In Brief

Greetings from Fred Goldstein

By Fred Goldstein posted on November 23, 2017 This talk was presented on Nov. 18 to the Workers World Party National Conference. Greetings to the 2017 annual conference of Workers World Party. I want to especially greet all the new comrades, candidates and friends who have come to participate with the party in evaluating past struggles and planning future struggles against capitalism and to build the fight pushing back exploitation and oppression of all types. We are here to chart a path to eventual...

Prison profiteers drive detention of immigrants

By Fred Goldstein, published April 22, 2015 The U.S. prison system is more and more becoming a profit center for big private corporations. The detention of undocumented immigrants fleeing persecution has become a special source of “profit from misery.” A new study from “Grassroots Leadership” documents how the largest private prison corporations in the country, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, have spent millions of dollars lobbying the Department of Homeland Security...

Mass protests, boycott specter make anti-LGBTQ laws bad for business

By Fred Goldstein, April 6, 2015 It is rare when the capitalist class openly reveals its relationship to its political servants. But in the cases of the bigoted so-called “religious freedom” laws passed in Indiana and Arkansas, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. panicked in the face of mass outrage and protests and pressured two right-wing Republican governors to shift course. Passage of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in Indiana was right-wing revenge for a string of court rulings...

In the Mueller vs. Trump fight, an independent, working-class struggle is needed

It is harmful to the masses to let a faction of the ruling class lead the battle against Trump. Mueller and his grouping will do it in an entirely unprincipled way which will do nothing to impede the attacks on the people.

Robert Mueller and Donald Trump

Dec. 4 — While the Trump administration’s attacks upon the masses continue without letup, the political struggle within the ruling class intensifies and the political crisis of the system deepens.

On the one hand, the Republican Party and Trump are about to finalize a tax giveaway to millionaires and billionaires to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, even as they starve social services, health care, education and environmental protection and threaten hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

On the other hand, the special prosecutor’s office under Robert Mueller has just forced Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, to enter a plea agreement that can implicate high Trump officials in secret dealings with the Russians during the election campaign of 2016.

It is harmful to the masses to let a faction of the ruling class lead the battle against Trump. Mueller and his grouping will do it in an entirely unprincipled way which will do nothing to impede the attacks on the people.

Many, many struggles have been waged on numerous fronts against capitalist reaction — on the picket lines, in the communities, on the campuses, outside detention centers, in the prisons and on the reservations. These struggles must grow stronger and wider until they eclipse the Mueller investigation and the FBI — enemies of the people. The popular struggle against Trump must take center stage.

Mueller v. Trump pushback against right-wing move

The move by Mueller against Flynn is calculated to undermine Trump at the moment that he is moving to push things even more sharply to the right. In fact, the Mueller investigation is as much about Trump as it is about Russia. Mueller took Trump totally by surprise by not giving the White House even a moment’s advance warning of the deal with Flynn.

While the ruling class is salivating over the planned tax cuts for billionaires, oil companies, real estate moguls, etc., they are also applauding Trump’s attack on all forms of regulations that limit the damage the bosses can do to the workers, the environment, immigrants, education and so on.

But while they are using Trump for their own enrichment, the imperialist rulers don’t want him to tear apart the global system of alliances and networks of subversion that they have built up over decades to protect their profit interests.

The announcement of Flynn’s plea deal came shortly after White House plans to move CIA Director Mike Pompeo into Rex Tillerson’s post as secretary of state were made public. Tillerson is no dove. He was CEO of the biggest private oil company in the world, ExxonMobil. He is a reactionary, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, who spent his career dealing with the heads of oil states and planning the plunder of oil-rich countries.

Tillerson: watchdog for Wall Street

Yet Tillerson is a watchdog for Wall Street who has differed with Trump on many things and has tried to uphold many of U.S. imperialism’s standard political positions in the world.

