The Story of Charlottesville Was Written in Blood in the Ukraine

What is the character of racist right-wing politics today? Is it the crazed white supremacist who plows into an anti-fascist demonstration in Charlottesville, VA or can it also be the assurance by Lindsay Graham that an attack against North Korea would result in thousands of lives lost…. but those lives will be “over there”? What about the recent unanimous resolution by both houses of Congress in support of Israel and criticism of the United Nations for its alleged anti-Israeli bias? Would that qualify as racist and right-wing, since it appears that the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians is of no concern? And what about the vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to go even beyond the obscene proposal of the Trump administration to increase the military budget by $54 billion dollars and instead add a whopping $74 billion to the Pentagon budget?

What I find interesting about the current discussion around what many are referring to as the emboldening of the radical white supremacist right is how easy it is to mobilize opposition against the crude and overt white supremacists we saw in Charlottesville. So easy, in fact, that it’s really a distraction from the more difficult and dangerous work that needs to be done to confront the real right-wing power brokers. 

The white supremacy that some of us see as more insidious is not reflected in the simple, stereotypical images of the angry, Nazi-saluting alt-righter or even Donald Trump. Instead, it is the normalized and thus invisible white supremacist ideology inculcated into cultural and educational institutions and the policies that stem from those ideas. That process doesn’t just produce the storm troopers of the armed and crazed radical right but also such covert true believers as Robert Ruben from Goldman Sachs, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Tony Blair and Nancy Pelosi – “decent” individuals who have never questioned for a moment the superiority of Western civilization, who believe completely in the White West’s right and responsibility to determine which nations should have sovereignty and who should be the leaders of “lesser” nations. And who believe that there is no alternative to the wonders of global capitalism even if it means that billions of human beings are consigned permanently to what Fanon called the “zone of non-being.”

This is the white supremacy that I am concerned with. And while I recognize the danger of the violent right-wing movement, I am more concerned with the right-wing policies that are being enacted into law and policy by both Democrats and Republicans at every level of government.

More than two years ago I wrote that:

“The brutal repression and dehumanization witnessed across Europe in the 1930s has not found generalized expression in the U.S. and Europe, at least not yet. Nevertheless, large sectors of the U.S. and European left appear to be unable to recognize that the U.S./NATO/EU axis that is committed to maintaining the hegemony of Western capital is resulting in dangerous collaborations with rightist forces both inside and outside of governments.”

The impetus of that article was to critique the inherent danger of the Obama Administration’s cynical manipulation of right-wing elements in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych. Not only was it dangerous and predictably disastrous for the Ukrainian people, but because U.S. support for a neo-fascist movement in Ukraine took place within a context in which the political right was gaining legitimacy and strength across Europe, the political impact of the right gaining power in Ukraine could not be isolated from the growing power of the right elsewhere. Which meant that the Obama Administration’s selfish, short-term objective to undermine Russia in Ukraine had the effect of empowering the right and shifting the balance of forces toward the right throughout Europe.  

But because Obama was incorrectly seen as a liberal, he was able to avoid most criticism of his policies in Ukraine, in Europe and domestically. In fact, liberals and the left both in the U.S. and in Europe generally supported his Ukraine policies.

However, playing footsie with right-wing elements in the Ukraine and underestimating the growing power of the right has resulted in powerful and dangerous right-wing movements on both sides of the Atlantic who have effectively exploited endemic white racism and the contradictions of neoliberal capitalist globalization. The ascendancy of Donald Trump cannot be decontextualized from the racial, class and gender politics of this moment here and abroad.

The alt-right that showed up in Charlottesville this past weekend was mimicking the tactics of the frontline neo-fascist soldiers who orchestrated the coup in the Ukraine, yet everyone is saying this is a result of Trump. The objective fact is that the U.S. has become a dangerous right-wing society as a result of a steady shift to the right over the past four decades. The idea that Trump’s election somehow “created” the right cannot be taken seriously and cannot be reduced to the crude expressions of the alt-right.  

The structures of white power, that is the structures and institutions that provide the material base for Euro-American white supremacy and its ideological reproduction, should be the focus of radical opposition. But the capitalist order and its institutions – the World Trade Organization, IMF, World Bank, and global Westernized higher education that serves as the material basis for hegemonic white supremacist power – escape critical scrutiny because popular attention is directed against a David Duke and a Donald Trump.

