Trump, the generals and the FBI

By Fred Goldstein, posted February 6, 2018.  

A most remarkable and telling indicator of where the ruling class stands today on the question of war and peace is the widespread acceptance of the Trump administration’s open surrender of civilian control to the military. Three high-ranking generals are his close aides in the White House: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly.

An axiom of imperialist democracy is civilian control over the military. This has never been honored. The military has always been able to make its influence felt in the White House.  But this facade has always been maintained as a matter of doctrine in order to sustain the fiction of U.S. democracy.

And the capitalist media, instead of sounding the alarm about the danger posed by the military, have praised the generals as “the adults in the room” who will restrain Trump.

The ruling class has been silent about Trump’s State of the Union speech. He attacked China and Russia as adversaries and promised to reverse the decades-long policy of weapons limitation with a gigantic nuclear weapons buildup to come. Plans for “modernization” of the nuclear arsenal, begun at the end of the Obama administration, have been greatly expanded by Trump.

Military as a Trump defender

With Donald Trump, the military has attained a goal that it sought for years: a major share of political control at the center of the capitalist government. This occupation of the White House by the military brass is particularly dangerous as the Trump administration lays plans for a military attack on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The achievement of this long-sought goal of the Pentagon has more than just military implications. The three high-ranking generals in the White House have political input on both military and domestic policy. These generals — and the entire military — need Trump. They can count on his bellicose, belligerent bluster to give them cover for their aggressive, expansionary military plans. Furthermore, he is the one who let them in the door and enabled them.

Trump gave them more troops for the battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa; more authority to carry out military operations without oversight; full authority to launch drone strikes without having to check with Washington. Above all, he promised them a vast increase in the military budget and authorized a $1.2 trillion nuclear buildup. He has been the arms salesman in chief, making $110 billion in deals for arms to Saudi Arabia.

This dangerous escalation of militarism has gone largely uncriticized in the capitalist media.

The billionaires and bankers in the administration and beyond need Trump. They thrive off his tax cuts, the destruction of corporate and environmental regulations, the giveaways of public lands and the sea coasts to big oil, and the destruction of regulatory agencies. Gary Cohen of Goldman Sachs, head of the National Economic Council; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of Goldman Sachs; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil; and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a billionaire financier and buyout king — all have circled around Trump to ward off any threats to his presidency.

What does this mean politically for the generals, the Pentagon and the masses? It means Trump’s Wall Street appointees have just as much at stake as the generals in protecting the president.

As of this moment, until Trump’s crisis becomes far more serious, the brass in the White House and beyond will defend him against the Mueller investigation. They will defend his draconian, repressive immigration policies. They will defend his playing with nuclear catastrophe in Korea. They will defend him from anything that undermines his hold on the White House.

Trump vs. the FBI

For example, in Trump’s furious struggle against the FBI, the Justice Department and much of the capitalist establishment, the brass stood with Trump. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray went to appeal to the White House to stop the release of an anti-FBI, anti-Mueller memo drawn up by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes. The memo was designed to protect Trump from Mueller’s investigation into his relations with Russia. Gen. Kelly met with the two officials and turned them down, telling the public that the President wants the memo out “pretty quick.”

The chief executive of U.S. imperialism, with the consent of his entire administration, together with the Republican Party leadership in the House of Representatives, are in a campaign to discredit the FBI as being partisan against Trump and part of a “deep state” conspiracy.

How should this fight between Trump and the FBI be viewed?

The White House, the chief purveyor of violence, war and reaction on the planet, is at war with the FBI. But the FBI is the supreme capitalist institution of repression and persecution. It is now operating in 70 countries. It is the implacable enemy of the radical movement, liberation organizations and all the oppressed, as well as the unions and other working-class organizations. It has persecuted communists, socialists, anarchists, Black liberation organizations, civil rights organizations and anti-war activists ever since its inception after WWI. The FBI and the Pentagon are twin enemies of the workers and oppressed worldwide.

But the more Trump tries to discredit the FBI and the Justice Department, the more he is accused of violating the “independence of the FBI and the Justice Department.”

Post-Watergate rules and protocols

Why is it that the Trump administration and the Republican Party are being condemned by the anti-Trump press and the Democratic Party for violating long-standing protocols against presidential meddling in the Justice Department and the FBI? Indeed, the Democratic Party has become the staunchest defender of this reactionary spy agency, the political police of the ruling class.

First of all, we must understand what the corporate media and politicians mean by an “independent” FBI and Justice Department.

During the Watergate crisis, Richard Nixon tried to use elements of the CIA and the FBI against the Democratic Party and, in general, against his political opponents. This led to a strong movement in the ruling class and the political establishment to prevent the use of the spy agencies against a president’s political enemies. To make it plain, capitalist democracy was supposed to bar the use of the repressive apparatus by one political faction in the ruling class against its opponents.

The idea of the “independent” FBI and Justice Department meant that the White House was not supposed to communicate with the FBI or the Justice Department except under rare circumstances. For example, when Bill Clinton met with Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, on the tarmac of a Phoenix airport in June 2016 — while Hillary Clinton was under investigation for using a personal email account as Secretary of State — Lynch had to recuse herself from the investigation. The automatic assumption was that Bill Clinton was trying to influence Lynch in favor of Hillary Clinton. Lynch’s recusal followed protocol.

