Black political captivity in the Democratic Party has a lot to do with why there is no clear peace movement in the United States.
“U.S. imperialism has imposed a globalized regime of capitalist terror that has left half of the world’s population living in extreme poverty.”
The pessimism spread by the so-called “Resistance” to Donald Trump serves one purpose and one purpose only: to desensitize the masses of people in the U.S. to the misery of endless austerity and war. Donald Trump and Russia have served as scapegoats for the political crisis plaguing Washington. Hillary Clinton and her section of the neoliberal oligarchy have opposed Trump on the basis that he is a traitor to the doctrine of American exceptionalism and empire. Hillary Clinton believes Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein are “assets” of Russia and Trump, Joe Biden is campaigning on the lie that Russia is undermining his disastrous 2020 electoral campaign, and even Bernie Sanders calls Trump the most dangerous political force in the United States. Such a reactionary political atmosphere has ensured that the rebellion occurring against austerity in the U.S. remains shackled to the electoral arena.
The world’s people have shown a different way out of the crippling conditions imposed by neoliberal austerity. In Latin America, workers and peasants in Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador are directly confronting the U.S. empire’s regime of austerity. Mass protests led by indigenous groups in Ecuador forced president Lenin Moreno to flee the capital on October 9th after the government approved a 4.2 billion-dollar IMF austerity loan by presidential decree. Eight protesters were killed and thousands more injured in the confrontation between the repressive state apparatus and the protests. The uprising was not in vein, however, as the IMF loan has since been scrapped. Indigenous groups are now seeking to form an alternative model of governance with the understanding that the fight against the traitorous Moreno and his masters in the IMF is far from over.
“The rebellion against austerity in the U.S. remains shackled to the electoral arena.”
In Bolivia, workers and peasants have re-elected its socialist and indigenous president Evo Morales for a third term. Right-wing opposition forces have predictably tried to discredit Morales’ popular support by undermining the legitimacy of the electoral system. Yet the popularity that Morales enjoys among Bolivian workers and peasants is far from surprising. Under the leadership of Morales and the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), poverty in Bolivia has been reduced from nearly 70 percent in 2004 to 36.7 percent in 2017, the lowest in the nation’s history. Furthermore, Bolivia no longer participates in the imperial strangulation of Latin America by Yankee imperialism. Evo Morales and the MAS recently proposed the development of a continental military to combat the ongoing U.S. threat to self-determination.
Unlike the people of Ecuador and Bolivia, Chile has not experienced a leftist social democratic government since the CIA-backed coup of Salvador Allende in 1973. Several uprisings have occurred in Chile over the last three decades, including the mass student protests in 2011 against the privatized education system instituted under both the fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet and the so-called liberal regime of Pinera. The struggle currently being waged in the streets of Chile began in mid-October when the government announced fare hikes for the public transit system that would have taken half of all the wages of a minimum wage Chilean worker traveling to and from their job. According to NACLA, the protests represent a broader revolt against neoliberal policies which have forced teachers and other workers to labor well into their eighties to survive in a low-wage economy. The Chilean government never relinquished the tools of Pinochet-style fascism and have unleashed them on the protestors. Eighteen protestors have been killed and several hundred more injured in the standoff between the people and the Chilean government.
“Chilean teachers and other workers labor well into their eighties to survive in a low-wage economy.”
Another massive rebellion against neoliberalism is occurring in Haiti. The struggle of the Haitian people is intimately connected to the anti-austerity movement being waged in Latin America. In 2018, a report found that Haiti’s puppet regime under president Jovenel Moise had embezzled over two billion dollars from PetroCaribe, an arrangement begun by Hugo Chavez to subsidize the price of oil for the poorer nations of the Caribbean. The Haitian people have taken to the streets to demand the end to Moise’s illegitimate rule. Moise’s regime is an outgrowth of two U.S.-backed coups of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the spread of cholera by U.N. “peacekeeping forces, and the imposition of brutal privatization measures which have prevented the Haitian people from exercising true independence after becoming the first nation overthrow the yoke of colonialism and slavery over two centuries ago.
