this incredibly incendiary bastard is still a lesser danger to the world than biden

If you don’t believe me, read J G Jatras, further down – RB

Trump escalates threats of violence and dictatorship
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Oct 18 2020

Trump at Muskegon County Airport in Norton Shores, Michigan, on Saturday, Oct 17 2020.
(Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

Appearing at a campaign rally in Muskegon, Michigan, his first visit to the state since 14 right-wing militia members were arrested for plotting to kidnap and murder the state’s Democratic governor, Trump escalated his incitement of violence against his political opponents, as well as his threats to stay in office indefinitely. Trump sought to whip up the crowd with denunciations of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, only 10 days after a gang of fascists was rounded up while making last-minute preparations for her assassination. “Get the governor to open up your state,” he shouted, although virtually all major businesses have been permitted by Whitmer to reopen, including the major auto plants, despite a rising toll of coronavirus infections and death. Trump said, professing amazement:

I guess they said she was threatened, right? And she blamed me!

When the crowd obligingly responded with chants of “lock her up,” Trump extended this demand to all his political opponents. “Lock ‘em all up,” he said, with evident glee. He went on to proclaim his determination to stay in office far beyond the constitutional limit of two terms, for “4 years, 8 years, 12 years, 16!” The crowd of several thousand responded with chants, “12 more years! 12 more years!” He mocked his media critics, saying:

You really drive them crazy if you say 12 more years. Then they say: “He’s a fascist!” Now the story with the fake news will be: “He’s a fascist!”

In reality, the corporate media has refused to apply the “fascist” label to Trump, despite his increasingly open effort to develop an armed, violent, anti-democratic movement centered on himself and his family. Neither his Democratic opponents in the November 3 election, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, nor the congressional Democrats in Washington have dared to use the term, although it is undeniable that this is the trajectory of the Trump campaign and the Republican Party as a whole. Governor Whitmer protested Trump’s language at the Muskegon rally, warning in an appearance Sunday on NBC Meet the Press:

It’s incredibly disturbing that the POTUS, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial, and execute me, 10 days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism.

But other leading Democrats and their media supporters have sought to downplay the issue or avoid it entirely. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on ABC’s Sunday morning interview program, she responded to a direct question about the Muskegon rally by dismissing Trump’s rhetoric as “irresponsible,” but did not actually speak Whitmer’s name or refer to the plot to take her life. And she concluded, “The biggest antidote to his poison is the vote,” without addressing Trump’s repeated suggestions that he will defy the outcome of the election and stay in office indefinitely. Biden also made no mention of the plot to kill Whitmer when he delivered his lone campaign speech of the weekend in Durham, NC, on Sunday. While he cited Trump’s statement, after the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va in 2017, that there were “very fine people” among the torch-wielding fascists, he drew no conclusions about the president’s present political course. He said nothing at all about Trump’s visit to Muskegon, in the state where the president’s demands to “Liberate Michigan” were put into practice by more than a dozen fascist thugs. There is no precedent in American political life for a POTUS conducting himself in this manner. The Democrats impeached Trump on a largely concocted pretext of no interest to the American people, stemming from their bogus anti-Russia campaign, but they refuse to lift a finger when the president incites a mob and seeks to create a violent fascistic movement. Last week, during his town hall appearance on NBC, Trump only begrudgingly spoke a sentence formally rejecting white supremacy, while he embraced the fascistic QAnon conspiracy theory and indicated that he shared its goal of combating “pedophilia.” The principal contention of the QAnon campaign is that the Democratic Party is run by Satanic pedophiles whom Trump will round up and exterminate in a coming “storm.” In that context, Trump’s “lock ‘em all up” remark is chilling.