Trump and military vs. capitalist legality

The fact that Trump is on a crusade to violate bourgeois legality is a matter of concern to the workers and the oppressed. Trump’s crusade is open. The military has its own hatred and contempt for bourgeois democracy — which can stand in their way of launching war and aggression — but they are quiet and act behind the scenes.

Our concern, of course, has nothing to do with defending the FBI or the Justice Department. It is that Trump and the generals’ contempt for bourgeois legality, custom and protocol has been, and will be, turned against the masses, as exemplified by the open attempt to ban Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.

The workers and all the oppressed need to know what’s happening in the ruling-class struggle over the FBI. The Mueller investigation into alleged Russian attempts to influence the elections is a false inquiry, as far as the exploited classes are concerned. The very premise of the investigation is calculated to sow anti-Russian chauvinism and war fever among the population. It is meant to bolster the military buildup, including nuclear weapons.

Trump is trying from the right to overturn all the rules regarding political interference, influence and bourgeois legality — not just in the Mueller investigation but in many spheres. Undocumented workers are kidnapped off the streets by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Torch-bearing Nazis and Klansmen in Charlottesville, Va., were praised as “good people.” Trump openly rakes in profits from his businesses while he is president and refuses to submit his tax returns.

Trump violates nuclear treaties by commissioning new weapons. He unilaterally pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord. He threatens to tear up the Iran Treaty, which was signed by four imperialist countries plus Russia and China. His mode of operation is to overstep bourgeois norms and violate bourgeois legality in the interest of political reaction.

The only way to stop the anti-working-class lawlessness of Trump and his generals and bankers in the White House is to mobilize the masses in the streets for militant resistance. A place to start would be a massive anti-war struggle demanding “Hands Off Korea” and saying “NO to the nuclear buildup,” which Trump and his military handlers have put on the agenda.

Trump and the ruling class, from Davos to DACA to Mueller

By Fred Goldstein, posted January 29, 2018.

His speech at Davos was an attempt to partially get back into the imperialist fold without backing away completely from his super-power, reactionary, nationalist arrogance. It is dawning on the Trump grouping that he has weakened the entire imperialist camp.

Jan. 29 ― Donald Trump, the racist, bigoted, authoritarian, right-wing chief executive of U.S. imperialism, who is despised by the workers and oppressed masses of the world, was operating on several fronts last week.

Trump went to Davos, Switzerland, to attend a gathering of billionaires and millionaires. The representatives of the European ruling class there played to his ego, flattering him and treating him like an emperor.

At the same time that he was hobnobbing around Davos, rubbing shoulders with fellow members of the ruling class, Trump’s two immigration hawk henchmen, Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and adviser Stephen Miller, were in Washington working on his proposed draconian, punitive immigration bill, which has been denounced by the immigrant movement as a “white supremacist” hostage bill.

As Trump deplaned in Davos, he was confronted by charges, corroborated by numerous news sources, that he had illegally tried to have Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired last June. His reply: “Fake news.”

Yet the European bankers gave Trump the royal treatment, taking their cue from the Saudi princes who provided a string of musicians to play for him as he entered the conference hall. He was praised by the corporate financiers for his tax cuts and deregulation, which sent their stock prices soaring. Corporate Europe organized a dinner for him with the heads of the top 15 European corporations.

Their goal was to placate Trump enough to keep him from launching an attack on the European imperialists, the European Union and NATO ― customary punching bags for his chauvinist, imperialist arrogance. In this, they largely succeeded. Trump stuck to a mild, 15-minute speech drawn up by his handlers. But he was booed when he went off script and denounced the “lying press.”

Trump took personal credit for the rise in the stock market and the tax cuts. Undoubtedly the parasitic European bondholders were elated. Trump’s key line was “America is open for business,” aimed at enticing European investors to cash in on low tax rates and minimal regulation.

Trump’s Davos speech a sign of weakness

His speech was a muted attempt to partially get back into the imperialist fold without backing away completely from his super-power, reactionary, nationalist arrogance. He tried to assure the audience that “America first does not mean alone.”

It is not that Trump has had some inner conversion from his great-power chauvinism. Rather it is dawning on the Trump camp that by breaking the U.S.-European alliance, he has weakened the entire imperialist camp on both sides of the Atlantic, especially the U.S. side.

The Pentagon needs NATO, along with German and French imperialism, in its struggle to subordinate Russia and to complete the conquest of Ukraine. The Pentagon and the State Department need the collaboration of French and British imperialism in Africa, where both former colonial powers have deep roots. And Trump needs the cooperation of European imperialism if he hopes to undermine the Iran nuclear treaty.

Neither camp is able to deal with the state-planned, socialist side of China’s economic, commercial and diplomatic expansion. China is steadily progressing with its One Belt One Road project to establish an international network of railways, roads, pipelines and utility grids linking China with Central Asia, West Asia and parts of South Asia.

