by Danny Haiphong
It is already clear that the buzz words gay rights and the Confederate flag “will be used by the powerful to move as many disaffected people toward the Democratic Party as possible.” In reality, “the American flag is the global banner of white supremacy and oppression of LGBTQ people. Its Stars and Stripes are responsible for the genocide of indigenous peoples, enslavement of Africans, and the exploitation of the global working class.”
Liberalism Still the Left Flank of Oppression in the Coming Post-Obama World
by Danny Haiphong
“The capitalist class uses the Democratic Party as its liberal flank to help anchor its crisis-ridden system.”
One of the quintessential elements of fascism is the inability of a people to question political developments as they occur without repressive consequences. Yes, the Confederate flag could, and should, come down. The Supreme Court has affirmed gay marriage. Yet very few are questioning how these buzz issues are awash in the same tired liberalism that has dominated the US political landscape to no benefit of poor and working people. As a result, the system that rules over Washington remains unnamed and unchallenged. Even worse, these buzz issues will be used by the powerful to move as many disaffected people toward the Democratic Party as possible. The end of Obama's Administration is near and the ruling class is betting that the myth of the liberal paradigm will prevent the emergence of a radical challenge to its rule. It is from here that the struggle to build a revolutionary movement in a post-Obama US should start.
Of course, actively opposing the gay marriage ruling or the campaign to take down the Confederate flag would be a grave mistake. To do so would only serve the ruling class's interests by pinning radicals into the confines of the (neo) liberal ideological trap. However, there should be no fear in explaining to people in the streets, workplaces, and schools of the US how none of the buzz issues of the day challenge the fundamental power structure in the US. Washington is ruled by Capital, and we shouldn't hesitate to say so. That is, the owners of multinational corporations and Wall Street financial institutions control the state and use it for their profit seeking interests. With this in mind, a proper assessment of whether a policy change presents a challenge to the prevailing rule of capital lies in the question: who benefits?
“Washington is ruled by Capital, and we shouldn't hesitate to say so.”
This question is the most important of our time, but it cannot be answered within the stifling and narrow conversation inherent in American liberal thought. In the US, liberal ideology is considered "the left." It entirely centers on how to perfect the current order. Liberalism, in this right wing period in particular, is characterized by deception and masked reality. Confederate flags represent a mere "stain" in the fabric of the US nation-state rather than a symbol of its centuries-long racist, colonialist system. And for liberals of today, the gay marriage ruling is a signal of progress that lends legitimacy to the American way of life rather than an attempt on the part of the ruling class to appease a privileged section of a historically oppressed group.
But the same liberals who condemn the Confederate Flag or celebrate the ruling on gay marriage with a rainbow Facebook picture fail to name the power structure responsible for LGBTQ oppression and racism. The American flag is the global banner of white supremacy and oppression of LGBTQ people. Its Stars and Stripes are responsible for the genocide of indigenous peoples, enslavement of Africans, and the exploitation of the global working class. Yet the flag receives immunity despite the continued genocide of trans women of color and the sponsorship of fascist states abroad that brutalize LGBTQ people out in the open. These contradictions reveal the depth of liberalism in the US and the ruling class's age-old strategy in the neo-liberal period to exploit it for their collective ends.
“US capitalists and politicians have brandished liberal values in all wars in to expand and monopolize profits.”
The ultimate objective of the ruling class in this period is to channel oppressed people's energy into the Democratic Party machinery. For over four decades, the ruling circle has painted the Democratic Party as the "progressive" political faction of the US political system. Its existence is rooted in liberalism, which the US capitalist regime has always aligned with the interests of profiteers. The American “Revolution,” for example, was a war in defense of colonialist slavery and conquest yet is seen by many as a war for liberal values such as liberty and democracy. US capitalists and politicians have brandished liberal values in all subsequent wars ever since in an effort to expand and monopolize profits. The US invasion of Vietnam was framed as a project in democracy when in reality the war was meant to brutally counter the threat socialism and independence posed to US empire in the region. When communism ceased being an immediate threat, Washington's 21st century offensive was reframed in a civilizing, colonial narrative that posits that the world's people are incapable of achievement without the Western world. This can be seen in both the so-called projects of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan circa 2001-2003 and the "humanitarian intervention" in Libya in 2011.
No matter the "liberal" justification, Washington's wars have sent millions to a premature death and destabilized entire nations. In the same vein, the establishment narrative surrounding gay marriage and the massacre in South Carolina predictably uses a liberal framework to create confusion among the masses. The Republican Party is described as representatives of the Confederate Flag and homophobia. While this is not without truth, the Democratic Party is far from a voice of progress. It has been a Democratic Presidency that has expanded the surveillance state, unleashed forces of imperial destabilization around the world, and protected Wall Street from the consequences of its self-imposed crisis. The Democratic Party has been the only party to push through two ruinous trade deals in the last two decades in NAFTA and most recently the TPP. The Democratic and the Republican parties share more in common than they differ in regards to the substantive issues of working class exploitation, war, and institutionalized white supremacy in the form of the Mass Black Incarceration state.
“The Democratic and the Republican parties share more in common than they differ.”
The question of who benefits from the Democratic and Republican Party charade is clear. It is the eighty individuals who own half the world's wealth. It is the five corporations that own 90 percent of the corporate media and the millionaire politicians that serve the tightly knit network of Wall Street and multi-national corporations. The capitalist class uses the Democratic Party as its liberal flank to help anchor its crisis-ridden system. Austerity, privatization, mass surveillance, mass Black incarceration, and endless war are the only means from which capitalists can expand a system based on profits looted from workers and oppressed people. Anything less and the system would come undone at the seams.
So the Democratic Party could care less about gay marriage or the bloodbath at the AME Church. Washington’s presidential election cycle is inching closer, and the crisis of legitimacy in Washington is at all time high. Hilary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders or any liberal politician for that matter can reverse the disaffection Obama's Administration has wrought. The Democratic wing of the ruling class is inevitably jumping at the opportunity presented by recent events to convince its gravediggers that its brand of liberalism is the only viable alternative to the GOP. As the world enters a post-Obama Washington, US capitalism and its racist dictatorship over oppressed people worldwide is on the verge of losing the most “effective evil” corporations could buy. As temperatures rise, Carolina Black churches are burning and the TPP and other machinations of capitalism threaten to escalate the misery of oppressed people all over the planet. These developments urge us to challenge this country's racist and capitalist roots and wage an offensive movement that condemns the liberal establishment just as strongly as their partners in the right wing.
Danny Haiphong is an organizer for Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) in Boston. He is also a regular contributor to Black Agenda Report. Danny can be reached at [email protected] and FIST can be reached at [email protected].