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.

Greetings from Fred Goldstein

This talk was presented on Nov. 18 to the Workers World Party National Conference.

Greetings to the 2017 annual conference of Workers World Party.

I want to especially greet all the new comrades, candidates and friends who have come to participate with the party in evaluating past struggles and planning future struggles against capitalism and to build the fight pushing back exploitation and oppression of all types. We are here to chart a path to eventual socialist revolution. There will be ample time to discuss and thrash out the way to go forward.

Trump and his administration are hell-bent on bringing more suffering to the masses on every front and further enriching the already obscenely wealthy ruling class. They are fanning the flames of white supremacy, ravaging health care, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, carrying out witch hunts against undocumented workers, unleashing the police and fascist forces on oppressed communities, enabling the polluters to destroy the environment, and the list goes on.

They are also unleashing the military, escalating drone attacks, and Trump threatens nuclear war against the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] almost weekly. Of course, Trump is an authoritarian reactionary, racist bigot, but the rise of Trump can be laid directly at the feet of the previous administrations. Both imperialist parties, the Democratic and the Republican parties, aided and assisted in the breakup of the unions and played key roles in the deteriorating conditions for the masses.

I want to call attention to the fact that this conference coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  It is important for new comrades and friends to know that our party traces its roots back to that revolution. The revolution was carried out by the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. This revolution sent tremors of fear through the propertied classes of the world and especially the ruling classes in the imperialist countries, for it was the first time that an enslaved class, an exploited class, a downtrodden class seized and held state power.

It took the property of the bankers, the capitalists and the landlords and proceeded to construct a planned economy against all odds. The revolution went through many trials and tribulations, advances and setbacks until it was finally overcome 74 years later.

It is crucial to study the history of this revolution for its relevance to the struggle today. But what I want to stress here is that the Russian revolution was the opening shot, the very first stage, in the world historic transition from capitalism to socialism and communism.

It took place during World War I, the first major breakdown of the world imperialist system. There were revolutions and uprisings at the end of the war involving millions all throughout Europe and in the colonies. But under these conditions, it was only the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, who were prepared to take advantage of these events and overthrow the hated czarist and capitalist regime.

This revolution was forced to survive alone for decades in a world dominated by hostile imperialist powers. But the fact that the counterrevolution eventually prevailed in the USSR in no way negates the historical significance of this opening stage of the world socialist revolution.

In looking back, we want to reiterate that the socialist revolution in the USSR and the succeeding revolutions in Korea, Vietnam and China all arose out of the breakdown of the world imperialist system as well.

Fast forward to the present. …

Beginning in 2007, with the world financial and economic crisis, imperialism entered into a new stage, a stage of capitalism at a dead end. The capitalist system as a whole could no longer overcome its crisis of overproduction and has condemned more and more workers to unemployment, underemployment and poverty. This dead-end capitalism is also low-wage capitalism.  The bosses have created a global race to the bottom for the workers while they rake in huge profits.

This new phase of imperialism will inevitably open up revolutionary opportunities for the working class and oppressed. And just like in 1917, we must build the party in the spirit of Lenin, which is ideologically, strategically, organizationally and tactically prepared to take advantage of the revolutionary opportunities that are sure to come.

Let us be that party, like Lenin’s party, the party that its founder Sam Marcy sought to build, that will be ready for the coming crisis of world imperialism and U.S. capitalism, that is prepared to lead our class to victory.

Build Workers World Party.

Down with capitalism and imperialism.

Long live socialism.

Comey’s testimony and the Big Lie: Elections, democracy and the FBI

By Fred Goldstein posted on June 12, 2017.

Assuming that the FBI is ‘nonpolitical’ with respect to the capitalist political parties, all its neutrality goes out the window when it comes to the masses.

June 12 — Marxism can shed light on the June 8 testimony by ex-FBI Director James Comey to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meetings with Donald Trump. The best way to unravel what took place last week is to begin with the concept of the antagonisms within the ruling class, the meaning of “democracy” and the role of the state.

The so-called “Russia investigation” is a diversion from the fundamental issues that concern the mass of the people. They care about jobs, wages, health care, social security and so on.  This Russia debate is a way to sideline all these vital issues.

