September-October 2012
Number 74

Publication of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

“The Declining U.S. Empireand the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election”

Questions and Answers with Ray Light, General Secretary of the
Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

Also included in this issue:

“U.S. Democracy”: The U.S. Empire’s Indispensable Myth – Excerpts from A Book Review
Solidarity Message to the Striking Miners of South Africa
“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”

Q: What do you think of the just completed Republican and Democratic National Conventions?

A: Those viewers who tuned in to one or both of these conventions have been subject to a massive brainwashing campaign. These conventions have essentially become three day-long infomercials selling their respective product, masquerading as news. The two major parties of U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism, “the Republicrats,” were provided hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free advertising to the detriment of any other political parties that may have “the audacity of hope” to challenge the political duopoly through which they jointly represent Wall Street finance capital, the U.S. ruling class. The huge government subsidies that the “Republicrats” have received from the taxpayers this year included a cool $50 million dollars each for the protection of their conventions from the people. And the much ballyhooed, upcoming televised debates, with more hundreds of millions of dollars in free advertising, will further stamp them as the only “serious” political parties, thus serving to strengthen Wall Street’s political stranglehold on state power in the USA.

The carefully scripted speeches at these two conventions were all aimed at making the point that their candidate, Romney/Obama, is great and that their opponent, Obama/Romney, is rotten.* (New Jersey Republican Governor Christie was universally “criticized” by the mass media for speaking too much about his own biography and not enough about Romney’s.) Since Romney and Obama have quite different personal “stories,” the two conventions made it seem as if there are some fundamental differences between the two parties and the two presidential candidates.

* As New York Times columnist, David Brooks, observed about the Democratic National Convention: “I spent the three previous days watching more than 80 speeches without hearing a single major policy proposal in any of them. I asked governors, mayors and legislators to name a significant law that they’d like to see Obama pass in a second term. Not one could.” (“Character not audacity,” 9-7-12)

Q: Aren’t there fundamental issues that separate Democratic President Obama and Vice President Biden from the Republican Party and candidates Romney and Ryan?

A: No! The Republicans and Democrats, under Bush and then Obama, jointly bailed out Wall Street. Obama-Biden has spent even more government funds than Bush-Cheney bailing out the very bandits responsible for the economic crisis. The Wall Street criminals, not one of whom has ever been charged by Bush or Obama, are doing better than ever! These 100% criminals of “the 1%” financially back both the Republican and the Democratic candidates in every important election and can’t lose with either.

Likewise, under Bush and then Obama and with Republican and Democratic majorities in Congress, the “Republicrats” have refused to bail out Main Street. There have been no big Depression-era type jobs programs for the millions of unemployed and underemployed and no home mortgage and debt relief provided by the Republicrats comparable to their bail out of the Wall Street criminals responsible for the acute capitalist economic crisis.

Moreover, Romney’s signature political accomplishment was the Massachusetts healthcare act that featured both protections for existing health conditions and an individual mandate. Ever since it became clear that Romney was going to be the Republican presidential candidate he has been railing against the federal Affordable Healthcare Act, widely known as “Obamacare,” modeled after his own Massachusetts plan!! Since the conventions, however, Romney has begun to say he would not scrap all Obama healthcare reforms but would keep certain of its more popular features. So much for Romney’s “noble” stand against Obama’s “socialism!”

Nevertheless, “conventional wisdom,” promoted by the bourgeois pundits and both wings of the “Republicrats,” is that the Republican Party, now led by Romney/Ryan, is in favor of reduction of federal spending and of continuing the Bush tax cuts for the rich; while the Democrats, led by Obama/Biden, allegedly favor increasing the taxes on the rich and continuing or expanding entitlement programs for “the middle class.”

However, life has blatantly contradicted this conventional wisdom. Right after the 2010 election, President Obama engineered a deal with the lame duck but still Democratic-controlled Congress extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich for two more years!

Even more striking, key imperialist bourgeois thinker, Fareed Zakaria, Time magazine’s editor at large, punctured the Republican 2010 election façade, as follows: “If Republicans were really serious about cutting spending, they had a golden opportunity after 2002, when they controlled all the levers of government in Washington. The result was the most reckless expansion of government spending and debt in two generations.” In fact, Zakaria says, “The historical record is clear: since the 1960’s, it was the [Democrat] Clinton terms that saw the lowest average deficits of any President – the only period of restraint in the growth of the federal government – and the biggest surpluses.” (“A Real Revolution?” Time, 11-15-10, ROL emphasis)

Zakaria pointed to steep reduction of the number of federal (public sector) employees as a key Clinton-Gore initiative of the time. In the 2010 election, this same “Democratic Party” prescription was presented as one of the few “specific” ideas the Republicans had for where they could make the spending cuts! The 2012 election is just more of the same. No wonder neither President Obama nor the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ever showed up in Wisconsin during the recent showdown between public sector workers and their unions and Republican Governor Scott Walker backed by Wall Street and Koch brothers’ money. The result was a defeat of the recall of Walker and an encouragement of further attacks on public sector workers across the USA. No wonder, too, that Chicago’s 25,000 public school teachers, members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) have just gone on strike for the first time in twenty-five years. 98% of the teachers had voted to strike after fighting for more than eighteen months against the cuts and concessions demanded by none other than Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff and the very first person selected by Obama to serve in his Executive Branch when he was elected as President.*

* Confirming joint Republicrat rule with regard to this significant battle, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan stated: “We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.”