Tillerson helped keep Trump from pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement. He opposed pulling out of the Paris environmental accord. He held out for negotiations on the Korean crisis and was publicly rebuked by Trump, who said Tillerson was “wasting his time.” Tillerson was opposed to Trump’s alignment with Saudi Arabia’s blockade of Qatar, where there is a giant U.S. airbase. He tried to patch up U.S. relations with NATO after Trump called the NATO alliance “obsolete.”

When asked about Trump’s views that there were “good people” among the torch-carrying fascists in Charlottesville, Va., Tillerson replied that Trump “speaks for himself.” And it has been reported that Tillerson had deep reservations about the Muslim travel ban. These are all standard, mainstream imperialist positions expressing the basic interests of Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Pompeo: extreme Islamophobe, warhawk, Trump confidante

But Pompeo is far more right wing. He spends hours with Trump every day, traveling from Langley, Va., to the White House to brief Trump on developments. He is an ultra-warhawk who has spoken of assassinating north Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sabre-rattled at Iran, and is a fanatical Islamophobe on the same wavelength as the neofascist Britain First organization.

Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo is regarded as a trusted consultant by Trump. Trump just retweeted three concocted and violent anti-Muslim videos to his 144 million followers that came from Britain First. Pompeo defended the tweets.

Pompeo is also an ally of Frank Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney considers following the Koran to be “sedition,” which should be prosecuted. Pompeo has been on Gaffney’s radio program 20 times. Pompeo has publicly agreed with Gaffney that President Barack Obama was anti-Christian and pro-Islamic State group. (theatlantic.com, Dec. 3)

For the moment, Trump has pulled back on the removal of Tillerson, undoubtedly in response to the Mueller attack.

Democratic Party leaders, liberals, moderates push Russian card against Trump

The anti-Trump sectors of the ruling class, and especially the ruling-class advisory ranks in the media and the think tanks, as well as the Democratic Party leadership, are hoping that Mueller will be able to bring down Trump or push him back over the Russian connections. That is because they do not want to confront him politically for his racism, sexism and bigotry and his warmongering, Islamophobic, anti-working class, authoritarian style of rule.

The liberals and moderates, especially the Democratic Party leadership, feel that Trump and his family and administration are vulnerable because they are so entangled with Russian officials and capitalists. These anti-Trump forces have elected to confront him on a reactionary, anti-Russia basis, rather than on the basis of his reactionary policies and politics.

For them, the anti-Russia campaign has the twin virtues of keeping Pentagon military contracts flowing as well as promoting a geostrategic position of the military encirclement of Russia. That is what the attempt to seize all of Ukraine was about. Now U.S. battalions and anti-missile batteries are being moved within miles of Russia. The excuse given for these hostile maneuvers is that they are aimed at protecting Poland and the Baltic satellites of NATO.

Trump’s Russia entanglements and the banks

Trump’s vulnerability flows from his years of dealing with Russian oligarchs. During the 1990s and after the 2007 economic crisis, Trump’s access to big imperialist banks ran dry.

As this author wrote in an article titled “Behind the firing of Comey: A struggle within the U.S. ruling class,” which appeared in the May 16 issue of Workers World:

“[T]he only big bank that has lent money to Trump in recent years is Deutsche Bank, which was recently fined $630 million for laundering $10 billion worth of Russian money. (cnn.com, Jan. 31) The big New York Wall Street banks won’t lend to him because he has gone bankrupt six times, stiffing investors, contractors and workers.” (Wash. Post, Sept. 26, 2016, and wsj.com, March 20, 2016)

John Norris and Carolyn Kenney wrote of his relation to Russian oligarchs in “Trump’s Conflicts of Interest in Russia”: “As Fortune Magazine notes, during the 1990s, Trump found himself more than $4 billion in debt to more than 70 banks, and a series of bankruptcies, heavy financial losses, and debt restructuring lead almost all major American banks to simply refuse to do business with him. … [H]e began to rely very heavily on foreign banks for his lending.” (americanprogess.org, June 14)

Many more examples could be cited, including how a former Soviet official turned capitalist opened up his world headquarters in Trump Tower. But there is not space enough in this article to elaborate.

