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Having seen firsthand the devastation of a global war, Ike was happy to fight another kind of war in the 1950s. A virtually bloodless war staged by spies manipulating events in covert ways. In essence he turned the country over to the Dulles brothers; in return all they had to do was promise that there would be no six million dead in concentration camps, no American GIs committed to foreign soil, no atom bombs dropped here or overseas. Allen and Foster obliged, and they ascended to the throne. With their power they staged coups in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and anywhere their clients’ interests were at stake. Who were their clients? The 1% who owned everything–-Dow, the Rockefellers, United Fruit, the duPonts–-and who relied on their legal advisors (Sullivan & Cromwell) and their bankers (Brown Brothers Harriman) to handle their money here and abroad. As shareholders, the Dulles brothers got their cut, of course, and the rest is the history no one knows. For the Dulles brothers were interested only in that part of America that benefitted them, not the rest of us. The rest of us wanted democracy; the Dulleses were invested in oligarchy. The system survives today; their legacy lives on. One percent of Americans feast at the table and the rest of us fight for the crumbs they spill. They’ve owned presidents, politicians, defense contractors, and judges. They’ve rigged the game to their own ends. They’ve starved us, lied to us, and killed us. And used the power of the CIA (Corporations Invisible Army) to do it. All for profit. That’s the Dulles brothers’ America. One president, and only one, challenged them. And see what happened to him in Dallas.
Some inequality of income and wealth is inevitable, if not necessary. If an economy is to function well, people need incentives to work hard and innovate.
The pertinent question is not whether income and wealth inequality is good or bad. It is at what point do these inequalities become so great as to pose a serious threat to our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy.
We are near or have already reached that tipping point. As French economist Thomas Piketty shows beyond doubt in his “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” we are heading back to levels of inequality not seen since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. The dysfunctions of our economy and politics are not self-correcting when it comes to inequality.
But a return to the Gilded Age is not inevitable. It is incumbent on us to dedicate ourselves to reversing this diabolical trend. But in order to reform the system, we need a political movement for shared prosperity.
Herewith a short summary of what has happened, how it threatens the foundations of our society, why it has happened, and what we must do to reverse it.
What has Happened
The data on widening inequality are remarkably and disturbingly clear. The Congressional Budget Office has found that between 1979 and 2007, the onset of the Great Recession, the gap in income—after federal taxes and transfer payments—more than tripled between the top 1 percent of the population and everyone else. The after-tax, after-transfer income of the top 1 percent increased by 275 percent, while it increased less than 40 percent for the middle three quintiles of the population and only 18 percent for the bottom quintile.
The gap has continued to widen in the recovery. According to the Census Bureau, median family and median household incomes have been falling, adjusted for inflation; while according to the data gathered by my colleague Emmanuel Saez, the income of the wealthiest 1 percent has soared by 31 percent. In fact, Saez has calculated that 95 percent of all economic gains since the recovery began have gone to the top 1 percent.
Wealth has become even more concentrated than income. An April 2013 Pew Research Center report found that from 2009 to 2011, “the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent.”
Why It Threatens Our Society
This trend is now threatening the three foundation stones of our society: our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy.
The economy. In the United States, consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of economic activity. If consumers don’t have adequate purchasing power, businesses have no incentive to expand or hire additional workers. Because the rich spend a smaller proportion of their incomes than the middle class and the poor, it stands to reason that as a larger and larger share of the nation’s total income goes to the top, consumer demand is dampened. If the middle class is forced to borrow in order to maintain its standard of living, that dampening may come suddenly—when debt bubbles burst.
Consider that the two peak years of inequality over the past century—when the top 1 percent garnered more than 23 percent of total income—were 1928 and 2007. Each of these periods was preceded by substantial increases in borrowing, which ended notoriously in the Great Crash of 1929 and the near-meltdown of 2008.
The anemic recovery we are now experiencing is directly related to the decline in median household incomes after 2009, coupled with the inability or unwillingness of consumers to take on additional debt and of banks to finance that debt—wisely, given the damage wrought by the bursting debt bubble. We cannot have a growing economy without a growing and buoyant middle class. We cannot have a growing middle class if almost all of the economic gains go to the top 1 percent.
Equal opportunity. Widening inequality also challenges the nation’s core ideal of equal opportunity, because it hampers upward mobility. High inequality correlates with low upward mobility. Studies are not conclusive because the speed of upward mobility is difficult to measure.
But even under the unrealistic assumption that its velocity is no different today than it was thirty years ago—that someone born into a poor or lower-middle-class family today can move upward at the same rate as three decades ago—widening inequality still hampers upward mobility. That’s simply because the ladder is far longer now. The distance between its bottom and top rungs, and between every rung along the way, is far greater. Anyone ascending it at the same speed as before will necessarily make less progress upward.
In addition, when the middle class is in decline and median household incomes are dropping, there are fewer possibilities for upward mobility. A stressed middle class is also less willing to share the ladder of opportunity with those below it. For this reason, the issue of widening inequality cannot be separated from the problems of poverty and diminishing opportunities for those near the bottom. They are one and the same.
Democracy. The connection between widening inequality and the undermining of democracy has long been understood. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is famously alleged to have said in the early years of the last century, an era when robber barons dumped sacks of money on legislators’ desks, “We may have a democracy, or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
As income and wealth flow upward, political power follows. Money flowing to political campaigns, lobbyists, think tanks, “expert” witnesses and media campaigns buys disproportionate influence. With all that money, no legislative bulwark can be high enough or strong enough to protect the democratic process.
The threat to our democracy also comes from the polarization that accompanies high levels of inequality. Partisanship—measured by some political scientists as the distance between median Republican and Democratic roll-call votes on key economic issues—almost directly tracks with the level of inequality. It reached high levels in the first decades of the twentieth century when inequality soared, and has reached similar levels in recent years.
When large numbers of Americans are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and see most of the economic gains going to a small group at the top, they suspect the game is rigged. Some of these people can be persuaded that the culprit is big government; others, that the blame falls on the wealthy and big corporations. The result is fierce partisanship, fueled by anti-establishment populism on both the right and the left of the political spectrum.
Why It Has Happened
Between the end of World War II and the early 1970s, the median wage grew in tandem with productivity. Both roughly doubled in those years, adjusted for inflation. But after the 1970s, productivity continued to rise at roughly the same pace as before, while wages began to flatten. In part, this was due to the twin forces of globalization and labor-replacing technologies that began to hit the American workforce like strong winds—accelerating into massive storms in the 1980s and ’90s, and hurricanes since then.
Containers, satellite communication technologies, and cargo ships and planes radically reduced the cost of producing goods anywhere around the globe, thereby eliminating many manufacturing jobs or putting downward pressure on other wages. Automation, followed by computers, software, robotics, computer-controlled machine tools and widespread digitization, further eroded jobs and wages. These forces simultaneously undermined organized labor. Unionized companies faced increasing competitive pressures to outsource, automate or move to nonunion states.
These forces didn’t erode all incomes, however. In fact, they added to the value of complex work done by those who were well educated, well connected and fortunate enough to have chosen the right professions. Those lucky few who were perceived to be the most valuable saw their pay skyrocket.
But that’s only part of the story. Instead of responding to these gale-force winds with policies designed to upgrade the skills of Americans, modernize our infrastructure, strengthen our safety net and adapt the workforce—and pay for much of this with higher taxes on the wealthy—we did the reverse. We began disinvesting in education, job training and infrastructure. We began shredding our safety net. We made it harder for many Americans to join unions. (The decline in unionization directly correlates with the decline of the portion of income going to the middle class.) And we reduced taxes on the wealthy.
We also deregulated. Financial deregulation in particular made finance the most lucrative industry in America, as it had been in the 1920s. Here again, the parallels between the 1920s and recent years are striking, reflecting the same pattern of inequality.
Other advanced economies have faced the same gale-force winds but have not suffered the same inequalities as we have because they have helped their workforces adapt to the new economic realities—leaving the United States the most unequal of all advanced nations by far.
What We Must Do
There is no single solution for reversing widening inequality. Thomas Piketty’s monumental book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” paints a troubling picture of societies dominated by a comparative few, whose cumulative wealth and unearned income overshadow the majority who rely on jobs and earned income. But our future is not set in stone, and Piketty’s description of past and current trends need not determine our path in the future. Here are ten initiatives that could reverse the trends described above:
1) Make work pay. The fastest-growing categories of work are retail, restaurant (including fast food), hospital (especially orderlies and staff), hotel, childcare and eldercare. But these jobs tend to pay very little. A first step toward making work pay is to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, pegging it to inflation; abolish the tipped minimum wage; and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. No American who works full time should be in poverty.
2) Unionize low-wage workers. The rise and fall of the American middle class correlates almost exactly with the rise and fall of private-sector unions, because unions gave the middle class the bargaining power it needed to secure a fair share of the gains from economic growth. We need to reinvigorate unions, beginning with low-wage service occupations that are sheltered from global competition and from labor-replacing technologies. Lower-wage Americans deserve more bargaining power.
3) Invest in education. This investment should extend from early childhood through world-class primary and secondary schools, affordable public higher education, good technical education and lifelong learning. Education should not be thought of as a private investment; it is a public good that helps both individuals and the economy. Yet for too many Americans, high-quality education is unaffordable and unattainable. Every American should have an equal opportunity to make the most of herself or himself. High-quality education should be freely available to all, starting at the age of 3 and extending through four years of university or technical education.
4) Invest in infrastructure. Many working Americans—especially those on the lower rungs of the income ladder—are hobbled by an obsolete infrastructure that generates long commutes to work, excessively high home and rental prices, inadequate Internet access, insufficient power and water sources, and unnecessary environmental degradation. Every American should have access to an infrastructure suitable to the richest nation in the world.
5) Pay for these investments with higher taxes on the wealthy. Between the end of World War II and 1981 (when the wealthiest were getting paid a far lower share of total national income), the highest marginal federal income tax rate never fell below 70 percent, and the effective rate (including tax deductions and credits) hovered around 50 percent. But with Ronald Reagan’s tax cut of 1981, followed by George W. Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the taxes on top incomes were slashed, and tax loopholes favoring the wealthy were widened. The implicit promise—sometimes made explicit—was that the benefits from such cuts would trickle down to the broad middle class and even to the poor. As I’ve shown, however, nothing trickled down. At a time in American history when the after-tax incomes of the wealthy continue to soar, while median household incomes are falling, and when we must invest far more in education and infrastructure, it seems appropriate to raise the top marginal tax rate and close tax loopholes that disproportionately favor the wealthy.
