Contradictions in the impeachment struggle

By Fred Goldstein

The impeachment struggle against Trump poses many contradictions.

On the one hand hundreds of millions of people around the world would like to see Trump brought down in the hope that this will alleviate his administration’s oppressive, racist, and corrupt rule.

On the other hand, the impeachment struggle is, at bottom, a struggle by various factions of the ruling class to keep Trump from undermining the strength of U.S. imperialism at home and abroad.

Tens of million have suffered from Trump’s various forms of reaction. From the gag rule against abortion counseling, to immigrant families separated from their children, to Muslims and immigrants whom he has vilified, to Iranians suffering under sanctions, to Venezuelans and Cubans under threat from all sides, to Palestinians under Israeli occupation, to Zimbabweans under U.S. sanctions, and environmentalists watching the administration allow the extreme pollution of the air, drinking water, land and oceans. Trump has cultivated the ultra-right and fascist elements with his racist defense of killer cops as well as attacks on African and Caribbean countries. 

On the other hand, Trump has antagonized sections of the ruling class as well. He has weakened the NATO alliance, pulled out of the U.S.-sponsored Transpacific Partnership, pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, abused the Mexican government, the Canadian government, the German government, sided with the Brexit forces in Britain, and done numerous things to offend the allies of U.S. imperialism and to damage the military and diplomatic structure built up by Washington over decades. 

Three hundred so-called “national security” experts have supported the articles of impeachment. What are “national security” officials? They are CIA, NSC, FBI and all the agents of sabotage, subversion, special operations, and dirty tricks, whose job it is to undermine, remove or destroy all obstacles to the advancement of U.S. capitalist and imperialist interests at home and abroad. 

Trump’s corruption

Of course it would be foolhardy to ignore Trump’s corruption. The Biden scandal would not have come out if he were not so contemptuous of capitalist norms and processes. It is hard to measure degrees of corruption in bourgeois politics, since it is so pervasive, but usually presidents wait until they leave office to enrich themselves. Trump did not wait. 

He openly cashes in on the presidency to bolster his personal fortune right out in the open and in defiance of capitalist political decorum. He has spent 300 days of his presidency on Trump properties spending government money. He has refused to put his properties in a blind trust and turned them over to his sons. He has had military flight crews stay at his hotels. And the Saudi monarchy, among others, have rented entire floors in his D.C. hotel.

So openly trying to get a government to put a hit on Biden, his political opponent, is just business as usual for Trump and the corrupt circle around him. 

The Democratic Party leadership and Ukraine scandal

The Democratic Party leadership has been given new life in the struggle against Trump by the Ukraine scandal. Trump tried to withhold $400 million in military aid to the reactionary regime in Kiev that is fighting the independence forces in the east of Ukraine until they came up with dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s electoral opponent. 

Trump did so openly in a telephone call that was partially recorded in notes taken by Trump officials.  Some version of those notes were made public, and in them Trump tells the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “do me a favor” and  “look into corruption” by Biden and his son Hunter. Trump had held up the military aid that Congress allocated to Ukraine well before the phone call to be used as leverage.

The Ukraine question is like Russiagate on a smaller scale. But politically it is, in essence, the same thing. The Democrats first opposed Trump by playing the Russia card over and over. Instead of pointing out the outrageous disenfranchisement of masses of voters, particularly people of color, and instead of attacking Trump’s racism, misogyny, anti-worker, and anti-environmental policies, they focused endlessly on the cry of collusion with Russia. First of all these Democrats are allied with the military industrial complex. But second of all, they assumed that this would be the easiest way to go about fighting Trump. If there is anything about the ruling class that is generally recognized, it is their hostility to Russia (and China). So the quickest and easiest way to attack Trump is to call him soft on Russia and a friend of Putin.

This put them squarely in the camp of the militarists. What they did not reckon on was the complete domination of the Republican Party by Trump and his intimidation of both the House and Senate Republicans.  So until they won the majority in the House, they were stymied. 

Nancy Pelosi was stalling on opening up an impeachment struggle despite the numerous crimes of Trump – against immigrants, women, his open profiteering from the presidency, etc.  Then the revelation about the Ukraine issue fell into their lap. Trump bumbled into it. It came to the surface and they have seized upon it. 

