Joe Biden Personifies a New “End of History,” This time for U.S. Imperial Rule
Biden’s open support of corporate oligarchy and disdain for Black America won him the hearts and minds of the ruling class.
“The contradictions of U.S. imperialism have become a drag on human progress itself.”
Joe Biden officially entered the Democratic Party primary on April 25th. The former Senator and Vice President vowed to defeat Donald Trump and rescue the “soul” of the nation. His third attempt to capture the commander-in-chief position exemplifies the decrepit state of U.S. imperial rule. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, U.S. and Western oligarchs celebrated the “end of history.” The oligarchs assumed that unfettered imperial rule and capitalist exploitation would permanently dominate the globe. Biden is indeed a favorite among the oligarchsto continue this project, but his very essence represents quite the opposite development.
Large numbers of people in the United States desire policies that are anathema to the Biden-Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. A new “end of history” is emerging, but this time for the empire. Majorities of voters in both parties want Medicare for All. The same goes for the Green New Deal. There is little support among the population for U.S. military expansionism, which is why it’s been cleverly cloaked as “humanitarian intervention.” The 2016 electoral defeat of Hillary Clinton was a referendum on the neoliberal imperialist agenda. Her open policy proposals to expand free trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, war through a no-fly zone in Syria, and corporate healthcare through the rejection of Medicare for All failed to inspire enough voters to defeat Donald Trump in the electoral college.
“Biden is indeed a favorite among the oligarchs.”
Biden is Clinton 2.0. He is an arch-conservative Democrat who encapsulates the party’s transition to Reaganism under the Democratic Leadership Council. Biden came to politics as a senator in the state of Delaware. His open support of corporate oligarchy and disdain for Black America won him the hearts and minds of the ruling class. Biden opposed desegregationearly in his career. While Biden pegged himself as a champion of “workers” (building trades, cops, firefighters), he was working with Wall Street bankers to roll back bankruptcy protectionsfor students and workers. To this day, Biden remains an ardent friend of the dictators of capital. He played a crucial role in deregulating creditors and the banks throughout the 1990s, including the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999.Biden has always believed that five-hundred billionaires are “patriots too”, not least because he has profited mightily from their riches.
While Hillary Clinton proudly promoted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994) which sought to bring “super predator” Black men “to heel,” Biden had been writing and sponsoring the laws that built the infrastructure of mass Black incarceration since the mid-1980s. Biden not only wrote sections of the 1994 crime bill that Clinton signed into law, but he also sponsored and wrote sections of the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act widely known for its harsh 100-1 sentencing guidelines for crack and powder cocaine. These laws formed the core of the mass Black incarceration state. Biden and his ilk are largely to blame for the fact that over thirty percent of all Black men in the U.S. will spend one-third of their working lives either in prison or “marked” as a felon.
“Biden had been writing and sponsoring the laws that built the infrastructure of mass Black incarceration since the mid-1980s.”
Biden is also a war criminal. He eagerly supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This war alone caused the deaths of over one million Iraqis. Many more Iraqis have been saddled with permanent physical and psychological damage as a result of the U.S.’ use of depleted uranium. Not only did Biden support the war, but he knowingly spread lies about Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (the infamous WMDs).
It is thus no surprise that the peddlers of the “end of history” narrative, the corporate elite, are so enthusiastic about Biden. His track record of service is more than impressive. What is important to note is that Biden served as Barack Obama’s Vice President for eight years. He co-signed every one of Obama’s criminal policies, whether it was bailing out the banks, jailing whistleblowers, waging war on seven countries, drone striking civilians in record numbers, militarizing the police to occupy Black America, or privatizing education and healthcare. Obama’s legacy has been called “scandal free”by both Biden and the corporate press. The only reason Biden remains a legitimate candidate in 2020 is due to Obama’s legacy of stifling and neutralizing the left, mainly by pushing Black politics to the right.
“Biden co-signed every one of Obama’s criminal policies.”
Yet we are living in very different conditions than what existed under Obama. The end of history narrative has been turned on its head. Millions of young people in the U.S. sympathize with socialism.Sanders is campaigning on the notion that his “political revolution” is no longer radical. In a way, he is right. Policies such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal are supported by a large section of the U.S. population. Where Sanders is wrong is his assertion that these policies will or can be implemented under the current arrangement of U.S. imperialism.