In a concession, Trump even spoke about the possibility of re-engaging with the Trans Pacific Partnership ― a sure sign that the weakness of Washington and the strength of China are beginning to sink in.

And as the Trump administration edges closer and closer to war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and potentially with China and even possibly Russia, it will need the backing or at least the neutrality of European imperialism.

Neither imperialist camp ― the U.S. or Europe ― is capable of dealing with the oppressed and the working class of the world without the other. Neither camp is capable of reining in the inter-imperialist antagonisms or of keeping a war from breaking out that could destabilize the capitalist, imperialist system. Trump, of course, may revert quickly to his old arrogance. But, for the moment, that is what accounts for Trump’s “moderate” behavior at Davos.

Trump’s DACA proposal: a white-supremacist hostage bill

Before going to Davos, Trump announced he had a proposal that would solve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals crisis by giving a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers and for people eligible to be Dreamers but who had never signed up. These young immigrants would get a so-called path to citizenship over a period of 12 years.

However, the Trump proposal, called the Dream Act, also demands $30 billion for his border wall. And it would sharply curtail family reunification immigration, a major component of legal immigration, by excluding the parents of Dreamers from any legalization. It also shuts down the system that each year allows some 55,000 people from all regions of the world to get visas to enter the U.S. on a lottery basis.

The White House proposal would limit family sponsorship to spouses and minor children. It would eliminate a number of existing categories, including adult children, both married and unmarried; parents of adult U.S. citizens; and siblings of adult U.S. citizens. Experts have estimated that cutting these categories would reduce the roughly 1 million green cards given out yearly by 25 to 50 percent.

A document obtained by CNN goes into more detail: “The framework [of the bill] could allow detaining individuals indefinitely as they await deportation for months and years ― something that has been curtailed as the result of constitutional concerns from courts. The proposals could also vastly expand the definitions of criminal offenses that could subject an individual to deportation.” (Jan. 26)

The immigrant rights movement and representatives of the Dreamers have denounced the Trump proposal, refusing to put other immigrants at risk in order to get a bill for themselves.

Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream and a potential beneficiary of the Dream Act, commented: “Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note. Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.

“To Miller and Trump’s white supremacist proposal, immigrant youth say: No.” (unitedwedream.org, Jan. 25)

DACA-recipient Juan Escalante, in a release from America’s Voice, wrote: “It’s no secret that Miller, along with Gen. John ‘Adult in the Room’ Kelly, has been penning some of the most heinous immigration policies coming out of the White House. One might even wonder if Miller and Kelly, not President Donald Trump, are running the government from the sidelines ― exploiting Trump’s short attention span. …

“What the White House is selling the American people is nothing but a nativist wish list that would reduce the number of immigrants, especially people of color born in countries that Trump considers ‘shitholes.’” (Jan. 26)

Trump, Mueller: bourgeois legality vs. mass struggle

Inside the Davos meeting hall, Trump was besieged with questions about how he tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a criminal investigation into Trump’s relationship to Russia and his financial connections to the Russian oligarchs. Trump branded the charges as “fake news.”

But according to the New York Times of Jan. 26, Trump ordered his attorney, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller last June. McGahn, fearing his own criminal liability, refused the order. The number of witnesses interviewed led even Fox News to confirm the story.

The story has been the subject of endless network talk shows, news shows and the capitalist press.

The thrust of the discussion is that the attempted firing of Mueller fits in with Trump’s efforts to get FBI head James Comey to go easy on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. When Comey refused to do so, Trump fired him.

The anti-Trump moderates and liberals are going over and over the various possible legal violations, procedural violations, violations of protocol, etc., that Trump has committed.

However, they won’t fight him politically for his racism, his misogyny, his militaristic jingoism, his threats of nuclear war, his anti-immigrant chauvinism, his support for voter suppression, etc. When they talk about undermining “our democracy,” they always refer to the Russians allegedly interfering with the elections. But they do not bring up the most serious interference with capitalist democracy: voter suppression.

Millions of African Americans, Latinx, Native people and poor whites have been kept from voting because of photo ID laws, redistricting to reduce the weight of the vote in poor neighborhoods and urban areas, shutting down polling stations, disqualifying people with felony convictions, etc.

All the bourgeois commentators keep referring back to the resignation of Richard Nixon, who faced impeachment over the Watergate break-in. But so far Trump has given no indication that he would honor bourgeois legality. Furthermore, the House of Representatives is far to the right, and it is the House that would be charged with initiating impeachment proceedings.

These commentators and the Democratic Party leadership repeat over and over again that Russia tried to “subvert our democracy.” Whatever Putin did or did not do, the democracy in this country is a very restricted version of capitalist democracy. The capitalist class has access to all the levers of government, communications, and the powers of the state. It is their democracy. What democratic rights exist for the workers and the oppressed within this suffocating capitalist system have been fought for, often with blood, for generations.

African Americans have fought for civil rights. Labor unions have fought for workers’ rights. Women have fought equality. So has the LGBTQ community, from the uprising at Stonewall to all the battles that followed. Immigrants have battled against deportations, disabled people have struggled for accessibility, and so on.