Trump, in other words, was too crooked for the crooks on Wall Street. But the Russian oligarchs, who had become billionaires overnight by plundering the destroyed socialist economy after the counterrevolution, first under Boris Yeltsin and then under Vladimir Putin, had money to spare to be invested and laundered. The Trump family, being shut out of Wall Street financing, was inevitably drawn to them.

Of course, politics follows the money, and the Trump family became entangled with Russia, financially and perhaps politically. This is what makes Trump legally vulnerable under U.S. capitalist law. It is on this that the neoliberals, Democratic Party bigwigs and anti-Trump sectors of the ruling class are pinning their hopes.

Workers and oppressed must take advantage of split to fight back

Whatever the particulars of the case, it would be to the detriment of the working class to let the ruling class lead the battle against Trump.

If the top labor leadership were not in the pockets of the bosses, it would have mounted massive struggles against the tax bill, opened up the fight for universal health care and defended the 800,000 DACA immigrants, as well as the tens of thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean facing deportation.

It would fight for a massive raise in the minimum wage and, above all, open up the battle against racism/white supremacy, sexism and anti-LGBTQ oppression. It would demand U.S. troops out of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa and south Korea, and an end to U.S. military exercises against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, hands off Venezuela and Honduras, and an end to the blockade of Cuba.

It would wage a struggle to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, not only in the interest of the environment, but in solidarity with the Native people whose land is being destroyed.

This would be the beginning of a minimal independent working- class program.

This is the way to fight Trump and Trumpism, as well as the neoliberalism of the Democratic Party imperialists.

Greetings from Fred Goldstein

This talk was presented on Nov. 18 to the Workers World Party National Conference.

Greetings to the 2017 annual conference of Workers World Party.

I want to especially greet all the new comrades, candidates and friends who have come to participate with the party in evaluating past struggles and planning future struggles against capitalism and to build the fight pushing back exploitation and oppression of all types. We are here to chart a path to eventual socialist revolution. There will be ample time to discuss and thrash out the way to go forward.

Trump and his administration are hell-bent on bringing more suffering to the masses on every front and further enriching the already obscenely wealthy ruling class. They are fanning the flames of white supremacy, ravaging health care, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, carrying out witch hunts against undocumented workers, unleashing the police and fascist forces on oppressed communities, enabling the polluters to destroy the environment, and the list goes on.

They are also unleashing the military, escalating drone attacks, and Trump threatens nuclear war against the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] almost weekly. Of course, Trump is an authoritarian reactionary, racist bigot, but the rise of Trump can be laid directly at the feet of the previous administrations. Both imperialist parties, the Democratic and the Republican parties, aided and assisted in the breakup of the unions and played key roles in the deteriorating conditions for the masses.

I want to call attention to the fact that this conference coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.  It is important for new comrades and friends to know that our party traces its roots back to that revolution. The revolution was carried out by the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. This revolution sent tremors of fear through the propertied classes of the world and especially the ruling classes in the imperialist countries, for it was the first time that an enslaved class, an exploited class, a downtrodden class seized and held state power.

It took the property of the bankers, the capitalists and the landlords and proceeded to construct a planned economy against all odds. The revolution went through many trials and tribulations, advances and setbacks until it was finally overcome 74 years later.

It is crucial to study the history of this revolution for its relevance to the struggle today. But what I want to stress here is that the Russian revolution was the opening shot, the very first stage, in the world historic transition from capitalism to socialism and communism.

It took place during World War I, the first major breakdown of the world imperialist system. There were revolutions and uprisings at the end of the war involving millions all throughout Europe and in the colonies. But under these conditions, it was only the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, who were prepared to take advantage of these events and overthrow the hated czarist and capitalist regime.