Q: What about questions of civil liberties, domestic surveillance and repression, i.e. the war at home?

A: Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in Ronald Reagan’s first term and an Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, in a September 2010 article, entitled, “The True Cost of the War,” observed: “The Bush/Cheney/Obama National Security State has eviscerated the Constitution and civil liberty. Nothing remains. The fascist Republican Federalist Society has put enough federal judges in the judiciary to rule that the president is above the law. The president doesn’t have to obey the law against spying on American citizens without warrants. The president doesn’t have to obey U.S. and international laws against torture. The president doesn’t have to obey the Constitution that mandates that only Congress can declare war. The president can do whatever he wants as long as he justifies it as ‘national security.’ The president’s part of the government, the unaccountable executive branch, is supreme.”(VDARE.COM, 9-2-10)

Roberts continues, “This is the legacy of the Bush/Cheney regime, and this criminal regime continues under Obama. America’s ‘war on terror,’ a fabrication, has resurrected the unaccountable dungeon of the Middle Ages and the raw tyranny that prevailed prior to the Magna Carta. This is the true cost of ‘liberating’ Iraq, that is, of turning Iraq into an American puppet state that sells out its people for America’s interests.” (ibid., ROL emphasis) How clearly the staunch Republican Roberts clearly exposes the collaborative efforts of both wings of the Republicrats in driving U.S. society to fascism.

Black Agenda Report (BAR) executive editor Glen Ford recently observed: “Bush knew better than to mount a full-court legislative assault on habeas corpus, and instead simply asserted that preventive detention is inherent in the powers of the presidency during times of war. It was left to Obama to pass actual legislation nullifying domestic rule of law – with no serious Democratic opposition.” (“What Obama Has Wrought,” 9-5-12)

On December 31, 2011 President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), essentially codifying all the above into “law.” Notice the seamless cooperation of the Bush and Obama regimes in mounting the fascist drive in the USA. Notice, too, that there has been absolute silence on civil liberties and issues of domestic repression from Romney/Ryan in the 2012 election season. After all, how much more repressive of the masses of the U.S. population could they be than Obama has been in his first term, as the “Republicrats” carry out Wall Street’s austerity program against us over the next few years?!

Q: What about foreign policy? war and peace? military spending and U.S. Empire?

A: Cheney’s Halliburton Corporation was rescued from bankruptcy by Bush’s War of Terror on Iraq supported by the Democrats in Congress. Obama, the African-American, with his War of Terror on Libya, supported by the Republicans in Congress, has given European and U.S. imperialism a beachhead on the African continent for wars of plunder against the peoples of Africa to steal their unparalleled natural resources. Obama has also betrayed his campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Obama did keep at least one 2008 campaign promise, albeit one that the millions of petty bourgeois democrats, revisionists, Trotskyites and pacifists had tried to ignore. He escalated the war in Afghanistan and expanded it into Pakistan. And now the Obama Regime has implemented widespread drone warfare in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, a new level of inhumanity. As BAR’s Glen Ford states, “The doctrine constitutes an ongoing war against peace – the highest of all crimes, now an everyday practice of the U.S.” (ibid.) As Commander in Chief, Obama has been at least as violent and repressive against the peoples of the world in defense of the U.S. Empire as the bloody Bush Regime had been. The result is that Romney/Ryan has had to become make-believe “tougher” on national defense, foreign policy, etc.

While the Olympic Games were being held in London, Romney took a trip overseas to try to establish foreign policy “credentials.” While he was abroad, he somehow managed to alienate U.S. imperialism’s two closest allies, Britain and Israel. As veteran columnist, Thomas Friedman, commented: “Welcome to the Romney foreign policy, which I’d call: ‘George W. Bush abroad – the cartoon version.’” (New York Times, 9-6-12) Said Friedman, “I know that Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that it’s all aimed at ginning up votes: There’s some China-bashing to help in the Midwest, some Arab-bashing to win over the Jews, some Russia-bashing (our ‘no. 1 geopolitical foe’) to bring in the Polish vote, plus a dash of testosterone to keep the neocons off his back.” (ibid.)

In the ten days since the end of the Republican Convention, Romney and Ryan have been bumbling and stumbling. Positioning himself as a defender of uncapped military spending, Romney has criticized the president for signing the deficit-reduction measure that, if Congress doesn’t reach a budget solution within the next few months, will lead to across-the-board spending cuts effective at the beginning of 2013. Romney is critical because half of the automatic cuts are supposed to come from the defense budget, from the U.S. military. Romney’s problem is that Congressman Ryan, his running mate, the House Budget Committee chairman when the bill was passed, had “both voted for and loudly praised the bill that created the trigger for the automatic spending cuts.” (Associated Press, 9-10-12) Reminiscent of Romney criticizing Obamacare, Ryan himself is now attacking Obama for the plan he helped to create!!

Q: What, then, is the 2012 Presidential Election in the USA mainly concerned with?

