-and-true charge of "conspiracy"] into millions of British homes.

Welcome to Vladimir Putin’s disinformation matrix [projection/"flipping the script"]. RT is merely one part of the Kremlin’s [these will begin to add up] aggressive media effort, as a new Institute of Modern Russia report shows. Other techniques include mobilizing thousands of online “trolls,” [an increasingly popular charge against any online dissension] cultivating sympathetic political cranks [projection] abroad, and exploiting [major projection; no one exploits quite like the U.S.] Western freedom of speech and the Western model of public diplomacy [this is what they used to openly call "propaganda" and more recently "public relations"] to advance Moscow’s illiberal aims [illiberal, my goodness, that's really bad, right?]

Founded in 2005, RT has an estimated $300 million budget, according to Institute of Modern Russia authors Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss. It broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish, and there are plans to expand into French and German, the authors say. “The channel can now reach 600 million people globally and 3 million hotel rooms across the world,” Messrs. Pomerantsev and Weiss write. RT says its content has received a billion views on YouTube, making it one of the video platform’s most-watched channels.

Unlike Kremlin propaganda [both of these highly charged terms back-to-back, oh my!] during the Cold War, which at least strived for communist consistency, RT is ideologically promiscuous and “hybridic,” the authors say. The channel might feature a far-right Holocaust denier opining on the Middle East and the next minute invite a far-left British MP to discuss Ukraine. “Whereas the Soviets once co-opted [a U.S. soft power specialty; again, projection] and repurposed concepts such as ‘democracy,’ ‘human rights’ and ‘sovereignty’ to mask their opposites [projection; "I know you are, but what am I?"] the Putinists use them playfully to suggest that not even the West really believes them.” The point is rarely to persuade. It is to muddle and confuse [yes, getting Americans, especially, to think could be confusing for them].

The impact of such efforts in large and diverse media markets, such as the U.S. and the U.K., is questionable. In America, Britain, France and Germany, Russian propagandists must compete with dozens of other print, broadcast and digital outlets. RT segments and Web content on how former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz planned 9/11 or how the U.S. created Ebola [I found no evidence that RT posited either of these charges, but nothing is beyond the pale when it comes to the U.S. ruling class] are self-discrediting, though they will always find some credulous viewers.

Vulnerable states on Europe’s eastern periphery and in the South Caucasus are a different matter. Kremlin voices can play an outsize role there in tilting public opinion Mr. Putin’s way. By quickly framing Ukraine’s pro-democracy uprising as a “Nazi” [it has been described by numerous guests on RT as neo-Nazi, which it is without a doubt] movement, Moscow put Kiev on the defensive, forcing the Ukrainian government to expend enormous efforts to rebut that smear among ethnic-Russian citizens. As Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said in March, “Russia Today’s propaganda [there's that word again] machine is no less destructive than military marching in Crimea.”

Propaganda [and again] is closely integrated with the Kremlin’s [and this word once again] model of ambiguous warfare, which relies on rapid action, covert troops, the creation of a digital fog of war, and inflaming ethnic and sectarian tensions. Western governments shouldn’t overreact to RT’s presence in the West. But they can take the opportunity to revamp and modernize their own public diplomacy [there's that term again], targeting ethnic-Russian audiences to ensure that accurate reporting stands a chance amid the blizzard of Moscow’s lies [Washington and Wall Street are the origin of a shitstorm of lies].

Look how many times these terms were mentioned: Kremlin = 5; Propaganda/Propagandist = 5 – PC

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The Anti-Empire Report #134

Gory Eagle



November 19, 2014
by William Blum

Russia invades Ukraine. Again. And again. And yet again … using Saddam’s WMD

“Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday [August 27], sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory. The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week.”

None of the photos accompanying this New York Times story online showed any of these Russian troops or armored vehicles.

“The Obama administration,” the story continued, “has asserted over the past week that the Russians had moved artillery, air-defense systems and armor to help the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway’, Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said. At the department’s daily briefing in Washington, Ms. Psaki also criticized what she called the Russian government’s ‘unwillingness to tell the truth’ that its military had sent soldiers as deep as 30 miles inside Ukraine territory.”

Thirty miles inside Ukraine territory and not a single satellite photo, not a camera anywhere around, not even a one-minute video to show for it. “Ms. Psaki apparently [sic] was referring to videos of captured Russian soldiers, distributed by the Ukrainian government.” The Times apparently forgot to inform its readers where they could see these videos.