This revolution was forced to survive alone for decades in a world dominated by hostile imperialist powers. But the fact that the counterrevolution eventually prevailed in the USSR in no way negates the historical significance of this opening stage of the world socialist revolution.

In looking back, we want to reiterate that the socialist revolution in the USSR and the succeeding revolutions in Korea, Vietnam and China all arose out of the breakdown of the world imperialist system as well.

Fast forward to the present. …

Beginning in 2007, with the world financial and economic crisis, imperialism entered into a new stage, a stage of capitalism at a dead end. The capitalist system as a whole could no longer overcome its crisis of overproduction and has condemned more and more workers to unemployment, underemployment and poverty. This dead-end capitalism is also low-wage capitalism.  The bosses have created a global race to the bottom for the workers while they rake in huge profits.

This new phase of imperialism will inevitably open up revolutionary opportunities for the working class and oppressed. And just like in 1917, we must build the party in the spirit of Lenin, which is ideologically, strategically, organizationally and tactically prepared to take advantage of the revolutionary opportunities that are sure to come.

Let us be that party, like Lenin’s party, the party that its founder Sam Marcy sought to build, that will be ready for the coming crisis of world imperialism and U.S. capitalism, that is prepared to lead our class to victory.

Build Workers World Party.

Down with capitalism and imperialism.

Long live socialism.

Trump, the gangster president

The ruling class is responsible for keeping Trump in office and for every racist, reactionary thing he does. Trump is their representative as a class and the masses must hold the capitalists accountable for every crime Trump commits against the people.

In accordance with their role in capitalist society, most high government officials, elected or appointed, have gangster-like qualities. These officials spend much of their time conspiring with the wealthy on schemes for fleecing or otherwise attacking the masses of people. Unlike the mob, they must carry out their schemes within the framework of capitalist politics.

The mob is differentiated from the capitalist establishment in that they are not constrained to carry out their crimes under cover of legality. On the contrary, mob activities function outside the boundaries of bourgeois legality with the silent consent of the ruling class and its law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, mob crimes are on a vastly smaller scale than the crimes of the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI.

That being said, among bourgeois politicians with gangster qualities, Donald Trump stands above the crowd. He is a pampered real estate billionaire who has functioned by ordering subordinates around, cheating contractors and stiffing workers. When he gets caught in a mistake, he mobilizes his army of lawyers to clean things up.

He won the presidency by using his television career as a springboard and taking advantage of the complete bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leadership. His campaign strategists also took advantage of the undemocratic institution of the Electoral College to eke out an electoral victory while losing the popular vote. (Hillary Clinton, of course, was also a corrupt, militaristic, Wall Street-owned enemy of the people.)

Presidency as the road to (more) riches

Trump has not only refused to divest from his billions in assets but also sought to earn even more from his status in the White House. He continues to urge foreign leaders and associates to stay at his Washington hotel. He has raised the fee for membership at the Mar-a-Lago golf club from $100,000 to $200,000. He has refused to release his tax returns in order to cover up his investments. He has deals in Turkey, Azerbaijan and other places around the globe. He has drawn up a tax plan from which he and his fellow real estate moguls will reap hundreds of millions of dollars.

His daughter, Ivanka Trump, has spread her brand all over the world and continues to do so. His son-in-law and chief adviser, Jared Kushner, keeps a real estate empire of his own. “Although Mr. Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies,” reports the New York Times of April 26, “he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions over the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal.”

Now this right-wing, authoritarian, blustering buffoon, who knows nothing of bourgeois statecraft and has no inclination to learn or to seek advice, is formally in charge of U.S. imperialism.

When Trump gets U.S. capitalism in trouble with U.S. imperialist allies in NATO, or threatens corporate interests by ranting about trade wars with the People’s Republic of China (population 1.3 billion), Canada and Mexico (U.S. big business’ two largest trade markets), or cannot get the Republican Congress to throw 24 million people off health care, or passes an anti-Muslim travel ban that provokes a world countermovement, or threatens to provoke a mass rebellion by saying he will deport 11 million undocumented workers, etc., etc., all his subordinates, flunkies and lawyers cannot help him out of the jam.

