Follow the Soapbox
By Ray Light

“Barack Obama is well suited for the difficult task of presiding over an orderly march of the U.S. population to impoverishment in the desperate effort of the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class to save itself and its hegemonic position in the world capitalist system.”

(“The Tea Party Movement, the Obama Regime and the Growing Fascist Danger in the USA,” Ray O’Light Newsletter #59, March-April 2010)

Millions of “the 99%” of us have piously and stubbornly clung to the belief that U.S. President Barack Obama has really wanted to do some “good works” on behalf of us — the poor, the working class, the oppressed Afro-American, Latino and other nationalities and the middle class — that is, the overwhelming majority of the people within the U.S. multinational state. According to this belief, it is the monstrous, even demonic, white supremacist Republicans that have blocked the allegedly well-intentioned Democrat Obama at every
turn. For this multitude, the scenario that is currently unfolding around the “Republicrat” efforts on behalf of the U.S. ruling class, the Wall Street capitalists, to have the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) ratified by Congress is a miracle that rivals the lions laying down with the lambs! This is especially true because the key link to TPP passage is the granting of Fast Track Authority (FTA) by the Republican-controlled Congress to their supposed “nemesis,” Democratic President Obama!

What we have witnessed over the past several weeks is the “unusually close cooperation” of the number #1 Republican Party political leader in the country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with the number #1 Democratic Party leader, President Barack Obama. And this has occurred after a period when, for most of the six plus years of the Obama Presidency, the two parties have appeared to be at each other’s throats and have both acted that way.

At the same time, and on the same issue, President Obama has engaged in a war of words with Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, his supposed friend and ally. Senator Warren has declared her strong opposition to Congress granting Obama Fast Track Authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Passage of FTA by Congress would in effect tie its own hands, limiting Congress to a yes or no vote on TPP, with no right to alter or amend it. Granting Obama FTA would virtually guarantee in advance that TPP would pass Congress, after six years of top secret TPP negotiations. Furthermore, Obama deceitfully accused Warren of not knowing what she was talking about after he allowed her and other members of Congress to view the current TPP language while prohibiting them from taking notes or quoting from the draft language or having any of their staff members read the voluminous material or sharing the specific provisions with the public in any way.

What’s going on here?!

The Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA (ROL,USA) has had a very different approach to President Obama’s stewardship of the U.S. Empire from the very beginning. In Ray O’Light Newsletter #59, we entitled one section, “Obama and the Federal Government Preside over the U.S. Empire in Decline.” Its opening sentence was as follows: “Barack Obama is well suited for the difficult task of presiding over an orderly march of the U.S. population to impoverishment in the desperate effort of the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class to save itself and its hegemonic position in the world capitalist system.” We continued: “This march to impoverishment, however, is still only in its beginning stages. And the challenge to the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class and President Obama to lead the masses of working people and oppressed nationalities in the USA to poverty without us opting to revolt, without us turning to socialist revolution for the way out of our difficulties, will only get more difficult.” (March-April 2010)

-The Lions Lay Down with the Lambs-

The Democratic Party Regime of President Obama, in coordination with the Republican leadership in Congress — Senator Majority leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan, et al. — has undertaken its mass campaign of deception and lies to win Fast Track Authority (FTA) for President Obama on the path to the “legal” acceptance by the U.S. Congress of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the Senate, the initial major obstacle to Obama’s FTA and TPP was not Republican Majority leader Mitch McConnell but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Senator from Nevada! In fact, Reid tried to leverage the deep desire of both McConnell and Obama for Senate support for Fast Track and the TPP into concessions sought from the pro-Obama Republicans(!) by the minority Democrats in the Senate that they were unable to obtain when they had majority control of the Senate!

