America’s theatre of the absurd / by Chris Hedges

“Macdeath.” Illustration by Mr. Fish.

This article originally appeared on on January 8, 2023

Our political class does not govern. It entertains. It plays its assigned role in our fictitious democracy, howling with outrage to constituents and selling them out. The Squad and the Progressive Caucus have no more intention of fighting for universal health care, workers’ rights or defying the war machine than the Freedom Caucus fights for freedom. These political hacks are modern versions of Sinclair Lewis’s slick con artist Elmer Gantry, cynically betraying a gullible public to amass personal power and wealth. This moral vacuity provides the spectacle, as H.G. Wells wrote, of “a great material civilization, halted, paralyzed.” It happened in Ancient Rome. It happened in Weimar Germany. It is happening here.

Governance exists. But it is not seen. It is certainly not democratic. It is done by the armies of lobbyists and corporate executives, from the fossil fuel industry, the arms industry, the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street. Governance happens in secret. Corporations have seized the levers of power, including the media. Growing obscenely rich, the ruling oligarchs have deformed national institutions, including state and federal legislatures and the courts, to serve their insatiable greed. They know what they are doing. They understand the depths of their own corruption. They know they are hated. They are prepared for that too. They have militarized police forces and have built a vast archipelago of prisons to keep the unemployed and underemployed in bondage. All the while, they pay little to no income tax and exploit sweatshop labor overseas. They lavishly bankroll the political clowns who speak in the vulgar and crude idiom of an enraged public or in the dulcet tones used to mollify the liberal class.

Donald Trump’s seminal contribution to the political landscape is the license to say in public what political decorum once prohibited. His legacy is the degradation of political discourse to the monosyllabic tirades of Shakespeare’s Caliban, which simultaneously scandalize and energize the kabuki theater that passes for government. This burlesque differs little from the German Reichstag, where the final cri de coeur by a mortally ill Clara Zetkin against fascism on August 30, 1932, was met with a chorus of taunts, insults and jeers by Nazi deputies.

H.G. Wells called the old guard, the good liberals, the ones who speak in measured words and embrace reason, the “inexplicit men.” They say the right things and do nothing. They are as vital to the rise of tyranny as are the Christian fascists, a few of whom held the House hostage last week by blocking 14 rounds of voting to prevent Kevin McCarthy from becoming Speaker. By the time McCarthy was elected on the 15th round, he had caved on nearly every demand made by the obstructionists, including permitting any one of the 435 members of the House to force a vote for his removal at any time, thus guaranteeing political paralysis.

The internecine warfare in the House is not between those who respect democratic institutions and those who do not. McCarthy, backed by Trump and far-right conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, is as morally bankrupt as those trying to bring him down. This is a battle for control among con artists, charlatans, social media celebrities and mobsters. McCarthy joined the majority of House Republicans in support of a Texas lawsuit to void the 2020 Presidential result by preventing four states⁠—Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia⁠—from casting electoral votes for Biden. The Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit. There isn’t much in the Freedom Caucus extremist positions, which resemble those of Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany and Fidesz in Hungary, McCarthy doesn’t embrace. They advocate greater tax cuts for the wealthy, further deregulation of corporations, a war on migrants, more austerity programs, champion white supremacy and accuse liberals and conservatives who do not line up behind Trump of treason.

“I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it,” McCarthy said in audio posted to YouTube by a Main Street Nashville reporter in 2021. Pelosi, for her part, called McCarthy a “moron,” after he said that a possible renewed mask mandate was “a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.” This is what passes for political discourse. I yearn for the time when political rhetoric was geared to the educational level of a 10-year-old child or an adult with a sixth or seventh-grade education. Now we speak in imbecilic clichés.

This political vacuum has spawned anti-politics, or what the writer Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics,” which “personalizes and moralizes issues and interests instead of clarifying them.” Junk politics “maximizes threats from abroad while miniaturizing large, complex problems at home. It’s a politics that, guided by guesses about its own profits and losses, abruptly reverses public stances without explanation, often spectacularly bloating problems previously miniaturized (e.g.: [the war in] Iraq will be over in days or weeks; Iraq is a project for generations).”

“A major effect of junk politics⁠—its ceaseless flood of patriotic, religious, macho and therapeutic fustian⁠—is to pull position after position loose from reasoned foundations,” DeMott noted.

The result of junk politics is that it infantilizes the public with “year-round upbeat Christmas tales” and perpetuates the status quo. The billionaire class, which has carried out a slow motion corporate coup d’état, continues to plunder; unchecked militarism continues to hollow out the country; and the public is kept in bondage by the courts and domestic security agencies. When the government watches you twenty-four hours a day, you cannot use the word “liberty.” That is the relationship between a master and a slave. The iron primacy of profit means that the most vulnerable are ruthlessly discarded. Supported by Republicans and Democrats, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to slow economic growth and increase unemployment to curb inflation, exacting a tremendous cost on the working poor and their families. No one is required to operate under what John Ruskin called “conditions of moral culture.”