The background to the Ukraine crisis

It is no accident that the Ukraine issue has become the focus of the impeachment struggle. It was the Obama administration, with Joe Biden as vice president and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine under Viktor Yanukovych in February of 2014.

The Obama/Biden/Clinton administration collaborated with fascist elements to put a right-wing government in power in Kiev. It is important to go back to the tape-recorded phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in February 2014. 

The European Union was planning a soft takeover of Ukraine, trying to undermine its economic ties with Russia. The U.S. intervened in its own interests by encouraging fascist mobs to call for the overthrow of the elected government. The Ukraine parliament pulled the police off the streets allowing the mobs to break up the parliament.  That is when Nuland made the infamous “F… the EU” comment in which she openly expressed Washington’s preference for the ultra-rightwing Fatherland Party, rife with fascists, to take over the government. (Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2014). When the smoke cleared, the Fatherland Party was in office and President Yanukovych was forced to flee.

On Biden the “victim”

Biden, who has been made the victim of Trump’s maneuvers, is a thoroughly reactionary racist, sexist politician, in addition to being a foreign policy reactionary.

In 1991 Biden was head of the Senate panel that oversaw the persecution of Anita Hill by 10 white male senators who allowed her to be vilified by Clarence Thomas who had been nominated for the Supreme Court. Thomas went on to be one of the most reactionary members of the court.  Biden presided over the hearings and participated in her vilification. Among other things, as the head of the panel, he failed to investigate her allegations against Thomas, failed to bring her witnesses before the committee, and acted as if he did not believe her. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)

In 1994 Biden was a Senate leader. He wrote and had passed the largest crime bill in U.S. history. The bill added 60 new death penalty offenses; it eliminated Pell grants that allowed prisoners to get an education; it provided for funding for 100,000 more cops on the streets; it appropriated $9.7 billion for more prisons and it included the notorious “three strikes” provision which mandated life sentences for anyone convicted of three crimes. 

Under Biden’s and Bill Clinton’s leadership mass incarceration soon followed.

Impeachment leaves the masses out of the struggle

The impeachment process is strictly for ruling class politicians and lawyers. They shape the charges and the arguments. They call and question the witnesses. The masses are totally shut out of the process and their grass roots interests do not see the light of day. 

Trump should be tried for a whole host of crimes against the people. Witnesses should be called like immigrant mothers who have been separated from their children. Black, Latinx, Native and Asian people who have been victims of racism should testify against Trump’s casual remarks equating Nazis to those opposing Nazis and white supremacy. 

LGBTQ2S people who have had friends murdered or beaten by Trump-loving bigots should testify; Black people whose relatives have been killed or beaten by the racist cops should be allowed to tell their stories indicting Trump.  The same should apply to people who have lost their health care, their pensions, their jobs, etc. 

Furthermore, it would be one thing if Trump were impeached under pressure from the enraged masses in the streets, on the campuses, and in the workplaces. But at present the masses are relying on the ruling class to fight their battle against Trump. He and his whole administration and their enablers should be swept into jail for their crimes.  That might bring some genuine relief to the working class and oppressed. 

First published on lowwagecapitalism.com website Sept. 29, 2019.

 

 

Hong Kong: Make colonialism great again

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on Sept. 11, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

Sept. 10 — It is a thoroughly reactionary development when demonstrators carrying U.S. flags march through a city asking the most hated imperialist figure, Donald Trump, to come to their aid. But that is what is happening in Hong Kong.

Despite all the claims in the capitalist press about the demonstrators being advocates of “democracy” and “freedom,” they have embraced a political figure who has locked immigrant children in cages after separating them from their families.

They have called for aid from a president who has called for Muslims to be banned from the U.S. They have embraced a vile racist who has called African nations and Haiti “shithole” countries. Trump has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. What can be the political mentality of demonstrators who would ask for help from a racist bigot in the name of “democracy”?

It is the mentality of capitalist greed.

Donald Trump is trying to low-key the demonstrations because he wants to de-escalate a trade war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He is afraid that the trade war will trigger an economic downturn in the U.S. And an economic downturn will hurt his chances of re-election in 2020.

But Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, the China hawks in Trump’s administration and the CIA, did not get the memo. And if they did, Trump is playing soft cop in this scenario.

Washington and the mainstream media outlets are going all out to foment a full-scale pro-imperialist rebellion, basically demanding independence for Hong Kong. They hope to prolong the demonstrations in order to embarrass the PRC on the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution on Oct. 1. But the strategic goal of the Trump administration is to back the PRC into a corner and provoke it to intervene in Hong Kong. 

Washington and the Pentagon would like to create a small-scale version of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. 

Washington hopes that this will give the entire worldwide propaganda apparatus of the imperialists a green light to open up a major anti-Chinese campaign and set the stage for hostilities or even war. Given the divisions in the imperialist camp and the growing weight of China as an economic power, however, it remains to be seen whether these plans can materialize. 

Hong Kong the new “Berlin Wall”

Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the demonstrations in the 2014 Hong Kong “umbrella” movement and one of the main leaders in the present struggle spoke in Berlin on Sept. 9 saying:

“If we are in a new Cold War, Hong Kong is the new Berlin.” He continued, “We urge the free world to stand together with us in resisting the Chinese autocratic regime,” in a clear signal to the capitalist world. (Reuters, Sept. 9, 2019)

By recalling the image of Berlin and the wall that divided the East and West, Wong evoked the vision of the beginning of the destruction of the socialist camp in Eastern Europe and the ultimate demise of the USSR. Wang’s clear goal is the destruction of socialist China. 

The place of Hong Kong in modern China

With the victory of the Chinese revolution in 1949, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drove the imperialist puppet Nationalist army off the mainland and onto the island of Taiwan. From a military point of view, the PLA was supreme on mainland China. 

Mao Zedong could have ordered the PLA to take Hong Kong, and it would not have taken much more than a day. But he did not do that. Why? Because China was a vast and impoverished country. Before the revolution, China was known as the land of hunger. Famines took the lives of hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of people because of warlord rule and the lack of transportation.

The revolution solved that problem with massive land redistribution. 

But China was in dire need of agricultural and industrial infrastructure. Following the revolution, the U.S. imposed a blockade on technology and industrial equipment. The USSR gave assistance. But China still needed financial channels to the outside world, and Hong Kong was a crucial financial center.

‘One country, two systems’

Fast forward to 1982. Mao died in 1976 and the leftist forces associated with the Cultural Revolution were defeated. Deng Xiaoping entered into negotiations with the British imperialists over Hong Kong. The PRC made clear that they regarded Hong Kong as part of China. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tried to hold out for the continuation of three oppressive treaties signed under military threats from Britain in 1842, 1860 and 1898. It was those treaties, known to the Chinese as the “unequal treaty,” which formalized the British colonization of Hong Kong. 

In the negotiations, the British imperialists wanted to retain administrative control of the territory. Deng told the British that the PRC regarded Hong Kong as part of China and threatened to invade to take back its territory. London was forced to abandon its attempts to retain the unequal treaties and the administration of Hong Kong.

However, with Mao gone, the “reformers” under Deng were in charge. The PRC adopted theone country, two systems” doctrine. An agreement was signed and went into effect in 1997. The doctrine said that Hong Kong would retain its capitalist system until 2047. A legislature and a governing council were set up. The PRC would have input into the legislature, retain the right to govern Hong Kong foreign policy and the right to interpret laws. Hong Kong was designated by China as a special administrative region. 

In a way, the arrangement with Hong Kong mirrored what the new Chinese leadership were trying to establish under the name “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” A mix of socialism and capitalism. Only in China there was a mass Chinese Communist Party which could hold the capitalists in check as well as strategic state-owned enterprises. In Hong Kong, the largest imperialist banks, accounting firms, brokerage companies and law firms were left to dominate the economics of the territory. Always in fear of the PRC and socialism, they gradually tried to dominate the politics of Hong Kong as well.

The latest counterrevolutionary, pro-colonialist demonstrations, complete with U.S. flags, singing of the U.S. national anthem and appeals to Trump for assistance represent a surge forward by the anti-PRC capitalist class to take over the political system in Hong Kong. 