Yet no matter what rights the workers and oppressed have won under capitalist society, these rights are truncated, narrowly confined and under constant attack. The bosses are the ones who are in a constant struggle to take back the democratic rights the working class and oppressed have won.

Class-conscious workers should not fall for this phony pro-war investigation of Russia to get leverage against Trump. What we need is a massive movement to push back the entire right-wing Trump agenda and challenge the cops, ICE and the FBI who are oppressors of the people.

We do not benefit when one faction of the ruling class removes another faction if the masses sit idly by.

Two-party DACA cruelty: Migrants pawn in gov’t shutdown

The working-class movement and the oppressed here must answer Trump and the entire racist, anti-immigrant establishment with cross-border solidarity, with class solidarity toward all workers, no matter where they come from, in a common struggle against the exploiters.

UPDATE: Jan 23 — The Democratic Party leadership has agreed to end the government shutdown in return for a pledge by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell to “be fair” in taking up immigration. The lives of 800,000 dreamers are in the hands of the Senate and House Republican anti-immigration racists.

By Fred Goldstein, posted January 23, 2018.

Jan. 22 — The present government shutdown crisis is essentially about immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). There could be a surprise deal at any time that would put an end to the shutdown. But this crisis has already revealed much.

In this struggle, the basic characteristics of the primary players have come to the fore.

The relentless, brutal, racist cruelty of Donald Trump and the Republican Party has stood out. On the other hand, the cowardice and opportunism of the Democratic Party leadership has been laid bare.

The cynics of the Republican Party tried to force the Democratic Party into a deal to stop the shutdown by holding out a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Republicans don’t care one whit about CHIP. Funding for CHIP was passed in the House on Nov. 3, 2017, and has been sitting in the Senate ever since. The health care of 9 million children has been held hostage by the Republicans as a wedge against the Democrats.

At the same time, the Democratic Party leadership, in the person of Sen. Chuck Schumer, got on his knees before Trump, offering $20 billion for a border wall along the Mexican border as part of an attempt to get a last-minute deal and avoid a government shutdown.

This craven concession to the racism, repression and massive militarization of the border is aiding Trump’s hard line on immigration. As such, it is unconscionable opportunism. It should be noted as well that the Democrats, led by Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, are motivating an end to the shutdown by citing the need for military preparedness and planning.

And beneath it all, it is clear that while there is a “shutdown” of many vital social services, with tens of thousands of government workers facing unpaid furloughs, the repressive apparatus of the state — the military, ICE, the FBI, courts, etc. — will continue to function.

DACA at core of shutdown struggle

At the core of the shutdown is the struggle over continuation of the DACA program set up by former President Barack Obama. It allowed more than 800,000 immigrants, who were brought here by their parents when they were children, to stay, provided they went to school, joined the military or otherwise conformed to government guidelines.

These Dreamers came out of the shadows of living without papers, revealed themselves to the immigration authorities and registered for Dreamer status. They all now have work permits and have been living here for years. Most of them have no connection to or are completely unfamiliar with their countries of origin.

This present government shutdown crisis was set off when Trump cancelled the DACA program last Sept. 5 and destroyed the protected status of DACA immigrants. Trump gave Congress until March 5 to “fix” DACA. This was Trump’s way of ducking immediate responsibility for the mass deportation of 800,000-plus Dreamers while appealing to the right-wing base of the Republican Party and his own base by being tough on immigration.

In the shutdown struggle, Trump has been guided by his military handler, John Kelly — a Marine general and his chief of staff. Kelly and Stephen Miller, a right-wing Trump adviser, have blocked the way for any deal on allowing DACA to resume. Kelly represents the direct intervention of the military brass into White House politics.

Kelly, the military and Trump

As former head of the Southern Command, Kelly was an enforcer of the repressive political, social and economic conditions in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Latin American countries in general. He and the Pentagon, along with the corporate exploiters of Latin America, are prime movers of the immigration crisis.

Kelly has been at Trump’s side during crucial points in negotiations on DACA. According to numerous reports, Kelly was with Trump in the hours before he met with Sens. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a Republican, about a compromise resolution. It would have offered full status for Dreamers in return for a downpayment on funding for Trump’s wall on the southern border with Mexico.

While Trump was reportedly friendly to the proposal, Kelly thought it too moderate. He called on Republicans to attend a meeting to sink the potential deal.

Graham is a hardcore militarist, allied with Sen. John McCain, and a hawk for war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  But Graham wants to stop Trump from ruining the reputation of U.S. imperialism at home and abroad by preventing him from expelling 800,000 Dreamers. After Trump invited him to come to the White House with Durbin following a friendly phone call, the two showed up to find that immigration hawks were in the room along with Trump. That was when Trump went into his racist rage about “shithole countries,” referring to African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, and blew up the chance for any deal.

Kelly-Miller ambush

According to media reports, Kelly got on the phone before the meeting and encouraged Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, two anti-immigration fanatics, to come to the meeting. It was an ambush.

