Workers Vanguard No. 1169
7 February 2020
Democrats, Republicans—Theyre All Guilty
Impeachment and U.S. Imperialist Crimes
We Need a New Ruling Class—The Workers!
FEBRUARY 3—The spectacle of the two parties of the ruling class during the recent Senate impeachment trial evoked Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” On one side stood the Democrats and the national security spies, who have promoted hysteria about Russian electoral “interference” while maneuvering against Donald J. Trump since his 2016 Electoral College victory over her bellicose highness, Hillary Clinton. On the other side were the more undisguised representatives of racism and religious reaction, the Republicans, who represent the same decaying and exploitative capitalist system as the other party. Tellingly, the dog and pony show on Capitol Hill hardly piqued the interest of the majority of the population. The working and oppressed masses had no stake in this bourgeois brawl.
The Democrats knew full well that the Republican-dominated Senate would not convict and remove the president. Trump was impeached for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of justice” based on the allegation that he paused military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Kiev to investigate his political rival, Democratic primary candidate Joe Biden. Behind the claims of protecting the “legitimacy” of the 2020 elections and stamping out “misconduct,” the impeachment trial was a cynical attempt by the Democrats to manipulate disgust among sections of the population with the vile Trump administration in order to advance their chances to regain the White House. Their beef is that the mercurial Trump, including with his flagrant bigotry and sexism, has brought the imperial presidency into disrepute.
There is true irony in the Democrats indicting Trump for political extortion of the Ukrainian government when in 2014 the Barack Obama administration, supported by the imperialist powers in Europe, was pivotal in fomenting a fascist-infested coup in Kiev. Then president Viktor Yanukovych had rejected a European Union trade agreement, which included an IMF austerity loan, and instead opted for an economic deal with Russia on better terms. He was subsequently overthrown during a series of protests dubbed the “Maidan Revolution” in which neo-Nazis played a leading role. Washington then helped bring to power an ultranationalist, anti-Russian regime headed by billionaire Petro Poroshenko.
Like the long line of Democrats and Republicans before him, Trump has committed real crimes against the working class and oppressed at home and abroad. But the Democrats carry out the same crimes when in power—from the cop killings of black men on America’s streets and the deportation and terrorization of immigrants to the gutting of workers’ wages and benefits and the slaughter of civilians around the world.
The U.S. is ruled by the dictatorship of a single class, the bourgeoisie, which is represented by its political parties, both Democratic and Republican. The two might on occasion wrangle over policy and tactics, but many of these differences are superficial. On the eve of the opening of the trial, Senate Democrats voted to approve Trump’s USMCA trade agreement, successor to NAFTA, a key tool in the imperialist plunder of Mexico. Just a month prior, the overwhelming majority of Democrats voted to approve the 2020 military budget, handing over $22 billion more than last year to the Pentagon. When the White House assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, some Democrats disputed the way it was done, but none deny Washington’s divine right to blow away anyone it deems a “terrorist.”
As the working and poor masses are ground down by this brutal profit system, there is a desperate need for some class struggle for jobs and decent living conditions, for free, quality health care for all and other necessities. The power to carry out this fight lies in the hands of the men and women—black, white, Latino, Asian—whose labor keeps the wheels of production turning and produces the wealth that is robbed from them by the capitalist profiteers. All this points to the task of building a workers party based on the understanding that the bosses, their government and their political parties all stand in opposition to the interests of the working people and the oppressed. Such a workers party would fight to win the proletariat to the revolutionary socialist program of establishing a workers government—where those who labor rule—that would carry out the expropriation of the capitalists and begin building an egalitarian, socialized economy.
Break with the Democrats!
Trump was the third American president to be impeached, two decades after Bill Clinton was almost ousted for fibbing about fellatio. Commentators have drawn false parallels between Trump and Andrew Johnson, who was impeached in 1868 (but avoided being removed from office by one vote). That trial took place in the era of the Civil War that destroyed the slave order and the onset of Reconstruction. This was the last period in which the American bourgeoisie could play a historically progressive role. Johnson sought to conciliate the former slavocracy and curbed efforts to grant political rights and suffrage to blacks. He opposed the 1866 Civil Rights Act and fought against the Reconstruction Acts, including by trying to subvert the deployment of troops to the South.
Johnson’s impeachment posed significant social questions revolving around the fight for full equality for the newly freed slaves. Yet soon thereafter, Radical Reconstruction—the most racially egalitarian experiment in U.S. history—was increasingly undermined by the Northern capitalists who, with the smashing of slavery, no longer had any common interest with the former slaves. This defeat culminated with the Compromise of 1877, which betrayed the aspirations of the black masses. To this day, black people are a race-color caste forcibly segregated in their majority at the bottom of American capitalist society.
