In Brief

Roots of the crisis over Kashmir: Colonial rule, class and national oppression

First published June 20, 2002. By Fred Goldstein. U.S. and British imperialism are working overtime to utilize the present crisis between India and Pakistan to their own advantage. Meanwhile, the reactionary regimes in Islamabad andNew Delhi are vying with one another to gain the favor of the Bush administration in their struggle against one another in general and in the struggle over Kashmir in particular. It is possible to engage in extended analysis and speculation about the immediate cause of the...

Trump, Racism and Capitalism

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on August 11, 2019. By Fred Goldstein Aug. 10 — Let there be no mistake about it. Donald Trump has the blood of all those killed and wounded in the mass shootings of the past week on his hands, from Gilroy, Calif., to El Paso, Texas, to Dayton, Ohio. And let there be no mistake about it. Trump speaks the mind of the ruling class. Just days after the racist mass shootings, millionaires and billionaires travelled to the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island to give him $12...

The New Cold War Against China

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on July 26, 2019. Part 1 By Fred Goldstein During the Cold War and the struggle that put the USSR and China on one side and imperialism headed by Washington on the other side, revolutionaries used to characterize the conflict as a class war between two irreconcilable social systems.  There was the socialist camp, based upon socialized property, economic planning for human need and the government monopoly of foreign trade on the USSR-China side, and capitalism, a system of...

Roots of the crisis over Kashmir: Colonial rule, class and national oppression

First published June 20, 2002.

By Fred Goldstein.

U.S. and British imperialism are working overtime to utilize the present crisis between India and Pakistan to their own advantage. Meanwhile, the reactionary regimes in Islamabad andNew Delhi are vying with one another to gain the favor of the Bush administration in their struggle against one another in general and in the struggle over Kashmir in particular.

It is possible to engage in extended analysis and speculation about the immediate cause of the crisis. There is of course a decade of reactionary, anti-Muslim, Hindu revivalism led by India’s ruling Bahratiya Janata Party since 1990 — including the destruction of the Babri Masjid Mosque in1992.

There is also the ascendancy of reactionary Islamic fundamentalist forces that had been nurtured and supported by the CIA and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan was the staging ground for an $8-billion counter-revolutionary war against the progressive socialist Afghan government and the Soviet Union. These forces, many now opponents of the U.S., have inserted themselves into the struggle against the repressive Indian regime in Kashmir.

Some try to explain the present struggle over Kashmir by starting with 1947, when India was partitioned, Pakistan was created, and Kashmir became a disputed territory occupied by both countries.

However, one can’t understand the 1947 partition and the horrendous religious conflict that followed — which dealt a great blow to the world forces of national liberation — without taking into account the 250 years of machinations by British colonialism that preceded.

British East India Company

It is useful to start the analysis in the middle of the 18th century with the predatory campaign of the British East India Company (EIC) to conquer and plunder India. The EIC, which dated back to the days of Queen Elizabeth, was given a monopoly to conduct business in India by the British Parliament, acting on behalf of the financial and commercial interests of London. It was backed by the Royal Navy. It was given the right to raise troops and to undermine the Indian economy, to interfere in social and political relations and do anything necessary to bring a handsome profit back to its investors in London.

But military force alone was insufficient for a small island in the North Atlantic to dominate such a vast land mass as India. Fortunately for the British ruling class, the EIC found a society that was fragmented into hundreds of states ruled over by a variety of petty rulers, held together only nominally by the declining Mogul empire.

The British conquered Bengal in 1757 and embarked on a century of creating “subordinate alliances.” The EIC would bestow local sovereignty on a ruler, make him subordinate to the company and to the British government, allow him some autonomy and guarantee protection against his enemies.

Whenever possible, the company would try to place a Muslim ruler over a majority Hindu population or a Hindu ruler over a majority Muslim population. They carried on this policy for over 100 years as they consolidated their conquest over the country. These subordinate alliances came to be known as”princely states.”

When India was partitioned in 1947, 550 such “princely states” were divided between India and Pakistan. This was the product of centuries in which the British colonialists brought the art of “divide and rule” to perfection.

British sold Kashmir in 1846

Kashmir is a vivid, concrete example of such subordinate alliances. With the infamous Treaty of Amritsar of 1846, the British created the present-day state of Kashmir, both geographically and socially, by selling part of the state of Lahore, which they had conquered, to a Hindu maharajah. This was in a territory that had been ruled historically by a Muslim empire and was predominantly Muslim in population.

The Treaty of Amritsar of 1846 declared that “The British government transfers and makes over, forever, independent possession [of the territory between the Indus River which constitutes Kashmir] to Maharajah Gulab Singh, and the male heirs of his body.” The surveying of the land was done by the British and the Gulab Singh was obliged to recognize the British-defined borders. Gulab Singh paid the Britishgovernment 7.5 million rupees and agreed there would be no changes without the consent of the British.

The British had the right to settle any disputes with neighboring states. The maharajah was required to send his military to serve the British military in case of any conflict. The maharajah could not hire any European or American without British permission. And in exchange “the British government will give its aid to Maharajah Gulab Singh in protecting his territories from external enemies.”

It was not long after the creation of Kashmir that the greatest uprising in Indian history took place, the Great Rebellion of native-born soldiers in the 150,000-man British colonial army. It is derogatorily called the “Sepoy Mutiny” by the colonialists. But it was a rebellion against the brutality and racist insensitivity of the British rulers, and it lasted from 1857 to 1859. In this rebellion Indian troops took over New Delhi and other cities and were only defeated after a furious struggle.

The rebellion was the first major manifestation of broad anti-British resistance, spontaneous and not politically organized. Soon a nationalist movement was born. It was moderate at first, seeking incremental change by which Indians could gain representation in the governing of India. By 1885 the first meeting of the Indian National Congress took place.

Formation of Congress Party

The Congress was composed of a majority of upper-caste Hindus. While there were Muslims in the Congress, other elements within the Muslim upper classes formed the Muslim League in 1906, with the encouragement of the British. For the following decades the fate of the anti-colonial movement in India hung on the relationship between the League and the Congress. Progressive forces in both organizations strove for unity. There were many progressive-minded Muslims with the Congress Party on the basis of secular national unity.

Once they felt the rumblings of even the moderate bourgeois nationalist, reformist movement, the British imperialists went to work trying to divide it. On the one hand they showed their utter intransigence. Lord Hamilton, then secretary of state, sent a message to the viceroy in India on April 14, 1899, saying: “We cannot give the Natives what they want: representative institutions or the diminution of the existing establishment of Europeans is impossible.”

On the other hand, they created separate election rolls in 1909 where those few who could vote — 1 percent — had to vote for candidates by religion. Under the guise of insuring the rights of minorities, the British channeled politics into the confines of religious rivalry rather than genuine representation. This process was deepened in 1919 when the colonial authorities were compelled to make reforms under the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

The forced participation of Indian troops on the side of their British oppressors in World War I, the support of theRussian Revolution for oppressed peoples of the world struggling to overthrow colonialism, and the 1919 anti-imperialist upsurge in China reverberated in India. The first trade unions were formed and mass resistance to British rule flowered. But Indian communists were unable to take root in a political environment dominated by the entrenched bourgeois nationalist movement led by the Congress.

