From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters
TRUMPIST COUP AND FASCIST THREAT
Many who participated in mobbing the Capitol don’t believe the election was stolen. How many of the 130+ House Republicans who voted against Biden’s certification actually believe that? How many Republican senators, including McConnell and Graham, who for weeks refused to recognize Biden as president-elect, actually believed there was any fraud? I think few to none. They, like the mob that took over the Capitol, were simply using the lie as a justification to make sure white supremacy continues to dominate. They are enraged that they lost, that seven million more Americans rejected their overt message of white supremacy and authoritarianism. That told the white males, “You’re not special.”
Every day as more of the invaders of the Capitol who on Jan. 6 attempted a coup to install Trump get publicly identified, the arrestees turn out to be overwhelmingly prosperous and politically well-connected, not the forgotten white workers that so many news outlets have told us form the MAGA base. A tech company CEO, a real estate agent flying to D.C. by private jet, lawyers, bankers, cops and QAnon legislators vastly outnumbered the scattered skilled tradesman and sanitation worker arrested. This just confirms the numbers from the 2016 election, when analysts determined that higher education and higher income both correlated with higher rates of voting for Trump.
The Republicans have won only one popular vote for president in over 30 years. That has caused them to believe that their only way forward is through fraud and overthrow of the existing system. Thus the attack on the Capitol. This was a partial failure of the Citizens United court decision because no amount of misinformation is convincing the populace that Republicans represent them. While the party may fail, the lobbyists just switch their money from bribing Republicans to bribing Democrats. We are seeing this already. At some point, a strong emphasis on the problem of Citizens United’s connection to the Capitol attack needs to be drawn—that it was the massive amount of money in politics that drove elected officials to seek the money rather than follow the Constitution or work for the common good.
Marin County, Calif.
All this mention of “banana republics” in regard to the mobbing of the U.S. Capitol is just one more racist slur against Latin Americans. It was after all the U.S.’s imperialist adventures which forced countries to grow bananas, sugar cane, and other mono-agricultural crops to serve the U.S.’s own interests.
In an age where citizens have unfettered access to information, it’s astounding how anyone can find their own “truths” about the world. The politicians should be ashamed of themselves for stoking the flames of ignorance for their own gain. Trump is the worst of them. All this unsubstantiated foolishness about voting fraud only serves to strengthen his image with his constituents. Worse, it becomes even more fodder for conspiracy theories.
What happened at the Capitol was a fascist, white supremacist movement which Trump and the Republicans incited and helped build for years. They tried to strip voters of their will to make the U.S. less fascist, racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. Our flawed democracy matters and must be preserved while we fight to make it real. But this attempted coup is going to harm the Left and prop up undeserved and abstract reverence to “our institutions” and “democracy.” Our institutions and sham of a democracy must be transformed for the better, not blindly worshipped. Civil disobedience is not the same as terrorism and it is sometimes right to stop the government from functioning and even to overthrow it.
BLACK REVOLT AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
Both the presidential and the Senate Democratic victories in Georgia were driven by hard Black grassroots work organizing hundreds of thousands of Black and Latinx voters, who resisted the big lies of election fraud and the myth of their own apathy. The massive numbers participating in Black Lives Matter protests of both Black and white supporters—mostly young—surprised the organizers and the whole world. They successfully resisted right-wing attempts to demonize them to the mainstream media. And after exclaiming of what happened to white rioters at the Capitol: “If that was me, I’d be dead!” they are determined to keep up the pressure not to let the establishment once more sweep them under the rug (or the bus).
Stacey Abrams’s fair elections group is the face of a social movement that has kept U.S. democracy from dying, giving the new administration a chance to not be totally stonewalled by flipping the Senate, even as the Black movement continues to put that democracy on trial. Fascists like Josh “Howly,” who gave the thugs a raised fist and tried to achieve trashing the election from pure legal casuistry from the inside, are learning from these rehearsals for the future.
“On Jan. 14, Detroit’s 36th District Court Judge Larry Williams, Jr., dismissed without prejudice all criminal cases on his docket against all Black Lives Matter protesters arrested during this past summer: a total of over 40 cases involving 30 protester defendants. Most of these cases involved protesters arrested during the initial weekend of protests following the police murder of George Floyd…and also some protesters arrested for blocking Detroit school buses, to prevent them from picking up school children for dangerous in-person school sessions during the pandemic.”
This is from a press release from the Detroit and Michigan National Lawyers Guild. This victory was made possible by the work of the Detroit Coordinated Defense Coalition, which includes National Lawyers Guild Detroit and Michigan Chapter, Detroit Justice Center, National Conference of Black Lawyers, Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit, the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association and Michigan Liberation.
