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.
months have passed since the 2018 midterm elections, yet Democrats
are already jumping into the 2020 Presidential race with many more
candidates on the way. Typically, candidates are reluctant to go
against an incumbent, but the Democrats smell blood in the water with
the Trump Presidency.
is another “new face” moment when Party leaders sense that
Democratic Party voters are angry at nearly all of the US
institutions and disgusted with past choices.
Earlier moments of flagging voter
confidence necessitated fresh faces to bolster class rule. For
example, in the wake of the Nixon fiasco, the Democrats found a
relatively unknown “aw shucks” peanut farmer/governor from the
South. Jimmy Carter, a “Mr. Clean Jeans” with an unblemished
record as an administrator, served in sharp contrast to the Nixon
sleaze machine. By 1978, he had betrayed the last iteration of a
progressive, New Deal-like Democratic platform and roused the
somnolent then “lion of the Senate”-- Ted Kennedy-- to run
against him in the next primary.
Clinton, another governor, but this time with youth and charm, rode
the health care issue to victory. It is easy to forget that
universal, low-cost healthcare was the number-one issue nearly thirty
years ago and still remains unsolved. And every
Democratic candidate will run in 2020 again on healthcare reform,
though the Democratic Party leadership is working overtime to
stealthily dilute any popular “Medicare for All” program in order
to make it corporate friendly.
twin catastrophe of costly wars and a collapsing economy associated
with the Bush administration drove public confidence in US
institutions to a new low. Once again, ruling class legitimacy
required confidence builders. Seizing the opportunity, the Democrats
offered both a reliable, established policy hand-- Hillary Clinton--
and a new fresh, untainted face-- Barack Obama. Both came with a
bonus appeal to urban social liberals and identitarians: first woman
President or first African American President.
proved better suited to ruling class purposes, raising and spending
over twice as much money as McCain in the general election.
Carter, Obama was all promise and little change. Despite two years of
rare command of both the legislative and the executive branches,
Obama only delivered on a Rube Goldberg health care bill written by
the insurance industry. Of course, its failings are the reason that
the healthcare crisis remains at the top of national issues.
with “hope and change” opened the back door to the vile Donald
Trump and his military/con men coterie. Trump became a gift to the
Democratic Party and the deeply discredited media (polls show that
most people thought that the media was a monger for “fake news”
well before Trump coined the term). With Trump’s bombast and
crudity, Democrats and cable news windbags can trash Trump without
wrestling with deeper issues. Moreover, they could invent a few
issues of their own and further their saber-rattling, militaristic
agenda. If your corporate masters won’t allow you to tackle
inequality, systemic racism, and deteriorating living conditions,
then resort to fear and distraction.
with the prospect of a campaign against a bumbling, egomaniacal
Donald Trump burdened with falling approval ratings, a herd of
Democratic Party politicians and officials are scraping together cash
and scrambling for operatives and supporters. Some are really only
jockeying for a Vice-Presidential anointment. Still others, for
future consideration or a step up in job title. An announcement and a
tour of the hinterlands serves as a beauty contest for some future
considerations. But there are still many with sufficient self-regard
that they plan to run for a shot at Trump.
new in this election-- or appears to be new-- is a sizable, pesky
left wing in the Democratic Party. To be sure, the Party’s left
today is a tepid left by historic or international standards. But
economic duress often generates a left turn. It is established that
younger people’s fate was the most damaged product of a decade of
halting growth, greater inequality, and fewer opportunities for
better jobs in the wake of the 2007-2008 collapse. So it is no
surprise that “socialism”-- ill-defined socialism-- is more
popular with youth than it has been in many generations.
Sanders brought the idea of socialism into a Democratic Party that
had even cast off the term “liberal,” embracing “progressive”
in its place. Cold War Democrats rivaled Republicans in denouncing
course Bernie embraced Scandinavian-style social democracy, but his
use of the forbidden word was welcome indeed.
is worth remembering that the Sanders primary campaign in 2016
garnered 46% of the delegates at the Democratic Convention despite
the widespread sabotage of his campaign by the Party leadership and
the powerful effect of conservative superdelegates. Sanders polled
well against all of the Republican candidates and in states later
critical to Trump’s victory. Nothing demonstrates better the
dissatisfied mood of the country two years ago.
