US and World Politics

Year of the Plague

The danger of war

By Chris Kinder

There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.

—Albert Camus

There are many dangers facing working people and poor in the U.S. in 2020. While the Covid-19 pandemic is the current, and very serious condition affecting all of us, the real plague is capitalism. This plague is world-wide, but the dominant imperialist power, the U.S., is leading the pack in the downward spiral of exploitation, racist oppression and impoverishment of the masses.

The story begins with the U.S., already in the grip of a huge wealth gap between the working masses and the billionaire club at the top of the ruling class, being saddled with a know-nothing moronic idiot and white supremacist in the White House. Installed in a rigged election in 2016, this president has secured the support of the very rich with tax breaks, and conned a section of the white population into supporting him, including by promoting white racists, many of whom have mobilized in armed bands to terrorize leftists and Black Lives Matter protestors of police brutality and murder.

“The virus will just go away”

While the ruling capitalist class might not be unanimous for Trump (he’s made lots of enemies,) he is still their chief executive, despite his obvious crimes. And when it comes to the virus, his ignorance is showing to an extreme. His blundering performance has emerged as a clear threat to his reelection, along with the necessary shut-down of the economy, which he ordered way too late. Besides ordering a premature reopening of business, thus encouraging the population to defy protective measures, such as wearing masks, etc., Trump insisted that the virus “will just go away!” And—in what is seen as the stupidest statement ever made by any president he said—“worried about the virus? Just stop the testing,” (a paraphrase, but yes, he said that.)

Now, in the second half of 2020, the U.S. has by far the most uncontrolled epidemic of any country in the world. In the past month (July,) there were 1.9 million new cases in the U.S., for a total now of over five million! All of Europe gained slightly less than 300,000 in July. Japan had under 22,000, and South Korea had 1,400. The U.S. also displayed its racist structure: Black and Latinos contracted the virus at roughly three times the rate of whites. Meanwhile China, the country where the virus may have started, conquered it months ago in fast community action, and now has only some small localized cases. China, after some initial missteps, used shut-downs where needed, and promoted unity of purpose across the country.1

Trump has a problem

Largely because of his buffoonish mishandling of a deadly virus, and with his poll numbers dropping, Trump’s policies have threatened the healthcare of millions by strangling the Affordable Care Act; and this during a pandemic! This no-nothing has proposed delaying the election, something he has no authority to do. He also questioned whether he would leave upon losing the election. Is he grasping at straws to save his re-electability? Perhaps, but this serial cheater has some plans. First of these is: rig the election.

Trump has the well-established Republican Party voter suppression machine to fall back on. This conspiracy dates back to the “Southern Strategy,” in which Republicans took over from the Democratic Party “Dixiecrats” in the South after the successes of the Civil Rights movement. Since then, the GOP has focused on seizing statehouses, and rigging elections with intense gerrymandering, which has resulted in Republican-controlled states ready to expand use of this rigging. This achieved the election of G.W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000, in which Gore gave up the fight oh so conveniently.

The election-rigging miasma

Next came a whole slew of techniques going well beyond the “hanging chad” nonsense in Florida. There are false accusations of fraudulent voting, which have been used to require i.d. which is often expensive for poor people, and not really necessary. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who launched the “cross check” plan to eliminate voters who allegedly voted twice in different states, and fraudulently caused millions of voters to be removed from the rolls because they had the same name as someone in another state.

Then there is the “people who have moved” scam. Officials send a postcard which looks like junk mail, and if the recipient fails to reply, then “poof” their right to vote is gone, without any notice that they are no longer registered. Similar idea with mail-in ballots: you request one, and it never arrives. Or maybe it is rejected because of minor complaints, such as the signature doesn’t match, or the boxes were not filled in properly.2

See the KKK about those “fraudulent ballot” lies

This accusation is widely used to justify voter suppression, such as removing Blacks and Latinos from the rolls by various means, and sabotaging mail-in balloting, and strangling the Post Office to make it unable to handle mail-in ballots. There is no evidence for fraudulent ballots, yet they keep popping up in the dialogue of the liar-in-chief and his cohorts. What is the deep source of this particular lie? Look no further than the Ku Klux Klan, and its modern-day apes.