But the second result of junk politics is more insidious. It solidifies the cult of the self, the amoral belief that we have the right to do anything, to betray and destroy anyone, to get what we want. The cult of the self fosters a psychopathic cruelty, a culture built not on empathy, the common good and self-sacrifice but on unbridled narcissism and vengeance. It celebrates, as mass media does, superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and an inability to feel guilt or remorse. This is the dark ethic of corporate culture, celebrated by the entertainment industry, academia and social media.

The essayist Curtis White argues that “it is capitalism that now most defines our national character, not Christianity or the Enlightenment.” He assesses our culture as one in which “death has taken refuge in a legality that is supported by both reasonable liberals and Christian conservatives.” This “legality” ratifies the systematic exploitation of workers. White excoriates our nationalist triumphalism and our unleashing of “the most fantastically destructive military power” the world has ever known with the alleged objective of “protecting and pursuing freedom.”

“Justice, under capitalism, works not from a notion of obedience to moral law, or to conscience, or to compassion, but from the assumption of a duty to preserve a social order and the legal ‘rights’ that constitute that order, especially the right to property and the freedom to do with it what one wants,” he writes. “That’s the real and important ‘moral assessment’ sought by our courts. It comes to this: that decision will seem most just which preserves the system of justice even if the system is itself routinely unjust.”

The consequence is a society consumed by excessive materialism, pointless soul-destroying work, suffocating housing developments closer to “shared cemeteries” than real neighborhoods and a license to exploit that “condemns nature itself to annihilation even as we call it the freedom to pursue personal property.”

The billionaire class, for the most part, prefers the mask of a Joe Biden, who deftly broke the freight railway unions to prevent a strike and forced them to accept a contract a majority of union members had rejected. But the billionaire class also knows that the goons and con artists on the far right will not interfere in their disemboweling of the nation; indeed, they will be more robust in thwarting the attempts of workers to organize for decent wages and working conditions. I watched fringe politicians in Yugoslavia, Radovan Karadžić, Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tudjman, dismissed by the political and educated elites as buffoons, ride an anti-liberal wave to power in the wake of widespread economic misery. Walmart, Amazon, Apple, Citibank, Raytheon, ExxonMobile, Alphabet and Goldman Sachs will easily adapt. Capitalism functions very efficiently without democracy.

The longer we remain in a state of political paralysis, the more these political deformities are empowered. As Robert O. Paxton writes in The Anatomy of Fascism, fascism is an amorphous and incoherent ideology. It wraps itself in the most cherished symbols of the nation, in our case, the American flag, white supremacy, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Christian cross. It celebrates hypermasculinity, misogyny, racism and violence. It allows disenfranchised people, especially disenfranchised white men, to regain a sense of power, however illusory, and sanctifies their hatred and rage. It embraces a utopian vision of moral renewal and vengeance to coalesce around an anointed political savior. It is militaristic, anti-intellectual and contemptuous of democracy, especially when the established ruling class mouths the language of liberal democracy but does nothing to defend it. It replaces culture with nationalist and patriotic kitsch. It sees those outside the closed circle of the nation-state or the ethnic or religious group as contaminants who must be physically purged, usually with violence, to restore the health of the nation. It perpetuates itself through constant instability, for its solutions to the ills besetting the nation are transitory, contradictory and unattainable. Most importantly, fascism always has a religious coloring, mobilizing believers around rites and rituals, using sacred words and phrases, and embracing an absolute truth that is heretical to question.

Trump may be finished politically, but the political and social decay that created Trump remains. This decay will give rise to new, perhaps more competent, demagogues. I fear the rise of Christian fascists endowed with the political skill, self-discipline, focus and intelligence that Trump lacks. The longer we remain politically paralyzed, the more certain Christian fascism becomes. The January 6 mob assault on the Capital two years ago, the polarization of the electorate into antagonistic tribes, the economic misery afflicting the working class, the rhetoric of hate and violence, and the current dysfunction in the Congress is but a glimpse of the nightmare ahead.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers University, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 12 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. His other books include “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” (2015) “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His latest book is “America: The Farewell Tour” (2018). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and has sold over 400,000 copies. He writes a weekly column for the website ScheerPost.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security / by Jessica Corbett

Activists participate in a rally urging the expansion of Social Security benefits in front of the White House on July 13, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Originally published in Common Dreams

“With Republicans threatening to cut benefits—and worse, eliminate the program entirely—Dems need to make clear they’re fighting to protect and expand benefits.”

As progressive lawmakers renewed calls for protecting Social Security from GOP attacks, Data for Progress on Monday pointed to polling that shows about 80% of U.S. voters across partisan divides support boosting benefits.

“While Democrats have a plan to protect and enhance Social Security, Republicans have shared their plans to privatize, cut, and even end this program!”

As a recent Social Security Administration report explains, “The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program makes monthly income available to insured workers and their families at retirement, death, or disability.”

The program traces back to the Social Security Act, signed into law on August 14, 1935 by then-U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Marking the 87th anniversary Sunday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) warned that the program is “under attack from Republicans,” despite its popularity among voters.

Data for Progress highlighted Monday that 86% of voters surveyed in June said they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the U.S. government will reduce Social Security benefits for those who currently receive them.

