Author: fistyouth1

Oppose Trump! Smash Fascism!


Donald Trump’s meteoric rise into prominence among the potential Republican nominees for president just months ago may have seemed unfathomable. During the last election cycle of 2012 he was considered to be nothing more than a joke and an attempt by major news networks to garner ratings. Even this time around, since he first announced his candidacy in June 2015, it was greeted with laughter by most political pundits, with the exception of those at Fox News. Among his opponents there are still some who view him as something to be gawked at, however his electoral success and large number of loyal supporters have proven otherwise.

Trump has captured the imaginations of a relatively large proportion of the white working class of the US who have catapulted him far into the lead in the presidential race. So far since the Republican primary elections have began, Trump has managed to win 10 states out of 15 and maintains strong leads in polling among potential voters. What makes him unique is the mass-character of his campaign. He doesn’t rely entirely on the already existing political establishment, but rather alienated and disaffected white workers who are eagerly looking for solutions to the crisis the working class faces. This section of our class is being lead astray by racist, right-wing scapegoating against the most oppressed among our population.

This mass movement of disaffected white workers finds its basis in the devastating capitalist crisis that began in 2007-08 and has seen no end. The capitalists who are responsible for the crisis are eager to divert the mass energy away from them and into the most vulnerable and oppressed elements of the U.S. working class: undocumented workers and latin americans, muslims and arabs, women, and even the disabled. This global capitalist crisis has not only fed the flames of racist reaction in the United States, in Europe many right wing, even fascist, movements and political parties once considered fringe have come to prominence. The leader of France’s racist ultra right wing party the National Front, who have made extraordinary electoral gains in the past several years, has endorsed Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.

Within the US, the support he enjoys among the most reactionary neo-nazi, neo-confederate, and other fascist elements in US society whose voices he channels is particularly alarming. Trump has been formally endorsed by former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. Stormfront, the world’s largest English speaking White Nationalist forum praises him daily. Trump has returned this favor by giving these fascists a platform via social media, Telesur reported recently that 62% of Trump’s retweets are from white supremacist twitter users. The Trump campaign has even given press credentials to Stormfront radio syndicate, “The Political Cesspool” to cover his events.

FIST calls for the organization of the broadest possible united front of all progressive forces to combat Trump and the fascist mass movement behind him. We call for the unity of community organizations, political parties, trade unions, faith groups, and all those who stand to be trampled upon by the fascist boot. The electoral defeat of Trump is only one battle in the struggle against rising fascism worldwide, but it is only one arena of struggle. Fascism must be crushed wherever it rears its head. Whether in the polling place or in the streets, whether with the ballot or with fists. Only unity of the entire working class of all nationalities has the strength necessary to combat this threat and carry it to the finish, where we live in a world free of exploitation and oppression.

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Fight the System that Poisoned Flint!

FlintOn March 6 the two Democratic Party presidential candidates and nominee hopefuls, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, will take part in a televised debate in Flint, Michigan. Flint has been the subject of global media attention after it was revealed that the city’s residents have been continually poisoned by the water coming from their faucets.

Flint, along with many other cities in the so-called U.S. “Rust Belt,” has been absolutely decimated by deindustrialization. These cities, primarily in the Midwest and especially in Michigan, were built from the ground up by the working class tied directly to the auto industry. Once hotbeds of militant trade unionism and a burgeoning revolutionary movement, they have been nearly destroyed by the closing of the vast majority of production facilities. Capitalism’s robotization, offshoring and union-busting have left these cities devastated. Flint has a 40% poverty rate, official unemployment close to 10% (which is an underestimate) and 20,000 vacant homes caused by bank and tax foreclosures.