“The Russian aim, one Western official said, may possibly be to seize an outlet to the sea in the event that Russia tries to establish a separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine.”

This of course hasn’t taken place. So what happened to all these Russian soldiers 30 miles inside Ukraine? What happened to all the armored vehicles, weapons, and equipment?

“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.”

Where are these photographs? And how will we know that these are Russian soldiers? And how will we know that the photos were taken in Ukraine? But most importantly, where are the fucking photographs?

Why am I so cynical? Because the Ukrainian and US governments have been feeding us these scare stories for eight months now, without clear visual or other evidence, often without even common sense. Here are a few of the many other examples, before and after the one above:

  • The Wall Street Journal (March 28) reported: “Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another [sic] major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims, US officials said.”
  • “The Ukrainian government charged that the Russian military was not only approaching but had actually crossed the border into rebel-held regions.” (Washington Post, November 7)
  • “U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove told reporters in Bulgaria that NATO had observed Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops enter Ukraine across a completely wide-open border with Russia in the previous two days.” (Washington Post, November 13)
  • “Ukraine accuses Russia of sending more soldiers and weapons to help rebels prepare for a new offensive. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied aiding the separatists.” (Reuters, November 16)

Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. The Ukrainian government has matched them.

On top of all this we should keep in mind that if Moscow decided to invade Ukraine they’d certainly provide air cover for their ground forces. There has been no mention of air cover.

This is all reminiscent of the numerous stories in the past three years of “Syrian planes bombing defenseless citizens”. Have you ever seen a photo or video of a Syrian government plane dropping bombs? Or of the bombs exploding? When the source of the story is mentioned, it’s almost invariably the rebels who are fighting against the Syrian government. Then there’s the “chemical weapon” attacks by the same evil Assad government. When a photo or video has accompanied the story I’ve never once seen grieving loved ones or media present; not one person can be seen wearing a gas mask. Is it only children killed or suffering? No rebels?

And then there’s the July 17 shootdown of Malaysia Flight MH17, over eastern Ukraine, taking 298 lives, which Washington would love to pin on Russia or the pro-Russian rebels. The US government – and therefore the US media, the EU, and NATO – want us all to believe it was the rebels and/or Russia behind it. The world is still waiting for any evidence. Or even a motivation. Anything at all. President Obama is not waiting. In a talk on November 15 in Australia, he spoke of “opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – which is a threat to the world, as we saw in the appalling shoot-down of MH17”. Based on my reading, I’d guess that it was the Ukranian government behind the shootdown, mistaking it for Putin’s plane that reportedly was in the area.

Can it be said with certainty that all the above accusations were lies? No, but the burden of proof is on the accusers, and the world is still waiting. The accusers would like to create the impression that there are two sides to each question without actually having to supply one of them.

The United States punishing Cuba

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel
2014 188-2 US, Israel

This year Washington’s policy may be subject to even more criticism than usual due to the widespread recognition of Cuba’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

Speaking before the General Assembly before last year’s vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.

However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:

The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.

So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest in 2011-12 ; that many of them were physically abused by the police; and that their encampments were violently destroyed.

Does Mr. Godard have access to any news media? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person.

As to “independent journalism” – What would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?

The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba has not changed since the revolution in 1959 – The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as many Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted its suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.

The United States judging and punishing the rest of the world

In addition to Cuba, Washington currently is imposing economic and other sanctions against Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, China, North Korea, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Mexico, South Sudan, Sudan, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, India, and Zimbabwe. These are sanctions mainly against governments, but also against some private enterprises; there are also many other sanctions against individuals not included here.

Imbued with a sense of America’s moral superiority and “exceptionalism”, each year the State Department judges the world, issuing reports evaluating the behavior of all other nations, often accompanied by sanctions of one kind or another. There are different reports rating how each lesser nation has performed in the previous year in areas such as religious freedom, human rights, the war on drugs, trafficking in persons, and sponsors of terrorism. The criteria used in these reports are often political. Cuba, for example, is always listed as a sponsor of terrorism whereas anti-Castro exile groups in Florida, which have committed literally hundreds of terrorist acts over the years, are not listed as terrorist groups or supporters of such.

Cuba, which has been on the sponsor-of-terrorism list longer (since 1982) than any other country, is one of the most glaring anomalies. The most recent State Department report on this matter, in 2012, states that there is “no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.” There are, however, some retirees of Spain’s Basque terrorist group ETA (which appears on the verge of disbanding) in Cuba, but the report notes that the Cuban government evidently is trying to distance itself from them by denying them services such as travel documents. Some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been allowed into Cuba, but that was because Cuba was hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government, which the report notes.