In July, the progressive think tank found that 70% of all voters—including 76% of Independents, 71% of Republicans, and 64% of Democrats—said they had heard “nothing at all” about GOP proposals to “sunset” the program.

Data for Progress also found last month that 81% of all likely voters—including 88% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans—support legislation to raise Social Security benefits to match the cost of living.

“Moreover, voters strongly support the pay-fors introduced in new legislation that would increase the solvency of Social Security and pay for new, expanded benefits,” the group noted in a blog post. “We find that 76% of voters support imposing a payroll tax on Americans making more than $400,000 annually, including 88% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans.”

The July polling further showed that 79% of all voters—including 89% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 72% of Republicans—believe Congress “should vote to expand Social Security benefits now, even though Democratic proposals only expand benefits for five years and would raise taxes on Americans earning more than $400,000 per year.”

As Democrats worry about losing control of Congress this November, the think tank pointed out that polls from this year suggest candidates would do better in elections if voters knew they want to expand Social Security.

Carly Berke, the strategic partnerships coordinator at Data for Progress and co-author of the new blog post, tweeted that amid GOP attacks on Social Security, Democrats “need to make clear they’re fighting to protect and expand benefits.”

U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC’s chair, and other members of Congress made that message clear in a Monday afternoon event hosted by .
Jayapal urged those benefiting from the program to share their stories and pressure lawmakers to pass Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust, legislation introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.).

“Social Security has provided our nation with the most comprehensive retirement, disability, and survivors benefits for 87 years,” Larson said in a statement. “Democrats are fighting to expand and protect it, yet my Republican colleagues have plans to cut benefits and even end the program as a whole.”

“Congress has not acted in 50 years to enhance benefits,” he noted. “The American people have made clear they want to protect the program they pay into with each and every paycheck so they can retire with dignity. With the Covid-19 pandemic still impacting our country and Republicans revealing their plans to end benefits, there is a fierce urgency to protect and enhance Social Security now.”

Advocating for his bill, Larson said that “alongside commemorating 87 years of this program, Congress must pass Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust to make much-needed benefit improvements and ensure this program can serve our nation for years to come. Congress must vote!”

Some progressive lawmakers—including Jayapal—also support the Social Security Expansion Act, legislation introduced in June by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“A lot has changed in 87 years, but Americans’ reliance on Social Security has not,” DeFazio said Monday. “My bill, the Social Security Expansion Act (SSEA) would enhance monthly benefits and keep the program solvent through 2096.”

Common Dreams, August 15, 2022,

Opinion: If Democrats want votes, they should rain fury on union-busting corporations / by Hamilton Nolan

Starbucks employees and supporters reacting as votes are read during a union election in December in Buffalo, New York. Photograph: Joshua Bessex/AP

Originally published in the Guardian, 8/8/22

We supposedly have the most pro-union US president of our lifetimes. Let’s see him act like it

In June, workers at a Chipotle restaurant in Augusta, Maine, became the first in the company’s history to file for a union election. Less than a month later, the company closed the store. In shutting down a location that was set to unionize, Chipotle was keeping company with Starbucks, which has suddenly undertaken a campaign to shut down several unionizing locations from coast to coast due to “safety” issues, and the health food company Amy’s Kitchen, which last month closed an entire factory in California where workers were organizing. It is, of course, impossible to “prove” that these companies closed these locations to try to crush the union drives, in the same sense that it is impossible to prove that a schoolyard bully meant to punch you in the face: he claims that he was merely punching the air while you happened to walk in front of his fist. Who’s to say what’s true in such a murky situation?

Plausible deniability aside, this is an extremely serious problem. Not just for the underpaid, overworked employees at all of these low-wage jobs, desperately hanging on to financial survival by their fingernails, but for all of us. America is mired in a half-century-long crisis of rising inequality that has been fueled, above all, by the combined erosion of labor power and the growth of the power of capital. The American dream enjoyed by the lucky baby-boom generation – buying a home and sending your kids to college on one income – is dead and gone, replaced by a thin crust of the rich sitting atop a huge swamp of once-middle-class jobs that no longer offer enough to sustain a middle-class lifestyle.

The power of workers relative to the power of the investment class must be rebalanced. Rebuilding the power of unions is the only way out of this trap, unless you are credulous enough to believe that we will all be rescued by the sudden radicalization of the tax policymakers on the House ways and means committee. If you ever want to live in a country where the American dream is more than a cruel, tantalizing joke, you have a stake in the revival of organized labor.

Workers with the union Chipotle United stand outside the chain’s former Augusta, Maine location in June. Credit: Courtesy of Maine AFL-CIO

So when you see a big company closing down operations because workers there want to unionize, you should be pissed. Such coldhearted retaliation against people exercising a fundamental right on the job goes to the very heart of how we got all this inequality in the first place. It is meant not just to derail one union drive, but to strike fear in all the other workers who see it happen: if you ask for what you’re worth, this could happen to you. Shut up and eat your gruel, and be happy that the kindly billionaire CEO is allowing you to earn enough not to starve today. Even if you don’t work at a fast-food outlet or a factory, this should enrage you, as a human being. It is an assault on human dignity.