The decision by the Democratic National Committee to host its debate in Flint is the height of shameless opportunism. Neither the Democratic Party as a whole and certainly neither Sanders or Clinton have pointed fingers at the source of the crisis: the major banking institutions and the auto manufacturers. Sanders has called for the resignation of Gov. Rick Snyder and Clinton has complained of his not requesting federal aid to the city. Neither would dare demand reparations from GM and finance capital for those who have been lead poisoned, particularly the 8,000+ children who will be permanently damaged. They are not calling for criminal charges against those involved in the poisoning and cover-up.

Many in the Democratic Party rightly call for Snyder’s resignation, albeit for political gain, to regain the governor’s office. But if the criminal, anti-people Snyder were to step down and face jail time, would his successor, presumably a Democrat, be any less callous towards the working class? Would they enact a jobs program to put people back to work with good wages to fix the roads, feed the hungry and educate our next generation? Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard presided over GM’s mass plant closings and Gov. Jennifer Granholm did nothing about the racist banks’ mass home foreclosures.

The disaster of Flint and other cities like it is not an issue of Republican versus Democrat, but rather a fight between the multinational working class and the capitalist class which profits directly from its attacks against us. We need an independent and militant movement, based among the working class and oppressed, separate from the two major imperialist parties and capable of challenging capitalist class rule and their ability to exploit us and put our very lives in danger. Our goal must be a revolutionary movement with the power to overthrow those who deprive us of homes, decent jobs, food, healthcare, education and clean water. The resources exist and it is the task of the majority to seize what we’ve built from the hands of the minority of exploiters who own it!

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Baltimore FIST responds to School Official’s Threats

IMG_1280Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), as a group of young revolutionaries struggling for justice in Baltimore City and around the country, condemns the hypocritical letter from City Public Schools CEO Thornton. This letter made repeated allusions to the safety of students while threatening consequences to anyone that would take part in protests resulting from an acquittal of the officer who murdered Freddie Grey. If the school system truly cared about the safety of students, they would be doing everything in their power to work to end the epidemic of police violence in Baltimore City. Inside the schools themselves, the police have a record of harassment and abuse of students that far outweighs any possible benefit from their presence. We demand the removal of all police officers from our schools!

The letter continues and talks about “appropriate ways to express dissent” and how “we need to make it clear … Student walkouts, vandalism, civil disorder, and any other form of violence are not acceptable… and students who participate in such behaviors will face consequences”. This threat against the youth who want to fight for an end to police violence is disgraceful. The only reason that the cops were even charged was because of the heroic actions of the students who rebelled and fought back against the police, demanding that this time would be different. We cannot allow these threats to divide our movement. What is needed now is unity and determination in the face of further repression by the police. We stand with everyone who fought in the rebellion!

We in FIST believe that the police are not our friends, there is no such thing as good cops. They are the frontline armed troops of this racist, sexist, homophobic and anti working class system called Capitalism. They exist primarily to protect the property of the rich and to keep the rest of us “in line”. We believe that the police must be immediately forced under complete democratic community control before their eventual total abolishment. The people, and especially youth, need jobs and education, not police terror. We urge the youth of Baltimore to join us in the streets and continue the struggle to overturn this rotten system!

The Struggle Against Racism, Zionism and Imperialism Within U.S. Borders

Remarks by journalist and political analyst Caleb T. Maupin at the Third International New Horizon Conference in Tehran on October 29, 2015.

It is not enough to be against racism, or to say you are against racism. Token anti-racist statements are everywhere in US society. Though Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot down and killed for his brave and dedicated work, after his death he has been reduced to a harmless patriotic icon. Even though the FBI worked to destroy him, schoolchildren across the US are taught that King’s life is proof that the United States is “the greatest nation on earth.”

The truth, and most people here are already aware, is that the United States is not a nation. The US is a country and within its borders are both oppressed and oppressor nations. African Americans, brought to the country as slaves, constitute an oppressed nation within US borders.

A lot of people in the United States say they are revolutionaries these days. Figures like Bernie Sanders show that radical-sounding words have become rather trendy. I say that you are not a revolutionary unless you recognize that Black people constitute a nation, and as a nation, have the right to self-determination, to choose separation or integration for themselves.