The Democrats rant that Trump’s alleged offenses threaten “our republic” and “democratic institutions.” Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin encapsulated the fraud of bourgeois democracy when he described it as “truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” The American bourgeois republic was founded on the backs of black slaves and the near-complete genocide of Native Americans; its “democratic institutions” exist to serve the interests of the capitalist rulers.
Leave it to the Democrats to present neocon madman John Bolton as a tribune of the truth. From the start of their “resistance” to Trump, the Democrats’ heroes have included agents from the FBI, NSA and CIA. These are the very capitalist state institutions that have killed dozens of Black Panthers and suppressed other fighters against racist oppression; carried out witchhunts against reds; engaged in mass surveillance and torture; subverted and overthrown foreign governments and smashed left-led unions across the globe. These aren’t agents of a so-called “deep state.” They are just part of the state apparatus that enforces the rule of the exploiters. At the pinnacle of this state is the president, who has extraordinary authority. In the imperialist era, the office of the Commander-in-Chief has assumed many of the powers that the Constitution originally assigned to Congress.
Taking hypocrisy to new heights, since the start of Ukrainegate, the Democrats have called to protect the “whistle-blower,” who is rumored to be CIA analyst and Biden buddy Eric Ciaramella. Newsflash: it is not blowing a whistle to act in coordination with a whole branch of the security apparatus to carry out a political operation on behalf of one half of Congress. The Democrats suppress genuine whistle-blowers. The Obama administration charged more of them under the Espionage Act than all administrations before, combined. For exposing just a fraction of the crimes of the U.S. government, real whistle-blowers like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden languish in jail or exile.
As for the chatter about foreign interference and election meddling, we noted of the fallacious claims of Russian hacking in “Democrats Push Anti-Russia Hysteria” (WV No. 1122, 17 November 2017):
“Spying, sowing disinformation, hacking and other ‘dirty tricks’ are the stock in trade of all capitalist governments against their rivals. But when it comes to intervening in other countries’ internal affairs—not just ‘influencing’ elections but carrying out bloody coups, outright invasions and ‘regime change’—none can hold a candle to America’s rulers.”
Over the last century-plus, the U.S. rulers have covertly and overtly intervened in the affairs of a legion of foreign governments, not to mention the current deployment of U.S. military personnel in some 170 countries.
Reliance on the Democratic Party as the “lesser evil” is a dead end for anyone seeking a way to get rid of this murderous imperialist system. Both establishment stalwarts like Nancy Pelosi and “progressive” sheepdogs like Bernie Sanders are committed to maintaining and strengthening the U.S. capitalist order. As part of our struggle to forge a workers party, we seek to break through illusions in the Democrats promoted by the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy and the reformist left, counterposing a strategy based on the independent mobilization of the working class in defense of its own class interests.
Ukrainegate: Russiagate Redux
After years of digging into a Trump-Russia conspiracy and coming up dry, the Democratic Party and its loyal media found a way to double down on the fable spun out of whole cloth by Clinton cronies. Despite the dearth of any credible evidence that he colluded with Vladimir Putin, Trump is still accused of being “Putin’s puppet” while skeptics of the Russiagate narrative are condemned as “Russian assets.” In fact, Trump’s actual policies toward Russia have included imposing stringent sanctions and provocatively increasing U.S. imperialism’s military presence in East Europe. Not to mention that the Democrats’ Russophobia veers toward outright racism. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, spouted in 2017 that Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor.”
The imperialists were hostile to Soviet Russia from its inception as a workers state in October 1917. Having been a force behind the 1991-92 capitalist counterrevolution that destroyed the Soviet degenerated workers state (USSR), the U.S. imperialists assumed that Russia would then be wide open for them to plunder. But the capitalist rulers who replaced the former Stalinist bureaucracy have not always been content to be compliant flunkeys, and have increasingly sought to assert Russia’s strength as a regional power. Washington, which views the former states of the USSR as its rightful spoils, sees Putin’s Russia, with its substantial military and nuclear weaponry, as an obstacle to its appetites for world domination. While howling about Russian “aggression,” the U.S. is the one driving the offensive, pushing the imperialist NATO alliance to expand toward Russia’s borders.
Insofar as the Putin government has had a hostile posture toward the U.S., it has largely been a defensive one. This was the case following the 2014 Ukraine coup orchestrated by the Obama-Biden government, with a key role played by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One of the Ukrainian government’s first acts after the coup was to abolish a 2012 law allowing the official use of Russian and other minority languages, which was rightly seen as an attack on ethnic Russians, among others. In Crimea, where Russia has a vital naval base, the majority ethnically Russian population voted overwhelmingly to reunite with Russia and seceded. In the Donbass region of East Ukraine, which is heavily Russified in language and culture, the population of Donetsk and Luhansk voted overwhelmingly for self-rule.
