This 4th of July: A letter from Richard D. Wolff

USA Politics

On this 4th of July, when Americans think about the nation’s independence, it is partly under dark clouds.

The Trump/GOP regime, desperately trying to “make America great again,” has chosen to make independence aggressive. It has attacked not an old King George representing a dying monarchism, but rising Chinese competitors. It has attacked poor immigrants and refugees mocking the words written on the Statue of Liberty. It celebrates extreme wealth, extreme inequality, and deregulated profiteering at home and extreme right-wing and repressive governments from Brazil to Hungary. It abandons multilateral agreements and global multilateral organizations at a time when interdependence is more deeply embedded in the world’s economy, politics, and culture than ever before. Such steps carry immense risks - political, economic, and military - that the Trump/GOP ignore or dismiss.

The crisis goes far beyond its worst symptom: Trump, and the GOP that has fallen in behind him. Threats to humble China, “obliterate” Iran, ignore Europe, change the Venezuelan and Cuban regimes plus massive support for governments like Saudi Arabia: this list of such policies and programs keeps growing. Trump and the GOP do it while over 30% of Americans relish the cheap boasting and bravado. And the real establishment that runs US capitalism - the CEOs of the corporate giants, their partners (often temporarily on loan from their CEO positions) who wear the top hats of government, their spokespersons in academia and the media: they allow it. Enjoying their tax cuts, enhanced military budgets, and deregulated freedom to put profits first, they don’t stop the mad independence train as it careens down the tracks. The costs of Trump/GOP programs are huge and rising; the benefits to the mass of Americans few and insecure.

Most empires die by means of self-destruction. July 4, 2019 reminds us of that history. Yet other kinds of independence are being discovered, pursued, and won. Bernie proved that we can win independence from the rigid taboo against thinking, talking or acting about alternatives to capitalism, ways for the US to do better than capitalism. AOC and many others have since proved how it is possible to go far beyond the shared complicities of the two major parties, to gain real independence from them. Either they will take the Democratic Party where they are going, or they will need to break and make a new party; their constituents, activists, and followers want one or the other.

Millions of Americans are rethinking what the economy and the government should do for the people. They are breaking away from old political, economic, and cultural assumptions, as well as beliefs and organizations unwilling to adapt to the new conditions and demands. They see the need to rebuild or build anew the independent (non-complicit) organizations needed to go beyond the status quo, and its increasingly desperate efforts to survive its self-destruction.

It is in this change where we can place our hope for the future of this country.

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