The US sanctions mechanism is so effective and formidable that it strikes fear (of huge fines) into the hearts of banks and other private-sector organizations that might otherwise consider dealing with a listed state.

Some selected thoughts on American elections and democracy

In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more comfortable.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

  • 2012 presidential election:
    223,389,800 eligible to vote
    128,449,140 actually voted
    Obama got 65,443,674 votes
    Obama was thus supported by 29.3% of eligible voters
  • There are 100 million adults in the United States who do not vote. This is a very large base from which an independent party can draw millions of new votes.
  • If God had wanted more of us to vote in elections, he would give us better candidates.
  • “The people can have anything they want. The trouble is, they do not want anything. At least they vote that way on election day.” – Eugene Debs, American socialist leader (1855-1926)
  • “If persons over 60 are the only American age group voting at rates that begin to approximate European voting, it’s because they’re the only Americans who live in a welfare state – Medicare, Social Security, and earlier, GI loans, FHA loans.” – John Powers
  • “The American political system is essentially a contract between the Republican and Democratic parties, enforced by federal and state two-party laws, all designed to guarantee the survival of both no matter how many people despise or ignore them.” – Richard Reeves (1936- )
  • The American electoral system, once the object of much national and international pride, has slid inexorably from “one person, one vote”, to “one dollar, one vote”.
  • Noam Chomsky: “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars. Their professional concern in their regular vocation is not to provide information. Their goal, rather, is deceit.”
  • If the Electoral College is such a good system, why don’t we have it for local and state elections?
  • “All the props of a democracy remain intact – elections, legislatures, media – but they predominantly function at the service of the oligarchy.” – Richard Wolff
  • The RepDem Party holds elections as if they were auctions; indeed, an outright auction for the presidency would be more efficient. To make the auction more interesting we need a second party, which must at a minimum be granted two privileges: getting on the ballot in all 50 states and taking part in television debates.
  • The US does in fact have two parties: the Ins and the Outs … the evil of two lessers.
  • Alexander Cockburn: “There was a time once when ‘lesser of two evils’ actually meant something momentous, like the choice between starving to death on a lifeboat, or eating the first mate.”
  • Cornel West has suggested that it’s become difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic society, without great concentrations of corporate power, would look like, or how it would operate.
  • The United States now resembles a police state punctuated by elections.
  • How many voters does it take to change a light bulb? None. Because voters can’t change anything.
  • H.L. Mencken (1880-1956): “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
  • “All elections are distractions. Nothing conceals tyranny better than elections.” – Joel Hirschhorn
  • In 1941, one of the country’s more acerbic editors, a priest named Edward Dowling, commented: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”
  • “Elections are a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, condition for democracy. Political participation is not just a casting of votes. It is a way of life.” – UN Human Development Report, 1993
  • “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!” I reply, “You have it backwards. If you DO vote, you can’t complain. You asked for it, and they’re going to give it to you, good and hard.”
  • “How to get people to vote against their interests and to really think against their interests is very clever. It’s the cleverest ruling class that I have ever come across in history. It’s been 200 years at it. It’s superb.” – Gore Vidal
  • We can’t use our democracy/our vote to change the way the economy functions. This is very anti-democratic.
  • What does a majority vote mean other than that the sales campaign was successful?
  • Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.”
  • We do have representative government. The question is: Who does our government represent?
  • “On the day after the 2002 election I watched a crawl on the bottom of the CNN news screen. It said, ‘Proprietary software may make inspection of electronic voting systems impossible.’ It was the final and absolute coronation of corporate rights over democracy; of money over truth.” – Mike Ruppert, RIP
  • “It’s not that voting is useless or stupid; rather, it’s the exaggeration of the power of voting that has drained the meaning from American politics.” – Michael Ventura
  • After going through the recent national, state and local elections, I am now convinced that taxation without representation would have been a much better system.
  • “Ever since the Constitution was illegally foisted on the American people we have lived in a blatant plutocracy. The Constitution was drafted in secret by a self-appointed elite committee, and it was designed to bring three kinds of power under control: Royalty, the Church, and the People. All were to be subjugated to the interests of a wealthy elite. That’s what republics were all about. And that’s how they have functioned ever since.” – Richard K. Moore
  • “As demonstrated in Russia and numerous other countries, when faced with a choice between democracy without capitalism or capitalism without democracy, Western elites unhesitatingly embrace the latter.” – Michael Parenti
  • “The fact that a supposedly sophisticated electorate had been stampeded by the cynical propaganda of the day threw serious doubt on the validity of the assumptions underlying parliamentary democracy as a whole.” – British Superspy for the Soviets Kim Philby (1912-1988), explaining his reasons for becoming a Communist instead of turning to the Labour Party
  • US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941): “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
  • “We don’t need to run America like a business or like the military. We need to run America like a democracy.” – Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate 2012