6) Make the payroll tax progressive. Payroll taxes account for 40 percent of government revenues, yet they are not nearly as progressive as income taxes. One way to make the payroll tax more progressive would be to exempt the first $15,000 of wages and make up the difference by removing the cap on the portion of income subject to Social Security payroll taxes.
7) Raise the estate tax and eliminate the “stepped-up basis” for determining capital gains at death. As Piketty warns, the United States, like other rich nations, could be moving toward an oligarchy of inherited wealth and away from a meritocracy based on labor income. The most direct way to reduce the dominance of inherited wealth is to raise the estate tax by triggering it at $1 million of wealth per person rather than its current $5.34 million (and thereafter peg those levels to inflation). We should also eliminate the “stepped-up basis” rule that lets heirs avoid capital gains taxes on the appreciation of assets that occurred before the death of their benefactors.
8) Constrain Wall Street. The financial sector has added to the burdens of the middle class and the poor through excesses that were the proximate cause of an economic crisis in 2008, similar to the crisis of 1929. Even though capital requirements have been tightened and oversight strengthened, the biggest banks are still too big to fail, jail or curtail—and therefore capable of generating another crisis. The Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial- and investment-banking functions, should be resurrected in full, and the size of the nation’s biggest banks should be capped.
9) Give all Americans a share in future economic gains. The richest 10 percent of Americans own roughly 80 percent of the value of the nation’s capital stock; the richest 1 percent own about 35 percent. As the returns to capital continue to outpace the returns to labor, this allocation of ownership further aggravates inequality. Ownership should be broadened through a plan that would give every newborn American an “opportunity share” worth, say, $5,000 in a diversified index of stocks and bonds—which, compounded over time, would be worth considerably more. The share could be cashed in gradually starting at the age of 18.
10) Get big money out of politics. Last, but certainly not least, we must limit the political influence of the great accumulations of wealth that are threatening our democracy and drowning out the voices of average Americans. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision must be reversed—either by the Court itself, or by constitutional amendment. In the meantime, we must move toward the public financing of elections—for example, with the federal government giving presidential candidates, as well as House and Senate candidates in general elections, $2 for every $1 raised from small donors.
Building a Movement
It’s doubtful that these and other measures designed to reverse widening inequality will be enacted anytime soon. Having served in Washington, I know how difficult it is to get anything done unless the broad public understands what’s at stake and actively pushes for reform.
That’s why we need a movement for shared prosperity—a movement on a scale similar to the Progressive movement at the turn of the last century, which fueled the first progressive income tax and antitrust laws; the suffrage movement, which won women the vote; the labor movement, which helped animate the New Deal and fueled the great prosperity of the first three decades after World War II; the civil rights movement, which achieved the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts; and the environmental movement, which spawned the National Environmental Policy Act and other critical legislation.
Time and again, when the situation demands it, America has saved capitalism from its own excesses. We put ideology aside and do what’s necessary. No other nation is as fundamentally pragmatic. We will reverse the trend toward widening inequality eventually. We have no choice. But we must organize and mobilize in order that it be done.
[This essay appears in the current edition of “The Nation.”]
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- "social aid for working Jews, poor immigrants and elderly Holocaust victims to political influence peddling at the service of the highly militarized state of Israel;
- from engaging in social welfare for American Jews to political lobbying for military transfers to Israel;
- from grassroots leaders sharing life styles and struggles with their rank and file donors to millionaire CEOs entertaining Zionist billionaires and banging tables for Israel at the White House while paying off the Congressional influential; and
- from reaching out and aligning with Americans working for peace with justice in the Middle East to embracing every tin horn monarch and dictator who signs off on Israeli annexation of Palestinian land."
- analyzing its changing structure and operational code;
- identifying its ideology and technological innovations;
- analyzing the domestic foundations of empire and the interplay between overseas expansion and internal decay; and
- locating idiosyncratic domestic political configurations which influence and direct the particular policies and strategies of empire builders."
If wealth and income weren’t already so concentrated in the hands of a few, the shameful “McCutcheon” decision by the five Republican appointees to the Supreme Court wouldn’t be as dangerous. But by taking “Citizen’s United” one step further and effectively eviscerating campaign finance laws, the Court has issued an invitation to oligarchy.
Almost limitless political donations coupled with America’s dramatically widening inequality create a vicious cycle in which the wealthy buy votes that lower their taxes, give them bailouts and subsidies, and deregulate their businesses – thereby making them even wealthier and capable of buying even more votes. Corruption breeds more corruption.
That the richest four hundred Americans now have more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans put together, the wealthiest 1 percent own over 35 percent of the nation’s private assets, and 95 percent of all the economic gains since the start of the recovery in 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent — all of this is cause for worry, and not just because it means the middle class lacks the purchasing power necessary to get the economy out of first gear.
It is also worrisome because such great concentrations of wealth so readily compound themselves through politics, rigging the game in their favor and against everyone else. “McCutcheon” merely accelerates this vicious cycle.
As Thomas Piketty shows in his monumental “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” this was the pattern in advanced economies through much of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. And it is coming to be the pattern once again.
In America of the late nineteenth century, the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of money on the desks of pliant legislators, prompting the great jurist Louis Brandeis to note that the nation had a choice: “We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a few,” he said. “But we cannot have both.”
The question is when do we reach another tipping point, and what happens then?
Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and obeyed the laws.
They’re also entitled to their own right-wing political views. It’s a free country.
But in using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That’s a betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share.
The Kochs exemplify a new reality that strikes at the heart of America. The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs and their ilk, and against the rest of us.
America is not yet an oligarchy, but that’s where the Koch’s and a few other billionaires are taking us.
American democracy used to depend on political parties that more or less represented most of us. Political scientists of the 1950s and 1960s marveled at American “pluralism,” by which they meant the capacities of parties and other membership groups to reflect the preferences of the vast majority of citizens.
Then around a quarter century ago, as income and wealth began concentrating at the top, the Republican and Democratic Parties started to morph into mechanisms for extracting money, mostly from wealthy people.
Finally, after the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United” decision in 2010, billionaires began creating their own political mechanisms, separate from the political parties. They started providing big money directly to political candidates of their choice, and creating their own media campaigns to sway public opinion toward their own views.
So far in the 2014 election cycle, “Americans for Prosperity,” the Koch brother’s political front group, has aired more than 17,000 broadcast TV commercials, compared with only 2,100 aired by Republican Party groups.
"Americans for Prosperity" has also been outspending top Democratic super PACs in nearly all of the Senate races Republicans are targeting this year. In seven of the nine races the difference in total spending is at least two-to-one and Democratic super PACs have had virtually no air presence in five of the nine states.
The Kochs have spawned several imitators. Through the end of February, four of the top five contributors to 2014 super-PACs are now giving money to political operations they themselves created, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
For example, billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts and his son, Todd, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, have their own $25 million political operation called “Ending Spending.” The group is now investing heavily in TV ads against Republican Representative Walter Jones in a North Carolina primary (they blame Jones for too often voting with Obama).
Their ad attacking Democratic New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen for supporting Obama’s health-care law has become a template for similar ads funded by the Koch’s “Americans for Prosperity” in Senate races across the country.
When billionaires supplant political parties, candidates are beholden directly to the billionaires. And if and when those candidates win election, the billionaires will be completely in charge.
At this very moment, Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (worth an estimated $37.9 billion) is busy interviewing potential Republican candidates whom he might fund, in what’s being called the “Sheldon Primary.”
“Certainly the ‘Sheldon Primary’ is an important primary for any Republican running for president,” says Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “It goes without saying that anybody running for the Republican nomination would want to have Sheldon at his side.”
The new billionaire political bosses aren’t limited to Republicans. Democratic-leaning billionaires Tom Steyer, a former hedge-fund manager, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have also created their own political groups. But even if the two sides were equal, billionaires squaring off against each other isn’t remotely a democracy.
In his much-talked-about new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” economist Thomas Piketty explains why the rich have become steadily richer while the share of national income going to wages continues to drop. He shows that when wealth is concentrated in relatively few hands, and the income generated by that wealth grows more rapidly than the overall economy – as has been the case in the United States and many other advanced economies for years – the richest receive almost all the income growth.
Logically, this leads to greater and greater concentrations of income and wealth in the future – dynastic fortunes that are handed down from generation to generation, as they were prior to the twentieth century in much of the world.
The trend was reversed temporarily in the twentieth century by the Great Depression, two terrible wars, the development of the modern welfare state, and strong labor unions. But Piketty is justifiably concerned about the future.
A new gilded age is starting to look a lot like the old one. The only way to stop this is through concerted political action. Yet the only large-scale political action we’re witnessing is that of Charles and David Koch, and their billionaire imitators.
Climate disruption and population growth are increasing the pressures on food supply. The challenge is to get more from existing land in a sustainable way, or people will go unfed.”
“We should have confidence in the scientific evidence which concludes that, when properly controlled, GM products are as safe as their conventional counterparts.”
Genetic scientist Jonathan Jones has weighed in by claiming:
“How anyone could think this is a bad thing boggles the mind. We need to better explain that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the GM method.”
"By no stretch of the imagination can these people be described as independent scientists. Their views should be treated with the same scepticism we would apply to any sales pitch."
"A group of scientists with financial interests in the success of GM wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in November, but waited four months to tell the press about it: just in time for EU discussions about regulation. Something certainly smells a bit fishy."
"This extraordinary report, published very conveniently to coincide with Owen Paterson’s attempts within the EU to dismantle GM regulations and to repatriate powers to the
, is in turns naive, biased, disingenuous, cynical, and downright dangerous. We find it incredible that five senior scientists can have been so dismissive of the work of scores of independent scientists who have discovered that GM organisms are directly and indirectly harmful to mammals and to the environment. In the world of science there should be respect for those whose findings are 'inconvenient." UK
"They are not employed by government or industry, and each works for different publicly funded universities and research institutes. For better or worse, it’s not unusual any more for universities and institutions to get bits and pieces of funding from government, charities and industry – indeed many can only access public money on condition that they raise a proportion of their funds from commercial or private sources. This does not automatically undermine their independence."
