Concerns of masses shut out of impeachment hearings

By Fred Goldstein.

Nov. 16 — The Democratic Party leadership has chained the progressive masses to a defense of U.S. ruling-class militarism as the price for impeaching Trump. 

Tens of millions in this country and around the world justifiably want to see the right-wing bully, racist, misogynist bigot Trump brought down. But they are being forced to choose between Trump, who wants to blame his troubles on Ukraine, and the camp that wants to attack Russia.

This a completely false and dead-end choice.

This line of argument has been set forth by Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Adam Shiff and company, their lawyers and their corporate backers. The political masterminds behind this impeachment strategy have set up the proceedings to be especially harmful to the workers and the oppressed.

Legitimate reasons to want Trump out

Let us recount some of the legitimate reasons that people want to get rid of Trump. 

He called Mexicans rapists and criminals on his first day running for office and has continued to vilify immigrants ever since. He has forced migrants fleeing gangs and death squads fostered by puppet imperialist governments away from the U.S. southern border. 

Trump cruelly separated families at the border, put children in cages and moved children and parents hundreds of miles apart without any way of reuniting them. And he has waged a war on Black and Latinx immigrants, calling Africa and Haiti “shithole” countries, and more.

Trump also tried to ban Muslims from the country. He has been sued by 14 women for sexual assault. He has bragged about abusing women and grabbing their genitals.

He has moved legally against LGBTQ2S peoples’ rights. He has pardoned war criminals and reactionaries. He has used the White House to constantly enrich himself. 

Silence on tax breaks, deregulation, U.S. militarism and aggression

As for his attitude toward the ruling class, Trump has handed the military record budgets and given the commanders wide authority to launch operations in the field, despite disparaging NATO. He has plied the bosses and bankers with tax breaks to the tune of $1.5 trillion. He has given the corporate plunderers gifts of environmental and safety deregulation, while plundering and poisoning the land, sea and air — all the while characterizing the very real danger of climate change as a hoax.

As the impeachment hearings are going on, the Trump administration is waging war on the Bolivian Indigenous leader, three-time President Evo Morales. Bolivian generals trained in subversion and repression by the U.S. School of the Americas put the Bolivian masses under assault.

At the same time, Trump and Pompeo have been trying to overthrow the progressive, anti-imperialist Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro.

The Pentagon has moved to seize Syria’s oil wells and has assisted Turkish president Recip Erdogan in persecuting the Syrian Kurds.

Not a word about all this in the hearings.

Yovanovitch the “corruption fighter”

Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine and a star witness for the Democrats, was presented as a brave “corruption fighter.” Her testimony followed a State Department official, George Kent, and another U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor. 

One may ask who gave any U.S. official the right to investigate “corruption” in another country. If the Cubans or the Russians sent officials to investigate corruption in the U.S., they would have to send massive delegations to K Street, the White House and all federal offices of the U.S. capitalist government, because the U.S. ruling class governs by corruption. In addition, state houses and city halls are virtually occupied by lobbyists from every type of business group and individual corporations. But no such thing would ever be permitted here. That would be denounced as meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.

The criminal behavior of Biden  

Joe Biden’s connection to Ukraine is that he pressed to get Ukraine into the imperialist European Union and into an anti-Russian alliance with the U.S. after the elected Ukrainian government of Victor Yanukovich was overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated fascist coup in February 2014.

The Obama-Biden 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 that country’s 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 “Fuck the EU” comment, in which she openly expressed Washington’s preference for the ultra right-wing 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.

Washington’s takeover of Ukraine was part of a plan to complete the encirclement of Russia and to eventually reinstall a Yeltsin-type regime to do its bidding.

Between 1999 and 2004, despite Washington’s earlier pledges not to do so, the U.S. extended NATO’s reach to surround Russia. During this period, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia all joined NATO. Only Ukraine, which also shares a long border with Russia, remained outside the imperialist military alliance.  

The war in the Donbass

There is no disputing the fact that the $400 million in aid voted by Congress was held up by Trump in his corrupt attempt to extort the Zelensky government to open up public investigations of the Bidens and Burisma as well as alleged Ukranian interference in U.S. elections in 2016. But this aid  was meant to fight off the people of East Ukraine, who have resisted the right-wing regime in Kiev. They don’t want the International Monetary Fund or the European Union or U.S. imperialism to dictate their form of government. The $400 million was to give tank-killing missiles to Kiev to stop their righteous resistance. 

The resistance is supported militarily by Russia. It is part of the geopolitical struggle between Washington and Moscow, but the support for the Donbass resistance is progressive. And so was the seizure of Crimea, which, like Donbass, is largely a Russian speaking area.  

The imperialist bureaucrats who testified at the impeachment hearings are being hailed as heroes for fighting to get weapons to be used against a justified people’s war in East Ukraine.

Lost in all the criminality is the fact that Hunter Biden got $50,000 a month from Burisma, the first privately owned natural gas company in Ukraine. This means that Biden makes more for a month than most workers in Ukraine make in a year — for just being Joe Biden’s son. Was Hunter Biden an expert in natural gas? Was he a corporate wizard? Or was he simply the son of the U.S. vice president? His position is a clear case of pure nepotism and influence peddling in the wake of the fascist overthrow.  Yet he is being depicted as a victim by the Democratic Party leadership.

Impeachment a trap for the workers and oppressed

The Democratic Party leadership has carefully orchestrated these hearings to exclude all subjects that are of concern to the progressive masses. There has not been a word about corporate giveaways, accelerated destruction of the environment, record military budgets, massive and growing inequality, wage erosion, underemployment, poverty, food deprivation or voter suppression in their calls to save their “democracy.”

All the capitalist media have broadcast this reactionary circus. No commentators have criticized the politicians for leaving out the genuine concerns of the people. This has been one big election maneuver for the Demcratic Party leadership in the run-up to the 2020 elections. It has been one great evasion of the real burning issues of mass concern. It has revealed in bold relief the fraud of capitalist parliamentarism. 

If there were any semblance of democracy in this process, mass organizations would have been given the opportunity to frame the questions, call and cross-examine witnesses from the ruling-class establishment and frame the articles of impeachment in accord with the needs and desires of the people. 

Of course nothing even approaching this is possible under capitalist democracy, which is designed to foster the interests of capital and suppress any anti-capitalist dissent.  

What is really needed is a mass mobilization, a giant coalition of the workers’ and community organizations, student and immigrant rights groups, women’s and LGBTQ2S organizations, to mobilize on the ground and drive, not just Trump, but the capitalist politicians, the government bureaucrats and the lobbyists from their positions of privilege and political strongholds. This would be preliminary to launching an attack on capitalism itself.  

Posted to lowwagecapitalism.com on Nov. 17, 2019.

 

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.