America’s convoluted and hostile labor laws actually do allow a business to shut down in response to unionization, unless (and this is important) the company is doing so in order to scare its remaining employees out of unionizing – in other words, exactly what big employers like Chipotle and Starbucks would be doing by closing stores where workers have organized, as workers at many other stores across the country looked on. (Government regulators have not yet ruled on the legality of the recent closures by those companies.) Unfortunately, the evil, high-priced union-busting attorneys these companies hire are well aware that the gears of justice in labor law grind so slowly that even on the off chance that they were found to have closed the stores illegally, it would be far too late for it to mean anything to the workers who were laid off and forced to go find other jobs. The scary, unsubtle message to the company’s workforce would have already been sent.

That’s why this stuff is not really a question of law, but of power. The working class, galvanized by the near-death experience of the pandemic, is busily organizing in new industries across the country; the labor movement today is as energized as it has been in two generations. Corporate America is determined to stop this. In the mid-1950s, one in three Americans was a union member; today, that figure is one in 10. Companies know that their ability to extract excess profits will go down as union density goes up. This is going to be a hard, nasty fight. As all of those recently laid-off Chipotle and Starbucks and Amy’s Kitchen workers know, it already is.

It is also a golden opportunity for a Democratic party that has spent the last six years wringing its hands about losing working-class voters to the pseudo-populist (and racist) appeal of Trumpism. Want to get working people enthusiastic about Democrats again? Then the Democrats should help working people. National Democratic politicians should be holding press conferences decrying the greedy chief executives closing these stores just because workers tried to stand up for themselves. Joe Biden should be screaming his head off about billionaire Starbucks chief Howard Schultz’s disgusting union-busting at the same volume that Ron DeSantis is blathering about “woke corporations”.

Republicans are insincere ghouls who want to harvest working-class votes while their policies stab working-class people in the back – but Democrats are ceding the terrain to these scumbags by failing to match their fervor. We don’t need our politicians making anodyne statements about how unions are nice. We need a rain of zeal and fury emanating from Washington, to terrify companies away from closing down their union stores with threats of merciless retributions from the state.

History shows that organized labor thrives when it has the government’s support, and suffers without it. We are supposedly living under the most pro-union president of our lifetimes. So? Let’s hear some damn fire, man. The only reason companies feel so free to abuse their workers is that they don’t believe anyone will make them pay for it.

Hamilton Nolan is a writer based in New York

Guardian, August 8, 2022,

Opinion: Why “vote against fascism”? / by Callum Wilson

“Vote against fascism” is an excellent slogan and an even better strategy. While many of those who I would say are ultra left would decry such a call for action, I ask, why?

I am from and live in Pennsylvania. Of the two major candidates running for governor, Josh Shapiro (D) and Doug Mastriano (R), it is clear that Mastriano represents a fascist-aligned danger, if the man cannot be called a fascist himself. His platform fits with the standard MAGA call to arms: ban education that is deemed “woke” (read includes Black people and or LGBT people), eliminate mail-in voting, push voter IDs, and increase the number of “poll watchers” to guard against supposed voter fraud. Mastriano also supports a total ban on abortion and even the arrest of doctors who perform the procedure. His platform also mentions appointing a “Secretary of State with experience in securing elections from fraud,” mimicking Trump’s cries of election misconduct.

Should we not agree to vote against such a candidate and the repulsive ideology and forces that they represent? This is what “vote against fascism” means. Why, then, is there such a backlash against the call to “vote against fascism?” There are differing schools of thought on this, both un-Marxist-Leninist.

Voting gives us a say in the kind of terrain on which we struggle. 

The first is that “voting doesn’t matter.” The saying goes that if voting mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it. This logic ignores two facts: first, the expansion of the electorate had to be fought for, and second, voter suppression continues to this day. The election of Trump is what allowed for the Supreme Court to be packed with far-right judges, which has taken us to where we are now. Voting matters and gives us a say in the kind of terrain on which we struggle. Would a Clinton victory in 2016 take us to socialism? Of course not, but it would have led to more favorable ground on which to struggle, the same way that the Biden victory in 2020 has allowed for an albeit uphill battle, but one that has given us an administration more favorable to labor than the previous one.

Sometimes we hear from ultra-left forces who say “revolution now!” but will be disappointed to find out that’s now how revolutionary change works. The great October revolution was not accomplished in a single day or even one year. It took decades of organizing to topple the czar and more to build a socialist nation.

The second, and perhaps the more outlandish reason not to participate in electoral struggle is that “the USA and or the Democratic Party is already fascist.” While none can deny the increasing authoritarian rule of Republican states, and that liberal politicians and baseline democrats are capable of great oppression and cruelty, this is not fascism. Georgi Dimitrov gives us a very clear definition:

“the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital. Going on to say “It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.”

