Geopolitics

On The Hypocrisy And Empty Slogans Of 'American Democracy'

A motley crew barging into the U.S. Capitol can hardly be considered to be an attack on democracy in a country where capitalism has already systematically squeezed the rights of common folk.

A Demonstrator in front of the U.S. Capitol
A Demonstrator in front of the U.S. Capitol
Reinaldo Spitaletta

BOGOTÁ — The assault on the United States Capitol by a horde of President Trump supporters revealed some of the deep-seated, internal contradictions of imperialism and the divisions that exist inside its elites, corporations and power poles. It was a crisis that illustrates the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef's characterization of the United States as "a country on the road to underdevelopment".

We should look beyond political events to consider, first and foremost, that in the rich tapestry of U.S. history, the one thing that wasn't actually abundant was democracy, despite painting a rosy picture of all the fantasies. What is democratic about a country dominated by a bipartisan system that excludes other political options? What is so democratic about racial exclusion, discrimination against migrants, and the repeated suppression of workers' rights in modern history, be they white, black or any other color?

The U.S. power system is oligarchical. It is designed for interest groups to determine and forge laws, regardless of who is currently in the White House. The present context is a boxing ring that pits in one corner at big-money interests intent on dominating the domestic market unchallenged, currently represented by Trump, against the global power elites that want to keep expanding outwards in the other corner. Either side can dress as a Democrat or Republican at any given time. It's not the issue.

The "Trumpist" side is well-trained in chauvinistic rabble-rousing, fueling xenophobia and spouting white supremacist, Nazi-style "trash-talk." Clearly, they are not only eyeing the domestic market but scheming to make gains abroad, as they maintain a similar, overbearing relationship with other countries. Colombia is a fine example of a pseudo-colony that continues to prostrate itself before America's instructions.

The U.S. doesn't look like one of the ‘banana republics' it liked to set up elsewhere, but a country showing every symptom of backwardness

The other side, the party of multinationals (which Noam Chomsky believes are the human institutions closest to the totalitarian vision) looks out to see how it can take over other markets, gobble up the world's natural resources and crush the workforce at home and abroad.

Both sides follow the same doctrine they have imposed over 40 years to enrich a privileged minority and impoverish millions, in the United States and abroad.

Inside the United States, there is a fight going on between the powerful elites. And the collision shows both sides manipulating each other's cannon-fodder. The sacrificed pawns are the masses that can be tamed, frightened, distracted with pleasures or alienated with screens and other contraptions. And, crucially, they can be induced to serve one side or the other.

Rioters clash with police as they try to enter Capitol — Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire

Behind the curtain, we have the giant corporations that quietly run things while people only see the Democrats and Republicans running for office. Who is in charge if not IT, global chains, big drug firms, armies, corporations and banks? You have their bosses, the owners of firms like Twitter, Facebook and Amazon, and magnates like Bill Gates, the Rockefellers and their ilk, and you have their representatives — people like Trump and his successor, President-elect Joe Biden.

So U.S. democracy does not live up to its name, nor has it in the past, despite its constitutional amendments and loud slogans defending freedom. It has left that freedom in tatters every time it invaded a country, launched an airstrike or violated the sovereign rights of other nations. It cannot call itself a democracy because of its enduring racism, the blatant crushing of Native Americans, the oppression of women's rights, and the persecution of workers (like those protesters killed in the Haymarket Affair in 1886).

The U.S. power system is designed for interest groups to determine and forge laws, regardless of who is in the White House

What kind of democracy will massacre its own workers, or persecute artists or personalities with dissenting political views as happened in the ghastly McCarthy years? What kind of democracy will kill leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, or have a president say, as the gun-slinging Theodore Roosevelt did, that "in strict confidence... I should welcome any war, for I think this country needs one." Howard Zinn relates this slight on democracy in his People's History of the United States.

The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump's white supremacist and neo-nazi sympathizers showed the desperation of elite fighting for internal power. There has even been talk of another secession, showing the extent of the ‘empire's' degradation.

Today, the United States doesn't look like one of the ‘banana republics' it liked to set up elsewhere, but a country showing every symptom of backwardness.

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Geopolitics

A Dove From Hiroshima: Is Fumio Kishida Tough Enough To Lead Japan?