  1. Democracy Now!, October 30, 2013
  2. Huffingfton Post, May 3, 2012
  3. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 (online here)
  4. For the complete detailed list, see U.S. Department of State, Nonproliferation Sanctions
  5. U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism,” May 20, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

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Lesson of 2014 elections: Fight for a workers’ party

by Fred Goldstein

“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing classes shall represent them and repress them in parliament.”

Karl Marx, “The Civil War in France”

The midterm elections in the U.S. have caused a stir because the Democratic Party lost control of the Senate and lost further ground in the House of Representatives. The record low turnout, 36 percent of the eligible electorate, has drawn much comment. There has been a torrent of analyses trying to explain the Democratic Party defeat.

Many point to the failure of the Democrats and the Barack Obama administration to put forward any program that deals with the real problems of the masses — jobs, poverty, racism, the plight of immigrants, closing of abortion clinics, etc. Others say that Obama was kept off the campaign trail and the Democrats ran away from him — especially in the racist South but in many other states, too. Others point to the Citizens United ruling and corporate money corrupting the political process — close to $4 billion was spent, mainly by big business and the rich during this election. And thousands were also kept from voting by voter suppression laws.

All of this and much more is certainly true. And there is much understandable demoralization over the Republican sweep. The temptation is to get drawn into the debate over what went wrong, what this means for 2016, and the related debate over how to fix the problems of the Democratic Party.

Struggle of the masses ignored

In the analyses by the bourgeois pundits, they leave out the fact that tens of thousands of people are fighting against police killings and harassment as well as mass incarceration. The campaign to stop voter suppression is widespread. Millions of immigrants have been struggling since 2006 to get rights and ­legalization.

Across the country low-wage workers have been demonstrating for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to have a union. In September some 400,000 people demonstrated in New York City alone against climate change. Thousands are demonstrating against the Keystone pipeline and fracking by the oil company predators.

Above all, millions are unemployed, underemployed or have dropped out of the work force, yet there was not a word during the campaign about a true jobs program to put them back to work at a living wage.

None of this, or of many other popular and necessary struggles, was reflected in the national campaigns of the capitalist parties. That is because they are capitalist parties and these issues are issues of the workers!

For the working class and all the oppressed, trying to figure out how to fix the Democratic Party would be a useless diversion. What the workers need to get from this election is that it is another dramatic illustration of why they need their own political party. They need a party that will fight for their everyday needs, by methods of militant struggle. They need a party that will use the electoral process, not to promote electoral illusions, but to expose ­capitalism and the bankruptcy of the profit system.

And they need a party that will fight to overcome the capitalist nightmare altogether.

This problem did not start just now. Almost 145 years ago, as Karl Marx analyzed the struggle of the French workers during the Paris Commune, he put things as well as they can be put with regard to elections under capitalism: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing classes shall represent them and repress them in parliament.”

Rich in charge of Democratic Party

Marx was talking about how the elections decide who will run the capitalist government. Take a look at the officials chosen by Obama to run the top of the government.

Chuck Hagel, head of the Pentagon. Some sources give a conservative estimate of his net worth as $5 million. But, more importantly, he is on the board of Chevron, of Deutsche Bank and of the Wolfensohn Co., founded by the head of the World Bank. When he quit the Senate in 2009, he went to the board of Corsair Capital, which had holdings in financial institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Bermuda, Germany, Korea, Poland and Sweden.

Hagel is a banker/financier who now runs the U.S. war machine and is making decisions to escalate U.S. intervention in Iraq, deploy more forces to NATO to fight the Ukrainian resistance movement, send $3 billion a year to Israel, etc. (USA Today, Jan. 14, 2013)

Or take Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew. Lew is a multimillionaire. He came from Citibank’s Alternative Investment department and before that Citi’s Global Wealth Management department. Alternative Investment is a fancy name for financial derivatives and speculative gambling. Global Wealth Management handles the money of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Millionaires are barely considered. Lew was implicated in helping to cause the 2008 financial meltdown.

