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 under fire — the ruling-class dilemma

All the indictments, plea bargaining, immunities, exposures, etc., amount to this: The anti-Trump forces in the ruling class are doing a dance with Trump.


Donald Trump has suffered a series of blows from the anti-Trump forces in the ruling class and the legal establishment. This has undoubtedly encouraged progressive and revolutionary forces who rightfully want to see this reactionary, authoritarian, racist, misogynist Trump go down.

Recent events have pummeled Trump. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted at trial of eight criminal counts of fraud and tax evasion. His long-time lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, pled guilty and pointed the finger at Trump for campaign law violations. These developments came on the same day.

The following day it was revealed that the CEO of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, who operates a pro-Trump scandal sheet, had been granted immunity to talk about how he worked with Michael Cohen to suppress stories critical of Trump by buying and then not publishing them.

Twenty-four hours later it was revealed that the CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, was also given immunity to testify. Weisselberg has been in charge of Trump Organization finances dating back to the days of Trump’s racist, pro-Nazi father, Fred Trump.

Wall Street, Pentagon draw line — at Russia and DPRK

Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to call off his trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with one week’s notice. Pompeo had already chosen the head of Ford Motors to lead the delegation. Last week we noted that Trump’s military parade was canceled and how the Pentagon and the ruling class were resisting his attempt to realign U.S. imperialist foreign policy toward Russia, which the establishment has blocked. (“Revolt of the spymasters,” WW, Aug. 23)

The latest move to cancel Pompeo’s trip to the DPRK is the ruling class’s answer to Trump’s attempt to realign U.S. foreign policy on the Korean peninsula. Finally signing a peace treaty with the DPRK — for a war that ended in a stalemate 65 years ago — is a condition for moving forward. The entire military and political establishment is opposed to this and finally won out, even as Trump was being weakened in court.

The ruling class has laid down the line on the essentials. They can live with Trump’s fascist atrocities on the borders, separating immigrant families. They can shrug off his support for police brutality and murder in the Black and Latinx communities. They can live with his racist slurs against Africa and Haiti.

But when it comes to basics, aggression toward Russia and opening up peaceful relations in Korea, Wall Street and the Pentagon draw a sharp line.

Bosses reject impeachment for now

It must be noted that these developments have been accompanied by a concerted effort to bury any incipient movement for impeachment, which has been quickened by Trump’s legal setbacks.

This effort to quash any talk of impeachment comes from both the Democratic Party leadership and the Republicans alike. A long story in the New York Times tells how the Democratic Party hierarchy is trying to put out impeachment fires among rank-and-file Democrats. The party line is to protect the Mueller investigation and let it play out. (Aug. 25)

Right now, the ruling class is wary of stoking an impeachment movement. There are at least two reasons. First, they are making tons of money in profit from the Trump tax cuts and deregulation. The entire trillion-dollar tax cut directly reduces corporate expenses and goes straight to the corporate bottom line. Profits have been shooting up for two quarters. No boss or banker wants to rock that boat.

Second, they are afraid of provoking a right-wing rebellion from Trump’s base. They listen to Trump rallies, which continue on just as they were during the campaign, despite all the revelations about what a low-life racist, misogynist, bigoted crook Trump is. The bourgeoisie is always collaborative, conciliatory or cowardly in the face of the right wing — and this is a lesson the working class must always remember.

All the indictments, plea bargaining, immunities, exposures, etc., amount to this: The anti-Trump forces in the ruling class are doing a dance with Trump. Right now the ruling class is trying to weaken him primarily with legal and publicity attacks. This may change under future circumstances, for instance, if the trade war with China gets out of control or some other catastrophic development threatens their capitalist  interests. But, ultimately, they hope to remove him through the 2020 election process.

The best case political scenario for the anti-Trump forces in the ruling class is for the Democrats to win the majority in the House of Representatives. This will give them the power to call hearings, bring witnesses, subpoena testimony and documents, and wage a public relations war against Trump, while leaving the question of impeachment open.