"It’s really just not good enough for a group of scientists who have a strong interest, it seems, through their funding sources, in persuading a reluctant public to accept the growing of GM crops in the UK, to be the ones who attempt to write the rule book on how that should happen."
Part I: The Wolves of Psycho Street: America’s Economic Enslavement by the Psychopathic Corporate...
Federal Reserve Fuels Global “Financial Parasitism”. Ultra-cheap QE Money Brings Untold Wealth to Corporate...
In the 1st installment of this article – May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favor – The Reaping, I addressed how wealth inequality created by men rigging the system and utilizing media propaganda ultimately leads to rebellion. In Part … Continue reading →
MAY THE ODDS EVER BE IN YOUR FAVOR – HOPE & DEFIANCE was originally published on Washington's Blog
By Fidel Castro
The following is the text of a commentary and analysis delivered by Fidel Castro on Cuban radio and TV, Saturday evening, November 23, 1963, one day after the assassination of President Kennedy.
The address gives the reader insight into the immediate analysis of the assassination which a political expert such as Castro was able to make.
This English translation of the speech was released by the Cuban delegation to the United Nations in 1963. It is here reproduced with minor editing of grammar and punctuation.
The address was edited by Robert Morrow in 2012 and previously appeared at The Education Forum.
Always, when something very important has happened,
national or international, we have thought it desirable to speak
to the people, to express our opinions. And in every such case to
express the orientation of the Government, the orientation of our
Party, so that each one of us all know the attitude we should
adopt in each one of these situations.
It is true that we are somewhat accustomed to various types
of unexpected events, important, serious events, because since the
victory of the Revolution our country has had to face a series of
problems, a series of situations that have prepared the people to
carry forward their victorious revolution.
Therefore, because of the events of yesterday in the United
States in which the President was murdered, because of the
repercussion these events can have, because of the role that the
United States plays in the problems of international policy,
because of this, we believe that we should make a specially
objective and calm analysis of these events and of their possible
The government of the United States, the former
administration of Eisenhower and the Kennedy administration,
did not practice precisely a policy of friendship toward us. The
policy of both administrations was characterized by its aggressive,
hostile, and implacable spirit toward our country.
Our country was the victim of economic aggressions intended
to cause the ruin of our economy and the starvation of our
people; it was the victim of all kinds of attacks that caused
bloodshed; hundreds of our compatriots have lost their lives,
defending themselves from attacks of U.S. imperialism, and not
only this. The hostility and the aggressiveness of U.S. imperialism
toward our country took us to the brink of war which was
fortunately avoided, took the world to the brink of thermonuclear
And even when we were not facing a situation like the crisis
of October, and the time of the invasion of Giron [Bay of Pigs],
we were all perfectly aware that if the plots they were planning
against our country had been carried through, that is to say, if
imperialism had been able to establish a beachhead on our shores,
that struggle would have cost our people tens of thousands, and
perhaps even hundreds of thousands of lives.
We have been victims of the constant hostility of the United
States. And among the rulers and the leading men of the United
States, there falls on Kennedy an important responsibility in these
Nevertheless, the news of the murder of the President of the
United States is serious news and bad news. We should analyze
it thoroughly in order to understand it; above all, analyze it
serenely and dispassionately, as revolutionaries should analyze
I say it is bad news, leaving aside the human question, in that
the sensitivity of man, any man, is affected by an act of this
nature, by a crime, by a murder. I say that leaving these
questions aside, I always react and I am sure that this is the
reaction of the immense majority of human beings – we always
react with repulsion toward murder and toward crime.
We cannot consider this to be a correct weapon of struggle -
no, we cannot consider that. Above all under the conditions in
which it happened, because – like all these things – it is always
necessary to consider the atmosphere, the things, the
In other settings, under other circumstances, whatever they
may be in a normal situation, in a peaceful situation, a deed of
this nature is never justifiable. Especially in the middle of a
crowd, in the presence of women, all these things, which above
all – I say – are the circumstances that lead us to take a
condemnatory attitude toward something, even though some
deeds of a political nature, some crimes of a political nature, may
or may not be justified.
In the circumstances that surrounded the assassination of
President Kennedy, we believe it has no justification.
But analyzing the question from the political, objective point
of view, I also said it was serious news, bad news.
And some will ask why? Why precisely the Cubans, who
have received so many aggressions on the part of the United
States, from the Kennedy Administration itself, why can they say
that it is bad news, why can they take an attitude of this kind in
the face of this news? But in the first place we Cubans must react
as revolutionaries. In the second place, we Cubans, as conscious
revolutionaries, should not confuse men with systems. And we
have to begin by considering that we do not hate men, we hate
We hate the imperialist system, we hate the capitalist system,
but this does not mean that we hate men as such, as individuals,
part of a machine, a more or less important part of a system.
So we should not confuse hatred of a system with the
sentiment we should harbor toward men, which is a different
sentiment; it is not a sentiment of hatred, and much less a
sentiment of hatred which in a case like this would be despicable.
As Marxist-Leninists, we know that the role of man is a
relative role in each historical epoch, in each society, at each
given moment, and we should know the role that man plays in
each society. And above all it is a question of elemental principle:
we do not hate men, we hate systems.
We would be happy at the death of a system; the
disappearance of a system would always make us happy. The
victory of a revolution always makes us happy.
The death of a man, even though this man may be our
enemy, does not make us happy. In the first place, this should be
our attitude as a matter of principle.
And further it is very characteristic of us Cubans, of Latins,
of Spanish-Americans- who are a mixture of races with certain
characteristics – that death always ends our animosity. We
always bow with respect in the face of death, even though it may
be the death of an enemy.
But then, I said that the deed itself could have very negative
repercussions on the interests of our country. But it is not the
interests of our country in this case but the interests of the whole
world that are involved. We must know how to place the
interests of mankind above the interests of our country. I
consider it a negative event for the interests of mankind. And I
am going to explain why.
Because in certain international political situations, at a given
moment, there can be bad situations or worse situations. The
death of President Kennedy has all the perspectives involved in
going from a bad situation to a worse situation: the possibility
exists that from a determined situation, another situation could
unfold and develop that could be highly damaging to the interests
of peace, to the interests of mankind.
Why? Do we perhaps think that the United States holds a
defensible political position in the international field? No, the
international policy of the United States cannot be defended. Its
policy of aggression, policy of violating the rights of other
nations, of interference in the internal affairs of other countries,
of domination, of repression, of bloodshed, of alliance with the
most reactionary sectors of the world, of participation in bloody
wars against the people who struggle for their liberation – as in
the case of South Vietnam – its attitude towards the people of
Latin America, its attitude towards us, and finally its
international position, is in no way defensible from the moral
point of view.
However, within American society and within the policy of
the United States, there are supporters of a much more
reactionary policy, of a policy much more aggressive, much more
And the whole condition of the internal policy of the United
States, the internal struggle for power in the United States, the
currents that struggle within the United States, the assassination
of President Kennedy, tend to convert the present policy of the
United States into a worse policy and to aggravate the evils of
That is to say that there are elements in the United States
who defend a more reactionary policy in every field, in
international and internal policy, and these are the sole elements
who can benefit from the events that occurred yesterday in the
Why? Because in the United States a number of forces, a
number of very powerful bodies within U.S. society, very much
influenced by big interests in the United States, have been
developing, and there is no doubt that a U.S. President possessing
the highest authority implies a situation less serious than a
President without the highest authority, in such a situation.
A President is a political man, who should take into account
many factors, advice, opinions, and influences, who is eminently
political, who without doubt, behaves differently in general than
those who we might say are not professional politicians, who
have other professions, other interests, and those political
reactions are always the worst reactions.
In the United States there are a number of powerful forces:
economic, political, military. Many of these forces have a fixed
policy and more than once we have spoken of this problem.
Take the clash, for instance, between the political currents of the
State Department and the military currents of the Pentagon. We
have often seen the manifestations of this struggle in Latin
America, how there are currents in the United States, above all
military currents that support the policy of military coups, and
there are political currents that defend another type of policy -
not that it is a good policy, but clothed in a civilian government,
Unquestionably when [there] is a recognized, accepted, strong
authority in the United States, the dangers that arise from the
struggle of a whole series of reactionary currents within the
powerful organizations of the United States are much less than
when this authority does not exist. And without any shadow of
doubt, Kennedy had this authority in the United States.
Now, suddenly a new situation is created, where a President
who, because of circumstances in which he holds power, that in
being Vice President, and then because of an unexpected
circumstance becoming President of the Republic, independent of
what his character may be, because here it is not a question of
the character of the person or his personality, but [because] of the
circumstances, does not come to power with the same personal
authority as President Kennedy had. And therefore a question
begins to arise in respect to the influence within all those forces,
of the new authority who assumes power, of the new President
who takes over the reins of Government.
In the United States there are very reactionary currents, racist
currents, that is to say opposed to the demand for the civil and
social rights of the Negro population, Klu Klux Klan people,
who lynch, who kill and use dogs, who bitterly hate all Negro
citizens in the United States, who nurture a brutal hatred. Those
naturally are the ultra-reactionary.
In the United States there are economic forces, powerful
economic interests, just as ultra-reactionary, who have a
completely reactionary position on all international problems. In
the United States there are forces that support an increased
intervention by the United States [in] international questions, a
greater use of the U.S. military in international questions. There
are, for example, currents in the United States that are
intransigent supporters of the direct invasion of our country.
In the United States there are partisans of the application of
drastic measures against any government that adopts the smallest
measure of a nationalist character, of an economic character that
benefits its country.
And finally, there are a number of groups that can all be
included in one concept: the ultra-right in the United States, the
ultra-reaction in the United States, and this ultra-reaction in each
and every one of the internal and external problems of the
United States is an advocate of the worst procedure, of the most
aggressive and most dangerous and most reckless policy against
In the United States there are also liberal currents, some more
liberal, some more advanced, other less advanced. There are some
men on the right who are more radical, and other more
moderate. There are certain intellectual sectors that are not
constantly thinking in terms of force, but are thinking along lines
of diplomacy, instead of force, who have a less aggressive policy
- a more moderate policy.
That is to say, in the United States there is a whole range of
political thinking that runs from men of the extreme right to
men of the extreme left, men who are more to the left in their
And in this situation there is a variety of opinion, of more or
less moderate attitudes. There are liberals, intellectual sectors of
the United States who understand the errors in the policy of the
United States, who are not in agreement with many of the things
that the United States has done in international policy.