While the American media has generally dismissed QAnon as the ravings of the lunatic fringe without real consequences for American political life, the WaPo published Sunday a disturbing account of how the Democratic candidate for Congress in a northwest Georgia district faced threats of violence from supporters of his Republican opponent, a candidate who openly embraced QAnon. No one in the state or national Democratic Party lifted a finger in his defense, and he abandoned his candidacy and fled the state. In the case of Michigan, there is ample evidence that those who plotted to kidnap and kill Governor Whitmer had support from officials in the state Republican Party and connections with political operatives directly linked to the Trump White House. And according to the state attorney general, this plot is just the “tip of the iceberg,” and many other Democratic governors were targeted by similar groups of conspirators. Neither the media nor the Democratic Party has pointed to the connection between the violent plot against Whitmer and the planned attacks on the right to vote in the 2020 election. But remarkably, when the Michigan secretary of state announced a ban on openly carrying firearms within 100 ft of polling places or locations where absentee ballots are counted, Michigan Republican officials immediately denounced the restriction and said they would file suit to assert the “Second Amendment” rights of pro-Trump thugs who wish to threaten voters in heavily Democratic precincts. The SEP denounces the threats of violence against Governor Whitmer and other Democratic Party officials. We oppose the politics of the Democratic Party and of Whitmer herself, but we are not indifferent to the threats of violence against an elected governor who received more than 2.2m votes in Nov 2018. There is a tremendous danger of fascist and state violence directed from the highest levels. Only last week, it was revealed that anti-fascist activist Michael Reinoehl was riddled with bullets by a police death squad, which gave him no warning and gunned him down as he was entering his car in an apartment parking lot in Washington state. The police were acting as part of a US Marshal’s task force under direct orders from Trump and his Attorney General William Barr.

The drive towards dictatorship and fascist violence arises out of the staggering social contradictions in America: the yawning social gulf between the super-rich and the rest of the population, exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The response of the ruling class is war abroad and repression at home. The Democratic Party cannot oppose this trend because their own policies are determined by the same class interests. The only way that this danger can be fought is through millions of working people and young people breaking with the Democratic Party and creating a genuine mass socialist movement that unites the entire working class. The anti-socialist hysteria of Trump and his fascist partisans is a response to the growth of working-class militancy, expressed currently in the resistance of workers to being forced back to unsafe workplaces and the opposition of young people to the equally deadly back-to-school drive. The incitements to violence and fascist attacks will not go away regardless of the outcome of the election. On the contrary, if Trump is ousted in the Nov 3 vote, and if he is forced to accept the result of that vote, he and his forces will only intensify their efforts. And as the comments of Pelosi and Biden demonstrate, a Biden administration would be far more concerned about working class resistance to the right-wing policies of the Democrats than about the fascist threat. This reality underscores the significance of the campaign of the SEP in the 2020 elections. With two weeks before the election, we renew our call on workers and youth to support our candidates, Joseph Kishore for president and Norissa Santa Cruz for vice president, to vote for them in states where this is possible, and write in their names in all other states. But the central question is the preparation for the crisis conditions which will follow the elections, whatever their outcome. The working class must build a mass independent political movement fighting for socialist policies and against all the parties and apologists for the capitalist ruling elite and the profit system. This means joining and building the SEP and our youth movement, the IYSSE.

COVID-19 infections soar in US
Kate Randall, WSWS Oct 19 2020

The US reported more than 70k coronavirus cases on Friday, making it the highest single-day increase since late July. The seven-day national average of daily cases has also increased by 8k in the last week. The massive spike in cases is an indication that the US ruling elite’s policy of reopening businesses and schools is already resulting in the surge predicted by public health experts for the fall and winter. More than 900 people died on Friday in the US due to COVID-19. Total US deaths approached 220k on Sunday, with total confirmed cases surpassing 8.1m, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global death toll stands at more than 1.1m, with close to 40m cases. The US, Brazil and India account for more than half of all deaths worldwide. Midwestern and other states are experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus cases. Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado all reached records on Friday for single-day case increases. As of Saturday afternoon, Indiana and Ohio had already topped their previous records. States with large rural areas are also experiencing their highest-ever rates of infection. Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska, Iowa, Utah, Alaska and Oklahoma have recorded more cases in a seven-day period than in any previous week. As average daily infections top 60k, hospitalizations nationwide are up more than 30% from just four weeks ago. In New Mexico, hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last three weeks. Governor Lujan Grisham said of the state’s crisis:

Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in it. The virus is real and it continues to spread, wreaking havoc on New Mexicans’ lives.