Mahatma Gandhi put himself at the head of the mass movement. He brought pacifist tactics and moderate religious ideology to the struggle. His economic goals were reactionary: going back to a village economy.

Communist Party — gains and setbacks

In the late 1920s the Communist Party of India (CPI) made progress in the trade union movement and the organization of the workers. In the 1930s it made a leap forward as a mass party in the struggle for class unity and national independence. But it suffered a huge, historic setback during World War II.

The war was a time of tempestuous mass struggle. Despite its moderate inclinations, the Congress was compelled to militantly oppose the British war effort. It had agreed to support the British if London would promise India independence. Whitehall stonewalled the movement and the Congress withdrew from all government posts. It began the “quit India” movement to force the British to withdraw.

By 1942 the British imperialists were in the worst crisis of rebellion since 1857. They had jailed over 60,000 people, including the entire Congress leadership. The Muslim League supported the British war effort and did not participate. The Soviet leadership pressed the CPI to support the war effort and suspend its struggle for independence until the war was over. The rationale was that since British imperialists were fighting the Nazis and the German imperialists were invading the Soviet Union, suspending the national struggle would be in defense of socialism.

This policy had similar tragic implications for the struggle of communists elsewhere in the British Empire, and in the French colonies and Latin America as well.

What Moscow did not take into account was that a revolutionary India could have been the greatest asset to the world revolution since 1917. In any case, the CPI lost an opportunity for revolutionary leadership at a moment of mass struggle.

The Congress, in spite of its militancy, was preparing for a negotiated withdrawal of the British and a managed transfer of power, rather than a revolutionary victory in the spirit of a genuine national liberation struggle. Bourgeois forces, dedicated to the preservation of capitalism, were fully in command and, as subsequent events proved, even the most progressive of them, represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, were incapable of overcoming the communal divisions sown by British colonialism.

In 1940, at the Lahore conference, the die was cast when the Muslim League and its leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, abandoned once and for all its ambivalence about staying within a united India and declared for a separate Muslim state. Although this split was managed behind the scenes with the connivance of British imperialism, the groundwork was laid by the Hindu bourgeoisie, particularly the right-wing nationalists, who promoted religious chauvinism and persecuted the Muslim majority.

The last act of the British imperialists in India was to dictate the terms of the division between India and Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, laid down the rules and they were accepted by the League and the Congress. All majority Muslim provinces under the British crown would go toPakistan. All majority Hindu provinces would go to India. And the 550 “princely states” would choose, the decision being made by the ruler of each state.

Kashmir, strategically situated between India and Pakistan, was one of the largest “princely states.” It was over 70 percent Muslim and ruled by a Hindu feudal landlord, Maharajah Hari Singh, a descendent of the original ruler who had bought Kashmir from the British in 1846. Singh was trying to preserve maximum power and was toying with remaining independent.

The most popular leader in Kashmir, Sheik Abdullah, was a secular Muslim, the head of the All Kashmir Conference, which had had previous alliances with Nehru. Abdullah was dedicated to land reform and even raised the slogan of “Land to the tiller.” He was leaning towards independence because he was opposed to being put under the landlord regime of the MuslimLeague in Pakistan but was also opposed to being ruled by a landed aristocracy represented by the maharajah. He was thrown in jail.

The Pakistanis, using British military vehicles, sent military forces into Kashmir. Nehru consulted with Mountbatten and airlifted thousands of troops. Hari Singh, afraid for his throne, acceded to India. Sheik Abdullah was let out of jail and sent to New Delhi, where he agreed to accede to India on the basis of autonomy for Kashmir and the promise of a plebiscite to determine the final status. He became prime minister.

The war ended in 1948. The Indian forces gained the lion’s share of the territory. The issue was referred to the UN, dominated by U.S. and British imperialism. There never was a plebiscite. The autonomous provisions agreed to by the Congress were gradually violated and the Indian bourgeoisie consolidated its control over Kashmir. A Hindu ruling group controlled a majority of Muslims. Sheik Abdullah was jailed off and on throughout the years by Nehru.

The issue of Kashmir stands unresolved today.

Nehru, the most progressive of the bourgeois leaders of the Congress, justified the takeover of Kashmir on his historic position that India should be united and that it was possible to build a democratic, secular society of national unity in which Muslims would be equal with the Hindu majority. However, the deadlock gave rise to a national struggle and to repression by the Indian government.

A tide of reaction has now swept over the region; fundamentalist forces from Pakistan and Afghanistan are waging a struggle that amounts to an annexationist war, just as the Indian bourgeoisie de facto annexed its portion of occupied Kashmir in 1947. The genuine struggle for self-determination o fthe Kashmiris has become more and more difficult.

But the fundamental reason why the Congress in its most progressive phase could not win the hearts and minds of the oppressed people of Kashmir is the same reason that it could not win the struggle for a unified India against the machinations of British imperialism: it represented the exploiting bourgeoisie.

India under Nehru

The Indian state was founded in a global environment of socialist revolution and national liberation. The Soviet Union had defeated the Nazis and was once again championing the anti-colonial struggle. The Chinese Revolution had driven out the landlords and, like the USSR, was embarking upon constructing a planned economy with cooperatives and collectives in the countryside and five-year plans in industry.

Under Nehru’s guidance India was declared to be “socialist oriented.” But this was just a cover for the Indian bourgeoisie and landlords to use state capitalist methods to overcome the deficit in industry and infrastructure inherited from British rule. Private Indian industrialists drew up three five-year plans for national development based on retaining capitalist exploitation. Known as the “Bombay Plan,” the first was drawn up in 1944. It was modified after the new state was established.

The most urgent question in India for the masses was the land. Some landowners lost their most outrageous privileges. The government bought out many of the richest feudal landlords. But when the issue of limiting the amount of land that one person could have came up, the landlords in the Congress vetoed it.

The only way to overcome the 200 years of division sown on the Indian subcontinent by the British was to appeal directly to the class needs of the Indian workers and peasants of all religions, languages and nationalities. This was impossible for the exploiting classes of India, in spite of their socialist rhetoric and their diplomatic friendship with the USSR and with China in the early years. They had made a political transformation, not a social revolution.

Bourgeois experts will cite the complexities of Indian society and politics as the fundamental reason for the failure to unite. To be sure, India is an extremely complex social formation. It has 17 major languages and 35 others spoken by more than a million people. It has most of the major religions on the planet — Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism and more. It has numerous national and linguistic groups. Furthermore, it is torn by the caste system, with thousands of sub-castes.

But for all its complexity, the problem in India reduces itself to the problem of class exploitation and private property. All propertied classes, no matter how oppressed and abused they may have been by imperialism, require the obfuscation of class relationships of exploitation. They require the fog of religion, or ideological backwardness and confusion, to mask the fact that the substructure of society is built on accumulating the labor of the workers and the peasants in one form or another — on appropriating to the ruling class the social surplus.

