In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began considering calls for aid to Third World countries in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.(1) Since then, finance capital flows have begun moving out of the Third World and back into the United $tates, resulting in currencies in those countries losing their value. This is making it impossible for these countries to pay off their existing debt burdens, as well as to fund much-needed relief for their people during this crisis.
In our previous article we mentioned the possibility of the IMF issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) which would allow all countries to access funds, via the United Nations, without accruing additional debt and interest. We have also been echoing the call for complete debt forgiveness, or jubilee, for the poorest nations of the world.
In place of these measures, the United $tates has set up a system where countries can apply for dollars in exchange for local currency from the U.$. Federal Reserve Board. This allows the United $tates to decide who gets funding. Due to their control of the IMF, the Amerikans have already blocked funding to Venezuela to combat the pandemic.(2)
The money being offered from the the Fed will also be given as loans, with interest.(2) Already, the most exploited countries of the world cannot afford to pay off existing loans. Many countries are spending more on debt payments than healthcare during the pandemic.(1) In addition, these loans, unlike the proposed SDRs, will have conditions that give the Amerikans control over the path of development these countries take in the future.
The exiting of finance capital from the Third World will have the effect of passing the impacts of the economic crisis disproportionately on to those countries. Meanwhile, the United $tates is offering to send dollars back to put these countries further into debt and ratchet up further policy control over their economies. While the United $tates is currently leading the world in deaths due to the novel coronavirus, the Third World nations are likely destined to see much more dire death and suffering without debt forgiveness, unconditional aid, and the lifting of sanctions and embargoes by the imperialists.
In times of capitalist expansion, exporting finance capital works to transfer wealth from the Third World periphery to the First World nations. Now that the economy is quickly contracting, the methods above show how pulling finance capital out of the periphery also transfers wealth to the First World nations. Ultimately, national liberation struggles are necessary to free the peripheral countries from the economic system of imperialism that uses them as a source of wealth at the expense of much humyn suffering.
On 2 April 2020 Cuban President Miguel Canel-Diaz said,
“Cuba denounces the fact that medical supplies from [China’s] Alibaba Foundation to help combat Covid-19 have not arrived in the country due to the criminal US blockade against the island nation.”(1)
These life-saving supplies were blocked by the United States, which has put economic sanctions on Cuba since its revolution liberated the island from the U.$.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959.
At the same time that the United $tates is blocking Chinese support from entering Cuba, there are reports that Amerikans are in China buying supplies that are destined for countries in Europe.(2)
The COVID-19 virus affects everyone. It is in everyone’s interests to slow the spread of the virus, and to develop effective treatments for it. These actions by the United $tates go against the interests of all the world’s people.
The leaders of the world need to come together in one common cause until this pandemic is over. Since late March, the United Nations has been making a similar call, urging an end to all military actions worldwide.(3)
We call on the United States and its partners to:
Halt all blockades, embargoes and sanctions so that resources can flow freely to countries that need them to fight COVID-19.
Halt all military actions as a gesture of peace and unity of all of humynity in combating this pandemic, and put that portion of the military budget into mobilizing treatment for people in the United $tates who need support and protection from COVID-19.
Forgive debts to the poorest countries of the world so that they have the resources to do their part to fight the spread of this virus.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2019 permalink
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins Penguin Group, New York, 2004
I just read a very enlightening book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. It’s a memoir of a former manager of Economics and Planning at MAIN (Chas T. Main Inc.), a powerful corporation, where he worked with CIA agents and other economic hit men to impoverish and subjugate peoples and countries around the world. Plagued by a guilty conscience, he later founded Independent Power Systems and developed environmental friendly power plants. Yet he was still tempted by imperialism.
In his confessions, Mr. Perkins explains how the USA has seized power in Saudi Arabia, Panama, Ecuador and other countries. We try to avoid open warfare. Before we even send in the jackals (special forces, snipers and other assassins, etc.) we employ economic hit men to corrupt governments, destabilize local economies and destroy environments. A Bedouin hero likened the tactics we’re using against Islam to the tactics used to conquer the Native American nations. We cut down the trees and shot the buffalo. The foundations of indigenous culture collapsed, and we are now exploiting them, their farmland, their gold, and their oil.
“You see, it is the same here,” he said, “the desert is our environment. The Flowering Desert project threatens nothing less than the destruction of our entire fabric. How can we allow this to happen?” (p.130)
In order to defraud and blackmail and corrupt foreign governments, and prepare their countries for exploitation by American corporations, he traveled around the world, living in tents, jungle huts and five-star hotels. Some of the action took place in secret meetings here in the United States. I particularly enjoyed reading some of the conversations that took place in posh offices high up in skyscrapers near my home.
Economic hit men have been very successful in Saudi Arabia. When they fail, as they did in Ecuador, jackals are called in. They probably killed President Roldós of that country and President Torrijos of Panama.
If the jackals fail, as they did in Iraq, military intervention is undertaken directly by the USA government. The book sheds light upon our current aggression against Venezuela, although the author did not have a major role there.
In 1930, Venezuela was the world’s largest oil exporter. By 1973 (the time of the Arab oil embargo), Venezuela was wealthy and its people enjoyed excellent health care, education and low rates of unemployment. Within 30 years, American EHMs (Economic Hit Men) and the International Monetary Fund had changed that. The country’s per capita income was down 40% and the middle class was shrinking.