The Comey testimony, and all the publicity surrounding it, can best be understood in terms of the antagonisms within the ruling class. The majority of the bosses and bankers were opposed to Trump — until he won the election.

Big business quickly shifted gears. They backed this racist, sexist real estate mogul who is an authoritarian bigot. The ruling class was anxiously awaiting his tax cuts for the rich, his deregulation of industry and banking, and other giveaways to the millionaires and billionaires. But soon his policies began to unfold.

Muslim travel ban hurt U.S. business

His Muslim travel ban provoked national and international protest. In addition, it has made tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America decide not to come to the U.S. Tourism has declined, and applications for U.S. colleges and universities have dropped, with many foreign students going to Canada. Corporations are having trouble getting talent from overseas.

In short, Trump’s travel ban hurt U.S. big business.

Trump then struck a blow at the long-standing NATO alliance, between U.S. imperialism and European imperialism, by going to Brussels and calling the European countries deadbeats who don’t pay their “fair share” of military spending.

Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, defying Europe, China and the entire world. By doing so, he tried to put an end to these completely insufficient and nonbinding accords. This removed the cover under which U.S. big business had expected to bask in the light of seeming “environmentally correct” while being free to continue getting rich off oil and natural gas. Trump also put the U.S. ruling class at a disadvantage in the growing global race for markets in renewable technology, such as solar panels and wind power.

Trump lashed out at Seoul during Korean crisis

Along the way, in the midst of a military-political crisis caused by U.S. aggression against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Trump told the south Korean government, Washington’s major ally in the struggle against the DPRK, that Seoul would have to pay a billion dollars for the Pentagon’s THAAD anti-missile system, which Washington had earlier agreed to pay for.

Trump’s latest policy disaster, from the imperialist point of view, has been to attack Qatar during its struggle against Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Trump had gone to Riyadh to cement a Gulf State, anti-Iranian alliance, headed by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and Egypt broke with Qatar, mainly because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring.

Once part of the Gulf State alliance, Qatar is home to a large U.S. military base in the Middle East, with 11,000 U.S. troops. The Pentagon flies numerous missions from Qatar to carry out aggression in the region. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State from ExxonMobil, was trying to calm the dispute when Trump openly contradicted him.

Trump and the Republicans have prepared a health care bill that would strike at broad sections of the masses, leaving 23 million now covered without healthcare coverage as it guts Medicaid and threatens nursing homes, drug clinics and rural hospitals, among other vital medical institutions. This comes at a time when healthcare is the single most important issue among the population, including Trump supporters.

In short, the Comey testimony must be seen in light of growing concern in large sections of the capitalist political establishment, as well as the military and sections of big business, that Trump is doing damage to U.S. imperialist interests at home and around the world.

Time to strike at the roots of capitalism

The differences within the ruling class over Trump are important. Trump, with the backing of his Republican flunkies, is dangerous. But the Democratic Party leaders, including both the Clinton wing and the Sanders wing, are fighting to revive the Democratic Party as a capitalist party that defends exploitation, a party that is supported by big business. Nevertheless, they want to regain office by promising to ease the hardships of the masses.

Marxists are for easing the hardships of the masses, but in a substantial way, first and foremost by struggle, by pushing the bosses and their political machine back. The way forward is in the streets, the factories, the offices, on the campuses and in the fields to threaten the profits and hence power of the rich. Marxists need to take advantage of the current contradictions among the bosses, when the establishment is becoming more and more discredited, to strike at the roots of capitalism and ultimately dispossess the rich of their property.

FBI not neutral when it comes to the people

The state, according to Marxism, is an instrument of compulsion, of force, created by the ruling class to keep the oppressed classes down. Comey was head of the FBI, which is an essential part of that oppressive state apparatus.

The premise of the hearings on Comey’s conversations with Trump is that the FBI director is supposed to be nonpolitical and neutral, to carry out investigations and let the facts lead where they may. Furthermore, the FBI director is not supposed to be partisan to any political party, Republicans or Democrats.

Comey was praised by the media as a man of honor who would not lie and who had remained neutral. He attacked Hillary Clinton just as much as he attacked Trump.

Assuming that the FBI really is “non-political” with respect to the capitalist political parties, all the neutrality goes out the window when it comes to the masses. The FBI has a long and inglorious history of racism, persecution of communists, liberation fighters and radicals of any sort. (See May 18 Workers World, “The FBI is a racist sewer,” at workers.org.)

