Solidarity and the 2020 presidential election

Solidarity Green Party Working Group

Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs
Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs

As reported in Solidarity’s Election Poll, a Solidarity internal poll found that 47% of respondents supported voting for Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker running as Greens in the 2020 presidential election, 27% supported voting for Hawkins and Walker where the Democrats are assured of winning and for Joe Biden in “swing states,” 21% supported voting for Biden everywhere (motivated as “Dump Trump, fight Biden”), and 5% provided comments but selected none of the three options.

The poll had many problems, including confusing procedures, inadequate communication, a lower response rate than we should have had, and the tendentious wording of the third option. But correcting these wouldn’t have changed the overall results: Nearly half our members advocate voting for a corporate Democrat for president in 2020 in some or all states.

How did Solidarity, a revolutionary socialist organization founded on the principle of working-class political independence, get to this point? And not just Solidarity. How did the revolutionary socialist movement get to this point? We ask the question not to recriminate but to discern a way forward.

Independent working-class political action

Solidarity was founded in 1986, at a time of retreat by the working class and the left. The name of Solidarity’s magazine, Against the Current, summarized the new organization’s self-conception: to be in the stream, but swimming or at least standing against the prevailing political current.

Not just against the current of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and the Republicans, who led the neoliberal counteroffensive of the time, but also against the current of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and the Democrats, who capitulated to it. And against the current of Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition, who couldn’t bring themselves to break off from the Democrats.

Solidarity wasn’t sectarian toward the Rainbow Coalition. It recognized that the Jackson’s platform and the aspirations of his supporters went beyond the two-party system, even if Jackson himself refused to go beyond it. Solidarity said, in effect, “If Jesse Jackson runs as an independent, we’ll support him. If he runs as a Democrat, as part of the system, no.”

Stalinists, including Maoists, and social-democrats had supported “lesser-evil” Democrats for years. But revolutionary socialists refused to do so. Solidarity’s 1986 “Basis of Political Agreement” was crystal clear on the two-party system:

The capitalist parties, especially the Republican and Democratic parties, are fundamentally anti-working class, racist and sexist. We oppose any form of participation in or support for these parties. We call for the working class and its allies to form a new, independent political party that fights for their needs.

Thirty years of struggle

The thirty years after Solidarity’s founding were difficult. The working class mostly retreated. Struggles, although inspiring, were isolated and episodic. Revolutionary socialists found it harder and harder to swim against the current. The pull of the Democratic Party was immense, although it could still be resisted as long as the Democrats pursued openly neoliberal and imperialist polices.

Among revolutionary socialists the resistance began to give way with the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign. The campaign’s success showed the revival of a New Deal wing of the Democratic Party. Very positive in itself, an opportunity. But also a danger, if revolutionary socialists became confused about their role as proponents of working-class political independence and opponents of the Democratic Party.

The growth of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) after Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton and, even more, after Clinton lost to Donald Trump was very positive, an opportunity. But also a danger. Work in DSA, the historic bastion of social-democracy in the US, still required swimming against the current.

The tension became more than much of the revolutionary movement could bear. The International Socialist Organization (ISO) collapsed. Many revolutionary socialists moved into the Sanders orbit. And, when the 2020 Sanders campaign morphed into the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces, moved into lesser-evil support for Biden.

Trump

Left advocates of voting for Biden generally give Trump as the reason. Trump is indeed a menace. His views may be no worse than those of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. But he is self-indulgent, chaotic and demagogic far beyond what they allowed themselves. His appeals to white chauvinism are effective with segments of the population, especially older white men. They bamboozle some white workers, who have real grievances but misdirect their anger.

If the U.S. were on the brink of fascism or military dictatorship and a vote for Biden were the last line of defense, perhaps advocating it could be justified. Although it wouldn’t achieve much. It would be like throwing a handkerchief at a charging bear. But the U.S. isn’t on the brink of fascism or military dictatorship. We’re at a highly polarized moment in the alternating administrations of the two-party system.

