It used to be off-limits to talk the way we do. We can all remember when “capitalism” was synonymous with “good” in standard American English. In the mainstream mind, the word “socialism” only conjured up images of dictators and prison camps.
But then in 2008, the economy crashed. People like you and me starting waking up, asking questions, and looking for answers.
What woke you up? Was it seeing your neighborhood suddenly dotted with foreclosed homes? Was it having a relative lose their good-paying industrial job after their plant closed down? Was it those student loan bills that just kept coming? Was it leaving college and discovering you’ll never get a chance to have the kind of decent-paying job and living standard that once defined the American dream? Was it applying for food stamps, after being told your whole life that there was prosperity in America for all who worked hard?
It certainly helped that the Republicans called Obama a “socialist” constantly. If daring to show even the slightest concern about the decaying of the industrial Midwest and the crisis of low wages makes you a “socialist,” many people should be interested in becoming one.
Back in 2008 calling Obama a “socialist” was a way to slur him. Now Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party front-runner, is calling himself a “socialist” as a way to attract supporters. Many of the most dedicated anti-Wall Street activists who occupied Zuccotti Park back in 2011 are now “feeling the Bern.” Sanders talks vaguely about “democratic socialism” on national television between rants against the wealthy financial oligarchy, and people love him for it.
Hating Wall Street and their system of global monopoly capitalism might be a new thing for you and me, but it’s not new for most of the world. The message of my letter is this: If you really want to fight Wall Street, you have to join up with the unfolding global revolution. Fighting the billionaire one percent means fighting racism and imperialism.
Wall Street and the Black Nation
If you’ve seen Michael Moore’s new movie Where to Invade Next, you’ve got to be perplexed. Why do working people in Europe have guaranteed healthcare, free education, and a much more humane society? Moore barely hints at the reasons. He shows workers’ rallies and demonstrations. He points out that people in Europe protest more and tend to be more involved in the political process.
Lack of political involvement is certainly part of our problem. We all know that too many people in the USA are tuned out of politics and tuned in to Kim Kardashian and the Real Housewives of New Jersey. But the problem is deeper than that.
What image immediately comes into your mind when you hear the phrase “welfare mother?” Despite the fact that the majority of women with children who receive government assistance are white, the image that has been burned into our minds and associated with the phrase “welfare mother” is that of an African-American woman. The manufactured perception that government programs only help “the others” has been key in duping people and destroying the US economy.
For the last four decades, while the incomes and living standards of all the working families in the United States have been dropping, the US media have convinced white people to direct their anger at African-Americans. They have convinced many to support cuts in social programs and the firing of government workers, believing that these things would only hurt African-Americans and Latinos.
Meanwhile, a huge police state is emerging. Our civil liberties are disappearing. Cops are killing people everywhere, and millions of people are locked in prison. The federal government is watching our every move, listening to our phone calls, and reading our e-mails. Yet many of us have been duped into going along with it by politicians who play up fear and racism and talk about “getting tough on crime.”
Racism has been the biggest barrier to social justice in the United States. The United States, unlike France or Germany, is not a nation. The United States is a country, and within it are both oppressed and oppressor nations. The primary way the ruling global elite has kept back the working families of all nations within the United States is by mobilizing the whites to oppress, despise, and beat down African-Americans.
The ruling financial elite has prevented struggles and rebellions from breaking out by utilizing white workers. Wall Street is very good at redirecting our rage and transforming us into foot soldiers they can use to beat down the Black and Chicano nations.
As the economy is crumbling, the middle class is destroyed, and youth are stuck in low-wage service sector jobs, we see this racism racket once again. Protesters are marching through the streets saying “Black Lives Matter” because the courts and society at large have given the police an unofficial license to kill Black youth. Armed rebellions are breaking out in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.
FOX news and Donald Trump are working hard to dupe us, like they have so many times before. They want to use the white working class as cannon fodder against the unfolding Black revolution. They want us burning mosques, cheering for George Zimmerman, hating immigrants, and waving American flags while they transform the entire country into a giant low-wage prison. Will we be suckers again? Or are we going to wake up and switch sides?
The Danger of Global War
Long before Bernie Sanders was calling himself a “democratic socialist,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was describing himself with such terms. Just before King was shot down, he started talking about poverty and the Vietnam War. He dared point out that US militarism around the world and the extreme poverty of people at home were absolutely linked.
King’s final speeches described how the forces that control the world, the big bankers, were oppressing and exploiting African-Americans at the same time they were slaughtering Vietnamese people. At the time of his death, King was daring to link the Ku Klux Klan and Pentagon as a singular apparatus of repression, and calling for an end to capitalism, the system based on profits.
In the days of MLK, the Black Panther Party, and Malcolm X, a lot of support for the Black freedom struggle came from outside of the country. The Soviet Union petitioned the UN to take action against Jim Crow segregation. Cuba broadcast “Radio Free Dixie,” urging African-Americans to rise up. Mao Zedong issued statements urging resistance to racism, and welcomed Black freedom fighters like Robert F. Williams and Huey Newton to China as heroes. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a special relationship with the Black Panther Party. Many forces around the world understood that the fight against imperialism was linked to the Black freedom struggle in the United States.
The situation today isn’t much different. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country the US media is constantly telling us to hate, has openly stated: “We are opposed to the crimes of ISIS and the crimes of the Federal Police of the United States. They are both the same.”
While FOX news and CNN portray protesters and activists as dangerous criminals, TV networks like Russia Today and PressTV invite those who are protesting to tell their side of the story, and expose the horrors of police brutality and political repression routinely covered up by the Wall Street-owned US media.