since 2016, the Democratic Party establishment has shown no interest
in embracing, even tolerating Sanders-style leftism. They have
marshalled a host of arguments-- pragmatic, technical, seldom
ideological arguments-- about electability, diversity, demographics,
experience, etc. They muster a slew of “realities”-- budgetary
limits, need to compromise, unintended consequences, etc.-- that
hinder change. They aim to paternalistically keep the Party’s left
within the tent without even remotely advancing a left agenda.
a great extent, Sanders has made their work easier. Aside from some
minor Convention reforms, he has neither asked nor demanded any
substantial programmatic changes in the Party. He has loyally
supported the Party, its strategy, and its candidates since the last
Presidential election. Unlike insurgent counterparts in the
Republican Party, Sanders makes no non-negotiable demands; he refuses
to elevate principles above accommodation to the Democratic Party
center. Whether Sanders consciously serves the Party
(“sheep-dogging”) or naively believes that he can maneuver among
shameless corporate Democrats is irrelevant. He has crippled his
current face of the left ‘insurgency’ within the Democratic Party
is the youthful, attractive and very able Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
What is not surprising is how the Democratic Party establishment and
its media henchmen have lined up against her. What is surprising is
how deft she has been in meeting their often ridiculous attacks.
Tainted Democrats from millionaire Whoopi Goldberg to Neanderthal Joe
Lieberman have dismissively scorned her.
she wants to go, where she will be allowed to go with her streak of
relative independence is yet to be determined. But surely, her
challenging of the Democratic Party leadership is an exciting
introduction of a 70% marginal tax rate for mega-salaries was a
surprise, a welcome and politically shrewd surprise. For the
Democrats who speak “progressive” when they are out of power,
this idea presents an embarrassing problem. Pelosi and her cohorts
have indignantly attacked Trump over his tax breaks for the rich and
corporations, but they will never embrace a real, concrete, and
popular tax policy as a centerpiece in the coming election.
has also drawn attention to the notion of a “Green New Deal.”
Despite the fact that the term remains more of a slogan than a
policy-- how much Green? how much New Deal?-- Democratic Party policy
wonks and the new House leadership are blocking anything even
remotely related to crafting such a policy.
those who were snookered by the contrived faux-progressivism of the
“community-organizer” legend, Barack Obama, Ocasio-Cortez
presents a more credible role model.
the early Presidential prospects, the hollow corporate Democrats
would likely be most happy with Beto O’Rourke, the upstart who
raised a record $83 million dollars to run a Senatorial campaign that
advanced virtually no serious issues. With a name that is instantly a
campaign slogan and with overflowing congeniality, O’Rourke defines
the “moderate” candidate sought by empty suits.
the Obama mold of attractive, youthful and flamboyantly moderate
candidates are Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and
Amy Klobuchar. All are ambitious, anxious to please, and ill-disposed
to advance a peoples’ agenda.
the avuncular crowd-- Joe Biden and sleepy Bob Casey-- are dependable
centrists and accommodators, but not likely to answer to the “new
the Party’s left, Sanders remains the most viable candidate, though
the media has already begun to dig up dirt to undermine his chances.
Should he falter, Elizabeth Warren offers a Sanders-lite candidate
with a credible record of assailing the bankers around the financial
crisis, but little policy-wise beyond repeating that she is an
advocate for the “middle class.”
most intriguing candidate is Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democrat to dare
to challenge the Democratic Party foreign policy consensus. Gabbard
has courageously and vocally defied the apologists for US wars and US
interventions throughout the world. Nearly alone, she has stood
against the war mongers who stoke confrontations and aggression, and
she has even defended Syria’s right to peacefully determine its own
future. Measured against almost any Democrat, her congressional
record and her public positions today
are decidedly the most radically advanced.
the attacks on her candidacy began almost immediately after she
announced plans to run. Rather than weigh her legislative record, her
projected issues, critics dredged statements made in her youth and
misstatements since renounced. They accuse her of being “left
hard-realist” in outlook, “homophobic,” “virulent anti-gay
etc., etc.), loved by the “Conservative Media and the Far Right”
(The Daily Beast)
and on and on. ad nauseum.
Many liberals and the moderate left-- especially the speech
moralizers-- shook their fingers in Gabbard’s direction over past
indiscretions. Significantly, one of Gabbard’s openly gay House
colleagues, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, came to her defense.
