Torture for a dying system

With two Democratic senators having announced their support for Gina Haspel to become the new head of the CIA, it is likely the Senate will confirm her later this week. Haspel is notorious for heading a secret CIA torture site in Thailand where waterboarding sessions took place and were videotaped. These sickening recordings had been stored in a safe at the site until Haspel ordered them destroyed in 2005.

What does the Haspel nomination show us about the decline of the U.S. empire? Just the fact that this torturer was nominated to head the most secretive and brutal agency of the U.S. government shows that the ruling class here wants to send a message to the world that it will stop at nothing to maintain its mind-boggling wealth and destructive power.

That not just Trump but so many political figures in both imperialist parties support her confirms that those in power will resort to ghastly and illegal methods — methods condemned by many global agreements that the U.S. government has signed — to impose its will on countries it means to subjugate and plunder as neocolonies.

Not that the U.S. ruling class has had a clean record before this, not at all. Brutality against people of color began with the extermination campaigns against Indigenous peoples, the horrendous slave trade and denial of the most basic human rights to Black people, and the brutal conquest of the entire Southwest from Mexico. It is present today in oppressed communities occupied and subjugated by a militarized police force and racist courts.

But torture can’t turn back the clock on overdue social transformation. The Catholic Church, a bastion of feudalism, tried it for centuries in Europe with the Inquisition. Those called “heretics” were burned alive at the stake, drawn and quartered in front of vast crowds, or tortured endlessly in gruesome dungeons. The bourgeoisie, a rising class then, but not yet in control of the state, rightfully decried these horrible crimes at the time.

Today, it is this same class, the bourgeoisie, in the most powerful capitalist country, that is endorsing methodical and “scientific” torture in order to control the energy-rich area of southwest Asia and buttress its dying system.

And why is the capitalist system dying? Because it has so revolutionized the means of production that it is now choking on its own productivity. Its world is awash in luxury for a few, while the majority of workers must struggle ever harder to survive.

Instead of being applied to end the problems of homelessness, unemployment, ill health, addiction, alienation, violence and environmental degradation, all of which fall most heavily on the shoulders of the workers and oppressed, this great wealth, under the economic laws of capitalism, must be employed primarily to create even more obscene wealth for the shrinking class of super-rich.

No wonder that a 2017 poll showed that, among people under 30 in the United States, the majority favored socialism and/or communism over capitalism. ( Putting torturer Haspel in charge of the CIA won’t change the minds of these millennials. On the contrary, it will only fuel the fire of socialist revolution, for a world based on cooperation and respect, not exploitation and coercion — beginning here at home.

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