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Workers ! Future depends on ourselves ! - Matière et Révolution
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Workers ! Future depends on ourselves !

Monday 5 December 2016

We Have Been Asleep For Too Long

Donald Trump is going to the White House and the administration he is forming is horrifying. Trump’s appointments began with Republican senator Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, and Stephen Bannon, head of Breitbart News, as White House Strategist. Priebus is a far-right Republican who opposes unions, the rights of gay people, and women’s right to abortion. Bannon, as head of Breitbart News, spreads viciously racist, anti-women, anti-Jewish news stories. Bannon has made Breitbart a home for the so-called “Alt-Right”, which is code for openly racist, white nationalists.

It gets worse. Trump appointed Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as director of the CIA. Flynn is a military extremist. Flynn thinks Islam isn’t a real religion and all Muslims are enemies. Pompeo is no better. He plans to form a database of dissidents using unlimited surveillance of phones and emails.

Trump’s pick for Attorney General is Jeff Sessions, a known racist judge, who as an attorney during the 1980s worked to intimidate black voters in Alabama and prosecute civil rights activists. At the time, Sessions joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”

The people being considered for other appointments are no less horrible, like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for Secretary of Labor, and Myron Ebell for head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Walker launched a major attack on unions in 2011 using legislation to severely limit union rights. And Ebell denies that humans cause global warming and believes pesticides are harmless.

As for Trump’s policies, he still promises the immediate deportation of three million people as so-called illegal immigrants. He still promises more war, openly torturing prisoners, expansion of prisons, more militarized police, more shameless killing of black people in the name of so-called law and order, and more extraction of oil and coal.

It’s no surprise that there have been over 700 racist attacks since Trump’s election according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Trump told his followers to stop, but with every racist official he appoints, he is encouraging them to keep going.

The policies of the previous administrations, especially those of the Democratic Party, have opened the door for the Trump brand of hate-filled politics. For decades, politicians, from both the Democrat and Republican parties, have presided over a brutal system of attacks on working people and wars throughout the world. In 1994, Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement that enabled American companies to dismantle factories along with jobs. Hillary Clinton was ready to sign the Trans Pacific Partnership which would do more of the same. Both parties have maintained the vicious wars in the Middle East, killing millions of people. They have deported millions of immigrants, more under Obama than any previous president. Both supported the $16 trillion in bailouts to banks and corporations. Trump won over many voters by claiming to be an outsider who opposes these policies, while stoking racism and xenophobia. But in reality, Trump is not an outsider – he’s part of the club. He’s a billionaire real estate tycoon, and banks and corporations have no doubts he will continue to carry out the necessary attacks on all of us in order to represent the needs of their system.

Today the Democrats say we need to work with Trump. Even Bernie Sanders would work with him if “Mr. Trump has the guts to stand up to those corporations.” No! It’s time to stand up to Trump, the Republicans, the Democrats, and their whole rotten system. Tens of thousands of people have already started by discussing, organizing and demonstrating. We the working class, the 99%, have been asleep for too long. It’s time for us to wake up.

Many people are in shock that a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-Muslim bigot who thinks global warming is a hoax and that torture is OK, will soon be the President of the U.S. Trump pretended to be an outsider – a man of the people. He is a billionaire tycoon, who tried to block workers at his job sites from organizing unions and lives in a gold decorated penthouse like a king.

He is a master of reality TV and his political reality TV show worked. He played on people’s prejudices and fears – the traditional blame game – telling white workers and middle class people that their problems were caused by Washington politicians, minorities and immigrants. He is a defender of the capitalist system with its push for profits at the expense of our lives, our health and the very survival of the planet.

And the corporate media played along, giving him massive free publicity every time he opened his disgusting mouth or sent a vicious tweet. Fox News showed Trump as the hero who would make America great again. And any workers or women, or minorities or gold star families or protestors who criticized him were unfair, wrong or anti-American.

Many people are sad and disappointed that Hillary Clinton didn’t win. But the disappointment is based on illusions that the Democratic Party would represent our interests. People saw the Democratic Party in action as it assumed that everyone would line up behind her just because Trump was so despicable. Clinton campaigned on the so-called accomplishments of the past 8 years and promised more of the same. She is a true representative of the rich against the working class.

The real failure of an economic recovery for the majority turned many working class voters towards Trump, or meant that almost half of those eligible to vote chose not to vote. Their elections gave us the choice between a billionaire bigot and a corporate politician—this is no real choice at all.

Facing a Trump presidency, many people are afraid. Racist and anti-Muslim talk, graffiti and even attacks have begun. Racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan are emboldened and ready to come out openly to spew their racist filth and hatred.