It is a law of capitalism that capital accumulates and gets stronger over time. Over the years, the Hong Kong capitalists, with the aid of imperialism, have never abandoned the attempt to get out from under the shadow of the PRC. This can only be done in a small territory like Hong Kong with the aid and backing of a major power like the U.S.

Hong Kong and world finance capital

The PRC faces significant risks in Hong Kong. The territory plays a crucial role in the economic development of China. Hundreds of billions of dollars flow in and out of mainland China through Hong Kong. (Why China Still Needs Hong Kong,” Peterson International Institute for Economics, July 15, 2019)

“No less than 64 percent of the mainland’s inward foreign direct investment and 65 percent of its outward foreign direct investment was booked in Hong Kong. Chinese banks, which are now worth US$1.2 trillion, hold overseas assets concentrated in Hong Kong.” (Hong Kong is irreplaceable for China,” South China Morning Post, Aug. 30, 2019)

The imperialists know this and are gambling that they can force concessions from China by economic extortion. This is the danger of the “one country, two systems” regime in Hong Kong. 

Lost in all the enthusiasm of the capitalist press for the reactionaries, is the plight of the working class. 

In Hong Kong, houses cost 20.9 times the average household income. Compare that with 9.4 times in Los Angeles and 9.1 times in San Francisco―cities infamous for their housing crises―and the extent of the problem becomes apparent.

“‘Hong Kong only builds for the rich. They need to care for real people,’ says Chan To, 30, a skinny man with flecks of gray in his hair who has been homeless since he lost his job as a chef last summer. … Chan sought refuge in McDonald’s, sleeping in various outlets every night for the last four months, he says.” (What Life Is Like In Hong Kong, The Most Expensive City To Live In The World,” Huffington Post, Nov. 20, 2018)

“McRefugees” is a Hong Kong term for people living in booths at fast food places. Homelessness and being rent poor is endemic in Hong Kong. The minimum wage is US$4 an hour in a city that has been rated as the most expensive city in the world. The demonstrators who carry U.S. flags have no demands to improve the lot of the impoverished Hong Kong working class.

‘Lady liberty’ at Tiananmen Square

Such flagrant appeals to colonialism have not been seen since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China in 1989. At that time, the vast assembly of counterrevolutionary student protesters, many of them schooled in the U.S., displayed a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Tiananmen Square in an open appeal for support from U.S. imperialism. Mikhail Gorbachev, who opened the door to counterrevolution in the USSR, went to the demonstrations to show his solidarity. The “reformist” capitalist-road Chinese premier at the time, Zao Zhiyang, was put under house arrest for encouraging a full-scale counterrevolution aimed at overthrowing the socialist system.

Parading through Hong Kong with U.S. flags in 2019 is the equivalent of displaying the statue of “Lady Liberty” in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Playing with capitalism is like playing with fire as far as socialists are concerned. The attacks on Chinese technology, the U.S. naval threats in the South China Sea, the brutal trade war initiated by Trump and the witch hunt by the FBI against Chinese scientists in the U.S. are all part of the growing antagonism between Chinese socialism and U.S. imperialism. Hopefully, the Chinese leadership will draw the necessary lessons from the developments in Hong Kong and the U.S. anti-China offensive. A hard assessment of U.S. imperialism and the voracious appetite of the exploiting class may be in order.

Following the great anti-colonial wave in Africa, India and the Middle East after World War II, the British Union Jack had to be pulled down. In fact, the surrender of Hong Kong was said to be the last gasp of the British world empire. The British, the U.S.and other imperialists had to resort to neocolonialism, economic penetration and the installation of puppet regimes to maintain their world domination.

Hoisting the U.S. flag in Hong Kong is a signal that these demonstrators want to return to the open colonialism of old. Trump and company want to make colonialism great again.

 

 

Washington’s anti-China strategy in Hong Kong

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on Aug. 28, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

It is impossible to separate the counterrevolutionary colonialist demonstrations in Hong Kong from Washington’s new cold war against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). (See article “The New Cold War Against China,” lowwagecapitalism.com.}

The over two-month-long campaign of demonstrations–which are really for independence from the mainland and aimed at detaching the city from China–are sustained and guided by superpower resources from Washington and London, with an assist from Taiwan’s separatist forces.

