Revolution #69, November 19, 2006
Last Tuesday’s mid-term elections marked a significant turn of
events. For the first time in 12 years, Republicans in the House of
Representatives and Senate were voted out, and Democrats were returned
to power. As soon as the results were in, the much-hated Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was forced to resign.
question of the day remains: what is actual significance of these
elections? What changes are-and aren’t-likely to result? What will-and
won’t-they mean for the overall Bush agenda and the Iraq war? And what
challenges and responsibilities confront those who oppose everything
Bush and his regime stand for, and understand the need to reverse the
whole direction they”ve been taking the world?
you think of the Democratic victory? is on everyone’s lips, and this
post-election discussion and debate is one that every reader of our
paper should plunge into.
The War-Their Agenda and Ours
people see the vote as a popular referendum repudiating Bush, his
administration, and the Iraq war. Millions of those who voted did so
out of anger and disgust with the war. But in reality the war was not
up for a vote-at least not in the way people may think.
elections marked the crescendo of months of dire warnings and
criticisms-including from within the U.S. military and other major
voices in the imperialist foreign policy establishment-concerning the
deteriorating situation in Iraq.
The Bush team had
thought they”d quickly be able to turn Iraq into a pro-U.S. client
state, a platform for further aggression in the region, and a signal to
the world that U.S. power was unchallengeable. Instead, U.S. forces
have been unable to either quell the growing insurgency or cobble
together a new Iraqi ruling class with the power, cohesion and
legitimacy to stabilize the situation. All this has the potential to
turn Iraq into a center of anti-U.S. hatred and instability, further
strengthen Iran, destabilize the region, weaken the U.S. military, and
open the door for rival powers. In short, exactly the opposite of what
Bush and company set out to accomplish.
forces within the ruling class to maneuver to force Bush to adjust his
strategy. These forces want to prevent a strategic debacle and to
salvage what is possible from Iraq-in order to maintain U.S.
military, political, and economic domination over the Middle East. They
are not aiming for an immediate end to the war but instead for a shift
in tactics within Iraq and, perhaps, in regard to other forces in the
region. They are not questioning the morality or justness of the war,
merely its execution. For these forces, the elections became one means
of both criticizing the Bush team and forcing (and creating political
cover for) a serious reassessment of the war’s conduct and adjustment
The Democrats” calls for a “new direction”
and “competent” leadership in Iraq and their criticisms of Bush’s
“failed policy” served these objectives. The Democratic denunciations
of the war were vague. Few candidates spelled out specifically what
they would do, and fewer still called for immediate withdrawal. Some
called the war a “mistake,” but none called it what it actually is:
reactionary, criminal, and immoral.
This vagueness had
two major virtues for the ruling class. First, it enabled the
Democrats-who have consistently voted for and supported the Iraq war
and continue to support its broad objectives-to divert the broad
anti-war anger into a framework that doesn’t question the whole nature
of the war. Second, it gives the Democrats the flexibility to join into
a “bipartisan consensus” to “adjust,” rather than end, the
war. Indeed, the “neocon” fascist William Kristol said on FOX News that
the Republican defeat could actually give Bush the political cover to
put more pressure on the Iraqi government and to call for some sort of
regional conference (both Democratic demands), while also increasing
the number of troops (which Kristol and other Republican forces like
The Fall of Rumsfeld and the Rise-and Further Taming-of Nancy Pelosi
fall of Donald Rumsfeld has to be seen in this light. Rumsfeld is most
associated with his insistence on attempting to conquer and occupy Iraq
with the minimum number of forces necessary. His exit is at least in
large part a signal that this strategy is open for “re-evaluation.”
Knocking down someone so high up is meant to show that Bush recognizes
that all is not well, that they face serious problems and significant
dangers, that some significant adjustments are necessary, and that he
is going to have to forge a broader consensus among the ruling class to
deal with all this.
The pledges of the Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi for “civility and cooperation” must also be seen in this light [see “Post Elections: Dissecting the Democrats“].
She is pledging to hold tight, to not do anything that could possibly
endanger the stability of the whole thing, and to keep “her base”-those
who do look to the Democratic Party as an agent of change-firmly in
check. The people may have been voting to end the war and even to
reverse the ugly direction of this regime-but Pelosi and the rest are
already reinterpreting things and using their power to put a stamp on
what people did-to fit it into and make it serve a whole other set of
objectives than most people intended through their votes.
elections, therefore, by themselves, will not signal a fundamental
reversal of course on Iraq, still less a repudiation of the logic that
led to the invasion. Instead-absent a massive movement in determined
opposition-they will end up as a vehicle to adjust, sustain and
rehabilitate this hated war.
The Democrats and the Bush Agenda
But Iraq is only one part of the Bush package. What about the other Bush horrors?
was the Democrat, for instance, who came out against the legalized
torture and gutting of habeas corpus that was passed in September?
Where were the “attack ads” that called out the Republicans for
supporting such outrages?
Where was the Democrat who went
on the offensive against the mounting moves toward a theocracy-the rule
by Christian fundamentalist fascists? Where were the attack ads that
called out a Republican for something like the “Terri Schiavo” incident?
was the Democrat who sounded the alarm against the Bush regime plans to
invade Iran, or who criticized the support for the brutal Israeli
invasion of Lebanon over the summer? Or who stood up for the rights of
gay people to marry and dared to uphold the morality of a woman’s right
to an abortion?