The FBI was behind the Palmer Raids and deportation of thousands of radicals during the 1920s. It was key to the 1927 execution of anarchist workers Sacco and Vanzetti, despite worldwide protests. The FBI hounded and harassed communists and anyone suspected of any connections with the Communist Party during the Cold War. FBI persecution resulted in the imprisonment of the top leaders of the CP and the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

The FBI infiltrated progressive trade unions, the teachers’ unions, Hollywood, all progressive cultural organizations, the television industry, and in general blanketed the country with a layer of fear and intimidation in an attempt to wipe out all progressive thought and activity during the 1950s and early 1960s.

With the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Liberation Struggle, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover turned his attention to defaming and hounding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom Hoover regarded as the “most dangerous” Black leader in the U.S.

The FBI initiated COINTELPRO, the murderous operation designed to break up the Black Panther Party. The FBI’s tactics included the outright murder of Fred Hampton and other Panther leaders. The FBI sent fake letters to different parts of the organization designed to create splits and antagonisms. It spied on the anti-war movement, the revolutionary youth movement and the Native movement, particularly the American Indian Movement, and was behind the frame-up of Indigenous leader Leonard Peltier.

There should be little doubt that FBI spying includes the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and the immigrant rights movement. That is their stock in trade. They are a vital part of the enforcement arm of the capitalist state.

Together with the cops, the courts, the prison-industrial complex, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and its parent Department of Homeland Security, and other institutions, the FBI is a key part of the instruments of compulsion that work for the ruling class at all times, in every venue where the masses organize resistance to capitalist oppression and exploitation.

They are anything but the “essence of honesty and integrity,” as Comey is being widely described.

‘Our democracy’ equals democracy of big business

For months now, and especially during the Comey testimony, senator after senator talked about the Russians allegedly “interfering with our democracy” or “interfering with our elections.”

Lenin, in “State and Revolution,” quoted Karl Marx, who really gave the last word on capitalist elections: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament!”

This of course does not mean that the working class should not use capitalist elections as a platform to promote their own interests, as long as they see electoral intervention as a stepping stone to overthrowing capitalism.

Democracy is a political form; it has a class content. The Greeks, who initiated the term “democracy,” held democratic assemblies of Greek citizens to debate policy. But the Greek citizens who participated in these assemblies were slave holders. Ancient Greece was a slave society.

In the same way, capitalist democracy is a society dominated by exploiters, a society of bankers and corporate millionaires and billionaires who live as parasites off the labor of the masses. These bankers and bosses dominate the capitalist political parties. They call the shots behind the scenes.

Lenin on capitalist democracy

V.I. Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, in 1918 wrote a polemic against Karl Kautsky, a leader of the German Social Democratic Party, entitled “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.” Kautsky had denounced the Bolshevik Revolution, making the axis of his polemic the failure of the Bolsheviks to establish “pure democracy.” Lenin gave the Marxist position on democracy:

“Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor. It is this truth, which forms a most essential part of Marx’s teaching. …”

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

Just as in the days of Lenin and Kautsky, “democracy” in the abstract is a deception. It must have a class characterization. In the U.S. it is the democracy of monopoly capitalists. In Cuba, on the other hand, it is workers’ democracy.

So when the mouthpieces of Goldman Sachs, Citibank, ExxonMobil, GE, GM, Aetna, Johnson & Johnson, etc., start moaning about interference in “our democracy,” the “our” stands for their corporate paymasters. That is whose democracy it is, the democracy of the rich, who pull the political strings and get their legislation passed, while the masses are supposed to stand on the sidelines and let these corporate masters run the show.

It is high time to get off the sidelines and confront the billionaires in the class struggle.

Trump, the ruling class and the Paris Accords

By Fred Goldstein posted on June 7, 2017.  

Donald Trump has confirmed his right-wing ideological alliance with the ultra-chauvinist Steve Bannon faction in the White House by announcing that he is going to “pull out” of the Paris Accords on combating climate change. His speech announcing the so-called pullout was also a campaign speech for the 2020 presidential election.

Washington, D.C.