A: It is about positioning the U.S. government so as to give it the best chance for implementing a most severe austerity program against the 99% of the people of the USA in its desperate effort to save the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class and, if possible, to preserve its hegemonic position in the world capitalist system. This requires that the government lead the effort to impoverish the people of the USA, U.S. society, deepening the basis for the super-exploitation of the workers and oppressed nationality people within the U.S. multinational state.

As we observed in early 2010, “Barack Obama is well suited for the difficult task of presiding over an orderly march of the U.S. population to this impoverished state … much of the ‘left,’ along with the Afro-American, Latino and organized labor members of the U.S. working class, were seduced by petty bourgeois democratic illusions about the ‘power’ and the ‘promise’ of ‘voting for the Democrats.’ Then they were seduced by the rhetoric of the Obama-Biden Democratic Administration (whose campaign had actually been largely funded by Wall Street) into accepting the government’s second give away (following the Bush give away) to the most greedy and powerful bankers and financiers on Wall Street.”

We continued: “This march to impoverishment, however, is still only in its beginning stages. And the challenge to the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class and President Obama to lead the masses of working people and oppressed nationalities in the USA to poverty without us opting to revolt, without us turning to socialist revolution for the way out of our difficulties, will only get more difficult.” (Ray O’ Light Newsletter #59, “The Tea Party Movement, the Obama Regime, and the Growing Fascist Danger in the USA,” March/April 2010)

Less than a year before we wrote these lines, a new force had emerged in the body politic of the USA. Under the impetus of the U.S. economic crisis, the Tea Party movement grew out of the anger and frustration, especially of millions of middle class citizens, at the rapid transfer of wealth by Washington politicians from their hands into the hands of the Wall Street ruling class. Tragically, the anger of the petty bourgeoisie was guided and channeled by sinister Washington insiders, like Bush aide Karl Rove, the billionaire Koch brothers and other monopoly capitalists and other reactionaries into a battering ram for even more drastic attacks on the working class and poor masses of the USA. In the 2010 election, the Tea Party became the dynamic force in the Republican Party that drove its electoral victory, a Republican victory facilitated by the “Republicrats” of both parties, including Obama.

However, the Tea Party politicians have not proved to be as obedient and subordinate to Wall Street interests as are the “Republicrats” of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party mainstream. In the summer of 2011 the tea party folks in Congress held up Congressional action on raising the U.S. government debt ceiling so long that the U.S. government’s credit rating was lowered for the first time in history, a small but real blow to U.S. imperialism.

Indeed, Obama and the chief Republican politician, Speaker of the House John Boehner, had arrived at a trillion dollar deal to raise taxes and cut entitlements. But the Tea Party politicians blocked the deal. In exasperation, New York Times economic pundit Paul Krugman, an Obama supporter, revealingly reported: “President Obama has made it clear that he’s willing to sign on to a deficit-reduction deal that consists overwhelmingly of spending cuts, and includes draconian cuts in key social programs, up to and including a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility. These are extraordinary concessions ... The president has offered deals that are far to the right of what the average American voter prefers – in fact, if anything, they’re a bit to the right of what the average Republican voter prefers!” (“Getting to Crazy,” New York Times, 7-14-11, ROL emphasis)

In the past year, the Occupy Wall Street movement emerged. This positive development was inspired by the Arab Spring, by the public sector workers’ militant defensive battles against the Tea Party/Koch brothers-led anti-union onslaught in the mid West, and by the worsening economic position and prospects for youth, the elderly and other working folks in the USA. Unfortunately, the Occupy movement has been dominated by anarchism, with its strongly anti-political sentiment. Thus, unlike the Tea Party movement, the Occupy forces are having only a negligible impact on the 2012 election.

This is the political setting in which the 2012 election is taking place. Joe Klein, in his current Time magazine column, raises the key question for U.S. imperialism in this election. As Klein points out, “A deal will have to be made as the Bush tax cuts expire and draconian budget cuts, agreed on by both parties in a Thelma and Louise moment, kick in. Absent a deal, most economists agree, we will have another recession. Absent a deal, the sense that our republic is crashing will become a global problem.” (“Paralysis Rules – The looming budget crisis raises a key question: Can either candidate close a deal?” 9-17-12)

Further on, in the same piece, Klein characterizes what Romney has presented thus far, before, during and since the Republican National Convention, as “a policy mirage … stained by the preposterous extremism of the Republican Party’s base.” But, clearly concerned about this Republican base, Klein speculates that a Romney victory might allow the big deal needed to be consummated, mainly because he would have Democrats across the table to deal with. The conclusion of Klein’s article, however, is pessimistic, as he sees no real way to break out of the paralysis!

Sounding the same theme, the authoritative London weekly, the Economist (9-1-12), weighs in with an “End-of-term report” on the Obama Administration’s economic record. The Economist believes that, “both the president and the Republicans want an alternative to the alarming year-end combination of expiring tax cuts and sweeping discretionary and defense-spending cuts known as the ‘fiscal cliff.’” Referring to last summer, when Obama and Speaker Boehner briefly had a deal, these representatives of British imperialism are hopeful that, if Obama is elected to a second term, it “might allow the two to pick up near where they left off.” And they encourage Obama to make this case between now and the election.