Covid-19, the economic collapse, the growth of racism, misogyny and xenophobia, authoritarianism, and climate change threaten human survival. But to advocate a lesser-evil vote for Democrats obscures the way out — independent political action by the working class — as many Solidarity statements have eloquently explained.

Green Party

Some left advocates of voting for Biden, at least in contested states, point to the limitations of the Greens. The Green Party isn’t a mass working-class party and may never become one. The struggle for working-class political independence may flow through other channels. But for now the Green Party is the only sizable left opposition to the Democratic Party.

If the 1996 Labor Party had decided to compete with the Democrats, the situation might be different. If DSA were to decide to compete with the Democrats, the situation might be different. But for now, the Greens are the only political party to the left of the Democratic Party. And Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, both long-time working-class activists, are the only way to cast a protest vote against the duopoly in the 2020 presidential election.

Movement activity and electoral activity

Some activists want to ignore the 2020 presidential election and “concentrate on the movements,” this year’s version of an old debate among revolutionaries. Certainly movement activity is more important than electoral activity. But they’re not mutually exclusive. Elections are a time when workers are thinking about politics, particularly presidential elections, particularly this presidential election.

The 2020 presidential election should be a teaching moment for revolutionary socialists. The Democratic Party sunk the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. Commitment to the two-party system led Sanders to embrace Joe Biden. At the Democratic National Convention AOC was given 60 seconds to represent the Democratic left. She took 96 seconds, but the insult shows the place of the left in the party.

Surely, we can continue our movement activity and expose the Democrats at the same time. We may fear that we’ll be isolated if we speak up, but that isn’t the case. Consistent activity combined with consistent opposition to the corporate parties can win us respect in the movements and in movement-related organizations, including DSA. Our purpose is both to be in the stream and to swim against the current.

If we’re silent, others will do the teaching. This year, once again, the Democratic Party has drawn in not just the unions but also antiracist organizations like those of the Black Lives Matter Movement and environmentalist organizations like the Sunrise Movement. Even though the Democrats reject their demands.

Silence about the election would confirm the impression that there is no alternative to the capitalist duopoly. Advocating a vote for Hawkins and Walker points toward an alternative, even if for now it’s just a protest.

The two-party alternation

Six months from now, most likely, the lesser-evil swindle will be a done deal. Much could change, but polls suggest that the Democrats will have the presidency and majorities in the House and possibly the Senate.

We know how a Democratic Party sweep would play out. The Democrats had the presidency and majorities in the House and Senate in 1992 and 2008. They blew their opportunity or, more exactly, they sabotaged it. They failed to deliver. Their base fell away. They lost their majorities in Congress. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama managed to get reelected, but the presidency cycled back to the Republicans when their terms were up.

If the Republicans keep the Senate, the immediate gridlock would block even another limited reform like the Affordable Care Act.

The alternation of Democratic and Republican administrations traces not a circle but a downward spiral toward barbarism. The capitalists use the duopoly to block solutions to the problems their system creates. This is ultimately self-destructive, since the barbarism will engulf them too. But capitalism is not a rational system.

The only way out is for the working class to assert its power. Revolutionary socialists know this. But Trump’s snarling has led many to advocate voting for the lesser evil “this time,” even though that undercuts their ability to educate the working class about the need to act independently in the electoral arena, as well as on the picket lines and in the streets.

Fight and learn

It seems a shame that revolutionary socialists should have to relearn this lesson, when the working class needs our clarity so much. But it’s not possible to wave a magic wand and change the situation. This is an experience the working class and the left will have to go through. Fighting side-by-side against what comes, perhaps we can finally learn to break the cycle, the downward spiral, of the capitalists’ two-party system.

This article was posted to the Solidarity members email list on August 25, 2020.

Stay focused on the real fightback: the defeat of Trumpism will not come at the ballot box

John B. Cannon

Proud Boys gather in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 2020. (Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The 2020 election is shaping up as something more than merely a regular transfer of power election between the two major parties. Trump has leaned into overt racism at a time when many people thought these views were relegated to the dustbin of history; in a moment in which Black Lives Matter mass protests are met with white supremacist violence, he has aligned himself with far right street thugs, militias, and stochastically organized paramilitary forces; he is now threatening to muddy the waters of the election so much that there is no clear outcome, so that he can stay in power.

Racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-communism, and misogyny have been mobilized by erstwhile liberals, centrists, and mainstream conservatives, including by Joe Biden and the Democratic Leadership Committee wing of the Democratic Party he represents. Voter suppression, particularly of Black and Brown communities and “irregular” strata of the working class is nothing new. But the mobilization of this by a right-wing nationalist leader with demagogic pretensions threatens to turn quantity into quality, exacerbating the dangers of low-level civil strife and moves towards an authoritarian consolidation. The danger is not really Trump’s abstract “ideology,” which is mostly a variation on the theme of Reaganism along with some elements reminiscent of the French National Front, but this leaning into open racism coupled with “law and order” revanchism, his winks and nods to open fascists, and his tendency to run roughshod over democratic practices.

On the flip side, of course, Trump is a relatively weak authoritarian. It seems unlikely that he could consolidate a fascistic or authoritarian regime without vestiges of democratic checks, since neither the military nor most of the bourgeoisie support him. The wing of the bourgeoisie that does support him is calling for calm, saying that normal, democratic practices will be observed. However, under Trump’s leadership, part of the Republican Party is blurring the line between fascism and right-wing nationalist, authoritarian aspirations, and Republican elected leaders are increasingly unable to operate independently of Trump’s personalistic command. In sum, the politics of fascism are very much at hand, even if the immediate possibility of a fascist consolidation (which I take to mean here mainly getting rid of vestiges of democratic practices – not anything about the “extremism” of the ideology) is not.

We should not take too much comfort in Trump’s evident low level of support among the military and intelligence services. It is true that this makes unlikely some of the more fanciful scenarios in which Trump clearly loses an election, both in terms of popular vote and the Electoral College, and refuses to leave office. However, these scenarios do not represent the more likely possibilities which Trump is telegraphing: that he will mobilize his power as the leader of the Republican Party to weaponize every legislature, Republican governor, and secretary of state in close states, creating a fog of chaos which casts the results into doubt or prevents clear results from ever emerging.

The discourse among comrades with a long history in the Trotskyist, post-Trotskyist, and generally anti-Stalinist far left has been for years and still tends to be about all of the ways in which the current moment is distinct from historical fascism. To be sure, this is a reasonable counter-weight to the chorus of liberal and “popular front” voices every four years saying that this is the most important election in our lives, as if we are amnesiacs. In 2020, a number of experienced political people who cannot be so easily dismissed have come over to thinking that we are in the midst of a crisis which puts us on the brink of something dangerous – whether that be full-fledged fascism, civil war, or an escalating series of conflicts which tend more and more in those directions.

Is this a pivotal moment?

What’s a brink, and how do you know you are on it? How about a brink that feeds into a deeper crisis that then leads to the more obvious brink? How many years can it last? Does electing a weak neoliberal provide any reprieve at all? How many times are you on the brink, only to dodge back into “safety,” only to find yourself once again on the brink? If I described a historical process, changing enough of the details that you didn’t know the outcome, how would you recognize the “real” dangerous fascist and the “real” brink as opposed to all of the false ones that didn’t quite pan out?

The claims that we are obviously not on the brink of fascism often seem to amount to an argument that we are not on the edge of a shift into a suspension of democratic forms and the possibility of vigorous opposition, a la 1933 in Germany. But this is something of a straw man with respect to a serious analysis of the current situation. If we are sticking with Germany, the better analogy seems to be with the very late 1920s: escalating crisis threatening the livelihood of the majority, the decay of an old political order, street battles between the left, various right-wing forces, and the police. To be sure, late 1920s Germany had a strong, organized Communist Party, while today’s BLM is heterogeneous; antifa is half organized resistance and half specter conjured up by the right; and today’s rising but still weak and lightly rooted socialist forces have struggled to reorient themselves almost 90 degrees from the social-democratic hopes of the Sanders campaign to the BLM upsurge.