In fact, Trump did not need to pull out of the agreement. The agreement is nonbinding. It has no teeth. It has no mechanism for enforcement. It has no way of checking on compliance. Everything is voluntary. And Trump is taking measures to undermine U.S. compliance, anyway, by attacking the Clean Power Plan, which limits the leasing of federal lands for coal mining and other polluting activities.

To be sure, Trump’s denunciation of the Paris Accords is reactionary. It was a totally political move, calculated to appeal to the most backward, chauvinist elements of his political base and his most right-wing backers in the ruling class.

But Trump and Bannon did not do it alone. The decision was backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, natural gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, head of the Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, among others.

Twenty-two Republican senators from oil, gas and coal states signed a letter to Trump urging him to reject the Paris Accords. These 22 senators have received at least $10 million in gas, oil and coal money since 2012. (Guardian, June 1)

Why the ruling class uproar over Trump pullout?

However, there was a general uproar against Trump’s move by large sections of the ruling class. This does not mean that big business CEOs have turned into environmentalists. On the contrary. The Paris Accords would allow the bosses to slow down climate change somewhat, while at the same time preserving, if not enhancing, their profits. No, their deepest concern about the pullout is over the potential loss of energy technology markets.

As Forbes magazine, a mouthpiece of big business, put it: “[T]he point here is that the evolution to a carbon-constrained world is underway and the technologies to facilitate that are now mainstream. China has fully embraced that evolution, vowing to help lead the charge along with the advanced economies of the world.”

Forbes continued, “‘Most of the business community, including international energy companies, urged the administration not to withdraw,’ Ambassador Richard Morningstar said, who is the chair of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council. ‘By this action we are ceding leadership on climate and new technologies to China and Europe.’” (June 1)

Listen to the point of view of the former deputy director of Greenpeace, Ken Ward, who is going on trial soon on felony charges for shutting down an oil sands pipeline to prevent harm to the climate.

“The value of the Paris agreement is in its aspirational goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, not in its implementation mechanisms, which are voluntary, insufficient, and impossible to monitor. But that modest goal will be breached shortly, which makes the agreement a kind of fig leaf, offering political cover to those who would soft-pedal the runaway climate crisis a while longer.

“The U.N. Conference of the Parties is certainly not the organization to constrain powerful, retrenched fossil fuel interests and other bad climate actors and rogue climate states. The Paris agreement affords oil, gas and coal companies a globally visible platform through which to peddle influence and appear engaged on climate change while lobbying for business as usual. That won’t save the climate.” (The Hill, May 31)

Companies like Exxon, BP and Shell, among others, have protested the pullout by Trump. But these companies have been under attack globally for their devastation of the environment. The accords give them a “fig leaf” while in no way actually constraining them. With no monitoring, no enforcement and no punishment, it is up to the capitalist government in Washington to compel compliance.

Many of the giant companies financed the Paris meeting. If all the commitments made in Paris by all the countries were kept, the climate would still be in grave danger at a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in the atmosphere. The oppressed countries wanted the target for temperature rise to be no more than 1.5 degrees, but they lost out.

This weak agreement leaves the monopolies a free hand to revise, cheat, conceal and go ahead with business as usual.

While Obama was putting some soft pressure on them, Trump has given them a free hand and has assisted by attacking existing regulations.

To be sure, the big imperialists are concerned for the future of their system. They have seen first hand what happened during Hurricane Sandy. Flooding literally shut down Wall Street, as well as knocking out power to all of lower Manhattan in New York. It is costing billions of dollars to repair the subways and tunnels in the city.

Furthermore, the accelerated occurrence of tornadoes, hurricanes, excessive rainfall, floods, droughts, forest fires and other climate disasters that are televised have an impact on local, state and federal government, as well as insurance companies and destroyed businesses. The cost is running way into the tens and even hundreds of billions of dollars.

That is the way Wall Street and big business see it. They could not care less for the broad mass of people who suffer devastating losses, injury and death as a result of climate change. The capitalists are worried about the threat to their financial and physical structure in the future.

Pentagon and bankers fear climate change

The Climate and Security Advisory Group, a voluntary, nonpartisan group of 43 U.S.-based senior military, national security, homeland security and intelligence experts, including the former commanders of the U.S. Pacific and Central commands, issued a briefing book in 2016.

