The White Moderate: ‘The Greatest Threat to Freedom’

I‘m writing something about what’s at stake all of us this year in US electoral politics, but these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 16 April 1963 in a Birmingham jail cell feel very apt, considering that the Democratic National Committee seems hellbent on preserving its elite hegemony.

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

Prescient? No, Dr. King was diagnosing the white moderate in his own time, it just so happens the white moderate has not evolved one iota since then.

And if that offends you, maybe take a step back; read a history book, see what’s happening in the country. Leave your middle-class bubble, or your ideological comfort zone, and recognize there is injustice and urgency everywhere.

The Nevada caucus is tonight and the collective party leaders of DNC, some of the moderate candidates, the NV Democratic Party, and other superdelegate have thus far:

  1. Signaled they prefer a brokered convention in Milwaukee to stop the current democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders
  2. Required caucus volunteers to sign NDAs to silence them post-caucus, just as Elizabeth Warren went after Michael Bloomberg for his myriad NDAs protecting himself from sexual harassment claims (accused by more women than Trump, by the way)
  3. The Washington Post releasing an article the day before the Nevada caucus alleging Vladimir Putin is helping Bernie Sanders’ campaign
  4. Democratic apparatchiks comfortable with a former republican Bloomberg’s bid to buy the nomination.

We’re at a crossroads and I’m not sure the white moderate sees it very clearly. They are comfortable in their material conditions, handcuffed to believing what is politically possible are limited to empty gestures which Nancy Pelosi deploys in front of Trump or the cameras, ignoring the complicity of establishment democrats in Trump’s massive military spending, among other things. Let’s learn a little about the world and understand that the democratic majority of this country is hurting. Let’s learn from Europe, South America, and everywhere else and get into the streets to demand what we need to thrive.

Dr. King’s socialism is often erased by moderates, but he saw our impediments to racial and economic justice back then, just as Bernie Sanders and his movement see it clearly today. Of course, income equality is even starker today than in the 1960s.

Let’s see what happens in Nevada. But white moderates should educate themselves on what’s really happening behind the curtain of their incrementalist dreams. White moderates should listen to the scientists, that tell us incrementalism is not feasible for planetary survival. Not anymore, not ever.

Trump is odious, but the enemies to a democratic, multiracial, ecological society don’t end with him.

I’ll finish with another MLK quote.

If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she, too, will go to hell.

Bernie Sanders and the movement are demanding un-radical things, but the white moderate has blocked all attempts for the last fifty years.

  • A living biosphere
  • Political power for the working class
  • Universal healthcare
  • The rich to pay their fair share in taxes
  • Student debt cancellation

Let’s see if they try to stop us in Nevada.Thanks for reading, seriously.

Spain’s First Communist Minister Since 1939 On Communism

Alberto Garzón on 1 May 2018, Source: WikiCommons

Some of my favorite pieces written in English on contemporary Spanish politics come from Eoghan Gilmartin and Tommy Greene and this interview in Jacobin Magazine with Alberto Garzón is no exception. Previously unpublished as part of a broader interview for the Tribune done back in April, the general coordinator of United Left and Spain’s first communist minister (of consumer affairs) since the Second Spanish Republic shared his views on communism:

“My communism isn’t a folkloric, symbolic, or aesthetic communism that simply lives through nostalgia. It’s a way of confronting the social and environmental problems we have, in the face of an economic system which is leading us to disaster. It works off the etymology of what “radical” means — that is, to get to the roots of problems. So, my idea of communism is very open. Perhaps in other countries it is understood in another way, but in Spain the communists are those who helped bring about democracy in the 1970s and who defended the Second Republic in the 1930s. Communism doesn’t have the same connotations that it may have in Eastern Europe, or in places where anticommunist propaganda has been extremely effective. And this vision of communism needs to understand the need to reckon with the problems that face us today. Historically socialism hasn’t taken on board questions like feminism and environmentalism, but these need to be incorporated. This isn’t new — it has been the case since as far back as the 1980s. But Spain is one of the countries in the world where feminism is currently strongest, and we’re one of the European countries that is going to be most heavily impacted by climate change and ecological collapse. We need to build a space that I would call “eco-socialist” or “eco-communist” — although at the end of the day, labels don’t interest me that much. I’m a lot more concerned with people understanding what it is we want to do — to construct an alternative to a society dominated by the accumulation of private profit.”

