Commentaries on current events, political economy, and the Communist movement from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.
Zigedy highly recommends the Marxist-Leninist website, MLToday.com, where many of his longer articles appear.
big losers in the recent NPR/PBS
polling (January 08-10-2018) are Congress, the two parties, and the
media. Based on the poll, most people in the US have “not very
much” or “no confidence” in the legislative body, corporate
news and entertainment, or the Democratic or Republican parties. In
fact, over two-thirds of those surveyed lack confidence in the media
and nearly three-fourths show little or no confidence in Congress!
light of these numbers, one can only wonder when the pitchforks are
coming out. Clearly, dissatisfaction with major US institutions
extends very broadly. Yet these results are not new. Nearly a decade
ago, a similar Gallup
poll showed that only 11% of respondents had a “great deal” or
“quite a lot” of confidence in Congress. A
Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in
2014 showed that both parties earned a decidedly more negative than a
positive image. That same poll put the approval rate for Congress at
pundits and political operatives who discount the depth of
dissatisfaction and disregard the festering anger in the US are
doomed to misread the meaning of past and most-recent elections. The
mainstream media mock Trump’s “fake news” charges while
blithely ignoring the negative sentiments of the population toward
the news industry. Don’t media elites see that “lack of
confidence” is, in fact, a scathing indictment of their own
collective performance in delivering the truth?
to recognize the widespread disdain for core US political
institutions hinders the understanding that Trumpism is not merely a
malignant political alternative, but the consequence
of a long history of malignant political alternatives; Trump isn't the cause of the problem, he's the result of the problem. As much as
Trump disgusts with his vulgarity, he openly expresses thoughts
shared by other powerful people who voice them only behind the walls
of their mansions or private clubs. As much as Trump attacks the
living standards of working people and degrades their safety net, he
stands at the end of a relentless, unrelieved half-century of assault
on the gains won in the New Deal era. As much as Trump has embraced
belligerence and aggression in his foreign policy, he has only
belatedly and somewhat reluctantly fallen in line with the
imperialist agenda crafted and executed by his predecessors in the
has Defense Secretary ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis to remind him of the
agenda. The Wall Street Journal tells
us (January 19, 2018) that Trump recently proposed to call off joint
ROK/US military exercises as a pacifying gesture to Kim Jung Un.
Mattis stepped in and purportedly flattered him with “Your
instincts are absolutely correct,” while cajoling him into
betraying those same instincts and going forward with the exercises.
Incredibly, Mattis is the figure that many liberals cite as the
restraining force in the Trump White House.
America Great Again” is the mark of an empire facing increasingly
effective threats from imperialist rivals as well as anti-imperialist
resistance. While the dream of a Pax Americana imposed on the world
is now discredited, Trumpism clings to the illusion that robust,
blustery nationalism is the answer to an increasingly fruitless globalism.
year, in his lengthy, candid valedictory
with Jeffrey Goldberg in The
magazine, one will find many hints of Obama’s lost confidence in
the aggressive reordering of the world that he inherited and that was
represented in his administration by Clinton, Rice, Power, and
Rhodes. Mattis and General Kelly play that same role of
sabre-rattlers and war-instigators in the Trump administration
despite the popular caricature of them as wise counsel to a wild man.
Trump, the missionary mask, so long a feature of US imperialism, is
cast off. The “humanitarian, human rights” pose used so
skillfully by Clinton and Obama’s war makers is of little interest
to Trump and his consort. Any renegade thoughts Trump may have of
exercising his self-proclaimed “deal” skills or imagined “charm”
in negotiating with rivals are quickly squashed by the two pillars of
militarism (Mattis and Kelly) within the Trump administration.
better times, one could count on a sizeable segment of activist
liberals to stand with the anti-imperialist left against US
militarism and aggression. But, today, they have been mesmerized by a
phantasmagoric anti-Russia campaign framed to distract attention away
from real issues and the chronically flawed democratic process.
from the demonstrated thinness of liberal principles, the NPR/PBS
NewsHour/Marist poll explains
exactly why RussiaGate could gain traction despite a lack of
evidence. Behind the hysteria are two institutions that retain a
great deal of misplaced confidence with the public: the FBI and the
military. And behind that confidence is a glorifying and
romanticizing of the two in popular culture, especially since the
onset of the Mission Impossible-like War on Terror. Network and cable
television feature drama of attractive, upright, and diligent FBI
agents standing between the US public and chaos, night after night.