National Geographic reported last year: “The briefing book argues that climate change presents a significant and direct risk to U.S. military readiness, operations and strategy, and military leaders say it should transcend politics. It goes beyond protecting military bases from sea-level rise, the military advisers say. They urge Trump to order the Pentagon to game out catastrophic climate scenarios, track trends in climate impacts and collaborate with civilian communities. Stresses from climate change can increase the likelihood of international or civil conflict, state failure, mass migration and instability in strategically significant areas around the world, the defense experts argue.” (Nov. 15)

The briefing book leaves out that the Pentagon is one of the world’s biggest polluters.

As an example of the military’s problem, its naval base in Norfolk, Va., has been repeatedly flooded in recent years, interfering with military readiness to deploy the means of aggression. The Pentagon has hundreds of port bases that are threatened with similar obstacles from the rising tide of the oceans. Of course, island and coastal Indigenous civilizations, from Fiji to Bangladesh, face disaster.

Citibank is a global bank with branches in well over a hundred countries and a heavy stake in protecting U.S. and world imperialism. Citibank costed out the consequences of climate change for the world imperialist system in 2015.

“A new report from Citibank found that acting on climate change by investing in low-carbon energy would save the world $1.8 trillion through 2040, as compared to a business-as-usual scenario. In addition, not acting will cost an additional $44 trillion by 2060 from the ‘negative effects’ of climate change.

“The report, titled Energy Darwinism, looked at the predicted cost of energy over the coming decades, the costs of developing low carbon energy sources, and the implications of global energy choices.” (ThinkProgress, Aug. 31, 2015)

China’s environmental challenge to U.S. big business

It is reported that GE and other industrial companies urged Trump to stay in the pact. These companies have already geared up their corporate plans to grab market share of renewables like wind and solar. GE makes wind turbines. Numerous companies make solar panels, instruments and devices for the new technology. They have already invested based upon the Paris Accords. They fear that not being at the table would mean they would lose out to China and Europe as new technologies and new markets expand.

The bosses in the U.S. also have to worry about their cars and other carbon-emitting commodities meeting international standards or being shut out of overseas markets. In other words, the Paris agreement was all about profits and protection for the corporations and the imperialists.

China’s National Energy Administration has laid out a plan to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind. Thanks in large part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. (Obama put a 76 percent tariff on Chinese solar panels, driving up the costs for U.S. consumers.)

The New York Times wrote on Jan. 5: “Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.” China has also embarked on a reforestation program that will absorb massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

So it is easy to see why Jeff Imelt, CEO of GE, and his fellow bosses are angry at Trump for putting them at a disadvantage, not only to China but also Europe, and particularly German imperialism.

Means of pollution are means of production

The workers and the oppressed should take sharp note of the fact that so many ruling figures and institutions have vowed to remain in support of the agreement. New York state, California and Washington are among the 30 states that have a network, United States Climate Alliance. About 180 cities are also forming a similar network. And big corporations are vowing to keep going with the Paris Accords.

What this means for the masses is that the ruling class is defying the White House and promoting it own environmental program, independent of the central capitalist state, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

In other words, Trump has control of the White House and the Republicans have control of the Congress, but the bourgeoisie have control of the means of production. And it is control over the means of production — the power plants, the oil wells, the natural gas, the coal mines, the factories, the means of transportation, etc. — that gives the bosses control over the CO2 emissions, the water supply, the air quality, the chemicals in the earth and so on.

The important point about all this is that if there is ever to be an effective policy to combat climate change — a policy in the interests of all humanity, a policy that does not depend on maintaining the profits of the polluters — then the means of production, the source of the pollution, must be taken out of the hands of the bourgeoisie and put into the hands of the workers and the oppressed. In other words, socialism is the only way out of the oncoming climate disaster.

Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End”, available at online booksellers.

Trump: Front man for Wall St., Pentagon

Trump is opening a full-scale assault against the workers and oppressed. The anti-Russia campaign is the last thing the movement should be pursuing in its struggle against him.

By Fred Goldstein posted on May 31, 2017

Donald Trump came back from his overseas trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe resuming his plans to launch full-scale attacks on the workers and the oppressed through his budget, his health care bill and tax cuts for the rich.

That being said, he has also managed to make two major foreign policy moves that push U.S. imperialist policy further to the right.

