by Frank, Seattle
(from Communist Voice, vol. 8, #3, issue #30, December 15, 2002)
Was 9/11/01 "the day America changed forever"?
. The capitalists' "news" media has repeatedly told us this over the past year, and it's obvious that
certain things have changed: the government has declared an unending war against "terrorism",
stepped up militarization, and stepped up the building of an American police state (accompanied
with fanning up hysteria against immigrants). All the main sections of the capitalist ruling class
support this, hence the overwhelming bipartisan support for Bush's reactionary legislation. Yet
how long these changes last depends on many factors, the most fundamental of which is
development of conscious and organized struggles of the working class in its interests,
particularly against war and repression. But this infers something else which should also be
obvious: nothing fundamental about American society has changed at all. Labor continues to
create the wealth of society only to see it become the private property of a handful of capitalists.
Anarchy of capitalist production gave rise to an overproduction crisis (recession) before 9/11,
and it continues. The capitalists are shifting the burden of this onto our backs through lay-offs,
demands for more concessions, and driving us to produce even faster. The healthcare and
housing crises for the workers and poor continue and worsen. Profit-driven rape of the
environment continues and worsens. Racial discrimination and police murders of African
Americans and other minorities continue and worsen. So no, the fundamental realities of the
puppet media-scribblers' mystical "America" have not changed. They would only like us to forget
"We are one" (?!)
. One sees this slogan on American flags all over the country. Right. Those who live from exploiting the labor power of the vast majority are getting ever richer while the rest of us grow poorer. We're being fleeced by the capitalists, racially discriminated against and gunned down by the police at a disproportionate rate if we're black, or don't look the way they deem appropriate. Organize and fight back? Nope, that's treason to the principle that "we are one". Moreover, allegedly "we are one" against all those foreign enemies we're supposedly surrounded by. Thus we must meekly bow our heads and follow "our" leaders into war against Iraq, and a series of bloody wars and other imperialist actions over seas misnamed a "war against terrorism". Well, can we at least ask why it is that it is overwhelmingly the sons and daughters of the working class who will do the killing and dying in these wars? Can we ask who will pay for them and who will profit from them? Nope, can't do that either. Not only is it treason to the principle "we are one", but it's treason in the face of the enemy!
. So nothing fundamental has changed, and we are not "one" with our leaders (the administration)
and the social class they represent (the bourgeoisie). Now Bush, Cheney and Co. is a little
different than some administrations in that it's not just packed with political representatives of
capital, but so many of its members are intimate with the padded chairs of corporate boardrooms
themselves. This provides us with a small window through which we can see the corrupt and
swindling world they wish to impose on humanity all around the globe by force, and in an
unending way. So let us take a brief peek through the window. But we must be quick. Cheney has
jumped out of his chair to slam the window shut. And for some strange reason he keeps
bellowing at us "We're at war!", "We're at war!" . . . over and over and over again.
Insiders and corporate welfare gluttons
. Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he parlayed family political connections and clout into a yearly income of over $18 million by 1998, mostly from long-term capital gains. Starting with small oil companies financed by shady rich Saudis his father worked with in his days as head of the CIA, he eventually was handed a lucrative seat on the board of directors of Harken Energy. Texas-based Harken is small in the world of oil corporations, and it was in financial difficulties. But it magically received a Saudi cash infusion, and a new board member began attending Daddy Bush's White House meetings to formulate Middle East policy. Further, although it had no experience in actually drilling oil, it received a big contract from the Bahrain government to do so. Nevertheless, these were the days in which the 1990 Gulf crisis was brewing. Harken's future looked uncertain because of this, and the Shrub knew from his position on an investigative team set up by the board that it remained in financial difficulty. So less than two months before the Gulf War he unloaded $848,560 of Harken stock onto the gullible. (Now he's trying to unload scary stories about Saddam Hussein onto the gullible. ) As an inside trade this was supposed to be reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Bush only reported it after the time limit was up. This is what is known as securities fraud, but the SEC found a way to "overlook" it.