At the present time the masses are faced with three practical alternatives to removing Trump: indictment, impeachment or elections. All three are ruling-class solutions in arenas dominated by capital.

The radical and revolutionary left were definitely growing, even before Trump got in. But given the present-day relationship of political forces, and given the relative numerical weakness of the revolutionary and radical left, these ruling-class solutions are the only paths to actually removing Trump at the moment.

Ways to fight Trump and Trumpism

However, there are many ways to fight Trump and Trumpism on the ground, such as bringing down racist symbols, fighting to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, putting immigrant detention centers under siege, supporting the present prisoners’ strike, fighting police brutality, defending Native land rights, demanding women’s right to reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights, demonstrating against the war drive, etc. All of these are righteous struggles that can be directly related to the struggle against Trump. They can and must be waged.

Propaganda and agitation against the Trump reaction are other important avenues to be used, especially as the bourgeois elections get closer. This is a time when the masses are open to listening to politics. The real left, the revolutionary anti-capitalist left, may not be decisive in the electoral arena, given the current relationship of forces. Some social democrats, however, are running as Democratic Party candidates.

It may be that the role of the left will be best carried out by a campaign of demonstrations and propaganda. In some states, or more likely local contests, revolutionary forces may be able to participate in elections on a revolutionary basis for propaganda purposes as well as for gaining representation.

Propaganda and agitation during the current campaign have to be sensitively crafted. They must bear in mind the anti-Trump sentiments of the undocumented who have suffered fascist-like measures on the borders, including the separation of families from their children. These fascist-like measures are not restricted to the borders, but are carried out by ICE in immigrant communities and at workplaces across the country.

This propaganda must bear in mind the anger in the cities and Black communities all over the country against the police and Trump’s open support for police brutality and Confederate racism.

It must acknowledge that there are close to a million DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients who have the threat of deportation hanging over their heads. In addition, hundreds of thousands, including Haitians, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and others whose Temporary Protected Status has been lifted, are awaiting deportation.

Bearing all this in mind, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist propaganda can be fashioned which not only condemns Trump, but also shows that salvation does not lie in the Democratic Party, a party whose leadership is inextricably tied to corporate and military interests.

Socialism gaining popularity

There is much discussion and publicity about the growing popularity of the term “socialism.” Since the campaign of Bernie Sanders in 2016, the term has become respectable, particularly as capitalism decays and brings suffering and gross inequality to the masses. The term “socialist” got a further boost when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican activist, a Sanders ally and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won a primary against an entrenched Democratic Party hack, Joe Crowley, who was in line to be named Speaker of the House after Nancy Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez will represent a district that spans the Bronx and Queens.

While her primary victory has inspired a great deal of enthusiasm among progressives, it has also bred illusions among many young people, especially on the left, that they are on the road to taking over the Democratic Party and bringing forward a program of wiping out inequality, winning universal health care, affordable housing, even government ownership of industries, etc.

These illusions must be dealt with by Marxist arguments, and should not be contemptuously dismissed. For example, the most progressive president of the 20th century, Franklin Roosevelt, put down the independence movement in Puerto Rico in the Ponce Massacre of 1934. Roosevelt took U.S. imperialism into World War II, not initially against the Nazis but against Japanese imperialism, and justified the internment of Japanese people in the U.S.

While Roosevelt is well remembered now for the New Deal, which granted some rights to the impoverished working class at the time, in preparation for war Roosevelt broke an aircraft strike on the West Coast, made alliances with southern Dixiecrats, allowed segregation to remain in place, including in the military, etc. And this was the most progressive Democratic Party president ever! He raged against “economic royalists” but did their bidding in the Pacific and later on in Europe. Before entering World War II, he said “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars” — until U.S. imperialist interests were challenged.

Only struggle will win

How did the working class win concessions from the Roosevelt administration?