George Bush and the CIA orchestrated a coup, but their victory was short-lived. President Chavez returned to power and immediately initiated further democratic reforms. Bush began war preparations, but crushing resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan took priority and Venezuela got reprieve. Now, fifteen years after Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was published, Donald Trump is making moves to seize control of one of the world’s biggest oil reserves and other important natural resources, as well as cheap labor in a once prosperous country brought low by Amerikan imperialists.
Confessions is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how the USA invades, attacks, and oppresses people and starves children in the name of freedom; or why so many millions of people around the world hate us.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The writings of John Perkins are a useful exposé of the modern imperialist methods of subversion of other nations’ self-determination. United Snakes interventions stand in stark contrast to all the concerns over Russian influence in U.$. election outcomes.
Despite the obvious implications of the facts Perkins revealed, ey remains unabashedly embedded in the bourgeoisie. The solutions ey provides in this book include pressuring corporations to do good things, and joining organizations to get laws passed. Now it seems ey is promoting a series of trips to the Third World for rich people to engage in mysticism. Needless to say, we see much different solutions being called for by the stories in this book.
Scott Daniel Warren faces 20 years in prison for his volunteer work distributing food and water to migrants in Arizona. Warren works with the group No More Deaths to aid migrants crossing the border in the Arizona desert. For this work, and for providing a place for two men to sleep, Warren was charged with two counts of felony harboring and one count of felony conspiracy. Eir trial ended on June 11 with a hung jury.
Warren was arrested in January 2018 along with other No More Deaths volunteers. The arrests came just hours after the group released video of border patrol agents destroying jugs of water left in the desert for migrants. This case isn't closed yet; federal prosecutors may choose to retry Warren.
The Arizona desert is one of the deadliest places for migrants to cross the border due to the extreme heat. But people are forced to this area by the 1994 Clinton era "Prevention Through Deterrence" policy aimed at making border crossings more deadly. The idea was to force crossings over more hostile terrain, putting more lives in danger, to discourage migrants from attempting the journey. Metrics of the plan's success included "deaths of aliens." By that measure, the plan has been a success. The total number of people attempting the crossing has dropped but the odds of dying have gone way up.(1)
Hundreds of migrants are found dead every year. Trump's border policies are just a continuation of the anti-immigrant policies of all Amerikan imperialist administrations, including Obama. Closed borders maintain a cheap source of labor and natural resources for the imperialists. This preserves wealth for those within at the expense of poverty for those on the outside. Migrant deaths are just one result of these borders. Fighting the Trump border wall is a distraction from the real problem. Fight borders not walls. Open the borders; return the stolen wealth to occupied nations at home and around the world.
The declining rate of profit is an unavoidable problem under capitalism, and a move toward fascism among the imperialists is primarily a result of this declining rate of profit. Some could interpret this to mean that fascism is an inevitable outcome of late-stage imperialism. But fascism isn’t actually in the interests of most imperialists, if they can avoid it. And today, most are in denial that the declining rate of profit is even a problem. In the 1930s such illusions were smashed by the realities of the Great Depression. Since then, the imperialist countries have managed to put off any comparable economic collapses at home.
Barring such extreme conditions, most imperialists don’t want fascism. The protectionism and extreme militarism that come with fascism are bad for most capitalists’ profits. Militarism is good for increasing demand by destroying capital and infrastructure, and creating a market for very expensive military hardware. And some imperialists are just ideologically geared towards fascism for subjective reasons. But the problem is, imperialism is also bad for profits in that the rate of profit declines as capitalism advances. This is an inherent contradiction in capitalism. Profits come only from the exploitation of humyn labor. And so, as more efficient equipment is built, and worker productivity is increased, and automation is expanded, profit margins fall. Similarly, when the proletariat rises up, capitalist profits are also impacted. Both of these contradictions can push the imperialists towards fascism.
With the global markets entirely divided up under imperialism, there isn’t any easy way for the capitalists to increase their individual profits. Only with the destructiveness of world war and re-division of territories can this be changed.
While most imperialists do not favor fascism in their own countries under normal conditions, they do readily export it to the Third World to maintain imperialist interests there. The United $tates is the main force behind fascism in the Third World. These countries are not imperialist so they can not be fascist independently. However, their imperialist masters can and do impose fascism from the outside when they deem it necessary to retain control. We have seen this over and over. In Latin America, where the United $tates fears any sign of bourgeois nationalism, there is a particularly brutal history. Just two examples are seen in the coups to overthrow Allende in Chile and Arbenez in Guatemala. After the coups, the U.$.-backed replacement governments massacred supporters of the democratically-elected governments as well as other activists and communists.
The u.$. economy has succeeded in stabilizing itself, at least for the near future. As reported previously (1,2), the majority of amerikans are prospering; their pockets lined with the bribes of imperialism, the labor aristocrats of the united $nakes are unlikely to support genuine
socialism any time soon.
In 2007, amerika faced an economic downturn. Excessive lending allowing amerikans to buy overvalued houses, which led banks to the point of collapse when debts could not be repaid. As the effects of the crisis spread, stocks fell, jobs were lost and the economy began to contract. The financial crisis has been rightly recognized as the worst to affect the First World since the Great Depression. However, it has also been rightly recognized as being of lesser severity, earning it the moniker the Great Recession.