And what happened yesterday can only benefit those ultrarightist
and ultra-reactionary sectors, among which President
Kennedy or some of the men who worked with him cannot be
included. They could not be placed in the extreme reaction- in
the extreme right.
And even within the situation in the United States, within
the policy of the United States, which as a whole is indefensible,
Kennedy was strongly attacked by the most reactionary, most
aggressive, and most war-like circles.
You will recall that on the eve of the October crisis of last
year, there was a whole campaign, with great pressure, including
laws and resolutions in Congress, pushing Kennedy [and] the
Administration towards war, trying to create a situation of
Everybody will recall that on other occasions, we have stated
that one of the political errors of Kennedy in respect to Cuba
was to have played the game of his enemies. For example, to
have continued the invasion plans against Cuba that the
Republican administration had organized.
And out of all this arose the possibility in the United States
for a policy of blackmail on the part of the Republicans. That is,
Kennedy presented the Republicans with the weapon of Cuba.
How? He continued the aggressive policy of the Republicans, and
they used it as a political weapon against him.
But at times very strong campaigns, powerful movements
within the United States Congress pressed the Administration for
a more aggressive policy against us. All those factors and all these
forces on the extreme right in the United States fought Kennedy
very hard precisely on those points in which he did not agree
with the extreme aggressive policy called for by these sectors.
There are a number of issues that gave rise to constant
criticism by these ultra-right sectors. For instance, the Cuban
problem, the agreement reached at the time of the October Crisis
not to invade Cuba, one of the points in Kennedy’s policy most
consistently attacked by the ultra-reactionary sectors. The
agreement on the ending of nuclear tests was another point very
much debated within the United States, and it had the most
resolute and fierce opposition of the most ultra-reactionary.
Elements in the United States were against agreements of this
Everyone knows what our position was on this problem.
Everyone also knows the reason for our position, regardless of
the fact that we consider that this was a step forward that could
mark the beginning of a policy of lasting peace, in favor of true
disarmament, but a policy that was never applied in our case.
Because while the nuclear test ban treaty was being signed, the
policy of aggression against Cuba was accentuated.
But we are not now analyzing the problem in relation to
what happened in our case, but in relation to what was
happening in the world, and above all in relation to what some
were doing and others thinking in the United States.
That is to say, there were many sectors in the United States,
many ultra-reactionary elements that carried out a fierce
campaign against the nuclear test ban treaty.
There are other elements in the United States that violently
opposed the legislation of civil rights proposed by Kennedy
regarding the Negro problem in the United States.
We are not dealing with the case of a revolutionary law or of
a great effort, because this great effort in favor of equality and
civil rights, especially in favor of the rights of the U.S. Negroes,
has not been made in the United States. But be that as it may it
was legislation that contained a series of measures that, from a
legal point of view, tended to protect the rights of the Negro
population. This legislation was blocked and held back by the
strong opposition of the most reactionary sectors in the United
States, of those sectors in favor of racial discrimination.
And thus, on a whole series of issues of international policy,
there are in the United States elements that support a preventive
nuclear war, who are in favor of launching a surprise nuclear
war, because they stubbornly think that this should be the policy
of the United States. Reactionary and neo-fascist elements
without any consideration whatsoever for the most elementary
rights of nations or the interests of mankind.
And it is a strictly objective fact that there are such types of
capitalists, such types of reactionaries. And there is no doubt that
the worst type of capitalism is nazism; the worst type of
imperialism was nazism. And the most criminal mentality was
the mentality of imperialism in its nazi form. And so there is a
whole series of degrees in these questions.
So analyzing the question objectively, whenever a strong
accepted personal authority is lacking in the situation, ways and
conditions in which U.S. policy is carried out, all these
reactionary forces find a magnificent opportunity, and in fact are
finding a magnificent opportunity, to unleash their unbridled and
And these are the sectors, the currents, the only ones that
could benefit by an event such as the one that occurred yesterday
in the United States.
This is analyzing the automatic result of this event. Independent
of another aspect of the question: What is behind the
assassination of Kennedy? What were the real motives for the
assassination of Kennedy? What forces, factors, circumstances
were at work behind this sudden and unexpected event that
News that took everyone by surprise, something that possibly
no one had even imagined.
Even up to this moment, the events that led to the murder of
the President of the United States continue to be confused,
obscure, and unclear.
And there are some things which are clear symptoms of what
I have been saying: that the most reactionary forces in the United
States are at large.
For instance, the worst symptom is the advantage they are
taking of the event to unleash within the United States a state of
anti-Soviet hysteria and of anti-Cuban hysteria; this, in the first
place. It means that the new administration that is taking over
may find itself facing a situation of hysteria, unleashed in the
United States, precisely by the most reactionary sector of the
country, by the most reactionary press, with the great resources
that powerful political currents have within the United States.
That is to say that already they are combining to create a
frame of mind in the U.S. public opinion, and its worst
characteristic is that they are waging a campaign in the worst
McCarthyite spirit, in the worst anti-communist spirit.
At the time of President Kennedy’s murder, it ran through
the minds of most people . . . and surely it ran through the
minds of the large majority of U.S. citizens, and this was only
logical- that President Kennedy’s assassination was the work of
some elements who disagreed with his international policy; that
is to say, with his nuclear treaty, with his policy with respect to
Cuba – which they did not consider aggressive enough, and
which they considered weak – with his policy with respect to
internal civil problems of the United States. Not many days ago,
the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Adlai Stevenson was attacked
in the same city of Dallas by ultra-conservative elements of the
John Birch Society and counter-revolutionary elements in league
with them. This event drew the attention of us all.
I even thought, what degree of reaction will those people
reach, when they consider that Stevenson deserves attack for his
In spite of how reactionary U.S. international policy has
been, there are elements who physically assault Stevenson,
because they consider that U.S. policy is a weak policy, a bad
policy, that it is not a sufficiently reactionary policy.
This ran through everybody’s mind. Did it run through the
mind of anyone that it might be a leftist? No, that did not occur
to anyone. Why? Because the controversy within the United
States today, the fierce controversy was taking place between the
most ultra-reactionary elements, the ultra-right elements, and the
more moderate elements of U.S. politics.
The internal controversy was not characterized by a struggle
of the communists of the United States with the Government of
the United States; it was not characterized by a struggle of leftist
elements or liberal elements. This does not mean that the leftist
elements supported Kennedy’s policy; but the struggle, the battle
waged without quarter was taking place within the United States
between the extreme right, the extreme reaction, and the more
moderate elements, in Congress, in the press, on the streets,
International tension had even diminished considerably in recent
months. These months were not months like the October crisis, not
like the months following the October crisis …. The United States
was not living through one of those stages of McCarthyism
characterized by unbridled persecution of the most progressive
elements of the United States. No, there have been other stages in
which the struggle is between reaction and the progressives. The
main task of reaction was to persecute the progressive elements, and
in such circumstances one might think that a progressive, persecuted
by blood and fierce, a fanatic haunted by his ideas, might be capable
of reacting in such a way. No, the United States was not living
through such a period. It was not living through a period of
unbridled McCarthyism. It was living through a period of fierce
controversy between the more moderate sectors – among which
can be found many of Kennedy’s collaborators – and the ultrareactionary
sector of American society.
Therefore, it was neither logical, nor reasonable, that anyone
could think that it could be a leftist fanatic; in any case it would
be a rightist fanatic, if it was a fanatic at all.
But naturally it was very difficult in the face of an event of
this nature for such unscrupulous people – like many U.S.
politicians- such immoral people, such dishonest and shameless
people as are many of those elements who represent the
reactionary cynical sectors of the United States, warmongers,
irreconcilable enemies of Cuba, supporters of an invasion of
Cuba – although this might be at the cost of thermonuclear war
- it was very difficult for them not to try to take advantage of
this circumstance to turn all their hatred, all their propaganda
and all their campaign against Cuba.
This did not surprise us. I have already said that we were
somewhat used to these things. The struggle, life, have made our
people into a people with iron nerves, a serene people. We have
just lived through the hurricane, and we faced the test with
dignity and honor, we have faced many tests with dignity and
honor. We foresaw that from these incidents there could be a
new trap, an ambush, a Machiavellian plot against our country;
that on the very blood of their assassinated President there might
be unscrupulous people who would begin to work out
immediately an aggressive policy against Cuba, if the aggressive
policy had not been linked beforehand to the assassination, if it
was not linked, because it might or might not have been. But
there is no doubt that this policy is being built on the still warm
blood and the unburied body of their own tragically assassinated
They are people who do not have an iota of morality; they
are people who do not have an iota of scruples; they are people
who do not have an iota of shame; who perhaps may believe that
in the shadow of the tragedy they can take us off guard,
demoralized, weak, the kind of beliefs into which the imperialists
always so mistakenly fall. And sure enough, yesterday at 2 P.M.
the first cable: November 22, UPI … because we should note
this; that of the news agencies, one has been more moderate,
more objective – the AP – and there is another that has been
excessively and unrestrainedly untruthful, a shameless promoter
of a policy and a campaign of slander against Cuba, that is UPI.
But that is not all, because there is a previous series of very
interesting UPI reports, and even a series of UPI campaigns
against President Kennedy himself, which links the news agency
with the ultra-right groups, which are interested in taking
advantage of the situation for their adventurous and warlike
policy, or because these circles are connected with the
assassination of President Kennedy.
And we can see this clearly through the cables: “Dallas,
November 22, UPI- today the police arrested Lee H. Oswald,
identified as the chairman of the Fair Play for Cuba Committees,
as the main suspect in the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy.” Right away Cuba and right away the Soviet Union.
And so they dedicated themselves to carrying out a fierce antiSoviet
and anti-Cuban campaign.
Cable: “The U.S. Embassy today confirmed that Lee H.
Oswald was in the Soviet Union. An Embassy official stated that
Oswald visited the Embassy in November of 1959 and according
to available information he left the Soviet Union in 1962. He
added that it was not known when the man suspected of killing
President John F. Kennedy had traveled to the Soviet Union,
what the purpose of his trip had been and how long he had
stayed in the Soviet Union. There were unconfirmed reports that
Oswald asked for Soviet citizenship and that he could not get it.”
