Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.(iWN file photo)

By Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk”, March 13, 2020)

“The Democratic establishment won’t care. They don’t care. The Dem establishment will gladly enable a second Trump term before it will get behind a progressive nomination. They would rather lose to the right most party, even an ever-more fascistic and apocalyptic GOP, than to the moderately social-democratic left wing of their own party.” Paul Street

There is a natural antagonism between the rich and the rest of us. The interests of the rich are not our interests. The truths of the rich are not our truths. The lives of the rich are not our lives. Great wealth not only breeds contempt for those who do not have it, but it empowers oligarchs to pay armies of lawyers, publicists, politicians, judges, academics and journalists to censure and control public debate and stifle dissent.

The oligarchs are happy to talk about race, sexual identity, patriotism, religion, immigration, abortion and gun control. However, they are not happy to talk about class. These issues used to divide the public, to fuel virulent hatreds and antagonisms.

The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage. There are few substantial differences between the two ruling political parties in the United States. This is why oligarchs like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can switch effortlessly from one party to the other. Once oligarchs seize power, Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution.

During the 1930s, the United States stood on the cusp of revolution — a fact President Franklin Roosevelt acknowledged in his private correspondence — amid the breakdown of capitalism. Roosevelt responded by aggressively curbing the power of the oligarchs. The federal government dealt with massive unemployment by creating 12 million jobs, making the government the largest employer in the country. It legalised unions and empowered organising.

President Roosevelt heavily taxed the rich and corporations up to 91% of earned income. His administration instituted programs such as Social Security and a public pension program. It provided financial assistance to farmers and migrant workers. It funded arts and culture. It created the United States Housing Authority, established the minimum wage and set a limit on mandatory work hours.

This heavy government intervention lifted the country out of the Great Depression. It also made Roosevelt, who was elected to an unprecedented fourth term, and the Democratic Party wildly popular among working and middle-class families. The Democratic Party, should it resurrect such policies, would win every election in a landslide.

But the New Deal was hated by the oligarchs. They gradually dismantled the regulations and programs that had not only saved capitalism but arguably democracy itself. Americans live in an oligarchic state. The oligarchs control politics, the economy, culture, education and the press.

Donald Trump occasionally hits out against the rich who ship jobs abroad. He, like Bernie Sanders, speaks about the forbidden topic — class. But Trump, though an embarrassment to the oligarchs, does not, like Sanders, pose a genuine threat to them. Trump incites violence against the vulnerable, widens the cultural and social divides and consolidates tyranny, but he will leave the rich alone. It is Sanders whom the oligarchs fear and hate.

The Democratic Party elites used every and any mechanism, no matter how  undemocratic, to prevent Sanders from obtaining the nomination even if it leads to Sanders’ supporters abandoning the party in disgust.  

Sanders’ democratic socialism is essentially that of a New Deal Democrat. His political views would be part of the mainstream in Europe where democratic socialism is an accepted part of the political landscape. It is routinely challenged as too accommodationist by communists and radical socialists.

Sanders calls for an end to our foreign wars, a reduction of the military budget, Medicare for All, abolishing the death penalty, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons, raising taxes on the wealthy, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, cancelling student debt, eliminating the Electoral College and breaking up agribusinesses. This does not qualify as a revolutionary agenda.

Sanders does not propose nationalising the banks, the fossil fuel and arms industries or the criminal prosecution of the financial elites who trashed the global economy or the politicians and generals who lied to launch pre-emptive wars, defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, which have devastated much of the Middle East, resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees and displaced people, and cost the nation between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. He does not call for worker ownership of factories and businesses. He does not promise to halt the government’s wholesale surveillance of the public. Most importantly, he believes that the political system, including the Democratic Party, can be reformed from within. On the political spectrum, he is, at best, an enlightened moderate.

The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, defence contractors and the fossil fuel industry. The Democrats, along with the Republicans, authorised $738 billion military and do not oppose the endless wars in the Middle East, took from us our civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from wholesale government surveillance, and due process. The Democrats, like the Republicans, legalised unlimited funding from the rich and corporations to transform our electoral process into a system of legalised bribery. The Democrats, like the Republicans built a system of mass incarceration that has 25% of the world’s prisoners, although the United States has only 5% of the world’s population. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are the political face of the oligarchy.

The leaders of the Democratic Party — the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez would rather implode the party and the democratic state than surrender their positions of privilege. The Democratic Party is not a bulwark against despotism. It is the guarantor of despotism. It is a full partner in the class project. Its lies, deceit, betrayal of working men and women and empowering of corporate pillage made a demagogue like Trump possible. Any threat to the class project, even the tepid one that would be offered by Sanders as the party’s nominee, will see the Democratic elites unite with the Republicans to keep Trump in power.