And since then? The state of the amerikan economy has been not that of crisis but of recovery. Unemployment peaked in October 2009 at 10.0%. After that, it steadily declined. In early 2019, almost a decade later, unemployment now sits at 4.0%. In fact, by this measure the u.$. economy is doing better than ever. Monthly unemployment figures in 2006, before the crisis, were around 4.5%, 4.4% at the lowest. In 2018, they were around 4.0%, with the highest being 4.1% in the beginning of the year.(3) Labor force participation has decreased 2% since October 2009, but is at an average value over the last 65 years.(4) Another indicator of economic prosperity, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has grown over the past five years, surpassing 25,000 points and setting 15 all-time record highs in 2018.(5) The bull market does not just enrich a few bourgeoisie: with 55% of amerikans owning stocks, the majority of the u.$. population is petty-bourgeois and benefits from rising stock market. (6)
In 2017, Amerikans spent, on average, more than five hours a day pursuing leisure, a number essentially constant over the preceding decade.(7) Between 2009 and 2018, average wages increased by 23%, faster than the rate of inflation.(8,9) As 2018 drew to a close, the average hourly wage in amerika was $27.53 (median hourly wages have seen similar steady increases to just over $23).
Contrast this state of affairs with China, where the hourly wage in 2016, adjusted for purchasing power parity, was $6.39. Or India where it is $3.10.(10) In China, hourly pay is less than a quarter of that in the u.$. In India, it is less than an eighth. It is clear that this wage disparity can only exist because amerikans benefit from the exploited surplus value of Third World labor.(11) So-called socialist groups in amerika "fight for 15," ignoring both the low wages paid in other parts of the world and the fact that many workers inside u.$. borders are, by virtue of nationalist immigration policies designed to preserve amerikkkan wealth, considered "illegal" and unable to benefit from a higher minimum wage.
Despite the fact that the numbers above have been adjusted for inflation and geographical differences in purchasing power let's entertain the supposition that some aspect of the cost of living has not been accounted for and that amerikan workers are still being exploited. If amerikans were truly being exploited, then they would have little to no property or wealth of their own. However, 64% of amerikans own a home, about the same as in the mid 1990s.(12) This number is fairly stable; since the 1960s, homeownership rates have fluctuated in a fairly narrow range, peaking close to 70% in 2004 and never falling below 62.9% since 1964.(13) In 2018, the average u.$. home had an asking price of over $200,000.(14) Many amerikans own their homes outright, while others may have a mortgage and look forward to outright ownership in the
future. An amerikan with a 30-year mortgage, for example, expects that they will pay off their home in 30 years and enjoy a comfortable retirement in it. Ignoring issues of credit, interest and down payment that would automatically exclude Third World workers, a Chinese worker attempting to buy the same house with a quarter of the income would need to spread out payments over 120 years, while an Indian worker would need to labor for literal centuries. The average amerikan dwelling, leaving out furniture, cars and other luxuries, already represents a greater accumulation of wealth than the typical Third World worker could make in eir lifetime.
And it is not a question of a vast economic divide within the U.$. Even among amerikans with an income below the national median, over half owned a home in 2018.(15) The majority of amerikans are therefore in possession of considerable wealth, which they invest in assets and spend on plush accommodations. The typical amerikan acts more like a member of the bourgeoisie than of the proletariat.
There remain significant economic differences between the wealth of whites and the wealth of New Afrikans and [email protected] within U.$. borders. But even with that disparity, the vast majority of U.$. citizens are profiting from the exploitation of the Third World, giving them a solid economic interest in imperialism. In a future article we will provide an update on the economic status of oppressed nations within U.$. borders.
A Boom in False Consciousness
In the bourgeois media we've seen a recent uptick in pieces examining the growing generational divide. Older commentators bemoan the laziness and entitlement of millennial (born in 1981-1996), while younger commentators decry the indulgence and thoughtlessness of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) who have depleted the Earth's resources and left no economic opportunities for future generations. The former is the typical "kids these days" grousing. Disproving the latter: homeownership among people aged 35 and under has gone from 64.0% in 1994 to 64.4% in 2018.(16) In other words, economic opportunity has actually increased for younger amerikans. Millennial wealth has more than doubled since 2007, with the other generations seeing either a net increase in wealth or a partial recovery in the value of their sizable assets since the
Any discussion of a generational gap in economic opportunity is false consciousness. Nothing could underscore this point further than the fact that any generational disparity in wealth will be rendered moot when the millennial children of bourgeois boomers receive their inheritances. In fact, it will not even take that long. Just as aristocratic scions of yore could remain resident in the family manor, or plantation, and not have to worry about actually working for a living, young "professionals" (i.e. those tasked with administrating the parasitic U.$. economy) can buy large homes in expensive metropolitan areas because they receive financial assistance from their parents.(18)
Amerikans, as a whole, enjoy high wages and a comfortable lifestyle not available in the Third World. The majority of amerikans possess considerable wealth in the form of houses and are closer to the petty-bourgeois than the proletariat in their economic position. Because of this economic interest, the Amerikan populace is unlikely to support a genuine communist revolution. Without a solid internationalist perspective, any talk of socialism within amerika will be a phony national "socialism," at best redistributing from one tier of the labor aristocracy to another and at worst heightening the violence inherent to international superexploitation.