The ripple effect on the Midwest from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this summer is still being assessed. The event held every August in South Dakota, drawing about half a million people, had already been linked to COVID-19 cases throughout the Midwest, including at least 35 in Minnesota. Now a new report from the WaPo says:

More than 330 COVID-19 cases and at least one death have been directly linked to the Sturgis rally, though experts say that tally represents just the tip of the iceberg, and that the rally likely played a role in the outbreak now consuming the Upper Midwest.

Wisconsin is struggling with one of the worst outbreaks of the virus in the country. Nearly 4k new cases were reported in the state on Friday alone, and officials have been forced to open a field hospital in the north-eastern part of the state to deal with the outbreak. The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 has tripled in Wisconsin in the past month and nearly 1.6k people in the state have died from it. Despite these devastating conditions, Trump made Wisconsin his second campaign stop on Saturday, following a rally in Muskegon, Michigan, where he led chants referring to Gretchen Whitmer of “Lock her up!”, Trump’s rally at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville packed in several thousand people. Only about a third of his supporters wore masks, and attendees were required to ride to the event in crowded shuttle buses to and from a parking lot a few miles away. In his rambling 93-minute speech, the president denounced Wisconsin Democrat governor Tony Evers for attempting to hold back the reopening of schools and businesses. Trump said, without substantiation:

We’re doing great! We’re doing really well! I wish you’d have a Republican governor, because frankly, you got to open your state up! You got to open it up! We’re rounding the corner! We have unbelievable vaccines coming out real soon!

On Sunday, Trump held a rally in Carson City, Nevada, where masks and social distancing were also scarce. Despite the warnings of health experts on the impending rise in cases and deaths in the coming months, Trump and his coterie have doubled down on their homicidal practice of holding rallies that endanger the health and lives of his deluded supporters and pose the very real threat of becoming super-spreader events that increase infections of the deadly virus. The president has sidelined the advice of health experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, holding meetings of the body at best just once a week. Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of the task force and an infectious disease expert, has cautioned against indoor gatherings of people outside their households for the upcoming holidays, which would serve to heighten the rate of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, pointed on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday to the deadly implications of the Trump administration’s embrace of the policy of “herd immunity,” in which the virus is allowed to spread unabated, potentially leading to millions of cases and deaths. Gottlieb said:

It’ll take the FDA two to four weeks to turn that application around. Then it will take us another two to four weeks to get the initial tranche of people, the most vulnerable who are indicated for the vaccine, vaccinated. Then they need to get a second dose and that happens in the next three to four weeks. And then it takes two weeks for the immunity really to kick in. So you’re looking at a situation where the first tranche of people to get vaccinated really won’t be protected from the vaccine probably till February and maybe March. And so that’s a long way off. And it’s probably likely to be the biggest wave that we endure without the benefit of a vaccinated population. So, we’re going to have to rely on those mitigation steps.

But it is precisely those mitigation steps (social distancing, limiting gatherings & the wearing of masks) that the Trump administration vocally opposes. In this effort, Trump has brought onto the task force neuro-radiologist Scott Atlas, an avowed supporter of “herd immunity,” which advocates allowing the coronavirus to spread uncontrolled until an adequate number of people are infected and are supposedly then immune. The WHO has condemned this policy as “unethical.” One health expert, William Haseltine of ACCESS Health International, has correctly said:

Herd immunity is another word for mass murder.

Health experts have argued that this policy would result in 2m/yr to 6m/yr deaths in the US alone. The Great Barrington Declaration, supported by Atlas, calls for supposedly less vulnerable people to go to work, engage in team sports and participate in normal activities as if the virus was not a deadly threat. In a tweet posted on Saturday which was later taken down by Twitter, Atlas wrote, “Masks work? NO,” linking to antiscientific statements from the American Institute of Economic Research that argues against the effectiveness of masks, among other claims. Despite certain criticisms of the Trump administration’s reckless policy of holding mass rallies, Biden does not oppose the president’s drive to reopen the economy. He opposes reverting to any form of lockdowns and is openly pushing for the reopening of businesses, schools and college campuses, and has pledged more funds to do so. The vast majority of Americans, on the other hand, face the prospect of economic devastation as the two big-business parties have allowed stimulus and unemployment benefits to expire, threatening a fall and winter of evictions, utility shut-offs, hunger, disease and preventable death.