Until the poor and working people understand this fact, they will play along and make choices that will be to their detriment. Our responsibility is to tell no lies and claim no easy victories.

(Most of this column came from a longer piece by Chris Hedges entitled ‘Class: The Little Word The Elite Hates’.)

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

6 replies on “Ganging up on progress”

  1. When will JOMO and others like him learn that Socialism doesn’t work? Following through with Chris Hedges ramblings, JOMO is here finding it necessary to address us on U.S national and international politics for some strange reason. Ah’ “democratic establishment” JOMO! If only SVG was democratic in the true sense of the word instead of being ruled over by a despotic, tyrannical man and his family.

    However for me, the bankruptcy of Vincentian politics surely is of more importance, to which both JOMO and Ralph Gonsalves, together with Ralph’s now largely installed “dynastic” family, have been failing SVG. This glaring failure of theirs, surely, is of more profound interest to us all here in SVG because of Ralph Gonsalves gross despotism and pseudo-socialism.

    Yet from JOMO’s writings one gathers that Chris Hedges and JOMO is advocating a form of Stalinism and “heavy government intervention” in all economic affairs, but indeed, is that not what we now have now exactly here in SVG already today. And to our sad cost!

    The same leading to the demise of our private sector, unbearable taxes and with the bulk of employment here being in Government? And what a shocking disaster that has been! Just as it was in Jamaica under Manley, Guiana under Burnham, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania and a host of other countries that so foolishly dabbled with Marxism. As was Brazil under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

    Of interest from JOMO however is of American Politics. But is not American Politics for the Americans to concern themselves with? We Vincentians here in SVG however, ought to surely concern ourselves with what affects us, especially having the past that we have as slaves. Here we are nevertheless suffering under a family dictatorship that uses us as a stepping stone. A means to an end for their oversized ego in status building.

    Ignoring all of the tenets of our once treasured democracy. They have been corrupting our civic institutions that we had inherited. Aided and abetted by an elite engrossed in rampant cronyism. Their most undemocratic behaviour and failed economic policies surely, is what should be of concern to us Vincentians and not Americanism per se.

    I cannot recall the work of Aristotle to which JOMO is here referring, but really JOMO? Was not the man JOMO part of the ULP administration that have been holding Vincentians by the short and curlies for now near on twenty years and making us poorer each year? That this JOMO should now be contrasting tyranny with a choice of revolution, is somewhat rather cynical to say the least.

    He writes; “Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution”. Taken from Chris Hedges, former foreign correspondent for The New York Times and who hosts a program “On Contact” for the RT (formerly Russia Today) television network. What politics of envy shall we there endure from the pens of these Socialist?

    See Chris Hedges; “Class: The Little Word the Elites Want You to Forget -The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage”.
    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/02/class-little-word-elites-want-you-forget

    The trouble with these Liberal/Left is that they will continue to flog a dead horse even when all around them, except the foolish and gullible, could see the errors of their crazy ways. While writing for The New York Times, would Chris Hedges ever had filed such a report as this, detailing Maduro’s inevitable failed socialism? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veNREwUgcbY

    We just have to look at the results of the failed socialist policies all over the globe and they have been nothing but glaring tragedies and human disasters for sure. From Mao Zedong in China, Castro in Cuba to Maduro in Venezuela of today, the list however is endless. Human disasters after disasters! No matter where we look it’s the same. Jamaica to Cuba, Africa to Asia nothing but disasters and failures.

    These Socialist promise us prosperity but deliver only starvation. Their grubby imitators such as the Ralph Gonsalves and the JOMO of this nation of ours, have nothing to show us Vincentians for the near on twenty years that they have been in government and there dabbling with socialism.

    Nothing but more empty promises, a stagnating economy and constant foreign begging. They can’t even bring themselves to allow us a FREEDOM of INFORMATION BILL for fear that we would soon discover the full truth about their thoroughly empty promises. Yet JOMO writes of democracy!

    Vincentians having first voted Ralph Gonsalves and his ULP into office here in 2001, have had to endure the gross tyranny of his misrule ever since. The same being supported by JOMO himself and other sycophants, toadies and their family members. Our last General election tells the story!

    Therefore is it not somewhat hypocritical of JOMO to quote us here these words “a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution” a quote he says is of Aristotle. He puts before society a choice of tyranny or revolution. The same choice that Venezuelans have been facing under Maduro.

    Now see what the UN as recently as this very month has to say of the Gonsalves regime’s very close ideological friend, Maduro in Venezuela. His regime is most certainly not a paragon of Democracy according to the UN Human Rights body!
    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=venezuela

    “At the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Venezuela’s security forces were using increasing levels of violence against opposition supporters”. A policy that is inevitable!