Why Bolsheviks could, but India couldn’t

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was confronted with enormous national, linguistic and religious complexity that had been compressed into the tsarist empire, the “prison house of nations.” The revolution unearthed over 200 distinct language groups in its early days.

The Bolshevik government under Lenin declared to all the oppressed peoples of the empire that the Russian proletarian revolution would honor their right to self-determination. They had the right to decide whether to leave or join the SovietUnion — even though this ran the risk of having the oppressed nations abandon the revolution and leave the USSR truncated.

In fact, many of the national groups were Muslims who had been oppressed by the tsar and persecuted by the Russian military. They also had to fear the Russian Orthodox Church. The Bolsheviks called a conference of Muslim communists in 1918 in order to show solidarity and make them feel comfortable within the framework of the new proletarian revolution, which was thoroughly internationalist.

Why could the Bolsheviks solve the national question, bringing all the oppressed peoples into a secular Soviet state with a Great Russian majority, while the Indian bourgeoisie could not? Because they not only offered to do away with tsarist oppressors, they also eliminated the exploiting capitalists and landlords. They could offer to honor all the national, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural characteristics without qualification. In other words, the Bolsheviks could overcome all divisions and antagonisms by meeting the concrete national demands of the oppressed. The proletariat, as a revolutionary class whose mission was to destroy class exploitation, had no interest in dividing the oppressed and the exploited.

National antagonisms only reemerged in the Soviet Union when capitalist elements took hold of the apparatus, beginning the degeneration that ultimately led to its collapse.

This historical experience is priceless, not only for oppressed countries like India and Pakistan, but for the United States, which has truly become the oppressor of all nations both at home and abroad. A class understanding of the national question shows that the struggle against national oppression is the indispensable first step on the road to uniting the workers and oppressed. But it cannot be fully consummated unless it is indissolubly linked to the struggle to end class exploitation.

 

 

 

 

Trump, Racism and Capitalism

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on August 11, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

Aug. 10 — Let there be no mistake about it. Donald Trump has the blood of all those killed and wounded in the mass shootings of the past week on his hands, from Gilroy, Calif., to El Paso, Texas, to Dayton, Ohio.

And let there be no mistake about it. Trump speaks the mind of the ruling class. Just days after the racist mass shootings, millionaires and billionaires travelled to the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island to give him $12 million in one night at a gala celebration.

His racism, his misogyny, his bigotry, openly spouted from his guttermouth, are part of a deliberate strategy to mobilize the like-minded racists, bigots and male chauvinists to come out and vote for him in 2020.

There is mounting mass anger and outrage at the killings, which followed his attacks on Congressman Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore, as well as his racist rants against four congresswomen of color, and his relentless references to a so-called “invasion” of immigrants seeking asylum from Washington’s right-wing regimes in Central America.

Trump’s racist language was clearly mimicked in the language of the El Paso killer, who issued a document declaring that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Research shows that the Trump campaign issued over 2,200 Facebook ads with the same formulation:  “invasion of immigrants.”

Trump was forced to go to the teleprompter and issue a wooden, hypocritically brief statement criticizing white supremacy and hatred. This is like a mobster crying “stop thief.” But Trump is still a white supremacist to his core. No anti-racist teleprompter declarations will change him one iota from the hardened racist he is.

Not just Trump

Racism has a long and bloody history in the U.S. Some say that U.S. fascism flies on the wings of racism. Sincethe first Spanish settlers arrived in the southeast in the 16th century, and then the English and Dutch came to New England at the beginning of the 17th century, racism directed against the Indigenous population has been used to justify the seizure of millions of acres of land and the murder and removal of millions of Native peoples.

At the same time, millions of people were kidnapped from Africa and imported to be enslaved on the plantation lands of the U.S., as well as in the Caribbean Islands and Central and South America. Anti-Black racism was the justification. Then one-half of Mexico was seized and colonized in the southwest.Anti-Latinx racism was added to the racist galaxy of the corporate masters. Tens of thousands of Chinese were brought to the West Coast to build the railroads. Anti-Asian violence became commonplace.

European immigration expands ranks of working class

Meanwhile, the corporations brought tens of millions of European immigrants to the U.S. to farm the land seized and to do the mining, lay the railroad tracks, work in the factories and expand the farm population and the working class.

The first European settlers established colonies on Native lands on the eastern seaboard in the 17th century. With the expansion of the commercial and industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, the bosses and landlords brought in more and more Europeans from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the bosses brought in millions from southern and eastern Europe, including many Jews fleeing persecution. By the beginning of the 20th century, millions of Italians, Poles, Hungarians and Czechs were also incorporated into the working class.

Before long the U.S. was populated with millions of oppressed Africans, Native people, Latinx and Asians, alongside millions of poor workers and farmers from Europe. All were toiling on the lands, in the mines and in the factories of the U.S. millionaire ruling class.

In a society based on the exploitation of labor of the vast majority by a tiny minority, every capitalist — large or small, corporate or political — constantly feels the need to divide and rule. It comes with the territory. The pressure to weaken the subject population through divisions is always present.

Trump speaks out loud the mind of the capitalists

A long-suppressed tape recording of a phone conversation between then President Richard Nixon and future President Ronald Reagan was recently released by the National Archives. The conversation took place in August 1971, when Reagan was governor of California. They spoke on the occasion of the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the U.N., after being kept out by Washington ever since the victorious Chinese Revolution of 1949.

Reagan, referring to African members of the Security Council, said to Nixon, “Did you see those monkxxs? They’re not even comfortable wearing shoes.” Nixon gave a big laugh. Reagan knew enough not to say that in public. But today, Trump says it out loud, referring to African nations as “s—hole countries,” or saying, “Go back where you came from” to four congresswomen of color.

In general, few prominent members of the capitalist establishment, big bankers or corporate leaders have condemned Trump’s racist or misogynistic rants. They probably think and say similar things in private conversations.

Chapters from the history of capitalist, racist politics

It is not only Nixon, Reagan and Trump, who have been racist. They are following in the footsteps of generations of ruling class political “heroes.”

Of course there is George Washington, the first U.S. president, who was the second biggest owner of enslaved people in the 13 colonies at that time.

Trump is often seen on TV in front of a painting of Andrew Jackson. Using the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Jackson had the Cherokee tribe removed by force from east of the Mississippi River and driven as far as Oklahoma in the “trail of tears.”

Abraham Lincoln, the most progressive president of the 19th century, ordered an attack on the Indigenous Dakota people in Minnesota in1862 and oversaw the Dakota Removal Act, even while pursuing the Civil War against the slavocracy.

Theodore Roosevelt was an arch-colonialist who oversaw the conquest of Cuba and Puerto Rico and the massacres during the seizure and annexation of the Philippines.  Theodor Roosevelt considered people of color inferior.