Who are the New York Watchmen?
Alex Findijs, WSWS, Oct 18 2020

The New York Watchmen are a recently formed right-wing militia based in Western New York. They have chapters in Buffalo and Rochester and have reported interest as far away as Westchester County. The New York section is part of a larger organization headquartered in North Carolina. It is unclear how large the national organization is, but the New York Watchmen are reporting around 200 members, with the aim to reach 500 by election day. While they publicly claim to not be a militia, they have been organizing pistol permits and training, and have set up a GoFundMe page to fund the purchase of weapons, equipment and medical supplies. The Watchmen hold a pro-government and pro-police stance, describing their main missions as supporting the police and protecting property and “innocents.” While Charles Pellien, the founder and director of the group has claimed that they are not partisan, he and other leading members of the group have publicly expressed their support for President Trump on social media. The leaders of the Watchmen have organized appearances at Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests. They have also organized marches in support of the police that Republican government officials have attended. New York Assemblyman David DiPietro has attended their rallies, as well as Assistant Director of Health and Human Services Michael Caputo, who worked for the Reagan administration with Oliver North to pursue the interests of US imperialism in Central America.

Caputo is a close friend of Charles Pellien. In a rant posted on Facebook, Caputo called on New Yorkers to stock up on ammunition and to contact his “friend Charlie” and join the Watchmen. He has also given him “words of wisdom from the Roger Stone tree of coaching” according to Pellien. They worked together in 2014 to organize 12th Man Thunder, a fan group of the Buffalo Bills football team that worked to block Jon Bon Jovi’s attempts to purchase the team. It was revealed in 2017 that Donald Trump was behind the organization as part of his own attempt to buy the Bills. The extent of the New York Watchmen’s connections to Caputo and Trump are not known. Pellien has stated that Caputo is not a member, but their close relationship and Caputo’s connections to the Trump administration raise questions about what influence the President or his close affiliates may have in such an organization. What is more clearly understood is the political orientation of the New York Watchmen and its leading members. Charles Pellien is a former police and corrections officer who formed the New York Watchmen in Aug 2020 in response to the wave of protests against police violence that have swept across the country. By Sep 10, he claimed:

We have organized 80 former Law Enforcement Officers, Corrections Officers, Special ops Veterans, Marines, Martial Arts Black Belts, Body Builders, Bikers, Patriots, and some very tough women all ready to Back the Blue if needed.

By “Back the Blue,” he means intimidate protesters as an auxiliary wing of the police department. On Oct 9, after the Watchmen organized an appearance at a protest in Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, he stated on his Facebook page:

This was only a dress rehearsal, a dry run, and a learning experience. And everyone better realize that we are not going to tolerate this in our communities. We promise you that.

He proceeded to then direct a post at the Tonawanda police, who did not respond to the protests as aggressively as the Watchmen would prefer, threatening:

Do your fucking job or we will do it for you!

It is clear that the Watchmen wanted a confrontation with the protesters. Pellien claimed that the Tonawanda police were “holding us back so Antifa can terrorize the town with no resistance.” In this sense, the group serves to mobilize fascists within the police to violate orders from elected officials in the Democratic Party-run city. The most aggressive expression of this comes from Pete Harding, a leading organizer for the Watchmen and several other right-wing and anti-mask groups. Harding has taken to posting regular Facebook livestreams in which he rants against the “Marxist radicals” that he believes have infiltrated the state and are sponsoring terrorism. He frequently refers to BLM and Antifa as “terrorist organizations” and has argued:

Any business that donates to Black Lives Matter should be arrested and criminally charged because they are supporting a terrorist organization at this point.

In an unhinged rant, Harding accused the town of Tonawanda supervisor and police chief of being BLM and Antifa sympathizers who should be “locked up.” This came as a correction to his prior call for the town supervisor to be lynched. He quickly backtracked, saying it was not the right word, but the word “lynch” is not one that is used accidentally. Harding’s hostile attitude towards Democratic politicians is a common thread in his social media posts. On October 8, following the revelations of the plot to kidnap and execute Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Harding posted the following on Facebook:

So let me see if I understand this right. If you murder thousands of the people in your state that you govern, if you destroy the lives of millions in your state with treasonous and unconstitutional decisions, if you bring your state down to its knees with you(r) terrorism and terrorist decisions, if you invite violent terrorists into your state and cities who destroy those cities and you do nothing about it to arrest, charge or try those terrorists, law enforcement will do nothing to you. If you are an actual terrorist burning, destroying, occupying, assaulting, murdering property and people in Michigan, you are protected and you will not be charged arrested or prosecuted. If you commit acts of hate, terror and violence and hold cities hostage for weeks, nothing will happen to you. If you plot to unseat these terrorists and hold them accountable for their actions, you will be arrested and face up to life in prison.