The New Deal was not a gift granted from above. It was won beginning with demonstrations of the unemployed in major cities; hunger marches; municipal general strikes in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Toledo in 1936; the sit-down strikes in Akron and Cleveland, culminating in the Flint sit-down strike the same year, which led to the organization of the United Auto Workers, the Congress of Industrial Organizations and the mass organization of the industrial working class.

This was the force that led to the Works Progress Administration, Social Security, unemployment insurance, the right to strike and to organize unions, and many other gains associated with the New Deal.

The same is true for the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and other legislative gains, including the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and those confirming lesbian and gay rights. They were won first in the streets in the bloody South and then by massive rebellions and marches in northern cities.

Socialists trying to make gains by getting a foothold in the electoral system and the Democratic Party need to know that the great steps forward have come from the class struggle — the militant organization of the workers and the rebellions of oppressed communities.

In the long run, only the mass struggle can bring social progress, and only revolution can bring socialism.

Trump, the Pentagon and the establishment

According to Marx, the capitalist government is the executive committee of the ruling class. That truth still holds. But that executive committee is by no means politically homogeneous or unified. In fact, the greater the crisis in imperialism and capitalism, the greater the divisions within the government and within the state itself.

Aug. 11 — The latest round of U.S. sanctions on Russia illustrates how the Pentagon and its allies in the capitalist government are moving independently of the U.S. president to undermine his personal diplomacy when it conflicts with the military’s goals.

For reasons that are a matter of much speculation, Trump has tried to realign U.S. imperialist foreign policy to include a rapprochement with Russia. He has done this since he began his election campaign. This attempt at realignment was expressed dramatically at the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in July.

Make no mistake, Donald Trump is no partisan of peace. He is bellicose, belligerent and an impulsive warmonger when it suits him. He is a bully in international relations as well as an authoritarian promoter of racism, sexism and bigotry at home.

Trump feeds war machine

Trump has done much to feed the Pentagon war machine. He has given the brass record budget increases, with the 2019 military budget officially topping $716 billion. He has authorized modernization of nuclear weapons. He has funded increases in jet fighters, ships and troops. In short, he has done everything to keep the military-industrial complex satisfied and on board with his administration.

“The increase in military spending is one of the largest in modern U.S. history, jumping by 9.3 percent from 2017 to 2019,” according to Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.” (Washington Post, June 10)

This marks an increase of $136 billion just from 2017 to 2019.

Meanwhile, the masses of people are losing their health care, their child care, their food stamps and their housing while suffering from poverty, joblessness and underemployment. But Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, United Technologies, Northrop Grumman and other merchants of death are bingeing on profits.

Pentagon still dominates U.S. politics

Perhaps Trump thought his generosity to the generals and admirals would keep the Pentagon and the high command in sync with his personalized diplomacy. Not so.

As for softening toward Russia, the Pentagon is having none of this. The military’s conventional right-wing allies in the administration, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have subverted Trump’s personal diplomacy.

For example, Pompeo and the State Department just recently notified Congress that the administration considers Russia behind the poisoning of two former Russian spies in England with a chemical agent last March — six months ago!

Washington claims that Moscow violated the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. This is the act that U.S. imperialism used against Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and is now using against Russia.

The sanctions imposed on Russia involve hundreds of millions of dollars on so-called “dual-use” products that could hypothetically be used for military purposes. More draconian sanctions, denying Russian banks access to U.S. markets if Russia does not prove that it no longer uses chemical weapons — a charge that Moscow vigorously denies — will be imposed in 90 days.

DPRK-Trump agreement sabotaged

Trump has seized on the diplomatic overtures of Kim Jong Un, head of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Kim tried to defuse the crisis on the Korean Peninsula by offering to meet on denuclearization. Trump accepted the invitation and promoted a bilateral summit meeting held in Singapore on June 12.