Trump and the alt-right have become useful diversions for white supremacist liberals and leftists who would rather fight against those superficial caricatures of racism than engage in more difficult ideological work involving real self-sacrifice – purging themselves of all racial sentimentality associated with the mythology of the place of white people, white civilization and whiteness in the world in order to pursue a course for justice that will result in the loss of white material privilege.

Looking at white supremacy from this wider-angle lens, it is clear that support for the Israeli state, war on North Korea, mass black and brown incarceration, a grotesque military budget, urban gentrification, the subversion of Venezuela, the state war on black and brown people of all genders, and the war on reproductive rights are among the many manifestations of an entrenched right-wing ideology that cannot be conveniently and opportunistically reduced to Trump and the Republicans.  

And when we understand that white supremacy is not just what is in someone’s head but is also a global structure with ongoing, devastating impacts on the people of the world, we will understand better why some of us have said that in order for the world to live, the 525-year-old white supremacist Pan-European, colonial/capitalist patriarchy must die.

Your choice will be clear: Either you join us as gravediggers or you surrender to class and racial privilege and join the cross-class white united front. The alt-right is waiting, and they are taking recruits from the left who are tired of “identity politics.”

The Left Alliance with U.S. Imperialism

“The fact is that there was no secular, moderate force worthy of the name operating inside Syria; virtually the entire anti-Assad effort is dominated by Islamist extremists who, if Assad was overthrown, would probably replace a secular dictator with something far worse. The Obama policy of regime change in Syria, like the Bush policy in Iraq, has done little more than unleash forces which the U.S. was unable to control, costing American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and the blood of American military personnel who lost their lives in its implementation.”

A left publication? No the American Conservative!!

Those of us who said from the beginning that Syria was never about some simplistic pro or anti-Assad but was about U.S. imperialism and needed to be opposed were viciously maligned by the soft, objectively pro-U.S. imperialist latte left. 

I would add to the U.S centric lens from the piece above that in the clumsy, incoherent process of attempting to realize full spectrum dominance after their blunder with the invasion and occupation and defeat in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of innocents have lost their lives and ancient cities from civilizations much older and developed than those of Europe were destroyed.

But I don’t expect any of those who supported this barbarism from a left position to change position, they are much too invested and beyond the politics, the moral implications of their collaboration is quite obvious, that is why they would never bring themselves to admit that they were wrong.

But it is imperialist privilege that allows you in the safety of your gentrified communities to allow U.S. imperialism to destroy peoples and nations while you pontificate about authoritarianism and the mistakes being made in revolutionary processes when you haven’t made shit.

National Strike in Buenaventura by Esther Ojulari

The city of Buenaventura on Colombia’s Pacific coast is home to the country’s main international port through which billions of dollars of imports and exports pass every year. Yet due to decades of abandonment form the government, the mainly Afrodescendant and indigenous community of Buenaventura does not have access to adequate health services, education or running water. Further, neoliberal development projects to expand the port threaten the very existence of communities as traditional fishing livelihoods are destroyed and whole communities violently displaced from their ancestral lands.

Since last Tuesday 16th May the community of Buenaventura (along with communities in the Chocó region of Colombia) has been on general strike demanding that the government fulfils basic human rights to water, education, health, culture, land and freedom from racism and violence.  Businesses were closed, road blocks were set up at several points along the main road and peaceful protestors chanted, sang, danced and banged cooking pots to call attention to the desperate situation. On the first day along the Chamber of Commerce reported the strikes had caused up to 10,000 million pesos (about $3.5 million USD) in losses.

For three days there was a sense of joy and hope as the Civic Strike Committee entered into discussions with the government. But unfortunately due to lack of consensus the discussions were suspended and on Friday 19th the national government sent the ESMAD (riot squad) to repress the protestors and violently remove the roadblocks. The crowds and communities were attacked with tear gas throughout the day and into the night of the 19th causing numerous injuries.  Tragically in the community of Punta el Este, located at the end of Buenaventura’s main bridge to the port and city centre, Puente Piñal, a baby was suffocated from the gas causing outrage and indignation throughout the community. The ESMAD had one aim here, to open the road for the trucks to leave the port and allow the global capitalist machine to clunk back into action. Once again private business interests were prioritised over the lives of the black and indigenous community.