Similarly, the military enjoys a heroic stature nourished by the
media, the entertainment industry, and the chicken-hawk elites whose
children never see the enlistment office.
the self-deception lurking behind this cult of self-righteousness,
while speaking in Santa Fe recently: “Every time Trump says or does
something that is xenophobic, or bigoted, or militaristic, or
threatening, people always say, ‘This is not what America is
about,’... I always react to that by saying, ‘It’s not?’”
RussiaGate mania is now runaway paranoia, perfectly suited to turn
the populace from its real problems. Democratic Party operatives have
crossed over to insanity, detecting Russia behind the announced
candidacy of Chelsea Manning for US Senate. Neera Tanden, prominent
head of the Center for American Progress, smelled a Kremlin plot
behind Manning running against a corporate Democratic Senator. It may
be a long wait for the soft left and the identity Democrats to render
support to the heroic Manning. But then they wouldn’t comprehend
the real heroism of serving jail time for exposing US war atrocities.
by its success in fabricating RussiaGate from nothing, the FBI has
turned its scrutiny on the People's Republic of China. Our intrepid
spy hunters are casting their vigilance on Rupert Murdoch’s
ex-trophy wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent DC socialite.
According to “sources” friendly to The
Wall Street Journal, Ms Murdoch
lobbied for a Chinese garden funded by the PRC at the National
Arboretum. The FBI explained that the Arboretum was less than 5 miles
from the White House and the Capitol. And, if that were not enough,
the plan included a 70-foot tower that the FBI feared might be used
if the Chinese could not rent a room in a six- or seven-story
building in downtown DC to further their nefarious plot without spending $100 million on a Chinese garden.
we have a prominent figure who might
have lobbied for a project that
served PRC intelligence purposes by constructing a 70-foot tower that
a surveillance purpose. But this twisted conspiracy tale goes
further-- Ms Murdoch socialized
with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner! The FBI has a picture of them
together! Of course, that is the point of this inane exercise:
meddling in US politics. Let’s see if deranged liberals buy this,
we have the NBCstory
that reports that a CIA agent who retired in 2007 has been arrested
for collaborating with the PRC. But there is a hitch: “U.S.
officials told NBC News they don't believe Lee ever will be charged
as a spy, in part because they don't have all the proof they might
need, and in part because they would not want to air the evidence
they do have in a public courtroom.” A careful read of the NBC
article might lead one to believe that the CIA is embarrassed because
their PRC counterparts broke the secret communication system that the
CIA used to communicate with their covert agents. One might further
surmise that Jerry Chun Shing Lee is the patsy for this failure. But
the uncritical, trusting media report the damaging charge even though
sources admit that “...they don't have all the proof they
might need…” A fine example of a responsible press in the age of
the US empire undergoes further and further stress, more and more
dysfunction, the search for scapegoats and distractions will only
intensify, and the barbarism of apocalyptical conflict will grow even
It is not enough to take a
small step or two back from the brink, as liberals and the
compromised left would like. Delivering a world two steps from
catastrophe is a feckless award to future generations.
angry, disappointed public that has lost confidence in its
institutions is searching for a new, more promising road forward.
Isn’t it the time to bring the promise of democracy and social
justice embedded in socialism before the US public?
The year 2017 was not entirely
a bad one in the US. We learned that, despite the fact that we have
no serious, mass party for socialism, millions of US citizens have a
favorable, positive view of socialism. Actually, we first learned
that fact from a Gallup
poll in mid-2016. To the surprise of many and the alarm of others,
found that over half of 18-29 year olds had a favorable view of
socialism. The Wall Street
Journal/NBC poll discovered a year
later that over half of every age group thought that “To help
people, government should do more.” This result is perhaps an even
more significant finding since it provides some meaning to what
people want when they endorse socialism, as well as what they want
even with their fear of the word “socialism.” In that poll,
nearly two-thirds of 18-29 year olds agreed with the statement.