. But Bush is a small-fry compared to the V. P. Cheney leveraged his position in Daddy Bush's administration into becoming CEO and Chairman of Halliburton Petroleum Corp. There he gathered almost $2 billion in taxpayer-funded government loans (as compared to $100 million in the 5 years prior to his arrival) and $2. 3 billion in government contracts (double the amount Halliburton had previously gotten). Under him Halliburton quickly became the largest oil-services company, 5th largest military contractor, and the biggest non-union employer in the country. Along the way it also made some small change ($23. 8 million) by sales to Iraq through European subsidiaries. (Cheney lied about this in a national TV interview with Sam Donaldson. But he knew that the Democrats had no grounds for criticism. A member of the Clinton administration, former CIA Director Deutsch, was on the board of directors of Schlumberger Corp. Schlumberger also used European subsidiaries to profit from sales to Iraq. ) In reference to all his success, Cheney, this ultra-conservative champion of the market solving all problems of humanity, lyingly intoned in one of his speeches that "government has nothing to do with it"(!). Still, Cheney and Co. erred when organizing a merger with Dresser Industries by underestimating the liabilities the latter had accrued for poisoning hundreds of thousands of people with asbestos. Halliburton stock nose-dived. Cheney is under SEC "investigation" for overstating company profitability by $100 million to save the situation. (Arthur Anderson, which along with Enron and Citigroup was among the top 15 investors in Bush's 2000 campaign, cooked the books. ) Before becoming VP this corporate-welfare queen sold $15 million of Halliburton stock and was given a $34 million retirement package.
. Then there's the Secretary of the Army, Thomas White. White held several corporate posts at
Enron, and was a member of its Executive Committee. Guess what? Days before Enron stock
became worthless he cashed in $12. 1 million worth. . . . But our time is running out. Let us take
a last peek at our morally upright and virtuous leaders.
. Of course, like the Democrats before them, the members of this administration are all liars. But we can't refrain from mentioning Bush's arrogant appointment of John Poindexter to a government post. For those too young to remember, under Reagan Admiral Poindexter headed the operation which illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to funnel money to the "Contra" terrorist army in Central America (the other major source of funds being drug-running). Poindexter was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and destroying evidence (I. e. , wiping out 5000 incriminating emails). He said "I do not recall" 184 times during the Iran-Contra hearings. But in 1990 his conviction was overturned based on the fact that Congress had given him immunity in exchange for testimony. So now the Bush administration has him heading the "Information Awareness Office", a new agency set up to do lying propaganda for the Pentagon! Another paid liar, Ari Fleischer, had this to say in a Feb. 25 press briefing regarding the appointment:
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me just say about Admiral Poindexter, Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American and an outstanding citizen who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving in the military.
Q: How can you say that, when he told Colonel North to lie?
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, I think your views on Iran Contra are well-known, but the President
does believe that Admiral Poindexter served . . . (and on and on in this vein).
Our real enemies
. We should emphasize that if the administration was only comprised of career politicians, bureaucrats from various agencies, professional diplomats, etc. , who had never been in a corporate boardroom, it would make no essential difference. The administration would still take its orders from the dominant sections of the capitalist class. And in the present historical conditions, even if it were a Democratic administration it would still be far to the right on the political spectrum. With the dying down of the powerful mass movements which shook the country in the 60s and 70s the capitalists have sought to reverse every past gain made by the masses, through both the Democratic and Republican parties. (Of course the Republicans are the more open representatives of capital whereas the Democrats are its favorite tool for deceiving the masses, the party which the working class, minorities and women are supposed to look to as their savior. During elections it puts forward a program allegedly in our interests against the bad Republicans. In so doing it defines those interests to us, and tells us that this is all we can expect.) So today the Democrats are as one with the Republicans on the questions of war and domestic repression (with minor quibbles over the details). They're telling us to bow to Bush's imperialist crusade. The leaflet "Denounce Bush's war for oil-monopoly and empire!" (see page 6) discusses what is behind this crusade, and what it means for the world's people. But imperialism cannot attack the peoples of other countries without also attacking the people at home. So in this time when we're supposed to line up behind "our" Commander and Chief it's important to look at the politics he represents. In doing this we will see in milder form what U. S. imperialism wants to impose on Iraq.
