Workers Vanguard No. 1122
17 November 2017
Putin on the Potomac?
Democrats Push Anti-Russia Hysteria
Hillary Clinton’s bid to be Commander-in-Chief of U.S. imperialism was supposed to be a virtual coronation. Ever since she lost to the flagrantly racist, sexist real estate mogul Donald Trump, the Democratic Party and its media mouthpieces have been screaming foul. They have explained Clinton’s defeat as the work of an army of Russian hackers and internet trolls whose aim is “to subvert democracy in the United States.” Lurid tales of Kremlin gremlins began in July 2016 when WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails exposing some of the wheeling, dealing and corruption of Clinton’s presidential campaign. Amid the hoopla that the emails had supposedly been hacked by agents of capitalist Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, no one ever raised any doubts over their accuracy or authenticity for the simple reason that they were genuine.
Now, the machinations of Clinton and her campaign staff have been confirmed by no less an authority than longtime top Democratic Party operative Donna Brazile, who just published a book titled Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. Brazile was brought in to head the DNC after the emails exposed her predecessor for plotting to get rid of Clinton’s challenger, Bernie Sanders. In a Politico article (2 November) titled “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Brazile attests that Clinton effectively bought the DNC by paying off $10 million of its debts and then proceeded to use “the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse.”
Far from a shocking revelation, such financial chicanery is merely grease for the wheels of “American democracy,” which is a fig leaf for the dictatorship of the capitalist exploiters. Brazile herself was fired from CNN for feeding some of the network’s planned questions to Clinton to prepare her for a primary debate with Sanders. As for Sanders, after being kicked to the curb by agents of the Clinton dynasty, this self-proclaimed leader of a supposed “political revolution against the billionaire class” abandoned his own supporters and campaigned for Clinton, Wall Street’s candidate. Nonetheless, even as Brazile continues her cries against Russian hackers, both she and Sanders have been targeted as possible Kremlin stooges by the liberal cabal of witchhunters.
For all the claims of Russian “influence,” there has been zilch in terms of proof. The same people who brought you the “weapons of mass destruction” lies are today telling you to take their word for it. In fact, if there’s one thing that without doubt robbed Clinton of her crown, it’s the U.S. Constitution. Although she won the popular vote, she lost the Electoral College—that deeply anti-democratic institution designed to protect against the “unwashed masses,” which ensured the dominance of the slavocracy in the early decades of the republic.
Spying, sowing disinformation, hacking and other “dirty tricks” are the stock in trade of all capitalist governments against their rivals. But when it comes to intervening in other countries’ internal affairs—not just “influencing” elections but carrying out bloody coups, outright invasions and “regime change”—none can hold a candle to America’s rulers. Behind the Democratic Party’s dark tales of Russian operatives stand the very intelligence agencies that have concocted the lies and provided the murderous services to overthrow foreign governments. These include, among others, Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973) and, more recently, the attempted coup against the late Hugo Chávez in Venezuela (2002) and the invasion of Iraq (2003). In January, a report by the CIA, FBI and NSA was seized on as the gold standard of proof of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Yet by the admission of its authors, the report offered not one shred of evidence; or as they put it in “intelligence” speak: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact”!
Last month, the investigation into Russian collusion, headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller, indicted Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his underling Rick Gates on charges of money laundering, tax evasion and serving as unregistered agents of a foreign government. That government is the former Ukrainian regime of Viktor Yanukovich, which was overthrown in a fascist-spearheaded coup in February 2014. The coup was engineered by Obama’s White House, assisted by the European Union, with the aim of establishing a loyal client state on the border of Putin’s Russia. There is currently much salivating by the Democrats over Manafort’s indictment as evidence of Trump’s Russia connections. But none other than the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, similarly lobbied on behalf of the Yanukovich government. Fearing further exposure, this Democratic Party “fixer” resigned his position as the head of the Podesta Group.
The Fraud of Bourgeois Democracy
The notion that the Oval Office is presently occupied by Putin’s puppet is little more than mudslinging by sore losers. At the same time, the current anti-Russia hysteria provides a glimpse of the workings of bourgeois democracy, which Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin succinctly described as “a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” Russia’s supposed impieties toward American “democracy” should be of no concern to the U.S. working class. Deceit, manipulation and hypocrisy are used by the capitalist rulers—represented by Democrats and Republicans alike—to maintain their system of wage slavery, black oppression and world domination. The ruled are meant to live in ignorance of the true workings of capitalist society; bourgeois democracy demands that the rulers have control of information, from education to the mass media. Above all, the capitalist exploiters have the armed forces of the capitalist state—its cops, prisons and military—to enforce their rule.
During the campaign, Clinton had the support of many generals, spies and other operatives of U.S. imperialism who didn’t like Trump’s isolationist rhetoric and worried about America’s image abroad under a bedlamite with a Twitter account. More recently, something called the “Alliance for Securing Democracy” was credited by the New York Times (27 September) for exposing Russian internet trolls who have used social media to plant “fake pages and ads, designed to look like the work of American activists” in order to “spread inflammatory messages during and since the presidential campaign.”