There was a significant increase in white supremacist activism in response to the election of President Obama. And another upswing around the election of President Trump. We see this as a cultural phenomena, as economic conditions for the Amerikan nation are not declining.(see economics article, this issue) These activists are not part of the imperialist government. We want to distinguish between fascism as state power, a terroristic dictatorship of imperialism, and the ideology of white supremacy and extreme national chauvinism. In this article we will look more closely at the latter phenomenon in Amerikan society. As revolutionaries we need to think about what the rise in white supremacy means and what we can do to fight for a scientific understanding of the equality of all nations.
Defining White Supremacy
The white supremacists often look to Nazi Germany as an ideal society, and promote white nationalism. We see these views in a range of right-wing organizations calling themselves neo-Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists, and some even calling themselves revolutionary anti-capitalists. We use the term fascist to identify these organizations as they all espouse the genocide of, or forcible separation of oppressed nations from Amerikan prosperity, as a way of promoting the superiority of white people within Amerika.
The vast majority of politics in the United $tates are white nationalist. We will use the term white supremacist here to refer to those who explicitly believe that white people are a separate race, and this racial category denotes inherent superiority.
White Supremacy Rising
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) monitors what they call "hate groups" and "hate crimes," releasing an annual summary report and keeping public dossiers of organizations and individuals on their website. The SPLC includes oppressed-nation nationalist organizations in this definition, including some revolutionary nationalist groups. In spite of this major ideological error, we can use their data to get a picture of what's going on.
In 2017, a post-Charlottesville Washington Post/ ABC News survey found that 9% of Americans (22 million people) thought it was fine to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. And according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, hate crimes in the six largest U.S. cities were up 20% from 2016.(1)
In 2017, in the early months of Trump's presidency, there was an upswing in white nationalist activism. Online organizations like the Daily Stormer and Stormfront saw dramatically increased interest (Daily Stormer: 2016 summer 140,000 views per month up to 750,000 in August 2017; Stormfront gained 30,000 new users between January and August 2017). This lines up with the SPLC findings that neo-Nazi groups grew 22% in 2017. At the same time they recorded a 20% increase in Black nationalist groups. The SPLC correctly identifies this as a reaction to rising white supremacy.(1) In 2018 the SPLC again reported an increase in white nationalist groups, up 50% from 2017. The previous all-time high number of "hate groups" identified by the SPLC was in 2011, shortly after Obama took office as President. 2018 marked the fourth year in a row of increased numbers of "hate groups" after a decline over the previous four-year period.(2)
Our observation of white supremacist activism affirms the SPLC statistics on the growing membership and popularity of these organizations. And we conclude that there is in fact a rising sentiment of Amerikan nationalism in this country. The conditions of the petty-bourgeoisie have not worsened, so this is not a response to declining economic status.(See: "Economic Update: Amerikans Prospering in 2019," this issue)
Culture Driving Reactionary Shift
Conditions for oppressed nations have changed over the past few decades. This is seen in laws preventing various forms of overt discrimination, affirmative action in college admission, and growing opportunities for petty bourgeois New Afrikan and [email protected] advancement. Further, culturally overt racism is considered unacceptable by a growing segment of the population. The white population in the United $tates will soon be less than 50% of the total. And Obama was elected president. While not truly impacting their economic situation, the culture created by these changes is seen as a threat by many in the white nation. The rise in white-supremacist sentiments is in part a response to a cultural phenomenon. Trump's campaign slogan has been understood by people on all sides to really mean "Make America White Again."
Along with the material shift in national makeup of the population has come phenomena in the culture that have made many young white males defensive, and wanting to retreat into that identity of being a white male. Bourgeois ideas of race, identity and individualism have shifted the legitimate critique of a white male power structure to one of micro-managing behaviors. The petty-bourgeois obsession with lifestyle politics and its unscientific distortions of the analysis of oppression made by revolutionaries has contributed to the recent popularity of white supremacist ideas, especially in online forums.
In research for eir book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, Kathleen Belew found that throughout Amerikan history post-war periods corresponded with rises in white power vigilantism and radical violence more than other factors, such as immigration, economics, or political populism. In other words, the experiences of being an occupying force in the Third World brings people over to violent white supremacy. This is a validation of Zak Cope's thesis that white nationalism cannot be abolished within the imperialist system dominated by the United $tates. It may be tempered at home, in times of stability, among those who never think about the brutal slaughter their country is waging against people of the oppressed nations. But those doing that killing must come up with ideological justifications for their actions.
We've discussed previously that identifying as white is to identify as oppressor.(3) To deny this is to deny the structure of imperialism in the world today. It is the task of communists and progressives in European/Euro-settler countries to discourage people from identifying with white pride, and celebrating the genocidal, colonial, and settler behavior of eir respective nations. Currently, there is a growing population of young petty-bourgeois white men who feel persecuted in a racist and determinist way. The fact that the dominant ideology being presented against white supremacy is bourgeois identity politics has led to a heightening of conflict, without any real solutions on the table.