Woodrow Wilson, another lionized hero of liberalism,showed the racist, pro-South, pro-Klan, pro-slavery movie “Birth of a Nation” in the White House in 1915. Some say it fostered the rise of the Klan that followed.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the most liberal president of the 20th century, ordered the Ponce Massacre of Puerto Rican nationalists in 1937. In pursuit of imperialist war with Japan, FDR had over 120,000 Japanese people in the U.S. rounded up and sent to concentration camps and had their property seized.

In this list, we must not forget Bill Clinton, who destroyed welfare, promoted legislation leading to mass incarceration and declared that the “era of big government” is over.

Aspects of the subjugation of oppressed people in the U.S.

Capitalists and slave masters alike have used racism since the beginning of the country. The settlers who colonized the U.S., the Pilgrims and the 20,000 Puritans who piled into New England, all carried out unspeakable atrocities to subdue the Native people, while slandering them as “savages” and subhuman.

This was to justify the slaughter of New England tribes — the Wampanoag, Narragansett and Algonquin, among others. Thousands of Native people were killed in Massachusetts alone.

The New England massacres were the beginning of a continent-wide offensive which spread from western Florida to the Midwest to Arizona to California and lasted until the 1890s. Millions of Native people were either killed or removed to reservations.

The number of African people enslaved in the U.S. grew from the 388,000 who survived the Middle Passage and were originally brought to the U.S. in chains, to 4.4 million at the outset of the Civil War. There are now over 44 million African Americans in the U.S.

The northern half of Mexico was annexed by Washington in 1848 by conquest. The southwest Latinx people became a subject population.

Asians were brought to Hawaii and the West Coast as laborers during the mid-to-late 19th century. After the great Depression of 1873, the racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1892 promoted anti-Chinese riots and lynchings on the West Coast.

Anti-working-class strategy and tactic of capitalists

Students of working-class history are familiar with the divide-and-conquer methods of the bosses. From the early 19th century, the law declared any gathering of three or more workers to be an illegal conspiracy.

When the workers defied this restriction and went on to organize, the bosses expanded their tactics. They hired Pinkerton thugs and other labor spies to frame up workers and break unions. They tried to turn the unorganized against the organized. They pitted the higher paid against the lower paid. They set the skilled against the unskilled.

They tried to turn white against Black; white against Brown; Brown against Black; white, Black and Brown against Asian; etc. They hired gun thugs to fight organizing drives or organized unions. In the modern era, they rely on the FBI and private labor spies to do their dirty work.

The racism of Trump and the ruling class must be put in the anti-working- class setting in which it has always existed. It is the answer of the tiny minority of the rich, exploiting class to their fear of rebellion by the vast majority of the masses of people.

Only class solidarity and international solidarity can overcome this poisonous racist division.

 

 

 

 

The New Cold War Against China

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on July 26, 2019.

Part 1

By Fred Goldstein

During the Cold War and the struggle that put the USSR and China on one side and imperialism headed by Washington on the other side, revolutionaries used to characterize the conflict as a class war between two irreconcilable social systems. 

There was the socialist camp, based upon socialized property, economic planning for human need and the government monopoly of foreign trade on the USSR-China side, and capitalism, a system of production for profit, on the other. 

That the two systems were irreconcilable was at the bottom of the conflict dubbed the Cold War. In light of the current sharpening economic, diplomatic, political and military conflict between U.S. imperialism and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it is time to revive the concepts that were applied during the height of the Cold War.

Of course it is necessary to make modifications in these formulations with respect to socialism in China, with its mix of controlled capitalism and guided socialism.  Nevertheless, the conflict between imperialist capitalism, headed by Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon, and the Chinese socialist economic system, which has state-owned industry at its core and planned economic guidance, is becoming much sharper, and imperialism is growing more openly hostile. 

U.S. imperialism’s long-standing effort to overthrow socialism  in China, Chinese capitalism notwithstanding, has been concealed beneath sugary bourgeois phrases about so-called “common interests” and “economic collaboration.”  But this kind of talk is coming to an end.

Washington’s first campaign to overthrow China — 1949-1975

This struggle has been ongoing since 1949 when the Chinese Red Army drove U.S. puppet Chiang-Kai Shek and his nationalist army from the mainland as it retreated to Taiwan under the protection of the Pentagon. 

The conflict continued through the Korean War when General Douglas MacArthur and the U.S. high command drove the U.S. troops to the Chinese border and threatened atomic war. Only the defeat of the U.S. military by the heroic Korean people under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, with the aid of the Chinese Red Army, stopped the U.S. invasion of China.

The struggle further continued with the U.S. war against Vietnam, whose strategic goal was to overthrow the socialist government of Vietnam in the north and drive to the border of China and to complete the military encirclement of the PRC. Only the world-historic efforts of the Vietnamese people under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh stopped the Pentagon in its tracks.

The Pentagon’s plans for military conquest failed 

With the rise of Deng Xiaoping and the opening up of China to foreign investment beginning in December 1978, Wall Street began to reevaluate its strategy. The U.S. ruling class began to take advantage of the opening up of China to foreign investment and the permission for private capitalism to function, which could both enrich U.S. corporations in the massive Chinese market and at the same time penetrate the Chinese economy with a long-range view to overturning socialism. 

U.S. multinational corporations set up operations in China, hiring millions of low-wage Chinese workers, who flocked to the coastal cities from the rural areas. These operations were part of a broader effort by the U.S. capitalists to set up low-wage global supply chains that integrated the Chinese economy into the world capitalist market. The U.S.’s recent sharp turn aimed at breaking up this economic integration with the Chinese economy, including the witch hunt against Chinese scientists and the U.S. Navy’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea (called the Eastern Sea by Vietnam), is an admission that the economic phase of the U.S. attempt to bring counterrevolution to China has failed. 

China is now a growing counterweight to Washington in international economics, high technology,  diplomacy, and regional military might in the Pacific, which the Pentagon has always considered to be a “U.S. lake” ruled by the Seventh Fleet.

The attack on Huawei

A dramatic illustration of the developing antagonisms is the way the U.S. had Meng Wanzhou, the deputy chairwoman and chief financial officer of Huawei, arrested in Canada for supposed violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran — an outrageous example of imperialism exercising extraterritoriality. The Trump administration has also leveled sanctions against Huawei electronics, the world’s largest supplier of  high-tech operating systems in the world. Huawei employs 180,000 workers and is the second largest cell phone manufacturer in the world after the south Korean-based Samsung. The sanctions are part of the U.S. campaign to stifle China’s development of the latest version of data-transmission technology known as Fifth Generation or 5G. 

The Trump administration has barred U.S. companies from selling supplies to Huawei, which has been using Google’s Android operating system for its equipment and Microsoft for its laptop products − both U.S.-based companies. Huawei is contesting the U.S. ban in court. 

Meanwhile, as a backup plan in case Washington bans all access to Android and Microsoft, Huawei has quietly spent years building up an operating system of its own. Huawei developed its alternative operating system after a 2012 finding by Washington that Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese giant cell phone maker, were in criminal violation of U.S.“national security.” ZTE was forced to shut down for four months. (South Asia Morning Post, March 24, 2019)

But the conflict is about more than just Huawei and ZTE.