North Americans are still getting used to the idea of democratic socialism with Bernie Sanders as an alternative vision to the inequality of New Gilded Age. There, communism still has much more baggage. But here in Spain, the communists helped bring about the transition to democracy after the death of Franco. And these communist parties in Western Europe were quite different than the Bolshevik variety, though the PCE has recently returned to its original endorsement of Marxism–Leninism. I’m interested to see how the reactionary right responds to Spain’s new coalition government in the new year.

The Republic We Want: Spanish Republicanism and the Crown

2012 Demonstration against Labour Reform
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Source: WikiCommons)

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

King Felipe VI of Spain is here in Galicia. I normally don’t keep up with his movements, I only saw he was in the area when Xuventude Comunista, the Galician youth wing of the Communist Party of Spain tweeted some photos of their protest against him speaking at the University of A Coruña. Patricia’s grandmother also told me that he will stop in O Grove for the Atlantic Forum and to make an appearance at the Festa do Marisco. I’ve only read about it around the edges, but it sounds like a Davos forum for Spanish business and political élites.

To have a king in the 21st century. I assume some hardly think about it. But others, regionalists, younger generations, leftists, imbue the situation with deserved thought, criticism, and nuance. These people are repúblicanos, and advocate for a Third Spanish Republic. Not a party (like in the United States), much less a coherent voting block, Spanish republicans see an unfinished project in la transición, the transition from a fascist one-party state to a constitutional monarchy, and must deal with the consequences of political instability in the historically two-party system and growing fascism on the right with Vox.

While there still exists an aristocracy in America, like most countries with similar situations of income inequality, our history of tolerating monarchism ended with the loyalist refugees fleeing to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick after the Revolutionary War.

Spain’s trajectory with monarchism is different, of course. Today, the Crown enjoys support from around half the country, depending on poll numbers. Many older Spaniards I’ve talked with tell me Juan Carlos I did what he could with what he had at the time.

In 2007, only 22% favored a republic and in 2008 just 16% (7% claimed they were Juancarlistas, supporters of the king without a preference on the fate of the monarchy after him) But since the 2008 financial crisis, the string of royal scandals (including the Felipe VI’s brother-in-law, African hunting photos, infidelity, etc.), repúblicanismo is rising in Spain. And many are dreaming of a Third Spanish Republic.

El Confidencial had a recent poll in June of this year regarding preferences for a republic or monarchy. 46.1% of Spaniards now prefer a republic (with 50.8% for a continued monarchy, and 3.1% undecided).

I chose some of El Confidencial’s datapoints, both strongest preference per system including one in the middle, and added them here:

Republic Monarchy
Age
18-24 70.4% 26.1%
25-34 54.8% 44.6%
34-44 52.3% 44.5%
55-64 35.7% 61.4%
Voted Party (April)
Partido Popular 7.8% 90.7%
PSOE 51.6% 44.5%
Unidas Podemos 86.0% 9.3%
Community
Andalusia 23.5% 75.1%
Galicia 51.6% 45.6%
Catalonia 74.0% 21.6%

A majority of those polled who were born after 1975, the year Franco finally died (I’m not sorry, good riddance) prefer a republic, but stronger amongst the youth. It’s not surprising when broken down by party. The troika of right-wing parties, Partido Popular, Ciudadanos, and Vox all favor a monarchy by at least 82%. What’s interesting to me is the historical nationalities of Galicians, Catalans, and Basques being more inclined for a republican system, arguably giving more decentralized power to the autonomous communities, while the rest of Spain, specifically Andalusians interested in retaining the monarchy.

My question really is this; will we see a Third Spanish Republic in the next twenty or thirty years? And when it happens, can it endure? We can dream.