The fact that interest in
“socialism” is growing dramatically though there is no mass
socialist or communist party is a paradoxical reflection on US
political life (though not only
that of the US). Part of the reason for this paradox, of course, is
the enormous effort that US elites, corporations, academic
institutions, security services, media, and politicians have made to
intensely demonize all but the most benign expressions of socialist
thought and organization.
But much blame must be shared
by our own left, which has been shattered into a thousand sects,
cults, and tendencies and cowed into submission from fear of
red-baiting. The Cold War anti-Communist mentality remains deeply
embedded in the generations that preceded the more open-minded
millennials. Anything-but-Communism (ABC) constitutes an attitude
that promotes “respectable” socialisms like utopian cooperatives,
socialism through the backdoor of the Democratic Party, trickle-down
socialism, armchair academic socialism, socialism of the soul, and a
host of socialisms that dissolve into tepid reformism or socialism
over the horizon. No wonder the ruling class sleeps well at night.
Death to the
Another change that came into
sharp relief in 2017 was the persistent loss of fan support for
professional football. In 2016, TV viewership dropped by 8%. And last
year, TV numbers dropped another 9.7%, a precipitous two-year
Given that professional
football represents almost everything that is wrong with the US and
combines all of the elements, from other sports, that are socially
harmful, I would like to think that the NFL decline is inversely
proportional to the growth of interest in socialism.
The NFL transmits violence and
bullying to our youth. It celebrates the victory of power over
weakness, without any respect for compassion, pity, fair play, or
empathy. The business-posing-as-a-sport pillages municipal and
regional coffers for stadia and amenities while paying little or no
taxes. The teams glorify militarism and the cult of the hero. The
owners are super wealthy, including a nasty group of right-wing
racists. And Black gladiators risk limb and life to fill the owners’
It’s no wonder that no other
country shows a serious interest in an NFL franchise.
Of course, we must credit the disgusting
blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick for some of the decline in interest.
Let’s hope that a similar
disconnect from Dr. Phil, celebrity-worship, British royalty, and
zombies will bring further interest in socialism in 2018.
For the first time since the
early 1960s (before Medicare and Medicaid), life expectancy in the US
dropped for two consecutive years. The head of the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention attributes the drop to the increase in opioid
use, a phenomenon that correlates pretty closely with desperation,
poverty, and alienation.
A year ago, when The
New York Times reported the 2016
decrease, its sources were puzzled. Yes, they saw the increase in
deaths from opioid abuse, but eight out of the top ten causes of
death were also up, as was the infant mortality rate. The
Times discovered a more revealing
datum, a finding that cut to the heart of the matter: a Brookings
Institute study found that a man in the lowest 10% of incomes born in
1950 will live fourteen years less than his counterpart with earnings
in the top 10%.
Clearly, the Obama jewel, the
ACA, has done less than nothing to address this great cause of
And yet the chief battle of
2017 was a semi-successful struggle waged by the leaders of Labor,
the Democratic Party, and a host of “progressive” organizations
to save this bloated, corporate-friendly, drug company-sponsored,
bureaucratically bewildering sham of a healthcare program.
How far we have fallen!
Certainly 2017, like the run-up
to the 2016 election, was the climax of willful blindness to the
plight of vast numbers of the working class and the working poor in
the small towns and cities outside of the major metropolises. Hillary
Clinton famously stubbed her presumptive Presidential toe on this
neglect when she characterized the group as “deplorables.” For
petty bourgeois liberals, a best-selling book gave sustenance to
their elitist contempt for the decimated working class in the US
heartland. Venture capitalist J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly
Elegy, a memoir of his early years,
hit the top of The New York Times
best-seller list in both 2016 and
2017. Vance, telling a modern-day Horatio Alger story, titillated the
burghers with his tales of abuse, failed character, and backwardness.