In Saudi Arabia, he formalized and weaponized an anti-Iranian alliance with the House of Saud and the royal oil puppets in the Gulf States. The U.S. has had an alliance with the Saudis for 70 years. The reactionary monarchy has been a pillar of U.S. imperialism, the Pentagon and Big Oil, with four huge U.S. military bases in the country. This new outsourcing to the Saudis of U.S. military intervention is a further turn toward U.S. proxy war and aggression in the region.

In addition, Trump managed to do severe damage to the Washington-Berlin­-Paris alliance as expressed in NATO. He went to Brussels and chewed out the European imperialist rivals for being deadbeats — i.e., not paying their NATO bills. This is great-power chauvinism run wild.

The U.S. ruling class and the Pentagon will have to ponder this. Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, made a speech after Trump’s trip saying that Europe would have to rely on itself.

U.S. imperialism has relied on NATO for decades. NATO has troops in Afghanistan. It was key to the destruction of Yugoslavia. NATO was used to stop the Portuguese revolution in 1974 and the French workers’ uprising in 1968. French and British imperialism hold down the struggle in Africa using NATO.

The Pentagon needs NATO and they know it. Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have both pledged loyalty to the alliance.

From the point of view of the workers and the oppressed, anything that weakens imperialism is a positive development. We should not moan over Trump’s boorishness and undiplomatic insensitivity. That is a problem for the ruling class.

A further problem for big sections of the corporate ruling class is Trump’s refusal to say that he will stay with the Paris climate accords. Many of the Fortune 500 corporations, such as GM, Microsoft, DuPont, Amazon, etc., are moving toward low carbon and renewable energy as a matter of policy. Almost half of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted at least one climate or clean-energy goal, with 23 of them pledging eventually to run their businesses on 100 percent renewable energy, including Walmart, Bank of America and Google.

Whether or not these pledges are fulfilled, it represents a recognition by the bosses that climate change is a real threat to them and their profits. Even companies in Appalachian coal country are not using coal any more. (New York Times, May 26) Key sections of the ruling class are finally taking seriously the climate danger, just when Trump wants to wreck any progress in environmental protection.

These developments may intensify the contradictions in the ruling class here and feed ruling class opposition to Trump. They fear that getting rid of him could create further instability in the political system. Again, that is their problem. The job of the workers and oppressed is to take advantage of the situation and expose the capitalist system for what it is.

Fronting for military-industrial complex and big business

Back from his overseas trip, Trump faced the relentless anti-Russia campaign that anti-Trump forces in the ruling class are using to push him back or bring him down.

This is a deepening of the great “Russia” diversion in the struggle against Trump. At a time when Trump is opening a full-scale assault against the workers and oppressed, the anti-Russia campaign is the last thing that the movement should be pursuing in their struggle against Trump. The Democratic Party leadership is in the vanguard of this diversionary anti-Russia campaign.

He is planning to cut $800 million from Medicaid, which would destroy rural hospitals and nursing homes. He wants to cut back drug clinics, cancer research, environmental protection, job safety and student loan forgiveness, among many other things. His budget would wipe out Meals on Wheels, cut SNAP (food stamps) by billions of dollars and attack women’s health care around the world. And this after returning from a foreign trip where he served as a front man for big business and the Pentagon war makers.

At the very moment that his administration was planning massive tax cuts for the rich and major cutbacks for the poor, Trump was in Saudi Arabia heaping praise upon one of the most reactionary monarchies in the world. He was wined and dined and stroked by the royal princes of the feudal-capitalist patriarchal Saudi clan.

Women are the virtual property of men in Saudi Arabia. Trump made not even a mention of the status of Saudi women.

The princes rolled out the red carpet, gave him a sword to dance with, projected a 175-foot picture of him on the side of a building, drank toasts to him and had photo ops of him sitting surrounded by royalty and luxury in the palace in Riyadh.

Pentagon $110 billion sale

In return, the monarchy got $110 billion worth of weapons to wage a war of aggression against the people of Yemen and raise the military threat to Iran.

The military-industrial complex, the Pentagon death machine, was able to sell Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar, and communications and cyber security technology, among other things. The Saudis are also getting a billion-dollar THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system like the one the Pentagon just rushed into south Korea, as well as $500 million worth of precision-guided bombs.