Harding’s support for the coup plot of 14 fascist militiamen to kidnap and murder a government official is telling and raises concerns about how many people with possible ties to the Trump administration share his views. He has accused Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters of being “psychopaths who are inciting riots,” further stating:

I don’t know why that isn’t treason. I don’t know why they aren’t being arrested.

Harding has directed his vitriol towards protesters as well. He has claimed to have informants in protest groups that allow the Watchmen to “show up to events even before they do.” In a Facebook video posted on October 16 he began reading out the names of protesters to his audience before informing them:

You better put that helmet on, because we know who you are. I’m not giving your last names, guys, but we got ‘em.

The possibility of the New York Watchmen violently clashing with protesters is not out of the question. Neither is the possibility that their connections to the Trump administration go beyond cordial relations with Michael Caputo. The working class must be wary of groups like the New York Watchmen. As they grow and as the political crisis deepens, they may very well be welcomed by police to join in violent clashes with protesters and striking workers.

Australian pseudo-left denies fascist danger in US presidential election crisis
Oscar Grenfell, WSWS, Oct 19 2020

Socialist Alternative, an Australian pseudo-left party, has published several articles over the past weeks asserting that the unprecedented crisis surrounding next month’s US presidential election is not a cause for any great concern. The articles on Socialist Alternative’s Red Flag website centre on downplaying Trump’s extraordinary actions. The essential message is that Trump’s threats of a coup, his declarations that he will defy the election result if it goes against him, and his promotion of fascist violence are no big deal. There is no fascist danger, the American ruling class would never resort to dictatorial rule, and hardly any social opposition or political ferment is evident within the working class. Such is Socialist Alternative’s essential argument.

The articles are couched in terms of a debate within the pseudo-left internationally. The alternatives for this corrupt, upper middle-class milieu are whether to openly support Biden, a war criminal and shill for the banks, or to maintain a nominal independence, the better to subordinate workers and youth to “left Democrats” who support Biden, as well as various middle-class protest movements that they dominate. Socialist Alternative favours the latter strategy, but not on the basis of any considerations of political principle. The intricacies of pseudo-left electoral manoeuvres and sordid horse-trading, however, are not the primary issue. The essential thrust of Socialist Alternative’s articles is against those (above all the WSWS) who warn that the US elections mark a turning point in American and world politics, posing immense dangers and political issues before the working class. Red Flag instead insists that little has changed over the past 20 years. The current US election is much like every other that has gone before it.

This argument is an attempt to chloroform the working class, and to prevent workers and young people from making any re-evaluation of their outlook based on the social and political upheavals they are living through. It is connected to Socialist Alternative’s hostility to the fight to mobilise the working class independently against capitalism and all of its defenders, and the organisation’s promotion of middle-class protest movements oriented towards one or other section of the political establishment. The two main articles are “Socialists should not vote for Joe Biden” by Omar Hassan, published on Oct 8, and “Is this the most important election ever?” by Ben Hillier, which appeared on Oct 11. The similarities between the two articles, down to the repetition of identical phrases, clearly indicates that they are part of a political campaign by Socialist Alternative to promote its dangerously complacent assessment of the US election. Hillier notes the “succour given to the far right under this president” and Hassan writes:

Trump is giving confidence to the far right with his rambling bigotry. And it is undoubtedly true that Trump is trying his best to steal the election.

But these observations have the character of for-the-record disclaimers, intended to soften the obviously right-wing character of Socialist Alternative’s attempts to deny Trump’s fascistic strategy. The two articles appeared in the weeks and days after Trump declared that he would not leave office, even if he lost the election, openly promoted fascist Proud Boy thugs during a debate with Biden earlier this month, and produced a campaign video clearly modelled on a Leni Riefenstal propaganda film glorifying Adolf Hitler. Trump’s strategy is not primarily an electoral one. He intends to delegitimise the vote, mobilise fascist militias to terrorise his political opponents, and stack the Supreme Court to provide a rubber stamp for his planned theft of the ballot.