Trouble in “The Real America”

Every time I come to this part of the world, I meet so many young people who have a completely delusional portrait of the United States. What young Iranians see on satellite television — this portrait of the United States as a kind of rich paradise — this image is not real. If you watch US media, 90 percent of the time you are seeing southern California or New York City. The United States is far bigger than that.

In the heartland of the United States, what Sarah Palin demagogically called “the real America,” there are millions of young people who are very unhappy. The US economy has been wrecked by deindustrialization. The steel mills, auto plants, and good-paying industrial jobs have been eliminated. The public sector jobs in teaching, libraries, and post offices have also been eliminated. Millions of young Americans are stuck in low-wage, short-term service-sector jobs, making a mere fraction of what their parents had in the much heralded “American middle class.”

Young Americans watch the same garbage propaganda as is broadcast into Iran. They see how Kim Kardashian, the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and other wealthy people on American television live, and they contrast it to their own lives. The rates of suicide, mental illness, and drug addiction among young Americans are rising. They have been told all their lives that “you are worthless unless you are rich,” and they now look into the future, realizing that they are likely to spend their lives far poorer than previous generations.

US society, born in racism, slavery, and the slaughter of indigenous people, is now entering a deep political and economic crisis. What’s true is not always obvious — but in some cases it is. The US, in which there is another mass shooting every time you turn around, is not a healthy, moral society. It is not a model that any country should aspire to be like.

The Unfinished Revolution

The most hopeful period in the history of the United States was the direct aftermath of the Civil War. The Civil War was really the Second American Revolution. Abraham Lincoln led a beautiful coalition. It included Christian abolitionists, labor unionists, industrial capitalists, and most importantly, the enslaved African people.

When the war broke out, slaves throughout the south stopped working, in what constituted a mass general strike. Harriet Tubman became the first woman to lead US soldiers into battle, and she organized guerrilla bands, freeing slaves along the Combahee River in South Carolina.

The slaveocracy, aligned with the British Empire, was also supported by the Wall Street financial elite. They saw cotton exports from slave plantations as a way to make profits. But Wall Street, the British Empire, and the slave-owning aristocracy was defeated. They were defeated by an amazing alliance.

The Republican Party of the 1860s, far different than today, was a revolutionary party. It took its name from the French Revolution. It represented the small farmers, the African Americans, and the labor unions. For a brief period after the war, there was even talk of redistributing the land of slave owners.

Calling themselves the “Populists,” the small farmers and free Blacks called for public control of railroads and guaranteed education for all, along with the overthrow of those they called “the monopolists”: the wealthy bankers that had so much power.

The progressive coalition that came out of the Civil War was broken apart by Wall Street. What did they use to destroy this progressive, anti-capitalist mass movement? Racism.

The Ku Klux Klan began to use terrorist tactics, very similar to those currently used by the Israeli settlers, to violently force free Blacks out of the political process. US troops were pulled out of the south and handed it back to the racists.

The Low-Wage Police State

Since that time, the white people of the United States have made a deal with Satan. As the big bankers have plundered the world, and used bombs, sanctions, and cruise missiles to beat down those who would assert their independence, we went along with it, we waved the flag. We were loyal and obedient, and in exchange we got houses, cars, and TV sets. We were taught to identify with Wall Street, and look down on the people of the world — and the Black and Brown people within the United States.

But the devil does not keep his promises. The “middle class” — the bribe given to white Americans to buy their obedience — is being gradually eliminated. The standard of living in the United States is rapidly dropping. The civil liberties so often bragged about by US leaders are being stripped away. The US is rapidly transitioning to a low-wage police state.

The US economy has become centered on destruction. Prisons for profit, police on every corner, empty foreclosed homes, gentrification, rampant military aggression — war, war, war across the world.

As we face the ruins of US society, now it is time for white people to change the way we see ourselves. The satanic cabal of wealthy billionaires that has committed so many crimes around the world is our enemy. We must become friends with the people of Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, China, Palestine, and Yemen.