On Saturday the government installed a prohibition on public demonstrations and a curfew in response to looting of supermarkets by some people, although many have claimed these actions were instigated by outside forces.  Nevertheless the peaceful protestors have remained firm in their objectives and calls for a satisfactory response to their demands. On the 20th March over 30,000 people put on white shirts and marched to the city centre to demonstrate that the strike would go on, and on the 21st, National day of Afro-Colombian Heritage, we estimate that up to 200,000 marched to the outskirts of the city. Up to 200 people have been detained by the authorities accused of participating in looting and rioting and while the freedom of some has now been secured many have ongoing legal processes.

Today as the Committee returns to discussions with the government the people of Buenaventura continue to strike and continue to march under the calls “el pueblo no se rinde carajo” (the people won’t give up…), and “pueblo unido, jamás será vencido” (a united people will never be defeated).

In solidarity with the struggling people of Black Colombia and in defence of fundamental human rights, the Black Alliance for Peace calls on the people in the United States to sign the petition below, but also to circulate information on this situation through your networks since it is being “whited out” by the corporate press. We are also asking that you send statements of solidarity to Charominarojas@gmail.com

https://www.change.org/p/solidaridad-con-el-paro-civico-en-buenaventura?source_location=minibar

War, Militarism and No Mainstream Opposition: Different Administration Same Story

In the run-up to budget discussions, the Trump Administration floated various proposals for a dramatic increase in military spending on top of the already bloated $596 billion Pentagon budget. This, figure doesn’t even represent the true expenditures devoted to war-making and militarism in the $1.1 trillion discretionary side of the national budget.  The $596 doesn’t include the $65 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons. That brings the total to about $690 billion or 63% of all discretionary spending!  To fund this outrageous theft of the peoples’ resources for the military/industrial/complex, the Administration called for unprecedented cuts to various Federal agencies and departments since everything is supposed to be revenue neutral.

Now a reasonable person might conclude that for an oppositional party that claims to be the voice of the downtrodden and committed to social justice informed by “liberal values,” Trump’s proposals to take a meat cleaver to state agencies in order to increase military spending and indeed his whole budget recommendations would be a godsend for democrats since militarism has a direct impact on working people and the poor.  Even republican president Dwight Eisenhower understood this in what today’s right-wing U.S. culture would read as a radical statement:  

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

Yet, instead of vigorous opposition and mass mobilizations from the loyal opposition, the democrat party is still trying to hold the public’s attention with the nonsensical drama related to supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign., As though collusion between campaigns and foreign governments is something new – think Nixon’s efforts to sabotage peace efforts in the ‘68 campaign and Reagan’s campaign’s coordination with Iran and release of U.S. hostages that sunk Carter’s presidency.

What is so incredibly inept about the strategy to keep the focus on Russia is that the issues that could really begin the process of driving a wedge between the Trump administration and the independents and white workers who voted for Obama in ‘08 and ‘12 but voted Trump in 2016 - the healthcare issue, no support for an increase in minimum wage, tax cuts for the rich - are there to be exploited if the democrats were really a serious oppositional party with an alternative reform agenda. This is precisely the point. The democrat party is not a serious oppositional party.  

The absence of any real opposition to the reckless use of U.S. military force -  the attack on Syria, the macho demonstration bombing in Afghanistan, the provocations toward North Korea - exposed once again the unanimity among the U.S. ruling class and the state on the use of military force as the main strategy to enforce its global interests.

What this means for Black and oppressed people, in the capitalist centers in the West and in the Global South is that we cannot afford the luxury of diversionary politics when it is our bodies that are in the crosshairs of an F-16 in Libya and a Glock 9mm in the hands of a racist cop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For us, unrestrained militarism and war has always meant death and destruction.   

It also means that attempting to build oppositional coalitions to confront and defeat militarism and neoliberal state austerity cannot depend on effective and consistent support from democrat party related structures both inside and outside of the democrat party such as many of the nonprofits and labor unions.  It even means that it is becoming more difficult to build opposition to war and militarism among the U.S. left and progressives because these sectors along with the corporate media and the general public have fallen prey to what Rashna Batliwala Singh and Peter Mathews Wright calls “imperial privilege.”