Biden is the presidential candidate of the “Stop Sanders” movementin the Democratic Party. He is also a desperate attempt on the part of the ruling class to forestall the coming “end of history,” this time for U.S. imperialism. The contradictions of U.S. imperialism have become a drag on human progress itself. U.S. imperialism, or the system of monopoly capitalism and white supremacy led by the U.S., can no longer offer anything tangible to the masses but austerity, war, and racist state violence. U.S. imperialism is a costly behemoth whose rate of profit continues to declineand whose growth has stagnated. Billions of people in the U.S. and around the world live in conditions of squalor while just five mega rich individuals have usurped more than half of all planetary wealth. The economic and political growth of Russia and China signal the last days of the U.S. imperial super power. A crisis of legitimacy has ensnared both political parties in the U.S., bursting asunder the veneer of stability that has characterized the last several decades of neoliberal rule.
“Five mega rich individuals have usurped more than half of all planetary wealth.”
Biden is thus a political miscalculation as much as he is the perfect candidate for a large section of the ruling class. With “the end of history” marching toward U.S. imperialism, Joe Biden has shown that he is willing to enact the policies necessary to protect the interests of the oligarchy. Biden has decimated Black American communities through the mass incarceration regime and possesses friendly relations with finance capital. He has been a champion of for-profit healthcare and education. Biden can be trusted to drone strike thousands out of existence and to escalate war against Syria, Iran, and whichever nation needs to be “brought to heel” by the empire. The ruling class can place their trust in Uncle Joe.
But will the people, mainly Black Americans and working-class Americans generally, trust Biden? His campaign is already fraught with scandal. “Lunch bucket Joe” been accused of making several women uncomfortablethrough touching, sniffing, and other obscene gestures. His campaign kick-off event was organized by prominent Comcast executive David Cohen.To make matters worse, Biden has shamed millennials for raising issues important to them, stating that “I have no empathy”for what is now thirty-seven percent of the electorate in the United States.
U.S. imperialism is at a dead-end. Biden personifies that dead-end. The U.S. ruling oligarchy has facilitated a crisis of legitimacy within its political apparatus that cannot be arrested. This crisis will worsen the more that the oligarchy plunders, pillages, and impoverishes the growing working-class and poor domestically and internationally. It should come as no surprise that Biden’s political weaknesses have become potential liabilities in a period where much of the imperialist orbit is wracked in a similar crisis of legitimacy in the Western world. Brexit has engulfed the U.K. and the Yellow Vests continue to demonstrate in opposition to the endless austerity in France imposed by the E.U. Trump was not a singular phenomenon, but rather an aspect of a larger political vacuum in the imperialist world order made larger by austerity and economic crisis.
“Biden has decimated Black American communities through the mass incarceration regime.”
The chickens of nearly five hundred years of colonialism, genocide, and capitalist development have come home to roost. A new world free of U.S. imperialism is not yet ready to be born. But the current epoch is pregnant with possibility. Joe Biden is the miscarriage of peace and justice waiting for another turn to crush the hopes of the masses even as he promises to restore the “values” of the nation back to their rightful place of exceptionalism. For the poor, the impoverished, the incarcerated, the homeless, the indebted, the colonized, and the bombed, U.S. exceptionalist values are of no material benefit. The Sandernistas will inevitably learn for the second time that the Democratic Party is only capable of suffocating the masses with austerity and has no greater desire than to cheat Bernie Sanders out of another bid at the Democratic Party nomination. Biden is a DNC favorite and will surely be in the top of the class of those who will profit from another rigged primary. Yet his victory would no doubt fuel the end of history coming for U.S. imperialism. The only missing element to ripen the conditions of social revolution is the power of the people. The ruling class knows it, which is why the jury on Biden is still out and the other 18 or so candidates still have their chance to persuade the corporate oligarchs in the Democratic Party that they too have what it takes to defeat Sanders and save the party from his New Deal-like policies. Hopefully this process will lead masses of people to heed the immortal words of George Carlin, “it’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @SpiritofHo.
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