A new revolutionary coalition must be forged. An alliance of those within US borders who reject the rule of the globalist bankers can function as the US division of the emerging worldwide axis of resistance.

Every day the US government provides $18 million to the Israelis, as they escalate their genocidal crimes and provocations. A mass people’s movement could demand that this money instead be spent on providing healthcare, jobs, and education to the next generation of people in the United States.

Thousands of US troops are stationed in military bases throughout this region. A mass peoples’ movement could demand that these troops be brought home, and put to work restoring the crumbling roads and bridges throughout the United States.

The Task of Revolutionaries in the United States

The United States is currently facing very hard times, but as has often been said, “hard times are fighting times.” The moment is approaching when a real people’s movement against the racist Wall Street financial elites — their wars, their racism, their police state, and their global system of usury and poverty — can broadly expand within US society.

Such a people’s movement will require solid unity of diverse political forces, concrete practical demands, and a clear vision of an entirely new society in North America.

Often in the United States, we are told that people who fight for their independence around the world are terrorists. If you want to know what terrorism is really about, go see the next Hollywood superhero movie. In this most American genre of films, we see a young white man who thinks the police aren’t doing enough, so he puts on a cap and mask, and engages in isolated acts of violence. This is the Ku Klux Klan.

When Supreme Leader Khamenei says that ISIS and the police of the United States are the same, he is pointing to the fact that they utilized isolated acts of very publicized brutal violence in order to terrify a population. The Israeli settlers are doing the same thing.

Revolutionaries are not terrorists. They don’t seek to terrify people and make them feel powerless. Great revolutionary leaders like Imam Khomeni, Malcolm X, and Eugene Debs are great not because of isolated acts they do themselves, but because they empower other people, pushing them ahead to achieve things they never even thought they were capable of doing.

We are entering a period of great potential for those in the US who are willing to fight for justice and equality. This conference is part of strategizing and building for the important struggles ahead.

In Defense of the Panthers: Why the Film “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” Should be Put Down, and the book “Black Against Empire” Picked Up

The Black Panther Party is one of the most demonized organizations in US history. White supremacists, corporate media tools, and ruling class parasites of all stripes have attempted to soil its legacy since it declined along with the entire radical political movement of the mid 1970’s. The overtly racist critics have called the Black Panther Party gangsters and a Black version of the Ku Klux Klan. These are relatively simple narratives to dispel given the wealth of historical material on the politics and programs of the Black Panther Party. What is harder to address, but just as important to condemn, are the supposedly honest interpreters of the Black Panther Party who debase its history despite claims of doing the opposite.

Meet Stanley Nelson’s new documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. In nearly two hours, Nelson displays a montage of interviews and video clips that effectively depict the Black Panther Party as a non-ideological, disorganized, and infantile group. There is ZERO mention of the Black Panther Party’s revolutionary, socialist orientation. No historical context is given on why or how the Black Panther party formed, or what activities and actions helped grow the organization. Eldridge Cleaver is elevated to superstar status in the film, while Huey Newton is portrayed as a gangster whose best days were spent behind prison walls.

Even worse, Nelson brings on former Panther members and historians who outright smear the Party’s legacy. One historian claims in the film that the Panthers “repudiated” the armed struggle in place of their survival programs. In actuality, the Black Panther Party was disarmed by the state through the California legislature’s passage of the Mulford Act, which banned the open carry of firearms. The act was specifically created to weaken the Black Panther Party’s influence in the Black community. Survival programs thus represented a logical transition in the Party’s political work.

What the film mentions only briefly is how the Panthers maintained armed self-defense when it came to raids on their offices, programs, and residences. More absurdly, the film completely erases how survival programs, which included not only the free breakfast program but also liberation schools, health clinics, and ambulatory services, were adopted under the principle of “survival pending revolution.” The Black Panther Party saw the poor Black community as a revolutionary class. Survival programs were formed as a means to relate to the struggle of poor Black Americans and at the same time give the party an opportunity to develop the revolutionary consciousness of the masses.