Both articles were published after the deadly consequences of this strategy were revealed. They appeared days after the US Federal Bureau of Investigations raided and arrested far-right conspirators, who were in the advanced stages of a plot to kidnap and murder Michigan’s Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer. The coup attempt followed the lines of Trump’s plans to lay siege to “battleground states.” Trump has previously called for the “liberation” of Michigan and other states where the vote is likely to be close, from limited coronavirus lockdown measures. Despite the attempts of the Democrats and the media to bury the Michigan coup plot, it is already clear that the conspirators were part of a fascist terrorist network, whose plans extended to other states and nationally. The limited material made publicly available has already shown that they had a myriad of ties to the Republican Party, possibly extending into the White House and its periphery. Hassan and Hillier simply pretend that the coup plot did not occur, failing to even mention it. Instead, they resort to extraordinarily complacent generalities. Hassan writes:

Reasonable people can disagree about whether Trump is a fascist, but it is ludicrous to think that a fascist coup or fascist government is on the cards in the US. Arrayed against Trump are substantial sections of the state machinery, most important of which are the military generals, and large sections of the capitalist class. There is simply no need or appetite for a dictatorship among the US ruling elite: they are getting fantastically wealthy and face no internal threat to their rule.

Hillier concurs:

Sober analysts should admit that, regardless of who is elected, they really don’t have sure knowledge of what the next one year, let alone the next four, will bring. What is clear, however, is that right now, there is no indication that the US ruling class is preparing a fascist dictatorship, that is, the physical annihilation of the left and the radical Black movement.

Yet Trump, the commander in chief of the US ruling class and the embodiment of its dominant section, the parasitic financial elite, is openly campaigning for a dictatorship! This is not a question of the distant future. Trump’s administration has already launched an attempted coup d’état against the American Constitution. It illegally threatened to mobilise the military against protesters opposing police violence in June. Unidentified federal agents have kidnapped demonstrators in Portland and other cities, and Trump has denounced socialism in the language of the fascist demagogues of the 1930s. As for Trump’s critics within the ruling class (the “substantial sections of the state machinery” and “large sections of the capitalist class” that Hassan promotes as a bulwark against the president’s fascist plans), they have signalled their own “appetite” for dictatorial rule. Biden and the Democrats have stated that if Trump loses the election and refuses to vacate the presidency, their hopes are staked on the military and the intelligence agencies taking over the White House and installing a new government. This would be a dictatorship of the Pentagon and the CIA, in all but name. The Democratic Party election campaign centres on calls for internet censorship, even greater levels of militarism, which are incompatible with democratic rights, and a McCarthyite witch-hunt of political opponents as “Russian agents.” Both factions of the ruling elite are dispensing with basic democratic norms, and this is the outcome of a protracted decay of American democracy and US capitalism. Hillier and Hassan refer to the major assaults on civil liberties carried out by the administrations of Bush 43 and Obama 44, but only to assert that nothing fundamentally has changed. Hillier writes:

So when you hear people talking about the unprecedented importance of the US election between Trump and Biden, consider that we’ve been here before.

Trump is unquestionably continuing an attack on democratic rights, escalated by each of his predecessors, Democratic and Republican alike. But the protracted assault on democratic norms by the ruling elite has intensified, marking an open attempt to establish qualitatively new forms of rule, based on authoritarianism. As Leon Trotsky wrote in 1929:

By analogy with electrical engineering, democracy might be defined as a system of safety switches and circuit breakers for protection against currents overloaded by the national or social struggle. No period of human history has been—even remotely—so overcharged with antagonisms such as ours… Under the impact of class and international contradictions that are too highly charged, the safety switches of democracy either burn out or explode. That is what the short circuit of dictatorship represents.

According to Socialist Alternative, however, no “currents” are “overloaded.” Hence Hassan’s blithe declaration that the American ruling elite “face no internal threat to their rule.” One would have no idea from the two articles that the election is occurring as the criminal response of the US ruling elite to the worst pandemic since 1918 has resulted in the deaths of more than 220k Americans in the space of eight months. The coronavirus does not even rate a mention. The massive social crisis, accelerated by the transfer of unprecedented sums of public wealth to the financial elite, and involving the pauperisation of ten of millions, is passed over in silence.