At the time of the 2010 election, we pointed out a number of factors that indicated that the Wall Street ruling class, with the collaboration of both Republicrat parties, had swung that election to the Republican Party. It is clear that, in the 2012 election season, Wall Street has already ensured that a mainstream Republican rather than a tea party right wing radical is facing off against Obama. We can expect that Wall Street will work to achieve an election result that gives it the best opportunity to implement a severe austerity program against the working class and the oppressed nationalities within the U.S. multinational state.

Q: What are some of the main obstacles keeping the working class and oppressed peoples from recognizing that Obama and the Democrats are no more their ally in the fight for a better future than Romney and the Republicans?

Coming out of World War II, the U.S. imperialist economy was revved up by its war production and was relatively unscathed by the war. It quickly replaced all the other imperialist powers, weakened in the course of the war. The sixty years or so of unchallenged U.S. imperialist hegemony in the world capitalist camp that followed enabled this powerful imperialist country to live off the labor and resources of peoples all over the world. This situation put the stamp of parasitism on the whole of the society, to one extent or another, even its working class. And a large parasitic middle class grew and became entrenched in U.S. society.

With the rising strength of U.S. imperialism, over time, the organizations and groups formed to defend the interests of the oppressed nationalities and the working class, including the militant crusading CIO labor unions, were for the most part co-opted by Wall Street imperialism. The Communist Party USA (CPUSA), an influential force in the world communist movement at the end of World War II, projected the Browderite revisionist line that an alliance with U.S. imperialism by the workers and the oppressed peoples and the new socialist camp could be as fruitful for the long run, as had been the short term alliance of the Soviet Union and the anti-fascist peoples with U.S. imperialism during the great Soviet-led victory over world fascism. The spread of CPUSA revisionism throughout the international communist movement in subsequent years facilitated this cooptation.

For decades, the top leadership of the AFL-CIO and other unions have been loyal servants of the Democratic Party and through the Democrats, loyal servants to U.S. imperialism. Despite the growing anti-labor sentiment in the USA, the diminishing strength and numbers of organized labor and the failure of Obama and the Democrats to even bring the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) to the floor of Congress when the Democrats had the White House and the majority of both houses of Congress, this remains largely unchanged in 2012. It reflects the utter bankruptcy of the dominant leadership of the trade union movement in the USA and the urgent need for its replacement.

Indeed, for more than fifty years, the CPUSA itself has consistently promoted the Democratic Party in every presidential election. And, while the CPUSA has become weaker and more marginalized, its influence in reformist trade unions, and other reform groups has remained relatively large as the rest of the U.S. Left has experienced marginalization, too.

During these sixty years, the most powerful anti-imperialist stirrings of revolt within the USA took place among the oppressed Afro-American people, especially from the late 1950’s through the late 1960’s. The black liberation struggle of the 1960’s, reflecting the strength of the unresolved Afro-American national question, featured heroic efforts by Afro-Americans in the Black Belt south homeland to register to vote and to exercise their right to vote. For the first time in more than a century (since post-Civil War Reconstruction), Afro-American politicians were elected to office in the U.S. south and also in large numbers around the country.

Barack Obama did not come out of the civil rights movement and had made his first political run for office against incumbent Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush, a long time civil rights activist. Nevertheless, Obama, when he ran for the presidency, had the benefit of the heroic and bloody and relatively recent struggle for Black voting rights that had been an integral part of the fight of the oppressed Afro-American people for freedom. And in 2012, Obama still has the benefit of the fact that the Afro-American people hold the vote in great reverence. Furthermore, the election of a black president represented a breakthrough triumph against “white exclusivity” regarding the “cultural power” of being able to be the First Family, as described by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (“Fear of a Black President,” The Atlantic, September 2012) And, as a still nationally oppressed people in the white supremacist USA, millions of Afro-Americans continue to identify themselves with Obama and his family and want him to be “successful.” Tragically, this seems largely still true even when it is at their own expense (record Black incarceration rates, joblessness, racial profiling, home foreclosures, the firing of Shirley Sherrod by Obama’s U.S. Department of Agriculture, the execution of Troy Davis, the killing of Trayvon Martin, etc.) and at the expense of their brothers and sisters in Africa (Obama’s war on Libya, the activation of the U.S. military’s Africom, etc.)

At the same time, the fact that white supremacy in the USA is alive and well is also manifested in the Republican and tea party opposition to the black president. As the demographics of the USA are shifting toward a “majority minority” population within the next decade or two, fear of a black president is combining with economic fears about the future. This reactionary white supremacist opposition to Obama makes it more difficult to criticize his regime without stirring division between Afro-Americans and others who continue to defend Obama, the individual, from white supremacist attack and those of us who are fighting for genuine Afro-American and working class power.

Q: Do social-democratic opportunists represent a particularly difficult obstacle?

A: In this 2012 election season, CPUSA revisionists, CPUSA split-offs such as Committees of Correspondence (COC), and other social democrats, NGO’ers, academic Marxists, etc. have been able to speculate in these waters – muddied by white supremacy and narrow nationalism – to support Obama, the Democratic Party and U.S. imperialism.