Thus, from the very first cables there is an attempt to suggest
the responsibility of the Soviet Union and the responsibility of
Cuba, as if anyone could believe – anyone who is not a half-wit
- and has a little common sense – that any Government, the
Soviet government or the Cuban Government .. . and if they
don’t want to believe us, they don’t have to believe us; that is
unimportant. Perhaps they will think that we are hot-headed;
perhaps they feel that they have carried out too many aggressions
against us, but to suggest that the Soviet Union could have any
responsibility in this incident . . . can anyone believe that to
suggest that we could have had any responsibility … can anyone
believe that? Anyone who is not a half-wit, who has a little
common sense, who knows when men are working for a cause
and who know which roads lead a cause to victory?
Yet, nevertheless, this was the first thing they tried to suggest.
Listen to this cable “that they did not know the purpose of his
trip and how long he stayed in the Soviet Union.” That was the
first insinuation. And that was what made all this seem
suspicious, because it so happened that the most unexpected thing
- as unexpected as the assassination itself – was that
immediately a suspect appeared who – by a coincidence – had
been in Russia, and-what a coincidence -he is related to a
Fair Play for Cuba Committee. That is what they began to say.
And so, immediately a guilty person appeared: a suspect who had
been in the Soviet Union and who sympathized with Cuba.
Of course, although it is extraordinarily difficult to
manufacture a frame-up of this nature, it is possible that at this
moment they are not pursuing such an objective. They are
pursuing another objective, because they cannot invent just any
kind of responsibility.
They are trying to organize a campaign of hysteria, to excite
the minds of the people and unleash hysteria within the United
States; an anti-communist, anti-progressive, anti-liberal, anti-Soviet,
anti-Cuban warmongering hysteria within the United
States. If they had the slightest sense of responsibility, of
seriousness, or of good faith, they would not unleash a campaign
of this nature, as they have done, as can be seen in all the cables.
Let us read this one: “November 22, UPI- The assassin of
President Kennedy is an admitted Marxist who spent three years
in Russia trying to renounce his U.S. citizenship, but later
changed his mind and got a return trip to the United States paid
for by the United States Government.” That is already a
suggestion of blame to the Soviet Union. He was identified as Lee
H. Oswald, 24 years old, ex-U.S. marine and chairman of the
Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
So, right after that, the insinuation against Cuba. And this is
how they have begun all cables, all UPI cables, all reports,
Through the reports they have twenty times repeated the same
idea and the same thing, using a well-known technique at which
they are masters- to insinuate what they want to insinuate, to
sow the suspicion that they want to sow over this affair, to
slander the Cuban Revolution, to slander the Soviet Union, to
create hysteria against our countries.
It says: “Oswald was captured after a shooting fray when he
hid in a movie house ” … Thousands of reports came in on this,
many of them contradictory.
” . . . The police say that Oswald worked in a school
textbook warehouse in Texas … after the crime the police found
a Mauser rifle in the building,” etc . . .. It says where he was
born, it says that on October the 30th he turned up at the U.S.
Embassy in Moscow, on October 30th of 1959, and told the
officials that he wanted to give up his American citizenship.
“According to reports, he told the Embassy officials: ‘I am a
Marxist.’ The Federal Bureau of Investigations confirmed that
Oswald went to Russia and requested Soviet citizenship.
“Oswald told the Embassy officials that he intended to
disclose to the Soviet authorities everything he knew from the
three years he had been in the Marine Corps.”
Listen to that: “Oswald told the Embassy officials that he
intended to disclose to the Soviet authorities everything he knew
from three years he had been in the U.S. Marine Corps. The
Embassy officials said that Russia never granted Oswald the
citizenship he requested.”
Already they have in their hands a guilty person- true or
false? They have already produced someone who is guilty. They
have him. And now look: you will see the whole course followed
by this campaign.
” … He told the officials that he intended to disclose all the
secrets he knew.” Well, later I will refer to that again.
In February, 1962 Oswald apparently changed his mind and
returned to the United States. He had in the meantime married
a Russian, Marina, had a child. This man, who is charged with
something more than desertion, with being a spy, with confessing
that he is going to disclose military secrets, simply returned
peacefully to the United States- according to them.
It says: “The Embassy officials went over the case and since
he had not been granted Soviet citizenship, they decided to give
him a passport for the United States … “
Can anyone who has said that he will disclose military secrets
return to the United Sates without being arrested, tried, without
being sent to jail?
It says: “Government records show that he left Moscow with
485 dollars for expenses, which the United States Government
gave to him.
“This year Oswald requested another passport. He told the State
Department that he wanted to visit England, France, ,Germany, the
Netherlands, Finland, Italy, and the Soviet Union; he said he
planned to make a trip in October or December 1963,o r in January
of 1964. The passport was issued in New Orleans on June 25th;
however, it is not known whether Oswald returned the money that
was loaned to him for the first return trip to the United States.
“If he did not pay, the new passport should not have been
issued,” they say. We will use their own reports:
“Dallas, November 22 -another cable -the President of
the United States, John F. Kennedy, was shot to death today.
The police arrested, as the main suspect of the murder, a proCastro
American” . . .
Now we find that the man who murdered Kennedy is proCastro.
We know there are very few pro-Castros-what they
call “pro-Castros” in the United States.
They call them “pro-Castro.” They label as “pro-Castro”
anyone it suits them to according to their propaganda and the
business at issue.
Now we find that the man who was yesterday in the Fair
Play Committee-in the first cable-was then a “pro-Castro”
American who had once tried to become a Soviet citizen. That
is how all the cables go, you will see.
Another cable, “Dallas, November 22, UPI-Police arrested
Lee H. Oswald today, a Marxist supporter of the Cuban Prime
Minister Fidel Castro.”
There is not a single cable in which they do not connect the
action, the name of the individual whom they assure is guilty,
with the Cuban Revolution, with the Soviet Union, with Fidel
Castro, pro-Castro, supporter of the Prime Minister, admirer of
the Cuban Prime Minister.
It says: “A supporter of the Cuban Prime Minister, Fidel
Castro, who tried to obtain citizenship in the Soviet Union,
where he lived for several years, denied any knowledge of the
criminal action. Oswald killed a policeman. . ..” etc.
And later on, in the same cable: ” … although Oswald, who
heads the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro entity in
this city, admitted ownership of the gun with which the
policeman …” They keep repeating this all the time.
This one comes later. The most noticeable item here is the lie
that this gentleman headed a Fair Play Committee. A lie. We
started putting together all the information and statements that
have appeared, to see whether there was a Fair Play for Cuba
Committee in that area of Texas or in New Orleans. They said
that this man … where did they get that? … They said that he
presented himself as secretary of a sectional unit of the Fair Play
for Cuba Committee in New Orleans or in Dallas. Some cables
say that it was in the month of August, other cables say it was
last week. That is what they say.
That is the reason for calling this man “pro-Castro.” And
that he had defended the Cuban Revolution in a broadcast there.
All this is very queer. We had no news of any such statement.
But we looked for reports: Cities where there were Fair Play for
Cuba Committees of which we had knowledge – New York,
Los Angeles, Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago, Tamp a,
Youngstown, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis,
Philadelphia, Detroit – but nowhere is there a Fair Play for
Cuba Committee in Dallas or in New Orleans.
Strange because within their Organization they are superinfiltrated
by U.S. citizens, and F.B.I. and CIA agents. Isn’t that
so? Because everything that the CIA and the FBI do there has
been proved. Later they said other things.
Here it says also: “The Chairman of the National Committee
declared that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee has never
authorized the establishment of a chapter in any city of Texas or
Louisiana. ‘I can say that Lee Harvey Oswald was never Secretary
or Chairman of any Fair Play for Cuba Committee in any city
of the United States.’ “
But you see, throughout the world, they began to spread the
poison from the first moments, that a Fair Play for Cuba
Committee was involved. Other things appear later on. Later we
will try to analyze who this true or false culprit could be. And
we must stick to what they say, we must base ourselves on what
they themselves say. All right. That was the 22nd …
“November 23, Dallas UPI – Pro-communist Lee Harvey
Oswald was charged today with the assassination of President
Kennedy. Police said that the paraffin test on Oswald’s hands gave
positive results that traces of gun-powder were found ” etc. . . .
Dallas, November 23rd, UPI- The result of the tests made
on Oswald’s face is still unknown. Such traces could only exist
if the suspect had fired a gun.”
So, in the first paragraph they start by saying, “procommunist,”
in the second paragraph they speak of something
else. Third paragraph – Oswald, a Marxist and sympathizer of
the communist regime in Cuba had oatmeal for breakfast … In
other words, in order to say what he had for breakfast, they
repeat that he was a Marxist and sympathizer of the communist
regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Get it? It is clear enough. We
know these people quite well; we have become almost experts in
knowing these shameless characters.
They say: “He had oatmeal, apricots, bread, and coffee for
breakfast, and sat down comfortably to wait for the authorities
to continue questioning him.”
“Dallas, November 23rd, UPI- The local police have proof
that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by CastroCommunist
Lee Harvey Oswald, according to an official
announcement today.” So he was murdered by a Castrocommunist?
Now this man is no longer an American, he is no
longer a Marine, this man whom they taught to shoot and kill in
the Marine Corps, now this man whom they made an expert
shot and sent to all U.S. imperialist bases throughout the world
is no longer a Marine. No, he was no longer an American, he
was a Castro-Communist, even though we never in our life heard
of the existence of this person.
You see how all this propaganda works. An American, a real
American, born there, educated by American society and
American schools, seeing American films, in the American armed
forces, American in every way. All of a sudden he is no longer
this; there is nothing of this in the cables. Now we read: ‘By the
All right, Captain Will Fritz said they were certain of this,
etc. This was yesterday; now this was today in the afternoon:
“Jesse Curry, Dallas Chief of Police, said today that Lee Harvey
Oswald admitted being a communist. And now he admitted it
today; yesterday he admitted nothing. Today it appears that he
admitted being a communist. “Curry added that Oswald
admitted to police officers questioning him last night that he was
a member of the Communist Party.” Now the man has turned
out to be a member of the Communist Party. As time passes
they discover more titles for this man. The true man or supposed
man, this they do not know. Who can … ?
All right. One thing is clear: among all the things connected
with the assassination is the unleashing of a campaign of slander
against the Soviet Union and against Cuba, and a series of
perfidious insinuations that have no other object than to repeat
a thousands times their intrigue and sheer infamy to create an
anti-Soviet and anti-Cuban hysteria among the U.S. people and
in public opinion.
