State of U.S. Democracy
Biden's State of the Union Hollow Attempt to Unite the Vying Ruling Factions
One year of Biden rule in the United States has been tough going with many problems facing the U.S. both at home and abroad. President Joe Biden gave his State of the Union address on March 1 with an effort to unite the vying ruling factions a main theme, as if the situation is fine, or as he put it, "We are stronger today than we were a year ago."
This is not the case. He is speaking in conditions where conflicts among the private oligarchs and their representatives in government are feeding an open civil war -- as seen in the dysfunction of Congress, elections that sort out no problem and contention within and between the presidency, the military, and federal and state officials.
It is important to understand that both main factions -- the one currently led by Biden and the one currently led by Trump -- are fighting for even more police powers to be concentrated in the federal executive and over control of the Office of the President as an instrument to control everything. Biden does it by declaring that the democratic institutions are representative and U.S. democracy is the model for the entire world to follow. Sedition, conspiracy charges and the refusal to have a peaceful transfer of power are all related to the U.S. Constitution and using it to justify what cannot be justified. Trump, on the other hand, is not informed by any attempt to maintain the current structures of the so-called civil society and constitution but to smash them all as impediments to overt oligarchic rule.
Biden began his State of the Union with: "Tonight, we meet as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. But most importantly as Americans. With a duty to one another, to the American people, to the Constitution. And with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny."
He then spoke of Ukraine. "Let each of us here tonight in this Chamber send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world. Please rise if you are able and show that, yes, we the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people," he said. Ukrainian flags had been distributed and many Congresspeople had them while others wore Ukrainian flag pins. The Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. was present and given a standing ovation. In these and other ways, every effort was made to use Ukraine to divert from the crises raging within the United States from coast to coast so as to unite the vying factions among the rulers, including the military, also present, and its bureaucracy.
Given that the causes of the civil war raging among the rulers in the United States are not imaginary, Biden's effort to stave off the increasing conflicts by inflaming passions in support of Ukraine will not go far for long.
Biden continued to speak about Ukraine, repeatedly targeting Putin with the usual personalist venom, name calling and accusations of "dictator." Of course, the U.S. is not to be accused of being an aggressor waging wars, an invading force all over the world, the architect of "colour revolutions" for regime change. This is not called U.S. dictate. It is called freedom.
The history of eastward expansion of NATO in a manner which threatens Russia's borders and of U.S. interference in Ukraine to turn it into a forward base to threaten Russian interests in the most strategic area of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov have made the disequilibrium in the world seriously more dangerous. This disequilibrium set in when the bi-polar division between the two superpowers ended with the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
The lack of an equilibrium which favours humankind is a main matter of concern for the peoples of the world today. It has led to the current unfavourable situation in Ukraine -- whose outcome cannot be predicted so long as it is not the peoples in charge of the decisions which affect their lives. The fact is that Biden and his son directly benefited from the takeover of Ukraine's financial and political institutions by narrow private interests, but of course, this is not a mentionable when claims are made that everyone is united and the spoils are there for the taking.
Biden did reiterate that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in Ukraine. He is quite content to use the Ukrainian people and foreign mercenaries as cannon fodder in the name of high ideals. "Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine," he said, adding: "we've mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, and ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia."
This indicates that the provocations against Russia are to continue, which include the $1 billion sent so far to the Ukraine government in weaponry and what is called economic aid and more sanctions.
Biden also voiced what he considers an accomplishment of his administration: "We see the unity among leaders of nations and a more unified Europe, a more unified West." He remained silent on the fact that in one short year, his administration has presided over no less than three foreign policy failures: one, the inability of his intelligence agencies to predict the chaos which would accompany U.S. defeat in Afghanistan; the second, the failure of his intelligence agencies to predict his failure to overthrow the revolutionary government of Cuba in July 2021; and the third, his failure to force Russia to give up its security interests and come under U.S. dictate.
Biden crowed about achieving unity in Europe as if Russia is not the largest European country in terms of land mass and the size of its population. This is a serious problem going forward. Besides this is the fact that nothing is said of the coercion, blackmail and false promises, delivered in the style of mafia hit men behind closed doors, to force the European countries, big and small, to agree to the U.S. agenda, even when it means that imposing sanctions goes against their own particular interests. As with the efforts to unify the factions at home, it is unlikely that such unity will persist given the divisions within NATO, between the U.S. and Europe as a whole, and within Europe.
The degree to which Biden's proposals are not serious can be seen in his talk emphasizing "a duty" to keep the U.S. constitution in place. As part of this he is now calling on the Justice Department to go after Russian oligarchs, not within its jurisdiction at this time. "I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime, no more. The U.S. Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs. We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains."
It remains to be seen which U.S. oligarchs get caught in this net and the infighting that causes, and whether calls will be raised for him to do the same with the U.S. oligarchs within the U.S. itself. Quite a few people in the U.S. must wonder why and how the U.S. Justice Department can set up a task force to go after Russian oligarchs, but no such task force exists to target U.S. oligarchs, notorious for their corruption, their massive ill-gotten wealth acquired even during the COVID pandemic, and their many crimes against workers, including immigrants.
Efforts are to divert attention from the unfulfilled responsibilities of the Justice Department concerning racist police killings, well-documented crimes of private detention centers and conditions in all U.S. prisons, crimes of the pharmaceutical oligopolies, on-going genocide against Black and Indigenous peoples, and more. It reveals that Biden is pandering to the civil bureaucracy, which is also greatly divided, hoping they will unite behind this call for the Justice Department to go after Russian oligarchs, instead of what is happening within the U.S. itself.