Instead, the Democrats not only
tacitly-and in some cases openly-went along with the Bush agenda on
these and other questions, they took great pains to claim the “war on
terror” as their own, even as that “war on terror” forms the logical
underpinning of a huge part of Bush’s agenda. [see “The (Deadly) Logic of the “War on Terror”“] And despite widespread sentiment to hold Bush accountable for his many and horrific crimes, Nancy Pelosi denounced on 60 Minutes
any idea of impeaching Bush. That fact alone means that the crimes and
outrages of the Bush regime-from its doctrine of pre-emptive war to its
widespread use of torture and illegal imprisonment, among others-will
now become legitimated and “normal.”
have remarked that the current election is unlike 1994, when the
Republicans took over Congress with a clear-cut program for radical
overhaul. This is because the forces behind the Bush regime (and behind
that 1994 takeover as well) have developed a “package” that speaks to
some of the main underlying economic and political dynamics in the
world-and the Democrats haven’t. This package includes aggressive
international projection of the overwhelming military power of the
U.S., a huge intensification of repression domestically, a drastic cut
in government-funded social welfare programs, and the increasing
buildup of a Christian fascist movement in the politics and culture of
society (with some of the key forces in this mix pushing for an
outright fascist theocracy).
The Democrats, try as some
of them might, have not come up with either the program or the
organized social and political forces to counter that-and they are not
willing and they are not able, at this point, to oppose it with
anything more than what Lenin once called “pious doubts and petty
amendments.” The top Democratic leaders make their main priority the
preservation of this system, no matter what horrors (and horrific
compromises) this preservation may require-and at this point they are
quite open about that. For the past several years they have been intent
on keeping the outrage of the people suppressed and diverted into
channels that end up shoring up the system, and even the Bush regime
itself. This dynamic has not fundamentally changed through the election.
we should step back here and look at the whole system that both Bush
and the Democrats maintain is the “greatest country on in the world.”
What, after all, is it that U.S. military force defends in
the over 100 countries in which U.S. soldiers are based? Fundamentally,
it is the “right” of U.S. capital to go anywhere and do anything, no
matter how monstrous, in search of the highest possible profits; to
dominate and despoil whole countries and even regions, sometimes if
only to make sure that their rival imperialists do not; to drive people
off their land in the blind pursuit of profit and then to use those
same people as “cheap labor” either within their home countries or the
imperialist countries themselves; to fortify repressive social orders
and customs so long as they serve the needs of imperialist expansion;
to crush whoever gets in their way, even fellow reactionaries and
gangsters; and to violently and viciously suppress any revolutionary or
radical movements that arise when people dare to throw off their
chains, or even resist.
This very basic truth must be
returned to, brought out and driven home to people, in a million
different ways, as we get into with them what the Democratic victory
will-and will not-mean.
The Bush Regime: Still Intolerable, Still Must Be Driven Out
To return to the questions at the beginning of this editorial, we must also ask all those we work with and meet: what do you think about the elections? And what are you going to do?
elections are now over, but we still confront a criminal regime and the
urgent need to drive it from power and repudiate its program.
Everything it is doing is STILL intolerable!
Now is not
time for political retreat or wait-and-see. The contradiction between
the burning desires of the millions who voted against Bush and the war
on one hand, and what Bush and the Democrats will actually do on the
other, could drive many more into resolute opposition. But
that depends on us-and on you. Left to itself, that contradiction will
only become a source of despair and a force for further passivity and
paralysis. We-and you reading this-have to find the ways to resist, and
to recast the political terms in this situation.
to insist that what was unacceptable yesterday remains unacceptable
today-and tomorrow. We have to work with World Can’t Wait to rally
others to the basic indictments, as well as the political stand and the
moral certitude expressed in its very powerful Call to drive out the
Bush regime. Teach-ins, massive distribution of that call, getting out
the materials from the Bush Crimes Commission, joining in and
supporting resistance-all these are the order of the day.
that there is the urgent need to get the works of Bob Avakian into this
situation-in college courses and on the campuses more broadly, into the
communities of the oppressed, on the radio, into the bookstores and
libraries, out among intellectuals and in intellectual journals, and
hundreds of other ways. These works not only shed real light on the
underlying dynamics of this whole situation and speak very directly to
the huge political questions of the day, they also pose the way
forward-both in regards to how a revolution could be made, and to the
truly liberating character such a revolution must have-the ways in
which it must build on but go way beyond the revolutions of the past.
And with that, there is also the urgent need to get out this paper-to
get the truth, every week, into many many more hands and build the
scaffolding of the revolutionary movement.
dynamics of this system-the misery and horror it means to billions of
people every day-have not changed. The ways in which these dynamics
have brought forward the perverse Bush regime-and the ways in which
that regime answers the “needs” of that system, with whatever “course
corrections” are needed-have not changed. The great dangers-and the
potential openings-posed by this whole course taken by imperialism have
not changed. The acute need for revolution continues.
We must act.