The people of Haiti and the rest of the Global South are leading the way against austerity because the struggle against U.S. imperialism is the principle contradiction of the current epoch. On the one hand, U.S. imperialism has imposed a globalized regime of capitalist terror that has left half of the world’s population living in extreme poverty. On the other, China and Russia are leading an economic and technological revival in the East. U.S. imperialism is looking more and more like the paper tiger that Mao referenced in 1956 when describing Washington’s anti-communist and imperial tendencies. The collapse of the Soviet Union provided U.S. imperialism a temporary respite from global competition. However, imperialism quickly lost legitimacy in the 21st century once the peoples of the world tasted the deadly fruit of neoliberal shock therapy.
“Haiti’s puppet regime under president Jovenel Moise embezzled over two billion dollars from PetroCaribe.”
U.S. imperialism has protected its hegemony by masterfully cutting off any relationship between struggling workers in the United States and the growing proletariat of the Global South. Black left politics have historically served as the lifeline that connected the downtrodden in the mainland of Empire to liberation movements abroad. In other words, the class struggle in the U.S. goes where Black politics leads it. And Black politics in the U.S. have dramatically shifted in a rightward direction due to the efforts of Black misleaders like Barack Obama and their corporate sponsors. The absence of revolutionary Black leadership has arrested movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the Sanders-aligned democratic socialist insurgency from directly confronting the entrenched power of the lords of capital.
This doesn’t mean that there isn't popular unrest to the austerity regime in the United States. Sanders’ popularity alone shows that austerity is facing a crisis of legitimacy in the U.S. mainland. But unlike the uprisings seen around the around the world, the revolt occurring in response to the crisis has been confined to remaking the Democratic Party in the image of Frederick Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Few remember that the New Deal was a concession to workers, not a product of FDR’s goodwill. It took workers going on strike across the country to force FDR to “save capitalism.” Sanders himself has stated on many occasions that a mass movement is needed to bring about even a modicum of social democratic reform in the United States.
“Black left politics have historically served as the lifeline that connected the downtrodden in the mainland of Empire to liberation movements abroad.”
A mass movement, however, cannot occur within the belly of an institution designed to prevent social democracy by any means necessary. Sanders is prepared to bow down to the DNC’s scam election process. The Vermont Senator has already stated that he will support Biden or any other Democratic Party candidate to defeat Donald Trump. The Democratic Party cannot be reformed into a party of the people. Only a complete break from the Democratic Party can channel social democratic and socialist sentiments into an organized mass movement capable of building institutions that are responsive to the needs of the masses.
The containment of revolt within the Democratic Party means that peace has been left out of the social democratic agenda. Social democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders often find themselves lost at sea when it comes to the question of imperialism. AOC has supported anti-China demagogy and recently called on Facebook, which actively censors the left, to develop a “fact-checking” system to conduct surveillance on political advertisements. Sanders has disavowed the same Latin American left he once supported by calling Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro a “vicious tyrant” in the second Democratic Party debate. Black political captivity in the Democratic Party has a lot to do with why there is no clear peace movement in the United States. Obama and the Democratic War Party have effectively neutralized the Black consensus on peace and social justice, at least for the time being. The Black Alliance for Peace, BAR, and the Black left represent some of the few counterweights to the Democratic War Party's agenda of endless militarism abroad.
“Social democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders often find themselves lost at sea when it comes to the question of imperialism.”
In July of 2020, the DNC will gather at the national convention to select the next "blue" leader of the War Party. The world may look very different when the convention begins depending on how the revolts in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Syria and elsewhere influence the geopolitical situation. Bernie Sanders, “the squad,” and their affiliated forces will fight to the end to win the Oval Office, only to have the full weight of the Wall Street-owned party establishment behead the campaign for a second time. Millions of Sandernistas around the country will be presented with the choice of either bowing down to the corporate machine or building a new political vehicle responsive to working people. If the Sandernistas choose the latter, an opportunity arises for the relatively small numbers of revolutionary and anti-imperialist forces in the U.S. to raise a public debate about how AOC’s reactionary position on China and Sanders’ anti-socialist position on Venezuela demonstrate that the Democratic Party is a graveyard for social movements, not an institution capable of overturning the conditions of dead-end capitalism. If they choose the former, the Democratic Party will further intensify its war on the left and hand Donald Trump four more years as president of the Empire. Our job will remain the same: to organize America’s precarious classes to join the people of the Global South in their righteous struggle against endless austerity and war.
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], on Twitter @spiritofho, and on Youtube at The Left Lens with Danny Haiphong