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.

Congress be damned — Fight for free healthcare

Ever since the health care system was turned over to the insurers and drug companies under the Bill Clinton administration, health care has been a public nightmare, except for the health care profiteers. Now the Trump administration is making it worse.

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have led the first wave of a cruel congressional assault on the health care of the masses of people in order to transfer billions of dollars to the already rich. The second wave will begin when the Senate takes up the health care bill.

After passing the bill, the criminal gang that forced it through the House took a bus to the White House for a high-five celebration, with Trump and Ryan leading the cheers.

While health care should be a human right, the attitude of the group that passed this bill was candidly expressed by right-wing Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who explained to CNN’s Jake Tapper that people with higher-cost conditions should “contribute more to the insurance pool” to offset the cost “to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy.” This is the amorality of the ruling class spoken plainly and publicly, without shame.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party leaders, neglecting the crying need for universal health care, were preoccupied with defending the insurance-company-driven Affordable Care Act and their own narrow political prospects for 2018.

Trump and the House Republicans would not wait for the Congressional Budget Office to assess the consequences of the bill because the assessment of the previous version estimated that 24 million people would lose their health care coverage by 2024 and premiums would rise for those remaining.

Tax cut for the rich, charging sick people more

In fact, the bill is really a tax cut for the rich disguised as a health care bill. It contains over a trillion dollars in spending cuts. About $346 billion over 10 years will go in direct tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires by eliminating taxes on investment income and the Medicare payroll deduction on high-income earners that was required under the Obama administration’s ACA. These taxes funded subsidies for low-income workers to help pay their insurance premiums. (New York Times, May 5)

Of course, under both plans the money still ends up in the hands of the insurance companies. But with the subsidies gone, millions of people will no longer be able to afford premiums.

The bill permits states to get easy permission to waive ACA rules that prohibit insurance companies from charging sick people larger premiums. Before the ACA, people with a medical history of heart disease or cancer — even acne, heartburn, back pain, asthma, hay fever or hives — could be declared uninsurable by insurance companies. In 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services said that up to 129 million people could be denied insurance for these “pre-existing conditions.” (Los Angeles Times, May 7) The new Trump/Ryan bill would restore the old rules by allowing state waivers.

Attack on Medicaid

The bill converts Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to block grants to the states, which would quickly be exhausted. That provision would strip over $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years. Since the implementation of the ACA, which includes Medicaid expansion, nearly a quarter of the people in the United States are now covered by Medicaid and its subsidiary program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Medicaid covers 60 percent of children with disabilities, 30 percent of adults with disabilities and one in five Medicare recipients.

While the attack on Medicaid is an attack on the working class in general, people of color are more likely to use Medicaid, as well as have less access to health care. So the blow to Medicaid is also racist in character. (Rewire, May 1)

Essential services endangered, blow to women’s health care

States would have the opportunity to opt out of an ACA requirement that insurers cover 10 essential medical services: outpatient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services; pediatric services, including oral and vision care; prescription drugs; chronic disease management; rehabilitative services; and laboratory services. They include both preventive and wellness services.

The bill defunds Planned Parenthood for one year, with guaranteed renewal each year after that. Further, it denies Medicaid payments and Title X grants to any plan that even lists abortion among its services. This means the end of coverage for cancer screening, contraception and abortion services for millions of women served by Planned Parenthood. It would also deny all subsidies to states like California and New York that require insurance policies to cover abortion.

Threat to jobs

The ACA has meant a steady flow of profits to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. It has also been a steady jobs program for the economy. Health care now accounts for almost one-fifth of the U.S. capitalist economy and has been a leading creator of jobs in the last decade.

According to a leading business health care publication, “A report released Friday by the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University found that repealing key provisions of the ACA, including the insurance premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion, could lead to 2.6 million people losing their jobs in 2019. By 2021, nearly 3 million jobs in healthcare and other sectors could be lost. …

“‘Repealing key parts of the ACA could trigger massive job losses and a slump in consumer and business spending that would affect all sectors of state economies,’ the Milken Institute’s Leighton Ku, the lead author of the study, said in a statement. ‘Cuts in federal funding would not only harm the health care industry and its employees but could lead to serious economic distress for states, including a $1.5 trillion reduction in gross state product from 2019 to 2023.’” (Modern Healthcare, Jan. 17)

The bill eliminates the ACA’s employer mandate, which required large companies employing over 50 workers to offer affordable coverage to their workers. It also pushes back enactment of a tax on high-cost employer health plans.

For-profit health care system an abomination

With or without the new reactionary health care bill, the mass of the people are constantly suffering at the hands of the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the private hospital industry and a whole host of corporate parasites.

It is a fraud for the Democratic Party leadership to fight to retain a system that maintains the stranglehold of medical corporations on the health care system.