Somehow I cannot believe that a lukewarm Democrat like Pete Buttigieg or even the worst, like Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin, fit this definition. Even liberals can plainly see the fascist nature of Republicans who view the January 6th coup attempt as “legitimate political discourse.” Despite the rare exceptions like Republican Senator Liz Cheney, the GOP is far more right-wing than in the Nixon era. And those deemed “heroes” like Cheney and the testifiers at the January 6 hearings have enabled the Trump regime all along by remaining silent for four long years. Proud Boys, intimidating poll watchers, and the mob of rioters are poised to be the storm troopers of fascism and the Republican Party.

Not differentiating progressive Democrats from fascist Republicans is dogmatic adherence to the long-discredited “social fascist” theory.

The CPUSA has never said “vote blue no matter who.” The conservative Democrats should be primaried and challenged by progressives, democratic socialists, and Communists. But not differentiating progressive Democrats from fascist Republicans is dogmatic adherence to the long-discredited “social fascist” theory, which equated social democracy with fascism. The social fascist theory led to the Communist Party of Germany to ignore the rise of the Nazis, focusing more of their attention on the SPD (Socialist Party of Deutschland). This theory was held during the third period of the Comintern, and by the fourth period was replaced by the popular front against fascism, which remains the bedrock of our platform to this day.

So what did Dimitrov, leader of the Comintern and later Socialist Bulgaria, have to say about voting and bourgeois democracy?

We are not Anarchists, and it is not at all a matter of indifference to us what kind of political regime exists in any given country: whether a bourgeois dictatorship in the form of bourgeois democracy, even with democratic rights and liberties greatly curtailed, or a bourgeois dictatorship in its open, fascist form. While being upholders of Soviet democracy, we shall defend every inch the democratic gains which the working class has wrested in the course of years of stubborn struggle, and shall resolutely fight to extend these gains.

How great were the sacrifices of the British working class before it secured the right to strike, a legal status for its trade unions, the right of assembly and freedom of the press, extension of the franchise, and other rights. How many tens of thousands of workers gave their lives in the revolutionary battles fought in France in the nineteenth century to obtain the elementary rights and the lawful opportunity of organizing their forces for the struggle against the exploiters. The proletariat of all countries has shed much of its blood to win bourgeois-democratic liberties and will naturally fight with all its strength to retain them.

How easily this can be translated into our own conditions. The struggle to end slavery and Jim Crow, the struggle to form and join a union, for the right to vote itself, were all won with much blood and struggle. History does not repeat itself and the GOP are not the Nazi Party incarnate, this is true. But to deny their growing fascist character does not make you more radical, it makes you naive to what is happening.

Voting in elections is a tactical choice, not a moral one.

There is a faux-Maoist and ultra-left tendency to reject political action in favor of vague adventurism without ever presenting an alternative strategy to stop fascism. They substitute moralizing for clear-eyed analysis of the political forces at play in any given moment. In their view, “both sides are the same” and one’s soul is tainted for voting in an election for bourgeois candidates. Voting in elections is a tactical choice, not a moral one.

Ultimately, the reason some on the left reject electoral struggle is they don’t agree with the concept of the all-people’s front. They view sectarianism as a virtue and take pride in their insular nature. This reflects a lack of confidence in the multiple people’s movements — for voting rights, against police brutality and mass incarceration, and for a livable planet, to name a few — and in the working class itself. The need for an all-people’s front is grounded in actual experience and the scientific formula of Marxism-Leninism, not moralistic idealism.

But there are others who rightfully ask: where are our candidates? And the answer that is: wherever there are clubs and districts. Run for office, run as a Communist, be a loud and proud red. We are starting to dip our feet back into the water of electoral work. We need Communist city council members, Communist union leaders, Communist mayors. Run and vote, comrades! Challenge Republicans where the Democrats are too callow to fight, and challenge the Democrat obstructionists Manchin and Sinema. We need more politicking and less sloganeering.

So this November I will vote against fascism and I encourage all my friends, family, and comrades to do the same.

Communist Party USA, August 4, 2022,

Commentary: On the suffering of the masses for capitalist and imperialist gains / by Raina Overskride

Photo credit: Courtesy CPUSA

“Standing up for our values is not without cost”

The last couple of months have brought clarity to many within the masses, when it comes to the oppressive nature of capitalism and the lengths the ruling class will go to achieve its goals regardless of the suffering that is created in its path of destruction.

The rising cost of food, gas, oil, consumer goods and overall scarcity of products on shelves such as baby formula and women’s hygienic products have left many struggling in trying to keep themselves and their families fed or trying not to fall behind on bills and mortgages or rent.

This has led many people to skip meals or resort to buying heavily processed unhealthy foods that do not provide adequate nutrition and will eventually lead to health problems many of which will not be able to be properly addressed due to lack of insurance or access to safe affordable healthcare.

The current Biden administration has been nothing short of incompetent and unapologetic in dealing with this crisis.

The Biden administration has instead focused its priority onto assisting and funding Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, such as Azov Battalion, in various ways such as sending weapons, oil, gas, and money, while countless people suffer here in Maine and across thecountry. Rough estimates, at least as of May 2022, put the cost around $55 Billion Dollars with much more on the way.

