The political three-way fight in the United States

The political three-way fight in the United States

A “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”

三国志

for domestic consumption

 

Emanuel Pastreich

October 12, 2017

 

The term “three way fight” finds its origin in a fascinating article by Matthew Lyons entitled “Defending My Enemy’s Enemy” that was published on the blog “Three Way Fight” on 3 August 2006. Although Lyon’s analysis has a certain leftist bias to it in that he assumes that the solution offered by socialism will perforce be the best, nevertheless I think his analysis is pretty much on target. Here is what he says,

“Instead of an essentially binary struggle between right and left, between the forces of oppression and the forces of liberation, three-way fight politics posits a more complex struggle centered on the global capitalist ruling class, the revolutionary left, and the revolutionary right. The latter encompasses various kinds of fascists and other far rightists who want to replace the dominance of global capital with a different kind of oppressive social order.[1]

I would rather use the term “globalists” to refer to “global capitalist ruling class,” “anti-globalization left” to refer to “the revolutionary left,” and “anti-globalization right” to refer to “the revolutionary right.”

We are currently witnessing a “civil war in slow motion” right now in the United States, but there is a chance that it will speed up considerably and that it may bring with it more substantial military conflicts, even if the Trump administration did not have such intentions.

The confusion for Koreans is in part a result of how American citizens are struggling to make sense of the conflicting narratives they have been fed by the media. Most have no other sources of information than corporate media even while they know it is flawed. This problem is made worse by the contempt shown towards working class people by educated upper middle class liberals which means that many working people are more likely to think that the anti-globalization right cares about them than the elites who may be African American, but who have no connection with working poor people. Working class people, especially whites, are dismissed as “ignorant” or “racist” by liberals, without any effort to communicate with them or to understand the world that they live in.

The assumption of the anti-globalization left being that Trump was less dangerous and that working with him to some degree could advance their agenda.

The Globalists

The globalists are ideologically neither progressive (in that they do not embrace restrictions on capital or regulations aimed at supporting local control) nor are they conservative (in that they have no interest in Christian values and may very well be extremely open-minded in terms of who they invite to their mansions in terms of race, ethnicity or sexuality). They are driven to control global finance; liberal or conservative perspectives on institutions has more to do with their family upbringing and does not have any impact on their drive for control of capital and markets on a global scale. As long as you embrace a global perspective and you do not want to interfere with certain key features of global finance (such as the free reign of commercial banks and the right of commercial banks to buy what they please and to have easy access to public money to help) you too can be a globalist.

Hillary Clinton is clearly the candidate of the globalists, although Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz were also globalists but they used the iconography of the right wing. The globalists do have certain fracture lines, and there are rivalries between factions—occasionally enough to encourage flirting with political enemies, but for the most part, the globalists want the subject of trade and finance to be off the table when talking about politics.

The anti-globalization left

The anti-globalization left has a vision of a more equitable society and starts with the assumption that the state, if run by the right people, is capable of bringing about such changes. There are several layers to the anti-globalization left and there are bitter rivalries that make cooperation difficult. Moreover, many leftists fighting globalization are new to the field, having only entered politics recently. Although their numbers and their networks are growing rapidly, they have been out of mainstream politics since the 1940s and they are slow in their efforts. But granted the number of people willing to support Bernie Sanders previously, we can assume that another mass movement is entirely possible.

Certain media outlets like WSWS and Truthdig have, for all their bias, completely surpassed the New York Times in terms of the quality of their reporting. The anti-globalization left is growing stronger, but in a manner which is invisible from Korea. The critique against capitalism is powerful and the rejection of the entire system, including revolutionary thinking, is much more common than was the case even five years ago. There is a substantial left that thinks that Sanders has betrayed them and they are not coming back. They are not effectively organized now, but they may be one day.

Bernie Sanders picked up many of these people during his campaign, so much that Democrats were deeply worried he might rock the boat. Sander’s speeches drew on metaphors about class that sounded like politics of the 1930s. His campaign represents a major development in the United States and we have not seen the end of that movement.

The anti-globalization right

Donald Trump has become the idol of the anti-globalization right wing and they are increasingly dominating the discussion on class issues, on political conspiracy and on the question of massive institutional corruption (as opposed to the liberals who talk about corruption as a matter of a group of a few bad apples and refuse to consider that the system itself may be broken beyond repair). Anti-globalization right websites like Prison Planet and others have a loyal following and just as in the 1930s, the move for a revolution that will throw out the blacks and Muslims (which will eventually become the Jews and the Asians) is growing.

The anti-globalist right prefers a simple narrative that is easy to follow and it appeals toworking class people who are alienated from elite institutions like Harvard. Trump is able to attack the entire system and still survive because of the depth of alienation. Many of these anti-globalists play major roles in local politics so they should be taken very seriously.

Trump started out with a massive following among lower middle class whites and they are loyal to him. Trump himself is more of a globalist, but he is an expert in responding to his audience and his campaign has evolved in response to the demands of his followers.

Trump appeals to these anti-globalist rightists, and white nationalists, but he is not originally one of them. Trump has very close ties to Israel (which the anti-globalist left and right do not like). There are many among this right wing support group who are extremely hostile to Israel and we may see some unexpected developments. Certainly the attacks on Jews has already begun.