The insurance companies are always raising rates, raising deductibles, reducing coverage, threatening to pull out of health care plans and in general engaging in corporate extortion to squeeze more and more profit out of the people — especially the poor and the oppressed. This has been true under the ACA from the beginning.

There are constant complaints about the rising costs of health care, which are breaking the state budgets because the insurance industry and drug companies have virtual sovereignty over prices.

Conservative columnist Charles Kraut­hammer of Fox News complained about the public attitude toward health: ­
“­[T]he electorate sees health care as not just any commodity, like purchasing a steak or a car” but now has “a sense the government ought to guarantee [it].” (New York Times, May 8) In the view of the capitalist class, health care, rather than being a fundamental right of the masses, is a commodity that must be purchased. This is a country with a $16 trillion economy where the workers, who create all that wealth, including the wealth of the health care industry, must buy their own health care at prices set by the billionaire owners of the industry. And if they can’t afford it, too bad.

Universal health care and the socialist camp

Bernie Sanders had a favorite campaign line about how the U.S. is the only country in the “industrial” (imperialist) world that does not have some form of universal health care.

It got a lot of crowd approval. But a fundamental truth about the health care systems in Europe is left out of the discussion.

The European countries were face to face with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe for 40 years after World War II. These countries provided free, universal health care as a political right of the working class. The West European working class could see this and compare it to their own conditions under capitalism.

Furthermore, the post-war European working class was organized and engaged in the class struggle to defend and expand their rights. The European bankers and bosses were not any more humane than those in the U.S. They were colonialists who enslaved hundreds of millions of people.

But the socialist example forced them to compete and offer all kinds of social benefits to stave off the strong tendency of the European working class toward genuine socialism.

Socialist Cuba has free, universal health care and a world-class medical system. It was only able to achieve this after it expelled the U.S. imperialists and their capitalist stooges from the island.

The answer to the health care crisis for the masses is universal, affordable health care. This would mean the expulsion of the insurers and big pharma from the process. This can be achieved by struggle, just as it was in Europe during the era of the USSR.

Restructuring retail: Tens of thousands laid off — more to come

The restructuring in retail is different in form from manufacturing but the same in essence, as far as the working class is concerned.

By Fred Goldstein. Posted April 25, 2017.  

As International Workers’ Day — May Day — approaches, a major crisis is underway for retail workers in the U.S. A process of profound restructuring of the retail industry is unfolding. Driven by internet technology and its utilization by Amazon, among others, it has been made possible by the capitalist scientific-technological revolution.

In manufacturing, the struggle by big industry to increase profits drove automation and offshoring. In the retail industry, the giant monopoly Amazon has developed online shopping, which has already wiped out tens of thousands of retail jobs and is threatening hundreds of thousands more.

Online shopping has brought about a transformation in the so-called brick-and-mortar retail industry.

“This transformation is hollowing out suburban shopping malls, bankrupting long-time brands and leading to staggering job losses,” wrote the New York Times on April 15.

“More workers in general merchandise stores have been laid off since October, about 89,000 Americans. That is more than all of the people employed in the United States coal industry, which President Trump championed during the campaign as a prime example of the workers who have been left behind in the economic recovery.

“The job losses in retail could have unexpected social and political consequences, as huge numbers of low-wage retail employees become economically unhinged, just as manufacturing workers did in recent decades. About one out of every 10 Americans works in retail.” That’s around 15 million workers.

Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what’s fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.

More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.

Department stores like JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears and Kmart are among the companies shutting down stores, along with middle-of-the-mall chains like Crocs, BCBG, Abercrombie & Fitch and Guess.

As big retailers shut down in malls, there is collateral damage among the workers in small retail stores and fast food places that draw walk-by customers who shop in the big stores. Furthermore, window designers, lighting and maintenance workers, security guards, sanitation workers and many other mall workers are or will be thrown onto the unemployment lines.

From housing bubble to retail bubble

Online shopping is not the only thing responsible for the present crisis. Marxism teaches that in all industries, capitalist competition and the thirst for profit drive the retail and real estate bosses who rent to them to destroy their rivals by capturing market share. The result is capitalist overproduction. (Overproduction does not mean that capitalists produce more than people need, only more than the stores can sell at a profit.)

“The number of malls in the U.S. grew more than twice as fast as the population between 1970 and 2015, according to Cowen Research. By one measure of consumerist plentitude [capitalist overproduction, F.G.] — shopping center “gross leasable area,” the U.S. has 40 percent more shopping space per capita than Canada, five times more than the U.K., and 10 times more than Germany.” (theatlantic.com, April 10)

“The seeds of the industry’s current turmoil date back nearly three decades, when retailers … flush with easy money, rushed to open new stores. The land grab wasn’t unlike the housing boom that was also under way at that time.

“Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared,” Richard Hayne, chief executive of Urban Outfitters Inc., told analysts last month. “This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.” (wsj.com, April 21)

Amazon won’t make up for jobs lost

The standard line of the apologists for capitalist restructuring is that technological advancement creates new and better-paying jobs that will make up for the job losses. This is complete hogwash.

First of all, the workers who lose their jobs are out of a job NOW. They have the skills and training for retail. The capitalist class and the capitalist government do not swoop in to the rescue and give them jobs and training in new occupations they would feel suited for.

But second of all, assuming that the laid-off workers in the thousands could apply for jobs at Amazon or other online retailers, they would be confronted by the highly automated Amazon warehouse system. This system has far fewer jobs to offer than the 90,000 who have already been laid off since last October and the many thousands more who are in danger of losing their jobs.

Amazon’s automation is infamous among the workers as a speed-up device and a job-killer.

“In 2012, Amazon bought the robotics company Kiva Systems for $775 million — and made it so Kiva’s technology could be used only in Amazon warehouses. These Kiva robots autonomously zoom around the warehouse using a series of barcodes on the floor to guide them, picking items and bringing them back to warehouse workers. These robots save these workers from the immense physical toll of walking as many as 20 miles per shift, sometimes in unbearable heat; but this also means that fewer human workers are needed. The jobs that remain will be less labor intensive, and more like those of a robot supervisor. Since Amazon bought Kiva, a host of other companies are trying to develop even more advanced warehouse robots and sell them to Amazon’s competitors.” (prospect.org, Sept. 27, 2016)

It’s not likely that 90,000 robot supervisors will be needed at Amazon!

Capitalist restructuring in another form

Retail workers have already undergone the pressure of the scientific-technological revolution and the intensified exploitation that it brings. Retail salespeople and cashiers have been subjected to time studies and forced to adhere to a time standard for making sales. Cashiers have to ring up customers in a designated time tracked by the electronic cash register. And they have been subjected to many other profit-squeezing methods.

Now thousands of them are being eliminated altogether by internet technology and online sales.

This is comparable to when auto workers’ jobs were destroyed by robotization or steel workers’ jobs were destroyed by mini-mills and electronic mills. And coal miners’ jobs were destroyed by giant mining machines.

The difference is that this automation is being instituted by an external employer, Amazon. The restructuring in retail is different in form from manufacturing but the same in essence, as far as the working class is concerned. Amazon has reduced the necessary labor time involved in the process of commercial retail sales. As such, it can sell at lower prices and increase convenience for the shopper.

While automation reduces the walking time for workers in the warehouse and the burden of shopping for the consumer, the workers who are no longer needed by capital under the profit system suffer. Instead of the internet and robots being used to ease life for the working class, they are only making things more difficult and insecure.

The masses of workers who lose their jobs will not be able to afford buying anything, either online or in a store. For the working class, the whole capitalist system is a trap the workers must break out of.

Goldstein is the author of Low-Wage Capitalism and Capitalism at a Dead End, which can be obtained from online book sellers.

Airport protests set new level of solidarity

By Fred Goldstein, posted February 1, 2017

Jan. 30 — The wave of airport protests against Trump’s Muslim ban represents a new high-water mark in solidarity with Muslims in the U.S. These demonstrations are a political rebuff to the vicious Islamophobia stoked for a year and a half by Donald Trump, along with his Mexico bashing and many other reactionary themes.

In fact, Islamophobia has replaced anti-communism in the 21st century as the primary divisive, racist, divide-and-conquer strategy to foment war, intervention and police surveillance. Now the Islamophobes are being pushed back.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, and the World Trade Center bombings, Muslims and those in the movement who support them against ruling-class prejudice and persecution have been on the defensive. Solidarity activities have been relatively small and have been in the shadows.

But Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, Gen. Michael Flynn and company, now hunkered down in the White House, changed all that by issuing a 90-day ban on people coming from six predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — and banning Syrian nationals and refugees indefinitely.

This reactionary White House circle apparently did not get the message from the 3.3 million people who demonstrated around the country on Jan. 21 at the Women’s March. That march was marked by a high degree of solidarity with Muslim women. Instead, Trump and his reactionary circle, which is moving sharply in an authoritarian direction, provoked a massive movement that was already in motion.

100 demonstrations in 42 states

As of this writing, 100 demonstrations in 42 states have been carried out or are planned. Tens of thousands have already gone to airports to protest. (getgroundgame.com/airportprotests)

Television networks have carried the larger, more prominent ones in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and so forth.The movement has been powerful enough to force courts in four states to put stays on the deportation of immigrants caught up in the ban and its sudden application. Requests for injunctions have been granted in New York City, Seattle, Virginia and Massachusetts. The Massachusetts injunction goes further than the others, which block deportation but permit detention. Massachusetts is not allowing detention.