The ruling class is ambivalent about Trump — for good reason. On the one hand, they are salivating over his tax cut hand-out to billionaires and big corporations. They are ecstatic about his deregulation campaign allowing, among other things, the coal companies to poison the water table, the destruction of auto emissions standards to help the auto barons and the elimination of environmental regulations to aid big industry. And, of course, they love his tax breaks for the health insurance companies.

On the other hand, they are frustrated because they were hoping to get big tax breaks from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and they wanted to get their hands on $880 billion in cuts from Medicaid so the money could be used to fund tax breaks for the rich.

However, as much as the ruling class looks forward to profiting from Trump’s tax cuts and regulatory roll-backs, they do not want him to wreck their system. Thus, they have taken measures against him. In the first place, they have surrounded him with generals and Wall Street bankers in the White House and the Cabinet.

Trump is stonewalled on budget, overruled on NAFTA

But most recently they have given him a beating in the budget negotiations. In the latest $1.2 trillion budget, Trump came away empty handed, despite all his bullying and bluster. In the negotiations Trump was overruled by the trusted congressional representatives of the ruling class on key issues:

• Domestic spending rose, instead of $18 billion in cuts demanded by Trump.

• Trump wanted the National ­Institutes of Health budget slashed by $1.2 billion. Instead it was increased by $2 billion.

• Trump asked for the Environmental Protection Agency budget to be slashed by 33 percent. Instead it was cut by 1 percent.

• Planned Parenthood will continue to be funded at current levels in states that do not vote to defund it.

• Trump asked for $30 billion in increased military spending. He got $12.5 billion and another $2.5 billion when he comes up with a plan to defeat the Islamic State group.

• No money for his beloved Border Wall; border security funds for new technology and repairs only; in fact, funds for “border security” were slashed and there was no money for a deportation force.

• Health care subsidies for the poor will remain (the money goes to the insurance companies).

”The Trump administration said it was no longer considering pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, following a day of intense lobbying from business leaders and lawmakers who rallied to quash internal White House discussion of the prospect,” wrote the Wall Street Journal on April 27. Trump was forced to call the presidents of Mexico and Canada to tell them he had dropped the repeal. He then issued a tweet saying they had called him, instead of admitting that big business and agribusiness had forced him to back down.

Trump, China and the DPRK

Washington is in the midst of a crisis in Korea. It needs the cooperation of the south Korean regime to pursue its belligerent agenda, but instead, Trump picked this moment to tell the south Korean government that he wants to tear up the trade agreement with their country. It is a “bad agreement” negotiated by President Obama, according to Trump. Actually, it was negotiated under George W. Bush.

To make matters worse, Trump told the south Korean government that it would have to pay $1 billion for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system, despite an existing agreement by the U.S. to pay the cost of its deployment. National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster had to get on the phone with south Korean officials and reassure them the U.S. would pay. (WSJ, April 30)

Trump has an excessive view of his personal powers, to say the least. He claims to have a good relationship with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. He claims that because of his phone calls with Xi, China is going to help the U.S. government out of its fix with the defiant Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Trump has tried to sweet-talk China and tough-talk the DPRK. But the truth is that the PRC leadership, especially its military, the People’s Liberation Army, cannot ignore the overriding facts of the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

In a phone call on April 23, President Xi asked Trump to refrain from escalating tensions in the region, even if the DPRK announces testing of missiles or nuclear weapons. Xi made an appeal to Trump not to go tit-for-tat and to move in the direction of negotiations.

We certainly do not agree with Xi that the DPRK should be pressured to give up its struggle to build a nuclear deterrent. But, nevertheless, the head of the PRC asked Trump to de-escalate.

One day later, on April 24, in the dead of night, the U.S. deployed the THAAD anti-missile system in south Korea, which is equipped with high-powered radar that reaches beyond the DPRK into China and can be used to spy on the Chinese military. The PRC has already said this deployment would destabilize the strategic balance in the region in favor of U.S. imperialism.

