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IW 02

USA

Bush’s ‘mandate’

 

Bush came out of the last US elections convinced of having won a 'mandate'. In full-blown pseudo-religious drunkenness, the expression used should be understood in a 'divine' sense. On the other side of the table, some of the opposition got to the point of seeing the emergence of fascism. In reality, the elections have functioned as an artificial respirator for a worn out government, whose contradictions and limitations could be seen immediately after the polls were closed, in even more explosive terms than in the past. Hardly sixty days after November 4, the polls discovered a solid rejection of the continuation of the Iraq war, 57 percent of those interviewed.

Fallujah

Armed with his 'mandate', Bush launched into what everyone had foreseen: the destruction of the insurgent city of Falluja. They had no 'military' problems in executing in 96 hours the devastation of the city, its homes and infrastructure. Politically, things went a little differently, because simultaneously the Iraqi resistance unleashed crushing attacks in Mosul and in short order the insurgency was once again in evidence all over the country.

When the 'victory' in Fallujah kept the authors of the massacre waiting for an 'ordered' transition to the 'elections' planned for January, reality took it upon itself to have something else occur. A series of criticisms and acts of insubordination among US troops began to take place. The war criminal Donald Rumsfeld was openly criticized by the soldiers. Problems in the recruitment of soldiers for the Pentagon intensified and outbreaks of crisis in the National Guard occurred. The Financial Times screamed at the top of its lungs for the secretary to be fired. The perspective of the return of the draft in the United States once again raised its head as a possibility full of major crises.

The January 'elections' in Iraq will no longer take place as planned, given the high number of forces that have decided to boycott. But they must be held in any case, because they are the only route to reestablishing public law in Iraq and of legalizing in terms of international law the transfer of property that the government of occupation has been methodically carrying out like the best Muscovite bureaucrat. At stake is not the popular will but rather legal looting, which counts on the complicity of all the capitalist powers, including those not participating in the war directly. The famous "sharing out of the world", which constituted for Lenin one of the fundamental features of imperialism, is even more valid in this period in which 'globalization' should guarantee the complete conquest of the world by capital through 'technology'. In any case, Bush's 'mandate' has take a number of strong blows, even before the inauguration of his second term of office.

Arafat

The Iraq war, in any case, will not be settled within the frontiers of its territory but rather on the scale of the Middle East and the world in general. It is not, after all, a 'localized' war. In this aspect, as in many others, the decisive question is Palestine. In Palestine, Bush's 'mandate' is no different from what he has been doing: after the masquerade of the withdrawal from Gaza and the elections to establish the successor to Arafat, the monopolizing of land and sources of water by Zionism is still the rule. The national oppression of Palestine grows more acute each day, as if that were still possible. This narrows the margin for Palestinian collaborationism in the leadership of Al Fatah, which saw itself obliged to veto the participation in the elections of a popular leader imprisoned in Israeli prisons, M. Barghouti. Barghouti, in any case, sustains the position of the coexistence of two States (Israeli and Palestinian), which, we say, is a disguised form of Zionist domination. The emancipation of the Palestinian peoples, inevitably, can only follow the political and social destruction of the Zionist State.

In the Middle East are made manifest the limitations of bourgeois or petty bourgeois nationalism that has already demonstrated its historic incapacity in other parts of the world and in other periods in the imperialist epoch, and this is now clear in an even more acute form. Islamic nationalism is even more limited and with strongly reactionary characteristics. For socialist revolutionaries, who however few they may be belong to a current having a strong historic tradition in the Arab masses, the political question is clear: either they establish an independent front of armed struggle against imperialism, or make the effort to arrive at a united front with nationalism that resists imperialism in practice. Remote controlled rockets and not turbans are the principal enemy; from here on it is necessary to exercise the most implacable criticism against nationalism and Islam, and never mortgage international socialism to the reactionary fantasies of religious fundamentalism.