In reality, the pro-business “back-to-work” campaign, spearheaded by the Trump administration, and the onslaught against jobs, wages and conditions is intensifying a major political radicalisation of the American working class. Strikes and protests have occurred with greater frequency over the past several years than in the past several decades combined, and workers are beginning to organise independently of the corporatised trade unions, including through the formation of independent rank and file committees. It is this development to which Trump and the Democrats are responding in their turn toward authoritarianism. Trump is not denouncing socialism on a weekly or even daily basis because of personal idiosyncrasies, but because he and the American ruling elite as a whole are terrified of the prospect of a mass socialist movement of the working class. Hassan and Hillier also say nothing about the economic crisis of American and world capitalism, the growth of the class struggle internationally, the worldwide promotion of extreme right-wing forces by governments around the world, and the escalating danger of war.

In fact, Socialist Alternative’s arguments dovetail with those advanced by the corrupt representatives of rotting American liberalism around the Democratic Party. The NYT, for instance, has over the past weeks published multiple articles declaring that Trump is not a fascist and that the worst possible outcome of the election would be a “minor” constitutional crisis. Their aim is to prevent the working class from intervening against Trump, because this would inevitably entail a struggle against the Democrats and the entire capitalist system that they defend. For all of their claims to oppose Biden, Socialist Alternative offers an unrecognisable portrait of the Democratic Party as a progressive “lesser evil.” Hassan writes:

Democrats have a basic electoral interest in staking out a more progressive image for themselves, reflecting in a distorted way the grievances of their poorer and more racially diverse constituencies.

Hassan is speaking of a party of Wall Street that has dispensed with any, even nominal interest in the plight of working people, and that seeks to cover its right-wing policies with reactionary identity politics aimed at dividing the working class. For years, Socialist Alternative has claimed to be waging a struggle against the right-wing Australian Liberal Party, as a means of cultivating ties with the big business Labor and Green parties and the corporatised unions. What is common to all of Socialist Alternative’s gyrations is an attempt to prevent the working class from recognising the depth of the capitalist crisis and the necessity for a genuinely socialist and internationalist perspective directed against the entire political set-up. Speaking for an affluent layer of the upper middle-class, ensconced in the union bureaucracy, as well as the top echelons of academia and the public sector, its aim is to tie workers to the political establishment, from which its privileges derive. In previous US elections, Socialist Alternative’s former allies in the ISO, who dissolved their party last year to integrate into the Democratic Party, openly promoted big business representatives of the Democrats. In 2008, for instance, the ISO hailed as a “transformative event” the election of Obama and Biden. They continued to lend cover to the Obama administration even as it bailed out the banks after 2008, halved the pay of new auto workers and waged eight years of continuous war. More recently, Socialist Alternative has enthused over Bernie Sanders, who claimed to be waging a “political revolution” through the Democratic Party. A 2016 Red Flag article headlined “Why I am feeling the Bern” declared:

From a principled socialist point of view, it can’t be disputed that Sanders falls far short of what is needed. But then, socialism is not Scotland. If it were, we would be there already. Unfortunately, in the real world, the high road of principle doesn’t travel so well.

In practice, Sanders’ “political revolution” was aimed at channelling a leftward sentiment, especially among young people, back behind the Democratic Party, the graveyard of socialist movements. He is the most enthusiastic supporter of Biden, as he was of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Socialist Alternative signals some of the key concerns of the political establishment, as transmitted through its pseudo-left representatives, who are particularly sensitive to social and political discontent within the working class and seek to prevent it finding independent political expression. Amid an explosion of American militarism in 2012, which has now developed into confrontations with Russia and China that threaten a world war, Red Flag insisted that it was necessary to dispense with “knee jerk anti-imperialism,” a line that dovetailed with the efforts of the ruling elite to suppress mass anti-war sentiment. In the current US elections, Red Flag is giving unvarnished expression to the attempts of the political establishment, including in Australia, to downplay the dangers of dictatorship while still absurdly claiming that the Democrats are responsive to pressure from below.

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