For a movement, especially a Black left movement that has yet to emerge in this period, the critical task is to develop mass consciousness of the fact that U.S. imperialism is incapable of providing concessions to the poor and oppressed. History has shown that the Black left has always been in the most favorable position for bringing this reality to light. After all, Black workers struggled to throw off the yoke of slavery only to find themselves mired in the murderous jaws of Jim Crow and mass Black incarceration. A significant shift occurred in the Obama period, one that ultimately marked the culmination of three decades of a complete assault on the Black condition through neoliberal capitalist and white supremacist policies. The Black left has been decimated by the assault and has yet to recover from the economic and political ruin imposed by U.S. imperialism.
It is from this vantage point that the Democratic Party’s obsession with capitalism and militarism must be approached. The Democratic Party is accountable only to its donors on Wall Street and in the military industrial complex. A splintered and weakened Black left and left-wing political movement in general in the United States has taught us invaluable lessons about the Democratic Party and the two-party duopoly more broadly. The so-called “Blue Wave” of the mid-term elections of 2018 has been more of a low tide that has continued to drown Black America and poor people generally. Nancy Pelosi is the new Speaker of the House and Elizabeth Warren is the first Democrat to announce her bid to replace Trump as president in the 2020 election. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was sworn in on January 3rd, complete with fifty-five seats.
This modest “wave” of Democrats is sure to bring with it an even bigger wave of militarism and capitalist plunder. This is not to say that the Republican Party represents an alternative. The Republican Party has been known as the White Man’s Party for good reason and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pentagon and monopoly capital. However, this epoch of U.S. imperialism is not like any prior. At no other point in U.S. history has the two-party duopoly experienced a crisis of legitimacy of this magnitude. And at no other point in history has it been more apparent that the Democratic Party is a political trap designed to capture the hearts and minds of the most progressive constituency in the United States: Black America.
The words and policies of the Democratic leadership reveal the danger of the trap. Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that she is a “capitalist” seeking to undermine even the most marginal of progressive policies advocated by the likes of Bernie Sanders. Pelosi’s “pay-go” policy recently voted in by House Democrats ensures that any increase in federal spending is offset by an equal number of cuts. In other words, “pay-go” makes Medicare for All or the Green New Deal impossible to fund under current arrangements. Of course, Pelosi is a wholly owned representative of the medical industrial complex, the military industrial complex, and Silicon Valley, all of which make up her largest donors. Her so-called political opponents in the party are little better. “Socialist” Ocasio-Cortez voted in favor of funding the Department of Homeland Security with the first vote of the new Democrat-led House despite her promise to fight to “abolish ICE” once in office.
Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi speaks and acts more like Reagan and has never tried to speak to the conditions of Black America. Neither did Elizabeth Warren until a month ago. In mid-December, Warren spoke at Morgan State University’s commencement ceremony where she outlined her position that the government was “rigged” against Black people. The speech was made in obvious preparation for her announcement of a 2020 presidential run that came just weeks later. Yet while Warren talked a big game to begin her effort to galvanize the Black vote, her record of action is less impressive.
Warren has often spoken of being a “capitalist to her bones” and her politics are even further to the right than Bernie Sanders’ pseudo-socialism. As BAR editor Margaret Kimberly explained in first issue of the new year, Warren is no friend of single-payer healthcare or any of the modest reforms that Bernie Sanders proposed in his 2016 campaign. Warren has no substantial record of addressing the issues of police brutality and mass incarceration which are so fundamental to the condition of Black people in the United States. And just as she is an enthusiastic champion of capitalism, Warren is a stalwart of militarism. Warren supported Israel’s military assault on schools and hospitals in Gaza during the 2014 invasion and voted for the massive increase in the military budget in 2017, a budget that was far larger than the one Trump originally proposed.
The Democratic Party’s thirst for war and unbridled capitalism is set to worsen in 2020 and there exists no better measure of this than the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Fifty-five CBC officials were sworn in earlier this January, which The Root called “the tip of the spear in the resistance against Trump.” Maxine Waters greeted her fellow CBC members with the “Wakanda” salute. It is fitting that Waters would reference a Hollywood film that promoted “diversity” as the equivalent of Black uplift. The truth is that the CBC has used diversity to actively collaborate with the U.S. imperial state in the destruction of the lives of Black Americans and their allies for decades. The CBC has sided with the forces of imperialism when it comes to war, surveillance, and the police, with 29 CBC members having voted in favor of a law last year that made the police a protected class in America. CBC members can be depended upon to put on a show of “diversity” while working hand over foot to show their loyalty to the monopolists and militarists in control of U.S. imperialism.
Diversity is a cruel con game employed by the Democratic Party to delineate who is and isn’t “fit” to rule the system of imperialism. The white racist ogre Donald Trump is unfit to be president by the calculations of Democrats, yet these same Democrats refuse to admit that it was their party that placed him into office. Instead, so-called evil Russia has been blamed in the never-ending Russiagate saga for the Donald’s rise to political stardom even though Russian history and its current political trajectory is categorically different from that of the United States. The United States is the birthplace of whiteness and its “purebred” capitalist system has only itself to blame for the current political and economic crisis embodied by Trump. However, there is no room for investigation when the political discourse in the United States has been reduced to what type of individual should hold political office and whether Washington is under constant electoral attack by the Russians.
Diversity and Russiagate are interrelated. The former has been employed to make the rule of imperialism more effective under the auspices of “diverse” oligarchs such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Russiagate is the spawn of diversity’s failures. Diversity did nothing to intervene in the declining living standards of working and poor people, especially Black people. Rather, it complimented the system’s race to the bottom. Now that the War on Terror has lost legitimacy, and the two-party duopoly along with it, Russiagate has given people in the U.S. someone and something to blame other than the rulers of their own system. This won’t last forever, as Russiagate and its architects in the ruling class are built to wage war, drive the system into economic collapse, or both. The real question of 2020 is whether a truly left political insurgency will develop in opposition to the obsessions of empire.
Top Photo | Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, on her foreign policy vision for the country. Warren sought to solidify her connection with African-American voters Friday, Dec. 14, as she prepares to launch a potential presidential campaign, Nov. 29, 2018. Andrew Harnik | AP
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He is currently writing a book with Roberto Sirvent entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: Essays on Race, Empire, and Historical Memory. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source | Black Agenda Report
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