As Leninist opponents of national oppression, we supported Russia’s military intervention into Crimea, which allowed the population there to exercise its right of self-determination. We declared: Crimea is Russian. Likewise, we defend the right of the population in East Ukraine to self-rule, up to and including independence or unification with Russia. As such, we have a military side with the Donbass insurgents against the Kiev government without giving any political support to the rebel leaders or to Putin’s autocratic capitalist regime.
The temporary withholding of military aid to the Ukrainian regime is no crime from the standpoint of the interests of the international working class. What is criminal is that the U.S. continues to arm and finance Kiev in this proxy war against the East Ukraine insurgents. Echoing one witness during the trial, the Democrats’ House impeachment tsar, Russophobe Adam Schiff, raved: “The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that they can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”
In “U.S. Imperialism Behind Bloody Repression in Ukraine” (WV No. 1046, 16 May 2014) we wrote: “Fascist and official government terror: here is the true face of the Ukrainian ‘democracy’ championed by Washington and its media mouthpieces.” The post-coup Ukrainian government honored the notorious Simon Petlyura, who was responsible for pogroms in which some 100,000 Jews were murdered during the civil war that erupted after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. A month before the coup, Svoboda, a fascist anti-Jewish party, led a 15,000-strong torch-lit march in Kiev in honor of Stepan Bandera, who militarily collaborated with the Nazis during World War II and carried out mass murders of Jews, Communists, Soviet soldiers and Poles. Bandera later collaborated with Washington to carry out guerrilla actions against the Soviet Union.
In the wake of the coup, with Biden as the front man, the White House conspired with Ukrainian oligarchs to serve U.S. corporate and strategic interests. That was when Biden’s son Hunter mysteriously parlayed a discharge from the Navy Reserve for cocaine use into a lucrative position on the board of Ukrainian natural gas giant Burisma, where he was reportedly paid some $50,000 a month. When Burisma was under investigation by the country’s top prosecutor for corruption, papa Biden decided to engage in his own extortion scheme—he threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees to Kiev until the prosecutor was fired. After the deed was done, Biden bragged about it publicly.
“Resistance” Follies, Stage Left
“Progressives” Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, were early enthusiasts for impeaching Trump (the result of which would simply be to install the arch-reactionary, bible-thumping bigot Mike Pence). The role of “the Squad” et al. is to spruce up the Democrats’ image and keep disaffected youth and workers chained to this capitalist party.
Some liberals worry that the impeachment charade will backfire on the Democrats’ bid to win the White House. Left-liberal journalist Aaron Maté, an incisive critic of the Democrats’ Russiagate campaign, has exposed the vapid quality of the impeachment allegations. But his main takeaway, as he argued in an article in the Nation (30 September 2019) titled “The Ukraine Scandal Might Be a Bad Gambit for Democrats,” is that by simply focusing on impeachment, the “Democrats risk not only sidelining voters but their own best opportunity to reach them.”
For many radical liberals and fake socialists, a better “resistance” to Trump would promote the electoral fortunes of Bernie Sanders. Whatever his promises to provide some relief for poverty wages, student debt and skyrocketing health care costs, Sanders is a capitalist politician who has always represented the interests of the exploiting class. This includes his support for U.S. imperialism’s wars and occupations, as well as his backing of anti-Russia sanctions. As loyal supporters of Sanders, the reformists of Socialist Alternative (SAlt) act as advisers to the Democratic Party in an article titled “Remove Trump for His Real Crimes” (19 December 2019). They whine that the Democrats “could galvanize far more people” if they “were to initiate impeachment proceedings based on Trump’s brutal attacks on working people.” This is akin to asking Wall Street bankers to combat income inequality.
One step to SAlt’s left, the centrist Internationalist Group (IG) claims that they “have no dog in this fight” in their October 2019 article on the impeachment. Nonetheless, they suggest that the proceedings could provoke “maybe not a civil war, but violent attacks against immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, leftists, women, gays, trans people, protesters and others.” This is a more subdued version of their previous article from July 2019 titled “Dangerous Racist Provocations in Pre-Election Maneuvering” where they absurdly argued: “The intensity of political clashes in the ruling class recalls the period leading up to the U.S. Civil War.” The American Civil War was a social revolution in which revolutionaries had a clear side with the Union against the slavocracy. The inevitable takeaway from the IG’s gonzo analogy is to feed the anti-Trump “resistance” by all but declaring that the working class should have a side…with the Democrats.
Where the pseudo-socialist left offers up the cesspool of bourgeois electoral politics, we fight for the political independence of the working class. This needs to find expression in a multiracial revolutionary workers party—not an electoral vehicle vying to administer the capitalist state but a party championing the cause of all the exploited and oppressed in the fight for a workers America.