Afterwards, Graham spoke to the press to complain. According to an article by Jonathan Blitzer, someone “close to the White House” told him that “Miller and Kelly are to the right of the president on immigration. The two of them were with the president just before the Oval Office meeting with Graham and Durbin, and the president got really worked up.” (New Yorker, Jan. 17)

A similar event took place when Sen. Chuck Schumer went to meet with Trump. The only person in the room, besides Trump, Schumer and a Schumer aide, was Gen. Kelly. After the meeting, Kelly phoned Republicans to tell them that the deal was too liberal, even though Schumer reportedly offered Trump $20 billion for the wall.

According to another report, “Kelly, the retired four-star Marine who’d sat aside Trump during lunch … called Schumer. The outline discussed earlier in the day was too liberal, Kelly said, even with a discussion of Trump’s full border request. It wasn’t enough to keep the president negotiating.” (CNN, Jan. 20)

Having been in such a high position in the military hierarchy, Kelly has deep connections to the brass, both active duty and retired. Kelly does not function as an individual or in a political vacuum. In fact, he functions side-by-side on a daily basis with Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a retired Marine general who in 2004 infamously led the destruction of Fallujah in Iraq.

The ‘grownups in the room’

The capitalist press has praised Kelly, Mattis and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (active duty). The mainstream capitalist media and political establishment that have been fearful of Trump used to express sighs of relief about the military “grownups in the room” who would supposedly supervise or exercise a restraining influence on Trump.

One look at Kelly and it is clear who needs restraining.

There is another lesson inherent in the “government shutdown.” The  “essential services” that remain operational and fully functional are the hard core of the repressive forces of the capitalist state. To the ruling class, even a government shutdown must not interfere with the repression and persecution of the masses.

For example, the Border Patrol, ICE, FBI, military, courts and U.S. marshals largely remain open and fully functional. They continue to carry out raids, round up immigrants, prepare for military aggression, and spy on and hound progressives, the poor and the oppressed.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times of Jan. 20, the lion’s share of the layoffs would take place in the social service agencies:

  • Housing and Urban Development would furlough 7,500 out of its 7,800 workers, or 96 percent.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency would furlough 13,700 out of 14,400 workers, or 95 percent.
  • The Department of Education would furlough 3,700 out of 3,900 workers, or 95 percent.
  • The Commerce Department would lay off 41,600 of 47,900 workers or 87 percent. According to the Times, “work would stall across a wide swath of scientific and economic agencies, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the Census Bureau and the International Trade Administration.”
  • The Department of Interior would furlough 56,600 out of 70,400 workers, or 80 percent.
  • Health and Human Services would lay off 50 percent of its 81,000 workers.

But the courts and the Justice Department would furlough only 19,500 out of 114,600 employees, or 17 percent.  And Homeland Security would lay off just 13 percent of 241,400 employees.

From a trade union point of view, this shutdown can be viewed as a government lockout of hundreds of thousands of workers, many of whom are under union contract and represented by the American Federation of Government Employees.

From a broader social point of view, it represents a lockout of millions of people who rely on government services that were to be shut down.

Fight back against criminalization of immigrants

The DACA fight is part of a larger assault by the Trump administration to criminalize immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security declared that basically all 11 million undocumented immigrants are “criminals” subject to deportation at any time. Their crime? Crossing the border to flee poverty and repression brought about by U.S. imperialism’s ransacking of their countries.

A further part of this attempt to criminalize the immigrant population was Trump’s cancellation of temporary protected status (TPS) for almost 262,000 Salvadorians, 86,000 Hondurans, 58,000 Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans.

TPS was granted by Washington in 1990 to immigrants fleeing war, the aftermath of natural disasters and other dangerous conditions in their home countries. Of course, these conditions were caused by forced underdevelopment, exploitation and death-squad governments created by U.S. imperialism in the first place.

Many of those with TPS have lived here for years. They have set down roots here. Have built families here, own homes, have children who are in schools, etc. That is because their status has been renewed at regular intervals.

The Mexican border was created by U.S. capitalism when it stole half of Mexico in 1848 and ran roughshod over Native lands. It has become a racist political barrier dictated by Washington and the bosses and bankers in the U.S. It has become the basis for endless repression and discrimination. And it has led to superexploitation of immigrant workers in the U.S.

The working-class movement and the oppressed here must answer Trump and the entire racist, anti-immigrant establishment with cross-border solidarity, with class solidarity toward all workers, no matter where they come from, in a common struggle against the exploiters.

 

Trump presidency survives by paying off the ruling class

By Fred Goldstein, posted January 9, 2018.

Journalist Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury” depicts Donald Trump as totally unfit to serve as the chief executive of U.S. imperialism. It describes the Oval Office as a snakepit populated by subordinates and relatives at each other’s throats, but who all have a low opinion of Trump and his abilities. Many, according to Wolff, question his personal and mental capacities.

The publicity given to the book is a clear signal that the capitalist media and many pundits are trying to undermine the Trump presidency. They give great publicity to the quote from Steve Bannon about Donald Trump Jr.’s attendance at a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Bannon called Trump Jr.’s presence “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

This may have been Bannon’s way of keeping himself from being indicted by the Mueller Russia investigation, or it may have been driven by ultra-right factionalism. But the widespread coverage of this quote was aimed at breaking up the Trump-Bannon axis, which lasted even after Bannon was fired.