As contradictions heighten, people will pick sides. That is inevitable. But some of the contradictions that are feeding white nationalism in the United $tates should be avoidable. The lack of a scientific, internationalist voice in the mainstream dialogue is pushing this country in dangerous directions.
Labor Aristocracy and White Nationalism
The labor aristocracy, the class of people in imperialist countries who have been bought off with spoils of the exploitation of Third World peoples, is a critical group in our analysis of white supremacy and fascism within the United $tates. We distribute H.W. Edwards' book titled Labor Aristocracy: Mass Base of Social Democracy.(4) Yet, in 2005, MIM passed a resolution titled, "The labor aristocracy is the main force for fascism."(5) How can one class be the mass base for two different systems? Especially a petty-bourgeois class, which Marxism has seen as not having the strength to impose its will on other classes.
Really, social democracy and fascism are just two sides of the same coin. This was seen practically in 1930s Germany, where both forces vehemently opposed the communists. These systems align with both the left and right wings of white nationalism in the United $tates. The left wing struggles with the imperialists for more handouts, while the right struggles against the oppressed nations to extract more wealth, leading to outright theft and other forms of primitive accumulation. The majority petty-bourgeois classes in the imperialist countries may rally to the right for fascism because the falling rate of profit leads the imperialists to share less of the spoils of imperialism with this class. Social democracy is also a push for more sharing from the imperialists, even when conditions are not particularly getting worse. As such, the Amerikans rallying for more pay are reactionary nationalists, even if they disavow overt racism of the fascist type.
Some of the most radical elements of fascist mass organizations present themselves as anti-capitalist in these early stages, so it is not uncommon for people to mistake fascism for a movement of the petty-bourgeoisie to overthrow the bourgeoisie. The ascent of full-blown fascism is dependent on the ability to rally a relatively privileged homecountry working class to the cause of fascism. But fascism is inherently a movement for capitalism. The goal may be to put different people in power, but they are still the bourgeoisie once they take power, because they will have control of the means of production.
And in spite of the aspirations of some, the petty-bourgeoisie is not going to rally enough power to overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisie. At best, they can hope to embolden and support the wing of fascist imperialists in their battle against the democratic imperialists. This is the historic role of the petty bourgeoisie; they are not a decisive class in the capitalist system. This doesn't mean we should ignore them. As an imperialist country edges towards fascism, it is well worth the revolutionary's time to try to push the petty-bourgeoisie away from fascism. But we should do this with our eyes wide open, aware of their class interests and cultural influences.
Fight with Science
We are anti-imperialists first and foremost. Imperialism embodies the principal contradiction that must be resolved to move society forward the fastest. For some, anti-fascism is principal in their lives because white supremacists are actively targeting their bourgeois democratic rights. And in prisons, oppressed people find themselves having to deal with fascists in their daily lives, whether working for the state, as fellow prisoners, or both. As a matter of self-defense, obviously anti-fascism against non-state actors can become primary for some. But for our movement overall, as internationalists in the First World, anti-imperialism must be our priority.
In Germany leading up to Hitler and the Nazi party taking power, conditions for the German workers declined greatly. These workers were already part of the privileged class that we call labor aristocracy. But after World War I the German economy was devastated and the result was this severe decline in economic privileges. In spite of these conditions, the majority of German people did not rally against fascism. There was a relatively strong communist movement in Germany at the time, but even they could not win over the masses to the side of anti-fascism. The German communists made serious mistakes.(6) We must study those mistakes, but we also need to understand that we can't count on the proletarianization of the petty bourgeoisie pushing them to communism.
We need to work now to push the petty bourgeoisie in imperialist countries on the road towards revolutionary thought, even while recognizing that their class interests will keep the majority firmly in the imperialist camp. We are targeting the scientific non-voter: those who might be rallied to the scientific-sounding arguments of white supremacy, and who are pushed towards fascist ideology by all the idealism/metaphysics spouted by people claiming progressive politics.
As a group, the white nation is reactionary because their economic interests are tied up with imperialism, but this does not mean that all white individuals are reactionary, especially youth. And we want to push for accountability among the white nation. With this in mind, we see the need for a mass organization that will focus on targeting oppressor-nation audiences and directly working to prevent the rise of fascist ideology.
As an alternative to white supremacist views, there needs to be a culture of taking responsibility among the imperialist-country populations. We should be working hard to make imperialist-country populations take responsibility for what their nations have done and continue to do to oppressed nations around the world, perhaps in the form of calls for reparations. The goal is to increase scientific thinking, increase persynal responsibility for one's nation's behavior, and push the oppressor nation away from white supremacist views, toward action in the form of nation suicide.
The communists in Germany admonished their fellow Germans after World War II for not heeding their warning that a vote for Hitler was a vote for war. To date, the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) has never promoted one U.$. Presidential candidate over another. In some ways the last two presidents have been notable, as Barack Obama was the first not-white President, and Donald Trump has made some openly chauvinist statements and received support for them. Both elections elicited participation from those who may have been closer to the MIM position of “it’s all the same imperialist brutality” in previous elections.
