Racism is Bad but there are Worse Things than Racism

Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for President. As I predicted a few months ago, and barring the sudden onset of Coronavirus or a bad fall and a broken hip, Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for President this November.  If a legitimate election takes place, which is by no means assured at this point, he might even wind up as President.

The biggest reason to vote against Trump is that he’s probably the most hardcore white supremacist to occupy the White House since Woodrow Wilson. Biden, by contrast, is just a run of the mill opportunist who cozied up to a few powerful segregationists in the 1970s and opposed busing out of political convenience. Native American genocide, slavery and the Middle-Passage, King Leopold’s rule in the Belgian Congo, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, white supremacy has been responsible for many, if not most of the greatest crimes in history. If reelected, Donald Trump will not only continue to put kids (mostly the children of indigenous North and Central Americans who belong in this country far more than I do) in cages, he will lay the foundations for a system of apartheid as bad as Israel or South Africa. Overseas, he will continue the genocidal sanctions on Iran and American support for the giant open air concentration camp in Gaza.

All that being said, I have no intention of voting for Joe Biden this Fall. What’s more, compared to the neoconservative Democrats, all of whom have been pushing for a war with Russia since 2016, Donald Trump and the segregationist Republicans might even been “the lesser of two evils.” I’m sure even the most hardcore anti-racist would agree that nuclear war is a lot worse than another white supremacist in the White House, but it’s not only the horrific possibility of a war with Russia that makes it impossible for me to cast my vote for another Democrat. Do not listen to the supporters of Bernie Sanders who argue that his failed run for the presidency has “moved the Overton window to the left.” That’s not how it works. A Biden presidency will not occupy some happy medium between Sanders and Donald Trump. It will mean something much worse than either.

The choice between American liberals and American conservatives is not a choice between the right and the left. Rather, it is a choice between two different methods, two different styles, of ruling class control. The Republican Party is a pro-corporate, pro-militarist organization that keeps its rank and file under control through a combination of cultural conservatism, flag waving patriotism, racism, misogyny and religious fundamentalism. The Democratic Party, by contrast, is a pro-corporate, pro-militarist organization that keeps its rank and file under control through a combination of “vote shaming,” pseudo anti-racism and anti-sexism, and a quasi-totalitarian form of controlling everyday language. As bad as they are, the Republican Party allows for freedom of conscience. Conservatives assume that we are moral actors with free will able to choose between their conception of good and their conception of evil. Liberals, by contrast, see the American people as lab rats to be manipulated by the “best and brightest,” bits and bytes to be programmed into the correct behavior by an aristocracy of Ivy League lawyers and bureaucrats. Liberals, in other words, hate democracy as much as conservatives hate black people and Muslims.

In the end, Bernie Sanders is an establishment politician and in many ways a fraud. In 2016, he sold out his followers and threw his support behind the Clinton crime family. This Spring, he ended his campaign before the majority of Democratic Party members even got a chance to vote, and will inevitably try to persuade us to vote for the reactionary Joe Biden. Nevertheless, the Democratic Party establishment saw him as something much more threatening. For the liberal wing of the American ruling class, Bernie Sanders represented the specter of democracy, the possibility that a multi-racial, multi-ethnic working-class would unite around a social democratic platform for economic justice. To put down the upsurge in democratic participation that Sander’s and his largely millennial base, the Democratic Party establishment couldn’t just run another John Kerry or Al Gore, another traditional politician with a centrist agenda. In Kamala Harris, Julian Castro and Cory Booker, they tried, and failed, to find another Barack Obama, a neoliberal corporatist with right wing economics and a “woke” social agenda. So they went scorched earth, not only against Bernie Sanders and his followers, but against democracy itself.

