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.

 

 

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.

 

Trump tariffs clash with globalized capitalist production

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

By Fred Goldstein

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

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

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

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

Globalization and the socialization of production

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

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

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

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

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

Tariffs: Trump’s blunt instrument

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

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

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

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

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

‘Globalization’ and the complexity of socialized production

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trade fight with EU and Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The contradiction of socialized production vs. private appropriation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalism is becoming an obstacle to the survival of the masses

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

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

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

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

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

 

An exchange of views on: ‘Is Trumpism a temporary phenomenon?’

Part 1:

By Fred Goldstein posted on December 4, 2018.

The following is the first part of an exchange between Fred Goldstein and Manuel Raposo, a left-wing Portuguese communist and editor of the web magazine Mudar de Vida (jornalmudardevida.net).

Fred Goldstein: Your question goes to the heart of a very important issue. Is the Donald Trump presidency a temporary phenomenon, or is his regime a symptom of a deeper malady in the organism of imperialism? Will things go back to “normal” once he is gone?

I have been thinking about this very question a lot. I have also been trying to arrive at a method by which to answer it.

First, I put the Trump victory in the context of the rise of political reaction in Europe and its decidedly anti-immigrant, racist emphasis, similar to Trump’s.

It cannot just be coincidental that the AfD in Germany, the Freedom Party in Austria, the Viktor Orbán regime in Hungary, the right-wing government in Poland, the Brexit forces in Britain, the new right-wing coalition in Italy, the National Rally (formerly National Front) in France are all on the rise at the same time. We also see the recent gains by the anti-immigrant Sweden Democratic Party, the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece (an advanced version of Hitler-like forces) and other right-wing political manifestations in Europe.

Second, I think that the general crisis of protracted capitalist stagnation has caused sections of the ruling class on both sides of the Atlantic to move toward adopting a strongly reactionary option: They will use “divide and conquer” because they see no way out of their own crisis — that is, they do not see any significant renewed growth or revived capitalist prosperity in the future. They are all struggling to just stay afloat.

This is true for sections of the U.S. ruling class which have relied on tax cuts, deregulation of environmental protections and stock market speculation to bolster their profits. This class is acting like its situation is precarious and its members anticipate an economic collapse.

Third, the working classes in all the European countries, like the workers and the oppressed in the U.S., have all been subjected to the trauma of austerity early on, BEFORE the immigrant crisis struck Europe in full force.

In the U.S. there is no large influx of immigrants. In fact, there is a net outflow of migrants on the militarized southern border now. I think that the demoralized, alienated sections of the petty bourgeoisie and working class were predisposed to shift to the right after the failure of the Democratic Party and of European social democracy to come to their aid during the economic crisis of 2008, BEFORE the immigrant crisis.

The failure of social democracy and the historical communist parties to take an aggressive, class-conscious, class-struggle approach to fighting austerity left the masses open to a right-wing, anti-immigrant appeal.

Fourth, the right wing of the ruling classes — which are growing stronger and richer — are tempted to stoke the flames of anti-immigrant racism or are growing more comfortable with it. They mildly protest the more extreme anti-immigrant measures, but in the end the bosses are only truly concerned with the availability of a labor force and the impact of immigration policy on their international relations.

Finally, capitalism at a dead end forecloses the possibility of reviving capitalist prosperity. And capitalist democracy depends upon imperialist prosperity.

The bosses in the wealthy imperialist countries were able to afford a more developed form of capitalist democracy in the post-World War II period — that is, to buy off the discontented workers with crumbs.

The British imperialists were able to have their “democracy” when they had a world empire. Once the empire was lost, the British working class was subjected to Thatcherite austerity and now they have the Brexit forces in charge.

The French imperialists had their republics based upon having a lesser empire in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Now they have the growing right-wing orientation of President Emmanuel Macron, with the National Rally party breathing down the necks of the so-called “moderate” bourgeoisie.

And U.S. imperialism constructed a bourgeois democracy on the basis of having established itself as a world power during and after World War I and having taken over large parts of the British and the French empires out of the ashes of WWII. The bosses attained world imperialist supremacy. On that basis they were able to make concessions.

Cannot revive imperialist prosperity

While Wall Street and the Pentagon are still the dominant imperialist power, they cannot revive imperialist prosperity, which is the economic foundation of capitalist democracy. This is the fundamental point about the future after Trump. Capitalist democracy requires imperialist prosperity to finance it. Capitalist democracy in its more vigorous sense must be funded by concessions. This is true not only in the oppressed countries, but also in the big capitalist countries.

The Trump regime may be a distorted form of capitalist reaction, peculiarly shaped by Trump’s style and personality. But whatever the peculiarities of the Trump regime — and there are many — the underlying reaction that he has stoked and consolidated is not going away anytime soon.

The reaction may be slowed down somewhat if the ruling class removes him. There may be a temporary respite if he is driven out or defeated at the polls. But in the long run, capitalism is in a stage of decline, stagnation and austerity.

The only thing that can push back the reaction in the U.S. is the awakening of the proletariat and the oppressed. No one knows when this will happen or how it will develop. But then no one knew that the tremendous teachers’ strikes were coming. These strikes spread like a wildfire from West Virginia to Kentucky, to Oklahoma, to Arizona, to Colorado, to North Carolina.

These strikes took everyone by surprise — the ruling class, the labor bureaucracy, the educational establishment — and the educational workers, who were organized despite the resistance of the government and the union leadership. All the strikes were technically illegal, but the ruling class wisely decided not to enforce the law. This showed in a microcosm what the working class is capable of when pushed to the wall.

The teachers’ struggle has died down for now. But the resentment, the poverty and privation that drove it to burst the bounds of bourgeois legality and conventional subservience to the higher-ups is spreading below.

Marxism has nothing in common with economic determinism. It recognizes that many factors affect political outcomes. Leaders, parties, financial institutions, historical and cultural traditions, natural disasters, etc., all must be taken into consideration.

In the long run, however, Marxism regards the economic factor as the dominant factor. The crisis of capitalist austerity is determining the growth of political reaction, and this reaction must be fought tooth and nail by the workers and the oppressed. History is made by the inevitable awakening of the masses.

This is the hope to turn things around.