Vance paints the deplorables as, indeed, deplorable.
A Fordham University professor
published a scholarly rejoinder to Hillbilly
Elegy at the end of 2017. Based on
extensive research and historical backgrounding,
Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia
tells a story of capitalist exploitation, neglect, and political
chicanery that refutes the blame-the-victim anecdotes of Vance.
Author Steven Stoll offers context and nuance, compassion and
respect, where Vance projects arrogant contempt. Given its unlikely
appeal to jaded liberals, Ramp Hollow
will likely not make the best-sellers list.
Time as Tragedy, the Second Time as Farce
It is impossible to leave 2017
without reflecting on the new Red-less “Red Scare.” The old Red
scare was a mid-century ruling class reign of terror in response to
the Soviet victory over fascism and its painfully won respect with
the world’s millions. The perceived threat of socialism ascendant
brought a hysterical panic in the bastions of capitalism. A tragic,
ruthless clampdown followed.
The farcical RussiaGate of 2017
reignites the old Russia fears, but this time against a capitalist
rival. The perpetrators of this giant scam count on the public’s
faulty memory and mass confusion of a Cold War adversary with the
current government of Russia. To any disinterested follower of recent
Russian history, Russia looks like a junior version of the US, with
similar great power aspirations, hopes of imperial penetration of new
markets, and rampant militarism. History teaches, for those not
contemptuous of history, that these tendencies are features of every
developed capitalist state. Similarly, Russian “democracy” more
and more resembles its US counterpart which is dominated by wealthy,
powerful elites and sustained by a gutless, fawning media.
We can, however, rejoice that
Russian interests often conflict with the most belligerent, arrogant
policies of US elites (Syria, for example) in ways that neutralize or
forestall US aggression. But only a fool would mistake checking the
US internationally with embodying the cause of anti-imperialism.
But vilifying Russia is useful.
For US ruling elites, portraying Russia as an enemy prepares the
public for confrontations to come. Much as the Maine
debacle of 1898 set the stage in the US for a war for Spain’s
colonies, the endless tales of Russian intrigue and mischief justify
the saber-rattling and aggressive sanctions that follow.
The Democratic Party and the
media eagerly join this project for their own purposes. RussiaGate
has revitalized cable news and breathed life back into the print
media and the news services. Sensationalized stories and
fear-mongering are the stock-in-trade of the modern
entertainment-oriented monopoly media.
Of course, RussiaGate is
tailor-made for a political party suffering huge electoral setbacks
despite overwhelming resources, especially if it can link its loss to
external factors like Russian interference. The Democrats--
ideologically hollow-- have pulled every trick to link Russia to the
sitting Republican President, Donald Trump. Unwilling to project a
peoples’ program, the Democrats intend to win the 2018 interim
elections by simply attacking Trump and his vaporous Russia
connections. For the Democrats, Trump’s propensity towards
arrogance, outrageousness, and lies is the gift that keeps on giving.
They plan to run on Trump and Trump alone, nothing substantial.
While most people find their
living standards stagnant or sinking, and while climate change,
rising inequality, racism, and foreign killing go ignored in the
corporate media, the RussiaGate theatrics dominate the news.
RussiaGate does serve as a
reminder of the thinness of liberal commitment to ‘liberal’
values. In the Red Scare era, liberal devotion to the Bill of Rights
collapsed like a house of cards in the face of the McCarthyite
onslaught. Today, liberals are leading the charge in an assault on
fair play, due process, and the rules of evidence. Innuendo,
anonymous sources, and hearsay form the tissue that supports the
daily Russia insanity. And the glorification of the odious-- the FBI,
CIA, and NSA-- is shameless.
The fact that the celebrated
Mueller investigation has produced nothing substantial beyond an
obvious fact-- Israel meddles in our elections-- should calm the
unhinged. But it doesn’t. The Democrats need both Trump and Russia
at least until the November elections.