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Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire 

25 Feb

Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire


“It wasn’t until the administration of Barack Obama that the deadly gaze of the United States began to really re-focus on Latin America, with Venezuela as its main target.”

Ajamu Baraka, BAR editor and columnist 21 Feb 2018

Only in the world of comic-book fantasies is the United States a friend to the oppressed in Africa or anywhere else on the planet. In the real world, the U.S. is a predator, colonial/capitalist nation. But like the imagined nation of Wakanda, in the latest cultural assault on critical mass consciousness, “American exceptionalism” and “make America great again” — two slogans representing both sides of the imperialist coin—ruling class interests are obscured and the people are reduced to working against their objective interests and being accomplices to imperial lawlessness.
In every part of the world, the United States is engaged in maniacal, criminal assaults on democracy, basic human decency and common sense. From its support for armed jihadists groups in Syria and its illegal occupation of that nation, transferring heavy military equipment to its puppet regime in Ukraine, supporting unending war in Afghanistan, to the military invasion of African, the commitment to maintaining U.S. global dominance has moved war and militarism to the center of U.S. strategy.

But nowhere is U.S. criminality more apparent and unrelenting than right here in the Americas where the Pan-European project was born in 1492. That was the year “Europe” was born, emerging from its relative cultural backwardness using with terrifying efficiency the only advantage it had over the more civilized people of the region—armor protection and steel weapons—to slaughter the people, take the land and begin the 500-hundred-year nightmare the people of the world have suffered ever since.



The commitment to maintaining U.S. global dominance has moved war and militarism to the center of U.S. strategy.”
Today, the barbarism of the Pan-European project continues under the tutelage of what history will record—if humanity survives—as the most violent, racist, oppressive human experience ever to have emerged in the short span of human existence on Earth: the United States of America.
After centuries experiencing the horrors of genocide, slavery, military dictatorships, environmental destruction, and neoliberal exploitation, the people of Latin America began to slowly extract themselves from the clutches of the hegemon from the North. Social movements and peoples undeterred by coups, structural adjustment and death squads started to take back their history in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and the rest of the continent. Venezuela has led the way, proclaiming the dawn of a 21st century socialism that would create the new society and the new human in the process.
Because of imperial overreach, the same trap that has ensnared other empires in decline, the U.S. was preoccupied with attempting to manage the mess it had created for itself as a result of the disastrous belief that it could fight two major wars simultaneously. So, while it was bogged down in Western Asia and the so-called “Middle East,” the full force of the U.S. repressive apparatus was not deployed against the fledgling people’s movements and the nominal capture of the state by those movements in Latin America. Of course, the United States helped to engineer a failed coup against Hugo Chavez and it continued training police and military forces in the region. But it wasn’t until the administration of Barack Obama that the deadly gaze of the United States began to really re-focus on Latin America, with Venezuela as its main target.

“Venezuela has led the way, proclaiming the dawn of a 21st century socialism that would create the new society and the new human in the process.”
In what appears on the surface to be a ludicrous position, Barack Obama declared Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security on three different occasions. However, the United States is the enforcer for the global capitalist system and the head of the white, Western, capitalist united front. With that in mind, seeing Venezuela as a threat made sense. Venezuela has been the driving force for the nations of the Americas south of the U.S. border attempting to free themselves from the yoke of U.S. imperialism.
The Trump administration took up with enthusiasm the policy of destabilization, subversion, and economic warfare that was intensified under the Obama administration. Violent regime change is now clearly the objective of the administration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the Venezuelan military to overthrow the government while on a visit to the region and reports have surfaced of military forces from Colombia and Brazil being deployed to their respective borders with Venezuela. Another clear sign that the lives of the people of Venezuela will be sacrificed with violent regime change is the collapse of the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the counter-revolutionary opposition that had been taking place for almost two years. Up until just a few days ago, it appeared an agreement was in place for a peaceful political resolution.



“Violent regime change is now clearly the objective of the administration.”