Of course, the truth does not matter to a film maker intent on debasing the Black Panther Party. Nelson’s documentary makes so many errors that it is difficult to focus on just one. Elaine Brown’s critique of the film condenses some of the more critical offenses. For one, the film glorifies the erratic Eldridge Cleaver and demonizes Huey P. Newton. Newton was a founder of the Party and his leadership was critical to its growth. In the response to the North Richmond police murder of 22 year-old Denzell Dowell, Newton helped organize the small Oakland chapter to take up an independent investigation of the murder in conjunction with their regular police patrols. The Panthers became adored in North Richmond, as evidenced by the arms they brandished during a Panther-led rally for Dowell. The rally drew national attention and requests for Black Panther chapters elsewhere in the country began to mount. This is just one way Newton was instrumental in the organization’s success throughout its existence.

Survival programs represented a logical transition in the Party’s political work.”

It should be of no surprise that a film so intent on demonizing one of most important ideological and political leaders of the Black Panther Party omitted the context that indeed made the organization the vanguard of the period. Nelson’s highlight reel not only misses the context that gave rise Black Panther Party, it contains more than one historical distortion. No mention was made of COINTELPRO’s role in fueling the split of the Oakland and New York chapters through a forged letter sent to Huey Newton informing him of a future assassination attempt on his body by the east coast branch. Bobby Hutton’s murder was chalked up to his desire to “shoot em up” when in reality it was the Oakland police, and possibly Cleaver’s misleadership, who murdered him in cold blood.  And finally, another historian makes the claim that independence movements in Vietnam, China, and Algeria were logically attracted to the Black Panthers Party’s “Anti-Americanism.” Such a racist simplification erases the heroic struggle against imperialism waged by these national liberation struggles and strips the Black Panther Party of their active and independent efforts to forge internationalist solidarity with them.

Luckily for us, there is a secondary account of the Black Panther Party that paints a more accurate picture of the organization’s history and politics. Black Against Empire: A History and Politics of the Black Panther Party uses interviews with members and archived Panther newspapers to present a narrative of the Party’s rise and fall. In it, one can find entire chapters dedicated to the historical context that gave rise to the Party, as well as the conditions and efforts that led them to choose Marxist thought as their guide. Rather than tokenize Fred Hampton’s assassination as the single expression of the FBI’s desire to “prevent the rise of a Black Messiah”, Black Against Empireexplicitly shows that the US government indeed viewed the Party as a “threat to the internal security of the nation” and employed a multifaceted war against them.

The authors of Black Against Empire rightfully take the war on the Panthers seriously and explore the impact the repression on the Party’s growth and fall. Repression had the effect of publicizing the Black Panther Party in a way that drew supporters of a growing anti-establishment movement that made the connection between the US government’s war in Vietnam and its war on Black America. This brought political and financial support to the Party’s survival programs. The Panther’s organizational response to repression was action. They rallied the anti-war movement at home and built relationships with the anti-imperialist struggle abroad. At their height, the Black Panther Party had chapters in dozens of countries including Algeria, Japan, and numerous European nations.

But perhaps the most important contribution of Black Against Empire is its examination of the Black Panther Party’s decline. Rather than mimic Nelson’s racist attacks on Huey Newton, Black Against Empire offers an actual historical analysis that is useful for those seeking lessons from the lived struggle of the Panthers. The book concludes that a shift in social conditions withdrew public support and isolated its revolutionary approach. The Vietnam War eventually ended and so did the draft. Additionally, US imperialism renewed diplomatic relations with many of the Panther’s international allies. And a Black misleadership class was created to isolate the Black Panther Party’s politics in the Black community. Changing social conditions only exacerbated the impact of the splinters and divides created by the US government’s war on the Panthers. These developments paved a difficult terrain from which to operate, forcing most chapters to close by the latter half of the 1970.

