by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
The ruling class/War Party/corporate media campaign for regime change in Washington has moments of pure silliness, with grown men claiming that U.S. presidents don’t have the power to wiretap people. Someone should have informed Dr. Martin Luther King. But, if self-described “progressives” can believe that the CIA is a benign, democratic institution, they can believe anything. “The destabilization of the U.S. bourgeois state is a project, not of the Kremlin, but of multinational and finance capital headquartered in the U.S.”
Corporate Media Counting Cadence to Fascism
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The ruling class has decided to sacrifice the credibility and legitimacy of the bourgeois state in order to effectuate regime change in Washington.”
When Donald Trump charged that President Obama wiretapped the Republican campaign in the weeks after the November election, the bulk of corporate media chose to treat the allegation as another example of Trump’s “alternative facts.” They trotted out folks like Ben Rhodes, a former deputy National Security Advisor to Obama, who dismissed the charge as ridiculous. "No President can order a wiretap,” Rhodes huffed.
This may be technically true, but it’s an objective lie. Presidents can cause anybody to be spied upon, simply by indicating a desire to see it happen. In 1963, the Kennedy brothers -- formally acting through Bobby Kennedy’s office as Attorney General -- gave FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover permission to tap Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s phones and bug his home and offices. Hoover’s goal, according to a 2008 CNN “Black in America” report, was to “neutralize King as an effective Negro leader.” The Bureau didn’t find evidence that King was under “communist influence,” but did discover “embarrassing details about King's sex life,” which the FBI used to encourage King to kill himself. When he declined to take his own life, someone else did the job.
“Every human being on Earth with an electronic device is being spied upon by the United States.”
Technically, neither Robert nor John Kennedy ordered the FBI to spy on MLK. But that’s immaterial; Hoover had reason to believe that the Kennedy brothers wanted King bugged. Hoover offered his clandestine services to the White House, and “went fishing” for any dirt he could get. By the end of 1969, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and scores of other Black Panthers had joined Dr. King in martyrs’ graves, and many more were consigned to social death in an American gulag that would expand more than ten-fold over the next four decades -- proof that those of us who used to greet each other innumerable times a day with “Power to the people – Death to the fascist pigs!” were correct in our analysis of the forces at work.
Today, the covert capabilities of the National Security State have grown beyond J. Edgar Hoover’s (and the Kennedy brothers’) wildest dreams. Not just Americans, but every human being on Earth with an electronic device is being spied upon by the United States -- which is absolutely logical, given the imperial claim to “exceptional” (supra-legal) prerogatives over its global dominion. Back in 2013, when asked by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden if the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, replied, under oath: “No sir, It does not.”
Clapper kept his job, despite having committed perjury on prime time television -- proof, in the court of common sense, that his boss, President Obama, was both fully aware and approved of the NSA’s surveillance of Americans and homo sapiens in general. For the same reasons, Hoover kept his job under Kennedy’s successors, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, until his death in 1972.
“A consensus has emerged among international capital that there is no escape from the crisis except to quickly complete the task of global conquest,”
An essential aspect of what people call the “deep” state is its continuity despite formal (or nominal) changes of regime. We might call this the “real” state, whose continuity and impunity is derived from its masters: the capitalist ruling class.
That class, and the system it has created, is in general crisis, the result of a cascade of contradictions it can no longer “export,” having spread its structural disease of infirmity across the globe. A consensus has emerged among international capital that there is no escape from the crisis except to quickly complete the task of global conquest, and to accelerate the financialization of all aspects of life, including in the “home” countries of imperialism. The rulers believe -- with objective justification – that they are in a race against the clock, and that Russia’s resistance to the massive imperial offensive begun in 2011 could cause the clock to run out, and the ultimate death of their class.
Their fears were compounded by the wholly unexpected capture of one wing of the electoral duopoly by the billionaire real estate developer, Donald Trump, who is personally rooted in a political current of domestic capital that is fixated on using the state to inflate land values and related assets. In a profoundly racist society such as the United States, the manipulation of land values is inextricably tied to race: it requires the ability to control and remove less desirable populations from real estate that is to be “developed,” and to enlist whites in a general “uplift” project (“Make America Great Again”) whose subtext is always racial.
“In a profoundly racist society such as the United States, the manipulation of land values is inextricably tied to race.”
Trump’s foreign policy (“America First”) bears a strong resemblance to post-Emancipation southern Democrats, who generally opposed U.S. imperial annexation of non-white territories (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines) for fear that native populations would inevitably find their way into the United States, polluting the gene pool and causing social disruption. (During slavery, these same southern Democrats pressed for annexation of Cuba and sought an expanded slave-holding southern “empire” in the Americas.) Trump’s opposition to “regime change” and “nation building” -- like the “anti-imperialism” of turn of the 20th century southern racists -- is not pro-peace but rather, opposed to undue contact with the “lesser races.” It is quite consistent with his anti-immigration position.
Regardless of his policy’s racist roots, Trump’s oft-stated opposition to regime change and his desire for a lessening of tensions with (white-led) Russia caused panic in the larger ruling class, dominated by finance and international capital, which had consolidated itself as the “War Party” in Hillary Clinton campaign “Big Tent.”
Trump’s opposition to “free trade” does not represent a contradiction to his foreign hotel and resort dealings, which do not amount to serious intervention in the economies of the host countries, and are largely branding agreements. He was simply smart enough to take possession of an issue that appealed directly to his target voters: outsourcing of jobs. A glance at his cabinet shows Trump has no problem at all with the global movement of capital.
“Trump’s opposition to ‘regime change’ and ‘nation building’ is not pro-peace but rather, opposed to undue contact with the ‘lesser races.’”
But the consolidated ruling class has a problem with Trump, and have set their covert operations dogs on a sitting president of the United States. Essentially, they have decided to sacrifice the credibility and legitimacy of the bourgeois state in order to effectuate regime change in Washington -- or, at least, to neuter the Trump presidency until the next election. What is amazing about this crisis, is that the ruling class, itself, is undermining the institutions that have served the rich so well since the birth of the Republic. The destabilization of the U.S. bourgeois state is a project, not of the Kremlin, but of multinational and finance capital headquartered in the U.S.
When the Lords of Capital conclude that they cannot rule in the old ways, we can be certain that the crisis is profound. The institutional Humpty Dumptys of bourgeois electoral rule -- the grandeur of the White House, the credibility of the press, the security of voting systems, the mystique of the secret services – can never be restored; not after the mob defenestration of a president. The bourgeoisie have leaped into the abyss, like Wile E. Coyote.
The corporate media have no political life of their own, representing only the views of the conglomerates that own them. But, most of their writers and reporters share the social sensibilities of upper income folks that we used to call “liberal,” or even “left-liberal.” In order for the next level of fascism to smoothly take root, it must have at least the initial assent of this strata. The fake progressive is personified by James Wolcott, whose recent article in Vanity Fair slimes the “alt-left” -- publications like Counterpunch, Jacobin, and even Dr. Cornel West, the public intellectual -- as having some kind of “kinship” with the “alt-right,” since both “alts” criticize Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Wolcott, whose prose reads like bad breath, is glad that the spooks have come out of the shadows to prepare the gallows for the billionaire from Queens. “If the Deep State can rid us of the blighted presidency of Donald Trump,” Wolcott writes, “all I can say is ‘Go, State, go.’”
To which I say, “Power to the People -- Death to the Fascist Pigs.”
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]