The new ‘red scare’ in Washington

The New York Times of July 20 carried a front page article entitled, “The New Red Scare in Washington.” A few excerpts give the flavor: 

“In a ballroom across from the Capitol building, an unlikely group of military hawks, populist crusaders, Chinese Muslim freedom fighters and followers of the Falun Gong has been meeting to warn anyone who will listen that China poses an existential threat to the United States that will not end until the Communist Party is overthrown.

“If the warnings sound straight out of the Cold War, they are. The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China.

“Once dismissed as xenophobes and fringe elements, the group’s members are finding their views increasingly embraced in President Trump’s Washington, where skepticism and mistrust of China have taken hold. Fear of China has spread across the government, from the White House to Congress to federal agencies….” 

The Trump administration has opened up a tariff war against the PRC, imposing a 25-percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports and threatening tariffs on another $300 billion. But there is much more to Washington’s campaign than just tariffs.

The FBI and officials from the NSC (National Security Council) have been conducting a witch hunt, continues the Times article, “particularly at universities and research institutions. Officials from the FBI and the National Security Council have been dispatched to Ivy League universities to warn administrators to be vigilant against Chinese students…” 

And according to the Times there are concerns that this witch hunt “is stoking a new red scare, fueling discrimination against students, scientists and companies with ties to China and risking the collapse of a fraught but deeply enmeshed trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.” (New York Times, July 20, 2019)

FBI criminalizes cancer research

According to a major article in the June 13, 2019 Bloomberg News, “Ways of working that have long been encouraged by the NIH [National Institute of Health] and many research institutions, particularly MD Anderson [a major cancer treatment center and research institute in Houston], are now quasi-criminalized, with FBI agents reading private emails, stopping Chinese scientists at airports, and visiting people’s homes to ask about their loyalty.

“Xifeng Wu, who has been investigated by the FBI, joined MD Anderson while in graduate school and gained renown for creating several so-called study cohorts with data amassed from hundreds of thousands of patients in Asia and the U.S. The cohorts, which combine patient histories with personal biomarkers such as DNA characteristics and treatment descriptions, outcomes, and even lifestyle habits, are a gold mine for researchers.

“She was branded an oncological double agent.” 

The underlying accusation against Chinese scientists in the U.S. is that their research can lead to patentable medicines or cures, which in turn can be sold at enormous profits.

The Bloomberg article continues, “In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines is: ‘Cancer knows no borders.’

“Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Wu’s resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese-American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions …The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.” 

Big surprise. A world famous Chinese epidemiologist, trying to find a cure for cancer, collaborates with scientists in China! 

Looking for the “reformers” and the counterrevolution

For decades the Chinese Communist Party has had changes of leadership every five years. These changes have been stable and managed peacefully. With each changeover, so-called “China experts” in the State Department, in Washington think tanks and U.S. universities have predicted the coming to power of a new “reformist” wing that will deepen capitalist reforms and lay the basis for an eventual full-scale capitalist counterrevolution. 

To be sure, there has been a steady erosion of China’s socialist institutions. The “iron rice bowl” which guaranteed a living to Chinese workers has been eliminated in private enterprises. Numerous state factories and enterprises have been sold off to the detriment of the workers, and in the rural areas land was decollectivized.

One of the biggest setbacks for socialism in China and one which truly gladdened the hearts of the prophets of counterrevolution, was the decision by the Jiang Jemin CCP leadership to allow capitalists into the Chinese Communist Party in 2001.

As the New York Times wrote at the time, “This decision raises the possibility of Communists co-opting capitalists — or of capitalists co-opting the party.”  (New York Times, Aug. 13, 2001) It was the latter part that the capitalist class has been looking forward to and striving for with fervent anticipation for almost four decades.

But on balance, this capitalist takeover has not materialized. Chinese socialism, despite the capitalist inroads into the economy, has proved far more durable than Washington ever imagined. 

And, under the Xi Jinping leadership, the counterrevolution seems to be getting further and further away. It is not that Xi Jinping has become a revolutionary internationalist and a champion of proletarian control. But it has become apparent that China’s status in the world is completely connected to its social and economic planning. 

Part 2: The New Cold War Against China

China’s planning and state enterprises overcame 2007-2009 world capitalist crisis

Without state planning in the economy China might have been dragged down by the 2007-2009 economic crisis. In June 2013 this author wrote an article entitled, “Marxism and the Social Character of China.” Here are some excerpts:

“More than 20 million Chinese workers lost their jobs in a very short time. So what did the Chinese government do?”

The article quoted Nicholas Lardy, a bourgeois China expert from the prestigious Peterson Institute for International Economics and no friend of China. (The full article by Lardy can be found in “Sustaining China’s Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis,” Kindle Locations 664-666, Peterson Institute for International Economics.)

Lardy described how “consumption in China actually grew during the crisis of 2008-09, wages went up, and the government created enough jobs to compensate for the layoffs caused by the global crisis,” this author’s emphasis.

Lardy continued: “In a year in which GDP expansion [in China] was the slowest in almost a decade, how could consumption growth in 2009 have been so strong in relative terms? How could this happen at a time when employment in export-oriented industries was collapsing, with a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture reporting the loss of 20 million jobs in export manufacturing centers along the southeast coast, notably in Guangdong Province? The relatively strong growth of consumption in 2009 is explained by several factors.

“First, the boom in investment, particularly in construction activities, appears to have generated additional employment sufficient to offset a very large portion of the job losses in the export sector. For the year as a whole the Chinese economy created 11.02 million jobs in urban areas, very nearly matching the 11.13 million urban jobs created in 2008.

“Second, while the growth of employment slowed slightly, wages continued to rise. In nominal terms wages in the formal sector rose 12 percent, a few percentage points below the average of the previous five years (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2010f, 131). In real terms the increase was almost 13 percent.

“Third, the government continued its programs of increasing payments to those drawing pensions and raising transfer payments to China’s lowest-income residents. Monthly pension payments for enterprise retirees increased by RMB120, or 10 percent, in January 2009, substantially more than the 5.9 percent increase in consumer prices in 2008. This raised the total payments to retirees by about RMB75 billion. The Ministry of Civil Affairs raised transfer payments to about 70 million of China’s lowest-income citizens by a third, for an increase of RMB20 billion in 2009 (Ministry of Civil Affairs 2010).”

Lardy further explained that the Ministry of Railroads introduced eight specific plans, to be completed in 2020, to be implemented in the crisis.
According to Lardy, the World Bank called it “perhaps the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there has ever been in one country.” In addition, ultrahigh-voltage grid projects were undertaken, among other advances.

Socialist structures reversed collapse

So income went up, consumption went up and unemployment was overcome in China — all while the capitalist world was still mired in mass unemployment, austerity, recession, stagnation, slow growth and increasing poverty, and still is to a large extent.

The reversal of the effects of the crisis in China is the direct result of national planning, state-owned enterprises, state-owned banking and the policy decisions of the Chinese Communist Party.

