Reelect the “Fucking Crazies”? By William Bowles

16 September 2004

An essay I’ve just made available by Gabriel Kolko, The Lesser Evil posits the view that electing Kerry poses a greater threat to peace and stability in the world than reelecting the “fucking crazies” to quote Colin Powell. Kolko’s thesis rests on the premise that it’s military alliances that pose the greatest threat to the planet, hence reelecting the Bush Gang further erodes the possibility of alliances being maintained and developed. Without alliances, the US imperium is further weakened as the events of the past eighteen months have shown.

Kolko seeks to demonstrate that it has been Democratic presidents who have largely been responsible for the arms buildup and any number of foreign adventures (not that they had a monopoly). Essentially therefore, Kolko argues that Kerry as prez is actually more dangerous than Bush!

Contrast this with the view of an African-American political commentator:

“In the case of Black people (and BC [Black Commentator] is a Black magazine) there can be no question that Bush must be defeated. The issue goes beyond Supreme Court nominations and even social safety nets. Bush empowers and emboldens the tens of millions of white racists that are his base. They torment us, everywhere, every day, in every way, as they have for so many generations.
Glen Ford, Co-editor, the Black Commentator

Ford goes on to say:

“The basic difference between the DLC and the Bush Pirates is, the New Democrats seek U.S. military and economic domination of the world through both weapons and the cooperation of international institutions such as the United Nations, NATO and other treaty regimes, while the Bush men attempted to discard the whole game board to impose American rule by fiat.”

“That’s a big difference. The Bush strategy is pure war. And although the Bush men’s endless war strategy would rapidly sharpen the contradictions of this stage of capitalism, the world might not live to see the ultimate unraveling. A Kerry victory might have the effect of giving capitalism a breather. However, having stopped practicing juvenile politics at the overdue age of 25, and believing it selfish to allow my desire to actually witness the fall of capitalism to influence my analysis, I want this rabid regime, gone.”

In other words, ‘sharpening the contradictions’ by reelecting Bush is a ‘juvenile’ political position (see Lenin’s “Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder”) and a position that cares little for its impact on people who will bear the brunt. It’s a variation on the old ‘ends justify the means’ argument that tormented Marxists throughout the 20th century.

The question here of course is that of the sharp division that exists between domestic and foreign policy, or is it? Can they be separated on the basis of race or indeed can they be separated at all? And in any case would a Kerry prez be more amenable to halting or reversing the attacks on African American and other minorities? Glen Ford also argues that African Americans have invested enormous resources in grassroots Democratic Party structures that can be turned to advantage over a Democratic presidency.

“In terms of Black people…we are indeed heavily invested in the Democratic Party; virtually all of our ten thousand elected officials are there. That means, we are voting for ourselves.”

Undoubtedly, this presents progressive Black Americans with a dilemma comparable to members of the constituency Labour Party here in the UK when it comes to voting for a Labour Party headed by Tony Blair. What’s a Lefty to do? (One could argue of course that investing so much energy in the Democrats was a wasted effort and the resources better spent on building a truly progressive and independent political voice.)

I propose that the dilemma that confronts progressive Black voters in the US is in fact no different than that faced by progressives of any colour whether in the US or the UK. Ultimately it comes down to whether or not it makes a jot of difference if it’s Kerry or Bush, Blair or Howard or whether it’s time to make a stand based on principle.

However, I am not advocating voting for Bush, who one votes for should be determined by your own conscience and political beliefs and only under very specific conditions should one be ‘compelled’ to vote a particular way based on some kind of overarching political ‘position’. Does such a situation pertain today?

Glen Ford says:

“I cannot emphasize enough that the Bush base is a mortal danger to African Americans. Republicans run against Black people. That’s how they get the white Wal-Mart employee to vote for the same party as the owners of Wal-Mart… When the anti-Black candidate wins, the crackers believe they have won, and feel empowered to commit aggressions of all kinds.”

A view that most if not all white progressives including myself simply fail to appreciate, such is the nature of the impact of racist ideology in America (and elsewhere). My initial reaction to this reality is one of utter despair for who can argue with Ford’s analysis? By contrast, it might be said that Kolko’s argument is stubbornly Euro-centric taking no account of the Black condition in the US. But could both be correct?

It’s as if there are two parallel worlds that coexist without actually touching such is the divisive nature of racism in America that sets it apart in the most unique way. Effectively, it drives a deep wedge between any analysis of US domestic and foreign policy when viewed from a Black American (or indeed white) perspective. It’s all well and good talking about a ‘long view’ such as Kolko presents but it does little to address the immediate dilemma of Black Americans who are on the sharp end of the Bush Gang’s domestic agenda.