    The respected Ghanaian Economist Dr George B. N. Ayittey have detailed for us the un-mitigating social, political and economic disasters that those usurpers of peoples social, political and economic situation in Africa has been on those nations and moreover, we have the Soviets, the Cubans and the Venezuelan models as good barometers of the same inevitability. Loss of freedom and much poverty!

    Therefore, perhaps JOMO may find it more profitable to spend some time analysing the failings of his once beloved ULP and the ruling Gonsalves family’s dictatorship here in SVG. Its obvious expression of tyranny as is exercised upon us here, before giving attention to the America’s and the oligarchs. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=venezuela

    Andrew Rosindell: Argument that “Socialism does not work” – Oxford University

    . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryeHIY8uBnQ&pbjreload=10

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-SdftH0mfA

  2. “The revolution will not be televise “……….good must conquer evil………The meek shall inherit the earth

  3. What has this got to do with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, very interesting and although you declared where you got it from it is still plagiarism unless you got permission from the author, and name him at the beginning. Did you do either of those things Jomo?

    At the beginning you declare it is by Jomo Thomas, and only tell us it was lifted from longer piece by Chris Hedges entitled ‘Class: The Little Word The Elite Hates’ at the very end.

    Few people ever read a whole story written by you, so if someone gets half way through it and stops reading, they will you are the author.

  4. I cannot recall the work of Aristotle to which JOMO is here referring to, but really JOMO? Was not the man JOMO part of the ULP administration that have been holding Vincentians by their short and curlies for now near on twenty years and making us poorer and poorer each year? That this JOMO should now be contrasting tyranny with a choice of revolution, is somewhat rather cynical to say the least one would say.

    He writes; “Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution”. Taken from Chris Hedges a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times and who hosts a program “On Contact” for the RT (formerly Russia Today) television network. What politics of envy shall we there endure from the pens of this Socialist?

    See Chris Hedges; “Class: The Little Word the Elites Want You to Forget -The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage”.

    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/02/class-little-word-elites-want-you-forget

    The trouble with these Liberal/Left is that they will continue to flog a dead horse even when all around them, except the foolish and gullible, could see the errors of their crazy ways. While writing for The New York Times, would Chris Hedges ever had filed such a report as this, detailing Maduro’s inevitable failed socialism?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veNREwUgcbY

    We just have to look at the results of the failed socialist policies all over the globe and they have been nothing but glaring tragedies and human disasters for sure. From Mao Zedong in China, Castro in Cuba to Maduro in Venezuela of today, the list however is endless. Human disasters after disasters!

    These Socialist promise prosperity but deliver only starvation. Their grubby imitators such as the Ralph Gonsalves and the JOMO of this nation of ours have nothing to show us Vincentians for the near on twenty years that they have been in government.

    Nothing but more empty promises, stagnating economy and constant foreign begging. They can’t even bring themselves to allow us a FREEDOM of INFORMATION BILL for fear that we would soon discover the full truth about their thoroughly empty promises.

    Vincentians having first voted Ralph Gonsalves and his ULP into office here in 2001, have had to endure the gross tyranny of his misrule ever since. The same being supported by JOMO himself and other sycophants, toadies and their family members.

    Therefore is it not somewhat hypocritical of JOMO to quote us here these words “a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution” a quote he says is of Aristotle. He puts before society a choice of tyranny or revolution. The same choice that Venezuelans have been facing under Maduro.

    Now see what the UN as recently as this very month has to say of the Gonsalves regime’s very close ideological friend, Maduro in Venezuela. His regime is most certainly not a paragon of Democracy according to the UN Human Rights body! https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=venezuela

    “At the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Venezuela’s security forces were using increasing levels of violence against opposition supporters”.

    The respected Ghanaian Economist Dr George B. N. Ayittey have detailed for us the un-mitigating social, political and economic disasters that those usurpers of peoples social, political and economic situation in Africa has been on the nations and moreover, we have the Soviets, the Cubans and the Venezuelan models as good barometers of the inevitability. Loss of freedom and much poverty!

    Therefore, perhaps JOMO may find it more profitable to spend some time analysing the failings of his once beloved ULP and the ruling Gonsalves family’s dictatorship here in SVG. Its obvious expression of tyranny exercised upon us here in SVG, before giving attention to the America’s and the oligarchs.

    Andrew Rosindell: Argument that “Socialism does not work” – Oxford University

    . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryeHIY8uBnQ&pbjreload=10

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-SdftH0mfA

Comments are closed.