4 November 2004
Update Friday, 5 November 2004 – Stolen?
The piece by Greg Palast ‘Kerry Won‘ seems to indicate that indeed the election was stolen. Whether this is true or not is difficult to ascertain, read the piece and come to your own conclusions. What is clear however, is that in the states where the Black turnout could have had a real impact on the result, the Republican machine did all its could to suppress the Black vote.
The latest essay found on the Black Commentator Website Concede Nothing to Bush: Black Consensus Remains Intact has a detailed breakdown of the election results that makes for very informative reading, not only because of its analysis of how the Black vote was cast, but how the overall vote breaks down and the issue of the Black/White divide.
The article points out that:
“more people…voted against Bush than any previous president [and] more white people [were] on our side in this election than at any time in modern American history – just not enough.”
The piece goes on to say that in Ohio:
“As “provisional” citizens, we subjected ourselves to degrading identification interrogations, lined up like suspects deep into the night – or, as Harvard’s Dr. Michael Dawson puts it, “standing patiently for regime change” – only to be finally assigned a “provisional” ballot that may never be counted, or even known to exist.””
A figure that has been put as high 250,000 in Ohio!
And perhaps just as importantly is whether or not the Dems colluded in throwing the election, something I’ve long suspected since Kerry was selected as the candidate and only reinforced by the fact that he conceded so readily in spite of all his statements that if there was even a chance of jerrymandering, he would go the distance to contest the result.
The BC piece goes on to say:
“It is actually a familiar enemy, drawn from the same “stock” that have cut off their economic noses to spite Black faces since the end of the Civil War. They were once the Dixiecrat base, who then became the southern Republican base, and are now tied together with similar white elements throughout the country by interlocking networks of churches and the Republican Party. The corporate media feign surprise and fascination at the emergence of this huge group of whites – a posture that strikes many Blacks as disingenuous, since those of us with southern roots know that crowd all too well. According to the Washington Post’s David Broder, “the exit poll indicated that about 22 percent of [Tuesday’s] voters were white evangelical or born-again Christians, three-quarters of whom went for Bush.” That amounts to about one-third of Bush’s total national vote.”
As I said below, scary stuff that is scaring a lot of whites in America now that they can see its ugly, reactionary face. Will it be enough to mobilise them? Can the unmoveable Black core that the BC article refers to find common ground with those whites who haven’t been totally brainwashed? The BC piece also points out that the vote from the under-34’s reflects the same voting pattern as in its Black counterpart:
“Many anti-Bush whites are aware that when Black folks were disenfranchised by a criminal conspiracy of George W. Bush’s national government, they were also disenfranchised. Even larger proportions of white youth know the deal.”
I think it’s much too early to ‘head for the hills’, not that that will help. Indeed perhaps this is the real test of our resolve and the final wake-up call the Left needs? However, there is a caveat to this for surely we cannot go on electing an ‘interim liberal’ government indefinately. Isn’t over fifty years long enough!
A luta continua!
Thursday, 4 November 2004 – The Law of the Excluded Excluded
This has been a strange week for those of us who have been looking in on America from the outside. For the great majority of the planet’s population the re-election of George Walker Bush is greeted with fear and loathing not that you’d know it from the press coverage here in the UK. The BBC for example now no longer talks of the ‘neo-cons’ or even the right-wing but has re-labelled the BushGang “social conservatives” (BBC Radio 4 News, 4/11/04) and and at the same time presented the election as a “battle between ideologies”.
However, in order to use the term “ideology” the media has first had to gut the word of meaning, thus the term social conservatives effectively removes the political heart from the process by presenting the issue as a struggle between the ‘liberals’ – pro-choice, gay marriages, pro stem cell research et al and ‘traditional’ values, Christian, family values et al.
The real issues, the crisis of the over-accumulation of capital, a failed ‘war’ in Iraq – though now a real war of national resistance – an increasingly divided nation whose millions of dispossessed are with every passing day coming to resemble the bulk of the planet are effectively avoided.
It is perhaps the total depoliticisation of the political process that can be said to be the ‘success’ of the current period. Hence the media’s job is now to ‘normalise’ the imperial project and prepare us for the coming Armageddon.