One searches desperately for a resolution to this dilemma but I’m forced to accede against all my political instincts to the view that it’s a ‘Black’ thing, that I am forever on the outside, looking in as it were. Yet to surrender to this view is to say that Blacks in America have to ‘go it alone’ in their struggle and if so, what are the chances of success given the demographics of the situation? It is also a surrender to the position that Black Americans are somehow exempt from fundamental class forces. Could this be called the politics of desperation as much as the hope that electing Kerry is grasping at straws?

Once more it points to the fact that defeating the ideology of racism is the central dilemma of our age for as long as it determines the way the mass of working people can be manipulated, it will continue to mask the underlying issue of the struggle against capitalism. Yet I will still not accept that racist ideology can be dealt with in isolation from the underlying issues of class, nor is it realistic to separate domestic and foreign policy issues so intimately are the two connected.

The question is, how is defeating the ideology of racism best achieved?

Undoubtedly a defeat for US foreign policy will inevitably impact on US domestic policy whether Bush is reelected or not, but how? Ford argues that:

“Facing the final unravelling of his old war Plan, Bush will likely lash out in a frenzy of destruction and implement some new Grand Plan in another region.”

There is a possibility that this will happen but can one operate on this basis? It assumes that the rest of the world will stand by and do nothing. Surely then the overarching objective is to defeat US global objectives. Will this be achieved by electing Kerry?

Kolko says:

“But style can be important and inadvertently, the Bush administration’s falsehoods, rudeness, and preemptory demands have begun to destroy an alliance system that for the world’s peace should have been abolished long ago. In this context, it is far more likely that the nations allied with the U. S. in the past will be compelled to stress their own interests and go their own ways. The Democrats are far less likely to continue that exceedingly desirable process, a process ultimately much more conducive to peace in the world.

“The Democrats’ greater finesse in justifying these policies is therefore more dangerous because they will be made to seem more credible and keep alive alliances that only reinforce the U.S.’ refusal to acknowledge the limits of its power. In the longer run, Kerry’s pursuit of these aggressive goals will lead eventually to a renewal of the dissolution of alliances, but in the short-run he will attempt to rebuild them and European leaders will find it considerably more difficult to refuse his demands than if Bush stays in power-and that is to be deplored.”

Hence it is crucial to try and predict what the impact of defeat will have on the US ruling class and the subsequent effect that has on the US domestic population? Will they ‘rally to the flag’ in much the same way as the masses of the British population supported the designs of the British Empire?

But ultimately, aside from Ford’s Armageddon scenario, the outcome will be decided elsewhere just as it was with the British Empire such as in Iraq. How the US imperium will respond to such a defeat remains to be seen. All one can work for is to create the right conditions that will make it impossible for the US imperium to bring barbarism down upon us.

The argument therefore hinges on whether or not those who back Kerry represent a significantly different faction of the US ruling class, a faction that sees the danger of Bush’s ‘up against the wall’ imperialism as being dangerous to capitalism.

An analysis of Kerry’s corporate backers reveals that essentially the same corporate powers are financing Kerry and Bush, reflected in the fact that on all the substantive foreign policy issues there is nothing to choose between the two except the fact that Kerry seeks to coopt other capitalist powers into the US game plan.

On the domestic front, Kerry seeks to present himself as a champion of the poor but his domestic programme is one of fiscal conservatism. How therefore, can Kerry continue to pour billions into the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and reverse the attacks on the poor and on the social net?

There is no doubt that we are at a watershed whose outcome in my opinion hinges on whether we continue to ‘play the game’ at electing one or the other side of the same coin all the while hoping that something will come along to alter the currency of political actions. That a Kerry administration can be forced to alter its trajectory, or that another Blair government will respond to the demands of the millions of (former) Labour supporters who, judging by the latest election results will never trust New Labour ever again.

Once again (how many times do I have to say this?) the onus is on a reconstituted Left that can offer progressive voters a real alternative to Blair and in the US I contend that the bigger the vote for some kind of ‘progressive’ alternative will at least let the ruling political class know that there are millions of people who do want real change. It has to start somewhere. I know this doesn’t address Glen Ford’s argument about the resources invested in the Democratic Party anymore than not voting for the Labour Party here risks a Tory Party taking power once more but like Glen, I have to stand by my principles as much as he has to stand by his.

The capitalists are in serious disarray and as I write are quarrelling amongst themselves. It may well be that they will destroy us all in a fit of pique, be that as it may, it alters not one iota what needs to be done. I end with the words of my dear friend and comrade Patricia Murphy Robinson:

“I assure them, “it’s over!” If Bush & Co. steal the election, then arm yourselves figuratively and literally and please consider studying capitalism and class struggle.

“As I offered before, we on the left have been thoroughly brain-erased by bourgeois thinking and it’s sure obvious at this junction.

“Yes, I know we face destruction of the human species but I also know history (peoples) moves inexorably toward deeper consciousness of reality despite the formidable barriers.”

Further Reading

Bush’s Black Attack Dogs: Goal is Low African American Turnout

Stupid White Liberals by Margaret Kimberley

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