Imagine for a moment what $55B could do for the countless people who are houseless or going hungry here in this country. This is a simply astonishing thing to imagine that while the masses here are suffering, the so called “leader of the free world” decides, ‘Yeah those neo-Nazis in Ukraine, let’s help them while the people here suffer.’

That is all just icing on the cake of oppression that many are facing today.
Recently, if we consider the destruction of women’s rights in this country and the absolute timid response by the democrats.

We can see that the democrats have no plan in place to fight against this. Instead they chose to send out emails and text messages asking people to donate money for their campaigns with the promise of protecting Roe v Wade.

This is an absolutely unacceptable response and a rather disgusting one to be honest.

The democrats had DECADES to codify Roe v Wade into law and literally chose not to do it because that was their big carrot on the stick to get you, the voter, into the voting booth. Well, that carrot is gone now, and the democrats have done NOTHING to materially change the conditions of the people. This includes many issues people voted them into office to do such as canceling student debt, Medicare for All, affordable housing, economic relief, climate crisis and so on and so forth.

When you take the war raging in Europe into account, which will never de-escalate as-long-as the United States and its criminal partners keep waging a proxy war against Russia, we are not getting out of this mess anytime or soon.

Some say we can “reform” our way out of this is a rather delusional idea. Let’s examine this fantasy, shall we? We currently have a Supreme Court, with a majority of conservative lifetime appointees. It is a court stacked in the far right’s favor. Some people will say, “expand the courts,” but this will just lead to a never ending back and forth of court appointees pushing their own agenda.

This is a nonsensical path. The other option I hear is: Well, we just gotta “vote harder.” This is also nonsensical and delusional considering current material conditions. Mind you, it’s a very easy thing to observe that all of this is happening under a democratically controlled House, Senate and Presidency, a political situation that has done nothing to help the masses-as-a-whole.

I must also note this is not a call to vote for the right-wing candidates or Republicans, as they are just as bad if not worse than the Democrats in many ways.

Many more issues could be added to this article, such as the rising threat of fascism or the rampant attempted transgender genocide happening across the country, especially in places like Florida and Texas. Also, the horrific threat that Black, indigenous, and peoples of color face here in this country due to all these issues touched on in this article and other subjects not raised for lack of space, like the public executions’ pigs carry out against black and brown bodies.

These are truly arduous times now, and ahead, but personally, from my analysis, at least in the short term there are some things the masses can do to fight this capitalist oppression.

  1. Join a progressive or socialist organization that is grass roots in dealing with the issues covered in this article.
  2. Get in the fight and join CPUSA and help build a better world.
  3. Read and learn communist theory that is out there, and put in the work in your local community, such as attending protests and organizing with those in your community, to put that theory into practice.
  4. Get involved with mutual-aid efforts in your area to help those vulnerable in your communities. If a mutual-aid project is not available in your area, try to start one.
  5. Lastly, for you the voter, you have some political leverage. The capitalists will not tell you about the power you possess. It is a leverage that they fear. The current administration wishes to stay in power and will sell you the world and offer you the platitudes they think you want to hear. But regarding a pressing issue like Abortion Rights, the masses could withhold their votes in November, until Roe v. Wade is codified into law. This sort of action would force the Biden Administration to either (A) make it law, or, (B) lose power, while less than impressive, would still send a message to the Democrats that the masses will not settle for idle talk while the people suffer.

I will admit I do not have the answers. But these are some of the pressing issues we all face. Sure, many will just call for revolution. While in the long term I agree 100%, that is not something we can just press a button to make happen. I feel this current struggle and the many more to come will be nothing more than waves leading to revolution. However, in the short term, the masses need to organize and mobilize not only around single issues but around the general struggle to destroy capitalism and imperialism and replace them with socialism.

I will leave you the voter a quote from Kwame Ture:

“The job of a revolutionary is, of course, to overthrow unjust systems and replace them with just systems because a revolutionary understands this can only be done by the masses of the people. So, the task of the revolutionary is to organize the masses of the people, given the conditions of the Africans around the world who are disorganized, consequently, all my efforts are going to organizing people.”

Raina Overskride is an activist who writes from Lewiston, Maine.

FDR Was Right to Attack the Supreme Court’s Power. Democrats Should Do the Same Today / by Davis Sirota

Franklin Roosevelt signs Social Security Act into law, August 14, 1935. (Wikimedia Commons)

When the Supreme Court’s right-wing justices tried to block Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, he took the court head-on — and won. There’s a lesson there today: directly attacking the court’s power is the only way to rein it in.

As six unelected extremists orchestrate a judicial coup to repeal the twentieth century, you might be wondering: Why won’t Democrats simply push to expand the court like it’s been expanded before?

Why is President Joe Biden opposing court expansion and why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refusing to allow a vote on the idea?

Why is the Democratic Party defending a GOP-packed, corporate star chamber that polls show most Americans no longer trust?

One answer is political malpractice. Another answer: complicity. Party leaders may be sending out fundraising emails slamming the John Roberts Court, but they have eschewed court expansion, halted the once-common practice of legislatively overriding justices, and declined to quickly fill lower-court vacancies before a midterm election that could eliminate their Senate majority.

