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.