So these gentlemen are playing a very strange role in a very
strange play, and no one knows what sinister plans may be
behind all this.
All right. On the other hand, there is an official statement by
the State Department, issued today, which declares: “State
Department authorities said today that they had no evidence to
indicate that the Soviet Union or any other power is involved in
the assassination of President Kennedy.
“Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who lived three years
in Russia, has been charged with the crime. When 24 years old
Oswald went to Russia; he announced his intention of giving up
his U.S. citizenship. After changing his mind and returning to the
United States last year, Oswald became a sympathizer of the
Cuban prime Minister, Fidel Castro.” So they repeat themselves
even in the cables where they say they deny they lie. . . . The
cable goes on: “State Department officials say that they have no
evidence that Cuba is involved in what Oswald did.”
Naturally, there is no need for anyone to make excuses for
Cuba. There is no need for anyone to apologize for Cuba. Cuba
is not asking anyone to excuse her, or pardon her, because even
the very idea that we should have to defend ourselves from such
an infamy is repugnant in itself. Repugnant in itself.
So we have no need for anyone to defend us or apologize on
our behalf. Why does the State Department have to come out
today with such a statement? What does this show? It shows that
the U.S. authorities themselves, some people in the United States,
have become aware of the danger of the anti-Soviet and antiCuban
campaign unleashed by the most reactionary and warlike
circles in the United States.
In other words, the State Department itself understands the
danger of such a policy, the very dangerous dead end into which
such a campaign of slander and hysteria can lead the United
So this shows that there are people in the United States who
have understood the need to get out of this situation. This does
not mean that the danger is over, because we do not know what
is behind the assassination of Kennedy. What is behind the
assassination of Kennedy is not known at the moment.
The statement does not eliminate the danger of some frame-up
that could be concocted there, but indicates that there are
already people in the United States who have understood the
danger and risk in such a campaign and indicates that, possibly,
there are people in the United States who do not agree with such
an adventure, with such madness, with such nonsense that is
being carried out in such a criminal and irresponsible way.
All right. The State Department has felt the need to
counteract this policy, because who knows where this policy, this
campaign, may lead.
Later other things have appeared, because all this is very
mysterious. Another cable, this time by Associated Press, says:
“A 1961 letter …” Of course the United Press International has
said nothing on this because its campaign has been one-sided, in one
direction only, but not just the UPI. We were listening yesterday to
broadcasts of U.S. stations and the very same campaign was being
carried on the radio. The name of Castro was mentioned almost
more often than the name of the man whom they charge with the
murder, incessantly repeated over the radio in the United States.
See how these people act and how much they hate the
Revolution. Why should we not suspect that these people could
be capable of anything, from the murder of Kennedy up to what
they are doing now? People moved by such hatred, people who
act with such absolute lack of scruples …
The AP cable reads: “A letter dated 1961 found in Pentagon
files raises doubts whether Texas governor, John Connally, and
not President Kennedy, was the main target of the assassin who
shot both yesterday in Dallas.
“The letter, dated January 31st, 1961, was written by hand in
Minsk, Soviet Union, by Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine,
charged with murdering Kennedy and wounding Connally.
“Oswald returned a year ago after spending three years in the
“The letter was addressed to Connally, then Secretary of the
Navy, asking that the dishonorable discharge of Oswald be
canceled. The request was denied, and if it is shown that he is the
man who fired at Kennedy and Connally, the question might be
raised of whom he had more motive to want to kill.
“A copy of Oswald’s letter was sent to Connally, who had
left his post as Secretary of the Navy on December 20th 1961.
Connally briefly replied to Oswald on February 23, 1962, that he
was no longer in the Navy and that he had referred his letter to
the new Secretary of the Navy.
“A copy of Connally’s letter was sent to the new official,
Fred Korth, who referred it to the Marine Corps. The Marine
Corps referred it to a court of appeals which confirmed Oswald’s
dishonorable discharge. Oswald’s letter maintained that his
discharge was a gross error or an injustice.”
There are some other cables here in which they speak about
a threat, cables that say that in the letter Oswald threatened the
then-Secretary of the Navy, that he would take any means to
avenge himself for that injustice. And that very same Secretary of
the Navy was accompanying Kennedy.
So they themselves have now brought up another possible
We have here a report which reads: “District Attorney Henry
Wade declared today that he expects to be able to secure a death
sentence for Lee Harvey Oswald, former Marine, who has been
formally accused of the murder of President John F. Kennedy,
according to reports issued by U.S. new agencies.
The report adds that Wade has been District Attorney in
twenty-four murder cases and secured twenty-three death
penalties. It seems that this District Attorney is a hangman – a
life sentence in the other case.
“Wade added that he is in possession of material evidence
against Oswald, but refused to say what this evidence was. He
said that it has not yet been established whether the Mauser that
was found is the murder weapon.
“In all the questioning Oswald has denied that he took any
part in the murder.
“Captain Will Fritz, Chief of the Homicide Squad of the
Dallas Police, said that in his opinion, Oswald killed President
Kennedy and that for him the case is closed.”
Later we have to try to look at some of the facts on who this
accused man can be, but we want to speak of the campaign
carried on by United Press International.
It just so happens that these events occurred precisely at a
moment when Kennedy was being severely attacked by those
who considered his Cuban policy too weak.
It could not be us, but only the enemies of the Revolution
and the enemies, in general, of a more moderate policy, a less
warlike policy, the enemies of a policy like this who might be
interested in the death of President Kennedy, the only ones who
perhaps could have received the news of the death of Kennedy
A few days ago an incident drew my attention. This was
while the Inter-American Press Association Conference was
taking place. It was a scandal, because several governments were
strongly attacked, crudely attacked like the government of Brazil,
by a certain Mexquita, who said horrible things about the
President of Brazil, who even talked about and called for a coup
in Brazil; where statements were also made against other
presidents, against other Latin American countries, there in the
United States, and they made long tirades publishing a whole
series of opinions against the speech delivered by Kennedy in
Florida, because the speech delivered by Kennedy in Florida was
disappointing for a number of persons who favor a more
aggressive policy against Cuba. It was a disappointment for the
counter-revolutionary elements and it was a disappointment for
the warmongering elements in the United States.
And so, a series of cables. Here “Miami, Florida – The
Cuban exiles waited tonight in vain for a firm promise from
President Kennedy to take energetic measures against the
communist regime of Fidel Castro.”
It says: “They waited tonight in vain for a firm promise” .. .
Many met in the offices of the revolutionary organizations and
in their homes, to listen to President Kennedy over the radio.
The Spanish translation broadcast over the radio station of the
exiles. They listened when the President said: “We in the
hemisphere should use all the means at our disposal to prevent
the establishment of another Cuba in the hemisphere.” That is,
they did not accept the fact he said “to prevent the establishment
of another Cuba in the hemisphere,” because they thought that
it carried with it the idea of accepting one Cuba. Many exiles had
hopes of more vigorous statements to liberate Cuba from
communism, but nevertheless, some felt that the U.S.
government was waging a secret war of infiltration against Castro
that could not be disclosed. It says that thousands of exiles
attended an open air rally in view of Kennedy’s arrival, and they
heard criticism because of what they described as a weak U.S.
policy toward Cuba.
Jose Ignacio Rivero,Editor-in-exile of the Diario de La Marina,
the oldest Havana newspaper (he will stay there all his life), and
Emilio Nunez Portuondo, former President of the United
Nations Security council, called for more positive action by the
Rivero, a member of the Inter-American Press Association,
where Kennedy spoke, expressed his doubts over a sinister
intrigue among international politicians. That is an “intrigue “
because they want to co-exist with us.
It says: He also said in the meeting that “the weak U.S.
policy towards Cuba and other American nations is an
international shame.” This was said by Ignacio Rivero, this one
from Diario de La Marina, who you know is an ultra-ultra and
who has to be linked to the ultra-ultra elements in the United
So these elements openly state there that “the weak U.S.
policy toward Cuban and other American Nations is an
“Miami Beach: Latin American newspaper publishers and
editors in response to the speech delivered by President Kennedy
tonight … said that he had not taken a strong enough position
against the communist regime of Fidel Castro.” That is, that
there, where the most reactionary representatives of the press
within and without the United States met, according to UPI and
AP cables, many of them said that he had not taken a strong
enough position against the communist regime of Fidel Castro …
Augustin Navarre of El Espejo of Mexico, felt that the speech
was extremely weak and that his observations on Cuba were not
sufficient …. He added that “it was necessary to rescue Cuba
under Fidel Castro from Communism and not to maintain the
status quo.” They are speaking against any coexistence. Other
Cuban newspaper owners in exile made similar statements.
A series of cables began to arrive. Here: “The president of the
Cuban Medical Association in exile, Enrique Huerta, stated that
the speech did not clarify any of the fundamental questions
related to the Cuba problem … He wanted a unanimous attack,
a unanimous attack of Kennedy.
The newspaper added that the weak policy followed by the
Kennedy Government in respect to Castro, as a result of the
policy followed by his predecessor Eisenhower, made it possible
for Castro and Khrushchev to cement Cuba into a police state,
where the people have practically no hope of successfully
rebelling without large-scale outside help.
The newspaper continued: “Kennedy now refuses to allow
Cuban exiles to launch attacks against Cuba from U.S.t erritory.”
What is the difference between that way of thinking and
taking advantage of the assassination of their President to carry
out that policy? See what some of those reactionary circles
thought about Kennedy. It says: “Kennedy now refuses to allow
Cuban exiles to launch attacks against Cuba from U.S. territory,
and in fact uses U.S. air and naval power to maintain Castro in
power.” That is to say,t hey accuse Kennedy of using naval and
air power to maintain Castro in power.
“There is a considerable difference,” says the newspaper,
“between this attitude and the daring words about Cuba said by
Kennedy during the 1960 Presidential campaign. We doubt that
many voters have been disoriented by the President’s remarks in
relation to Cuba the day before yesterday.” It says “And many
voters will not have been disoriented.”
So there was observed a current of unanimous criticism
against what the ultra-reactionary sectors considered a weak
policy toward Cuba. And that is how these people think.
And there are cables and more cables and more cables,
because they never wrote so many cables. It is obvious, how the
news agencies made a tremendous propaganda of all the criticisms
made of Kennedy because of his Cuban policy. The UPI
overflowed with information as it had never done before, picking
up all the criticisms of Kennedy because of his Cuban policy ….
