Originally published on Kosmodromio who spoke with Ajamu Baraka, human rights defender whose experience spans thirty years of domestic and international education and activism, national coordinator of the Black Peace Alliance (BAP) and US vice-presidential nominee of the Green Party of the United States for the 2016 election.
A few days after the elections how would you describe the political landscape in the US today? Cause here in Europe there is the feeling that America remains deeply polarized. What Donald Trump’s defeat and Joe Biden’s victory means for the American people?
It remains to be seen in practice what truth means. For many of us in the Black Alliance for Peace, for many of us in the Black Left, no fundamental change is going to take place as a result of Biden’s victory. We know that the neo-liberal Democrats have nothing to offer as a solution to the social and economic impact of the coronavirus on the already collapsing American economy. That is why we believe that conditions for the working class will continue to deteriorate. We believe that the political conflict will intensify, there will be no kind of national reconciliation that Biden invokes, because the polarization in the US is very serious.
And the US is in polarization because of the inability of its leaders to provide a solution to the continuing deteriorating conditions, the collapse of which we would say has brought the neoliberal capitalist plan. The U.S. working class has never really met since the collapse of 2009. And this precarious situation that most workers face has intensified as a result of the economic collapse due to the coronavirus. In this sense, we do not expect any substantial political change from Biden’s victory.
We saw figures of the so-called leftist tendency within the Democrats, including Alexandra Ocasio Cortes, Ilhan Omar and the rest of the Squad team to support Joe Biden, actively working on his campaign, thinking that they can push Biden to the left. Do you think this is a logical assumption? Is Biden likely to respond to future “progressive” pressure tactics?
The only way for neoliberals like Biden to respond to progressive pressure would be if there was a more effective and organized Left in the United States. Because the Left is extremely weak, ideologically confused and reluctant to put real pressure on the neo-liberal Democrats, self-proclaimed progressives within the Democratic Party have no real leverage to engage in the Democratic leadership’s internal dialogue.
But the leadership of the Democratic Party understands only one thing and that is the power. If you can not use this power, then you will be ignored. And we suspect that they will continue to be ignored (the progressives within the Democrats) due to the weakness of the social movements and the political hostage in which the Left found itself within the Democrats as we saw from the Democratic Party qualifiers. There Bernie Saunders effectively surrendered to the leadership of the Democratic Party. So the (Democratic) leadership has very little respect and little concern, and the progressive forces have very little leverage.
Given the history of the Democrats and Joe Biden as Vice President, what can we expect from Biden, in terms of foreign policy? You have said that ‘’Hawkish’ Democrats are more dangerous for the world’’.
Exactly! We believe it is clear from a series of moves made by Democrats under Trump that we will see a more volatile world under Biden. And we say that because even when, for example, there was progress in US-North Korean relations, which resulted in agreements that stopped ballistic missile tests and seemed to lead to a postponement of the nuclear program, the Democrats, instead of supporting an agreement, they decided along with curtain Republicans to pass legislation to make it impossible for the Trump administration to withdraw US troops from South Korea.
The same obstacles have been put in front of Trump with other issues as well, such as the withdrawal of troops from Syria and the undermining of the peace process in Afghanistan. Therefore, we estimate that there will be an escalation between the US and North Korea, between the US and Russia, while both political parties agree on the escalation of relations with China. So we do not find any real difference.
Unless, as I said, there is a more effective progressive, anti-war and anti-imperialist movement in the United States, we believe that with the political cover that a Biden administration will have and the demobilization of organizations affiliated with the Democratic Party will not be necessary “brakes”, there will be no real obstacles for the Biden government if it proceeds to escalate military tensions with the aforementioned countries. So I think we have a more dangerous situation ahead of us with Joe Biden and the right-wing neoliberals.
The prevailing perception in Europe and Greece is that the victory of the Democrats is a victory of the African-Americans against police brutality. Is this true or not?
We understand the mythology that Democrats are friends of African Americans, but there is nothing to support this view. On the contrary, when you look at the urban centers where you have a large concentration of black people, these urban centers are run by Democrats, black Democrats to be exact. And it is in these urban centers that we have escalating violence between the police and the black community. We know that the American state has a responsibility to protect capital, we know that it has an objective interest in controlling and restricting the black community, and the front-line instrument for this restraint is the police force. We do not expect any change in this relationship, we know that the astronomical mass imprisonment of black, Native Americans and Latinos will continue, so we are not confused about the relationship between the state and the black community, precisely because we know that objective interests of the state will be promoted by both parties.
So there is no victory for us. The only victory will be for the Democrats, because they will be able to frame the oppression they are exercising on more humanitarian terms.
We saw the antiracist movement and part of the left forces supporting the Democrats, on the basis that it is a more democratic and non-racist party. Is it possible for the American Left to finally become independent of the Democrats? Is there room for a third party and what is the main threat to democratic rights in the US?
There must be room for a third, but also for a fourth party. There must be a movement for democracy in the United States, because the duopoly in the United States is an instrument of class rule Even though there are some slight changes in the rhetoric on the part of the Democrats, the Democrats are committed to the neoliberal project, and the neoliberal plan is a right-wing plan in complete opposition to the interests of the working class, especially the black and brown * working class.
So we understand that there is this perception, but at the same time we are worried that there are people who are not familiar with the real threat we are facing in the US. The threat of a particular American version of neo-fascism, not a neo-fascism that a section of the world believes in and that comes from Trump’s forces, forces that are relatively disorganized and ideologically confused. No, some of us say that the neo-fascist threat seems to come from the neoliberal Right, which never left power, has always been in power, even during the Trump administration.
And the example we point to is the moves made by the state in conjuction with Silicon Valley technology companies and the liberal corporate media to set the conditions for the world to accept a kind of police of thought and censorship on social media. They use this lie of this phony Russian gate as a tool to create the conditions in which a coordinated effort is currently underway to limit the range of political thought and information being channeled to social media. Millions of people use social media as a primary source of information and now they are now actively involved in imposing ideological compliance with the population. This does not come from Trump, it comes from the neoliberal Right.
So we see the neoliberal Right in many ways more threatening to democracy and human rights, because it has the ability to build a new, cross-class and multi-racial coalition of forces in defense of capitalism. Therefore, from there (the neoliberal Right) we see the threat coming at the moment.