The original ban included all people with green cards. This amounts to a ban on hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In their rush to push the ban through, Trump and his National Strategy Adviser Steve Bannon, an ultra-right, Islamophobic, anti-Semite, informed U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration Services of the ban on the very afternoon it was promulgated. Only the massive struggle that erupted at airports the next day forced the head of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, to rescind the green card ban.

In their fanaticism Trump, Bannon, Reince Priebus, Flynn and company showed no concern for all the students from the seven Islamic countries covered by the ban who were returning to continue their studies. They did not care about workers, scientists and technicians returning to their jobs. They showed utter contempt for people coming to be with their families. Even after several court injunctions were obtained, CBP officials refused to allow attorneys to see some detainees and turned away members of Congress who were attempting to find out the status of those detained.

This reflects the authoritarian stamp of the Trump inner circle.

Ideological and political step forward

The legal struggle to eradicate the ban altogether has a long way to go. It will take a great deal of political struggle in the streets, on the campuses and in the communities to push back the Trump administration. But the struggle has begun in a very inspiring way.

A new sense of solidarity has swept the movement, which got a sense of its power at the J21 Women’s March. That power has been transformed into solidarity and militant rejection of Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been a fundamental ideological and political prop of the ruling class and much of the political establishment since Sept. 11.

By coming out en masse across the country, the airport demonstrators have put up determined resistance to the Trump refugee ban. But they have also struck an ideological and political blow against the Islamophobic poison of the ruling class. These demonstrations have laid the basis for future political steps forward.

Islamophobia has been used to build Homeland Security. It has been used to militarize the police in cities across the country. Above all, it has been used to promote the so-called “war on terror.”

Under the pretext of the “war on terror,” U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon have intervened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and lately in Yemen. The military-industrial complex — the makers of drones, smart bombs, military satellites, bombers, fighter planes, helicopters, tanks, munitions of every kind, military robots, etc. — have prospered producing arms for the “war on terror.”

From solidarity to anti-imperialism

The solidarity shown with Muslims can cause many to question the ideological and material basis that led to the ban in the first place. It is supposedly to protect the U.S. against terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group (IS). But the ban is part of a broader offensive against the oil-rich and geostrategic Muslim world of the Middle East and North Africa.

It is precisely the Pentagon and the CIA that are responsible for the rise of groups like al-Qaida and IS. Washington has bombed 11 Islamic countries in the last 25 years. The Pentagon has inflicted untold destruction, suffering and death upon countries from Afghanistan to Somalia. The CIA has destroyed all the progressive secular nationalist forces, all those openly anti-imperialist, all the socialist and communist forces in the Middle East.

But the imperialists have not stopped their plunder and their oppression. They have taken Iraq’s oil. They have destroyed Libya and taken its oil. They have financed a devastating war trying to topple the independent government of Syria. The region is strewn with millions of refugees escaping the destruction of drone warfare, F-16s, A-10 killing machines. The oil barons are searching and drilling for oil in the coastal areas of Islamic North Africa. U.S. troops are spread throughout the region.

Under such conditions, with all progressive and secular forces weakened if not destroyed, it is inevitable that the vacuum of resistance will be filled by reactionary forces. The IS group is a patriarchal, medieval, theocratic organization pledged to drive the Western powers from the Middle East — the powers that divided up the region in the first place.

Such forces are at the same time the enemy of both the masses and of imperialism. The “war on terror” has nothing to do with helping women or freeing society. It has to do with reasserting the dominance of imperialism over the oil-rich Middle East and Africa.

Along with fighting Trump and his ­reactionary anti-Muslim tirades, the movement should try to match its dynamic political resistance with a determination to get to the bottom of the problem. The movement must see the commonality of racism, misogyny, LGBTQ and all gender oppression, anti-immigrant poison and the struggle against the multinational working class as based in the same substance as Islamophobia.

At the root is imperialism, the profit system and the domination of the world by capitalist monopolies.

Goldstein is the author of ­“Capitalism at a Dead End” and “Low-Wage Capitalism,” both of which can be purchased from online booksellers.

(Houston airport photo: Gloria Rubac)

German imperialism and the Greek debt crisis

By Fred Goldstein, March 4, 2015

For five years the European Central Bank, dominated by German finance capital, has engineered bailouts and imposed austerity on Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy. And for five years various establishment economists, politicians and pundits in the U.S. like Paul Krugman and James Galbraith have been frustrated and perplexed.

Their complaint? Capitalist Europe is in an economic crisis. Austerity will make the crisis worse. Why don’t the German bankers and the ECB listen to reason? Why pursue such a destructive policy, which harms the economy and causes untold mass suffering?