There was a crisis in China, and it was caused by the world capitalist crisis. The question was which principle would prevail in the face of mass unemployment — the rational, humane principle of planning or the ruthless capitalist market. In China the planning principle, the conscious element, took precedence over the anarchy of production brought about by the laws of the market and the law of labor value in the capitalist countries.

Socialism and China’s standing in the world

China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. According to a United Nations report, China alone is responsible for the global decline in poverty. China’s universities have graduated millions of engineers, scientists, technicians and has allowed millions of peasants to enter the modern world.

Made in China 2025

In 2015 Xi Jingping and the Chinese CP leadership laid out the equivalent of a ten-year plan to take China to a higher level of technology and productivity in the struggle to modernize the country. 

Xi announced a long-range industrial policy backed by hundreds of billions of dollars in both state and private investment to revitalize China. It is named Made in China 2025 or MIC25. It is an ambitious project requiring local, regional and national coordination and participation.

The Mercator Institute for Economics (MERICS) is one of the most authoritative German think tanks on China. It wrote a major report on MIC25 on Feb. 7, 2019. According to MERICS,  “The MIC25 program is here to stay and, just like the GDP targets of the past, represents the CCP’s official marching orders for an ambitious industrial upgrading. Capitalist economies around the globe will have to face this strategic offensive.

“The tables have already started to turn: Today, China is setting the pace in many emerging technologies – and watches as the world tries to keep pace.”

The MERICS report continues, “China has forged ahead in fields such as next-generation IT (companies like Huawei and ZTE are set to gain global dominance in the roll-out of 5G networks), high-speed railways and ultra-high voltage electricity transmissions. More than 530 smart manufacturing industrial parks have popped up in China. Many focus on big data (21 percent), new materials (17 percent) and cloud computing (13 percent). Recently, green manufacturing and the creation of an “Industrial Internet” were given special emphasis in policy documents, underpinning President Xi Jinping’s vision of creating an ‘ecological civilization’ that thrives on sustainable development.

“China has also secured a strong position in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), new energy and intelligent connected vehicles… 

“Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) continue to play a critical role for the development of strategic industries and high-tech equipment associated with MIC25. In so-called key industries like telecommunications, ship building, aviation and high-speed railways, SOEs still have a revenue share of around 83 percent. In what the Chinese government has identified as pillar industries (for instance electronics, equipment manufacturing, or automotive) it amounts to 45 percent.”

Breakup of U.S.-China relationship inevitable

The tariff war between the U.S. and China has been going back and forth. It may or may not be resolved for now or may end up in a compromise. The Pentagon’s provocations in the South China Sea and the Pacific are unlikely to subside. The witch hunt against Chinese scientists is gaining momentum. 

The U.S. has just appropriated $2.2 billion for arms to Taiwan. National Security Adviser and war-hawk John Bolton recently made a trip to Taiwan. The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, made a recent stopover in the U.S. on the way to the Caribbean and is scheduled to make another one on the way back.

All these measures indicate the end of rapprochement between Beijing and Washington. This breakup between the two powers is not just the doing of Donald Trump. It flows from the growing fear of the predominant sections of the U.S. ruling class that the gamble they took in trying to overthrow Chinese socialism from within has failed, just as the previous military aggression from 1949 to 1975 also failed.

High technology is the key to the future 

Since as far back as the end of the 18th century the U.S. capitalist class has always coveted the Chinese market. The giant capitalist monopolies went charging in to get joint agreements, low wages, cheap exports and big super-profits when China “opened up” at the end of the 1970s.  

But the stronger the socialist core of the PRC becomes, the more weight it carries in the world and, above all, the stronger China becomes technologically the more Wall Street fears for its economic dominance and the more the Pentagon fears for its military dominance. 

The example of the stifling of international collaboration on cancer research is a demonstration of how global cooperation is essential to not only curing disease, but also to the development of society as a whole. International cooperation is needed to reverse the climate disaster wrought by private property — none of this can be carried out within the framework of private property and the profit system. Only the destruction of capitalism can bring about the liberation of humanity. 

Marxism asserts that society advances through the development of the productive forces from primary communism, to slavery, feudalism and capitalism. Marx wrote: “The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.” (The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847) And now the revolution in high technology lays the basis for international socialism.  

The bourgeoisie knows that the society that can advance technology to the highest degree will be triumphant in shaping the future. This is why imperialism, headed by the U.S., imposed the strictest blockade of the flow of technology to the Soviet Union, as well as the Eastern Bloc and China. This was done by COCOM, an informal organization of all the imperialist countries, which was created in 1949 and headquartered in Paris.

The main targets were the USSR and the more industrialized socialist countries, such as the German Democratic Republic, the Czech Republic, etc. Detailed lists were drawn up of some 1,500 technological items that were forbidden to export to these countries.

Marx explained that developed socialist relations depend upon a high degree of the productivity of labor and the resulting abundance available to the population (Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875). However, as Lenin noted, the chain of imperialism broke at its weakest link in Russia — that is, the revolution was successful in the poorest, most backward  capitalist country. The result was that an advanced social system was established on an insufficient material foundation. This gave rise to many, many contradictions. The countries that revolutionaries correctly called socialist, were in fact really aspiring to socialism. Their revolutions laid the foundations for socialism. But imperialist blockade, war and subversion never allowed them to freely develop their social systems.

The great leap forward in technology in China today has the potential of raising  the productivity of labor and strengthening the socialist foundations. It is this great leap forward that is fueling the “new cold war” with China and the real threat of hot war. 

 

Trump tariffs clash with globalized capitalist production

Published on lowwagecapitalism.com website, July 7, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

The Trump administration is caught between its “America First” super-imperialist, great power chauvinist politics on the one hand, and the capitalist world division of labor on the other hand. 

At every turn the contradiction between capitalist private property and world-wide socialized production becomes an obstacle to capitalism itself. In particular, the global interests of U.S. imperialism and the global economic structure of world capitalism today sharply contradict the Trump administration’s political goals.

Trump and his minions want to overturn the political and economic structure built up by the U.S. capitalist class in the past century. They want to realign the relationship of forces in a way that further subordinates the imperialist rivals and economic satellites of Washington and Wall Street. 

Trump has taken aim at Germany, France, Britain, and the entire European Union, Japan and China, as well as Canada (a minor imperialist country), Mexico, India, Turkey, Indonesia, and Thailand, among others. China is a special case which will have to be dealt with in a separate article.

Globalization and the socialization of production

The term “globalization” is a useful geographical designation of how workers produce goods and services, that is, commodities, today. It is highly descriptive since production of a single commodity takes place in sequence in different parts of the globe. However, from a Marxist point of view, the more scientific economic designation is the socialization of the productive forces on a global basis.

The capitalist class has forced the world working class into a vast, involuntary division of labor in which workers must cooperate, on pain of losing their means of survival, to produce the world’s commodities. But the economic surplus, the surplus value that arises from these global production chains of exploitation is reaped by the bosses. Even the workers who have jobs are left with barely enough to live on. 

Global chains of exploitation are a modern form of the socialization of production carried on within the framework of private property!