Bannon is an ultra-right ideologue whose aim has been to destroy the political center of the Republican Party. Trump, on the other hand, is a right-wing, racist, misogynistic bigot without any particular ideology. He is a pragmatist known to be easily manipulated, so the bourgeois establishment is pleased at the split caused by the book. They fear Bannon’s influence on Trump more than they fear Trump himself.

Trump, the state and the ruling class

These events raise the question of the relations between the ruling class, its executive in the form of the presidency, and the capitalist state as a whole.

It is a tenet of Marxism that the capitalist government is the executive committee of the ruling class. Its job in general is to enforce the will of the bosses and bankers. When the capitalist class is split, this function can become complex, but the general claim is certainly true. However, Marxism is also dialectical and recognizes contradictions.

Right now there is a contradiction between the immediate short-term interests of the corporate boardrooms and parlors and the long-term interests of the ruling class to maintain the U.S. as a global imperialist power.

On the one hand, Trump is showering the bosses and bankers with riches — billions in tax cuts, gas and oil drilling rights, mining rights on public lands, destruction of environmental regulations, rollbacks of banking regulations and labor protections, etc.

On the other hand, he has taken a hatchet to many long-standing policies of imperialism abroad and capitalism in the U.S. that can do long-term harm to broad ruling-class interests.

Capitalist advisory establishment and the ruling class

In this discussion it is important to distinguish between the advisory establishment to the ruling class and the class itself. The bourgeoisie over the years has created a vast stable of intellectuals who serve different factions of the ruling class.

There are think-tank intellectuals devoted to ferreting out the interests of the imperialists as they see them. There are journalistic scribes with different political lines, depending on which faction of the bourgeoisie and the political establishment they are aligned with. There is a vast array of academic advisers who go back and forth between the universities and the capitalist government.

They all vie with one another to serve the interests of imperialism and become the favored mouthpieces. Their immediate perspective can be quite different from the immediate perspective in the boardrooms, however, even as they seek to serve capitalist interests.

While various journalists, think-tank bourgeois intellectuals, academic pundits and commentators of all sorts are aghast at Trump as he swings his diplomatic and political wrecking ball, the bosses are focused on the money.

Trump drives bosses’ gravy train

As long as Trump is in the presidency, the bankers and bosses are going to get much of their way with respect to profits, business, money. Under the various Democratic and Republican administrations, they have been chipping away at public land and coastline, at bank regulations, at environmental regulations, etc. But now they are enjoying unusually expanded freedom to plunder the land and the sea. They are exulting in the cuts on corporate taxes, from 35 percent to 21 percent, and billions from other cuts. Whatever Trump’s shortcomings, they can overlook them for now, because the billionaires don’t want the gravy train to stop.

The military-industrial complex — Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, United Technologies, etc. — is feeding off the increase in military spending to $700 billion for nuclear weapons, anti-missile systems, new warships, warplanes, drones and missiles as Trump stokes the flames of war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, feeds the Saudi war machine’s assaults on Yemen, ships weapons to Ukraine and positions arms to threaten Russia, China, Iran and other countries.

Military stocks rose to an all-time high when Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the bourgeois-feudal monarchy of Saudi Arabia. He has been the arms salesman in chief, pushing offensive missile systems, fighter jets and ships on Japan and South Korea as part of the war buildup against the DPRK.

When the government checks come rolling in to military corporate treasuries, the embarrassments and limitations of Trump can be easily overlooked for the moment. The mass deportations, racist code words, misogyny and sexual harassment, homophobia — all are brushed aside.

It is no coincidence that when the Wolff book came out, Trump quickly made a public announcement that he was opening up the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts to the oil and gas industry for drilling. The executives of ExxonMobil, Chevron and Conoco were not giving their primary attention to the scandals of the White House at that moment.

Energy Fuels Resources, which mines uranium, got the Trump administration to slash the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears public area down to 202,000 acres. That put the uranium deposits outside the national monument. Native lands stolen from five different nations were redirected to the private sector by this ruling.

Trump has taken an axe to ruling-class institutions. He has launched attack after attack on the FBI, the crown jewel of the ruling class’s repressive apparatus, in order to discredit the Mueller investigation into his relations with Russia — even though the FBI has ruthlessly carried out the destruction of progressive and revolutionary organizations since World War I.

Trump has also taken an axe to traditional imperialist alliances. He has denounced NATO and demanded that NATO countries pay more for their militaries. He has humiliated the presidents of Mexico, Canada and Australia, among others. He has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and torn the mask off the U.S. as a “neutral” mediator in the struggle with the Palestinians.

In addition, Trump pulled $1 billion in funding from the United Nations. He pulled out of the Paris climate accord and jettisoned talks for a pact on immigration and asylum.

Reagan administration and the ruling class

When the right-wing government of Ronald Reagan took over in 1981, the majority of the ruling class was deeply concerned. Reagan was the darling of the ultra-right and stood outside the main capitalist establishment as he climbed the political ladder in California. His wing of the Republican Party was at war with the Rockefeller wing.

Reagan started out his term in office by viciously breaking the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. The workers who went on strike were then banned from federal employment for life. It was the first time in decades that such a brutal, premeditated attack was made on a labor union.