A sober analysis of the Black Panther Party is impossible without the exploration of the social conditions that fueled its growth and decline. It is even less possible to understand the true character of the Black Panther Party without knowledge of the historical context of their politics. Not only does the documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolutionfail to meet both requirements, but also it simultaneously forwards the same racist, anticommunist filth that has dominated narratives of the Panthers since their decline. The film concludes that the Party’s demise happened in part through Newton’s connections to the “underground scene” and “former prisoners.”  This heinous demonization of the Black Panther Party falls in line with the entire film. Rather than acknowledge that working class Black Americans and prisoners were the foundation and life of the Party, the film paints the Black Panther Party as a childish group of gangsters who merely had some interesting moments.

Such a characterization could be nothing further from the truth.Black Against Empire and the numerous primary works created by former Panthers, some of whom remain political prisons to this day, provide ample evidence of the Black Panther Party’s revolutionary legacy. One can read Black Against Empire, Huey Netwon’s Autobiography, or Elaine Brown’s A Taste of Power for a critical history and analysis on the formation of the Black Panther Party. Newton’s doctoral dissertation War on the Panthers gives all the information one needs to know about the extent and significance of the US government’s war on the Black Panther Party. And these just skim the surfaces of the works available for those interested in a true education on the Black Panther Party.

It is critical that we to study the history and politics of the Black Panther Party and derive lessons from their struggle. Political education is a revolutionary act. US imperialism cannot maintain its parasitic existence from sheer exploitation alone. The state, and all of its connections to the mass media, is the force from which the ruling class manages resistance to imperial rule.  This includes the physical repression levied from the police, military, and the courts as well as the psychological repression experienced through schools and media institutions. The Black Panther Party has received massive levels of both forms of repression precisely because of the threat they posed to the state and the imperialist system as a whole. But you wouldn’t know this from watching Stanley Nelson’s documentary. It is essential for those who claim to be in the movement against capitalism and white supremacy to study and learn from those who came before us. We can start by putting down Nelson’s documentary and picking up Black Against Empire and the work that inspired it.

Free Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi! Stop the Execution! US/NATO Out of Africa!

FreeSaif1 freesaif2

The hired guns of the US government are on a killing spree! The police say they are “just trying to keep us safe” while they gun down innocent Black people. They claim they are enforcing “law and order” while they flaunt the basic concept of human rights, and engage in a campaign of terrorist violence.

Back in 2011, the leaders of the western capitalist powers said they were going to “rescue” Libya. Just like the US police, who “keep us safe” with their guns, the US/NATO “rescue mission” came in the form of cruise missiles that destroyed the country. Since the US led attack, conditions have become so bad that thousands and thousands of Libyans have already drowned in the Mediterranean, packed onto ships trying to escape from the new regime. Now that Wall Street and London have reconquered Libya, much of the country no longer has electricity or running water. Hunger is everywhere. The number of who have died as a result of the US/NATO attack is in the tens of thousands.

Libya once had the highest life expectancy on the African continent. Government ownership of the oil resources and a planned economy provided full employment, free education, and universal housing to all Libyans. In addition to universal employment for native Libyans, thousands of impoverished Africans from across the continent were welcomed to Libya and provided with jobs the moment they arrived.

Back in 2011, Libya was looking to create an independent African banking system and currency. The revolutionary independent government led by Moammar Gaddafi sent weapons to freedom fighters in Palestine, Ireland, and all over the world. Libya gave millions of dollars to the Black Panther Party and the the National of Islam to fight against racism in the United States. The US bombing campaign had nothing to do with “human rights” or “liberation”, it was about beating down an independent African country.

But the Libyans have not surrendered! All across the country, revolutionaries continue to erect the Green Flag, and armed groups that seek to restore the Islamic Socialist Republic continue to fight back. The leaders of the corrupt new regime, controlled by the billionaires in the Europe and the United States, now want to execute Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. They hope that by executing this man they can demoralize the Libyan people and stop the continuing resistance.