More importantly, the liberal wing of the American ruling class has weaponized anti-racism, anti-sexism, gay, lesbian and transgender rights against the idea of economic justice for women, people of color, gays, immigrants, gays and lesbians. They have branded the idea of social democracy, universal healthcare and a living wage as racist and sexist. They have labeled any criticism of Wall Street as “white male privilege.” They have divided men against women, blacks against whites, immigrants against native born Americans. They have appropriated the history of native American suffering to prop up the career of a white, Anglo Saxon Protestant, Harvard law professor. If Donald Trump wins this November, the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia will continue. If Joe Biden, or whoever the Democrats replace him with this Summer, wins, not only will the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia become impossible, we will lose the very language we need, even to discuss it. Black people and immigrants will not simply be oppressed. They will become as invisible. Ask any Bernie supporter not a white male in his 20s or 30s about how they were simply blotted out of existence over the course of the recent Democratic primaries by the woke liberal establishment.

In other words, a Biden victory this November will not be a victory for the elderly Democratic hack who served 8 years as Barack Obama’s Vice President. It will be a victory for a new form of social control, the establishment of a new order that will make it impossible to oppose Wall Street or the military industrial complex, even in language, even in thought. It will be the victory of a corporate totalitarianism made necessary by the unraveling of the neoliberal economic order and the American Empire. It will be a new horror we have yet to understand. What’s more, in 2024, it will have a new Republican face, not an elderly buffoon like Donald Trump, but a young, savvy fascist like Tom Cotton or Josh Hawley. We cannot continue to delude ourselves that we can choose between factions of the American ruling class. If we continue fooling ourselves it means a world so dark that we will look back with nostalgia to the good old days of coronavirus and kids in cages. So vote for the Howie Hawkins and the Green Party. Vote for Gloria La Riva and Leonard Peltier. Vote for Workers World. Vote for the local pro-marijuana crank who can barely afford bus fare to go into town and gather signatures to get on the ballot. Vote for the ghost of Lyndon LaRouche. Write in Alex Jones or Vladimir Putin. Vote for anybody but Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

2 comments

  1. John Thurloe · · Reply

    Worthy causes have a natural life cycle. At first, the phase of the few, the heroic pioneers. Then the romantic period of upsurge as large numbers swell the ranks, full of determination and righteousness. But volunteer enthusiasm can only be sustained for so long. Eventually, the wave ebbs, partisans look to repair their health, look to their families, are just worn out. Then, we get the phase of the apparatchiks, those self-appointed ‘leaders’ who claim to speak for the Noble Cause.

    These leaders soon realize they are generals without an army. Except on ceremonial occasions, no longer can they call out the mass numbers to pile the pressure on. Soon, the leaders begin to look favourably on the opportunities the establishment dangles before them. Funding, secure jobs, status. The opportunist rot sets in. You stated out a guerrillas in the jungle but now you manage the drug trade.

    All sectoralist causes – movements – in the US are long past their Sell By date. Sunday socialists. The leaders betray, sell out as they breathe. They are embedded traitors.

    Bernie and Corbyn are part of and victims of this. The combined power of what’s left of the Causes – women, gays, blacks the environment – are and were not enough to power them forward. Because the much greater masses of poor and working people are cynical and mistrustful towards whom they see as selfish rich brats who don’t give a rat’s ass about the likes of struggling gig workers, ageing workers losing their pensions, crippling austerity.

    By instinct, such are in no way ready voting fodder for the Democrats. They are as likely to vote Trump again.

    1. Pretty good essay by Thomas Frank about upper class liberal hatred of democracy

      The name I give to this disdainful reaction is “anti-populism,” and when you investigate its history, you find its adherents using the same rhetoric over and over again. Whether defending the gold standard in 1896 or NAFTA in 2016, anti-populism mobilizes the same sentiments and draws on the same stereotypes; it sometimes even speaks to us from the same prestigious institutions. Its most toxic ingredient—a highbrow contempt for ordinary Americans—is as virulent today as it was in the Victorian era.

      https://harpers.org/archive/2020/04/how-the-anti-populists-stopped-bernie-sanders/

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