In addition to the Congressional Republican leadership, the “pro Obama” FTA campaign also has had the consistent and energetic support of the normally “pro- Republican” Wall Street Journal (WSJ). In the words of the WSJ’s May 6th editorial, “Reid Filibusters Obama,” Reid is holding out for “a pork-barrel transportation bill and limits on antiterrorist surveillance.” This editorial points out that Senator Reid was “the main reason trade-promotion authority didn’t pass in the last Congress despite bipartisan agreement in the Senate Finance Committee.” (My emphasis, ROL) This editorial also tacitly admits the anti-people character of the TPP itself, stating, “the closer a trade vote gets to the 2016 election year, the harder it will be to pass.” (!) In this anti-democratic context, WSJ editors support Obama’s role in pushing fast track in order to distance the TPP vote from the people’s popular will, limited as it is, to be expressed at the 2016 ballot box. The WSJ editors urged Democrat Obama “to persuade enough Democrats to end run Senator Reid,” the Senate’s top Democrat.

This Wall Street guidance to Obama turned out to be much needed. Beyond Reid’s opposition, as we discussed earlier, the most clear and outspoken Senator opposing the granting of Fast Track Authority for Obama and Wall Street in this period was Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren held her own and did not back off of Obama. And the Senate did initially refuse to consider FTA in a May 12th vote, with 45 for and 52 against, until Obama strong-armed enough Democratic Senators to begin the debate process two days later.

In their remarkably transparent lead editorial on May 18th, during the FTA debate in the Senate, the WSJ editors took on and openly argued with Republicans in Congress who were reluctant to give Obama fast track authority. The WSJ editors first threatened that “politicians who vote against trade agreements are opposing...high paying jobs.” Then, while admitting that Obama was delivering precious few Democratic votes for FTA and TPP, the editors stated
that he, Obama, is nevertheless on the Republican side on trade. Furthermore, they argued, “The GOP image as a pro-
growth party would suffer a damaging blow if the trade vote fails. So would the
reputation of the U.S. around the world... . If a GOP Congress fails on trade, the
message will be that both major parties have lost the will to lead ... that America is
choosing decline.” They also argued that it’s better to give Obama, a presidential “short- timer,” fast-track authority since “the next President may be a Republican who needs FTA for his economic-growth strategy. Better to pass it now so he (sic) [the male
Republican President] wouldn’t have to spend scarce political capital to pass it in
2017.” (What an admission about the anti-people, anti-worker TPP! They’ll be able to
blame Obama for it!) As they had done with President Obama, The Wall Street Journal editors gave the Republican Senators clear marching orders.

On May 22nd, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate passed Fast Track Authority for President Obama! The vote was 62 in favor and 37 opposed, with sixty needed for passage. Forty-four Republican Senators, close to 90% of the Republicans, voted to give authority to their supposed “arch foe,” Democratic President Obama! Only 14 Democratic Senators voted in favor of giving their
President fast track authority, less than one-third of the Democrats!*

Why is passage of TPP so important to the Wall Street ruling class that they are willing to reveal the real cooperation of their “Republicrat” puppets (i.e. the Democratic and Republican Party leaders — Obama, McConnell et al. — working in close collaboration) around the passage of Fast Track for TPP?

The Wall Street ruling class and its “Republicrat” political lackeys promote the TPP as a “trade alliance” to be initially made up of a dozen Pacific Rim countries. Jim Hightower, an outstanding progressive populist, however, has exposed the fact that the top-secret TPP “only uses trade as a mask.” 24 of 29 TPP chapters deal not with trade but “various ways to ‘free’ rapacious corporations from any accountability for the havoc they wreak and from any responsibility to the world community’s common good.”(Hightower Lowdown, January 2015) If it is passed by the USA and the other major powers involved, it will be the most anti-people, anti-worker, anti-99% agreement in modern times. It will represent the undiluted tyranny of U.S. monopoly corporations and Wall Street finance capital! In reality, TPP is the economic embodiment of the U.S. Empire’s War at Home and War Abroad.