But incompetence and corruption are not the whole story. Democrats have almost certainly also internalized the tale told about the party’s greatest president — the one alleging that Franklin Roosevelt epically failed by challenging the Supreme Court’s power in the late 1930s. In the popular telling, FDR got greedy, tried to pack the court with his ideological allies, but a court-loving public saw it as a crass power grab and unacceptable violation of norms, dooming the initiative and preserving equilibrium. Cue inspiring West Wing music as the republic was saved.

This cartoon has become the key cautionary tale designed to deter any challenge to a court that has been one of the establishment’s last lines of defense. But here’s the inconvenient fact: the story is bullshit — or at least significantly more complicated than the fable.

In truth, Roosevelt did not succeed in packing the court — but his court expansion initiative did succeed in taming the court, which is exactly what Democrats must do right now.

“A Choice Between Substantive Policy and Structural Integrity”

As recounted in Supreme PowerRoosevelt in 1932 ignited a firestorm when he dared to utter a taboo truth during a Baltimore speech at the end of that year’s presidential campaign. He declared that Americans were being crushed by government policies spearheaded by “the Republican Party [which] was in complete control of all branches of the federal government — the Executive, the Senate, the House of Representatives and, I might add for good measure, the Supreme Court as well.”

“Roosevelt Says GOP Has Had Supreme Court Control Since 1929,” blared the front page of the Washington Post, in an article scandalizing the idea that the court had become a political weapon.

In the ensuing years, the court’s conservative block tried to block and dismantle the New Deal program Roosevelt was elected to pursue. In 1935 and 1936, the court’s five conservative justices went on a rampage.

Smithsonian Magazine wrote that the Supreme Court in that time “struck down more significant acts of Congress — including the two foundation stones, the [National Recovery Act] and the [Agricultural Adjustment Act], of Roosevelt’s program — than at any other time in the nation’s history, before or since.” The magazine noted that one decision “destroyed FDR’s plan for industrial recovery” and another “annihilated his farm program.”

Soon after he was reelected in 1936, Roosevelt decided that a direct confrontation with the court was the only way to realize his agenda. He didn’t pretend that the court was some apolitical bastion of dispassionate integrity — he saw it for what it was: a political weapon literally run by a former Republican nominee for president.

In 1937, Roosevelt unveiled his plan to expand the court by allowing presidents to add new justices when any current justice declined to retire after age seventy. He warned that without expansion, the Supreme Court was “coming more and more to constitute a scattered, loosely organized and slowly operating third house of the national legislature.”

In history books and modern punditry, this story then simply ends with the plan dying in Congress — allegedly because Americans pulverized by the Great Depression nonetheless loved the court that was kicking them in the face.

However, a study of public opinion and the court’s moves tell a much different tale of a president and his party losing a closely fought battle but winning a larger war.

The analysis from Ohio State University political scientist Gregory Caldeira shows that Gallup polls found the public was hardly enamored with the court — on the contrary, voters were closely divided on the expansion idea when Roosevelt first proposed his legislation, even as the initiative faced largely negative press coverage from the New York Times, the dominant newspaper of the time.

More important: public support for Roosevelt’s expansion initiative only truly cratered when the court’s conservative majority suddenly halted its attempts to block the New Deal. In particular, the court’s surprising decisions to uphold a state minimum wage and then the pro-union Wagner Act deflated public support for court expansion, as did the subsequent retirement of one of the court’s most conservative justices. The court soon after declined to block social security.

“Evidence accumulated over the years goes against that notion of the (close) relationship between the public and the court,” wrote Caldeira. “I prefer, instead, a much more straightforward account: The Supreme Court outmaneuvered the president. Through a series of shrewd moves, the court put President Roosevelt in the position of arguing for a radical reform on the slimmest of justifications.”

But here’s the key point: he notes that the court’s “shrewd moves” that “outmaneuvered” FDR were in practice “an important jurisprudential retreat” on policy.

“President Roosevelt in essence offered the Supreme Court a choice between substantive policy and structural integrity,” he concludes. “The court wisely chose to give up on the substantive issues and preserve its structural integrity.”

Buried on the Social Security Administration’s website is an accurate summary of what really happened: “The debate on this [expansion] proposal was heated, widespread and over in six months. The president would be decisively rebuffed, his reputation in history tarnished for all time. But the court, it seemed, got the message and suddenly shifted its course . . . the court would sustain a series of New Deal legislation, producing a ‘constitutional revolution in the age of Roosevelt.’”

As Roosevelt himself put it after the fight was over: “We obtained 98 percent of all the objectives intended by the court plan.”

He was also overwhelmingly reelected to a historic third term a few years after the battle.

There Is No Other Viable Choice

For Democratic politicians, voters, media outlets, and advocacy groups, the moral of the story is not that reprising FDR’s court battle would repeat his failure. It is the opposite: doing what FDR did is probably the only chance to repeat his success in beating back an out-of-control court.