Imperial privilege is this strange ability on the part of the U.S. public to “shrug off” the consequences experienced by people impacted by the direct and indirect result of U.S. militarism. That is precisely why pro-imperialist politicians like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can be designated as “progressives” and vast numbers of voters can rally around a warmonger like Hilary Clinton without suffering much moral distress.

It is also why there is not much discussion of the consequences for the people of Korea if through macho posturing the Trump administration sparks a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula or why there are no calls from the public to stop Saudi war crimes in Yemen and it seems perfectly acceptable that the entire U.S. Senate would sign-on to a letter to the United Nations condemning it for its bias against Israel. And it is why “Trump became president” of all the people after ordering the military to engage in an illegal attack on Syria.

According to Batliwala Singh and Mathews Wright:

“Imperial privilege makes it possible for even the liberally-inclined to turn a blind eye to the toxic footprint of U.S. militarism at home and abroad; to fall silent at any mention of the homicidal decisions of an American President; to exclude such matters from public political discussion and to prevent them from influencing their voting patterns in any way.”

So, while Trump only got a $15 billion dollar increase in the budget compromise, the “commonsense” acceptance of war by the public at this point makes it more likely that the Administration will be successful in securing billions more of the public’s resources for war-making in the 2018 budget that will be debated over coming months.  

The irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism, fueled by white nationalist sentiment has produced a toxic, proto-fascist politics. This is the context in which we must build an alternative to the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the nationalist-populism of Trump.


 

The drive toward war, domestic repression, and the militarization of society can only be stopped by the people. But that will not occur until there is a shift in the culture and consciousness of the public.  A shift in which the inherent value of all lives is recognized and a new kind of politics is practiced in which the people are able to recognize that their interests are not the same as the interests of the capitalist oligarchy and that they have a responsibility to victims of U.S. imperialism around the world.


 

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) https://blackallianceforpeace.com/ 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 magazine.

Statement from Black Alliance for Peace: Oppose the war on North Korea, Reject Trump Budget proposal to increase military spending

While the Congress debates an appropriation bill this week to keep the government funded for the rest of the year, the Trump Administration called all 100 U.S. Senators to a meeting to discuss the administrations’ plans on North Korea.

The opportunism of this public relations stunt could not be more obvious. An important element of any Continuous Resolution to keep the government funded and eventual budget agreement will have to address at some point the obscene demand from the Trump administration to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $54 billion dollars.  While the corporate media and democrats have focused on issue of funding for the border wall, the issue of increase military spending is the proverbial elephant in the room.

To fund the U.S. war machine, Trump’s proposals call for cutbacks in programs that fund education, provides meals to seniors, support for housing, after-school tutoring programs, heating assistance, food for poor children, just to name a few of the draconian cuts that will occur.

The issue of North Korea and reckless machoism plays so well with the chicken-hawks in Congress and the media. This is meant to pre-empt opposition to the outrageous assault on the agencies and programs still in place that provide a modicum of relief from the inherently brutal consequences of an economy unable to provide a decent, dignified life for millions. The illegal attack on Syria, escalating tensions with Russia, bellicose statements on China and continued provocations with North Korea are all meant to keep the U.S. public on a war footing and justify the ongoing theft of public funds to the turn of over $600 billion dollars that goes straight into the pockets of the 1%.  

Those of us in the Black Alliance for Peace will not allow ourselves to be manipulated. We demand an end to the lawlessness of the U.S. state and the criminal waste of the people’s resources.

International law is supposed to govern the conduct of states and funnel any threats to international peace into the mechanisms that have been set-up to prevent and resolve grave threats to peace and human rights. Yet the U.S. continues to act outside of international law with its arbitrary and unilateral actions. For good reason, the U.S. is now seen by many in the world as the greatest threat to world peace and international law.

As a result of its criminal actions, millions have been murdered, states destroyed and countless people displaced.

The first to fight and die are the poor and working people of this country and the nations that are attacked by the U.S.  

We call on members of the Congressional Black Caucus, specifically, and all members of congress to reject the Trump proposal to increase military spending.

End the madness. Stop the U.S. war machine and take back our resources and use them for the people.