Arguably the most outrageous and duplicitous (two-faced) social democratic and social chauvinist position has been put forth by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Carl Davidson. The title of their position paper is revealing in itself: “The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him.” Since Obama is the incumbent president, serious political leftists should be responsible enough to make sure that they hold Obama, the chieftain of the main bulwark of world capitalism and world reaction, accountable for his deeds. But Davidson and especially Fletcher do not want to be held accountable for their 2008 support for presidential candidate Obama. They state: “we – the authors of this essay – offered critical support and urged independent organization for the Obama candidacy in 2008 through the independent Progressives for Obama project.” According to them, “We were frequently chastised by some allies at the time for being too critical, too idealistic, too ‘left,’ and not willing to give Obama a chance to succeed.” In fact, this is a dishonest effort to cover up their right reformist 2008 position by misdirection.

On March 25, 2008, Davidson was one of the first hundred signers of “Progressives For Obama” and Fletcher was one of the four initiators and authors of the statement and the actual “originator of the call for founding ‘Progressives For Obama.’” This is what they declared: “All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama … By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below … [it] is just what America needs …” They compare the Obama campaign with “past progressive peaks in our political history – the late Thirties, the early Sixties …” They praise “Obama’s unprecedented campaign and candidacy” and claim that “he carries unmatched leadership potentials for overcoming the divide-and-conquer tactics which have sundered Americans since the first slaves arrived here in chains.” (!) Not bad for a self-described centrist Democratic candidate for President. Finally, they declare: “We can and will defend Obama against negative attacks from any quarter.”

Among their demands on Obama were the following: 1.) “… ending alliances with police states in the Arab world …” Currently, following the Arab Spring, the Obama Regime’s last remaining reliable allies in the Middle East are the settler state of Israel and the Saudi-led Arab Kingdoms mostly in the Gulf Council states, police states all. 2.) “Nor can we impose NAFTA-style trade agreements on so many nations …We cannot globalize corporate and financial power over democratic values and institutions.” This is exactly what the Obama’s Commerce Department is carrying out in secret negotiations around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). According to the Nation, these negotiations are so secret that Oregon Democratic Senator Wyden, the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Trade, has not been allowed to see any of the draft proposals while a hundred or so U.S. business people have been privy to all the information as they help create the TPP! 3.) “The Iraq War must end as rapidly as possible, not in five years. All our troops must be withdrawn … Nor should he simply transfer American combat troops from the quagmire in Iraq to the quagmire in Afghanistan.” Yet this is exactly what has been done — along with the continued presence of thousands of U.S. troops and mercenaries in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan has been escalated and expanded into Pakistan, including with the massive, regular use of unmanned drone attacks.

In addition, Obama led the USA into the unprovoked war against Libya, ordered Gadhafi to leave his own country, then overthrew Gadhafi and seized the fortune he had expropriated from his own people. In relation to the African continent, Gadhafi’s overthrow and the new beachhead for U.S. and Western European imperialism on the African continent is something that Fletcher, as the former leader of TransAfrica Forum, has to be keenly aware of!

Is it any wonder that Fletcher and Davidson do not want to deal with Obama’s record?! Instead, they now argue that Obama was and is a “corporate liberal.” They do try to prettify a few things that Obama did to spruce up their case. For example, they claim that, “preserving General Motors was to the benefit of countless auto workers and workers in related industries.” Compare the much more honest and working class-oriented position of filmmaker Michael Moore who is himself still trying to grasp at straws to justify his continued support for Obama in spite of rather than in dismissing Obama’s record. In answer to the question, didn’t Obama save Detroit? Moore replied: “No he didn’t. He saved General Motors and Chrysler. ‘Detroit’ (and Flint, and Pontiac and Saginaw) are not defined by the global corporations who suck our towns dry and then split town to make more money elsewhere … These cities in Michigan are about the people who live here, and in the process of ‘saving Detroit,’ Mr. Obama had to fire thousands of these people, and reduce the benefits and pensions of those who were left. There’s a lot of pissed off people in Michigan (and Wisconsin and Ohio), people who weren’t saved even though the corporation was.” (“President Romney — How to prevent those two words from ever being spoken — a letter from Michael Moore,” 9-6-12) Even though Moore, like Fletcher/Davidson, is himself still supporting Obama, he is so much more honest about Obama’s actual record!

In 2008, soaring praise for candidate Obama was the Fletcher/Davidson rationale for supporting him. In 2012, confronted with his actual criminal record over the past four years, the Fletcher/Davidson justification for supporting Obama is now only that those Republicans attacking him are worse. Now they openly appeal for support for Obama on the basis of the lesser of two evils. They state: “we think the matter of a lesser of two evils is a tactical question of simply voting for one candidate to defeat another, rather than a matter of principle.” But tactics should flow from and support a strategy which is a question of principle. And for these social-democrats to actively advocate and educate that Obama, or any other reactionary or any revolutionary politician for that matter, should be exempt from being held accountable for their actions is counterrevolutionary to the core.

