When you’re young you’re thinking, ‘where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie.
Hillary Clinton will always be there for you. And just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!
Clinton will put women’s rights (read: human rights) at the center of her presidency. And that should excite you whether you’re a man or a woman …
Gloria Steinem – ‘woman needs man like fish needs bicycle’ – was a major figure in the sixties and seventies Women’s Movement, Madeleine Albright Secretary of State under Bill Clinton. Lucia Graves is a writer and Guardian US columnist*. All three use feminist arguments in urging Americans to back Hillary Clinton as the progressives’ choice.
US Secretary of State Albright oversaw sanctions on Iraq which not only crippled an advanced and largely state run economy but, according to UNICEF, caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five. In 1996, 60 Minutes presenter Lesley Stahl put it to her: was that price worth it? Tough question, said Albright, but yes.
Hillary Clinton voted for the invasion of Iraq and, as US Secretary of State herself, was a prime architect of the mayhem in Libya and Syria, the rise of ISIS and Europe’s refugee crisis. Her own chilling epitaph on Gaddafi’s sodomisation by knife blade – ‘we came, we saw, he died’ – was delivered with a facial expression and body language that radiated both personal pride and confidence that her joy was widely shared. That confidence was probably justified. Gaddafi, like Saddam before him and now Assad and Putin, had been demonised for so long by our less than entirely impartial media it’s likely the only problem most westerners had with the manner of his death was that it was neither televised nor sufficiently protracted. There are major differences between each of those four men but when we leave out Putin the remaining three have this one thing in common: as Arab leaders they oversaw forms of state capitalism which, whatever their faults – wildly and deceitfully overstated in the case of Syria and to lesser degree of Libya too – enabled levels of prosperity, literacy and social welfare greater than those of any comparable free market regime, for instance those dictated by IMF brokerage.
State capitalism is anathema to neoliberalism. (See Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine as the best non-marxist text on the mechanisms used by Washington to destroy it.) While dismayingly high numbers of westerners, including many on the left who really should know better, embrace with greater or lesser reluctance the quaint idea that these regimes horrified Washington with their unspeakable vileness and tyranny, history shows that to be marginally below flat-earthism on the credulity scale. America simply does not go around backing struggles for democracy out of the goodness of its heart. Look at its track record on Latin America, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine. What it does do, with a regularity almost as depressing as its success in passing itself off as a force for good, is hijack or fabricate struggles for democracy where that suits Wall Street in the short term, and/or US hegemony in the medium and long term. It’s too crude (pun unintended) to say western propensity to rain death on the middle east is all about oil, but even that kind of reductionism gets nearer the truth than the drivel on democracy.
Now let’s put all this together. First, Clinton’s warmongering, and closeness to a Big Capital whose support is always conditional on payback, are not separate but inextricable. (That’s true even before we get to a US economy driven by arms-spend – hence boosted by war – and world economy driven by arms-led US debt and China’s need to recycle its surplus.) Second, Albright is a special case who may herself have earned a hot seat in the afterlife. Steinem and Graves are in this respect more ordinary, more representative of those who see in Clinton a force for women’s liberation. (Younger women, perhaps because they’ve grasped that their sex experiences the worst of all oppressions, including those of class and empire, are – as Steinem noted but misdiagnosed with a breathtaking condescension she’s since had the grace and wit to apologise for – less prone to this illusion.) Cheerfully skipping over Clinton’s record, if they even troubled to study it, Steinem and Graves take at face value both her feminist credentials and reputation for sober realism and getting things done – getting things done! – these last echoing in more risible form claims made for house flipper Yvette Cooper in the UK’s Labour Leadership race. Why drag that in? Because Clinton and Cooper have both been touted as candidates of choice, for those seeking progressive values tempered by steely pragmatism, in elections thrown into turmoil by the entry of anti-austerity candidates.
Which brings us to Bernie. Though to the right of Corbyn he is a product of the same wellspring of anger that has seen the rise of Syriza, Podemos and Die Linke. (That anger also nurtures – as it did in the twenties and thirties, when capitalism was last laid bare for all with eyes to see – a commensurate rise in right wing populism.) Sanders’ flaws are most striking on foreign affairs, are greater than Corbyn’s, and merit a dedicated post. For now let’s say neither could possibly deliver on the hopes and expectation they inspire, a fact reflective of the oxymoronic nature of democratic socialism within capitalist states run by and for their ruling classes. I’d be thrilled to see either man victorious but I’d be even more fearful of rightwing backlash, and more fearful still of a Syriza-like cave in that would demoralise the left for decades to come – and sound a death knell for real progressive values.
Meanwhile I promise – cross my heart – not to accuse those who prefer Hillary to Bernie of antisemitism. In return please, please do not take my detestation of all this unprincipled opportunist stands for as evidence of sexism on my part. Thanks.