In a July 10th article entitled “Can Biden keep the left happy as he pushes key legislation?,” we are immediately helped to a sleight of hand by The Guardian. The author, Daniel Strauss, tells us that Biden is performing “one of the most delicate balancing acts in American politics: how to keep together a Democratic party whose lawmakers range from the democratic socialism of the New York congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez to the staunch conservatism of the West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.”
What is the sleight of hand? It is the illusion that “American” politics extends all the way from the Trumpist right, through the “staunch conservatism” of the Democratic Party right wing, all the way to the “far left” social democracy of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. People in the US are supposedly presented with all possible political points of view to choose from. That’s the sleight of hand.
That is the view that is drummed into our heads by the mainstream media over and over again. The range of ideas remains within the capitalist political framework. Thus, three weeks ago we were told by The Guardian that “‘It’s chilling what is happening’: a rightwing backlash to Biden takes root in Republican states.” The Trumpist right is combatting Biden. Or so it would seem. And in another article on July 18th, “the euphoria of Biden’s first hundred days inevitably cooled as reality crept in. … Reforms on gun safety, immigration and police brutality have hit a wall.”
Hmm, wait a minute. You mean, the Biden administration was trying to address police violence and ran into a brick wall because of opposition from “the right”? How does that square with the massive funding and political support that the Biden administration has been giving to the police forces throughout the US? Only last summer huge demonstrations broke out across the country after the murder of George Floyd demanding that the police be defunded. Are these views of the masses in the streets beyond the acceptable political discourse?
Immigration reform? Biden has continued the white supremacist anti-immigrant politics of his predecessors. Migrant children are still being caged, where they are subjected to poor conditions in influx shelters. Title 42 expulsions, using COVID-19 as an excuse to kick people out, are higher than during the Trump administration, and Kamala Harris tells people in Central America that if they come to the US they will be turned back at the border. Must the voice of the oppressed masses of Central America, devastated by repeated US imperialist interventions under both Republican and Democratic administrations, be kept outside of the political discourse within the imperialist home front?
Gun safety? You mean the bombing campaigns the Biden administration has been engaged in abroad? In Somalia, in Iraq, in Syria? His administration is, in fact, applying a lower bar than Trump to launch bombing strikes, making it even more likely to attack other countries. The massive infusion of military “aid” to Israel so that it may continue to massacre the people of Gaza? Not a very good model for the American people to follow at home. Should the voices in the Global South and Palestine be silenced?
What about climate change? Is Biden being pushed by “the right” to disregard global warming? Well. No. Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is a big threat because it will bring dirty tar sands oil through Anishinaabe territory in Northern Minnesota. It threatens to devastate the environment, pollute sensitive waterways, and contaminate and destroy Indigenous rice fields. Yet Biden refuses to stop this environmental disaster, and allows hundreds of water protectors to be arrested, tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and pepper bullets. And not a word of condemnation is heard from his administration, not even from Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland. So much for the politics of representation.
Only last month the US voted at the United Nations to continue their blockade against Cuba, a blockade that has caused suffering on a massive scale. Only the United States and Israel joined together to vote against the people of Cuba, while 184 other countries voted to oppose the blockade. And when protests broke out in Cuba against the 62-year US imperialist aggression, not a single mainstream media venue, not the NYTimes, the Washington Post, or CNN, explained to the people of the US about the achievements of the socialist revolution in that country and the will of the Cuban people to defend their revolution.
Nearly every headline and social media post generated by the imperialists and their running dogs featured the demand for “freedom” front and center. Even the left wing of acceptable US discourse joined the “freedom” chorus, with social-democrat representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez declaring “we condemn the anti-democratic actions of [Cuban president] Díaz Canel. The suppression of the media, speech and protest are all gross violations of civil rights.”
Whose freedom are we talking about? Is it the freedom of the imperialists to crush the will of the Cuban people as they have done over and over again in Central and South America and the Caribbean, in Guatemala, in Honduras, in El Salvador, in Haiti, in Chile, in Bolivia, in Colombia, and as they are attempting to do presently in Venezuela with sanctions? Is it the freedom of US and multinational corporations to crush the workers? Or, is it the freedom of colonized people to decide the course of their country on their own, the right to housing, education, food, health and self-determination?
The balancing act that The Guardian claims Biden is attempting to perform is to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. The range of views that we are being presented remains within the framework of the capitalist and imperialist order and world view. The voices of the colonized, the oppressed and the exploited remain beyond the pale of imperialist discourse in this country.
What is the reality faced by the colonized world? Billions of people face hunger and starvation on a massive scale throughout the world. Heroic attempts by the poor to improve their lot are met with brutal repression by the US or by US-supported regimes. Those countries that have managed to achieve a modicum of independence and self-determination from the United States dictate, such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, North Korea and Nicaragua, are subjected to stifling blockades and sanctions, and vilified by the Western imperialist media. Socialist countries like China, that has been able to lift its population out of poverty, are painted as repressive and “authoritarian.”
The population of the United States is subjected to massive ideological control. Corporate-owned mass media, corporate-endowed universities, richly-funded pro-imperialist think tanks, an imperialist US government, its spokespersons and representatives, all make sure that the US population is fed an epistemology of ignorance. A picture of the world built on false pretenses and fantasies. A picture that leaves them unable to understand the world that their country has imposed on the rest of humanity.
The oppressed masses and the working class in this country are faced with profound crises created by the capitalist system. A healthcare crisis, severely aggravated by the pandemic and the profit-based private healthcare system, a climate crisis that is destroying the environment for corporate profits, government-imposed austerity, home evictions, massive surveillance, mass incarceration, police violence. The imperialist system attempts to deal with these contradictions by shifting the burden of the crisis on its own population, by enslaving the Global South and projecting its military power against the rest of the world. People in the United States can only achieve liberation and a bright future once they realize that their interests lie together with the rest of humanity, not with their own imperialist overlords. Freedom and liberation will only be achieved once we step beyond the confines of the oppressors’ worldview.