Julio Mexquita Ciro, an utterly shameless reactionary who
went there to speak against the President of Brazil to carry on a
campaign against Brazil and to promote a reactionary, fascist
coup against Brazil – see what he says: “Julio Mexquita Ciro,
… who yesterday moved the editors of the IAPA meeting with
his analysis of the economic and political situation in his country,
said it was an error on the part of the United states not to have
realized the danger that the presence of Cuba meant for the
whole continent. Mexquita was in favor of collective action,
armed collective action by the hemisphere against Cuba, because
‘I am a defender of free determination of nations,’ he said.”
Mexquita, Mosquito, Mezquino, all means the same thing; just
see how reactionary he is. The cable adds; “. . . the Brazilian
editor described as primitive President Kennedy’s way of looking
at the agrarian problem of the hemisphere, and he said that the
agrarian problem cannot be measured with the same yardstick for
all the nations of the hemisphere.” Why did he say this? Because
he represents the oligarchy, the big landholders in Brazil, and as
I was talking precisely about different shades of policy. Kennedy’s
policy prompted a type of agrarian reform which is not
revolutionary, of course, which is not revolutionary but which
clashed with the interest of the oligarchs. And it is very strange
that in these days, on the eve of the assassination of Kennedy, a
coincidence as never before had been noted. In the opinion of the
ultra-reactionary sectors within and without the United
And this individual talks here about Kennedy’s primitive way
of looking at the agrarian problem. And then finally there is
something very interesting – really very interesting …
It says the third editor to express his opinion, Carbo, who is
director of the Executive Council of the Inter-American Press
Association – which is a very important job in the intellectual
sectors of reaction and the oligarchy – emphasized that there
were not strong statements in favor of the liberation of Cuba like
the statements that had been made in previous speeches by
President Kennedy, especially in the one he made after the heroic
battle of Playa Giron -that “heroic battle” where every one of
them ended defeated and imprisoned- forecasting the crisis of
the communist regime of Cuba. He claims in “Cuba the situation
of the government verges on the insoluble, economically,
politically and internationally since Castro is no longer reliable,
not even to Russia.’ ‘
But most important of all is how the statement made by this
gentleman who holds an important post in reactionary intellectual
circles in the United States and abroad as Director of the
Executive Council of the Inter-American Press Association, how
his statement ends -and this is what drew my attention. The
editor of the confiscated Havana newspaper ended by saying: “I
believe a coming serious event will oblige Washington to change
its policy of peaceful co-existence.” What does this mean? What
did this gentleman mean when he said this three days before the
assassination of Kennedy? What did this gentleman who holds an
utmost post in the ultra-reactionary intellectual circles in and
outside of the United States, the Director of the Executive
Council of the Inter-American Press Association, mean in a cable
that is not from Prensa Latina, but from Associated Press, dated
November 19th -AP Num, 254, AP November 19th, Miami
Beach – when he said: “I believe that a coming serious event will
oblige Washington to change its policy of peaceful co-existence?”
What does this mean, three days before the murder of
President Kennedy? Because when I read this cable it caught my
attention, it intrigued me, it seemed strange to me. Was there
perhaps some sort of understanding? Was there perhaps some sort
of thought about this? Was there perhaps some kind of plot? Was
there perhaps in those reactionary circles where the so-called
weak policy of Kennedy toward Cuba was under attack, where
the policy of ending nuclear threat was under attack, where the
policy of civil rights was under attack …. Was there perhaps in
certain civilian and military ultra-reactionary circles in the United
States, a plot against President Kennedy ‘s life?
How strange it is really that the assassination of President
Kennedy should take place at a time when there was unanimous
agreement of opinion against certain aspects of his policy, a
furious criticism of his policy. How strange all this is.
And this man who appears as the guilty person, who was he?
Who is he? Is he really guilty? Or is he only an instrument? Is he
a psychopath, sick? He could be one or the other. Or is he by
any means an instrument of the most reactionary circles in the
United States. Who is this man?
Here we have a report of the New York Times on Oswald
that says, “Last July he tried to enter the Cuban Student
Directory, to take part in the plans to overthrow the
revolutionary regime of Fidel Castro.” It was no longer a Castroplot.
According to the New York Times he was trying to enter a
counterrevolutionary organization to overthrow the Cuban
Revolution. The paper names Cuban refugee sources as the basis
for this information.
Oswald was able to return to the United States thanks to a
loan of 435 dollars and 71 cents granted to him by the U.S.
Government. He succeeded in getting money after an appeal to
Senator John G. Tower, Republican, Texas, and he returns from
the Soviet Union on U.S. Government money through the
intervention of a Republican Senator from Texas.
Oswald has at present a U.S. passport which he obtained as
a photographer who wanted to travel abroad during the months
of October, November, and December of this year and visit the
Soviet Union, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Italy.
How strange it is. Since he was arrested yesterday in Dallas, as a
suspect, the U.S. radio and television have been stressing that
Oswald is the chairman of the Dallas chapter of the Fair Play for
“Questioned in New York on this point the Executive
Secretary of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee denied that
Oswald held such a post, and added that there is no chapter of
this organization in Texas.”
The New York Times, in explaining the contact established
between Oswald and the Cuban counter-revolutionaries, says that
Jose Antonio Denuza, spokesman of the so-called Cuban Student
Directory, had declared in Miami that Oswald met with the
delegates of that anti-Castro group in New Orleans last July.
Denuza – The New York Times added – said that Oswald
said he wanted to aid the Cubans in the fight against
communism, and offered 10 dollars contribution and his help in
military training of an invasion.
Carlos Bringuier, delegate of the counterrevolutionary
organization referred to, said to the New York Times that “at first
I suspected Oswald. I frankly thought that he might be an FBI or
CIA agent trying to find out what we were doing.” So Cuban
counter-revolutionaries are saying that when Oswald tried to
enter their organization he was not accepted because they
believed he was from the CIA or FBI, and that he was trying to
find out what they were up to.
How curious! And this is not what they publish but they say
that he is a Castroite, a communist, an admirer of Fidel Castro.
And now it appears that he tried to enter the organization and
was not admitted because they thought he belonged to the FBI
or CIA. They must know pretty well the kind of agents the FBI
and CIA have since they deal with them a l
John Kerry Honors Military Dictatorship and Totalitarian Monarchy as Examples of Progress Toward Democracy
In a newly published interview, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasts the "unfettered capitalism" that has collapsed the middle class, and the corporate power fueling climate change, which poses a "far more serious problem than Al Qaeda."
Sanders speaking about the government shutdown's impacts. (Photo: AFGE/cc/flickr) Speaking with economics writer Jonathan Tasini for the interview with Playboy, the 72-year-old Independent senator said that "one of the untold stories of our time is the collapse of the American middle class." It's due, in part, to "the decline of trade unions," which means that workers "have less power to negotiate contracts and less political clout."
It's a system that has brought immense inequality, he says.
"We are in the midst of intense class warfare, where the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are at war with the middle class and working families of this country, and it is obvious the big-money interests are winning that war."
It's a "hypercapitalist society," where there are even efforts to "privatize water, for God’s sake," and the function of the current health care system is "to make as much money out of it as possible," he told Tasini.
When Tasini told Sanders, "You make the U.S. sound like a banana republic in which a handful of families control all the economic and political power," Sanders responded simply, "Yes, it is. In more technical economic terms I would call it an oligarchy."
It's a system that has put corporate interests above people—and the planet.
"You have the entire scientific community saying we have to be very aggressive in cutting greenhouse gas emissions," Sanders told Playboy. "Yet you’re seeing the heads of coal companies and oil companies willing to sacrifice the well-being of the entire planet for their short-term profits. And these folks are funding phony organizations to try to create doubt about the reality of global warming."
It's "incomprehensible," he said, that "[b]ig business is willing to destroy the planet for short-term profits."
"And because of their power over the political process, you hear a deafening silence in the U.S. Congress and in other bodies around the world about the severity of the problem. Global warming is a far more serious problem than Al Qaeda."
As for any hopes Sanders supporters have that the senator will make a bid for the White House, he told Tasini, "I am at least 99 percent sure I won’t."
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
In the Hands of a Moneyed Oligarchy
Recently on his syndicated talk show, the power-worshipping interviewer of influential elites Charlie Rose worried that Washington’s latest fiscal crisis sends the world the message that “democracy doesn’t work as well as we thought it did.” 
What American “democracy” was Charlie Rose talking about? As John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney noted four years ago, explaining why there would be no New Deal under Barack Obama, “The United States, despite its formally democratic character, is firmly in the hands of a moneyed oligarchy, probably the most powerful ruling class in history.” 
By Noam Chomsky’s account two years later, writing in the wake of the first elite-manufactured debt-ceiling crisis that nauseated the nation and mystified the world, “Corporate power, by now largely financial capital has reached the point that both political organizations, which now barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.”
Evidence in support of these statements is voluminous. On issue after issue, public opinion is irrelevant (or very close to it) in the realm of serious politics and policy, controlled by the nation’s “unelected dictatorship of money (Edward Herman and David Peterson’s phrase). Take health care coverage. Most Americans have long favored a single-payer national health insurance plan on the Canadian model. Their preference for such substantive, seriously social-democratic health reform has found no representation among the corporate- and Wall Street-captive lobbyists and politicians who pushed for big business-friendly versions of “health insurance reform. The version that finally passed in 2009, the so-called Affordable Health Care Act, is a monument to corporate and financial plutocracy. The business right wing FOX News and talk radio propaganda machine calls “Obamacare” socialism. It did not inform those it eggs into dread that the president’s measure is based on corporate-friendly prescriptions developed by the right wing Heritage Foundation in the 1990s and that his notion of “change” leaves giant insurance and drug companies free to extract massive profits that drive the nation’s health care costs to the breaking point.
The U.S. could eliminate its much-bemoaned fiscal deficit by replacing the nation’s highly dysfunctional privatized and largely employment-based health insurance system with a universal public model similar to what exists in other industrial nations – with a system that would cut health costs in half and yet deliver superior outcomes. But that’s irrelevant under the rules imposed by the reigning “plutonomy,” wherein “the financial institutions and Big Pharma are far too powerful for such options even to be considered.”