Jack Straw, our intellectually-challenged foreign secretary for example tells us that now ‘we can all work together’ as if Bush now has a mandate from the planet. The Independent (4/11/04) echoes this view:
“With a mandate of full legitimacy at last, George Bush told the world he would continue to wage an unrelenting war on terror, and pledged to his own people – including supporters of John Kerry – that he would do his utmost to bring a divided nation together”
Whew, the corporate media breathes deep sigh of relief now that Bush is fully ‘legitimised’, though Bush’s utterly reactionary views on just about everything still don’t sit well with our ‘refined’ intelligentsia.
The reality of course is somewhat different. Bush got around 58.5 million votes against Kerry’s 55 million but with a voter turnout of 58% (around 119 million) this means that Bush actually only got a ‘mandate’ from slightly over 25% of the total electorate. So much for ‘legitimacy’. But notwithstanding this, with around 50 million Americans at or below the poverty line, without health care (almost one-fifth of the total population), the election result reflects not a popular mandate but of the racist, white core of America that the imperium directly targeted, proving once more the central role of racism in propelling and justifying the imperialist project.
Now back to the future…
Wednesday, 3 November 2004 – Unleashed
Well it would appear that the fight is over barring the shouting. And after all the cowardly rhetoric over Nader’s candidacy, his vote was not even a blip on the horizon. So much for Nader stealing the presidency from Kerry.
The yawning gap between the key segments of the US populace and the rest of the planet reveals the imperial nature of America and its co-opted population. And I say this in the light of my own experience in growing up in a post-imperial country, the UK and although the two situations are not directly comparable, the legacy of imperial/colonial hegemony is deep-rooted and one that cuts across class lines.
The reality is that a significant segment of US society that extends across the ‘white heart’ of America that includes working and ‘middle class’ Americans has thrown in its lot with the imperium, believing (incorrectly) that the interests of big capital and its own are synonymous.
On what do I base this on? The history of British imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries is most informative in this regard, and although proscribed somewhat by a left opposition, by and large, the capitalist state in the UK has managed to secure the support of a significant segment of its population in its imperialist ambitions.
The reasons for this are essentially two-fold: The central role played by racist ideology and the relative advantage that the majority of the population have gained through supporting imperialist policies.
Importantly, the two are intimately inter-connected, with each facet reinforcing the other and I think it can be amply demonstrated that much of the opposition to the invasion of Iraq in the UK was motivated by the fact that it could not be justified on the basis of any advantage, and that an invasion would impact negatively on the domestic population. Buried inside this is a tiny minority who voiced their opposition on the basis of the imperialist nature of the ‘war’ on Iraq, a voice that got drowned out by the those who ran the ‘Stop the War Coalition’.
This is not a subject that the Left is comfortable dealing with, preferring instead to idealise the working class as being simply ‘misled’ and ‘misinformed’, and although both are in part true, it neatly sidesteps the issue of self-interest whether perceived or real.
The ‘lesser of two evils’ debate sums up I think this dilemma, for the Left, in a twisted kind of logic can live with the idea of ‘second best’ rationalising it with a ‘pie in the sky’ logic that ‘we’ll deal with the consequences’ at some future unspecified time just as those on the Left who rationalised that voting for Kerry would enable some unspecified ‘pressure’ to be applied at some future date without any kind of programme through which this ‘pressure’ could be applied.
Yet the entire trajectory of the post-WWII left has essentially been based upon the idea of accepting a ‘second best solution’ arguing that it was the basis of some kind of ‘stepping stone’ to a socialist future.
‘Ye reap what ye sow’ as the saying goes and in the UK the harvest is called Tony Blair. In the US it has been the fusing of Democrat and Republican parties in what is euphemistically called ‘consensus’ politics, that is, over the past two decades the real interests of the ruling class have been revealed and in turn the need for a real ‘multi-party democracy’ has been discarded as ‘surplus to requirement’. So even as the media talks of a divided society, at the same it acknowledges that a sea change has taken place in the political process, with the traditional alleged left/right split being no more than an illusion.
Allowing for the ‘peculiarities’ of the UK and the US, it is clear that both have followed a similar path ending up with essentially a single party system that has discarded all pretence at representing the whole of society.
