Marx and Lenin Take Washington
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Marx and Lenin Take Washington
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Walter Clemens 
Occupation: Professor
Harvard University
Boston University
Address: The United States of America, Cambridge

Both Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin would be pleased if they could see how, thanks mainly to Republicans, their doctrines have been realized in the United States. Marx taught that the economic base—who owns what—determines the superstructure of politics and culture. The superstructure creates an educational system and mass media that foster a “false ideology.” This world view assures people that, America’s arrangement between haves and have-nots is as good as it gets. Capitalism’s false ideology says government is for the people when it is really a tool to exploit workers and farmers. 

Marx, Lenin, Washington
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1 What does Leninism add to Marxism? While Marx expected the dynamics of materialism to destroy capitalism, Lenin shunned determinism. Politics, he argued, is a fight to the death. The idea in Russian is brief and to the point: kto kovo, which means “who will do in whom?” For Lenin, politics is zero-sum combat. What is ethics? Not some commandments that flash down from heaven, but anything that promotes Communist objectives.
2 Lenin’s operational code has been adopted by most Republican leaders. In the Trump era it has been implemented not just by the White House but by most Republicans in Congress. Many Republicans who believed Donald Trump had committed high crimes and misdemeanors voted to exonerate him. They put their own jobs and the Republican Party above truth and principle.
3 Marx would not be surprised that America’s military-industrial complex has persuaded Republicans to fund expensive weapons even as they cut taxes for the wealthy and reduce social welfare. Marx could have predicted that the Supreme Court would act to serve the ruling elites. It threw the 2000 election to George W. Bush—the first of two recent elections when a Republican became president despite losing the popular vote. In 2010 the court ruled in Citizens United that the government may not limit what non-profit and for-profit corporations and unions spend on “electioneering communication.” In 2019 the Court voted to gut public sector unions and allowed partisan gerrymandering to continue.
4 Now we experience not just Marxist economics and Leninist politics but a mild version of Stalinism. Like Stalin, Trump holds that Party’s leader knows everything. All Party members must follow his lead or be purged. Any opponent is an “enemy of the people.” The Soviet media, like Fox News today, preached that the great leader could do no wrong. Millions starved in Ukraine but Pravda (“Truth”) declared everyone happy. Trump too proclaims that things in America have never been better.
5 As Stalin collaborated for a time with Adolf Hitler, Trump gets along well with other “strong men”—beginning with Vladimir Putin. Stalin’s secret accords with Hitler in 1939 were not published in Russia for half a century. Any records of Trump’s talks with Putin have been deep-sixed. Researchers from the National Archives were recently evicted from the White House.
6 Making an acolyte head of the Justice Department, Trump managed to neuter the Mueller report into his ties with Russia and many obstructions of justice. Attorney General William Barr said the report showed no wrong-doing and many Americans took this as gospel.
7 With just one exception, all Republican Senators squashed the House impeachment charges. Why get witnesses or more documents if the outcome is foreknown? In good Stalinist fashion, Trump is purging any government officials who testified on impeachment. The Attorney General has intervened to lower the sentence against a long-time Trump confidant. Barr’s domain is becoming the Department of Injustice.
8 Rules--who needs them? If Congress votes to aid Ukraine, the Boss can leverage the aid for his own needs. If Congress authorizes money for “Defense,” Trump can divert it to a border wall that appeals to his base. Is the president limited to two terms by the Constitution? The president jokes that he may stay indefinitely. After all, his comrade Vladimir has already run Russia for twenty years and is making arrangements to let him stay longer.
9 With the highest court and the Justice Department in the pocket of the Trump administration, where can critics turn to challenge policies they see as unjust or downright crazy? Leninists don’t care how bad things get. For them, “the worse, the better.” Marx and Lenin expected that economic and political contradictions would explode capitalist systems and advance the Communist cause.