In fact, this “Alliance” consists of former Democratic Party national security officials and Republican neocons whose lies paved the way for the invasion and devastation of Iraq. Today, they are concocting tales of Putin’s minions fomenting discontent in the U.S., particularly among black people who are being shot down every day by U.S. imperialism’s army at home, the racist cops.
Witchhunters Take Aim at
Black Lives Matter
According to the “intelligence-community witnesses,” Russia has “tried to sow unrest in the U.S. by inflaming protests such as Occupy Wall Street and the Black Lives Matter movement.” As the Nation (6 October) put it, “The evidence presented for this claim was that both movements were covered by the Russian state-owned television network RT.” (Of course, they were also covered by, among others, the British state-owned television network, the BBC.) To be “Russian-linked,” you just need to have a Russian IP address. To produce a “Russian-linked” ad about Black Lives Matter supposedly shows that Russia is sowing “political discord” and “creating chaos” in the U.S., as one CNN reporter claimed.
There is nothing like the specter of stirring up unrest on the plantation of racist American capitalism to get the rulers and their hired pens up in arms. In a country built on the backs of black slaves, and where the majority of black people remain subjugated at the bottom of society, it doesn’t take “Russian influence” for black people to know they’re in the gun sights of the killer cops. The allegations against RT are as ridiculous as they are sinister. From Occupy to Black Lives Matter and others, those protesters are being painted as dupes of a malicious Russian plot. The aim is to stifle dissent.
The Democrats play on the very real fears of the Trump administration’s unbridled racism, vicious reaction and cutthroat plundering of what meager social programs remain for workers and the poor. The liberals join the chorus, bleating, “this is not who we are.” But this is what America’s rulers are, whether represented by the Republicans or Democrats. The only difference is that the Democrats sometimes try to put some lipstick on the pig of racist U.S. capitalism. Now, in the name of the anti-Trump “resistance,” the billionaires of Silicon Valley are urged to censor any suspicious views; RT is being made to register as a “foreign agent.” The intelligence agencies who manufacture the lies for war abroad and against any perceived rebellion at home are promoted as the guardians of “democracy.” “Orwellian” doesn’t begin to capture it.
Many of those who promote the claims of “Russia did it” portray capitalist Russia as a continuation of the former Soviet Union. The Democrats are reviving the battle cries of Cold War McCarthyism. Today, however, the purported threat is not “reds under the bed” but anyone with a Russian accent. Left unsaid is that Putin’s Russia is the product of the U.S.-backed-and-bankrolled capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92 that destroyed the Soviet workers state. Counterrevolution had been the central aim of America’s rulers since the Bolshevik Party led the working class of the former tsarist empire to power in the 1917 Russian October Revolution. Despite the subsequent Stalinist betrayals of the revolutionary internationalism that animated the Bolsheviks, the Soviet Union remained a workers state, albeit bureaucratically degenerated. The existence of such a society not only meant great advances for its masses; it also acted as a counterweight to the ambitions of U.S. imperialism for world domination.
Following the destruction of the Soviet workers state, U.S. capitalists joined Russian oligarchs in stripping the assets of formerly collectivized industries and vast natural resources. Under the “shock therapy” prescriptions of the likes of then Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs, much of the population was reduced to abject poverty. In 1996, Bill Clinton’s Democratic administration pulled out all the stops to secure the re-election of U.S. imperialism’s puppet Boris Yeltsin, including supplying advisers, disseminating “negative ads” against Yeltsin’s opponents and floating a large loan by the International Monetary Fund.
U.S. imperialism presently has no such cozy relationship with Putin, who has sought to carve out something of a more independent course than his sodden predecessor and has on occasion been a thorn in the side of the U.S. Russia is not imperialist but rather a regional power that inherited the nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union. That Putin has a particular animus toward Hillary Clinton is hardly a secret. As Obama’s secretary of state, she went out of her way to threaten Russian interests. Insofar as Russia has had a hostile posture toward the U.S., it has largely been a defensive one, in response to U.S. encroachments on its “sphere of influence.”
For his part, Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Putin as a strongman who lords it over the proletariat and oppressed peoples of Russia, and who brutally suppresses dissent. At the same time, as we wrote in “Anti-Russia Hysteria and Democrats’ Sour Grapes” (WV No. 1103, 13 January): “Trump is no less committed than the Cold Warriors and neocons—from Hillary Clinton to John McCain—to expanding, prosecuting and enforcing the dominance of U.S. imperialism. That is the real content of Trump’s promise to make America great again.” During Trump’s time in office the U.S. and its NATO allies carried out the biggest military exercises in East Europe since the Cold War.
The presidential elections revealed widespread contempt of the populace toward the Washington establishment. But, absent a working-class alternative, such sentiment can go in multiple directions, including reactionary ones. We fight to forge a multiracial, revolutionary workers party that can direct the frustrations of working people against the capitalist exploiters and imperialist plunderers. The purpose of the Spartacist League and the International Communist League is to build parties that uphold the traditions and intent of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks to overthrow the imperialist order through a series of international socialist revolutions.