The Chinese leadership and the PLA are fully aware of the threat. It cannot be a coincidence that on the same day as the deployment, China test-launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier. The ship is due to be completed in 2020.

“China has launched its first aircraft carrier built entirely on its own, in a demonstration of the growing technical sophistication of its defense industries and determination to safeguard its maritime territorial claims and crucial trade routes. The 50,000-ton carrier was towed from its dockyard just after 9 a.m. Wednesday.” (Washington Post, April 26)

But the unspoken message is that China has its own naval power, including a fully armed and functional Soviet-built carrier which it obtained from Ukraine and refurbished. China restrained its response to Trump and the Pentagon by not deploying its armed aircraft carrier and deploying the unfinished one instead. But the message was sent.

What is also clear from these events is that U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon are the enemies of both the DPRK and the PRC. The Pentagon has been out for revenge against the DPRK because this heroic socialist country has fearlessly stood up to Washington, as firmly now as it did during the 1950-53 Korean War, when it rebuffed the mighty U.S. war machine.

U.S. imperialism is also opposed to the People’s Republic of China because — despite the growth of capitalist millionaires and billionaires inside the socialist country — the Communist Party of China and the People’s Liberation Army still stand as guardians of state-owned enterprises and economic planning, which are hallmarks of socialism.

Washington realizes that while U.S. imperialism is mired in economic stagnation and military and political crises around the globe, China is steadily growing stronger, both economically and militarily. It is building influence in Asia, Africa and Latin America through infrastructure projects that help the former colonies overcome imperialist-imposed underdevelopment.

At a moment when U.S. imperialism is off balance at home and abroad, the capitalist ruling class needs to keep their gangster-real estate president in check, so he does not add to Washington’s instability.

Despite all the attempts by the established ruling class to distance themselves from Trump, the capitalist government is the executive committee of the ruling class. Karl Marx said it long ago, and it still holds true today.

There are many ways that the bosses could get rid of him, given all the illegality of his family-enriching regime. Instead, the ruling class is responsible for keeping Trump in office and for every racist, reactionary thing he does. Trump is their representative as a class, and the masses must hold the capitalists accountable for every crime he commits against the people.

on Historical Materialism


Class using readings from “Capitalism at a Dead End” and Workers World Newspaper articles by Fred Goldstein.

Comey’s testimony and the Big Lie: Elections, democracy and the FBI

By Fred Goldstein posted on June 12, 2017.

Assuming that the FBI is ‘nonpolitical’ with respect to the capitalist political parties, all its neutrality goes out the window when it comes to the masses.

June 12 — Marxism can shed light on the June 8 testimony by ex-FBI Director James Comey to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meetings with Donald Trump. The best way to unravel what took place last week is to begin with the concept of the antagonisms within the ruling class, the meaning of “democracy” and the role of the state.

The so-called “Russia investigation” is a diversion from the fundamental issues that concern the mass of the people. They care about jobs, wages, health care, social security and so on.  This Russia debate is a way to sideline all these vital issues.

The Comey testimony, and all the publicity surrounding it, can best be understood in terms of the antagonisms within the ruling class. The majority of the bosses and bankers were opposed to Trump — until he won the election.

Big business quickly shifted gears. They backed this racist, sexist real estate mogul who is an authoritarian bigot. The ruling class was anxiously awaiting his tax cuts for the rich, his deregulation of industry and banking, and other giveaways to the millionaires and billionaires. But soon his policies began to unfold.

Muslim travel ban hurt U.S. business

His Muslim travel ban provoked national and international protest. In addition, it has made tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America decide not to come to the U.S. Tourism has declined, and applications for U.S. colleges and universities have dropped, with many foreign students going to Canada. Corporations are having trouble getting talent from overseas.

In short, Trump’s travel ban hurt U.S. big business.

