Trump, Putin and Helsinki

By Fred Goldstein, posted July 25, 2018.  

While beating the anti-Russian drums of war, the paid scribes of the ruling class are all rallying behind the FBI and CIA. These are two of the greatest enemies of the workers and oppressed at home and abroad.


The Helsinki summit represents a new phase in the attempt by U.S. President Donald Trump to forge a rapprochement with President Vladimir Putin and Russia. This summit, however, comes at a time when the U.S. capitalist state is moving in the opposite direction — toward inflaming relations with Russia.

The basis for the attempted rapprochement is partly a common right-wing political orientation. Trump and Putin are both authoritarian, great-power chauvinists. They are both opposed to the European Union and NATO, but each for his own expansionist reasons. And they are both promoting reactionary, racist, anti-immigration forces in Europe as a tool to weaken European imperialism.

Revolutionaries and anti-imperialists are also opposed to the EU and to NATO. They rightfully want to see these imperialist institutions destroyed. But the EU and NATO must be destroyed in a progressive way: by the working class and the oppressed.

If Europe is disintegrated by right-wing, anti-immigrant, anti-working class forces, it could bring about nationalist, inter-imperialist military conflict. Such disintegration would unleash the forces of conquest and war.

Many on the left in Britain mistakenly backed Brexit because they were opposed to the EU. However, they wound up in an unwanted alliance with the likes of racist, anti-immigrant figures like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and rabid anti-immigrant, chauvinist forces wanting to “make the empire great again.”

On the other hand, it would be progressive if NATO and the EU were undermined, not by Trump and Putin, but by a united working class, fighting the European bankers and bosses and their military interventions in Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe. It would be progressive if class solidarity prevailed in the fight against anti-immigrant racism.

Pentagon and spy agencies need an enemy

Trump is trying mightily to reorient Washington’s foreign policy. But the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI and the military-industrial complex are trying to sabotage these efforts. They need to inflate the sense of danger from an “enemy” in order to sustain and expand war preparations and keep military profits rolling in.

The Soviet Union used to be the main Cold War enemy of the U.S. and European ruling classes. Actually, the Cold War was a genuine class war — a struggle between two antagonistic social systems. The USSR was a socialist country that was under pressure around the globe from capitalist Washington’s spy agencies, military and diplomatic corps in over 100 countries. As long as the USSR existed, the entire ruling class feared for its property and profits. They feared the spread of socialism.

Capitalist Russia poses no such threat.

Now the U.S. military is driven by the goal of reconquering territories it lost during the Soviet period. That is what the attempted takeover of Ukraine was about. This would have moved the Pentagon to Russia’s southern border. It is why Washington moved NATO into the Baltics in 2004 and established a northern military cordon in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And the U.S. has made Poland into a forward base in Central Europe. It is the strategy of encirclement. Washington also attempted a takeover of Georgia and has now incorporated Montenegro into NATO.

The ultimate goal of U.S. imperialism is to restore its own pro-U.S. regime in Moscow.

Russia’s contradictory role

Because of its strategic interests, Russia plays a contradictory role in its struggle with U.S. imperialism.

Putin partially rebuffed the attempt by U.S. and European imperialism to take over Ukraine. It has supported the resistance in the Donbass region and has protected its strategic naval base in the Crimea.

It has also backed the Syrian government in its drive to stop a U.S. takeover of that country. Putin is trying to protect Russia’s only land ally and seaport in the Middle East.

Russia has helped Cuba with export credits, automobiles, locomotives, oil and other exports on a strictly capitalist basis. It has forgiven much of Cuba’s $3 billion debt left over from the Soviet era. Russia has also helped Venezuela with debt forgiveness, allowing Caracas to retain oil that it uses to pay debts.

It is perfectly understandable for oppressed countries under U.S. sanctions, blockade or military attack to ally with Russia and take aid from it. And revolutionaries and progressives should support and defend that aid. But this does not change the class character of the counterrevolutionary oligarch regime in Moscow.

Publicist lackeys and anti-Russia storm

The ruling-class publicist lackeys of all types have rushed to the public megaphone to do the bidding of the Pentagon and the spy agencies. Bourgeois journalists, news anchors, “expert” panelists, former and present government officials, retired generals and admirals turned “commentators” and “analysts,” think tank pundits, even late-night show hosts — all have vied with each other to attack Trump for being a tool of Putin and Putin for being a master manipulator who “interfered with our democracy.”