In 1915, more than 100 years ago, the Klan produced a silent movie called Birth of a Nation. This was in the era just after the official inauguration of U.S. imperialism, with the Spanish-American War, and the brutal colonization of the Philippines. The early decades of the 20th Century represent perhaps the most racist period in U.S. history.

Birth of a Nation, a three-hour long movie, pioneered never-before used cinematic techniques to send out its racist message. The plot involved depiction of two families, allegedly based on real people, who were on opposite sides in the Civil War, but who come together in the cause of white supremacy. In the course of the movie, images of Blacks who were elected to state legislatures in the earliest years of Reconstruction after the war, behaving in stereotypical manners such as drinking beer, putting feet up on desks, and eating fried chicken. It also shows Blacks stuffing ballot boxes, and whites not being allowed to vote!

Racism ran rampant in the early 20th century

The film castigates Blacks who pursue white women, and city officials passing laws to allow inter-racial marriage. A Black man is shown perusing a white woman, who kills herself to avoid him, and shows his subsequent lynching by the Klan. Toward the end, the film shows two families, former Confederates and Union supporters, coming together around white supremacy. An intertitle says, “The former enemies of North and South are united again in common defense of their Aryan birthright.” (emphasis mine)

The final scene shows an election day in which hooded KKK members mobilize successfully to intimidate and deter Blacks from voting. This film prompted a big revival of the Klan, South and North.3

Sound familiar? As Blacks were systematically prevented from voting in this period, the idea that they were fraudulent voters was pumped into racist peoples’ consciousness. Today’s voter suppression—including its “Proud Boy” and “Boogaloo” thugs, assertions of fraudulent ballots, and current obliteration of the rights of Black voters—dates back to the KKK, its “Aryan” movie, and Reconstruction.

The U.S. is not a democracy

That the U.S. is not a democracy is amply illustrated by an article in Newsweek by Colorado Senator Tim Worth, and Tom Rogers, a journalist, titled, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And still Remain President.” The scenario starts with Trump losing the popular vote to Biden, including in the swing states. Trump then declares that the election was rigged, and declares that fraudulent mail-in ballots, and Chinese hacking of the election are responsible. Trump then invokes emergency powers and demands an investigation, the legal justification for which has already been developed by Attorney General Barr.

The investigation then ticks down to December 14th, the date each state’s Electoral College electors must be appointed. This is what the Supreme Court harped on in Bush v. Gore, to prevent further counting of Florida ballots. Republican-controlled swing states then refuse to allow the Electoral College delegates to be certified until the “investigation” is completed. The Democrats will have by then have filed a legal action demanding that the pro-Biden delegates be certified in the swing states. The issue then goes to the Supreme Court, which may not rule for the Republicans, but instead could demand that the Electoral College vote takes place.

This unresolved clash could, according to the Constitution, result in the decision being sent to the House of Representatives, which must vote on the basis of one state, one vote. With 26 states remaining in Republican control, and only 24 states under Democratic control, Trump could retain the presidency. “Is this nuts? Is it possible? Yes, given who and what Trump and Barr are, it may well be.”4

The danger of war from Trump, and Democrats

While this possibility of election stealing is real, it is just one example of how the U.S., born in state’s-rights for slave-holders, is not a democracy. A bigger danger right now might be war. If Trump is not convinced that he can win through anti-democratic surreptitious tactics such as outlined above, he might just start a war. Despite his low poll numbers currently, a war could reverse that. A major advantage to that is that the Democratic party is just as, if not more, warmongering than the Republicans.

There may well be objections to, and protests against such an action, just as there was against the Iraq War of G.W. Bush who is remembered as the “village idiot,” who had gone missing from a town in Texas in 2003. Over ten million hit the streets around the world, including a huge protest of a quarter-of-a-million in San Francisco. The slogans included “Earth to Bush, No Iraq War!” The war went ahead as planned.