Her voting record with the organization that claims to represent the
greatest number of sexually diverse members is 100%.
it can’t go unnoticed that the same standards are not applied to
other candidates. No one has challenged Elizabeth Warren for being a
Republican until an epiphany in1995. No one is probing the past views of the many
“liberal” Bible-thumping Christians who populate the House and
Senate and run for office. If they attend churches that oppose
abortion or same-sex marriage, does that not disqualify them? Or do
we judge them on their own current public posture, as we should?
recall the sickening obituaries by these same news sites a month ago
of ex-CIA chief, Reaganaut George HW Bush, eulogies that found
nothing to fault in his loathsome history. All was forgiven.
the real grounds for the attack on Gabbard lie elsewhere. Gabbard
dared to question the official narrative that Assad is a butcher and
the US should push to overthrow him. She also criticized Israeli
apartheid, another foreign policy disqualifier with the media, the
pundits, and the Democratic Party leadership.
should not be lost on the Democratic Party left that no other
candidate will speak as boldly on these issues, including Bernie
Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And it should not be lost on the left,
in general, that no prominent Democratic leader has stepped up to
defend Gabbard’s foreign policy positions, her right to
legitimately hold them, or her right to run for President on these
a sense of history by 24-hour cable news noise and suffering social
media addiction, it should come as no surprise that most voters
demonstrate no grasp of the history of reformism, of insurgencies in
the Democratic Party. As some left pundits like to remind us: “The
Democratic Party is where good ideas go to die!”
is much truth in this epigram. With the exception of extraordinary
moments like the Great Depression and the 1960s mass insurgencies,
the Democratic Party as an institution has shown overwhelming
resistance to any movement to change its character from fealty to the
capitalist agenda. Its existence as an opposition force is based
solely on cultivating an image moderately distant from the other more
shamelessly pro-corporate, unabashedly capitalist party. For the most
part, the Republican Party has established the capitalist, ruling
class line and the Democrats have occupied a position minimally to
the left of that line, an option available when the preferred line
falters. That would appear to be the logic of a two-party system when
both parties are capitalist.
details of history support this thesis. Within a few years of the
close of the Second World War, the Democrats were in retreat from
Roosevelt’s New Deal vision, especially its foreign policy. The
turbulent sixties were dampened by assassinations that effectively
disrupted electoral politics and frightened potential insurgents who
likely suspected that the spate of assassinations was more than a
Senator George McGovern secured the Democratic Party nomination in
1972 and promised to further democratize the process, extend the
Great Society, and revise US foreign policy, the media, the
Democratic Party establishment, a conservative labor leadership, and
Cold Warriors subverted, sabotaged his campaign and emboldened the
re-elected Nixon administration.
that same Nixon administration was disgraced and the Republican Party
damaged, the Democrats enjoyed a rare freedom of action with a
veto-proof House and Senate domination in 1976. The platform promised
a reduction in military spending, full employment, a low-income
housing policy, comprehensive national health insurance with
universal coverage, acceptance of busing for racial integration,
rejection of nuclear energy, and a host of other progressive reforms.
This was to be the last New Deal-like Democratic platform. It was
betrayed within two years.
the mid-1980s, the Democratic Party was reborn as Reaganism-lite. As
The New York
virtually all of the reforms of the 1976 and 1980 platforms were
discarded. In their place was a new focus: “The  platform
contrasts in a number of key areas with the 1976 platform on which
Jimmy Carter and Mr. Mondale were elected, and the differences say a
good deal about the path the party has chosen this year. Abortion and
place of welfare-related programs, the Democrats offered “Cost
1984 platform mentions marijuana for the first time in its section on
crime and drug control,” signaling the Democrats’ developing
fixation on criminalizing drug use. “What may be the only overt
mention of liberalism in the 1984 platform,” TheNew York Times
notes, “maintains that the answer to crime is 'neither a permissive
liberalism nor a static conservatism.’”
the Democrats’ fascination with global, unfettered markets emerged
at this time: In the view of The New
York Times, “The party is more
concerned about world trade now than it was in 1976, with attention
rising from two paragraphs to nearly 2,000 words. Very little of the
campaign protectionist language survived into the final draft,
however, which observes that ‘the international economy is the area
in which we must compete.’”
the grand liberal chronicler, The New
York Times, underscores above, the
1984 Democratic Party platform marked a watershed in the abandonment
of New Deal thinking in the party, a change that entrenched even
further in the ensuing years. By the election of Bill Clinton, the
process was completed, allowing the Democrats to successfully attack
and dismantle the New Deal welfare system. An attempt by Clinton and
Newt Gingrich to privatize social security was only derailed with the
distraction of Monica Lewinsky.