It should be no surprise that at the same time that they are filling neighborhoods across the United States up with police checkpoints, cameras, and surveillance drones, they are building military bases in the Pacific Ocean and surrounding the People’s Republic of China. At the same time that they are rehearsing for civil war and martial law in the hills of Idaho (remember “Operation Jade Helm”), they are setting the stage for a confrontation with Russia.
Russia isn’t part of the Soviet Union any longer. There are plenty of wealthy capitalists there now. The Cold War is over, but US leaders still want a confrontation. Why? Putin has brought stability after the chaos that ensued during the fall of the USSR. The Russian economy is centered around exporting its publicly owned oil and natural gas resources. Russia is an emerging source of stability, competing with big bankers on the global markets.
That’s why in 2008, the US-aligned regime in Georgia attacked the territory of South Ossetia protected by Russian peacemakers, sparking a war. That’s why the democratically elected president of Ukraine was forcefully removed by a group of US-funded neo-Nazis and terrorists in 2014. That’s why US media is constantly telling us that Putin is a dictator, while at the same time the US is supporting and arming brutal regimes like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Libya is in ruins since the 2011 intervention. It once had the highest life expectancy on the African continent. Iraq is a mess. Saddam Hussein has been replaced by ISIS. Aside from the poppy fields and terrorist groups, Afghanistan is more impoverished and unstable than ever before. The “rescue missions” US leaders keep selling never seem to make anyone better off. The people in the Pentagon don’t care anything about human rights.
The dangerous war moves against Russia, like the racist repression of African-Americans and the rising police state at home, are about keeping the Wall Street criminals in control of the world. The fight against Wall Street is also a fight with the Pentagon, and it’s also a fight against police brutality and racism. The US government is not working to protect you and your family. It is bought and sold, working for a cartel of international bankers who have no loyalties of any kind. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Wall Street, the London Stock Exchange; all the centers of economic power are under the control of a clique of Ayn Rand psychopaths. In the name of “neoliberalism” they have turned “might makes right” and “greed is good” into an ideology, and they want nothing to stand in the way of their profits. They glorify selfishness and individualism, and want to break down and destroy all communities, cultures, nations, and traditions. They want one global financial empire.
Venezuela, Iran, Russia, China, Cuba and Syria — all the countries the Pentagon is mobilizing to attack — have to one degree or another kicked these bankers out and taken control of their own economies. They have started developing independently, and the big bankers want to destroy them. In the US, Black nationalists like the New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, the African People’s Socialist Party, and so many others want the same thing for African-Americans. They want self-determination and the right to build up and develop their own community. I say it’s time we embrace these forces. We have the same enemy. All those fighting for independence should be our friends.
What Kind of “Socialism” Do You Believe In?
There was a time when a lot of white people in the United States got something out of empire. Older folks often talk about the booming economy of the 1950s, the “good old days” made possible by the rise of US power after WWII. It used to be that while US leaders bombed places like Vietnam and Korea, and we waved the flag and cheered, some of us got houses, cars, TV sets and a high standard of living.
But that’s history! The domestic capitalism of the United States has been defeated by international finance. The bankers that run the world are driving the entire human race down. With the computer revolution, technology is advancing to astounding heights. Their social scientists are talking about “overpopulation” because they don’t need us anymore. A crisis of global migration has erupted. People are fleeing their homes across the world because the global economy no longer has room for millions of workers.
Because Russia and China have dared to say “no” to international capitalism, and continue to build themselves up with somewhat state-controlled economies, the danger of war is intensifying. These large countries sit at the center of an entire bloc that has rejected the dictatorship of the dollar. Many countries, with many different ideologies, are refusing to be part of the international financial dictatorship.
I don’t blame you for supporting Bernie Sanders. I could never vote for him because of his support for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, and his justification of drone strikes. But he’s probably the best option among the “serious candidates” on the ballot. The fact that his campaign is moving closer to the “Black Lives Matter” uprising, and talking more about racism, is a good sign. When Sanders talks against the billionaire financial elite, he is saying what all of us know in our bones: a group of ultra-rich people run the USA, and they are taking the country and the entire world in a very dangerous direction. Global capitalism is driving us toward fascism, poverty, and war, so many Americans have started exploring different concepts of “socialism.”
What concerns me most, my socialist friend, is what you are going to do after the 2016 elections are over. Is your belief in “socialism” going to stop on Election Day? Are you going to return to your normal life, sitting back while Wall Street pushes the human race closer towards disaster? Or are you going to keep fighting back, not just at the ballot box, but in the street?
And what is “socialism” going to mean for you? Is it going to be a more liberal version of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again”? Is it about trying to bring back the good old days when white people got bigger crumbs while the bankers plundered the world? Or is it about building something entirely new?
The Soviet Union is gone. The kind of “really existing socialism” that defined the Cold War is not coming back. But in the Bolivarian movement of Venezuela, the People’s Republics of Donbass, the Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon, and the streets of Baltimore and Ferguson, something new is emerging. It’s not the “communism” we learned about in school. It doesn’t fit into the 20th-century political categories of left or right. Sometimes it is very religious or nationalistic. Often it draws deeply from traditions and cultures of peoples who are under attack and refuse to surrender. Whatever you want to call the emerging forces of resistance, they are our only hope for the future. Wall Street and neoliberal capitalism have failed, and their only hope for keeping power is in war and repression.
If you really want to fight Wall Street, you need to pick sides now. You need to think in global terms. Time is running out and the stakes are getting higher. The world is waiting for us!
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.