Trump was trying to achieve “historic” status by bringing about an end to the crisis. When he came back, he spoke about the Korean War being over and mentioned a possible peace treaty to finally end the war, begun way back in June 1950. The fighting ended in August 1953 with a ceasefire agreement, but the U.S. had never before agreed to even discuss a formal peace treaty.

Trump actually called off the annual war exercises carried out by the U.S. and South Korean military that exerted military pressure aimed at bringing down the DPRK.

Since the Singapore summit, however, virtually the entire U.S. ruling class, media and military have tried to undermine the process toward ending the Korean War. They call the DPRK leaders liars who can’t be trusted. Lately they have clamored for increased sanctions because the North won’t “denuclearize” now.

U.S. refuses to sign peace treaty

There is a simple explanation for why the denuclearization process has not begun.

Two prestigious reporters for the imperialist New York Times, David Sanger and William Broad, admitted in an Aug. 10 article that Washington has reneged on pledges made during the Singapore summit and subsequent talks:

“On Thursday [Aug. 9], North Korea’s state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called the declaration of the end of the war ‘the demand of our time’ and that it would be the ‘first process’ in moving toward a fulfillment of the June 12 deal struck between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim. Pyongyang also wants peace treaty talks to begin before detailing its arsenal.”

In other words, reactionary hawks in the Trump administration and the military are deliberately sabotaging the precondition for denuclearization that must have been verbally agreed to by Trump, and perhaps by Pompeo — that talks first begin on a peace treaty to end the now 68 years of warfare by U.S. imperialism before the DPRK gives an inventory of its nuclear weapons. Thus, the right wing is now trying to reverse Trump’s Korea diplomacy.

NATO and Bolton

A further example of the military going around Trump occurred when, ahead of last month’s NATO meeting, Trump’s national security adviser, right-wing militarist John Bolton, sent instructions to European imperialist defense ministers to work out a joint declaration before Trump got to the meeting. Its aim was to prevent Trump from blowing up the meeting with his hostility to NATO.

An Aug. 9 New York Times article detailed how Washington worked with Brussels to get in place an agreement by which Europe pledged to provide 30 battalions of troops, 30 squadrons of aircraft and 30 battle-ready ships by 2020. The goal of this deal was preparation for a NATO war with Russia.

A North Atlantic Command was to be set up in Norfolk, Va., to be ready for such a war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reinforced Bolton’s directive during a gathering of the ambassadors on July 4. By the time Trump arrived in Brussels, all the deals had been agreed to. Usually, these deals are haggled out at the very end of such meetings.

Converging against China

The Pentagon is carrying out provocative war maneuvers against the People’s Republic of China. The Navy has been sending warships to within 12 miles of Chinese islands in the South China Sea, and on Aug. 10 the U.S. sent a spy plane over them. A CNN crew was aboard the plane recording the events.

“During the flight the crew received six separate warnings from the Chinese military, telling them they were inside Chinese territory. … ‘Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,’ a voice said. And each time the Navy sent the same message: ‘I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state.’”

That means that some 6,000 miles away from the U.S. and less than 10 miles from China, the Pentagon claims “sovereign immunity.”

The point is that this provocation comes at the same time that Trump opened up a trade war with China. In this case, his aggressive economic policy is in sync with the Pentagon’s military policy, so there is no sabotage from either faction.

Trump, Marxism and the state

Marxist analysis is needed to unthread the complicated political relations inside the Trump administration and with Congress. According to Marx, the capitalist government is the executive committee of the ruling class.

That truth still holds. But that executive committee is by no means politically homogeneous or unified. In fact, the greater the crisis in imperialism and capitalism, the greater the divisions within the government and within the state itself.

Trump’s presidency itself is a reflection of the crisis of capitalism. Even though he lost the popular vote by 3 million, his entire political rise was based upon the political demoralization of a section of the masses and the bankruptcy of the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party. After voting for Obama in 2012, millions fled to vote for Trump in 2016. Among those voters were many who had supported Bernie Sanders’ unsuccessful bid in the primaries, but then switched to Trump.