*In fact, six of the fourteen Democrats came on board at the eleventh hour after getting assurances from Obama and McConnell of their support for an extension of the Export-Import Bank, so important to the giant Boeing Corporation and Boeing’s two Democratic Senators from Washington state. As the Boston Globe (5-22-15) reported: “Working with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, whose state also has large Boeing factories, they brought with them four additional Democrats to clear the 60-vote hurdle”.

-TPP and the U.S. Empire’s War At Home and in the other TPP Countries-

In the countries whose governments affiliate with the pact, including the USA, TPP implementation will represent virtually absolute power for the largest corporations and banks over all the people in all these countries. TPP will give these monopoly corporations the right to sue, before a special TPP corporate tribunal, any TPP member government for lost profits or “future lost profits” caused by a sovereign law in that country. For example, a law that protects the citizens of a particular country from genetically modified foods or from unlabeled meat from an unknown country of origin or a law banning “fracking” as an especially hazardous method of harvesting natural gas would be subject to such a “legal” challenge. If the monopoly corporation prevails in the corporate tribunal, the citizens of that country would be compelled to pay out such outrageous claims to the monopoly corporations from their government coffers!

Moreover, if such a “lawsuit” prevailed in such a corporate-rigged secret tribunal, the winning private corporation could ultimately compel any “sovereign” government to eliminate such a pro-people law due to its negative impact on corporate profits. TPP would thus replace whatever limited national sovereignty currently still exists in each of the affiliated countries with global capitalist tyranny!

Also of fundamental importance is the impact of such TPP laws and regulations on the working class in each of the affiliated countries, including the USA. The whole tyrannical set-up will be aimed first and foremost at maximizing the exploitation of the workers. A special feature of this will be the race to the bottom in terms of driving the wages, working and safety conditions down to the most barbaric levels of any TPP affliliated country so as to maximize the profits of the Wall Street bankers and the monopoly capitalist corporations.

-TPP and the U.S. Empire’s War Abroad-

Beyond the ability of the U.S. Empire to more intensively exploit, oppress and dominate, i.e. to wage war on the working class and the people of the USA and the other countries that sign on to TPP, it is aimed at waging economic warfare against China in particular.

The twelve Pacific Rim countries whose corporate and banking leaders have been secretly meeting for more than six years represent 40% of the world’s production. They include, first and foremost, the USA, which dominates the group politically and militarily as well as economically. This fact of life means that, at least for now, the TPP will represent a U.S. economic bloc in line with U.S. military and political blocs.

Significantly, among the other eleven, Japan is
the major economic power.* The Asian contingent also includes Vietnam. The governments of Japan and Vietnam have demonstrated the most willingness to stand up to China’s territorial assertions in the Asia- Pacific region. Another key player both in the TPP and in taking a stand in opposition to China’s increasing military and political as well as economic clout has been Australia, whose government dramatically signed a major military basing agreement with the Obama Regime in one of its most significant moves to “pivot” U.S. global military strategy to Asia in the past few years.**

*And Caroline Kennedy, Obama’s ambassador to Japan, and the daughter of “sainted” slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy, has become a major saleswoman for the TPP in the USA.

**Key U.S. imperialist military strategist, Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., recently observed: “In the U.S. military, at least, the ‘pivot’ to Asia has begun. By 2020, the navy and the air force plan to base 60% of their forces in the Asia-Pacific region ... clearly meant to check an increasingly assertive China ... Washington can best achieve this objective by establishing a series of linked defenses across the first island chain — an ‘Archipelagic Defense.’” (page 78) “Several countries, Japan and Vietnam, in particular, have already suggested that they are serious about fielding the kind of robust defenses that would be required for Archipelagic Defense [against China]. Other states beyond the first island chain,
Thus, the TPP is an economic alliance that represents another important “pivot” to Asia by the U.S. Empire in conjunction with the military pivot Obama announced a few years ago to counter China. In this light it is no accident that the TPP has taken priority over an impending Trans Atlantic Pact and all other pending “trade” agreements.