Trump then struck a blow at the long-standing NATO alliance, between U.S. imperialism and European imperialism, by going to Brussels and calling the European countries deadbeats who don’t pay their “fair share” of military spending.

Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, defying Europe, China and the entire world. By doing so, he tried to put an end to these completely insufficient and nonbinding accords. This removed the cover under which U.S. big business had expected to bask in the light of seeming “environmentally correct” while being free to continue getting rich off oil and natural gas. Trump also put the U.S. ruling class at a disadvantage in the growing global race for markets in renewable technology, such as solar panels and wind power.

Trump lashed out at Seoul during Korean crisis

Along the way, in the midst of a military-political crisis caused by U.S. aggression against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Trump told the south Korean government, Washington’s major ally in the struggle against the DPRK, that Seoul would have to pay a billion dollars for the Pentagon’s THAAD anti-missile system, which Washington had earlier agreed to pay for.

Trump’s latest policy disaster, from the imperialist point of view, has been to attack Qatar during its struggle against Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Trump had gone to Riyadh to cement a Gulf State, anti-Iranian alliance, headed by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and Egypt broke with Qatar, mainly because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring.

Once part of the Gulf State alliance, Qatar is home to a large U.S. military base in the Middle East, with 11,000 U.S. troops. The Pentagon flies numerous missions from Qatar to carry out aggression in the region. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State from ExxonMobil, was trying to calm the dispute when Trump openly contradicted him.

Trump and the Republicans have prepared a health care bill that would strike at broad sections of the masses, leaving 23 million now covered without healthcare coverage as it guts Medicaid and threatens nursing homes, drug clinics and rural hospitals, among other vital medical institutions. This comes at a time when healthcare is the single most important issue among the population, including Trump supporters.

In short, the Comey testimony must be seen in light of growing concern in large sections of the capitalist political establishment, as well as the military and sections of big business, that Trump is doing damage to U.S. imperialist interests at home and around the world.

Time to strike at the roots of capitalism

The differences within the ruling class over Trump are important. Trump, with the backing of his Republican flunkies, is dangerous. But the Democratic Party leaders, including both the Clinton wing and the Sanders wing, are fighting to revive the Democratic Party as a capitalist party that defends exploitation, a party that is supported by big business. Nevertheless, they want to regain office by promising to ease the hardships of the masses.

Marxists are for easing the hardships of the masses, but in a substantial way, first and foremost by struggle, by pushing the bosses and their political machine back. The way forward is in the streets, the factories, the offices, on the campuses and in the fields to threaten the profits and hence power of the rich. Marxists need to take advantage of the current contradictions among the bosses, when the establishment is becoming more and more discredited, to strike at the roots of capitalism and ultimately dispossess the rich of their property.

FBI not neutral when it comes to the people

The state, according to Marxism, is an instrument of compulsion, of force, created by the ruling class to keep the oppressed classes down. Comey was head of the FBI, which is an essential part of that oppressive state apparatus.

The premise of the hearings on Comey’s conversations with Trump is that the FBI director is supposed to be nonpolitical and neutral, to carry out investigations and let the facts lead where they may. Furthermore, the FBI director is not supposed to be partisan to any political party, Republicans or Democrats.

Comey was praised by the media as a man of honor who would not lie and who had remained neutral. He attacked Hillary Clinton just as much as he attacked Trump.

Assuming that the FBI really is “non-political” with respect to the capitalist political parties, all the neutrality goes out the window when it comes to the masses. The FBI has a long and inglorious history of racism, persecution of communists, liberation fighters and radicals of any sort. (See May 18 Workers World, “The FBI is a racist sewer,” at workers.org.)

