Scandal as Power Struggle in the U.S. Ruling Class:

Bombers and Inquisitors

Revolutionary Worker #988, December 27, 1998

Wind in the tower,
Heralds the rising storm...

Chinese poem

Cast away illusions, prepare for struggle.

Mao Tsetung

stop the inquisition stop the bombing stop the inquisition stop the bombing ...the words seemed to fly from my keyboard on their own power...stop the bombing, stop the inquisition, stop the madness.

Bombs were still falling on Baghdad and the Congress of the United States had just impeached their President in a sex-police inquisition. It was as though someone pulled a curtain--revealing the so-called "greatest democracy in the world" to be nothing more than a reactionary three-ring circus.

I have known this in my heart since I first became a revolutionary during the Vietnam War. But the current bizarre historic convergence has given it new meaning. It is a moment of supreme ugliness...and much confusion. The TV is on. I watch in pain as progressive people attempt to find a path to fight the Inquisition and end up justifying the bombs falling on the Iraqi people. A well worn copy of "The Truth About Right Wing Conspiracy... and Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer" is open across my desk. The bombing of Baghdad has only clarified the challenge posed there:

"How did we get to the situation where the choices, the framework and limits we are supposed to accept are marked at one end by outright fascists and at the other end by someone who, as even a mainstream columnist describes him, is the most conservative Democratic President since Truman, who heads a Democratic Administration that has served as an aggressive and effective instrument in a many-sided reactionary offensive against the basic masses and broader sections of people? Where will we be, before long, and what will the future look like, if people, especially those who see the need to oppose this reactionary offensive, nevertheless are convinced to confine their political objectives and activity within the logic and dynamic that has led us to the present situation? And, most importantly, how do we get out of this situation?"

Now, since those words were written, the Inquisition has gone to another level--flying in the face of the election which clearly showed that the majority of people wanted it stopped. A `fuck-you' frenzy has gripped the U.S. power structure. The face of the Inquisition takes the form of Republican congressmen on a mission to "correct" the country--to impose their brand of religious morality as law. I amuse my comrades with imitations of congressional characters: the bibbling bible-babbler draped in the flag morphs into a hissing dragon of moral rectitude and then to a pinched-face former prosecutor doing rapid fire staccato on the rule of law. Our laughter only makes the reality more horrible--these creatures actually have power over the lives of the people.

In the TV of my imagination, a perky newscaster in a designer suit directs her microphone to a well groomed senatorial face: "Which brand of witch hunt do you prefer? Trial in the senate or public humiliation by censure? Do you think he should just bow down to inquisitors and resign? Or do you prefer your coup d'etat straight up?" These are the terms that are being set by the power structure.

It is laughable to hear these Republicans talk about their consciences--and preach about how no one is above the law. No one should be subject to their laws--which have thrown a whole generation of youth into prison, turned immigrants into criminals, and have now turned matters of consensual sex into a national culture war. In their perversion, they have turned Bill Clinton into a symbol for eradicating the culture that has haunted them since the 1960s.

The Inquisition is in the saddle and those who would impose an extreme version of the politics of cruelty are riding high. The impeachment of Clinton has become a focal point of the determined, many-sided effort by powerful forces within American society to impose a mean-spirited, reactionary and repressive social agenda--and impose an extreme patriarchy, more repression, more intrusive laws, and the rule of religious standards in civic life.

Now they have gone so far as to alarm millions of people who actually believed in the myths of American democracy. Millions who thought they had expressed their will in the last election are shocked. To them it seems as though the core myths of American democracy are being disregarded right before their eyes: democracy, elections, the will of the people, the consent of the governed are being replaced by theocracy, sin, fascist moral rectitude, and the rule of law over the popular will. Suddenly people who believed in these myths are confronting a feeling of being locked out of the political process which is faced by the basic proletarian people every day. "To feel yourself unexpressed when you feel yourself part of the majority--this is unbearable," one writer told a gathering in New York.

It is hard to remember a time when powerful forces in the power structure have so blatantly flaunted their disregard for the very institutions they rely on to rule. In their frenzy they seem to have tossed aside their fictions about "consent of the governed" "majority rule," and the role of elections in government decisions.

It is a chilling reminder of the strength of the Christian reactionaries in the government and the unwillingness of the forces behind the Inquisition to accept a defeat. And it is also a clear sign that powerful forces in the ruling class are aiming to reinvent their governing myths. It is dangerous for the people. But it is also dangerous for the power structure. Because it opens the door for people to see that behind these myths there is really a dictatorship--a dictatorship of a class of bloodsuckers. They have shown their face and now it's time to kick their ass.

A waking dream invades my thoughts and pushes out the parade of ghouls filling the TV screen. I imagine another trial. The Committee of Public Safety to Stop the Inquisition is in session and the perpetrators of the politics of cruelty, poverty, punishment and patriarchy are in the dock. They are charged with crimes against the people. Some rise to charge them with prosecutorial madness: stripping away defendants' rights; sexual mccarthyism; imposing religious morality on political life; the rule of repressive and intrusive laws. From the galleries people rise to accuse--carrying pictures of the dead and wounded children of Iraq.

They come from many different walks of life. Revolutionary firebrands debate with those still looking for ways to change the system. Despair and anger are turned to resistance. Together they forge a new path --a new resistance which does not rely on the political structures, institutions and processes that are the means through which this reactionary offensive is being carried out and given `legitimacy.' Together we forge new values that "promote and celebrate equality, between men and women, and between peoples and nations; that stand against oppression and against violence which furthers and enforces such oppression; that oppose imperial domination by one nation over others and military bludgeoning to impose that domination; that foster relations among people based on an appreciation for diversity but also for community; values and culture that prize cooperation among people in place of cut-throat competition, that put the needs of people above the drive to accumulate wealth, that actually promote the global interests of humanity as opposed to narrow national antagonisms and great-power domination."

I am brought back to the moment, wondering... is it just a dream or a matter of life and death?

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