The revealing May 18th Wall Street Journal editorial cited above warned the Republican Senators that, if Fast Track and TPP fail, “The big strategic winners... would be America’s adversaries, especially China, which is busy building economic alliances as a tool of its soft power. Chinese leaders are aiming to replace the U.S. as the dominant regional power in the Western Pacific, and a U.S. trade failure would speed that along.”

The current issue of the most influential U.S. ruling class journal, Foreign Affairs, contains no less than seven articles dealing with developments in China as it rises to challenge U.S. imperialist economic hegemony. (May- June 2015, Volume 94, Number 3) But the article that points up how urgently the declining U.S. Empire’s Wall Street ruling class actually needs the TPP is entitled, “Protecting America’s Competitive Advantage” and was authored by Fred Hochberg, the Chair and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Hochberg, like the two Democratic Senators from Washington state as well as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, three Senators from Boeing, is concerned that the U.S. Congress continue to fund the Export-Import Bank. According to Hochberg, this bank “empowers American Exporters by equipping those that cannot access private financing with credit insurance and working capital ...” and “thousands of U.S. businesses ... rely on the bank’s financing to secure overseas sales.” (pages 59, 60)

Hochberg points out, “For decades, government-backed export support fell under the aegis of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, an international body that sets responsible standards for export lending for its members. As recently as 1999, nearly 100 percent of export credit was governed by its rules. By 2004, with the rise of Chinese exports, the share of export support governed by the OECD had fallen to roughly two-thirds. By 2013, the share had plummeted to one-third.” “In the past two decades,” says Hochberg, “an increasing number of countries operate with little regard for established international guidelines, export competition has come to resemble the Wild West.” (My emphasis, ROL) “They are trying to keep up with countries such as China ... willing to shell out billions
of dollars to help their exporters close a deal.” (ibid., p. 60) “During its eight decades of operation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has financed a total of roughly $590 billion worth of U.S. exports. By contrast, over the past two years alone, China has financed at least $670 billion worth of exports. The actual sum ... may well be close to $1 trillion.”

Hochberg urges the U.S. government to try to get China to work with it to achieve “fair global competition,” that is, “to act not simply as rivals but also as partners in responsible global growth.” However, until then he concludes: “... Washington should do everything in its power to give American exporters the support they need: ensuring the presence of a robust and capable Export- Import Bank and ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership ... [and] forcefully advocate on behalf of U.S. companies.” (pp. 64-65)

To bring home the urgency of that task for the U.S. Empire, on May 22nd, the same day the U.S. Senate gave Obama fast track authority for the TPP, “negotiators from 57 governments completed work on a charter for a Chinese-led Asian regional bank.” According to Associated Press (AP), “Beijing’s proposal for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank attracted unexpected widespread support from Western governments including Britain, New Zealand and France despite US opposition.”
including Australia and Singapore, appear inclined to provide basing and logistical support.” (page 85) Krepinevich concludes: “... establishing such a posture would represent an essential — and long overdue — first step in counterbalancing China’s ... ambitions.” (page 86, “How to Deter China,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2015)

CONCLUSION: Comrade Lenin, with his scientific understanding of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, was able to lead the most successful socialist revolution in history. Today, a century later, in our view, Leninism still sheds the most light on the TPP and its implications for the world’s future.

Lenin taught that imperialism is the last, dying stage of capitalism largely because it features three fundamental and irreconcilable contradictions. These contradictions reveal the essence of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

1. The contradiction between and among various imperialist countries and groupings: The most important reason for the U.S. imperialist-led creation of the TPP, as we have documented above, is to counter the rapid rise of China as an imperialist power which is already eclipsing the USA, the hegemonic imperialist power over the past seventy years. This TPP economic bloc is linked to the U.S. military’s “Asian pivot” undertaken by the Obama Regime over the past few years. And, as Lenin taught, blocs such as TPP are building blocks leading to interimperialist war.