Anti-imperialists and Anti-racists from around the world must demand that this execution be stopped! Don’t let them lynch this symbolic leader of the African revolution! Stop the Execution of Saif Al-Gaddafi! Global Capitalism Out of Africa! Long Live The People’s Resistance!

A Brief Reflection on the Relationship Between Syriza and Bernie Sanders


by Danny Haiphong

From Black Agenda Report

“The left within the US and the West gave almost uncritical support to Syriza and paid little attention to its shortcomings.”

The Greek Syriza party and Bernie Sanders’ US president campaign have something in common: neither has any intention to challenge the global capitalist system. “Syriza began and remains a social democratic party committed to the maintenance of the Wall Street-controlled European order,” and “Bernie Sanders is a ruling class tool.”

Each day as a social service worker, I am confronted with the oppressive conditions imposed on poor and working people by the world capitalist system. And everyday, social workers in similar positions are coerced to believe, consciously or unconsciously, that the institutions that hire them have the capacity to improve the lives of the millions who come seeking assistance. While this may be true on a case-by-case basis, it is NEVER true on a mass basis. There is nothing of material benefit that the world capitalist system can offer to its exploited subjects, especially under the current conditions of the neo-liberal end game of 21st century imperialism. So just as social workers are built to align themselves professionally with the operations of imperialism, Bernie-mania and the debacle in Greece have illuminated the depths the system must go to manipulate opposition into political alignment with the ruling system.

Imperialism is ruled by the 1 Percent, which is better termed the ruling class. Profits and power are the primary objectives of this class. The ruling class enriches itself by exploiting labor and trading looted assets via Wall Street and global finance. To keep the profits flowing, imperialism has turned on itself through ruthless global austerity and privatization. Imperialism maintains order through its Mass Black Incarceration State, which comprises 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, and a repressive apparatus with over 1000 military bases and mass surveillance capabilities. Meanwhile, three billion people around the world live on less than $2.50 per day and more than half of the planet’s wealth resides in the hands of around 80 super-rich capitalists.

Such an order of extreme inequality couldn’t survive without coercion and suppression. The state is responsible for imposing physical force on the exploited to give space to the psychological coercion of politicians, corporate media pundits, and the miseducation narratives of the school system. Bernie Sanders and Syriza are primary examples of the complex character of imperialist psychological manipulation in the realm of the state. Each case represents the crisis of the “left” in the Western world, albeit in different contexts.

“There is nothing of material benefit that the world capitalist system can offer to its exploited subjects.”

In the case of Bernie, much of what passes as the left in the US is being corralled into his brand of electoral “socialism.” Despite voting for the invasion of Afghanistan during his time in the Senate and supporting Israeli war crimes in Palestine, Bernie is being paraded as the “progressive” option in the 2016 election. On the one hand, Bernie’s socialist rhetoric shows how the US imperialist system has been forced to adjust its rhetoric to appease the interests of poor and working people. On the other, Bernie’s brand of economism represents the shrewdest form of deception that rivals the current Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. Bernie has promised labor unions (which have fully backed Sanders) and workers generally that his administration would put an end to the “rigged” US economy through “political revolution.” What he has not explained is how he will do that by supporting the trillion dollar US war enterprise and actively campaigning for Hilary Clinton’s almost certain victory in the primaries.

As for Syriza, the acceptance of a bail out deal has taken the winds out of the sails of a political party that actively campaigned against the ruthless austerity agenda of the oligarchic “troika” alliance of the EU, ECB and IMF. Syriza’s original program is, as of this writing, completely undermined by the terms of the 86 billion dollar Eurozone deal that requires Greece to implement harsh austerity measures within forty-eight hours of passage. Intense debate has ensued around how to think about Syriza among various leftists. Most of the debate has occurred withinin imperialist countries like the US. Some argue that Syriza was a liberal social democratic party from the start and thus was bound to align itself with the financial ruling class. Others stand firm in their defense of Syriza, claiming that what the EU, ECB, and IMF are forcing upon Greece amounts to a financial coup.