A civil war now rages within the Democratic Party leadership over how to overcome this bankruptcy. But in any case, there is nothing the Democratic Party leaders can do to eliminate the crisis of capitalism, which is at the root of the problem.

Trump appealed to anger following years of wages being driven down and unions undermined. At the same time he attacked the setbacks for imperialism abroad, including the failed attempt to completely take over Ukraine in 2014. His election is part of a widespread racist, anti-im/migrant wave generated across the capitalist world, including Europe.

Right-wing appointments broke up Trump’s coalition

Trump was a total outsider who triumphed over the Republican establishment. At first, his government was a coalition between that establishment and the right wing. Over time, Trump ousted the establishment figures who could tell him no: Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, who had been his secretary of state; Gary Cohn, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who was his chief economic adviser; and Gen. H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser.

He replaced them with anti-establishment rightists: National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chief Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow.

Trump thought he was now free to pursue his program to revive the fortunes of imperialism. His program was to pull out of the Paris Agreement on the environment; pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; bully NATO into submission; open up a racist war on immigrant workers; align with the anti-immigrant forces in Europe; blow up the Iran nuclear treaty; wage a trade war with China and other countries; tear down and renegotiate NAFTA, etc.

Of course, his program is at odds with the traditional ruling-class policy of keeping alliances with European imperialism, while holding these allies in subordination. The establishment is largely hostile to the People’s Republic of China, to Iran and unified in its opposition to Russia. But even his right-wing advisers stepped in to save the NATO alliance from Trump.

Two false programs to revive imperialism

Obviously, Trump’s policies are completely detrimental to the long-standing strategies of the U.S. capitalist establishment for world domination. In fact, however, the establishment has a totally erroneous analysis of its own crisis and could not solve it with its usual approach. Both the establishment view and Trump’s view of the crisis are false.

Only a revolutionary Marxist understanding of the crisis corresponds to objective reality. And only such a view leads to a resolution of the crisis favorable to the workers and the oppressed.

The crisis of U.S. imperialism and capitalism stems from the insatiable, aggressive need of Washington and Wall Street to reconquer and recolonize the vast territories they lost during the Soviet period in the 20th century. It is a failed attempt.

They cannot turn the Pacific into an “American lake” again because China has risen up. They can do horrific damage, but they cannot recolonize the Middle East or Iran because the oppressed in the region will not let it happen. They cannot turn Latin America into a U.S. “backyard” despite their “regime change” aspirations. Their brutal treatment of Puerto Rico and of Latinx im/migrants explodes their false promises. And socialist Cuba still stands in their way.

The crisis stems further from the ruling class’s insatiable thirst for profit and the resultant growing inequality and grinding poverty of the masses in the U.S. These masses are the ultimate social base of imperialism, a base that is eroded with every tax cut for the rich, every attack on social services, every act of racist police brutality and mass incarceration. The ruling-class parasites are desperate to suck every last nickel of profit out of the masses as their system declines.

So both views of the crisis, Trump’s and that of the broader capitalist ruling class, are false. Capitalism has no solution to its own systemic crisis.

Trump, Putin and Helsinki

By Fred Goldstein, posted July 25, 2018.  

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon and spy agencies need an enemy

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

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

Capitalist Russia poses no such threat.

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

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

Russia’s contradictory role

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

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

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

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

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

Publicist lackeys and anti-Russia storm

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

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

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

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

Trying to undermine Trump

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

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

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

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

Subverting ‘our democracy’ by interfering in elections?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump and democracy

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

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

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

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

Trump engineers right-wing takeover

By Fred Goldstein posted on March 26, 2018.

Trump has demolished the original loose coalition that included establishment figures in the White House and the Cabinet. This coalition had been put in place by the broader ruling class to balance the ultrarightists around Trump, and Trump himself.