The good news is that at least a few party lawmakers are finally realizing that this isn’t a West Wing episode requiring a Jed Bartlet monologue — this is a high-stakes power struggle requiring some FDR-style tactics. Indeed, there is now Democratic legislation in Congress to add four justices to the panel. There is also legislation to impose term limits on Supreme Court justices — which is a wildly popular idea, according to survey data.

Even better: the justices are starting to worry about such pressure. In the past year, two of them delivered public speeches trying to defend the court’s legitimacy — a signal that they are concerned that public confidence in the court has hit historic lows. In fact, the entire Republican machine that packed the court full of right-wing extremists is now panicking about court expansion — which is a sign that it’s precisely what needs to happen.

That said, there is no guarantee that the six archconservatives now spearheading today’s judicial coup would react the same way as their predecessors during the New Deal. There may be nothing that prompts their retreat.

But in that case, public support for expansion could rise if Democrats cite the court’s extremism as yet more proof that expansion is necessary. This would require them to develop some intestinal fortitude and understand that public opinion is not static — it can be moved with enough rhetorical and legislative discipline.

Of course, some Democratic voters first and foremost love norms — and they are anesthetized by a corporate media that is forever pretending the court is dispassionate and its chief justice is a venerable statesman. So an FDR-esque crusade for court expansion might offend their sense of etiquette.

But ask yourself: What is the alternative here?

Emboldened by Democratic inaction after the antiabortion decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the six right-wing justices now seem well on their way to resurrecting the Lochner era — the inhumane judicial epoch that defined the period before Roosevelt’s battle with the court.

Roberts and his cronies clearly presume today’s Democrats will just continue defending the judicial institution — even as the court destroys every other institution in America, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the Securities and Exchange Commission to democracy itself. In short, they expect today’s Democrats to never do what Roosevelt did — which would doom the country to a dystopian future.

You can subscribe to David Sirota’s investigative journalism project, the Lever, here.

David Sirota is editor-at-large at Jacobin. He edits the Lever and previously served as a senior adviser and speechwriter on Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Jacobin, July 9, 2022,

House Democrats to Hold First Medicare for All Hearing Since Pandemic / by Julia Conley

Protesters supporting Medicare for All hold a rally outside PhRMA headquarters April 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. The rally was held by the group Progressive Democrats of America. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Congress must implement a system that prioritizes people over profits, humanity over greed, and compassion over exploitation,” said Rep. Cori Bush.

Two years after the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly left an estimated 14.6 million Americans without employer-sponsored health insurance due to economic shutdowns and layoffs, the House Oversight Committee next week will hold the first hearing since the pandemic began on Medicare for All, with witnesses expected to testify on numerous ways the public health crisis has made the need for such a system clearer than ever.

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) will be joined Tuesday by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) in leading the hearing, which will be the third congressional ever to focus on Medicare for All.

Several progressive lawmakers, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), are also members of the committee.

Medicare for All advocate Ady Barkan, who suffers from ALS, is set to testify at the hearing, along other witnesses including with emergency physician Dr. Uché Blackstock and economist Jeffrey D. Sachs.

The hearing will focus partially on how universal healthcare coverage, with all types of medical care free at the point of service as it is in other wealthy nations, would help close health disparity gaps for people with disabilities, people of color, low-income and poor people, and other marginalized groups.

According to a report released just before the pandemic by Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), Hispanic and Black Americans have significantly higher uninsured rates, at 19% and 11%, respectively, than white Americans, 8% of whom are uninsured.

Black Americans are also twice as likely as white people to die of diabetes, 22% more likely to die of heart disease, and 71% more likely to die of cervical cancer.

In the country’s healthcare system established for all veterans, though, Black men are significantly less likely to develop heart disease, while high-quality health coverage erases nearly half the racial disparities for women with breast cancer.

“This policy will save lives, I want to make that clear,” Bush told The Nation on Thursday. “I hope this hearing will be one more step forward in our commitment to ensuring everyone in this country, and particularly our Black, brown, and Indigenous communities, have the medical care they need to thrive.”

In addition to showing how quickly a for-profit healthcare system—in which medical coverage is tied to employment for more than half the country—can leave millions without care, progressives have said since the pandemic began that the crisis demonstrated the need for Medicare for All in other ways.

As Common Dreams reported in 2020, for-profit health insurers have illegally hit Americans with surprise medical bills for Covid-19 testing and treatment, with some being billed for thousands of dollars for services advertised as free—and necessary for public health.

“Americans deserve a healthcare system that guarantees health and medical services to all. Congress must implement a system that prioritizes people over profits, humanity over greed, and compassion over exploitation,” Bush told The Nation.

The announcement of the hearing comes two weeks after House Democrats pulled $15.6 billion in pandemic response funding from an omnibus spending bill, a move that forced the federal government to end coverage of Covid-19 tests and treatment for uninsured Americans.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is moving ahead with a scheme to privatize the existing Medicare program, continuing an experiment first pushed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

In the Senate this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced that he soon plans to reintroduce a Medicare for All proposal. Next week’s hearing will consider a shift to the Medicare for All proposal put forward in the House by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Marking the twelfth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson said Wednesday, “It is more clear than ever that we need improved and expanded Medicare for All.”

Common Dreams, March 24, 2022,