This was followed up by a full-scale anti-labor offensive against copper miners in the West, meat packers and Caterpillar workers in the Midwest and more. Reagan and his corporate allies herded scabs in all strikes that took place.

Reagan slashed welfare spending by hundreds of billions, attacked welfare rights and turned the money over to the military for a vast expansion.

At first the ruling class was deeply concerned, not for the workers or the welfare recipients, but from fear of a rebellion from below. But there was no real fightback and the labor leadership not only abandoned the welfare recipients but capitulated to the anti-labor offensive. Reagan got away with it! Then the bosses and bankers and their politicians adjusted to the new normal of reaction. They laughed all the way to the bank.

Trump coming after us — we must come after him

The deep support that Trump is getting from the Republican Party is a reflection of the bosses’ attitude toward him. They are sticking with him in this latest crisis. They have tied their fate to him for now. The Republican congressional gang wants to attack Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. If they start down this road, they are counting on Trump’s backing.

For political reasons, he may not be so anxious to launch such an attack. But Paul Ryan and the Republicans have not given up on this program at all.

Just as during the Reagan administration, the bosses and bankers are not rushing in to stop Trump — for the moment. They may ultimately unseat him, but for now they are watching to see how much he can get away with. They will stick with him to try and get the last nickel in profits out of his rulings and laws. Until he endangers their profits and their social stability, the ruling class proper, as opposed to their pundits and advisers, will stick with him, whatever his embarrassments, limitations or diplomatic blunders.

What did not happen under Reagan was any fightback. And the Democratic Party is following the same route they did under Reagan: reliance on electoral politics and now the hope that the Mueller investigation will unseat Trump. Even the recent suspension of Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans in this country — on top of denial of protection for tens of thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans — has not moved the so-called Democratic opposition to fight back.

Mass resistance in the streets, the factories, the retail stores and service industries, the campuses, and the oppressed and immigrant communities is the only way to stop this right-wing wrecking machine.

Trump wants to come after us. It is time for us to come after him.

In the Mueller vs. Trump fight, an independent, working-class struggle is needed

It is harmful to the masses to let a faction of the ruling class lead the battle against Trump. Mueller and his grouping will do it in an entirely unprincipled way which will do nothing to impede the attacks on the people.

Robert Mueller and Donald Trump

Dec. 4 — While the Trump administration’s attacks upon the masses continue without letup, the political struggle within the ruling class intensifies and the political crisis of the system deepens.

On the one hand, the Republican Party and Trump are about to finalize a tax giveaway to millionaires and billionaires to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, even as they starve social services, health care, education and environmental protection and threaten hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

On the other hand, the special prosecutor’s office under Robert Mueller has just forced Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, to enter a plea agreement that can implicate high Trump officials in secret dealings with the Russians during the election campaign of 2016.

It is harmful to the masses to let a faction of the ruling class lead the battle against Trump. Mueller and his grouping will do it in an entirely unprincipled way which will do nothing to impede the attacks on the people.

Many, many struggles have been waged on numerous fronts against capitalist reaction — on the picket lines, in the communities, on the campuses, outside detention centers, in the prisons and on the reservations. These struggles must grow stronger and wider until they eclipse the Mueller investigation and the FBI — enemies of the people. The popular struggle against Trump must take center stage.

Mueller v. Trump pushback against right-wing move

The move by Mueller against Flynn is calculated to undermine Trump at the moment that he is moving to push things even more sharply to the right. In fact, the Mueller investigation is as much about Trump as it is about Russia. Mueller took Trump totally by surprise by not giving the White House even a moment’s advance warning of the deal with Flynn.

While the ruling class is salivating over the planned tax cuts for billionaires, oil companies, real estate moguls, etc., they are also applauding Trump’s attack on all forms of regulations that limit the damage the bosses can do to the workers, the environment, immigrants, education and so on.

But while they are using Trump for their own enrichment, the imperialist rulers don’t want him to tear apart the global system of alliances and networks of subversion that they have built up over decades to protect their profit interests.

The announcement of Flynn’s plea deal came shortly after White House plans to move CIA Director Mike Pompeo into Rex Tillerson’s post as secretary of state were made public. Tillerson is no dove. He was CEO of the biggest private oil company in the world, ExxonMobil. He is a reactionary, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, who spent his career dealing with the heads of oil states and planning the plunder of oil-rich countries.

Tillerson: watchdog for Wall Street

Yet Tillerson is a watchdog for Wall Street who has differed with Trump on many things and has tried to uphold many of U.S. imperialism’s standard political positions in the world.

Tillerson helped keep Trump from pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement. He opposed pulling out of the Paris environmental accord. He held out for negotiations on the Korean crisis and was publicly rebuked by Trump, who said Tillerson was “wasting his time.” Tillerson was opposed to Trump’s alignment with Saudi Arabia’s blockade of Qatar, where there is a giant U.S. airbase. He tried to patch up U.S. relations with NATO after Trump called the NATO alliance “obsolete.”