The FBI was behind the Palmer Raids and deportation of thousands of radicals during the 1920s. It was key to the 1927 execution of anarchist workers Sacco and Vanzetti, despite worldwide protests. The FBI hounded and harassed communists and anyone suspected of any connections with the Communist Party during the Cold War. FBI persecution resulted in the imprisonment of the top leaders of the CP and the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

The FBI infiltrated progressive trade unions, the teachers’ unions, Hollywood, all progressive cultural organizations, the television industry, and in general blanketed the country with a layer of fear and intimidation in an attempt to wipe out all progressive thought and activity during the 1950s and early 1960s.

With the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Liberation Struggle, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover turned his attention to defaming and hounding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom Hoover regarded as the “most dangerous” Black leader in the U.S.

The FBI initiated COINTELPRO, the murderous operation designed to break up the Black Panther Party. The FBI’s tactics included the outright murder of Fred Hampton and other Panther leaders. The FBI sent fake letters to different parts of the organization designed to create splits and antagonisms. It spied on the anti-war movement, the revolutionary youth movement and the Native movement, particularly the American Indian Movement, and was behind the frame-up of Indigenous leader Leonard Peltier.

There should be little doubt that FBI spying includes the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and the immigrant rights movement. That is their stock in trade. They are a vital part of the enforcement arm of the capitalist state.

Together with the cops, the courts, the prison-industrial complex, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and its parent Department of Homeland Security, and other institutions, the FBI is a key part of the instruments of compulsion that work for the ruling class at all times, in every venue where the masses organize resistance to capitalist oppression and exploitation.

They are anything but the “essence of honesty and integrity,” as Comey is being widely described.

‘Our democracy’ equals democracy of big business

For months now, and especially during the Comey testimony, senator after senator talked about the Russians allegedly “interfering with our democracy” or “interfering with our elections.”

Lenin, in “State and Revolution,” quoted Karl Marx, who really gave the last word on capitalist elections: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament!”

This of course does not mean that the working class should not use capitalist elections as a platform to promote their own interests, as long as they see electoral intervention as a stepping stone to overthrowing capitalism.

Democracy is a political form; it has a class content. The Greeks, who initiated the term “democracy,” held democratic assemblies of Greek citizens to debate policy. But the Greek citizens who participated in these assemblies were slave holders. Ancient Greece was a slave society.

In the same way, capitalist democracy is a society dominated by exploiters, a society of bankers and corporate millionaires and billionaires who live as parasites off the labor of the masses. These bankers and bosses dominate the capitalist political parties. They call the shots behind the scenes.

Lenin on capitalist democracy

V.I. Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, in 1918 wrote a polemic against Karl Kautsky, a leader of the German Social Democratic Party, entitled “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.” Kautsky had denounced the Bolshevik Revolution, making the axis of his polemic the failure of the Bolsheviks to establish “pure democracy.” Lenin gave the Marxist position on democracy:

“Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor. It is this truth, which forms a most essential part of Marx’s teaching. …”

“Take the fundamental laws of modern states, take their administration, take freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, or ‘equality of all citizens before the law,’ and you will see at every turn evidence of the hypocrisy of bourgeois democracy with which every honest and class-conscious worker is familiar. There is not a single state, however democratic, which has no loopholes or reservations in its constitution guaranteeing the bourgeoisie the possibility of dispatching troops against the workers, of proclaiming martial law, and so forth, in case of a ‘violation of public order,’ and actually in case the exploited class ‘violates’ its position of slavery and tries to behave in a non-slavish manner.”

Just as in the days of Lenin and Kautsky, “democracy” in the abstract is a deception. It must have a class characterization. In the U.S. it is the democracy of monopoly capitalists. In Cuba, on the other hand, it is workers’ democracy.

So when the mouthpieces of Goldman Sachs, Citibank, ExxonMobil, GE, GM, Aetna, Johnson & Johnson, etc., start moaning about interference in “our democracy,” the “our” stands for their corporate paymasters. That is whose democracy it is, the democracy of the rich, who pull the political strings and get their legislation passed, while the masses are supposed to stand on the sidelines and let these corporate masters run the show.

It is high time to get off the sidelines and confront the billionaires in the class struggle.