That also explains why Biden did not mention at all the January 6, 2020, attempted coup by the Trump forces and where the Justice Department stands with those prosecutions. It is all a pipedream which is sure to blow up in his face sooner rather than later. It reveals that the working class and people must prepare now not to be divided one faction against another, as is happening over the crisis in Ukraine, but to unite based on their own interests for aims which favour them, not oligarchs anywhere.
Ugly Display of U.S. Chauvinism to Justify Paying the Rich
Another means by which U.S. rulers strive to unify their ranks, while also gaining support among the people, is to incite U.S. chauvinism. Biden did this with his emphasis on "Buy America." He gave repeated examples of how "Buy America" will benefit the economy. The repetition and emphasis were such that those present began chanting USA! USA!
Biden's attempts to express concern for the people ring hollow indeed. "So many families are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to keep up with the rising cost of food, gas, housing, and so much more," he said. He mentioned things like raising the minimum wage and enabling workers to unionize to cover up the fact that even though his forte was supposed to be as a unifier of the vying factions to get legislation passed, he failed to get his main "Build Back Better" bill passed. According to him, "Buy America" and current bills in Congress on infrastructure and innovation are about competition with China and providing government funding for the oligopolies.
Ford and GM are to get assistance with electric cars, including the federal government building charging stations and purchasing the cars.
Speaking first of the infrastructure bill, Biden said: "It is going to transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st Century that we face with the rest of the world -- particularly with China."
Taking up the Trump mantra to Make America Great Again, he said: "We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails are made in America." He said that to compete for the best jobs of the future, "we also need to level the playing field with China and other competitors."
Referring to the Innovation Act he is trying to get passed in Congress, Biden spoke of the promise by global semiconductor giant Intel to build "mega-site" in Ohio. He said, "Intel's CEO, Pat Gelsinger, who is here tonight, told me they are ready to increase their investment from $20 billion to $100 billion. That would be one of the biggest investments in manufacturing in American history. And all they're waiting for is for you to pass this bill." Intel is a major technology and manufacturing force, with $79.02 billion in revenue for 2021.
Biden repeated the usual empty promise of jobs that workers know never get delivered. The entire speech underscored the fact that narrow private supranational interests have usurped government's decision-making powers and that they are demanding that the public treasury be used entirely for their private interests to effectively compete with China and wipe out Russia.
In a neo-liberal globalized economy, workers have learned that their interests lie not in competition with fellow workers worldwide, but in common efforts to defend their rights and stand together. In this manner, "Buy America" is not only to unite the vying factions within the ruling class by assuring them that the treasury is at their disposal, but also to convince U.S. workers to join in the chauvinism and stand with U.S. oligarchs against workers in China, Russia and elsewhere.
Biden also addressed the issue of taxes to try to align people behind him. "The tax system is not fair," he said as if he were the first president to make such a discovery in order to hand over a greater share of the wealth to the rich yet again. He gives the example of top oligopolies not paying any taxes. His solution is the same as that of those who came before him, which is to "close loopholes" and raise the corporate tax rate, currently set at 21 per cent. "We got more than 130 countries to agree on a global minimum tax rate so companies can't get out of paying their taxes at home by shipping jobs and factories overseas," he said. All of it is said to hide what is well known -- the tax rate does not determine how oligopolies with worldwide interests operate, although getting tax breaks and not paying taxes are always part of their plans. "Closing loopholes" has never solved a single problem of inequality, impoverishment and oppression anywhere, certainly not in the United States.
Biden's attempts to gain support among the people while also silencing any discussion on alternatives when it comes to taxes is not likely to get off the ground, let alone fly. The best and simplest way to ensure oligopolies pay is for government to secure the funds right at the point of production. Doing so would eliminate the need for individual income taxes while providing sufficient funds for social programs. Of course, such alternatives are not to be considered.
As an additional part of his effort to unify the vying factions, Biden told the U.S. Congress: "Let's stop seeing each other as enemies and start seeing each other for who we really are: Fellow Americans." He then proposed what he calls a "Unity Agenda for the Nation." This involves what are said to be noncontroversial issues: to beat the opioid epidemic; take on mental health, especially among children; support veterans and "end cancer as we know it."
The dysfunction of elections and of Congress itself, including its inability to pass significant legislation, are among the factors fueling civil war as these mechanisms for sorting out conflicts no longer function. One year of Biden rule shows that his former prowess in getting legislation passed, especially in the Senate, is not working for him. Thus, his agenda of noncontroversial issues to unite the vying factions and show the public that Congress can get something done is also bound to fail.
Institutions which no longer function to reconcile interests cannot be made to function just because you provide them with allegedly non-controversial issues.
Narrow private interests permeate everything, everywhere, and every opportunity is taken for narrow private interests to make a killing. Anarchy and violence prevail, and no amount of police powers concentrated in the Office of the President will keep these private interests under control or make this feature of the current situation go away. The divisions and conflicts among the rulers will no doubt intensify as they cannot provide the problems facing society with solutions and refuse to meet the demands of the times for people's empowerment.
The U.S. working class and people are another matter. They have a self-interest in constituting themselves as the nation and vesting the sovereign decision-making powers in themselves, on a modern basis in which each and all can speak in their own name and reject the Constitution and governing structures which enshrine inequality, enslavement, violence, oppression and war. Those who share weal and woe have common interests to govern in a manner that serves them, not those in positions of power and privilege. It is the working people and their fight for rights by virtue of being human and their striving to humanize the natural and social environment that provide the way forward.
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 3 - March 6, 2022
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