Japan's new prime minister is facing the twin challenges of COVID-19 and regional tensions, and some wonder whether he can even last as long as his predecessor, who was forced out after barely one year.

Japan's new PM Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Sept. 29

Daisuke Kondo

-Analysis-

TOKYO — When Fumio Kishida, Japan's new prime minister. introduced himself earlier this month, he announced that the three major projects of his premiership will be the control of the ongoing pandemic; a new type of capitalism; and national security.

Kishida also pledged to deal with China "as its neighbor, biggest trade partner and an important nation which Japan should continue to dialogue with."

Nothing too surprising. Still, it was a rapid turn of events that brought him to the top job, taking over for highly unpopular predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, who had suddenly announced his resignation from office.


After a fierce race, Kishida defeated Taro Kono to become the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and pave the way for the prime minister's job.

Born into politics

A key reason for Kishida's victory is the improving health situation, following Japan's fifth wave of the COVID pandemic that coincided with this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The best way to describe Kishida is to compare him to a sponge: not the most interesting item in a kitchen, yet it can absorb problems and clean up muck. His slogan ("Leaders exist to make other people shine") reflects well his political philosophy.

He is an excellent actor.

Kishida was born into a political family: His grandfather and father were both parliament members. Between the ages of six to nine, he studied in New York because of his father's work at the time. He attended the most prestigious private secondary school — the Kaisei Academy, of which about half of its graduates go to the University of Tokyo.

However, after failing three times the entrance exam to , Kishida finally settled for Waseda University. Coming from a family where virtually all the men went to UTokyo, this was Kishida's first great failure in life.

An invitation for Obama

After he graduated from college, Kishida worked for five years in a bank before serving as secretary for his father, Fumitake Kishida. In 1992, his father suddenly died at the age of 65. The following year, Kishida inherited his father's legacy to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives for the Hiroshima constituency. Since then, he has been elected successfully nine straight times, and served as Shinzo Abe's foreign minister for four years, beginning in December 2012. A former subordinate of his from that time commented on Kishida:

"If we are to sum him up in one sentence, he is an excellent actor. Whenever he was meeting his peers from other countries, we would remind him what should be emphasized, or when a firm, unyielding 'No' was necessary, and so on ... At the meetings, he would then put on his best show, just like an actor."

According to some insiders, during this period as foreign minister, his toughest stance was on nuclear weapons. This is due to the fact that his family hails from Hiroshima.

In 2016, following his suggestion, the G7 Ise-Shima Summit was held in Hiroshima, which meant that President Barack Obama visited the city — the first visit by a U.S. president to Hiroshima, where 118,661 lives were annihilated by the U.S. atomic bomb.

Photo of Shinzo Abe, Barack Obama and Fumio Kishida with their backs to the camera, in Hiroshima in 2016

Shinzo Abe, Barack Obama and Fumio Kishida in Hiroshima in 2016

commons.wikimedia.org

Japanese cynics

In September, 2020 when Shinzo Abe stepped down as prime minister, Kishida put out his candidacy for the first time for LDP's presidency. He didn't even get close. This was his second great failure.

But reading his biography, Kishida Vision, I must say that besides the two aforementioned hiccups, Kishida's life has been smooth sailing over the past 64 years

When one has had a happy and easy life, one tends to think that human nature is fundamentally good. Yet, the world doesn't work like that. And Japanese tend to believe that "human nature is vice," and have always felt a bit uneasy with the dovish Kishida diplomacy when he was foreign minister.

Leftist traditions from Hiroshima

Hiroshima has always been a city with a leftist political tradition. Kishida's character, coupled with the fact that he belongs to the moderate Kochikai faction within the LDP, inevitably means that he won't be a right-wing prime minister.

How long will a Fumio Kishida government last?

Kishida would never have the courage to be engaged in any military action alongside Japan's ally, the United States, nor will he set off to rewrite the country's constitution.

So after barely a year of Yoshihide Suga in office, how long will a Fumio Kishida government last? If Japan can maintain its relatively stable health situation for some time, it could be a while. But if COVID comes roaring back, and the winter brings a sixth wave of the pandemic as virtually all Japanese experts in infectious diseases have predicted, then Kishida may just end up like Suga. No sponge can clean up that mess.

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