In their loyal defense of the U.S. Empire, Fletcher/Davidson dismiss and attack the very idea of using the opportunity of the U.S. presidential election to mobilize workers and oppressed within the USA to take a principled stand against the “America of Empire.” Instead, they uphold an “America of Popular Democracy” against “the forces of unfettered neoliberalism and far right irrationalism.” It is a warmed-over version of the decades-old CPUSA revisionism going all the back to Browderite “American Exceptionalism,” with its notion that Lenin’s teachings on the nature of imperialism somehow don’t apply to the good old USA.

Their doubletalk even goes so far as to truthfully say out of one side of their mouths that “the US electoral system is among the most undemocratic on the planet … [and is] constructed in a manner so as to guarantee an ongoing dominance of a two party duopoly …” Out of the other side of their mouths (Shades of Browder and Khrushchev!) they blatantly promote the need for “a long-term progressive electoral strategy that is focused on winning power.” Rather than their bankrupt pro-imperialist line and absolute refusal to be self-critical, it is the absence of such a peaceful transition approach to revolution in the USA, they say, that is the reason why “we” “find ourselves in this ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario again and again [i.e. repeating itself over and over again].”

Finally, like all social-democrats, Fletcher/Davidson separate imperialist politics from imperialist economics so as to play up the role of the “far right” and to downplay the inevitable imperialist drive to war and fascism, to violence and reaction down the line as represented by the “Republicrats” in state power. And, like all social-chauvinists, Fletcher/Davidson limit their scope of inquiry and concern to the boundaries of the U.S. state. Thus, the petty bourgeois democratic illusions about Obama and U.S. imperialism that they helped spread throughout the world in 2008, that helped set up Libyans, Pakistanis, Hondurans, Filipinos, Bahrainis, Yemenis, and many other peoples for imperialist slaughter are not even included in their calculations.

Q: Will the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world, including within the U.S. multinational state, be better off if Obama or Romney is elected President? What do you advocate that we do?

A: First of all, in the 2008 presidential election, the fact that the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket prevailed over the Republican McCain/Palin ticket represented at least a symbolic repudiation of the Bush/Cheney Republican Regime of war criminals. Since 2008, Obama/Biden’s seamless continuity with and even advances on the worst of Bush’s foreign and domestic policies, including the historically unprecedented retention of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the change-over from the Republican to the Democratic regime, actually justifies a similar repudiation of the bloodthirsty Obama/Biden Regime in 2012. However, the Romney/Ryan slate is virtually silent on these crucial questions. In essence, the Republican silence represents agreement, so there is no opportunity for repudiation this time.

Secondly, as we pointed out in the introduction to our 2011 book, “After the arrogant, ignorant and brutal war monger, George W. Bush, had done so much to bring discredit to U.S. imperialism’s façade of democracy with his unending, so-called ‘war on terror,’ the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president in 2008 breathed new life back into the ‘U.S. Democracy’ myth. This fact was reflected in the 2009 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI) survey indicating which countries are most admired. Mr. Anholt observed: ‘I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States in 2009. The results suggest … the American electorate’s decision to vote in President Obama has given the United States the status of the world’s most admired country.’ (Christian Science Monitor, 10-6-09)” (page iii, “U.S. Democracy”: The U.S. Empire’s Indispensable Myth by Ray O. Light, 2011)

After four years of bitter experience with the brutal and bloody Obama Regime, the international working class and the oppressed peoples outside the boundaries of the U.S. multinational state, have gone a long way toward ridding themselves of petty bourgeois democratic illusions about Obama and U.S. imperialism. And there is no danger that Romney/Ryan has the capacity to revive U.S. imperialism’s flagging reputation and sagging fortunes internationally.

These first two points seem to point toward neither slate.

Finally, Obama/Biden, the Clintons and other superior functionaries, Obama’s more efficient work in support of U.S. military veterans, and the continuing illusions about Obama among young Afro-Americans and Latinos (despite his record deportations of Latino immigrants) are making the U.S. military more formidable than it would be under the Republican good old boys. Beyond the military as well, the competent, charismatic and clever Obama remains a more formidable adversary for the international working class and the oppressed peoples, especially given the fact that there are still some residual illusions about a man of color being at the helm of the U.S. imperialist state.

No matter whether Obama or Romney is at the helm, however, what is crucial is that the international proletariat and oppressed peoples wage a determined and ruthless struggle against imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism, for national liberation, socialism and communism.

Within the USA: On the question of white supremacy, in the short run, it would be better if Obama were re-elected because it would mean that “the black president” was not being scapegoated for the terrible economic conditions brought about by U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism that most U.S. people face today and it would deprive the right wing militia groups, etc. of an immediate morale boost. At the same time, on this same question, in the long run, it would be more dangerous for Obama to be re-elected because the opportunity to mobilize white supremacist and anti-immigrant-based fascist gangs in response to the continued right wing targeting of President Obama will continue to be a lightning rod under the impetus of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis.

Secondly, the election of the Republican slate would immediately galvanize the currently paralyzed Afro-American people, large numbers of Latinos and other oppressed nationality folks as well as the trade union officials and activists and the “anti-war” movement — all connected politically to the Democratic party. This will provide a short run opening for genuine U.S. revolutionaries and anti-imperialists to arouse, educate and mobilize among large sections of the U.S. working class and oppressed nationality folks for the struggle against U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism.

