In the days of the Cold War, the narrative of the arch-reactionaries and anticommunists revolved around a conspiracy theory according to which the United States had been infiltrated at the highest levels by agents of the Soviet Union.
In the early 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy led the anti-Soviet campaign, alleging that Russian spies occupied top positions in the government, in universities, in Hollywood and even in the military. According to McCarthy, “a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man” implicated not only the Soviet Union but was also responsible for the “loss of China” in the 1949 Chinese Revolution.
The “Red Menace” was the pretext for attacking and delegitimizing all manifestations of social and political opposition, including the Civil Rights movement, as the work of “outside agitators” who received their orders from Moscow. It was Martin Dies, the Democratic congressman from Texas and initiator of the witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee, who declared in his 1940 book The Trojan Horse in America that Moscow had “envisioned an unusual opportunity to create racial hatred between the white and Negro citizens of the United States.”
In the late 1950s, after the heyday of McCarthy, the political thread was taken up by the John Birch Society, founded in 1958 by Massachusetts businessman Robert Welch, who notoriously declared that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”
In 1964, Welch backed the ultra-right Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, whose failed presidential campaign was heavily influenced by John Stormer’s book None Dare Call It Treason. “Will America continue to aid the communist enemy,” Stormer asked, “to disarm in the face of danger, to bow before communist dictators in every corner of the earth? The decision is yours.”
Nothing is dead in politics. The legacy of McCarthyism is now being revived by the campaign led by the Democratic Party and summed up in a hysterical screed published Wednesday in the Washington Post by Hillary Clinton, the self-professed former “Goldwater girl,” under the headline, “Mueller documented a serious crime against all Americans. Here’s how to respond.”
According to Clinton, “Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.” The perpetrator again is Russia, which Clinton, citing the Mueller report, claims has carried out a “sweeping and systematic” attack on the United States.
The Clinton narrative, which is the official line of the Democratic Party, is a monumental lie. Responsibility for Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 elections is attributed entirely to the operations of Russian bots and “Guccifer 2.0,” the persona of the individual who supposedly hacked Democratic Party emails. Her campaign, Clinton writes, was the “target of a Russian plot,” directed by President Vladimir Putin, who “seeks to weaken our country.”
And what did this new “conspiracy so immense” actually involve? According to the Mueller report itself, organizations associated with Russia allegedly spent $100,000 on Facebook ads. This is 0.12 percent of the $81 million spent by the Democratic and Republican election campaigns themselves on Facebook ads, in a campaign dominated by the $5 billion spent by the billionaire backers of the two parties to buy the election.
As for the release of Democratic Party emails, even if one accepts the unsubstantiated claim that it was Russian operatives who turned them over to WikiLeaks, what the emails revealed were true facts about the operations of Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—facts that the electorate had every right to know. Among the documents released were Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs and other banks, for which she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other leaked emails exposed the corrupt efforts of the DNC to rig the primaries against Bernie Sanders.
Clinton lost in the 2016 elections because the Democratic Party, in line with the class interests it represents, made a calculated decision not to raise any social issues or make any appeal to the working class in its campaign against Trump. Do Clinton and company really expect the public to believe that Facebook ads put out by Russian agents were behind the collapse in voter turnout in working-class areas of Michigan, Wisconsin and other states?
The victory of the billionaire demagogue Trump was the result of widespread disillusionment with the Democratic Party after eight years of the Obama administration, which broke every campaign promise and exposed as lies the empty prattle about “hope” and “change.” Obama focused his energies on bailing out Wall Street and shoring up the wealth of the corporate and financial elite.
In her column, Clinton goes on to call for an alliance between the Democratic Party and the Republicans. The situation calls for “clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship,” she writes. She urges Republicans to work with Democrats in an intensified campaign against Russia—with or without the Trump administration. She writes: “It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map [provided by the Mueller report] leads—to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.”
Clinton wants a bipartisan foreign policy that is “fearless” in its aggression against not only Russia, but also China. “Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well,” she warns. Unless Trump is “held accountable, the president will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.”
Changing what needs to be changed, such words could have been penned by Robert Welch himself. Confronting a fascistic president, the Democrats have managed to frame their entire opposition around a right-wing narrative. If the Democrats had their way and Trump were removed—to be replaced, don’t forget, by the ultra-right Vice President Mike Pence—it is almost certain that the immediate consequence would be war with nuclear-armed Russia.
Inextricably connected to the conflicts over foreign policy is the escalation of the attack on democratic rights within the United States. Reprising the ravings of Dies, social discontent is attributed to the nefarious efforts of Russia to “sow discord” within the United States.
Significantly, Clinton cites as a model the actions of the ruling class after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when “Congress established an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks.” She concludes, “We need a similar commission to help protect our elections.”
The September 11 attacks—a terrorist atrocity that killed nearly 3,000 people—were followed by the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Department, the Northern Command, domestic spying, Guantanamo Bay, the institution of torture and drone assassinations as government policy, and other crimes. The campaign of the Democrats over the Russian “attack”—a lie fashioned from whole cloth—has been accompanied by far-reaching moves to censor the internet under the guise of combating “fake news.”
The Democrats’ warmongering and attack on democratic rights come together in the persecution of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, whose enduring contribution to the population of the world was the exposure of the crimes of American imperialism. For this, Assange is currently imprisoned in Britain, facing imminent rendition to the United States. The courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning is in jail for refusing to testify against him.
Such is Clinton’s defense of “our democracy.”
All of this further demonstrates that in the conflict between Trump and the Democratic Party there is no progressive or democratic faction. The anti-Russia narrative has not been challenged by any section of the Democratic Party, including Bernie Sanders, who is again seeking to cover up this warmongering party with a thin veneer of social reforms that it has no intention of implementing.
The conflict between the Democrats and the Trump administration is a conflict between two reactionary factions of the ruling class. All those political organizations and groups that are seeking to direct social opposition behind the Democratic Party are playing the most criminal role. They are no less terrified than Trump and the Democrats of the development of a genuine socialist movement of the working class, which will oppose American capitalism and its wars.