. One exhibit of the political coloration of the administration is Cheney's voting record as a U. S. congressman: against the Clean Water Act or any sanctions for air polluters (weak as these bills were), against the Head Start program, against anything having to do with affirmative action, ten different votes against economic sanctions on apartheid South Africa (weak as the sanctions were), and one of only two who voted against a resolution demanding the release of Nelson Mandela. Another is Bush's record as Governor of Texas: the killingest governor in U. S. history; 152 executions, overwhelmingly poor people, disproportionately minorities, many of whom were innocent, and some of whom had lawyers who slept through their trials; vetoed legislation providing for basic indigent defense while saying it was "a threat to public safety" (a poor person having a lawyer is "a threat . . . "!); crudely mocked a woman who had been executed in an interview with Talk Magazine. While under Clinton more African Americans were imprisoned than ever before, Bush's Texas was the number one state in executions . . . and dead last in many social service areas. The final exhibit is Bush's record as president: handouts to the rich, bleeding the poor, more freedom for the capitalists to rape the environment, poison and mutilate workers on the job, etc. , and police state laws to increasingly use against opposition to the program of the ruling class. His first major legislation was a tax cut which gave $800 billion to the wealthiest 1% of the population (meanwhile he followed Clinton's footsteps in letting social services rot). His energy policy was written by the energy monopolists themselves, the likes of his buddy Enron's "Kenny-boy" Ley et al. During his first half year in office these parasites bled the masses of people for $trillions in an energy crises which they themselves created. Finally Bush agreed to some almost meaningless price caps . . . after the Democratic governor of California had locked that state into expensive long-term contracts with the monopolists. (And we should not forget that the Democrats were also big champions of the wonders of deregulation, and had their campaign coffers filled with money from the energy cartel too).
. The latter was during the summer of last year, a time when the laws of capitalist production were causing a new recession, and the huge budget surplus suddenly evaporated into a deficit. The selected president faced the prospect of mass discontent with his policies feeling its way toward mass struggle against them. Sept. 11 was his Gods-send. Now he could justify throwing more of the masses' tax dollars to bailout faltering corporations, justify more obliteration of the already miniscule environmental regulations, justify threats against West coast longshoremen, etc. , under the cry "we're at war!". After a year of recession does he have some kind of program to deal with rising unemployment, outrageous rents, a health care system that scores of millions of people utterly cannot afford? "Let them eat cake . . . we're at war!" And cynically playing on the anti-terrorist hysteria the entire bourgeoisie was whipping up the administration pushed through the "Patriot Act", set up the Department of Homeland Security (with the blessing of the Democrats), and issued a series of executive orders freeing the courts and police to do most anything they pleased. These are big legal steps toward a police state. Now in place are laws allowing the government to snoop everywhere, covertly enter homes, conduct military tribunals, etc. So far the Feds have "only" summarily imprisoned or deported a few thousand immigrants, kidnapped and imprisoned a few citizens, obliterated a few websites, etc. under these measures, but they're in place for much broader use. An inkling of what they mean is the Dept. of Homeland Security's Czar (Tom Ridge) calling the leadership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union during contract negotiations in August. What did a possible strike have to do with fighting terrorism!? Well, everything if you're a representative of the capitalists. Similarly regarding environmental activism, anti-war activism, and so on. (And, by the way, the new police-state laws are also the largest new government expenditure since the end of the Cold War. For this the politicians can suddenly find money. Thus they're a source of juicy government contracts, which Republicans and Democrats alike can shovel to their friends. )
. So a year after Sept. 11 the Bush regime remains a mortal enemy of the working class, the "little people", African Americans, women, immigrants, the youth, the elderly. It's a pack of money-grabbing lying scoundrels that raises the flag to hide its nakedness . . . and (it thinks) to line us up behind itself as it embarks on new bloody wars to further the interests of the entire American capitalist class all over the world--imperialist wars, an open-ended series of them, which can only result in increased suffering and further enslavement of the workers and other oppressed people abroad, and at home. This calls for struggle. Our enemy is at home.
. Down with Bush! Workers of all countries, unite!
Last modified: December 23, 2002.