The move toward a violent intervention became more apparent when discussions abruptly ended as the opposition decided not to sign an agreement designed to move both parties toward an eventual political resolution.
Concerned about the general disarray among the opposition and the fact that the ruling party and government won 18 out of 23 governorships in regional elections in October 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would not recognize the results of the upcoming Presidential election to be held April 22. All the evidence points to the administration, along with the Venezuela oligarchy, opting for a strategy of regime change, even though it will result in mass slaughter and the dictatorship that the United States pretends to be opposed to in Venezuela.
The moves by the Trump administration represent an ominous re-introduction of the worst imperialist excesses of the late 20th century, where violent coups were the preferred response to any threats to the rule of capital and U.S. imperialist control. Yet, what is even more ominous about the situation unfolding in Venezuela is that unlike a few decades ago, when there was a vocal and active radical and left opposition to U.S. imperialism, the left and many radicals in the U.S. are in open class collaboration with imperialism.
The left in the United States and Western Europe has completely abandoned any idea of solidarity with the global South’s revolutionary projects. A bizarre example of the reactionary nature of the European left was the European Parliament awarding the Sakharov Freedom Prize to the Venezuelan “opposition,” a group that has openly attacked journalists and burned alive two dozen people of primarily Black or dark complexions who they assumed were probably government supporters because they were poor and black. Clearly for the representatives in the European Union’s only democratic body, the integrity of the press and “Black lives” really don’t matter!

“Anti-imperialists must support national independence, especially when a nation is in the cross hairs.”
The courageous struggle of the Venezuelan people to defend their national sovereignty and dignity in the face of the murderous intentions of their North American neighbors and the racist obsequious Venezuelan oligarchy deserves the support of all true anti-imperialists. Whatever failure or internal contradiction we see in the Bolivarian process does not outweigh the principle that anti-imperialists must support national independence, especially when a nation is in the cross hairs of the greatest gangster nation on the planet.
For those of us who inhibit the colonized Black and Brown zones of non-being, as Fanon referred to them, to not resist the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy at the center of the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination is moral and political suicide.
When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson orders the Venezuelan opposition to undermine the agreement to stabilize the situation in Venezuela while simultaneously undermining the internal Korea efforts toward de-escalating the tensions between North and South Korea, we see the familiar hand of classic European colonialist divide-and-rule tactics that propelled them to global dominance and continues to give Western imperialism a leash (lease?) on life.
But for James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and all the Mad Dogs of empire, the people of the world have seen behind the curtain and are not impressed with the diversionary smoke and fire of your weapons and bellicosity. The people know they have the cure for the virus that affects you, but you will not be happy with their treatment plan.
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. His latest publications include contributions to “Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. 


Source: Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire | Black Agenda Report


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Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story

24 Feb


Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story

The Cold War displaced the legacies of the New Deal. Time and Trump are now displacing Cold War legacies. Where capitalism was questioned and challenged in the 1930s and into the 1940s, doing that became taboo after 1948. Yet in the wake of the 2008 crash, critical thought about capitalism resumed. In particular one argument is gaining traction: capitalism is not the means to realize economic equality and democracy, it is rather the great obstacle to their realization.

The New Deal, forced on the FDR regime from below by a coalition of unionists (CIO) and the political left (two socialist parties and one communist party), reversed the traditional direction (to greater inequality) of income and wealth distributions in the US. They shifted toward greater equality. US history thus illustrates Thomas Piketty’s argument in his 2014 Capital in the 21st Century about long-term deepening of inequality that can be punctuated by interruptions. Indeed, the New Deal reversal was such an interruption and featured just the sorts of taxation of corporations and the rich that Piketty favors now to correct/reverse capitalist inequalities.

Yet, after World War Two the resumption of capitalist accumulation undid the New Deal and has since returned modern global capitalism to new depths of inequality. What Piketty proposes now again as a remedy proved then to be merely temporary. The reversal was itself reversed. After 1945, corporations and the rich devoted their profits and their high incomes/wealth to buy even further control of the two major political parties. That extra control enabled them to undo the New Deal and to keep it undone.

US history thus exemplifies more than capitalism’s tendency to deepening inequality and the use of taxation to reverse that inequality. It also teaches us how and why that reversal was unable to be more than temporary. That lesson implies skepticism about whether tax-based – or indeed, any – reversals can be more than temporary given capitalism’s proven success in undoing them. Such skepticism hardens when parallel evidence emerges from other capitalist countries’ likewise merely temporary reversals of basic tendencies to deepening inequalities.

The conclusion to be drawn from the US story is not that efforts to reverse deepening inequality are foredoomed to failure. It is to face the fact that mere reforms such as tax law changes are inadequate to the task. To make reforms stick – to overcome temporariness across so many histories – requires going further to basic system change. Because capitalism tends toward deepening inequality and can defeat reversals by keeping them temporary, it is capitalism that must be overcome to solve its inherent inequality problem.