Thus, as Trump proceeds with his economic wrecking ball, he is up against the fundamental contradiction of capitalism — the contradiction between socialized production and private property. Friedrich Engels, a co-founder of Marxism, along with Karl Marx, explained this at the dawn of modern capitalism in his classical work “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” (published in 1880, excerpted from his more extensive book, Anti-Duhring, published in 1878):

“This contradiction, which gives to the new mode of production its capitalistic character, contains the germ of the whole of the social antagonisms of today. The greater the mastery obtained by the new mode of production over all important fields of production and in all manufacturing countries, the more it reduced individual production to an insignificant residuum, the more clearly was brought out the incompatibility of socialized production with capitalistic appropriation.”

Tariffs: Trump’s blunt instrument

Today Trump is using tariffs as a blunt instrument to bully countries around the world to hand over their profits to U.S. capitalism. 

What are tariffs? In the imperialist era they are a tax levied on imports by a capitalist class in one country in the struggle against its rivals. The country upon which the taxes are levied suffers a decline in exports and the government of the country levying the tariffs collects the tariffs/taxes in its treasury. 

From a working class point of view, tariffs must be seen in the same light as automation. Like automation, tariffs are part of the world competition between capitalists. Tariffs, like automation, is a tool by which the capitalists fight each other in the world market. 

But this fight is carried on at the expense not just of capitalist rivals, but also at the expense of the working class. Workers in the country that has tariffs levied on it loses jobs because this country’s exports decline. Workers in the country that levies tariffs pay higher prices because the importing capitalists pass on their extra costs to the workers. 

Usually tariffs are met by counter-tariffs. So in a tariff war between the bosses, as in any war, the workers are the real casualties. 

‘Globalization’ and the complexity of socialized production

In his tariff campaign Trump is running afoul of imperialist globalization at every turn; his actions have provoked retaliation from capitalists.The threat, later withdrawn, to levy tariffs on Mexico to get political leverage in his racist struggle against immigrants is a case in point. 

Trump threatened to put a 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods and to raise the tariff another 5 percent every month up to 25 percent if the Mexican government failed to prevent immigrants from crossing the border into the United States.

According to Burgess Everett and James Arkin of Politico, at a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans earlier this week, “White House deputy counsel Pat Philbin and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel faced brutal push-back from the GOP, according to multiple senators, with some threatening that Trump could actually face a veto-proof majority to overturn the tariffs.” (Politico June 5, 2019)

If the Republican Trump loyalists in the Senate rebelled against their leader, it’s because the capitalist donors dug in against this. Mexico exports $345 billion to the U.S., much of it automobiles, automobile parts, agricultural products, clothing, etc. 

Other examples of the intricate and interwoven nature of global supply chains apply to Japan and Canada as well.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) says about 8 percent of its members’ total annual sales are built in and imported from Mexico by way of U.S. railways, making them susceptible to the tariffs. JAMA represents Japanese exporters, manufacturers and importers in Canada. It represents Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. 

Canada’s largest auto supplier, Magna International, has 32 manufacturing and assembly plants in Mexico, where it employs 29,175 people — more than in either Canada or the United States. (Automotive News, Canada, June 5, 2019)

A number of Japanese firms have their production bases in Mexico. Honda Motor Co., for instance, exported around 120,000 vehicles made in Mexico to the United States in 2018, accounting for around 80 percent of the cars it produces in Mexico, which is also home to large assembly plants owned by Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. (Japan Times, May 31, 2019) 

There are over 700 Japanese companies employing thousands of workers in Mexico. So Trump could also trigger a trade war with Japan because of his threatened Mexican tariffs.

The bosses experienced Trump’s threat against Mexico a threat against them. The Chamber of Commerce threatened the administration with a lawsuit. And the monopoly donors to the Republican Party told the U.S. Senate that they did not want a tariff war with Mexico and Canada.

The tariffs campaign was part of Trump’s reelection bid. Trump is desperate to get reelected and avoid prosecution by the various court jurisdictions that may bring charges against him. In his desperation, Trump ignored the complexity of the U.S. ruling class’s broader economic problem. 

Trade fight with EU and Asia

The United States is also intensifying its trade fight with the European Union over aircraft subsidies. Washington has proposed additional tariffs on EU goods worth $4 billion along with another $21 billion in tariffs it is demanding for European Airbus planes.

The tariffs, announced on July 1 by the United States Trade Representative, cover 89 products including meat, cheese, pasta, fruits, coffee and whiskey. They could be added to a list of EU Airbus exports that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said in April would be subject to tariffs.

General System of Preferences (GPS) status exempts 3,500 items from U.S. tariffs. GPS status is meant for formerly oppressed and colonial countries, designated as “underdeveloped.”

In its struggle against Asia, the Trump administration has threatened to remove the (GPS) status from India, Thailand and Indonesia. Turkey has already lost its GPS status. 

U.S. dairy producers took aim at India and Indonesia, while pork producers targeted Thailand. Medical device manufacturers also filed a petition to exclude India from receiving preferential treatment from the U.S. 

All elements of the U.S. ruling class know that they have a compliant friend in the White House who will do their bidding for the most part, even if at times they have to buck him in the Senate or in the courts. They have reaped the benefits of his corporate tax cuts, deregulation campaign, and land giveaway policies for the energy, mining and timber industries.

With the trade war, the Trump administration is striking out in all directions to put economic pressure on the entire capitalist class world-wide. Its goal is to increase the domination of the U.S. imperialist monopolies.

The contradiction of socialized production vs. private appropriation

The contradiction between the socialized character of production and the private appropriation of the products of labor was emphasized by Vladimir Lenin in State and Revolution, which was written in preparation for the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

Lenin explained that imperialism was the stage of capitalism that would lead to socialism. Bourgeois economists at the time were evading the nature of imperialism by reducing it to the “interlocking” of corporations. Lenin answered:

“Skilled labor is monopolised, the best engineers are engaged; the means of transport are captured—railways in America, shipping companies in Europe and America. Capitalism in its imperialist stage leads directly to the most comprehensive socialisation of production; it, so to speak, drags the capitalists, against their will and consciousness, into some sort of a new social order, a transitional one from complete free competition to complete socialisation.

“Production becomes social, but appropriation remains private. The social means of production remain the private property of a few. The general framework of formally recognised free competition remains, and the yoke of a few monopolists on the rest of the population becomes a hundred times heavier, more burdensome and intolerable.” 

Fast forward to the 21st century. In 2005 New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote about how his Dell computer was made, describing in great detail how workers spread across numerous countries in Asia contributed to its production. He summed up his findings:

“‘The total ‘supply chain’ for this computer, including suppliers of suppliers, came to about 400 companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, mostly the latter, with about thirty prime suppliers.” (The World Is Flat, Freidman, 2005, cited in Low-Wage Capitalism, Goldstein, 2008)

This author described these supply chains in Marxist terms in Low-Wage Capitalism (2008) as follows: “These so-called supply chains, which are really chains of exploitation spread throughout the globe by the giant monopolies, in partnership with finance capital are the business model for all the global capitalists. And the lesser capitalists fit themselves into this framework.” 

