Pushing him left. Holding him accountable. Harm reduction.
The various phrases and sayings used by voters to justify casting their ballot in President Biden’s favor. Yet eight months after the election, half a year since his inauguration and well past his first 100 days, we’ve yet to see any of these credulous claims come into fruition. Instead, we’ve witnessed the large-scale perpetuation of domestic state-sanctioned violence and imperialism — overwhelming evidence indicating that the Biden administration, much like all of its previous predecessors, exists largely for the preservation and prolongation of the white power structure. As Julius Nyerere, former President of Tanzania, once famously said, “The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.” While the man in the Oval Office has changed, the mission of the United States as a settler-colonial project of mass destruction has not. As liberals and progressives alike have returned to brunch after four years of performing outrage towards Trump’s presidency, they have collectively chosen to ignore the inhumane actions committed by Biden.
In the domestic realm, the national eviction moratorium just recently lapsed on Saturday, leaving millions at risk of losing their homes. In the midst of the failure on the part of the House and the Biden administration to address and extend the moratorium, COVID-19 cases continue to rise steadily due to the delta variant. Disparities in the vaccinated population persist with 52% of uninsured Americans under 65 yet to receive at least one dose (per June 2021 data), and Black and Hispanic people maintaining a lower vaccination rate. In their neglect to respond to the ending of the eviction ban, the Democratic Party effectively endangers the safety and health of marginalized populations twofold. Meanwhile, real estate brokerage firms such as Marcus & Millichap and real estate investment contribute hefty donations to the Democratic Party. Billionaire chairman, co-founder and chairman of Marcus & Millichap, George Marcus has donated millions to the Democratic PACs, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s and President Biden’s campaign. Marcus stands among the many wealthy interests within the real-estate industry who contribute in large sums to the Democratic Party all the while lobbying against housing equity. These firms flourish in the face of homelessness, and methods such as rent control and eviction moratoriums stand in the way of their accumulation of capital. It’s no wonder why no action was taken on moratorium expiration until this Tuesday, when the CDC announced a new two-month limited extension (after pressure on behalf of Congresswoman Cori Bush and progressive allies). Despicably, the Democratic leadership’s grotesque leveraging of impoverished peoples’ lives doesn’t end there.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has committed to expanding law enforcement agencies through additional police funding. Biden’s budget for Fiscal Year 2021 nearly doubled Trump’s last year in office’s budget of $156.5 million, requesting $388 million for the COPS Hiring Program. Thus, an administration that promised to address the ongoing epidemic of racialized oppression has done so by expanding the scope of state-sanctioned violence and surveillance. This is evident through the new plans to expedite and fast-track deportation of families by allowing for the removal of individuals before hearings with a judge coupled with the thousands of migrant children still being detained — yet the cries over kids in cages have died. Additionally, new “anti-terrorism” initiatives include classifications which define anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists as those who “oppose all forms of capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions, which are perceived as harmful to society” under the label of “domestic violent extremist.” In a regime that routinely denounces and delineates countries in the Global South as autarchic, its own authoritarianism as an ancillary function certainly makes the pot of punitive repression and control call the kettle of collectivist states “black.” But perhaps Black is the best label, as we know Black revolutionary consciousness and activity is always antagonistic to the will of Western hegemony.
Going along on this global track, the Biden administration has continued to advance the settler-colonial project of imperialism. Through prolonged sanctions on Cuba, airstrikes in Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan, and continued billion-dollar aid to Israel (including recently approving a sale for a $3.4 billion-dollar helicopter in addition to a $735 million-dollar weapons deal), we’ve witnessed time and time again that its allegiances lie in upholding white supremacy and capital. Despite Cuba having produced their own COVID-19 vaccine, the embargo establishes a barrier to their ability to effectively administer the shots to the Cuban population and beyond. The Pentagon prospers as military spending is only expected to increase even more (by nearly $13 billion from Trump’s last year) within the next fiscal year, proving that as radical Egyptian economist Samir Amin states, “the globalized ‘liberal’ economic order requires permanent war — military interventions endlessly succeeding one another — as the only means to submit the peoples of the periphery to its demands.”
But what was an atrocity in the yesteryear of the Trump administration is now what to the liberal media apparatus? The dissonance is in the details and with the disappointments of the Biden administration and its trajectory of domination and exploitation, we must come to acknowledge the truth of the office of the U.S. presidency for what it is — a tool of the ruling class, an instrument of control, an immutable mirage of the two-party system, which in its essence is an illusory system designed to maintain the internal antagonistic contradictions inherent in late-stage capitalism.