During the 2012 presidential election in France, MIM talked about Jean-Marie Le Pen as part of the fascist camp. Ey was a far-right leader of the “National Rally” party. While Trump doesn’t lead any particular white supremacist organization, ey certainly makes clear eir support for such groups, and they reciprocate in kind. Trump is very open in promoting various forms of oppression, to the point of promoting terrorism against oppressed peoples.
There are examples of politicians openly supporting the ideologies of white supremacism and neo-nazism from both the Democrats and the Republicans and from the earliest beginnings of Amerikan politics. David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is a modern example of this. A former Republican Louisiana State Representative, Duke was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1988 and the Republican presidential primaries in 1992, showing how this ideology crosses party lines and infuses mainstream politics. In 2016, Duke celebrated the presidential victory of Donald Trump, and the vision of his chief advisor Steve Bannon. Bannon’s openly xenophobic and chauvinist Breitbart News Network contributed to Trump’s campaign success, building an alliance of “Alt-Right” forces behind the president. These were many of the same forces that would later lead the infamous march with tiki torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting Nazi slogans and starting street fights with counter-protestors. These are some of the highlights of the Trump presidency phenomenon that have rightly elicited discussions around whether fascism and white supremacy are seated in the highest office of the United $tates.
Yet we must remember that the history of Amerika is a history of white supremacy. The country was built on the genocide of indigenous people and the stealing of land and resources. Then came the enslavement, exploitation and mass slaughter of Africans. Later, the U.$. Constitution codified New Afrikans as inferior to whites. Former Senator, Vice President, and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun blocked the annexation of Mexico on the grounds that only white people could be free, writing “we have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race.”(1) This explains why Puerto Rico never became a state, why the First Nation state of Sequoyah was not accepted until it was subsumed into a white-dominated Oklahoma, and why the admission of Hawaii faced great resistance that was mitigated by accepting a predominantly white Alaska at the same time.(2)
In this article we offer our analysis of the difference between bourgeois democratic imperialism and fascist imperialism. And we will discuss some of the implications of a shift towards fascism for our organizing work. In “Fighting White Supremacy in Amerika” (this issue) we go deeper into the cultural shift towards increasing white supremacy and our thoughts on ways revolutionaries should respond. We hope this analysis helps others think scientifically about oppression and resistance and the best strategies for organizing in 2019.
What’s in a label? Should we call Trump fascist?
MIM(Prisons) leans towards caution in the use of the term fascist. First, we don’t want to oversell the distinction between the Trump government and the Obama government. Normalizing imperialism, as if it is progressive, or as if the Hillary Clinton brand would have been less viciously militaristic and brutal for the people of the Third World, is a dangerous outcome of this sort of distinction. And we don’t want to confuse people about the potential for progressive results from imperialist elections. We need to be clear that imperialism is brutal and murderous; it is not a kinder gentler condition entirely distinct from fascism. With integration, it is only in the last 50 years that Amerika has even begun to be conceived of as anything but a white settler nation, and the brutal history of that white settler nation is imperialism, but not fascism. We are entering a period where the majority of politically active people in this country have not lived in an openly racist political system for the first time in this country’s history.
Based on our analysis of the current stage of imperialism, and our caution using the term fascist, we don’t campaign against the Trump regime because it holds and acts on fascist ideology. We campaign against the U.$. imperialist government because it is imperialist and it is the enemy of the majority of the people in the world. We think that this is an important point to emphasize in our organizing today. We don’t want to campaign to change the president, and we don’t want to mislead people into thinking what we really need to do is get these fascists out of office. At this point, our other options of Mike Pence, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton all have approximately the same enmity toward the Third World and oppressed peoples.
Sometimes we need to be alarmist about terms like fascism. Right now, we see the danger of misleading people on this strategic question to be the greater danger. In our work organizing the petty bourgeoisie towards socialism there might be a time when calling parts of the Amerikan government fascist will help to clarify the contradictions.
Imperialism is National Oppression
In recent years there has been a rise in white nationalism and white supremacy among Amerikans. (See: “Fighting White Supremacy in Amerika” this issue) We should not be surprised that racist ideas are growing again; society’s ideas reflect its structure. And the structure remains one of national oppression until imperialism is overthrown. It’s very hard to justify imperialism without a sense of superiority of some sort. There has to be some reason why virtually everyone in the United $tates is in the top 10% by income globally, and saying it’s because we steal wealth from the rest of the world doesn’t go over as easily as just claiming we’re more productive (read: superior).
Imperialism is the advanced stage of capitalism where a few powerful nations divide up and colonize the world for profit. It is manifested today most violently against Third World peoples who suffer under brutal dictatorships, which serve their Amerikan imperialist masters. These dictatorships ensure the United $tates access to cheap labor and raw materials.
“Whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan or the West Bank, it is clear that without openly adopting fascism, the essence of U.$. imperialism and its allies today is genocide and any tally of the victims of U.$. imperialism will show that it has implemented much more of Hitler’s genocidal plans than Hitler did.”(3)
Why Identify Fascism?
Imperialism is a global system of exploitation requiring war, forced starvation and murder through denial of medical care and other basic needs. Imperialism kills millions! Fascism is imperialism without the cover. Fascism is more overt. When the imperialists are forced to turn to fascism, we can win more of the middle forces to our side as they revile in disgust.