course, there were insurgencies along the way-- some shallow, some
Quixotic. The Kennedyesque Gary Hart campaign was hollow and
symbolic; Jesse Jackson successfully broke through the racial
barriers constraining a Black national candidate by projecting a
remarkably radical economic and peace program in the primaries, only
to be buried by corporate fundraising funneled to the Democratic
establishment; the Deaniac campaign of Howard Dean was innovative and
boldly challenging of the war consensus, but was sunk by a corporate
media exercising its powers to submerge Dean under waves of derision.
suggests that the Democratic Party is a corporate monolith only moved
to change in order to meet profound crisis coupled with extreme mass
pressure. Even then, it remains a capitalist party, a party that puts
the interests of capital before all else. And when it is forced to
make concessions, its corporate masters move as quickly as possible
to reverse them.
shows that these moments of concession are extremely rare.
Nonetheless, new generations of well-meaning activists are intent
upon foregoing the more radical-- actually the more promising, but
more tasking-- alternatives of independent, revolutionary politics.
As insurgents have in the past, they will attempt to reform the
can only hope that when the new generation, excited again by the idea of
socialism, recognizes the futility of transforming the
Democratic Party, they will not fall into cynicism and settle for
polishing the capitalist apple. One can only hope that they will find
a home where they are more welcome.
can it happen that an unpopular right wing US President can, in
effect, call to end seven years of an undeclared war against the
government of Syria, a UN member nation, inducing most of the liberal
establishment to recoil and challenge the prospect of peace?
How is it that a Marine General
who earned the sobriquets “Mad Dog” and “the butcher of
Fallujah” can be canonized by large sectors of the left as a role
model for reasoned sobriety and judgement?
can US left icon, Noam Chomsky, often an outspoken opponent of US
aggression, oppose the removal of US troops from Syria when the
troops have no legitimate role in that country?
these sensible questions signal that some political thinkers have
lost their way, that widely accepted, firmly planted political
alignments have become unmoored.
the surface, the Trump presidency and the intense, sharply divided
response to it have forced all events or actions-- from the most
innocuous to the most menacing-- into ill-fitting, pro- or anti-Trump
example, the recent deaths of two young migrants in Federal custody
have been laid at the doorstep of Donald Trump with his loud, vulgar,
and racist anti-immigrant banter. While no tears should be shed for
Trump, singling Trump out exculpates the bi-partisan, near-universal
support for creating the draconian ICE in 2002. Further, it neglects
the prior documented questionable deaths at the hands of ICE (107
from 2003 to 2007, for example). Nor do the self-righteous Trump foes
acknowledge the long enduring corruption and no-bid contracts
plaguing ICE. Much of the anti-Trump crowd were silent during the
Obama years when 2.4 million immigrants were deported by the
“Deporter-in-Chief.” Of those deported in 2015, around 40% had no
criminal convictions. Apparently, the plight of immigrants is only of
interest to “resistance” liberals and their media cheerleaders
when it can be used against Trump and his gang.
current government shutdown-- snagged on Trump’s insistence of
funding for an anti-immigrant wall-- has generated howls of
indignation from the Democratic Party’s “resistance” fighters
and the cable television warriors. They rightly see the Trump wall as
a draconian affront to the dignity of immigrants and an hysterical
response to exaggerated fears. And yet these same human rights
fail to acknowledge the infamous wall constructed by the Israelis to
deny access to their Palestinian neighbors, stripping them of their
dignity and their well-being. The parallel escapes them, achieving no
traction in the corporate media.
the brutal killing of Khashoggi, the Washington
Post writer, at the hands of Saudi
officials has become-- thanks to Trump’s clumsy, outrageous defense
of the Saudi Crown Prince-- a stick to beat Trump.
pathetic defense of Saudi criminality coincided-- a remarkable
coincidence-- with the release of a study by a CIA-linked
organization that announced that 85,000 children had been killed
by the Saudi military and its allies in Yemen’s civil war. The
shock wave rolling through the corporate media was worthy of Claude
Rain’s wry movie discovery of gambling in Casablanca’s
mind that independent, but marginalized media has been chronicling
Saudi atrocities in Yemen for the war’s nearly four-year duration.