Within the two party system, the Democratic Party and Republican Party function as dialectical antagonists, or complementaries. Mervyn Hartwig’s Dictionary of Critical Reasoning describes dialectal antagonists as “necessary to each other in that they are grounded in (a) common category mistake(s), yet in conflict over lesser matters (tactically complicit). So their antagonism or opposition is ultimately phony, and appears as such when overreached by a fuller conceptual formation which makes good the category mistake.” In other words these two factions are interspersed together (by capital interests) yet a common category mistake (i.e the false liberal-conservative dichotomy) causes it to appear as they are separate. As we know, the opposition is controlled and constructed between the parties, and ultimately when overreaching into a fuller conceptual formation of capitalism, it becomes evident that they are one of the same — cut from the same colonial cloth.
We know the relationship is not truly opposing because dialectical opposites, as delineated by Hartwig, are “rooted in the common casual ground of a dialectical contradiction, conveying tendencies to change manifest in conflict and overt struggle.” A truly opposing relationship exists between the working class and the ruling class. It is truly opposing because in their inseparable relationship there are irreconcilable differences inherent in capitalism’s antagonistic nature. Irreconcilable differences such as the exploitation of labor and detachment from the means of production on behalf of the masses, despite producing all material wealth, contribute to the contradictory character of the system. As posited by Black revolutionary Huey P. Newton in his text “Intercommunalism,” imperialism leads to reactionary inter-communalism, an age we are currently in. He argues that this reactionary inter-communalism will lead to revolutionary inter-communalism.
This mirrors the first of the basic laws of materialist dialectics, which is the unity and conflict of opposites. The working class and ruling class are united, not in an ideological sense, but in their interconnection. The conflict arises in the class struggle as the exploited working class seeks to emancipate themself from capitalist subjugation. As Biden continues to repress dissent and foster surveillance state systems of control, the theory of dialectical materialism maintains that his authoritarianism will eventually be met with more and more backlash, as material conditions worsen.
The second law of materialist dialectics is the law of passage of quantitative into qualitative changes. The unity and conflict of the opposition between the working class and ruling class will lead to a change in the qualitative nature of the system. As Russian philosopher Viktor Afanasyev states in his text “Dialectical Materialism,” “A change in quality leads to a change of the object to its conversion into another object; on the other hand, a change in quantity within certain limits does not bring about a noticeable transformation of the object.” This is why qualitative changes such as abolishing carceral systems, establishing producer and worker co-operatives and mutual-aid networks and supporting decolonization efforts have the capacity to change the capitalism system itself (through it’s unraveling and dismantling). However, quantitative changes, like we see with the Democratic Party’s pragmatism and posturing — their policies of placation and insistence on adding more marginalized peoples to the ruling class ranks as a means of assimilation — don’t alter the essence of the system. Instead, they seek to maintain by providing minimal relief and the smallest means of subsistence in order to sustain the workforce required to make them wealthy. Materialist dialectics posits that the passage from quantitative to qualitative has a leap-like character to it. It is revolutionary in nature. The reactionary character of the Democratic and Republican Party work in tandem to prevent this leap-like, revolutionary transformation from taking place.
Yet the antagonistic contradictions within capitalism cannot be concealed. This is revealed in the third law of materialist dialectics, which is the law of the negation of the negation. As Afanasyev delineates, dialectical materialism “views internal contradictions in objects and phenomena as the source of motion and development.” There is a constant struggle, in every and all material things, between the new and the old. Capitalism was a negation of feudalism, which was a negation of slave-owning society, which was a negation of primitive communal society. Every phenomenon continuously is creating the conditions for its own obsoletion. Capitalism is creating its own obsoletion by establishing exploitative conditions which will inevitably result in a negation of the system. Development according to Afanasyev possesses a spiral-like character. It ascends, returns to stages previously passed but on a higher level (in a different form). The negation of capitalism and calls for more collectivist systems is, in a sense, a return to the communal nature of primitive society. The backlash of the Biden administration, whether externally from those fighting imperialism abroad or internally from those combating oppression here at home, will eventually lead to social revolution. It may not occur in his term, but as we know, the two parties which dominate our electoral arena are the one in essence, and give rise to the same antagonistic contradictions.
The theory of dialectical materialism tells us that the antagonisms arising in the contradictions between the working class and the bourgeoisie can only be resolved through a qualitative change leading to a negation of the capitalist system. These qualitative changes must be leap-like in nature, existing outside of the realm of electoralism, which as we know rests firmly in bourgeois ideology. This means abolition and decolonization, Pan-Africanism and revolutionary inter-communalism. It means rejecting the scourge of neoliberal apathy and right-wing reactionary sentiment in favor of a more revolutionary class-consciousness. Dining with this dialectical approach to the Biden presidency banishes us from the brunch table, deserting us with a dish of its own, a platter of perspicacity.