Then there is Secretary of State John Kerry, worth $300 million in trusts that come from his spouse Teresa Heinz Kerry, heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune. Kerry lives off a corporate empire that he defends, along with others, as head of the State Department. The secretaries of Defense, Treasury and State are the core of the capitalist government.

And what of the legislature? This is the first year that the income of the representatives in the House averaged over $1 million each. Some of the important Democratic Party congresspeople are among the 25 richest members in net worth, as of 2012. For example, Mark Warner of Virginia at $257 million; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut at $103 million; Nancy Pelosi at $87 million; Dianne Feinstein at $68 million, Alan Grayson at $40 million, and so on. (Net Worth, 2012, at, published by the Center for Responsiveness in Politics)

How can workers’ interests or concerns be heard, let alone dealt with, among this den of wealthy corporate thieves and Wall Street sharks? It is no small wonder that austerity, cutbacks and bailouts for the rich prevail over wiping out poverty and unemployment.

The very capitalists that the politicians are tied to are the ones who are downsizing, laying off, cutting hours, making money by paying low wages, slashing benefits, fracking, instituting charter schools and private prisons, engaging in overseas plunder and the plunder of cities like Detroit, etc.

Myth of ‘progressive’ Democratic Party

The Democratic Party mythology, which has existed since Franklin Roosevelt, must be demolished. In its place must come dedication to working-class independence and an exposure of capitalist democracy as a sham, a way to hold workers down.

The failures of the Obama administration with respect to workers are not new. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were compelled to pass progressive legislation only because millions of people were in motion. The New Deal was considered “riot insurance” to save capitalism, which was under attack by sit-down strikes, general strikes and mass demonstrations during the 1930s.

Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the so-called Great Society because millions of African Americans and others were in the streets facing down the cops and the Ku Klux Klan during the 1950s and 1960s.

As soon as the struggle died down, however, the Democratic Party leadership shed its disguise as a friend of the people. The Jimmy Carter administration in the 1970s opened the attack on welfare. Carter said “life isn’t fair” when responding to a question about a prohibition put on funding abortions for poor women. He started a military build-up and planned the union-busting attack on the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association, which Ronald Reagan later carried out.

Bill Clinton destroyed the welfare system altogether. He declared that “the era of big government is over” as millions of poor women, disproportionately African American and Latina, were thrown off the rolls. He put in the first “anti-terrorism” laws, passed the Effective Death Penalty Act and, in effect, deregulated Wall Street by destroying the Glass-Steagall Act, passed after the Great Depression to curb the banks.

So the Obama administration is following a long tradition of Democratic Party leadership attacks on the workers and oppressed. It is a capitalist party of big business now and has been for over 100 years. It serves the interests of the rich, the bankers and the bosses.

Of course, the Republican Party is more blatant in its pursuit of the extreme interests of the rich. They have nothing to hide because business is their base. The Democratic Party leadership is plagued by having to conceal their anti-working class, racist, reactionary maneuvers because their base is the unions, the African-American and Latino/a populations, women, lesbian-gay-bi-trans-queer people, the progressive middle class, students and so on. That is why the two parties have different appeals, two different images. But there is nothing essential on which they differ when it comes to serving the fundamental interests of capital.

Ferguson and bourgeois democracy

V.I. Lenin put things well when he quoted Frederick Engels saying that “the modern representative state is an instrument of exploitation of wage-labour by capital.” (Quoted in Lenin’s “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”)

Lenin added: “Take the fundamental laws of modern states, take their administration, take freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, or ‘equality of all citizens before the law,’ and you will see at every turn evidence of the hypocrisy of bourgeois democracy with which every honest and class-conscious worker is familiar. There is not a single state, however democratic, which has no loopholes or reservations in its constitution guaranteeing the bourgeoisie the possibility of dispatching troops against the workers, of proclaiming martial law, and so forth, in case of a ‘violation of public order,’ and actually in case the exploited class ‘violates’ its position of slavery and tries to behave in a non-slavish manner.”

One only has to look at Ferguson, Mo., with its militarization of the police and violence against justice-seeking protesters, or the exclusion of millions of prisoners and former prisoners from the voter rolls, to see a verification of Lenin’s view.

Under these circumstances, the workers and the oppressed have no alternative but to declare their break with capitalist parties and capitalism and fight for their own independent party — one that speaks and fights openly for the workers, against the capitalist class, and for socialist revolution.

Voter RightsSource: Workers World

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