The Deficit Over Jobs
“The deficit” is itself another case in point. The populace tells pollsters that government’s main priority ought to be job creation, not deficit reduction. As Demos magazine noted last December, 2011 and 2012 polls found that “the public remained focused on jobs and the economy over the deficit by two-to-one margins or more.” Surveys undertaken after Obama’s reelection last November found that “49 percent thought the election was a mandate for job creation while only 22 percent said that the President’s mandate was for deficit reduction.” NBC’s exit poll showed that “only 15 percent of voters thought the deficit was the biggest problem facing the country” A majority supported “spending money to invest in infrastructure/public sector hiring, like teachers and firemen, versus cutting to reduce the deficit.”
So what? Who cares? As Demos writer J. Mijin Cha explained, “The ‘donor class’ – the segment of the population that donates to political campaigns – is disproportionately comprised of affluent Americans.” This “donor class” (predominantly from households in the top income quintile) “does not prioritize policies to create jobs and economic growth.” It is “twice as likely to name the budget deficit as the most important issue in deciding how they would vote than middle- or lower-income respondents.” It strikingly and overwhelmingly rejects federal government action to help create jobs. Just 19% of the nation’s affluent households think the government in Washington should “see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job” – a statement favored by 68 percent in the public. A tiny 8 percent of the wealthy think that government “should provide jobs for everyone able and willing to work cannot find a job in private employment” – something a majority (53%) of Americans support.
The “donor class” has won the policy argument, in defiance of majority sentiments. “Austerity dominates the current political debate” in ways that reflect “the influence of money in our political system…as evidenced in how well the interests and priorities of the affluent class are represented in Congressional action – even when they run counter to the wishes of most Americans” – and, we might add, counter to the requirements of meaningful economic recovery.
Demos might have added “as represented in presidential action” and in the behavior of both of the nation’s reigning political parties. The president has already made significant reductions to the highly popular Medicare and Social Security programs in the deceptive name of “deficit reduction” and he is promising to make more in the name of his neoliberal “grand bargain” (really a Great Betrayal) – with little opposition from fellow dismal dollar Democrats.
We’ve Seen This Movie (Dance) Before
The latest crisis in Washington is yet another in a series of plutocratic fiscal dramas illustrating the irrelevance of public opinion under the “unelected dictatorship.” Like the debt-ceiling fiasco of 2011 and the fiscal cliff freak show of 2012, it will end with a bipartisan deal the advances the financial elite’s drive for more austerity and do nothing to addresses the nation’s interrelated and ongoing crises of poverty, joblessness, and inequality (the latter problem so savagely advanced now that 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans) With the Teapublicans’ “defund [supposedly socialist and in fact corporatist] Obamacare” having been taken off the table (it was never serious), the “two wings of the single corporate party” have begun to hammer out a deal that will, as the left economist Jack Rasmus predicts:
“result in more spending cuts, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as an understanding and consensus to cut corporate taxes when the tax code overhaul bill comes to votes in Congress and for Obama’s signature…… The deal may include some token concessions to Teapublicans in the House…. Perhaps the already offered repeal of the medical device tax. Perhaps some further exemptions to Obamacare for business and wealthy individuals. A long list of such concessions to exempting and postponing parts of Obamacare have already been unilaterally made by Obama since the beginning of this year. Difficulties in the rollout of Obamacare may encourage him to agree to more. There may even be a short delay of a few months in the implementation deadline for the Obamacare act….But the final deal to be struck in 2013 will appear more like the prior 2011-2012 deal of spending cuts and tax largesse for the wealthy. This time seniors and retirees will be the primary target of the spending cuts, while corporations get the tax cuts instead of wealthy individuals.”
“We’ve seen this movie before, we know how it’s going to end.” So said Donald T. Ellenberger, the “head of multisector strategies” at the giant financial services firm Federated Investors, last week, explaining why the financial markets were responding with cautious calm in response to the threat of default. Rasmus prefers a different metaphor: dance, as in a “well-orchestrated dance” in which corporate-captive elites in both of the leading parties align with the mass media in whipping up fears of government and economic collapse to advance the neoliberal austerity agenda favored by political and economic investor class.
So what if this deal has nothing to do with – and in fact coldly defies – majority popular sentiments? We the not-so sovereign shock-doctrined  people are supposed to be so relieved that the bipartisan plutocrats in Washington have decided “at the last minute” not to throw the already weak recovery and savagely unequal economy into catastrophic decline (something that no Washington players beyond a part of the GOP.’s proto-fascistic Tea Party faction might seriously seek or welcome) that we are ready to accept whatever regressive bargain is worked out supposedly on our behalf. We are expected to direct our ire at one or both of the two dominant political organizations, and/or at government and politics and “Washington” in general, but not at the real power behind the outwardly reigning parties and state – the nation’s hidden senate of corporate and financial wealth, which has trumped democracy with plutocracy for quite some time now.
“Wall Street Owns the Country”
It’s not exactly new. Listen to how the great Kansas populist orator Mary Ellen Lease put things to an angry crowd in 1890, one hundred and twenty-one years before Occupy Wall Street (OWS) launched its remarkable but short-lived, police state-dismantled encampment in lower Manhattan:
“Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street….Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags….There are thirty men in the United States whose aggregate wealth is over one and one-half billion dollars. And there are half a million looking for work….The people are at bay, let the bloodhounds of money who have dogged us thus far beware.”
Another sterling populist speaker of the time spoke in similar and hauntingly Occupy-foreshadowing terms, adding a critique of the two dominant parties’ (Republicans and Democrats) shared subservience to the moneyed power. As Ignatius Donnelly noted at the People’s Party national convention on July 4th, 1892, in terms that seem hauntingly familiar in our current New Gilded Age:
“We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized…The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists….The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages, a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down….The fruits of the toil of millions are badly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty…We have witnessed for more than a quarter of a century the struggles of the two great political parties for power and plunder, while grievous wrongs have been inflicted upon the suffering people. We charge that the controlling influences dominating both these parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them…. …They propose to sacrifice our homes, lives, and children on the altar of mammon; to destroy the multitude in order to secure corruption funds from the millionaires….” 
Sound familiar? “Wall Street owns the country.” Encouraged by the original well-orchestrated first debt-ceiling dance in the summer of 2011, that was the lesson drawn and disseminated with no small initially favorable public response by OWS and its many hundreds of imitators across the country two years ago. That left-led populist movement (or moment) was crushed by predominantly Democratic mayors and city councils with no small help from a coordinated federal (Obama administration) campaign of repression. It is long past time for a popular grassroots re-occupation seeking among other things to bring about a semblance of actual popular sovereignty to an ever more authoritarian and Orwellian, state-capitalist America.
As I write this (in the early afternoon of Wednesday, October 16, 11 hours before the debt-ceiling deadline, I see from the AP wire that the “last minute” deal in the “well-orchestrated dance” is being cut.
Postscript: “The Ultimate Green Party” (Thursday morning, October 17):
As this latest fiscal crisis dance winds down (there are others scheduled for the future) with the interim resolution predicted by the financial markets, I would imagine that the president is denouncing out-of-control “partisanship” in the nation. It is a good time to look at Mark Leibovich’s bestselling expose on the money soaked bipartisan orgy that is Washington D.C.: This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral Plus Plenty of Valet Parking (New York: Blue Rider Press, 2013). “In recent years,” Leibovich writes, “Washington has defied the national economic slump and become the richest metropolitan area in the country. Getting rich became the great bipartisan ideal: ‘No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore, only millionaires,’ goes the maxim. The ultimate Green Party. You still hear the term ‘public service’ thrown around, but often with irony and full knowledge that ‘self-service’ is now the real insider play.” (p.9)
“Much of the Washington economy – lobbying, consulting, and cable news – is predicated on the perpetuation of conflict, not the resolution of problems….All of the shouting partisanship that we see on television is just winking performance art….Off-air, everyone in Washington is joined in a multilateral conga line of potential business partners” (p.98).
Beneath all the drama about “the Tea Party’s” defeat and the Democrats’ “victory,” a Bloomberg Businessweek item this morning reports that “Obamacare aside, events have actually gone the [Tea Party] movement’s way ever since Republicans wrested control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections. Discretionary spending has been falling. Federal-employee head count is down. And since 2010, deficit reduction has been more rapid than in any three-year period since the demobilization following World War II… The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that, under current law, by 2038 total spending on everything other than the major health-care programs, Social Security, and interest will decline to the smallest share of the economy since the 1930s.”
Of course, what Bloomberg describes here as a “pyrrhic victory” for the so-called Tea Party’s so-called movement is in fact the triumph of richly bipartisan neoliberalism and the financial and corporate elite, whose wealth and power continue to concentrate while millions of Americans struggle to stay afloat
Paul Street’s next book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm. January 2014).
1. “U.S. Government Shutdown: Wolf, Mallaby, Osnos,” October 15
2. J.B. Foster and R.W. McChesney, “A New Deal Under Obama?” Monthly Review, February 2009, 7).
3. Noam Chomsky, “American Decline: Causes and Consequences,” Alakhbar English, August 24, 2011.
4. N. Chomsky, “Americain Decline,” New York Times Syndicate, August 5, 2011).
5. J. Miljin Cha, “Why is Washington Reducing the Deficit Instead of Creating Jobs?” Demos, December 7, 2012.
6. Jack Rasmus, “The Coming Debt Ceiling Settlement: The Well-Orchestrated Dance, 2.0,” (October 15, 2013), As Rasmus ads, “The recent Teaparty grandstanding on Obamacare has been for the media and public, with the goal of enhancing their 2014 midterm election results within the Republican party as well as in general. They have now accomplished this. The Obamacare issue was never a serious possibility. They will now retreat.”
7. One should not forget that Obama has been, and continues to be, a strong advocate of cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 28% and providing ‘relief’ for multinational corporations’ tax rates. Obama has also already indicated cuts of $630 billion in social security and medicare in his 2014 budget. This is the starting point for the ‘original process’ negotiations that have been temporarily derailed by Teapublican grandstanding, now coming to an end.
8. N. Popper, “Little Fear On Wall St. Of Default, At Moment,” New York Times, October 8, 2013, B5.
9. Noami Klein, The Shock Doctine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Metropolitan, 2007).
10. Howard Zinn, A People’s History of United States (New York, 1980), 288.11. Larry Goodwyn, The Populist Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 167-168. Emphasis added.