However, while both positions contain truth, neither provides a clear analysis of the contradictions that preceded Syriza’s capitulation. Syriza’s mass support came from the party’s anti-austerity platform and not necessarily its popular character. From the beginning, Syriza made clear it wanted to remain in the EU orbit. This was inherently antithetical to a genuine struggle against austerity in the same way that Bernie Sanders support for Israel is clearly divergent from changing a “rigged” economy based on imperial plunder. As John Pilger notes, Syriza began and remains a social democratic party committed to the maintenance of the Wall Street controlled European order. It showed its commitment by never moving forward on an exit plan from the Euro-dominated grips of the EU. Even still, the left within the US and the West gave almost uncritical support to Syriza and paid little attention to its shortcomings.

“Bernie’s brand of economism represents the shrewdest form of deception.”

Let this be a lesson that shows how Imperialism’s relationship to Syriza and Bernie Sanders are similar despite the different contexts from which they emerged. Syriza’s popularity and power stems from the unrest and struggle of the Greek working class. At the same time, Syriza’s alignment with the EU is indicative of its privileged class character and the immense weight of pressure imposed by the “troika” of imperialism. These contradictions are in constant motion, but have been largely stripped of the global context that pits world imperialism against the majority of humanity. Bernie Sanders is a ruling class tool whose purpose is to mobilize as many progressive forces as possible back to the Democratic Party. Despite their differences, both Bernie and Syriza guarantee service to only one political objective: that the rule of imperialism will go unchallenged under their leadership.

Inevitably, critiques of Bernie Sanders or Syriza bring us to the question: what is the alternative? For Greece, that is up to the workers and oppressed there to decide. If Syriza is determined as the only party at the moment capable of holding off the fascist Golden Dawn and giving radical forces space to organize Greece out of the Eurozone, then support should be lent critically as alternative forms of organization and internal as well as external struggle develops. However, Syriza’s recent policy decisions have showed that this may lead to more stabilized, but no less exploitative, capitalism. As for Bernie, there is no scenario that would make him into a force worthy of even the most critical of support. He is a representative of the American Empire, and an enemy to all who want an end to the suffering it has wrought. What is most urgent at the moment are for the ideas and practices of people like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, and many others to take hold in this period. Radical and revolutionary cannot be mentioned as mere catch phrases or ideas. These terms must stand the test of practice and be evaluated within the context of history. Only then can the significance of the developments in Greece be held to an internationalist standard of global solidarity against the common enemy of imperialism.

“If neither Syriza nor Bernie currently represent the interests of the working class and oppressed, we have to seek out and organize a system that does.”

Some on the left, especially in the US, will take offense to a Bernie Sanders and Syriza comparison. The point of this article was not to claim that Syriza and Bernie are cut from the same cloth in totality. However, each case shows the necessity of a people’s upsurge, one led by the oppressed toward revolutionary ends. In the end, no amount of maneuvering can change what has been proven to this point. If neither Syriza nor Bernie currently represent the interests of the working class and oppressed, we have to seek out and organize a system that does. It is certain that imperialism will continue to force Greece into financial and political subservience and ensure that alternative institutions like BRICS lose opportunities to detach the world from the system’s exploitative grip. There also should be zero doubt that Bernie Sanders will work day and night to keep the US empire dominant in the world in the unlikely scenario that he were to win the presidential nomination. The lesson here is to realize that no matter how progressive the rhetoric may be, politicians and parties that come to power within a capitalist state will inevitably reinforce the system’s manipulation of the leftist and progressive sentiments. And whether it falls on Greek PM Tsipras or US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, their role in aligning the left to the imperialist system must be called out.