Capitalism presents a parallel problem in its structural contradiction to democracy. The “democracy” label that so many modern nations use to describe themselves has always been a misnomer. The political sphere was indeed, at least formally, a place where governmental decisions were made by persons accountable eventually to a one-person-one-vote election. In that precise sense, those required to live with a decision exercised the democratic right to participate in making that decision via the accountability of governmental officials.

However, the economic sphere was never organized in a parallel democratic manner. The leaders of enterprises – the owners, shareholders, and the directors they chose – made all the basic enterprise decisions. These included deciding what, how and where to produce and what to do with the net revenues (or surplus or profits) of the enterprise. The leaders were not at all accountable to the people – all the other employees – who had to live with the results of those basic enterprise decisions. The latter were excluded from participating in key economic decisions affecting and shaping their lives. In short, “democracy” has been applied to societies whose political/residential sphere was at least formally democratic but whose economic sphere was decidedly not.

The ideological rigidity of most brands of anti-stat-ism across US history served nicely to keep the focus forever on state/public versus individual/private in thinking and acting about social change. Democracy was redefined in practical terms as the liberty of the individual/private from the intrusion of the state/public. The democratic quality of the individual/private enterprise – the central structure of the economy – was exempted from analysis or even from view in terms of its structural incompatibility with democracy. Legalistic equations of capitalist corporations with individual person-hood also helped to distract attention away from the undemocratic structure of the corporation. Likewise, the US government’s commitment to a “democratic foreign policy” fostered the reproduction elsewhere of the same undemocratic economic structure that characterized the US.




The right wing of US politics has long understood and responded to social movements for equality and democracy as threats to capitalism. Its leaders built their coalitions by working to mobilize public opinion against those movements as threats to the “American way of life.” It built its ideology on the notion that democracy meant a state kept from intruding on the lives and activities of persons and enterprises rendered as equivalently “individuals.” Equality to them meant equality of opportunity, not outcomes: and then only if opportunity was strictly disconnected from the wealth, income and social position each individual was born into.

The left wing of US politics has always tried hard to sustain the notion that capitalism was not only compatible with egalitarianism and democracy. It would also be strengthened, not threatened, by moving capitalist society closer to equality and democracy. In practical terms it contested against the right wing by insisting that the mass of people – the workers in capitalist enterprises – would become disaffected from and disloyal to capitalism if it indulged its anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies. Capitalism, it argued and argues, will be strengthened not threatened by less inequality and more democracy.

Both left and right – and their expressions in the leaderships of the Republican and Democratic Parties – live in fear, conscious or otherwise, that the mass of people, the working class, will become disaffected from capitalism. “Populist” is the currently popular epithet that expresses this fear.  Both parties contest for the support of the leaders of capitalism – major shareholders and the corporate boards of directors they select – by offering their alternative strategies for avoiding, controlling, or safely channeling mass disaffection with capitalism.



The GOP offers a mix of (1) repression for egalitarian and democratic (i.e., populist) social movements, (2) support and subsidy for capitalists, and (3) symbolic gestures and policies pandering to certain sectors of public opinion (fundamentalist religion, patriotism, nationalism-anti-immigration, and so on). The Democratic Party offers a mix of limited, gradualist support for movements toward less inequality and more political democracy. It offers itself as the means to bring marginalized groups into full participation in capitalism, thereby keeping them from populism. Each party leadership deplores populists and tries to associate them with the other party. Democrats especially see populism in Trump; Republicans and quite a few centrist Democrats see it especially in Bernie Sanders. Both parties rarely refer to “capitalism” per se. Both proceed as if no critique of or alternative to capitalism exists or makes any sense.

Not only the Republican Party, but also the Democratic Party support, serve and reinforce the capitalism that stands as a basic obstacle to economic equality and democracy. Because those goals are never achieved they have long served as objectives to which both Parties offer lip service. The absurd contradiction of their shared position is now giving way to the recognition that the necessity for system change is the lesson of US history. If, in place of capitalist enterprise structures, a transition occurred to worker cooperatives with democratic organizations and procedures – likely to distribute net revenues far less unequally among enterprise participants than capitalist structures did – it would have removed a key obstacle to a broader social movement toward equality and democracy.

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Richard Wolff is the author of Capitalism Hits the Fan and Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens. He is founder of Democracy at Work.


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Source: Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story

The Bankruptcy of the American Left

6 Feb


There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politicsmulticulturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control—which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry—we will continue to be victims.

Corporate capitalism is supranational. It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.

Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal. We will build a global movement powerful enough to bring down corporate capitalism or witness the rise of a new, supranational totalitarianism.

The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself.



“This is a crisis of global dimensions,” David North, the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States, told me when we spoke in New York. “It is a crisis that dominates every element of American politics. The response that we’re seeing, the astonishing changes in the state of the government, in the decay of political life, the astonishingly low level of political and intellectual discourse, is in a certain sense an expression of the bewilderment of the ruling elite to what it’s going through.”

“We can expect a monumental explosion of class struggle in the United States,” he said. “I think this country is a social powder keg. There is an anger that exists over working conditions and social inequality. However [much] they may be confused on many questions, workers in this country have a deep belief in democratic rights. We totally reject the narrative that the working class is racist. I think this has been the narrative pushed by the pseudo-left, middle-class groups who are drunk on identity politics, which have a vested interest in constantly distracting people from the essential class differences that exist in the society. Dividing everyone up on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference fails to address the major problem.”

North argues, correctly, that capitalism by its nature lurches from crisis to crisis. This makes our current predicament similar to past crises.

“All the unanswered questions of the 20th century—the basic problem of the nation-state system, the reactionary character of private ownership with the means of production, corporate power, all of these issues which led to the first and Second world wars—are with us again, and add to that fascism,” he said.

“We live in a global economy, highly interconnected,” North went on. “A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump.”



The sociologist Charles Derber, whom I also spoke with in New York, agrees.

“We don’t really have a left because we don’t have conversations about capitalism,” Derber said. “How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word ‘capitalism’ discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist, which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He’s saying there’s something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about.”

“As the [capitalist] system universalizes and becomes more and more intersectional, we need intersectional resistance,” Derber said. “At the end of the 1960s, when I was getting my own political education, the universalizing dimensions of the left, which was growing in the ’60s, fell apart. The women began to feel their issues were not being addressed. They were treated badly by white males, student leaders. Blacks, Panthers, began to feel the whites could not speak for race issues. They developed separate organizations. The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character. It no longer dealt with the intersection of all these issues within the context of a militarized, capitalist, hegemonic American empire. It treated politics as siloed group identity problems. Women had glass ceilings. Same with blacks. Same with gays.”

The loss of this intersectionality was deadly. Instead of focusing on the plight of all of the oppressed, oppressed groups began to seek representation for their own members within capitalist structures.

“Let’s take a modern version of this,” Derber said. “Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, she did a third-wave feminism thing. She said ‘lean in.’ It captures this identity politics that has become toxic on the left. What does ‘lean in’ mean? It means women should lean in and go as far as they can in the corporation. They should become, as she has, a major, wealthy executive of a leading corporation. When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased.”

“The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements,” Derber said. “This is very connected to moral purity. You’re concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You’re competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You’re just concerned about getting your fair share.”



“People in movements are products of the system they’re fighting,” he continued. “We’re all raised in a capitalistic, individualistic, egoistic culture, so it’s not surprising. And it has to be consciously recognized and struggled against. Everybody in movements has been brought up in systems they’re repulsed by. This has created a structural transformation of the left. The left offers no broad critique of the political economy of capitalism. It’s largely an identity-politics party. It focuses on reforms for blacks and women and so forth. But it doesn’t offer a contextual analysis within capitalism.”

Derber, like North, argues that the left’s myopic, siloed politics paved the way for right-wing, nativist, protofascist movements around the globe as well as the ascendancy of Trump.

“When you bring politics down to simply about helping your group get a piece of the pie, you lose that systemic analysis,” he said. “You’re fragmented. You don’t have natural connections or solidarity with other groups. You don’t see the larger systemic context. By saying I want, as a gay person, to fight in the military, in a funny way you’re legitimating the American empire. If you were living in Nazi Germany, would you say I want the right of a gay person to fight in combat with the Nazi soldiers?”

“I don’t want to say we should eliminate all identity politics,” he said. “But any identity politics has to be done within the framework of understanding the larger political economy. That’s been stripped away and erased. Even on the left, you cannot find a deep conversation about capitalism and militarized capitalism. It’s just been erased. That’s why Trump came in. He unified a kind of very powerful right-wing identity politics built around nationalism, militarism and the exceptionalism of the American empire.”

“Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse,” Derber said. “It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It’s scary.”

“How much of the left,” he asked, “is reproducing what we are seeing in the society that we’re fighting?”


Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 11 books,…

Source: The Bankruptcy of the American Left


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