So we need to know when we are approaching fascism (and of course when we are in it) because our strategy and tactics will change to address this new situation. In both bourgeois democracy and fascism our overall orientation focused on overthrowing imperialism is the same. Yet we see two likely changes: 1. Our definition of who are our friends and who are our enemies will likely change as we make alliances with anti-fascists among the classes that are not anti-imperialist under bourgeois democracy. 2. Our organizing strategy and tactics will change to focus on the fight for democratic rights and defend the targets of fascist brutality.
“The difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism is a matter of quantitative changes leading to a qualitative change. The qualitative differences are relevant to us in terms of their effect on our policies towards non-proletarian classes.”(3)
The key is defining when that qualitative change takes place, so we can prevent it or, failing that, appropriately respond to it. And in anticipating the qualitative change we need to ask if we are currently seeing an increase in quantitative changes. In terms of sustained quantitative changes within U.$. borders, a few things might be happening that would be important to note. None of these are required for a shift to fascism, but they are still potential identifiers.
Declining economics of the majority, the petty bourgeoisie. As the petty-bourgeoisie loses the economic privileges that put them firmly in the supporting-imperialism camp, they will have more potential to embrace communism as being in their material interests. But they will also be more easily rallied to fascism as an ideology that demands those privileges as a birthright.
We might see increasing incidents of white supremacy as quantitative changes leading towards the qualitative change to fascism.
Heightened class struggle is a likely precursor to fascism. This presents such a risk to the imperialists that they use fascism to put down the struggle.
“Democratic” Imperialism or Fascist Imperialism
Communists define fascism as a form of imperialism. This is based in our study of the history of fascist systems. There are two forms of imperialism: “democratic” imperialism and fascist imperialism. Fascist imperialism is a dictatorship of the most extremely reactionary elements of finance capital. When talking about governments and countries, we do not use the term “fascist” unless they are imperialist (see our article “The Strategic Significance of Defining Fascism” for more on why this is important.(4)) The exception is that fascism can be imposed by an imperialist government from the outside through a puppet government. But the key point here is that fascism is imperialism. A fascist state power is a capitalist state power.
Including “imperialist” in our definition of fascist states excludes some countries and governments from the label, but it doesn’t help us identify what we should call “fascism.” Our most commonly-used reference on this comes from Dimitrov: Fascism is “the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”(5) The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is not open when the people are allowed redress, through the courts, etc. In the open terroristic dictatorship you stop raising money for legal fees, and start stockpiling supplies.
So what will fascism look like? Will we just know it when we see it? (See the article “(Mis)use of the fascist label in the United $tates” for more historical context on this question). Certainly the suspension of bourgeois democratic rights should be a sign that we are no longer in a bourgeois democracy. But sometimes this is insidious. Bourgeois democratic rights don’t exist for migrants. They are severely limited in oppressed nation communities with large lumpen populations. And many new laws, such as the Patriot Act, have been passed to limit civil liberties in recent decades. The Trump administration is continuing this trend, stepping up voter suppression while also attempting to add a census question about citizenship. But unlike these moves, which target the rights of oppressed-nation people, the fascist suspension of bourgeois democracy will be felt by all segments of society. In that sense we can ask ourselves, “is a white petty-bourgeois persyn likely to be killed or imprisoned just for advocating communism?” If the answer is “no,” bourgeois democratic rights are still in place.
I received your response to my article on the wonderful achievements of the Black Panther Party.(1) In this article, I articulated how fascism has taken possession of this country, and what should be seen as its most advanced form. This is the form that comrade George L. Jackson spoke of in Blood in My Eye, “the third face” in power and secure. I also share this opinion, and it is rooted in my philosophy about the obvious place to start and end the colonial war, which will result in the independence of not only our brothers and sisters in the third world, but also the sleeping giant right here in Amerika.
The fact that Amerika has never entered a revolutionary situation is amazing to say the least. However, it does not mitigate the arrival of fascism. This country is indeed a police state wherein the political ascendancy is tied into and protects the interest of the upper class. It is very much characterized by militarism, imperialism, and racism. By those very definitions it would be silly for intellectuals to continue to ponder on the presence of fascism and its shock troops.
Our new “pigs are beautiful” President Donald Trump is trying to reverse the constitution in order to make Amerikkka an all-white nation as the “Founding Fathers” intended for it to be. But in determining this birthright claim, does this not automatically push out the European colonial master? This would seem to be a true statement, but if we look at fascist predatory culture, it shows that anything of any great value that ever traded hands between the Europeans was taken by a force of arms. History in itself is indeed economically-motivated class struggle. We also have the situation of Mexico being seen as a villain of white Amerikkka to glean from. This is the same stance that the earlier Europeans used to justify the extermination of the Indians and the racist attacks against black brothers and sisters who had already suffered the worst form of slavery in history.
There is much truth in your analysis. However, some truths have been mitigated or omitted to fit your contention. The earlier vanguard party’s insistence to only beg for tokens, or to beg for an expansion of the system to include all of us, even after numerous failed attempts, clearly shows their ignorance of the capitalist masters. In a capitalistic society, there must always be an upper, middle, and especially lower class. Asking the government to make certain areas better is the equivalent of making other segments of society a ghetto (poor whites, Asians Amerikans, etc.). This environment is all about winners and losers, which furthers the individualism that destroys trust.