The Democrats would be disarmed by such an action by Trump, and the right wing would be mobilized. Trump is already laying the basis for a shooting war on China by escalating a cold war attack with sanctions, bans on Chinese-based electronic outfits, such as Huawei, “Tik Tok” and now “WeChat,” and especially denying the visas of Chinese graduate students in U.S. universities. Joe Biden and the Democrats are unable to object to any of this, because of their well-established complicity with U.S. imperialism.

The “pivot” to Asia is nothing new

Democratic President Barack Obama announced a “pivot” to Asia in 2012. This represented a shift in the foreign policy of the United States, from the Middle Eastern/European sphere to Asia, principally the countries bordering on the East and South China Seas. Trump is now expanding on this playbook, by sending warships into the South China Sea, which the U.S. has no business being in, and by enlarging the military budget, already bloated beyond belief, to build more war ships for this purpose. Trump is using U.S. imperialism to his personal advantage, which is the kind of thing all emperors and dictators do.

The “pivot” to Asia dates back to when the U.S. took over British, and European aspirations to colonize China.5 During World War II, the U.S. saw the “Pacific Theater” as part of its expansionist property in the New American Century (although the document by that name had yet to be written.)

At the end of the war, after the horrific and inexcusable atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—which were bombed to declare to the Soviet Union that there would be U.S. control over the Pacific—the U.S. ruling class was already gunning for a war against the Chinese resistance forces who had been the only real fighters against the Japanese in China. The U.S. wanted to support the Kuomintang Chinese Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek, who had collaborated with the Japanese against the communist revolutionaries, and who were now facing two armies of revolutionary resistors. To do so, the U.S. tried to keep its troops in the Pacific theater on hold, for a war to prevent revolution in China. U.S. troops rebelled against this in mass rallies demanding to be sent home. The Revolution succeeded in China in 1949, but the U.S. never gave up its goal of military control of the Pacific.

Background to the cold war: Korea

The little-known (outside of Korea) history of the Korean experience at the end of World War II demonstrates the U.S. designs graphically. Soon after the Japanese abandoned their 40-year colonization of Korea, resistance forces who had been fighting for Korean independence began to set up thousands of revolutionary committees throughout Korea. Communists were the majority in these committees, but other forces were also involved. A representative assembly of these committees representing all of Korea met in Seoul on September 6th, set up a Peoples Republic, and declared a program, including unification, land reform, ousting the Japanese collaborators, wide extension of suffrage, and the formation of cooperatives.

“If the Peoples Republic exhibited radical tendencies, it only reflected with reasonable accuracy the views of the Korean majority”—so said a member of the soon to be established U.S. military government of Korea.6

The U.S. moves in

In agreements made at Cairo, Yalta and Potsdam by the allies during the war, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were to occupy South and North Korea respectively after the war, dividing the country at the 38th parallel. This was not meant to be permanent; it was a step toward Korean unified independence. It did not say that the occupying partners would set up governments on their sections. But the U.S. had other plans.

Just days after the Peoples Republic was formed, U.S. troops landed and set up their military government. The first act of this “government” was to reject the legitimacy of the Peoples Republic, and instead proclaim itself as the only government of Korea. These military officials had no Korean speakers among them. They based their support on big landlords, Japanese collaborators, and other rightists. Liberals refused to participate. A puppet named Syngman Rhee was brought in from the U.S., where he had lived for 37 years, as the head of this fictional state.

A set-up for war

Not so the Soviets. In the North, the Russians stayed in the background, while supporting the Peoples Republic, and working with Kim Il-Sung, a leading Korean Communist, and a leader of the anti-Japanese resistance over all Korea. Kim’s government carried out a major land reform in 1946, which solidified support for the government.

