Was the Putin-Trump meeting really “excellent” as left journalist Glenn Greenwald says? Should the working class, and socialists among them, support what the far right racist Senator Rand Paul said – that the meeting lessened the chances of war between these two nuclear superpowers. (Some socialists do!) And should we really “not care that (Putin and Trump) may have collaborated,” as one left commentator on Facebook said? Do we agree with another, who asked “What concern is it of mine if Trump is being directed by Russians?”
To answer that, we should consider the Helsinki press conference and the meeting of Putin-Trump itself.
Private Meeting: Why?
The fact that the two world leaders in reaction took the extremely unusual step of meeting without any of their aides should be understood in its context. That context is the fact that on the one side, Putin is in effect the capo-di-tutti-capo of a mafia kleptocracy run amok. This is not just some US imperialist propaganda; it is fact. The other context is that Trump has been acting as a money launderer for this kleptocracy for decades.
As Putin himself openly said, he did want Trump to win. And it is incontestable that his regime did involve itself in the US elections and in US politics in general. See, for example, their organizing of “Black Fist” to stir up greater racial tensions in the US. Or their use of Facebook to spread all sorts of rumors and propaganda. And given Trump’s long, long history of working with the Putin regime, why would anybody think he wasn’t in on it? Why would anybody think he didn’t collude? Especially considering the then secret and now publicly known meeting at Trump Tower between Trump’s son and emissaries of Putin.
So, what would they have to discuss in private? Why the secrecy?
Collusion among criminals
The answer is so obvious that even Stevie Wonder could see it: They were meeting to discuss how to hide the fact of Putin’s interference and the collusion between these two reactionaries!
After their private two-hour chat they held the press conference at which Putin put out the cover story (while his subordinate, Trump, stood meekly by). Among other things, Putin claimed they discussed cybersecurity and Syria. Even if that were true, what does it mean?
Take the issue of joint cyber security: That means cooperation in figuring out how to increase their spying on everybody in the world, including you and me. Or take their supposed discussion on Syria. Given that Russia has participated in absolutely massive crimes against humanity,
bombing everything in sight there, and that the US has done the same on a somewhat more limited scale (Raqqa), who in Syria would have the slightest reason to hope this is a good sign? In fact, given that they are both close to Netanyahu, who in the entire Middle East should be hopeful?
“Peace” and pacifism
As far as the issue of “peace” between the US and Russia:
In the first place, imperialist powers don’t go to war on a whim; the personal relations between their national leaders has absolutely nothing to do with whether they go to war or not. They go to war when the objective conditions demand a major shake-up in relations between these super powers – how to redivide the world, in other words. And the personal relations between the leaders are determined by these objective developments, not the other way around.
The idea that “war” is some evil abstracted from the objective developments of capitalism – and that it can be opposed as such – is what is called pacifism.
The working class – and socialists within it – should not fall for this. It is idealism. Tensions between different imperialist powers are inevitable, and the role of the working class is not to help those imperialist powers find a way to collaborate, meaning figure out how to loot, plunder, pillage and rape the rest of the world “peacefully”. How to “peacefully” decide which parts of the world which of them gets to destroy.
If that were our role, then we should have supported the Sykes-Picot Treaty. That was the treaty between British and French imperialists after WW I which maintained peace between these two imperialist plunderers in deciding which of them got which part of the Middle East.
In fact, the meeting had nothing to do with war; it was about trying to figure out how these two arch-reactionary racists could collaborate in further repressing and exploiting the rest of the world.
Nature of Putin Regime
Some people still have a lingering affection for Russia, associating it with the old Soviet regime. The more accurate model is something like apartheid South Africa or Argentina under Galtieri. Or Tsarist Russia. It is one of the most reactionary regimes in all of Europe. Putin and his cronies – especially the fascist Aleksander Dugin – are working to gather together and boost almost all the far right, racist and chauvinist forces throughout Europe and beyond.
Putin rules in part through the Russian Orthodox Church. (See this pamphlet for a more in-depth analysis.) This church hierarchy openly stokes the flames of islamophobia, sexism, anti-gay bigotry and Great Russian chauvinism. Politically, they are no different from the worst of the far right Christian evangelicals here in the United States. There is a reason why that woman who is accused of espionage in the US, Maria Butina, went to the Evangelicals here. They and the Russian regime have a real affinity for each other.
And workers “shouldn’t care” if they are involved in the US elections? US elections are bad enough as it is. It’s like a house is on fire and you want to bring in a major arsonist to help out. “Not caring” is hardly any better. US elections are rigged enough as it is, as are all elections in capitalist countries. Why shouldn’t we care that one of the leaders of reaction world wide is directly involving himself in further rigging them?
What does future hold?
The walls are closing in on Trump. His collusion with Putin stands at risk of being proven at every turn in events. With this stands the risk of his being exposed for his criminal, money-laundering past. He has avoided this exposure so far through his one-man control over the Republican Party and, through that, his control over the Republican majority Congress, plus his increasing control over the federal judiciary. (See this article for a commentary over his recent Supreme Court nominee.)
The liberals have helped in this cover-up by pretending, for example, that his refusal to accept Putin’s intervention was all a matter of his ego, and by refusing to openly reveal his money-laundering past. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that Trump and the Party he controls from top to bottom would allow the Democrats to take a majority in November. So, the electoral fraud they committed in 2000 in Florida in Bush v. Gore would likely to be replayed on a national scale. In that event, the Democrats and their representatives (including the union leadership) did everything they could to prevent a movement on the streets from breaking out. They succeeded although they might not this time.
Would they try again? A glance at their present role helps give us the answer.
They are covering up for the seriousness of the situation because their backers – the financiers and the real estate developers – are also in this money-laundering up to their necks. They don’t want a mass movement in the streets any more than Trump does.
NY Times: “Martial Law coming”?
This is an extremely serious situation. Even a column in the New York Times, that staid old “Grey Lady”, predicts “martial law”. Such a danger cannot be fought successfully while the working class – or socialists within the working class – remain linked to representatives of the “progressive”/liberal wing of the big business Democratic Party. What’s needed is to start by reaching deep down into the working class – going to the job sites and working class communities, to the workers as individual – and explaining what’s at stake. Explain how we need to mobilize to resist Trump/Putin. Explain that we must have no confidence in either of the parties of the enemy – the owners of capital, meaning the capitalist class – and how we need to organize completely independent from and opposed to both of them.
Even today, the union leadership is more alienated from its ranks than ever in the last 75 years. More than ever, they are just the mouth pieces of the employers and of big business in general. The carpenters in Seattle who voted down a sell-out contract twice (and possibly a third time) show that this is understood. Now is the time to start helping workers draw the political conclusions.
- For independent working-class resistance to Trump’s racism, chauvinism and bigotry!
- For a mass working class party to organize and mobilize the class and its allies!
Note: This is the second part of a two part series on the Trump-Putin meeting. The first part deals more extensively with the long term relationship Trump has had with the Russian mafia.