Finally, however, with an Obama victory, the Afro-American people and other working class and oppressed nationality folks, with no opportunity and pressure to vote for Obama a third time, will be more open to the important political education which four more bitter years of experience can bring.

Within the USA, then, just as outside its borders, whether Romney or Obama prevails in the 2012 election is relatively unimportant. The crucial element is mounting a serious fight-back against the Wall Street imperialist austerity program, no matter which wing of the “Republicrat” Party is in power.

In light of the above discussion and the fact that the U.S. working class and oppressed nationality movements are still so politically weak that we have yet to even build a bourgeois third party “Labor Party” alternative in the USA, it is important to heed the excellent approach to the 2012 presidential election taken by the outstanding Afro-American community leader, Larry Hamm, head of New Jersey’s widely respected Peoples Organization for Progress (POP). Speaking to a predominantly Afro-American banquet meeting in North Carolina this past Spring, while POP was in the midst of its ultimately successful 381 straight days of street protests, brother Hamm told the folks gathered there the following: I know y’all and I know what you’re going to do on election day. And I may vote for him, too. But we need to face the fact that we’ve allowed Obama to cause much more damage to us than we ever would have let Bush do. What I’m concerned about is not what you do on Election Day. The most important day of the 2012 Presidential election season will be the day after the election.We’ll need to be out there fighting for decent jobs and homes, quality health care for all, saving our unions, a clean environment, ending the Wall Street wars at home and abroad, bringing the war dollars home, protecting and improving Social Security and Medicare, democratic rights including Afro-American and immigrant rights and developing a more vigorous fight for workers power.

Whether militant Afro-American, immigrant or white workers, whether the working poor and the Occupy Wall Street folks, cast their votes for Obama or Romney, or for the Green Party’s Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala slate with its positive pro-labor program, or the Peace and Freedom Party’s Roseanne Barr/Cindy Sheehan slate is not the key to overthrowing the lose-lose Tweedledum Tweedledee politics of Republicrat Rule on behalf of Wall Street finance capital. What will turn this election season into a win-win for the 99% at home and internationally will be a renewed determination to fight against Wall Street’s austerity program and the Republicrat-led U.S. imperialist state by every means at our disposal.

Excerpts from



By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Ray O. Light speaks from the vantage of a proletarian revolutionary, a long-time trade union leader in the U.S. and a firm proletarian internationalist. In his book, he succeeds in exposing so-called U.S. democracy as a fraud and as an indispensable myth enabling the U.S. monopoly bourgeoisie to deceive, exploit and oppress the American proletariat and people of various nationalities as well as the world’s people in a vast empire.

He debunks the notion that U.S. monopoly capitalism is a democratic exception to the teachings of Lenin on the economic features and political character of imperialism. His articles compiled in the book, which cover the period of 2000 to the present, provide us with accurate insights and analysis of the workings of the two-party U.S. political system and the resulting policies, which serve the unified interests of U.S. monopoly capitalism. ...

Ray O. Light demonstrates that the periodic elections in the U.S. and the debates between the Republican and Democratic parties before, during and after the elections are meant to conjure the illusion of democracy, obfuscate the anti-democratic class dictatorship of the monopoly bourgeoisie, preempt the center stage of U.S. politics, preclude the voice of the proletariat and people and confine the masses to a superficial choice between two brands of the same kind of product, like Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola.

In a U.S. presidential election like the one in 2008, the Democratic Party candidate Obama glibly passed himself off as better than the Republican Party candidate McCain, who was very much burdened by the disasters brought about by Bush. ...   

But since he became president, Obama has continued the Bush policy of aggression on the pretext of combating terrorism and the policy of bailing out the financial oligarchy. Thus, he has failed to revive production and employment. He has gone into a series of compromises with the Republican Party regarding economic policy, domestic repression and the war budget. He has expanded the overseas deployment of U.S. military forces for intervention and aggression. He has extended the USA PATRIOT Act and has signed into law the authority of the U.S. military to detain Americans indefinitely without due process.

No U.S. president can escape the confines and dictates of the ruling system of the monopoly bourgeoisie and the financial oligarchy. ... Directly and through various instrumentalities inside and outside of the U.S. government, the U.S. monopoly bourgeoisie can compel bipartisan agreements and shape what amounts to a Republicrat rule in the name of national interest and national security. ...

The rapidly worsening crisis of the world capitalist system is inflicting grave hardships and suffering on the people of the world. At the same time, it is compelling the people to resist. There is an urgent need for intensifying the anti-imperialist and democratic struggle of the people on a global scale. There is at the same time, as emphatically pointed out in his book by Ray O. Light, the urgent need for the leading role of the revolutionary party of the proletariat in the revolutionary mass struggles in various countries and for the strengthening of the international communist movement.

To Place A Book Order –

Contact Revolutionary
Organization of Labor, USA

607 Boylston St.
Lower Level Box 464
Boston, MA 02116  USA


 Solidarity Message to the Striking Lonmin Miners of South Africa

(September 5, 2012)

The Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA, stands in solidarity with the striking Black miners of the Lonmin platinum mine in South Africa and other South African miners who have joined together in struggle for decent wages and working conditions. We condemn the brutal police massacre on August 16 at Marikana that resulted in the deaths of 34 miners and the wounding of dozens more.