People’s fear is based on real threats that Trump has made. He promised to deport millions of immigrants and take away the protected status of young undocumented students, to cut off funds to sanctuary cities, to bring back “stop and frisk,” making police repression in minority communities more violent than it is now. He promised to reduce or eliminate women’s health services and the right to choose, to reverse rights and protections for gay and transgender people. His go-ahead for big energy to tear up federal lands with fracking, oil exploitation, coal mining operations and pipelines threatens life as we know it.

Faced with these threats, what can we do? First, we need to understand what we are up against. We can’t wish and hope that Trump won’t be as bad as we think. We can’t hope that the Democrats will defend our interests. And perhaps most importantly, we can’t blame each other and fall for the one percent’s divide and conquer game. We cannot be divided and tolerate any racist, sexist, anti-Muslim or anti-LGBT talk or behavior.

Students are right to walk out of their schools. People are right to take to the streets and to plan protests for inauguration day to put Trump on notice, day one of his presidency, that we don’t accept his attacks and his open defense of the bosses’ and bankers’ interests at the expense of our lives and those of future generations.

We must stand up for ourselves and organize and we must be prepared to fight back. It is possible. In North Dakota, thousands of people have joined the Standing Rock Sioux, putting their bodies on the line to stop the oil companies from destroying their land, their water and their lives.

But we need to go beyond demonstrations and isolated defensive fights. We need to remember that we are the majority. We produce all the goods. We provide all the services. We make the society run. And we can make it stop. The time to begin is now. Join us!

Who do we blame for Trump’s election? Do we blame those who didn’t vote? Those who believed their vote would bring more jobs? The women who voted for a sexist? The African Americans and Latinos who voted for a racist? Those who thought their vote would protect their guns and safety? Those who thought they were voting against Washington? Those who believe that immigrants are the problem? Those who believed their vote was defending the so-called right to life?

When we don’t challenge the system that creates the problems, we end up blaming each other. It’s the bosses’ system that created Donald Trump, the capitalist system that puts profits over people’s lives, that exploits and oppresses the vast majority.

They do everything they can to divide and turn us against each other. And then they laugh if we fall in to their trap.

In the Midwest swing states, nearly one third of the 700 counties that voted for Obama in 2008 voted for Trump. Why the change? The vote for Trump was in big part a reflection of economic despair and disgust with the policies of Washington.

In Indiana, for example, 100,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last 16 years. The new jobs that exist pay around $20,000 a year. White male workers without a college education have seen their incomes cut 20 percent in the last decades. Eighty-five percent of Trump voters rated the economy negatively.

Clinton said she was going to continue on this course and referred to Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.” With these choices, is it really a wonder why some voted for Trump?

At their White House meeting Obama and Trump seemed like friends. Obama said that his number one priority now is to make sure Trump succeeds. Trump called Obama a “very good man.”

But during the campaign, Obama said that Trump was unqualified and unprepared to be president, and denounced Trump’s attacks on women, African Americans, immigrants and Muslims. Trump said that Obama’s 8-year presidency was a “disaster” and that he would get rid of Obamacare, and overturn much of Obama’s legacy. So what the heck is going on?

No matter what they say during the campaigns – the politicians who represent the 1% want to make sure that there is a smooth transition of power and that the system that guarantees their profits will continue uninterrupted.

Whether we are parents, siblings or teachers, we should tell our young people to treat each other with respect and not to bully others.

But how do we explain to them that a man, who has bullied and insulted women, and threatened minorities, immigrants and Muslims, is president?

Many kids are afraid and worried that their families will be torn apart because of their immigration status or whether they will be harassed for how they look.

While we should try to comfort young people as best we can, we certainly shouldn’t adapt to this insanity. We can tell them that this is their world and they have the right to stand up for themselves and walk out of school from San Jose to Oakland and from Denver to Omaha.

Trump picks General “Mad Dog” Mattis for secretary of defense

The disclosure by President-elect Donald Trump Thursday night that he will appoint retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as his secretary of defense has been greeted with approval across the political establishment and in the major organs of the corporate-controlled media.

Trump made the remark towards the end of his rally-style address in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he elaborated a perspective that combined extreme nationalism and militarism with demagogic promises to defend the interests of the working class. He referred several times to Mattis’s nickname, “Mad Dog,” given to him after he led the savage Marine counteroffensive that retook the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004. Only in today’s America could the nomination of a general with that moniker be hailed as a sign of moderation and good sense.

Mattis’s nomination will require special legislation to pass Congress, since current law requires that a military officer be retired for at least seven years before returning to the Pentagon in a high-ranking position reserved for civilians.

When the Department of Defense was established in 1947, replacing the Department of War, Congress stipulated that no one who had served as a commissioned officer within ten years (reduced to seven in 2008) could be appointed. Though this requirement was immediately waived to allow for the appointment of General George Marshall in 1950, no former general has occupied the post in the past 66 years.