March 24 — With the appointment of racist, militarist warmonger John Bolton to the position of national security adviser, Donald Trump has virtually transformed his regime into a bastion of ultrarightists.

With this transformation, Trump has demolished the original loose coalition that included establishment figures in the White House and the Cabinet. This coalition had been put in place by the broader ruling class to balance the ultrarightists around Trump and Trump himself.

The transformation has sharply increased the dangers of war and economic hardship for the masses. Leaders of the workers and the oppressed should take this development seriously and prepare for resistance now.

Trump and his handpicked, ultraright yes-men are basically in charge now. With the appointment of Bolton as national security adviser, virtually all the key positions in the White House and the Cabinet are now headed by extreme right-wingers and Trump lackeys.

The single exception is Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis. Known as “Mad Dog” Mattis, this Iraq war criminal and butcher of Fallujah has nevertheless sounded caution about nuclear war or first strikes against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Mattis has also advocated for the U.S. staying in the Iran nuclear pact and has differed with Trump’s pro-torture statements.

The key foreign policy positions in any administration are secretary of state, secretary of defense, national security adviser and chief of staff. The head of the National Economic Council and the trade adviser are also key positions.

Trump has used his firing and appointment powers to see to it that each of these positions is now occupied by an ultrarightist who is compatible with his belligerent, racist, militaristic program.

Hawk replaced by superhawk

Trump pushed out Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser even though he was a war hawk. The reasons are partly political, partly personal and partly factional.  But the details are not as important as the fact that he has replaced McMaster with a superhawk, John Bolton.

Bolton on Feb. 28 wrote a major piece for the Wall Street Journal falsely arguing that there is a legal basis for making pre-emptive war against the DPRK. He is for regime change and for militarily removing the government of the DPRK, saying the south, which has been occupied by U.S. troops since 1945, should take over the north.

Not only does Bolton want to get the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, but he also wants regime change in Teheran, and would use bombing to try to accomplish that.

He was an architect of the war in Iraq and still defends it. He was one of an influential group of neocons in the George W. Bush administration, along with Paul Wolfowitz, who gave policy fuel to Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to start the Iraq war.

Bolton was so right wing that he could not get confirmation from the Senate to be the permanent U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He was acting ambassador for a year in a so-called recess appointment by Bush. But he had to resign when his recess appointment was up because he could not get confirmed.

This ambassador to the U.N. once said, “If they cut the top 10 floors off the U.N. it wouldn’t make any difference.”

Purge began with Priebus and ended with McMaster

The “moderate” side of Trump’s initial coalition consisted of such establishment figures as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former head of the Republican National Committee; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former head of ExxonMobil; Gary Cohn, number two at Goldman Sachs, who was head of the National Economic Council; National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster; and Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis. They are all gone now, with the exception of Mattis.

Priebus was pushed out early to be replaced by Gen. John Kelly — a racist, pro-Confederate, immigration hawk and former head of Homeland Security and the U.S. Southern Command.

More recently, Tillerson was ousted and is to be replaced by Islamophobic, Iran war hawk Mike Pompeo, who was brought over from head of the CIA and is closely connected to the Koch brothers. Trump and Pompeo have talked on a daily basis for months.

Next to go was Cohn, who had worked with Trump to push through the gigantic corporate tax-cut giveaways. But Wall Street has opposed Trump’s trade war policies of imposing tariffs, especially on imports from China. However, Trump imposed the tariffs anyway, siding with anti-China tariff hawk Peter Navarro, his trade guru, and billionaire wheeler-dealer Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Cohn was forced out, replaced as head of the National Economic Council by Reaganite fringe economist Larry Kudlow. This vicious, anti-working-class, right-wing economist advocates for even greater corporate tax cuts as the cure-all for the economy.

‘Moderates’ are exploiters and war makers, too

It would be politically foolish to regard the ousted group of bankers, generals and corporate exploiters as “moderates.” Certainly, with respect to the workers and the oppressed at home and abroad, they were anything but moderate.