Clique

Many commentators have pointed out the mafioso character of the Bush administration, even long before the 'mandate'. His network of family business deals has been denounced to excess. But what seems monstrous to outsiders seems insufficient to this other war criminal. The resignation of Colin Powell, the ascent of Condoleeza Rice, the placing of a friend at the head of the CIA and the attempt to set up a single command of the intelligence services; all of this is testimony to the attempt to reinforce the characteristics of government by clique. Bush has been able to impose these changes in spite of resistance from the Pentagon (which did not wish to lose autonomy over its services) and of the other brotherhoods of the Republican Party. Those denouncing the collapse of the system of 'checks and balances' of 'American democracy' can already be heard. This means that the representative regime tends towards its own dissolution in the country having the greatest resources to sustain it. This is about, then, a regime that draws out the crisis, that is, a regime in crisis. The strengthening of the governing nucleus implies the weakening of the political regime.

Neither is Bush, however, in conditions to go the whole route in this tendency. He has not been able, for example, to replace the Secretary of the Treasury, Snow, because he has not found a replacement that can count on Wall Street's agreement. The bourgeoisie is accustomed to ceding power when it has to save the stock market, but in the United States it does not believe that that moment has come and believes that opting for that variation would be dangerous. Bush has also seen himself obliged to reach an agreement of circumstances with the clique that leads the Pentagon.

Governments by clique represent, as a general rule, a restriction in the conditions of domination of the exploiting classes. In Bush's case, it reflects the failure of the attempt to reinforce the world domination of Yankee imperialism through the globalization of the economy and of military technology in the war fields. In the first case, the international crises are more and more intense and frequent; and in the second, the computer screens have not been able to detect the people's rebellion.

Class struggle in the US

The growing quagmire of Yankee imperialism in Iraq has prevented the onset of the mother of all battles for Bush: an all out attack against social security and against the system of progressive taxation. In the entire field of US social geography there prevails the tendency towards an attack upon workers - from the freezing and fall in real wages to the accentuation of the disqualification of labor, the sinking of the system of private retirement pensions and the closing down of companies for 'relocation'. Bush has on his desk the privatization of State social security and the substitution of personal income tax with a new consumer tax.

For US capitalism this offensive is indispensable in order to face the unstoppable tendency under capitalism of the rate of profit to fall. The privatization of the retirement pensions that are still state run would mean the injection of billions into the capital markets and the Stock Market -a source of cheap capital--; the same would occur with the lifting of the personal income tax of the capitalists. The privatization, however, would bring about a black hole in state finances, that would have to continue paying retirement benefits while not receiving any income from the contributors in activity. Since today the budgetary deficit is 6 percent of the GDP (over 600 billion dollars), the privatization of social security would bring about the sinking of the budget and the irremediable collapse of the dollar.

Bush has put the subject of his 'mandate' on the agenda after a long offensive of private capital to eliminate previously defined guaranteed retirement benefits offered by numerous private funds. Those funds have a fixed number of contributors and beneficiaries, so no-one attributes their crisis to the much used subject of the aging of the population, but rather to the very concrete Stock Market crash, which is where the contributors funds were invested. It is also due to a perspective of declining yields in the Stock Markets, which obliges the capitalist owners of the funds to reinforce them with fresh contributions which guarantee payment of the contracted benefits. More and more numerous are the cases of liquidation of these pension funds, placing the burden of their potential debts onto the State system of pension fund insurance, which already finds itself in a complete state of insolvency.

Which is to say that the second 'mandate' confronts Bush with the need to unleash two wars, not only the international one. The internal class war is an imperative of the second phase; it is determined by the crisis of capitalism as a whole. The first hints of social confrontation are already emerging in the airline companies, which have had recourse to bankruptcy laws in order to be able to refuse to recognize the collective bargaining agreements and pension fund commitments.

Via a completely different historic route, the United States has come to occupy the place that was occupied in the nineteenth century by Russian Czarism: guardian of world reaction which at the same time unleashes revolutionary contradictions.

 

JOSÉ ORTIZ