2. The contradiction between the handful of major imperialist powers and the hundreds of millions, now billions, of colonial and dependent peoples of the world: Certainly, most of the eleven
other countries whose governments have participated in the TPP negotiations these past six years are in some form of dependent status in relation to U.S. imperialism. (Even Japan, the other major imperialist power in the mix, seventy years after the end of World War II, has thousands of U.S. troops as an occupation force on its territory and is still militarily dependent on U.S. imperialism.) Lenin taught that the essence of imperialism resides in the distinction between the oppressing and the oppressed nations. Among those governments that vote to affiliate to the Trans Pacific Partnership, the tyrannical character of the TPP will no doubt provide great potential for extra abuse and exploitation of their countries by the dominant U.S. imperialist power — from selection and use of the secret corporate tribunals to favoritism in corporate decisions, fines, lawsuits, etc. The TPP will only serve to exacerbate this contradiction.

3. The contradiction between labor and capital:

In all the countries that affiliate with TPP, including the USA, the opportunity to pit the workers of each country against the others — their work rules, labor conditions, wage rates, safety laws — will represent an unimpeded race to the bottom. And, spearheaded by U.S. imperialism, the workers in the TPP countries will be bombarded with propaganda that they need to sacrifice, in the name of “national defense” and “homeland security,” “against China, Russia, Brazil,” etc.
Within the USA, the campaign to block Fast Track Authority for President Obama, which is key to any hope of stopping Congress from ratifying the Trans Pacific Partnership has now shifted from the U.S. Senate to the House of Representatives. In the House, there are at least a few positive pro-people and anti-monopoly Democrats as well as a relatively large number of Tea Party Republicans, some of whom are genuinely anti-monopoly and anti-federal government, even if somewhat based on their own backwardness, ignorance and white chauvinist prejudice, etc.* These facts coupled with the fact that 100% of the House members have to stand for election every two years provide an opportunity for genuine anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces in the USA today to mobilize the masses to contact their House member, have street protests and take other actions to pressure the House to defeat Fast Track.

The fact that the leadership of organized labor – from the weak, two-faced AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to the more serious Larry Cohen of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and everyone in between — usually loyal acolytes of Obama and the Democrats, are all paying lip service to opposition to Fast Track and the TPP provides whatever militant and anti- imperialist “left” exists in the U.S. labor movement today an opportunity to actively organize among the unionized sector of the working class to wage a political struggle against Obama and the other “Republicrat” lackeys of Wall Street imperialism.

*The presence of the Tea Party members is extremely significant. In the Hochberg Foreign Affairs article cited above, he complains that, “There are 60 such export credit agencies around the world, but the United States is the only country in which there is a raging political debate being waged by a small but potent minority over whether to actually weaken its banks’ financing capacity. ... Ideological opposition to the Export-Import Bank is not only shortsighted; it could also have devastating consequences for the thousands of U.S. businesses and workers who rely on the bank’s financing to secure overseas sales. No doubt China, Russia and other competitors are salivating at the prospect.” (p. 60) Hochberg is referring to these tea party forces.





michael nola
06/14/2015 5:55pm

Especially ironic is the fact that the groups pushing the TPP as a way to counter the PRC's growing economic and military might, among other reasons to pass it, were the same ones who advocated the very trade deals that made such growth possible.

John from Reno
06/14/2015 7:36pm

The House defeated the TAA,
then turned around and passed the TPA.
Next week the Plutocrats will put the TAA up for a vote again.
So, was this week's "victory" just some House flim-flam
like Senator Reid's "filibuster"
or can the opposition defeat TAA a second time
thus sending the TPA back to the Senate or Conference Committee?

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    Ray o'light

    Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL), USA is a revolutionary working class organization that fights for working class power and the elimination of all human exploitation. Ray O’ Light Newsletter is the regular publication of ROL, USA. We believe, with comrade Lenin, that the working class “... needs the truth and there is nothing so harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable petty bourgeois lies.” In the spirit of Karl Marx who taught that “our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action,” we welcome your comments.

    Ray Light, Editor


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