The CIA-run National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other U.S.-run nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are in the thick of the demonstrations. U.S. diplomats have met with so-called student leaders as an offer of support. (See the article in Fight Back News, Aug. 19, 2019.)

There are millions of poor workers in Hong Kong. Most of them are in low-paying jobs, including retail, food and drink, estate management, security, cleaning, elder care and courier services, among others.

They live in costly housing because the real estate industry has been dominant under Hong Kong capitalism, as have finance, tourism and other high-paid services. But you don’t see these workers on the streets demanding separation from mainland China.

Another thing you won’t see is the thousands of demonstrators who came out to defend the Hong Kong police and the Chinese mainland on Aug. 26 and denounce the protesters. “A rally organized by the Great Alliance to Protect Hong Kong, a new umbrella organization, drew tens of thousands of people to a park near the headquarters of China’s military garrison earlier this month.” (New York Times picture caption, Aug. 27, 2019)

In fact, the South China Morning Post reported on Aug. 23, 2019, that several thousand accountants joined the march for “democracy” in Hong Kong recently. The four largest accounting firms in the world, known as the “Big Four”are in Hong Kong. The four firms and their 2018 revenue in U.S. dollars are as follows:

Deloitte, based in New York, made $43.2 billion; PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), based in London, earned $41.3 billion; EY (Ernst & Young), based in London, earned $34.8 billion; KPMG (Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler), based in Amstelveen, Netherlands, earned $28.96 billion (Reuters, Aug. 24, 2019).

What you see instead are thousands of middle class anti-China demonstrators who are demanding autonomy for one of the largest financial centers in Asia. Hong Kong became a financial and commercial center under British colonial rule. London ruled Hong Kong for 156 years until it was forced to turn over sovereignty to the mainland in 1997.

According to Wikipedia’s list of banks in Hong Kong, 70 of the100 largest banks in the world are in this tiny city. This includes the largest U.S. and British banks. The largest insurance companies, hotel chains and tourist agencies are there as well.

It is hardly surprising that the imperialist NGOs and think tanks are able to mobilize thousands of professionals to take to the streets to separate from the mainland. And they carry out their protests violently, while the capitalist media complain about the Hong Kong police, who are under siege from the demonstrators. (Struggle-La Lucha, Behind the anti-China Protests in Hong Kong, Aug. 19, 2019)

In the meantime, “Australia has emerged as an ideal destination for Hong Kong millionaires who are looking to emigrate from the Chinese semi-autonomous territory reeling from political turmoil.

“A notable rise in applications for the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program, which grants direct residency to applicants, has been filed with the New South Wales state migration department over the past months, reported Reuters. Interested individuals have to invest at least A$5 million (US$3.4 million) to be eligible for the program.” (Taiwan News, Aug. 23, 2019)

Hong Kong leadership offers dialogue: demonstrators escalate

U.S. imperialism, the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department want to use the Hong Kong demonstrations to vilify the PRC and socialism. The demonstrators are being as provocative as possible in order to try to draw the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the battle. Many demonstrations have gone right up to the PLA garrison in Hong Kong with provocative acts and slogans.

Washington’s goal is to be able to create a new version of Tiananmen Square and raise a worldwide hue and cry against China, the way they did in 1989. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the CIA and the military want a rerun as they drum up war fever against China.

Describing a recent demonstration, the Wall Street Journalof Aug. 24 wrote, “Tear gas engulfed the industrial neighborhood of Kwun Tong as protesters were more aggressive, blocking roads, surrounding the local police station and sawing down at least one video-surveillance pole, which protesters said could be used to spy on people.

“Demonstrators with poles fought face to face with the charging police, knocking some to the ground and sending others scrambling back. Some threw rocks at the police. A small fire bomb exploded amid the melee.“

This attack on the police, who held up signs warning the demonstrators to stop, came shortly after the Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, offered to enter into dialogue with the protesters. Lam said she “would be open to talking to the community.” In a post on her official Instagram account on Saturday—ahead of the latest violence—she said everyone was tired after months of protests and asked if “we can sit down and talk about it” after a calmer week. (WSJ, Aug. 24, 2019)

In other words, the reactionary forces tried to break up any move by the Hong Kong leadership to calm the situation.