McMaster and Mattis were commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as war planners and war criminals. Tillerson was head of a global oil empire that plundered the resources of countries on all continents, especially in the MIddle East.

Cohn was the number two executive in Goldman Sachs, the firm with a high degree of responsibility for the economic collapse of 2007-09. Among other things, it had bundled and sold bad housing loans and then bet that the loans would fail. Those failed loans resulted in foreclosures and evictions for hundreds of thousands of homeowners and tenants.

Priebus, Tillerson, Cohn, McMaster and Mattis had been pushed into the Trump administration early on to ensure that the broad ruling-class establishment would have policy input. The strategists of imperialism did not want Trump to wreck their world political, economic and trade apparatus. They have nurtured this apparatus, which includes the U.N., the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, NATO, the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization, the North American Free Trade Agreement and various imperialist trade agreements, immigration practices, etc. All this has been carefully constructed and painstakingly maintained for decades in the interests of fostering U.S. imperialist interests.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric was directed against all these institutions and policies. The ruling class was especially afraid of Trump’s attacks on China, NAFTA, NATO and immigration policy, among other things. The bosses and bankers felt they needed a group in the administration who would give them a voice. They needed a way to counter Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, etc., as well as Trump himself.

Trump has now silenced the voices of the establishment inside his administration, except for Mattis. No one knows where the dominant forces in the Pentagon will come down on the question of attacking the DPRK or Iran. But all mass organizations have to prepare themselves to resist an escalation in the war drive.

Tariffs, trade wars and the working class

The ruling class always carries on its wars at the expense of the working class and the oppressed. This goes for military wars as well as trade wars.

This fact is invisible to the labor bureaucracy. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Vice President Leo Gerard, head of the Steel Workers Union, have hailed the tariffs on steel and aluminum as a victory for creating jobs. These labor lieutenants of the ruling class are trying to protect their comfortable positions and their oversized salaries.

Meanwhile, tariffs will cost jobs. And not just the jobs of U.S. workers, but the jobs of Chinese, Japanese and Korean workers due to the contraction of steel and aluminum production.

China has already imposed limited tariffs on U.S. goods. The producers of those goods will engage in layoffs if the bosses are not stopped. Workers World newspaper of March 15 reported that when, for 13 months in 2002, President George Bush imposed tariffs, 200,000 workers lost their jobs.

Instead of hailing tariffs as a way to get jobs, true labor leaders would be fighting for all those steelworkers, coal miners and other industrial workers whose jobs have been destroyed by the bosses’ technology and offshoring. They would make the capitalists responsible for layoffs and unemployment and demand a jobs program for displaced workers.

The narrow-minded, selfish labor bureaucrats are hailing the tariffs in the same way they fought for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which trampled on the rights of Indigenous people and was a blow to the environment. A true working-class mentality puts the interests of the entire class ahead of the narrow interests of a tiny section of higher-paid workers.

It is worth noting that Trumka and company did little to support the teachers of West Virginia, who waged a heroic strike in a “right-to-work” (for less!) state.

People below move in opposite direction from Trump

Trump, the ruling class and the do-nothing heads of labor are all moving in the direction of political reaction. But the people are moving in the exact opposite direction.

Over a million students came out in hundreds of demonstrations against the National Rifle Association on March 24. Their slogans were moderate, but the spirit of determination to push back the gun lobby and expose the politicians who take their blood money was something new.

Over a million women came out for the Women’s March last January to answer Trump’s hateful misogyny.

The Black Lives Matter movement laid the basis for the societywide consciousness about racist police murders.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals solidarity movement has raised consciousness about the inhuman deportations and the destruction of immigrant families.

The reactionary current emanating from the upper echelons of ruling-class society is bound to eventually clash with the progressive current coming from the lower echelons — the poorer sections of the workers, the oppressed communities, the immigrants, the women, the LGBTQ community and the students. Reaction cannot hold forever.