Did you see the “amazement” of the Draghi government at the proclamation of the general strike of December 16 in protest at the iniquity of the budget law? It’s not amazement, it’s hypocrisy. They are fully aware that the budget law is limited and wrongheaded in the face of the weight of inequalities that are rampant, with the added situation of the pandemic, but it’s as if they were saying, “What more do you want?” Concealed underneath the feigned shock, there is conscious hypocrisy, as the actuality of the power relations between classes tips the scales.
And if we look at the world, it might be even worse. The year that is drawing to a close opened with an epochal event, comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall: the rioters’ assault on the U.S. Capitol, the symbol of U.S. democracy, against the supposed “theft” of Trump’s presidential victory.
There are ongoing trials about this event today, which are being celebrated by liberals but which nevertheless seem to reactivate the reactionary underbelly of America and Donald Trump himself, while The Guardian and The New York Times published details of a sordid coup prepared by Trump, complete with a military state of emergency, to stop the inauguration of Biden. At the scene of the assault on the Capitol, a dismayed and dumbstruck newly elected Joe Biden lamented, “The world is watching us … The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America … the beacon of light and hope for democracy.”
But that day, the “beacon” went out, and Alan Friedman, by no means a Bolshevik, commented: “Now we can no longer be the model of democracy.” Had Trump’s coup succeeded, we would have seen the revenge of the Chilean model on American history.
While fighting against interference from others in its affairs, through 70 years of history the United States, in the context of international crises, has pursued the destruction of the democracy of other nations through a violent system of political and military interference. They have done this through coups — an enlightening new book to read is The Jakarta Method — the funding of paramilitary groups (including in Italy), and, above all, war. These many unaccountable wars caused the tragic wandering of millions of refugees, a desperate population very nearly destroyed. And terrorism is the asymmetrical response, violent and bloody in itself, to the military aggressions that have devastated generations and continents starting from the Middle East.
All the way to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, whose military occupation with NATO had lasted 20 years, not for democracy but as revenge for September 11, as Biden himself admitted. He is now returning to the Ukrainian crisis like an bull in a china shop, as everyone disregards his previous personal involvement in the events in Kiev since the murky circumstances of the Maidan Square revolt, reopening the clash with Russia (which the U.S. Chief of Staff Austin still calls “the Soviet Union”), now guilty of “aggression” because it is moving troops within its own borders. For its part, U.S. military aggression has been quite different, and unfortunately well outside its own borders. And if an offensive military alliance similar to NATO — which has been revitalized with the dangerous enlargement to the East that has surrounded Russia with weapon systems, bases, missiles, maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea — were to expand all the way to the U.S. borders, we would already have the Third World War.
Accordingly, Biden called for a summit with Putin, from which the Russian leader — a heavyweight himself in terms of hypocrisy — came out with half a victory, because it has become clear that Russia’s power is anything but in decline. Biden must have belatedly realized this, because for two days the White House has been thundering that the United States will decide on Ukraine’s possible entry into NATO. We are risking an Afghanistan situation in the heart of Europe: Biden will decide.
It is not so easy to understand what has really changed in the U.S. in these almost 12 months, if not the fact that the pandemic — which we should “thank,” because it led even strict Europe to allow the suspension of the Stability Pact so far — was finally acknowledged after the Trumpian state denialism, with mountains of funding committed to it. But the American reality remains marked by profound inequalities of income, race and gender — not to mention the creeping civil war cutting through it — while in many states even the right to vote is being called into question. For migrants, Biden is bringing back the Trumpian policy of refoulement and the Wall against the human tide fleeing Central and Latin America to the borders of Mexico.
But American hypocrisy knows no bounds: it has initiated sanctions against Belarus for its shameful role pressuring Afghan refugees at the Polish border, using them as a sleazy political weapon, while the U.S. is establishing its own political-institutional relationship with Mexico and Central America based on the rejection of migrants and with the American Wall at the border. If we paraphrase Orwell, looking at our tent cities that are now freezing, from the Pas de Calais to Ventimiglia, to the Spanish barbed wire border, to the Polish woods, to Bosnia — Belarusian President Lukashenko is a pig, but how can we tell him apart from European and Western pigs?
Despite all this, Biden has promoted an exclusive “summit for democracy” with the bad guys and the new enemies, putting the U.S. forward as a “beacon” without having solved any of its problems at home, and choosing as interlocutors other “beacons” such as Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Pakistan and the Polish government under condemnation by the EU Court for violation of the rule of law. An event that Time has called “the height of hypocrisy.”
As proof, on the same day as the summit came the new sentence against Julian Assange, who, with his Wikileaks, revealed the crimes of Western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now Assange has been found liable to extradition to the United States. A court is waiting for him there to sentence him for treason. Freedom of information, the heart of every democracy, will be dealt a deathblow together with him. The American “beacon” is still out.