On the day before the attack on the police, there was a demonstration in which the protesters held hands in the streets of Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong residents on Friday night formed human chains across large parts of the city in … a display that recalled a major anti-Soviet demonstration from 30 years ago.” The message was clear today just as it was at the time of the USSR: get free of mainland China. The demonstration was called the “Hong Kong Way.” (New York TImes, Aug. 23, 2019)

This was a replica of the “Baltic Way” demonstration in 1989 in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It was a demonstration to be free of the Soviet Union. It was undoubtedly engineered by the same imperialist forces that were behind the “Hong Kong Way” demonstrations.

The Hong Kong Way demonstration, the attack on the police station the following day, the provocations against the PLA garrison in Hong Kong, the ransacking of the legislature, all these are signs of a Washington-London strategy of trying to provoke some type of Chinese intervention which can then be used to vastly escalate political tensions against the PRC. The Chinese Communist Party has reacted with great restraint in the face of these vicious provocations. Instead they have supported the pro-China forces in Hong Kong who don’t want to sell their country to imperialism.

 

Tariffs, trade and overproduction

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on August 25, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

All signs are that an economic downturn is coming. While the capitalists are the first to moan and groan about the declines in the stock market and bond market, an economic downturn is a crisis for the working class. It means layoffs, short shifts, reduced hours, general instability and suffering for the workers and oppressed.

What is needed in the coming period is for the working class, the unions, the unorganized in various organizations and communities to overcome disunity and passivity in time to fight back and push the crisis onto the backs of the bosses. 

There is endless speculation now about whether or not Trump’s policies, particularly the trade war with China, are causing or accelerating the downturn. But to be clear, should there be a downturn, capitalist overproduction would be its cause.

Behind Trump’s trade war

What is driving the trade war and the tariffs, which are really a tax on the working class, in the U.S. as well as in China? Trump is desperate to create the jobs he promised in his election bid in 2016. He thinks his reelection depends on it. He thinks that a tariff war will force U.S. corporations back to the U.S., where they will offer new jobs. This is Trump’s fantasy. It is utterly false and based upon total ignorance.

U.S. corporations have rushed to position themselves in China over the years because China’s workers had relatively low wages, there was a vast population of peasants streaming into the cities, along with a growing educated population, and a strong  infrastructure built by the socialist government. China provided both a vast internal market and a platform for exporting commodities to third countries, including the U.S.

In short, being in China was profitable and it still is. The corporate bosses will refuse to  give up their profits just because Trump tells them to. Of course, many of them wish that they could get out of China for other reasons: Wages are rising, there is communist influence on the workers, the bosses fear of the strength of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and they hate to conform to rules and regulations laid down by the CCP and the Chinese government. 

Some bosses are trying to find low-wage alternatives in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, and other places. But shifting supply chains, finding infrastructure and breaking up production patterns is not as easy as Trump makes it sound. 

Giant corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar, Apple, GM, GE, among others, have large capital investments in China. Many of them were counting on a full-scale capitalist takeover, which would have allowed them to dominate China. But it is clear that such an overturn is not happening.

Trump’s tactics in the trade war with China also reflects the deep and growing hostility of the U.S. ruling class toward China, especially its socialist structure and its increasing political, economic and military influence in Asia and the world.

Capitalist overproduction is the problem

In their attempt to shore up the U.S. economy Trump and the ruling class are really up against capitalism itself. The capitalist economy operates according to it own laws. 

Marxism shows that consumption and production are indissolubly linked. It also shows that every downturn begins, not with a decline in consumption, but with a decline in production. Where production declines, profits decline, and capitalists rush to protect their profits by hitting  the workers with layoffs, wage cuts, cuts in hours, elimination of benefits, whatever it takes to keep profit margins from falling or to slow the fall.

Why are the imperialist countries — Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, among others — either in a manufacturing decline or headed toward one? There is only one reason. There is a decline in markets for manufactured commodities. 

