By JOE AUCIELLO
If there is a training manual for the sons and daughters of the 1% on how to govern, a kind of “How To Fool and Rule The Masses For Dummies”—it’s easy enough to imagine the need for such a guide—then surely the deluxe edition would include links to what on “The Sopranos” was called “G1.” Recall the Godfather (Marlon Brando) warning his impetuous eldest son: “Never tell anyone outside the Family what you’re thinking again.”
Enter President Donald Trump, who brushed aside the findings of U.S. intelligence services that suggest Russia hacked into Democratic Party files to discredit candidate Hillary Clinton and influence the elections in favor of Trump. These allegations, Trump said, were “ridiculous.”
In a turnaround, a reversal that was only a matter of time, Mr. Trump later agreed that the hacking really did occur. But he still maintains that despite the damaging leaks against Ms. Clinton, “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” Americans, then, need not fear for the sanctity of their political institutions—President Trump will resolve any problems.
What’s more, while in a recent press conference, Mr. Trump claimed there was a positive result from the Russian attacks (“look at what was learned from that hacking”) and that the cyberattacks against the United States would end once he was sworn in as president. This shift in practice would be the result of the “warm relationship” between the presidents of Russia and the U.S.
These are not the words Mr. Trump is expected to speak or the (in)action he is expected to take. “The Ruling Class Rule Book” would say that the incoming president should lock arms with all his class comrades, President Obama on his left, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on his right, and, stern of voice and firm of jaw, denounce this foreign intervention into American elections, a violation of the core principle of democracy.
Instead, the American people were afforded the small pleasure of watching the ruling class, especially its right wing, fight among themselves as they tried to determine some response to what they cannot even agree has happened.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain declared that Russian hacking is “an act of war,” while Kentucky Republican Senator McConnell, the voice of reason among reactionaries, solemnly intoned from Capitol Hill, “The Russians are not our friends.” More recently, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia was an “existential threat to the United States.”
Mr. Clapper went on to say, “I think the public should know as much about this as possible. … And so we’ll be as forthcoming as we can…”
The intelligence chief’s seeming concern for a knowledgeable public was a reversal from his past practice. During a 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, in answer to the question of whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” Clapper answered “No.”
Of course, it was later shown that this statement—a prepared response to a question provided in advance—was thoroughly false. The NSA does in fact collect data in bulk from internet and telephone companies from millions of Americans. (See the August 2015 article by Jeff Mackler, “Snowden exposes new NSA spying” in Socialist Action). Mr. Clapper claimed he spoke erroneously but did not lie.
Whether or not the assertions of leaders of U.S. intelligence services, and, later, the findings of a joint House-Senate investigation, are ultimately proven and accepted, the allegations themselves are serious. Of course, the United States and its people have the right to conduct their national elections, flawed as they are, free from the intervention of other nations. These are universal rights applicable to countries all over the earth.
Maurice Bishop, former prime minister of revolutionary Grenada, said many times to the United States that “our relations must be characterized by the fundamental principle of mutual equality, regardless of size of country, size of population, or extent of resources” (“Maurice Bishop Speaks,” 1983, p. 77).
The U.S. government could uphold this principle by respecting the rights of foreign nations and not interfering in their internal affairs. The U.S. government should renounce its prior interventions in the affairs of other countries, and even pay reparations for its many transgressions. It’s time to fulfill the unkept promise of former President Obama and close the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. Dismantle the 800 U.S. military bases implanted in more than 70 countries around the world.
To uncover the sordid historical record, consider the end of the 19th century, when the United States declared war against Spain. Historian William Appleman Williams wrote: “The tragedy of American diplomacy is aptly symbolized, and defined for analysis and reflection, by the relations between the United States and Cuba from April 21, 1898 through April 21, 1961”—that is, the armed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (“The Tragedy of American Diplomacy,” 1962, p. 1).
A nearer starting point might be 1953, halfway through the 20th century, and several years after the United States accepted the Charter of the United Nations, which asserts “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” Historians and political commentators have largely agreed with Richard J. Barnet, who wrote, “The intervention in Iran in 1953 to unseat Premier Mohammed Mossadeq was America’s first successful attempt in the postwar period to subvert a nationalist government” (“Intervention and Revolution,” 1968, p. 226).
For the present, it is certainly true that the kind of foreign policy proposals outlined here are not likely to be encountered from reading the news or watching the news-talk shows. As “Democracy Now” host Amy Goodman wrote, “most of the journalists who reach thousands—and in some cases millions—of readers and viewers do nothing but parrot the government line” (“The Exception To The Rulers,” 2004, p. 283).
The federal government and its supposed media watchdogs share the same basic assumptions about the U.S. role in the world. Marx noted long ago that the ideas of the rulers are the ideas that rule. For reporters, a shared consensus with the officials about whom they report is simply the price of admission. Deviation brings exclusion. The Trump administration is gleefully applying this principle with special vigor.
Naturally enough, the democratic ideas presented here will never be discussed in a President Trump cabinet meeting, just as they were not considered in a President Obama cabinet meeting and would not have been raised in a Hillary Clinton administration. These ideas will never come before Congress in the form of legislation or in any other form.
It would require an entirely new government, a revolutionary government, to act on the principles that the ruling classes have long proclaimed but long ignored. One hundred years ago, in the midst of World War I, revolutionaries in Russia led by Lenin and Trotsky created a new political order that brought the workers, peasants, and soldiers to power. They published openly the secret diplomatic treaties approved by the Russian Tsar, and they guaranteed self-determination to the peoples denied equality in the Russian Empire. The socialist government that will someday come to power in the U.S. will be inspired by the example of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party.
Photo: Fidel Castro addresses Cuban soldiers in 1961 after 1300 CIA-backed counter-revolutionary troops landed at Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs).