by Glen Ford, published on Black Agenda Report, January 28, 2021
Democrats are determined to snuff out freedom of speech and assembly to protect the corporate ruling order – while pretending it’s to safeguard Black people.
“The militants seeking social transformation and peace under the Black Lives Matter umbrella must weigh the full implications of the Black Democratic Misleaders’ deal with the devil.”
The U.S. corporate ruling class finally has its “Reichstag fire” to justify suspension of constitutional liberties under cover of “national emergency.” There is, of course, no imminent threat to the U.S. state and its structures. The rightwing mob that broke through the U.S. Capitol’s remarkably thin blue line of defense on January 6th was visibly amazed at the ease of their penetration of the building, and clearly had no plan for what to do once they found themselves inside. However, the same corporate news media that spent four years convincing Americans that “the Russians” were bringing down “our democracy” through brilliant deployment of $100,000 in Facebook ads, now shrieks that free speech is poisoning the body politic. The great threat to the “stability” of American institutions is the proliferation of speech that does not conform to the corporate version of reality. Free speech must be brought “to heel” – as Hillary Clinton would put it.
The Reichstag fire that consumed the German national parliament in February of 1933 — supposedly set by a Jewish communist — allowed Adolph Hitler to turn his November 1932 electoral victory into a mandate to smash all opposition to Nazification of the country. From that point on, no worldview was permissible in Germany except Hitler’s own. The U.S. ruling class, beset by real crises of its own making at home and abroad, is desperate to regain control of the national and global narrative. As Barack Obama blurted out on stage with German chancellor Angela Merkel, barely two weeks after Hillary Clinton’s surprise 2016 loss to Donald Trump, he was fearful of “an age where there’s so much active misinformation and its packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”
“Free speech must be brought ‘to heel.’”
What Obama and his corporate Democratic colleagues were determined to “protect” is the continuity of U.S. never-ending war policies abroad and the “Race to the Bottom” austerity regime at home. As real crises multiply, the first line of capitalist defense is the corporate narrative that deflects blame from the system, itself. But counternarratives of the Right and Left have found deep traction in social and online media whose audiences often dwarf CNN viewership. Thus, the oligarchs, whose obscene wealth multiplies by the day, are unable to halt by normal means the public’s consumption of narratives that question the corporate order. The ruling class’s crisis of legitimacy must be made to appear as a patriotic defense of American institutions and “values” – of truth, itself — requiring restraint of critical speech and deep surveillance of suspected dissidents. The proof of the threat is displayed on the streets of Washington, DC, where 25,000 troops remain on guard against invisible enemies .
Although corporate media claim that Donald Trump’s antics in the White House have necessitated curtailment of free speech rights, it was clear to us at Black Agenda Report four years ago that the corporate Democrats were preparing to muzzle dissent. On November 30, 2016, after the Washington Post published a list of 200 web sites slandered as “Russian propaganda outlets and sympathizers,” including Black Agenda Report, I wrote: “Had Clinton won the election, she would have begun a campaign of repression against the Left along the same national security lines as the Washington Post article, with that paper probably leading the propaganda charge.” The BAR article was titled, “Fascism with a Democratic Party Face” – a fascism that grows out of the neoliberal corporate order in crisis. As we wrote:
“Donald Trump’s fascism is largely the residue of the fascism of apartheid America, under Jim Crow, which had many of the characteristics of – and in some ways presaged – the ‘classic’ fascism of pre-World War Two Europe. The establishment corporate Democratic and Republican brand of fascism is far more racially, sexually and culturally inclusive, but just as ruthless. And, at this moment in history, the corporate Democratic fascists are the more aggressively warlike brand.”
“The oligarchs are unable to halt by normal means the public’s consumption of narratives that question the corporate order.”
Make no mistake: both brands of fascism are fully operative and intertwined. There is no bright line separating the two, as is exemplified by Joe Biden, himself, whose long career has been marked by white supremacist rhetoric and politics. But the inexorable darkening of the country has convinced most of the corporate ruling class that a deeper accommodation must be made with the more compliant sectors of Black and brown America, who are to be further incorporated into the ruling structures. In plain language that means more Black, brown and Asian faces in high places, even as the masses are pushed deeper into poverty and precarity, the domestic security forces become more brutal, and the U.S. intensifies its war-against-all abroad. Biden telegraphs the corporate fascist strategy when he assures the donor class that “nothing will change” while bragging that his regime will be the “the most diverse in history .”
The Democrats have every reason to expect that the Black Misleadership Class and its brown counterparts will be allies in the quest to establish a more politically stable corporate dictatorship in the United States, and in supporting never-ending war in defense of global capitalism. The continued political potency of the more blatantly white supremacist brand of fascism among the Trump Republicans will further solidify the unholy alliance of warmongering Democratic oligarchs and narrow Black “representational” politics. This deepening partnership presents a profound challenge to the militants seeking social transformation and peace under the Black Lives Matter umbrella, who must weigh the full implications of the Black Democratic Misleaders’ deal with the devil. Those forces that oppose racial capitalism and the police that buttress the corporate order are the real targets of the Democrats’ crackdown on freedom of speech and assembly. In the final analysis, the old and new fascisms will coexist and collaborate; the U.S. is, after all, a white settler colonial state whose mission is world domination. The only difference is that corporate Democrats want all (racial and ethnic) hands on deck and racial peace at home while furthering the imperial project.
In 1977 Glen Ford co-launched, produced and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October, 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR). BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford(at)BlackAgendaReport.com