The brutal attack by the South African government that demagogically rules in the name of the Black masses and the Black working class actually serves the interests of wealthy British imperialists instead. The African miners have created vast wealth for Lonmin Platinum PLC, the British imperialist mining company that owns the platinum mine while mining families and Black communities continue to live in poverty – 18 years after the end of the South African apartheid regime!

We applaud the courageous determination and militant actions of the miners that have stood up to the brutal government attack and the corporate threat to fire all the strikers. We take great inspiration from the fact that, in solidarity with the 3,000 miners initially on strike, more that 70% of the 28,000 Lonmin miners refused a direct order to return to work.

Clearly, there is a need for revolutionary working class vanguard organization to lead the fight for working class power and the elimination of all human exploitation in South Africa. We believe this is the Leninist two-stage revolutionary path – the democratic revolution leading to socialism. We wish you the best in the continuation of your struggle. Your fight is our fight!

In revolutionary solidarity,

Ray Light
General Secretary
Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

“If You’re Not Outraged,
You’re Not Paying Attention”*

Get Angry, Get Active, Rise Up –
Fight for Workers Power!

*A good bumper sticker reads, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” If you are paying attention, please send me the items that are enraging you. Thanks.
- the Editor


U.S. military spending well exceeded $1 trillion for 2011 (about 60% of the Federal U.S. budget). This was $2.2 million every minute of every day of 2011! 

In this environment, NBC has launched a new reality TV show, “Stars Earn Stripes” in which celebrities compete in staged military training. Presenting war as an entertaining TV game will only supplement violent, sadistic and pornographic video games that bolster military recruitment and popular support for military spending and aggressive, belligerent actions of the U.S. Empire such as the ever expanding U.S. imperialist wars in the Middle East. Follow the money – NBC is half owned by military industrial giant GE Corporation!

In the ever increasing attacks on the right to vote for the working class and oppressed nationalities (think Voter ID), the state of Ohio is planning to have extended and weekend early voting periods in largely suburban areas while at the same time reducing early voting periods in urban communities. For example, in Cincinnati which is 45% Afro-American, there will be no weekend early voting and weekday early voting will close at 5:00 p.m. In surrounding Warren County, early voting will be conducted on the weekends and during extended evenings. Warren County is 3.5% Afro-American. 

Even more disturbing is the following: Based on 4.3 million new residents in the 2010 Census, 90% of whom are Latino, Black or Asian, the state of Texas gained four additional Congressional seats. All the more significant then that the redistricting of Texas Congressional districts was so blatantly discriminatory that even a Federal Court recently ruled that the Texas State Legislature drew new Congressional maps with a “discriminatory intent” to diminish minority power in both new and existing districts – a violation of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. The Texas District Attorney vows an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but somehow the “beat goes on”: no Court is forcing any corrective changes prior to the November Congressional elections!

With so many homes destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 2010 and Port-au-Prince, the main city, still in ruins, an estimated one-half million Haitians are still living in tents.  The U.S. Congress had appropriated $1.14 billion for “reconstruction.” Yet, according to the New York Times, the “American government has yet to build and deliver a single house.” Meanwhile, South Korean clothing manufacturer Sae-A, a major supplier to Walmart and Gap, is getting benefit from the U.S. reconstruction funds for Haiti!

Sae-A, notorious for its repression of workers’ rights in Central America, will be the anchor tenant in a new industrial park, built largely with “reconstruction” funding from the U.S. Congress and thus our taxes! The deal includes tax exemptions, duty free access to the U.S. market, cheap labor, a power plant, and a new port threatening a pristine eco-system in Haiti. The industrial park is being built on productive fertile land that was untouched by the earthquake and was growing needed food for the impoverished people of Haiti. To make room, 366 farm families were evicted from their land. Democratic Secretary of State Clinton, whose husband former Democratic President Bill, was appointed by Republican George W. Bush to oversee U.S. funds earmarked for “aid” to the Haitian people, brokered the deal for Sae-A to do business in Haiti.

According to a report made by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, overseas sales of U.S. weapons soared to a record high of $66 billion for the year 2011, tripling such sales from the previous year. Russia was a distant second with $4.8 billion. It was sales of sophisticated weapons systems to the reactionary Persian Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman that mainly fueled these record sales of weapons of mass destruction. And it is these very same Gulf States that, along with the settler state of Israel, are the main props of U.S. imperialism as it tries to contain the Arab Spring popular uprisings and as it spawns the growing civil war in Syria on the way to unprovoked war on Iran.

“The great appear great to us
Only because we are on our knees:
Let us rise.”
        — Camille Desmoulins

Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL), USAis a revolutionary working class organization that fights for working class power and the elimination of all human exploitation. Ray O’ Light Newsletter is the regular publication of ROL, USA. We believe, with comrade Lenin, that the working class “… needs the truth and there is nothing so harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable petty bourgeois lies.” In the spirit of Karl Marx who taught that “our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action,” we welcome your comments.


Ray Light  —  Editor

607 Boylston St.
Lower Level Box 464
Boston, MA  02116


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