Never mind that US support for Saudi intervention, as well as actual
clandestine US intervention, pre-date the Trump administration.
there is the big lie of RussiaGate: unsubstantiated charges of
interference in US domestic affairs lodged by the same US
intelligence agencies and their cohorts that have mounted large-scale
subversion, influence-peddling, corruption, and even military
intervention in the affairs of uncounted governments for decade after
interminable Mueller investigation still gives hope to the liberals
that Trump can be linked to the evil Russians as well.
is easy to dismiss the inconsistencies, the selective blindness of US
liberals as mere hypocrisy. Undoubtedly, it is that. But something
deeper is behind the hypocrisy that commits liberals to side with the
neo-conservatives, the FBI, the CIA and the other intelligence
agencies that spy on our citizens, the war-mongering generals, and
the monopoly media that gave us “weapons of mass destruction” and
fairly elected Venezuelan “dictators.”
hypocrisy emerges from the deeply embedded bi-polarity of the US
political system and its ill-fit with the political realities of
today. The two bourgeois parties that define US politics constitute a
narrow continuum that can neither confine nor give coherent meaning
to the ongoing crisis of decadent US capitalism. And two-party
thinking casts little light on the crisis.
today’s terms, the permitted political norms fail to explain and
address Trumpism without resorting to conspiracy theories and bizarre
alignments. Trump’s rise requires a wholesale examination and
possible exposure of the profound corruption and dysfunctionality of
the two-party system and its monopoly capitalist base. To explore
Trump’s meaning (beyond his raging ego, his country club bigotry,
and his unbounded ignorance) and delve into his administration's
restore-the-empire nationalism, its faux populism, and its
inconsistent foreign policy requires a commitment to candor that the
political leadership and the corporate media are not prepared to
dramatic loss of legitimacy by the media, the two parties, the
judicial system, the Congress, the banks, and other institutions over
the last decade is a well-established fact substantiated by numerous
polls. Yet poll respondents still show confidence in the military and
the intelligence services. It is no wonder that political leaders and
the corporate media cling to these institutions like long lost
lovers. It is no wonder that politicians seek out veterans for
office, wave flags at every opportunity, and promote unceasing
militarism. It is no wonder that the media rely on stables of
ex-generals and retired intelligence operatives. Rather than address
the collapse of legitimacy, US rulers choose the road of sleazy
once widely touted and grudgingly accepted post-Cold War US global
dominance is now challenged on many fronts. PRChina and Russia and
other countries and blocs defy US demands and policies and assert
their own interests. It’s a different world-- less compliant than
the world that GHW Bush found in rallying allies to the first war
with Iraq. The ever-increasing number of international sanctions
attest to the desperate attempts by the US to stem the tide of
defiance. US elites in both parties and in the media refuse to
recognize a world without US hegemony. Instead of striving for global
parity, US elites resort to contriving aggressive, irredeemably evil
the political parties nor the corporate news/entertainment complex
acknowledge the devastation wrought by the long continuing march of
economic inequality and the catastrophic destruction rendered by the
2007-2008 crash upon the security and well-being of working people in
the US. Blinded by stock market euphoria and class arrogance, elites
in both parties neglected the interests of millions of voters who
proved pivotal in the 2016 election. They prefer to dismiss
grievances and lecture the working class on accommodating the stark,
new realities of market morality.
Trumpism advances its dishonest, unrealistic promises to the
forgotten, its pledge to restore the US to greatness, its demand of
global leadership, and its caricaturized scorn of real political
cynicism and media shallowness. It appeals to a constituency
unrecognized and unrecognizable by the liberal elites who have
reduced political discourse to a very narrow conversation
uncritically friendly to both monopoly capitalism and its
the political void left by Democratic Party barrenness, the Trump
circus thrives. With a Democratic Party beholden only to corporate
interests. along with the issues troubling the bourgeoisie and
petite-bourgeoisie, the attack upon the Trump malignancy takes the
absurd forms that we witness daily.
another election may send Trump packing, it will not magically
reverse the many decades of bankrupt and decadent politics that
opened the door to Trumpism. It is foolish to count on a corrupted
Democratic Party leadership to pave a new course different from the
tragic road travelled by both parties from Reagan to Trump.
that many in Europe longed for a time when the embarrassing absurdity
of Silvio Berlusconi would vacate the electoral scene. But without an
authentic and committed movement against monopoly capital, Italy is
today saddled with the equally ugly and perhaps even more
dysfunctional Lega and Five Star Movement.
lesson should not be lost on the US liberals who are prepared to sell
their integrity to the enemy to secure the exit of Donald Trump.