Yet although the US is deeply divided it lacks a genuine voice to articulate the deep divisions based on race, class and gender not merely at election time but on an on-going basis. The ‘Left’ woke up to the danger but far too late to do anything about it. Instead it focused its anger on the unfortunate Ralph Nader as if it was his fault that the Left lacks the courage of its own alleged convictions.
With no real internal opposition, the imperium will continue to wreak destruction on the planet. The populace, lacking any real alternative to believe in retreats even further into an internal world of debt financed consumption and media diversions and who can blame them when the world is run by maniacs.
As always it will be the dispossessed of the world who will both suffer and resist the onslaught of the possessors whilst we look on accompanied by a surfeit of hand-wringing. But for how long, for it is clear that quite soon, the chickens will come home to roost as both the economy and the environment go into a tailspin, issues that the media and the governments would rather you not think about.
Tuesday, 2 November 2004 – The Imperium…
As I wait with less than baited breath for the outcome, the media here in the UK continues to project the fiction that there are significant differences between the two candidates. The Independent for example, (2/11/04) put it this way:
“The differences that the candidates embody are not merely of policy but of values and culture.”
But how true is this? The Independent would have us believe that Kerry represents cosmopolitan America (what it calls “Metro America”), the East coast, urban/urbane America, the centre of power of the traditional capitalist elite.
Whereas Bush represents what the Indie calls “Retro America”, white, conservative and “chosen by God”. But the Bush dynasty no more hails from Texas than I do! So what is going on here?
Aside from all the verbiage in the media (more on this below) the one fundamental truth of the current situation (and the one the media would not like to remind us of) is the fact that the end of the Cold War exposed the real identity of US imperialism, perhaps for the first time (a reality that has yet to register with the US Left, steeped as it is in several generations of virulent anti-Communism).
Unencumbered by the need for Cold War propaganda and rhetoric, the major division between the two candidates rests not on ‘philosophy’ but on tactics, pure and simple. Hence the problem the voter has in making a ‘choice’ between the two. For conservative, openly racist, sexist and homophobic America, the choice is simple – vote Bush, but for those who like to think of themselves as ‘liberal’, the issue is more complex: which candidate stands the best chance of preserving their privileged position in the world and for Blacks, Latinos and poor Whites, can the promise of the Left that it can bring pressure to bear on a Kerry presidency really be delivered?
For beneath the gung ho image (and unmentioned) lurks another America – the poor Whites, Blacks and Latinos, 50 million or so who live below the radar of the corporate media. The Independent for example in both its lead story (3 pages) and its editorial, doesn’t mention this vast chunk of the American public except to talk of “wealth…filtering down” in a rehash of the neo-liberal myth of the 1970s ‘trickle-down’ trickonomics.
The Indie also maintains the myth that there are clear differences between the two candidates over domestic policy (whilst admitting that there are none worth mentioning over foreign policy) calling Kerry a “social and fiscal progressive” when his record is actually diametrically the opposite. It also talks of the “depth of the divisions” in America yet those who are on the receiving end of Bush’s devastating domestic policies have no voice in this election except perhaps through Nader who in any case, has been deserted en masse by what passes for a Left in America, revealing more about the parlous state of politics in America than it does about Nader as a contender.
What is clear is that the ‘Left’ and the ‘liberal’ are both scared witless by the reality of the Bush administration, though why Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia into total disintegration and littering the country with depleted uranium or trying to blow Gadafi away didn’t, is beyond me.
And what of the 10,000 bombing raids between 1991 and 2003 that reduced Iraq to a pre-industrial society, the sanctions that resulted in the deaths of 500,000 people, mostly women, children, the sick and the old, all carried out by Republican and Democratic administrations? How the Left can delude themselves that Kerry would be any different is simply beyond me for it is simply not borne out by reality.
For what separated Bush Snr from Clinton was mostly rhetoric and a Europe that (briefly) challenged US hegemony as it marched east-ward toward Russia and China. The shift rightward is not merely a result of the ‘neo-cons’ but a peeling back of the layers that with the end of the Cold War revealed an imperialism with its fangs bared.