Capitalism is becoming an obstacle to the survival of the masses

The increasing inequality of wealth in the U.S. is something that the capitalists and financiers are deliriously happy about. That is why Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised  $105 million in the last quarter for his reelection bid.

That is why the capitalist media gave Trump a billion dollars worth of free media publicity in 2016 and why they continue to give the widest possible coverage to his every tweet. They care nothing about Trump’s cruelty to immigrants and their children;  his enabling and accelerating environmental and planetary destruction; his work, every day in every way, to transform the political structure of capitalism in a right-wing, authoritarian direction.   

The U.S. working class is an integral part of the world-wide socialized labor force. Through its hands pass much of the world’s wealth. However, almost none of that wealth stays in the hands of the working class; the lion’s share goes to the exploiting class. 

Sooner or later this fact is going to reach the consciousness of the masses. Sooner or later they will not be able to go on in the old way, suffering the deceptions of the bosses, their politicians in both parties, and the capitalist media. Capitalism is becoming an obstacle to the survival of the workers and oppressed. That obstacle must be removed.

In the long run, no trade war or imposition of tariffs can change the fundamental contradictions of capitalism or stave off its inevitable collapse.

 

An exchange of views on: ‘Is Trumpism a temporary phenomenon?’

Part 1:

By Fred Goldstein posted on December 4, 2018.

The following is the first part of an exchange between Fred Goldstein and Manuel Raposo, a left-wing Portuguese communist and editor of the web magazine Mudar de Vida (jornalmudardevida.net).

Fred Goldstein: Your question goes to the heart of a very important issue. Is the Donald Trump presidency a temporary phenomenon, or is his regime a symptom of a deeper malady in the organism of imperialism? Will things go back to “normal” once he is gone?

I have been thinking about this very question a lot. I have also been trying to arrive at a method by which to answer it.

First, I put the Trump victory in the context of the rise of political reaction in Europe and its decidedly anti-immigrant, racist emphasis, similar to Trump’s.

It cannot just be coincidental that the AfD in Germany, the Freedom Party in Austria, the Viktor Orbán regime in Hungary, the right-wing government in Poland, the Brexit forces in Britain, the new right-wing coalition in Italy, the National Rally (formerly National Front) in France are all on the rise at the same time. We also see the recent gains by the anti-immigrant Sweden Democratic Party, the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece (an advanced version of Hitler-like forces) and other right-wing political manifestations in Europe.

Second, I think that the general crisis of protracted capitalist stagnation has caused sections of the ruling class on both sides of the Atlantic to move toward adopting a strongly reactionary option: They will use “divide and conquer” because they see no way out of their own crisis — that is, they do not see any significant renewed growth or revived capitalist prosperity in the future. They are all struggling to just stay afloat.

This is true for sections of the U.S. ruling class which have relied on tax cuts, deregulation of environmental protections and stock market speculation to bolster their profits. This class is acting like its situation is precarious and its members anticipate an economic collapse.

Third, the working classes in all the European countries, like the workers and the oppressed in the U.S., have all been subjected to the trauma of austerity early on, BEFORE the immigrant crisis struck Europe in full force.

In the U.S. there is no large influx of immigrants. In fact, there is a net outflow of migrants on the militarized southern border now. I think that the demoralized, alienated sections of the petty bourgeoisie and working class were predisposed to shift to the right after the failure of the Democratic Party and of European social democracy to come to their aid during the economic crisis of 2008, BEFORE the immigrant crisis.

The failure of social democracy and the historical communist parties to take an aggressive, class-conscious, class-struggle approach to fighting austerity left the masses open to a right-wing, anti-immigrant appeal.

Fourth, the right wing of the ruling classes — which are growing stronger and richer — are tempted to stoke the flames of anti-immigrant racism or are growing more comfortable with it. They mildly protest the more extreme anti-immigrant measures, but in the end the bosses are only truly concerned with the availability of a labor force and the impact of immigration policy on their international relations.

Finally, capitalism at a dead end forecloses the possibility of reviving capitalist prosperity. And capitalist democracy depends upon imperialist prosperity.

The bosses in the wealthy imperialist countries were able to afford a more developed form of capitalist democracy in the post-World War II period — that is, to buy off the discontented workers with crumbs.

The British imperialists were able to have their “democracy” when they had a world empire. Once the empire was lost, the British working class was subjected to Thatcherite austerity and now they have the Brexit forces in charge.

The French imperialists had their republics based upon having a lesser empire in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Now they have the growing right-wing orientation of President Emmanuel Macron, with the National Rally party breathing down the necks of the so-called “moderate” bourgeoisie.

And U.S. imperialism constructed a bourgeois democracy on the basis of having established itself as a world power during and after World War I and having taken over large parts of the British and the French empires out of the ashes of WWII. The bosses attained world imperialist supremacy. On that basis they were able to make concessions.

Cannot revive imperialist prosperity

While Wall Street and the Pentagon are still the dominant imperialist power, they cannot revive imperialist prosperity, which is the economic foundation of capitalist democracy. This is the fundamental point about the future after Trump. Capitalist democracy requires imperialist prosperity to finance it. Capitalist democracy in its more vigorous sense must be funded by concessions. This is true not only in the oppressed countries, but also in the big capitalist countries.

The Trump regime may be a distorted form of capitalist reaction, peculiarly shaped by Trump’s style and personality. But whatever the peculiarities of the Trump regime — and there are many — the underlying reaction that he has stoked and consolidated is not going away anytime soon.

The reaction may be slowed down somewhat if the ruling class removes him. There may be a temporary respite if he is driven out or defeated at the polls. But in the long run, capitalism is in a stage of decline, stagnation and austerity.

The only thing that can push back the reaction in the U.S. is the awakening of the proletariat and the oppressed. No one knows when this will happen or how it will develop. But then no one knew that the tremendous teachers’ strikes were coming. These strikes spread like a wildfire from West Virginia to Kentucky, to Oklahoma, to Arizona, to Colorado, to North Carolina.

These strikes took everyone by surprise — the ruling class, the labor bureaucracy, the educational establishment — and the educational workers, who were organized despite the resistance of the government and the union leadership. All the strikes were technically illegal, but the ruling class wisely decided not to enforce the law. This showed in a microcosm what the working class is capable of when pushed to the wall.

The teachers’ struggle has died down for now. But the resentment, the poverty and privation that drove it to burst the bounds of bourgeois legality and conventional subservience to the higher-ups is spreading below.

Marxism has nothing in common with economic determinism. It recognizes that many factors affect political outcomes. Leaders, parties, financial institutions, historical and cultural traditions, natural disasters, etc., all must be taken into consideration.

In the long run, however, Marxism regards the economic factor as the dominant factor. The crisis of capitalist austerity is determining the growth of political reaction, and this reaction must be fought tooth and nail by the workers and the oppressed. History is made by the inevitable awakening of the masses.

This is the hope to turn things around.