It is long overdue that, just before the new year, Major League Baseball included in its statistical record the accomplishments from players in the Negro Leagues who were barred from the “white” teams for over half a century. The cutoff of 1948 means games in 1952 won’t change the stats of Henry Aaron, whose death we just learned of, but his 23 years were evidence that racism did not end when Black players finally got jobs in MLB, especially when Aaron was about to catch Babe Ruth’s home run total in 1974. Aaron’s whole family endured constant racist taunts and death threats. But then renowned Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who was raised in the segregationist South, wrote a song, “Move Over Babe, Here Comes Henry,” to tell the racists and traditionalists to shut up.
RIGHT’S WAR ON THE MIND
The far right’s totalitarian assault on our minds is just as important as their physical violence. Trump’s “1776 Commission” is a direct retaliation against Black Lives Matter and the 1619 report it inspired in The New York Times. The absurdity of its historical claims—justifying slavery and at the same time exonerating the Founders for condoning and practicing it, while attacking all anti-racist, anti-sexist, LGBTQ and pro-labor movements—is a demand to surrender rational thinking in obedience to the dictates of authority. Meanwhile, even after Trump left office, Florida arrested Rebekah Jones on trumped-up charges. She is the dissident scientist fired by the state for telling the truth about the pandemic.
LOVE IS LOVE
I hate that it has to be such an ordeal for someone to love who they love. It’s really unfortunate. I am grateful that our country doesn’t have the hateful leadership we were under. Hopefully, we’ll find peace amongst one another as a country.
THE UNFINISHED BATTLE
With Biden’s election the battle is only half-done. We know that he will not advance a working-class agenda. We know that, despite their protestations, the Democrats and Republicans are merely different sides of the same corrupt capitalist coin. Together, they constitute a U.S. empire that must be toppled if humankind is to survive. While the odds may seem against us now, remember Tom Paine’s words: “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Retired postal worker
In the USA the right to abortion and birth control needs to be explicitly legally based on women’s right to control our own lives and therefore bodies.
WHAT IS CAPITALISM? WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
Adam Smith had a theory that constant capital eventually dissolves into consumption by labor. This obscures class differences. Racism has been inherent throughout U.S. history. The have-nots are much more Black and Brown people of color. Hard-working people, but poor, and Marx’s theories show why. Blacks are more outside the system than any other group of people. COVID-19 hits Black and Brown people at higher percentages.
When the rate of profit declines, that doesn’t mean capitalism stops. Capitalism keeps going. It controls the means of production. Capitalists cannot escape from the hope of revolution. They cannot escape environmental limits. There’s been the highest number of hurricanes this year, the highest intensity of fires.
Production is a human relation. It becomes a social relation between capitalist and worker. Our vision of the new society should be a way to paint the society so people can work together (freely associated labor) for the benefit of society, which is at the same time the benefit of the individual. It doesn’t mean a few people decide, but requires cooperation among people to bring a non-capitalist society. What ambience do we have to create for people to come up with these human ways of relating?
I heard a woman on the radio talking about a more collaborative society based on Indigenous traditions: allowing for people not to have to work more than four hours a day, to develop their creativity, family/friend relationships. She was talking like all this was a new idea. Actually, it’s even older than Marx. He looked historically at different societies like the Iroquois. He saw something important about their social relations. Early socialists thought monopoly capitalism would let factory workers be more highly organized, becoming so well-structured as to bring about a strong movement. Pro-labor and anti-war organization would then automatically destroy capitalism. Raya Dunayevskaya knew that was not enough. The events of the day are teaching and learning opportunities for what type of freedom people are asking for.
In Marx’s time socialism was anti-capitalist, but when Bernie Sanders talks about democratic socialism, it’s about getting socialism within capitalism. He never spelled out what that means. The 1905 Russian Revolution gave birth to a new form of workers’ organization, the soviet or workers’ council. Well, the Soviet Union became a totalitarian society. The soviet was supposed to give the working class power to make decisions, and they had no power under the USSR or Chinese systems. The actions of the workers created the conditions for Marx to work out theory during the time he lived, but the intellectual movement in 1905 or the counterpart for Communist China failed that test.
I extend to News and Letters Committees comrades my deep condolences on the passing of Ray Bazmore. I knew him only briefly, having visited with him during the U.S. Social Forum, the Centenary for Raya Dunayevskaya, and the services for his wife Grace, all held in Michigan. He was very kind to me and, as was Grace, a true worker for a human society. They’re both missed.