Two years later, in 1948, the U.S. puppet government in the South carried out a fraudulent “land reform” that required payment and left big landlords in power to evict small farmers from their plots. Two rebellions broke out in the same year. Villages were razed and civil liberties were abolished in their wake. Also, the U.S. sabotaged the Korean unity negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviets and forced elections to be held separately. In the South, the election was rigged in Rhee’s favor. Only the rightists supported this, and all of these measures sealed an anti-American sentiment throughout the South. The Rhee government was hated, and its prisons were stuffed with the supporters of the original committees formed right after World War II.

The cold war became hot in Korea

Korea shows how the cold war could become hot, as the U.S. ramped up its campaign for “full spectrum dominance.” The U.S.-backed regime in the South began conducted provocations toward the North, at least a year before the onset of the war. The story that the North invaded the South is a pack of lies. The U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson spilled the beans when he said that, “North Korea attacked without warning [after a] provocation.” The war started at the time that the Chinese were getting set to liberate Formosa, which had been occupied by the reactionary Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek, which had been unceremoniously driven out of mainland China. Formosa had been promised to the Chinese in international agreements including the U.S., but that was then for the imperialists. Now Formosa was targeted for “protection” against the communists.7

War atrocities

As the war began in 1950, thousands of members of the afore-mentioned committees were taken out and shot in the South. But that didn’t stop the Koreans. As the North invaded the South, many soldiers for the South deserted to their comrades, with whom they had fought in the resistance. And only about ten percent of the people in Seoul evacuated as the North advanced with little opposition. Before they got to the southern tip of the country, a U.S. army under Douglas MacArthur, a notorious militarist and veteran of the brutal U.S. suppression of the nationalist rebellion in the Philippines, managed to outflank the North’s forces with a landing at Inchon, and drive them back to the 38th parallel.

South Korean troops were put under U.S. command, and one of the most vicious bombing campaigns in world history leveled every structure in the North, to the point that U.S. pilots complained: there weren’t any more targets for them to bomb! Thirty to 40 percent of Koreans in the North were killed, and people were living in caves.8

U.S. troops invaded almost to the Yalu River border with China, at which point the Chinese, well drilled in opposing imperialists, entered the war, and drove the U.S. back to the 38th parallel. MacArthur had wanted to take the war into China, and atom bombs were proposed to be used against the Chinese advance.

“Pivot to Asia:” more
imperialist crimes

The much more well-known American War in Vietnam was in many ways an updated re-run of the “Korean War.” Napalm was tried out in Korea and used massively in Vietnam. Also note the parallel of the U.S. denial of country wide elections, and thus the sabotage of Vietnam reunification, as they knew that Ho Chi Minh would win the vote in a landslide. The resistance-hardened Vietnamese were also used to living underground, not so much caves, but tunnels, which date back to the resistance against French imperialism. Both U.S. capitalist parties are tied into these crimes of imperialism.

As the U.S. spreads barbarism throughout the world, and Trump infects everything just like the plague, the left must come to grips with the fact that there is no electoral solution to the imperialism, racism and exploitation of the ruling class. Many left-leaning folks who plan to vote Democratic to Dump Trump are well-intentioned, but oblivious to the equal involvement of both capitalist parties in all the crimes of U.S. imperialism. A revolutionary workers party and a socialist revolution: that is the only solution.

1 Statistics from New York Times, “U.S. Is Alone Among Peers In Failing to Contain Virus,” August 7, 2020. (About the virus starting in China; it may have actually started in Europe, but that is another story.)

2 See How Trump Stole 2020, by Greg Palast, Seven Stories Press, 2020, or go to for much more info on voter suppression, and how to steal your vote back.

3 Details from The Birth of a Nation on Wikipedia.

4 A summary of this Newsweek article is at:

5 In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, European powers maintained colonized enclaves along the East Coast of China

6 E. Grant Meade, American Military Government in Korea, 1951, quoted in David Horowitz, The Free World Colossus, 1965, p. 115.

7 The Acheson quote is from an interview on Flashpoints, KPFA radio, with K.J. Noh, a long-time activist and teacher, who writes for Counterpunch.

8 K.J. Noh interview, op cit.