The fact that the vanguard parties rallied around such issues as women’s rights, prisoners’ rights, etc. should not be ignored. However, those rights are still virtually ignored. Women still do not enjoy the same rights as men (i.e. #MeToo), and the prison industrial complex is still part of the imperialist plan to use our bodies as sources of cheap raw materials to build and expand capital. The 13th Amendment even legalizes slavery in the event that one commits a crime. So yes, Amerika is a fascist country. They use the argument of being “humane imperialists, enlightened fascists.” The vanguard parties, instead of pushing for judicial redress which once again failed, should have ushered the populace to go to war against the capitalist masters. Anything less than that is reform.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It’s unclear if this author is arguing that the United $tates has been fascist from the start. Or if there is a change we are seeing recently that marks a new fascist government. The former is an interesting argument. This comrade agrees that imperialism and militarism are part of fascism. And from that basis, one could argue that the genocidal foundations of Amerika look at lot like “the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital” as Dutt defined fascism. [See intro article]
But we make a distinction between the repression of imperialism against oppressed nations, a feature of the brutality of imperialism, and the terroristic dictatorship of fascist imperialism. This is important because of the strategic implications. If the United $tates has been fascist from foundation, during World War II we would have to argue that the United $tates was not a potential ally in the fight against Hitler’s Germany. History does not support this interpretation.
If the author is arguing that there has been some change in the United $tates since World War II, and it is only more recently fascist, then we want to respond to the definitions ey offers more directly. Defining fascism as “militarism, imperialism, and racism” raises the question of how to distinguish that from good ’ole bourgeois democratic imperialism? Imperialism is characterized by militarism and national oppression (and by association, racism). And imperialism is all about protecting the interests of the ruling class. As we discussed in “Fascism, Imperialism, and Amerika in 2019”, white nation supremacy is an inherent part of Amerikan imperialism. So that too is not, in and of itself, a good way for us to distinguish fascist imperialism from bourgeois democratic imperialism. In fact, the author is correct that the “founding fathers” of this country intended for it to be a white nation. Unless we want to argue that the United $tates was fascist from the start, throwbacks to previous policies are not inherently signs of a new fascist government.
The colloquial use of the term fascist in the United $tates has become something like, “My boss will write me up if I’m 5 minutes late; he’s a real fascist.” Fascism here is equated with controlling and domineering. And this is exactly how the Liberal bourgeoisie distinguishes their system from others; through freedoms and persynal liberties. The narrative of the Liberal bourgeois governments following WWII attempted to merge the defeated enemy of fascism with the rising enemy of communism, by depicting them both as being bad because they supposedly wanted to control every aspect of your life. The Amerikan system was upheld as far superior and joyous because of the vast array of choices of consumer products (and thereby, lifestyles and appearances). They also claimed to address the necessities of food, clothes and shelter, but these are almost afterthoughts given the opulence of the imperialist countries, particularly the United $tates, following WWII.
A more correct application of the term fascist comes from the likes of prisoners. In the context of prisons, this term is used to describe the concentration camps in the United $tates today, the regular torture and brutality that takes place in these institutions, and the effects of the criminal injustice system on reducing reproduction within the oppressed nations. This is a strategic use of the term in an attempt to win over the more progressive of the bourgeois Liberals who don’t want these more fascistic aspects of imperialism in their country.
George Jackson, and many other Black Panthers, used the word fascist to describe the United $tates government in the late 1960s. At that time the country was facing a major crisis, a revolutionary upsurge, that connected communist governments such as China, resistance movements that were demolishing the U.$. military in countries like Vietnam, and internal semi-colonies fighting for liberation from within the United $tates such as the Black Panthers. At this time Panthers and other revolutionary leaders within the United $tates were murdered in cold blood. Even some white students were killed by the state, indicating the seriousness of the crisis. When your leaders are being killed by the state, and you are not engaging in armed struggle, that is a strong sign that fascism is on its way. The Panthers decided to form the United Front to Combat Fascism, to ally with democratic forces, especially within white Amerikkka, which marked the end of the rise of revolutionary struggle in this country. We won’t try to explain that here, but mention it to say that the Panthers’s shift in strategies to address what they saw as a fascist threat proved wrong in practice.
Political assassinations became a definite tactic of the U.$. government in the 1960s, but the scope was still quite limited. After this period of struggle peaked, the main reason why things turned so quickly in the United $tates is that the white nation was not facing an insurmountable crisis. Their crisis was one of war, a losing war, with a large draft that was impacting the oppressor nation greatly. The imperialists were able to cede this war to the Vietnamese, in a way that saved some face, while appeasing the demands at home. The imperialists learned from this war, and went on to carry out countless counter-insurgency operations throughout the Third World (with far less blood shed by Amerikan soldiers) that continue to this day. The crisis that will bring fascism to the United $tates will likely need to be an irreconcilable economic contradiction within the imperialist system itself; one that normal shifts in policy and resources cannot address.
Also remember that the parents of the Black Panthers lived in a completely segregated Jim Crow society, where New Afrikans were often killed for far less than trying to lead a revolutionary overthrow of the U.$. government. This was during a time when millions lost their lives fighting fascism around the world, but no one was calling the United $tates fascist.