The important point here is that in a three-way fight, the globalists will sometimes pair up with the anti-globalist left, and sometimes pair up with the anti-globalist right, depending on the issue or the strategy. But equally true is the fact that the anti-globalist right can team up with the anti-globalist left, a phenomena that is becoming more dominant and which has little precedent in our memories.

Globalist team up with the anti-globalist left

Many in finance come from cultured families and have bought into a tolerant, multi-cultural world view from youth. They are happy to have anti-globalist left figures giving talks at their events, as long as their don’t do anything troublesome for Wall Street.

Globalists support humanitarian projects and welfare, as long as they are “progressive” and not “revolutionary.”

Moreover, globalists and anti-globalist left have an agreement on climate change. Globalists are seriously concerned about climate change (as long as the response does not impact their bottom line). And there is much cooperation in this respect-even to a flaw as the anti-globalists have bought into the globalist’s carbon trading scheme. Finally, the anti-globalist left is urban and small in number (large in the number who sympathize, but small in number of heavy hitters). It does not have the churches and other institutional networks of the anti-globalist right and stumbles when it tries to get its message to the larger audience. Many of the leftist intellectuals are as distant from working class people as they are from millionaires, and in many cases they are closer to millionaires.

Finally many of the anti-globalist left refuse to question the 9/11 narrative because of their need to get support from the globalists.

Globalist team up with the anti-globalist right

 

It is a classic move for the globalists to pose their arguments in terms of “rights” or “freedom” so as to appeal to the anti-globalist right. There has been an understanding for many years that the anti-globalist right would get support on pet projects and concerns (abortion and crime) if it supported the globalist Republican Party on trade issues and financial issues that it does not like. The strategy has not always worked, but in most cases this cooperation has been standard practice.

The anti-globalist right also has a strong interest in the military and the police. Their members have close ties to the military as a source of power and therefore they take an interest in foreign policy even if they do not like American imperialist policy. The attitude of the anti-globalist right is contradictory and the globalists can take advantage of them.    

 

Anti-Globalist left team up with the anti-globalist right

The most interesting part of this equation is the teaming up of anti-globalist right and anti-globalist left, which is happening more and more. The far right and far left often have much in common with regards to trade and finance, and a complete denial of the legitimacy of the state. They are increasingly cooperating in an anti-government compaign. Trump would never have been able to get away with what he is doing if there had not been a large number of people on the left who supported the manner in which he weakens the state.

In the 2016 election, many progressives posted materials on their websites attacking Hillary Clinton that were produced by right wing groups. Trump even hinted at support for Wikileaks in the campaign. There was a clear coordination of efforts by the anti-globalization left and right during the campaign.

Trump declared,

“The Washington establishment and the financial and media corporations that fund it exist for only one reason to protect and enrich itself. The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people who don’t have your good in mind.”

This statement by Trump appealed to many voters, and it went far beyond anything that Bernie Sanders was capable of saying. Of course Trump was backed by billionaires and probably intended this statement as a way of pulling in voters. He may not have thought very carefully about it at all.

 Jill Stein of the Green Party made this statement at the time:

“Donald Trump, I think, will have a lot of trouble moving things through Congress,” Stein says. “Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, won’t … Hillary has the potential to do a whole lot more damage, get us into more wars, faster to pass her fracking disastrous climate program, much more easily than Donald Trump could do his.”

The cooperation continues today between the revolutionary right and the revolutionary left in the United States.

 

[1] Lyons draws attention to the intentional misreading of Hezbollah’s politics by the left in the United States. He notes,
Among the statements on the Lebanon war I’ve seen so far from U.S. leftist and anti-war groups, most condemn the Israeli attacks against the Lebanese people but say little or nothing about Hezbollah’s politics. Two notable exceptions are the Workers World Party and the Spartacist League, both in statements dated July 21, 2006. Workers World describes Hezbollah as the leader of a “national resistance movement” and argues that, for both Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, Islam “is the ideological form whose actual content is the struggle against imperialism.” An article published in Workers Worldnewspaper four days later describes Hezbollah as “a guerrilla resistance army with Islamic leadership” which “gained wide political legitimacy for its determined resistance and its well-organized, non-corrupt social services.”
The Spartacist League takes Workers World to task for “prettifying” Hezbollah in this manner, and notes that during the Cold War both the United States and Israel “fostered the growth of Islamic reaction as a counterweight to Communism and secular nationalism.” The Spartacists declare, “As Trotskyists, we in the Spartacist League militarily defend Hezbollah against the Israeli military machine in this conflict, while maintaining our political opposition to this reactionary fundamentalist outfit.”
I know it’s not popular to say nice things about the Sparts, but on this issue they take a good position and Workers World takes a bad one. To treat Hezbollah as anti-imperialist while glossing over its right-wing religious ideology is dishonest, simplistic, and short sighted from a propaganda standpoint, because it leaves you open to easy critique. The Spartacists’ double-edged position — we oppose Hezbollah’s politics but defend them against Israeli attack — respects people’s intelligence more and offers U.S. activists a clearer and more principled way of relating to the conflict. It acknowledges the war’s political complexity, instead of reducing it to Good Guys versus Bad Guys, but it also doesn’t treat the two sides as equivalent or mirror images — it takes a stand.

 

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