Much of this military package was already approved by the Obama administration last fall. Obama offered the Saudis $115 billion in military aid (Reuters, Sept. 16, 2016), but held up on sending precision-guided bombs and other weapons. Trump just went to Saudi Arabia to bask in the deal. Trump’s Pentagon-guided White House and cabinet, with three ranking generals, included the precision bombs even as the Saudis are escalating the massive killing of civilians in Yemen. The generals also added in the THAAD system.

Big business and banking alongside Trump

In addition to the military contracts, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund also signed contracts with U.S. corporations worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Dozens of the biggest names in U.S. business went in Trump’s entourage. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Michael Corbat of Citigroup, James Gorman of Morgan Stanley, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone were among the U.S. chief executives attending a business forum, along with General Electric vice chair John Rice. The heads of military contractors Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon also went along.

The deals included agreements between Saudi Aramco, the state energy giant, and U.S. companies. They involve oil services groups Schlumberger, Halliburton and Weatherford International, drilling contractors Nabors Industries and Rowan Companies, and engineering and construction companies KBR, Jacobs Engineering Group and McDermott International. (New York Times, May 17)

The Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum was held on the same day that Trump met King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi chief executives attending included Amin Nasser of Saudi Aramco and Yousef Al-Benyan of Sabic, a chemicals, plastics and fertilizer group that plans to build the world’s largest ethylene plant in Texas, jointly with Secretary of State Tillerson’s former firm, ExxonMobil.

Trump cutbacks destroy jobs

Trump and Tillerson tried to justify these deals as creating jobs. Trump made a grinning triumphant remark about his deals creating “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Actually, the Trump health care plan and his budget are job destroyers. Cutbacks in Federal employment endanger tens of thousands of government workers, from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health to Forest Protection Service, the Labor Department, the National Endowment for the Arts and other targeted government departments. Trump wants to cut $54 billion in federal spending in order to make up for the increase of $54 billion to the Pentagon.

His health care cutbacks will not only throw 23 million people off the health care rolls but will also throw millions out of work. Health care created more jobs than any other sector in 2016, helping to drive total annual job growth to 2.2 million, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A report released by the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University found that repealing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the insurance premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion, could lead to 2.6 million people losing their jobs by 2019. By 2021, nearly 3 million jobs in health care and other sectors could be lost. (Modernhealthcare, Jan. 6)

Trump rages against China and Mexico for destroying jobs at home. He is scapegoating these countries in order to whip up workers and pander to his racist base. Trump says protectionism is the answer. Actually, the real job destroyer is technology. Far more jobs have been destroyed by automation than by offshoring. One authoritative study says that 13 percent of job losses in the U.S. come from trade while 87 percent have been lost to automation. (New York Times, Dec. 21, 2016)

Furthermore, capitalist overproduction is destroying jobs at this very moment. The auto industry has recently peaked and production is beginning to contract. Overproduction of malls and retail stores, together with online buying, have led to tens of thousands of layoffs and tens of thousands more to come.

Trump has no answer to other bubbling crises. For example, student loans have reached $1.3 trillion. In the first quarter of 2017, consumer debt rose to $12.73 trillion, exceeding its peak in the third quarter of 2008. (New York Times, May 17)

Booming auto sales have more to do with low rates and easy financing than they do with the urge to buy a new vehicle. In the last few years, car buyers have borrowed nearly $1 trillion to finance new and used autos. Much of that money was lent to borrowers who have bad credit ratings and might not be able to repay the debt. There has been a recent surge in delinquencies among subprime borrowers whose loans were packaged into bonds and sold to investors. ­(Counterpunch, March 18)

Expanding the debt of the masses is how capitalism is staying afloat. The expansion of debt is calculated to compensate for overproduction in the economy. It helps keep people buying things and thus keeps the circulation of capital going. It keeps profits rolling in, but sooner or later these various debt bubbles will burst.

How can students who have tens of thousands of dollars in debt buy much, let alone start a household? How can workers who owe the auto loan sharks money buy enough to create jobs for other workers? How can people who are up to their eyeballs in credit card debt keep the system afloat by further purchasing? There is no public tally for debt due to health care costs, but a leading cause of household debt is often the astronomical cost of medical care.

Trump has no answer for all this. It is doubtful he is even aware of it, let alone trying to deal with it. His preoccupation is with making money now and getting re-elected in 2020.