When asked about Trump’s views that there were “good people” among the torch-carrying fascists in Charlottesville, Va., Tillerson replied that Trump “speaks for himself.” And it has been reported that Tillerson had deep reservations about the Muslim travel ban. These are all standard, mainstream imperialist positions expressing the basic interests of Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Pompeo: extreme Islamophobe, warhawk, Trump confidante

But Pompeo is far more right wing. He spends hours with Trump every day, traveling from Langley, Va., to the White House to brief Trump on developments. He is an ultra-warhawk who has spoken of assassinating north Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sabre-rattled at Iran, and is a fanatical Islamophobe on the same wavelength as the neofascist Britain First organization.

Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo is regarded as a trusted consultant by Trump. Trump just retweeted three concocted and violent anti-Muslim videos to his 144 million followers that came from Britain First. Pompeo defended the tweets.

Pompeo is also an ally of Frank Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney considers following the Koran to be “sedition,” which should be prosecuted. Pompeo has been on Gaffney’s radio program 20 times. Pompeo has publicly agreed with Gaffney that President Barack Obama was anti-Christian and pro-Islamic State group. (theatlantic.com, Dec. 3)

For the moment, Trump has pulled back on the removal of Tillerson, undoubtedly in response to the Mueller attack.

Democratic Party leaders, liberals, moderates push Russian card against Trump

The anti-Trump sectors of the ruling class, and especially the ruling-class advisory ranks in the media and the think tanks, as well as the Democratic Party leadership, are hoping that Mueller will be able to bring down Trump or push him back over the Russian connections. That is because they do not want to confront him politically for his racism, sexism and bigotry and his warmongering, Islamophobic, anti-working class, authoritarian style of rule.

The liberals and moderates, especially the Democratic Party leadership, feel that Trump and his family and administration are vulnerable because they are so entangled with Russian officials and capitalists. These anti-Trump forces have elected to confront him on a reactionary, anti-Russia basis, rather than on the basis of his reactionary policies and politics.

For them, the anti-Russia campaign has the twin virtues of keeping Pentagon military contracts flowing as well as promoting a geostrategic position of the military encirclement of Russia. That is what the attempt to seize all of Ukraine was about. Now U.S. battalions and anti-missile batteries are being moved within miles of Russia. The excuse given for these hostile maneuvers is that they are aimed at protecting Poland and the Baltic satellites of NATO.

Trump’s Russia entanglements and the banks

Trump’s vulnerability flows from his years of dealing with Russian oligarchs. During the 1990s and after the 2007 economic crisis, Trump’s access to big imperialist banks ran dry.

As this author wrote in an article titled “Behind the firing of Comey: A struggle within the U.S. ruling class,” which appeared in the May 16 issue of Workers World:

“[T]he only big bank that has lent money to Trump in recent years is Deutsche Bank, which was recently fined $630 million for laundering $10 billion worth of Russian money. (cnn.com, Jan. 31) The big New York Wall Street banks won’t lend to him because he has gone bankrupt six times, stiffing investors, contractors and workers.” (Wash. Post, Sept. 26, 2016, and wsj.com, March 20, 2016)

John Norris and Carolyn Kenney wrote of his relation to Russian oligarchs in “Trump’s Conflicts of Interest in Russia”: “As Fortune Magazine notes, during the 1990s, Trump found himself more than $4 billion in debt to more than 70 banks, and a series of bankruptcies, heavy financial losses, and debt restructuring lead almost all major American banks to simply refuse to do business with him. … [H]e began to rely very heavily on foreign banks for his lending.” (americanprogess.org, June 14)

Many more examples could be cited, including how a former Soviet official turned capitalist opened up his world headquarters in Trump Tower. But there is not space enough in this article to elaborate.

Trump, in other words, was too crooked for the crooks on Wall Street. But the Russian oligarchs, who had become billionaires overnight by plundering the destroyed socialist economy after the counterrevolution, first under Boris Yeltsin and then under Vladimir Putin, had money to spare to be invested and laundered. The Trump family, being shut out of Wall Street financing, was inevitably drawn to them.

Of course, politics follows the money, and the Trump family became entangled with Russia, financially and perhaps politically. This is what makes Trump legally vulnerable under U.S. capitalist law. It is on this that the neoliberals, Democratic Party bigwigs and anti-Trump sectors of the ruling class are pinning their hopes.

Workers and oppressed must take advantage of split to fight back

Whatever the particulars of the case, it would be to the detriment of the working class to let the ruling class lead the battle against Trump.

If the top labor leadership were not in the pockets of the bosses, it would have mounted massive struggles against the tax bill, opened up the fight for universal health care and defended the 800,000 DACA immigrants, as well as the tens of thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean facing deportation.

It would fight for a massive raise in the minimum wage and, above all, open up the battle against racism/white supremacy, sexism and anti-LGBTQ oppression. It would demand U.S. troops out of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa and south Korea, and an end to U.S. military exercises against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, hands off Venezuela and Honduras, and an end to the blockade of Cuba.

It would wage a struggle to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, not only in the interest of the environment, but in solidarity with the Native people whose land is being destroyed.

This would be the beginning of a minimal independent working- class program.

This is the way to fight Trump and Trumpism, as well as the neoliberalism of the Democratic Party imperialists.