China, a socialist country, is not in a depression, but the rate of growth in the economy has declined from 5.7% in December 2018 to 5.5% in February 2019. But this is still a higher growth rate than anywhere in the world capitalist economies (Reuters. Business News, March 13, 2019). 

It is a law of capitalism that production expands at a rapid pace while consumption expands, if at all, at a snail’s pace. That is because the masses of workers get paid very little while profits boom.  Profits and production outstrip consumption; that is an iron law of capitalism. That is what leads to capitalist overproduction.

The enormous productivity of labor makes it such that the mass of the working class cannot buy back all that they produce. High technology in production has aggravated this situation and has made the crisis of overproduction worse. With automation, fewer workers produce more commodities and services in a shorter time. This is what accounts for the vast number of workers who are excluded from  the unemployment statistics — those who have dropped out of the official workforce altogether, who cobble together part-time jobs off the books to live and use other means to survive. 

Any talk of downturn, recession, depression, etc., should set off alarm bells among the more advanced workers. It should be a clarion call to workers’ leaders wherever they are to start organizing a fight back. 

Workers must demand to keep their income flowing by whatever means available, whether payments by the capitalists out of their profits and savings, or by the government directly, through jobs programs. An economic downturn is an emergency for workers. It should be treated as such. 

Trump is desperate to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. to try to shore up his electoral base. But the manufacturing index has shown contraction in the U.S. for the first time since 2009. This decline in manufacturing is certain to be followed by a decline in consumption. 

The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence report, which is the capitalist’s gold standard, has shown a drop in popular economic confidence in the future. That indicates a further threat to consumption. 

Amazon and other online retailers have driven out brick-and-mortar stores and closed down malls. These devastating events, driven by high tech, may pump up the bottom line at Amazon but at the same time they spread unemployment and poverty across the country. 

The number of workers in stores and malls who are laid off far exceeds the number of workers put to work at Amazon fulfillment centers or Fedex or UPS. When a store or a mall closes, retail workers lose their jobs and so do maintenance workers, window and floor designers, fast food workers who served the customers in the malls, etc. No matter how you slice it, workers take it on the chin when online retailers drive stores and malls out of business. 

The contradictions of capitalist exploitation have raised a dire threat to the working class and the capitalist economy. Trump should be ousted because of his unspeakable racism, misogyny and bigotry, as well as his vicious anti-immigrant policies. But the real problem is capitalism itself.

 

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

First published June 20, 2002.

By Fred Goldstein.

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

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

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

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

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

British East India Company

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

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

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

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

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

British sold Kashmir in 1846

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

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

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

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

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

Formation of Congress Party

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

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

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

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

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

Communist Party — gains and setbacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The issue of Kashmir stands unresolved today.

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

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

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

India under Nehru

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Bolsheviks could, but India couldn’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Trump, Racism and Capitalism

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on August 11, 2019.

By Fred Goldstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not just Trump

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

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

European immigration expands ranks of working class

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

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

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

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

Trump speaks out loud the mind of the capitalists

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

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

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

Chapters from the history of capitalist, racist politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-working-class strategy and tactic of capitalists

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

The New Cold War Against China

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on July 26, 2019.

Part 1

By Fred Goldstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pentagon’s plans for military conquest failed 

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

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

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

The attack on Huawei

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

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

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

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

The new ‘red scare’ in Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FBI criminalizes cancer research

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

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

“She was branded an oncological double agent.” 

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

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

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

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

Looking for the “reformers” and the counterrevolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2: The New Cold War Against China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Socialist structures reversed collapse

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

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

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

Socialism and China’s standing in the world

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

Made in China 2025

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breakup of U.S.-China relationship inevitable

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

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

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

High technology is the key to the future 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trump tariffs clash with globalized capitalist production

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

By Fred Goldstein

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

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

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

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

Globalization and the socialization of production

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

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

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

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

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

Tariffs: Trump’s blunt instrument

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

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

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

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

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

‘Globalization’ and the complexity of socialized production

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trade fight with EU and Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The contradiction of socialized production vs. private appropriation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalism is becoming an obstacle to the survival of the masses

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

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

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

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

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