While beating the anti-Russia drums of war, these paid scribes of the ruling class are all rallying behind the FBI and CIA. And who are they? These agencies are two of the greatest enemies of the workers and oppressed at home and abroad. The FBI has infiltrated and framed up generations of communists, socialists, African-American civil rights organizations and liberation groups. It has hunted them down on their jobs and in their homes, imprisoned and even killed them.

For decades the CIA has overthrown governments, too numerous to list. It has carried out assassinations, set up torture sites and disrupted national liberation struggles all over the world. Because Trump is attacking it while trying to save his skin from the Mueller investigation, some liberals and progressives somehow got hoodwinked into defending these two cutthroat organizations.

Trump, the Pentagon, the CIA and FBI all must be equally condemned and fought against as enemies of the people.

Trying to undermine Trump

The Democratic Party leadership and many progressives are hoping that the campaign of Russia baiting will undermine both the Trump administration and the Trump Republicans in Congress, as well as erode his base. In addition to Russia baiting, they are hoping that the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign will end up with the ouster of Trump.

Both these paths are a dead end for the working class and the oppressed.

This mentality of getting rid of Trump, no matter how, is very dangerous. Russia baiting plays into the war drive of the military. It will only drain the funds that should be used for social spending and reduce the already starved social safety net. It runs the increased risk of war, in which the working class of both countries would be the primary victims.

It will aid the Democratic Party establishment in its drive to maintain its political dominance over the broad masses of progressive forces, as well as reinforcing bourgeois chauvinist ideology. Using war propaganda to divert Trump’s anti-immigrant, pro-cop followers only substitutes one capitalist evil for another.

Subverting ‘our democracy’ by interfering in elections?

One of the most pernicious propaganda narratives of the anti-Russian propaganda is that the Russians interfered in “our democracy.”

First of all, it is not “our democracy.” This is the democracy of the capitalist class. The rich control every platform of publicity, TV, newspapers, radio, film, etc. The bosses own all the major halls, arenas, theaters, stadiums. They own the newsprint, the presses and other forms of print media. They control the ideological and political content of every major public propaganda organ.

Democratic rights that may exist for the masses under this constricted, truncated capitalist democracy have been won through organization and struggle, at the cost of much blood, whether it’s union rights, civil rights, women’s rights or LGBTQ rights. Nothing has been given by the ruling class without a fight.

Democratic rights in the U.S. are in fact being taken away — but not by Russia. Voter suppression by every means possible has reduced the votes of African Americans, Latinx, Native people, Asians and poor whites.

This has been done by the imposition of voter ID laws, closing polling stations, gerrymandering electoral districts to reduce the electoral weight of oppressed communities, and just plain illegally purging voter rolls. The mass incarceration of millions of Black, Latinx and poor white workers is a shortcut to disenfranchisement, and not just during their term of imprisonment. Many states take away the right to vote of so-called felons for long periods afterwards.

And this is to say nothing of the police killing of Black, Latinx and Indigenous people that goes on day after day across the country.

And where are the democratic rights of millions of migrants to be free from persecution by Border Patrol stormtroopers and from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who roam the country, raid workplaces and neighborhoods? They kill, brutalize, imprison and deport with impunity.

The rights of women to control their bodies are denied every time a new anti-abortion law is passed; every time a women’s health care clinic is shut down. Every time a batterer is ignored by the authorities, women’s very lives are at stake.

These are real-life examples of interference with democratic rights that so many people have been jailed or died in order to realize.

Trump and democracy

Trump is an authoritarian, right-wing, racist, misogynist, militarist bigot. He is trampling on institutions and rights that were established for society’s protection. The numerous government agencies that have been created over the years to curb corporate abuses are being completely destroyed by Trump.

These agencies and institutions have been regarded as riot insurance by the bosses. They were set up to limit the damage done by the capitalists in the jurisdictions indicated by their names. Corporate bribery and corruption have always allowed the bosses to weaken and circumvent various regulations. But Trump has taken it to a new level.

He keeps the loyalty and acquiescence of big business by destroying all progressive limitations on capitalist plunder and reducing the funds spent on regulation, such as the trillion-dollar tax cut, the transformation of the regulatory agencies into permissive enablers of the plunder of the environment, the destruction of public education, removing government oversight of public transportation, drugs and pharmaceuticals, Big Oil and mining, etc.

With all the tumult about Trump and Russia, the rights of the masses are under attack on a daily basis. The movement must turn its attention to combating these attacks. The enemy is not only the Trump administration and the capitalists who support him, but the capitalist system of plunder and exploitation as a whole.

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