There is, however, no commitment to the basic democratic issue of civilian control of the military within the US political establishment. There is little opposition in Congress, in either party, to the passage of a waiver for Mattis.

Mattis has a long and bloody career. He played leading operational roles in both the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003-2004. He later co-authored the Pentagon’s counterinsurgency warfare manual with General David Petraeus, and held a top position with NATO.

He ended his career as head of the US Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing the US withdrawal from Iraq, the increasingly bloody stalemate in Afghanistan, and the US efforts to bolster the Egyptian military against the revolutionary upsurge in that country. He also supervised the drawing up of US plans for intervention in Syria, hailing the armed Islamic uprising against the Assad regime as a potentially devastating strategic blow to Assad’s ally Iran.

The four-star general was removed from his post at CENTCOM five months early, after he came into conflict with the Obama White House over its policy towards Iran, which he regarded as unduly conciliatory. Once retired, Mattis made his differences public, blasting the Obama administration for what he called its “policy of disengagement in the Middle East.”

This public criticism endeared Mattis to all factions of the Republican Party. “Never Trump” conservatives like William Kristol floated his name as a possible independent candidate for president against Trump. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton invited him to speak in their support at the Republican and Democratic conventions, but he declined to play any role in the 2016 campaign.

In the corporate-controlled elite media, there is remarkable unanimity in support of Trump’s appointment. The praise of Mattis runs the gamut from conservative to liberal.

The Wall Street Journal headlined its editorial, “Oorah, General Mattis,” saying that while Trump picked cronies for other positions, he “has chosen a Defense Secretary on the merits.” As for the constitutional implications, the editorial states, “The principle of civilian leadership is important, but Gen. Mattis has the knowledge and experience to deserve the dispensation.”

The Washington Post, while expressing some reservations about the prominence of retired military officers in the unfolding Trump administration, nonetheless concludes that a waiver of the ban on a retired general heading the Pentagon is warranted, supposedly as a check on the incoming president: “The extreme circumstances of the Trump presidency-to-be—including a commander in chief who is both ignorant of military and international affairs and prone to impulsiveness—strengthen the case for a Mattis exception.”

The New York Times unreservedly praises Mattis as “An Experienced Choice for the Pentagon,” suggesting that he “could bring a voice of reason to a White House that will be led by a dangerously ignorant president who has so far shown too little interest in opposing views.”

Echoing the Democratic Party and those sections of the military-intelligence apparatus that backed the Clinton campaign, both the Times and the Post have expressed concerns that the incoming Trump administration will not be aggressive enough against Russia. On November 12, the Times published an editorial warning about “The Danger of Going Soft on Russia,” criticizing Trump for having been “Russia’s defender and the beneficiary of Moscow’s efforts to influence the elections.”

Within these circles, Mattis—who has differed with Trump on Russia—is seen as a counterweight to any tendency of the incoming administration to move away from the anti-Russia policy.

The only real concern expressed by the Times is “whether General Mattis intends to roll back military personnel policy changes adopted during the Obama administration, including opening all combat roles to women, allowing openly gay troops to serve and accommodating transgender troops.” The liberal newspaper-of-record is far more concerned with the gender and sexual identity of American troops than the identity of the people they will tasked with incinerating.

The Times has distinguished itself as the most fervent advocate of US military intervention in the Syrian civil war, supposedly on the grounds that this is necessary to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The “human rights” crusaders are not put off by the nomination of a general who once boasted about how killing Taliban was “fun.”

What is particularly noteworthy is that all three editorials discuss the principle of civilian control of the military, which would be effectively gutted by the appointment of Mattis, and dismiss it.

The Mattis nomination is not an isolated case. Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is Trump’s choice as national security adviser, the top White House position coordinating military and foreign policy. Retired General David Petraeus, former US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and former CIA director, is a leading contender for secretary of state. Retired General John F. Kelly is under discussion to head the Department of Homeland Security. And Admiral Michael Rogers, the current head of the National Security Agency, is likely to be named Director of National Intelligence, coordinating all 19 components of the vast US intelligence apparatus.

It is thus quite possible that military officers, active or retired, could end up holding every major national security position in the incoming Trump administration. This is not merely a demonstration of the militaristic character of Trump’s perspective. It must be understood, more fundamentally, as a consequence of the long-term militarization of American foreign policy and American society as a whole.

US imperialism has been at war for most of the past 25 years, and continuously since 2001. Barack Obama, when he leaves office next January 20, will be the first president in American history to have been a wartime commander-in-chief for an entire eight years in office. It is not an accident that under such conditions, the military has come to play such a decisive role in national-security policy.

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