Voting for Joe Biden in the midst of a crisis which has put neoliberalism to the test is an incredibly weak bulwark against any of this – so much so that it should be pretty quickly dismissed as a serious line of defense. Even a Biden win might not provide any reprieve in the long term, if the really dangerous fascist leader turns out to be not Trump, but a less disorganized protégé down the road. One problem with the Nazi analogies is thinking that we know who the dangerous figure is – “it is Hitler, it is all solidified in the person of Hitler, it was always, obviously Hitler.” Reading a bit lately about the late Weimar Republic makes me think that if we were alive, then, it would be hard to tell who the most dangerous right-wing political actors were and what the most dangerous line of developments would end up being. Nevertheless, the call to vote Trump out is certainly understandable as a minimal gesture, given that elections happen and sometimes make some differences.

What should socialists say about the election?

Given all of this context, what if anything should socialists as socialists say about the election? In my view, this election provides no “opening” for the forces we care about and would wish to cohere politically; it is all about playing defense against these authoritarian threats. The space for an independent, progressive-movement-based, third-party candidacy has been, for all meaningful purposes, suffocated – not of course by the right, but by the Democratic Party and by liberal and popular front political pressures that have been intensified 100-fold. The Green Party is getting a tremendous amount of online hate and – if polls and internet search trends are to be believed – very little in the way of grassroots interest. The suffocation is maddening, but this year, at least, the authoritarian threat is real.

We should defend the right of the Green Party and other independent political forces to ballot access. More importantly, we should throw our modest shoulder behind the wheel of a socialist vision that would contribute, along with principally BLM and other forces, to the possibility of constructing a world beyond the polar options of a decrepit neoliberalism and a resurgent nationalist authoritarianism that one must squint to distinguish from fascism. But those forces will not come together or advance in this election; the most they can achieve is a momentary breathing room – 95% of which will be achieved, or not, outside of the ballot box.

The Democratic Party is flashing signs that despite the increasing combativeness of its constituencies, it will follow in the pattern of 2000 and 2004 and do nothing to organize a real fightback, even as Trump looks to 2000 and calls for two, three, many Floridas. Socialists should stand together with social movement forces to respond on the streets to defend election integrity and marginalized communities, organize an anti-fascist fightback, and hopefully, promote a “de-Trumpification” of governing institutions – all of which the Democratic Party intends to soft-pedal so as not to offend its anti-Trump, Republican lite allies. The existence of BLM and a layer of socialist-leaning youth means that it might be possible to organize a massive street response that would get so far ahead of the Democratic Party leadership that they have little choice but to get behind it. That’s the kind of thing we may need, whatever the specific, triggering crisis may be.

I vote in a red state, where my vote at the presidential level is a mere curiosity. If I were voting in one of the plausible swing states, I would hold my nose and cast an anti-fascist vote for Biden. In past elections, I have argued for a third-party vote to protest the two-party duopoly, develop a vision of a better world, and, at best, build an electoral organization that can contribute to shaking things loose. In recent years it has seemed to me that the Green Party, with all of its weaknesses, was the best stand-in for such a vote. I don’t feel that I can make such an argument for the Green Party vote this year. I will continue to defend Green Party and other third-party voters and nonvoters against blaming and shaming attacks, but I don’t feel that it’s worth it for us to get into the weeds of an unwinnable argument. There is a crisis unfolding around us, and for left forces, the old, well-rehearsed election arguments are a distraction. To the people who are desperate to defeat Trump, we need to be saying: besides voting for Biden, what else are you ready to do? What are you willing to do to defeat Trumpism, not only for the next few weeks but after Trump is gone? That’s an urgent conversation.

John B. Cannon was a labor and education activist in California during the 2000s and early 2010s. He is currently working as a humanities teacher overseas.

Dump Trump, Fight and Force Biden: An Electoral Strategy for the Left

Bill Resnick

Sunrise Movement protesters urging Democrats to back a Green New Deal in late 2018. (Photo: Sunrise Movement)

In this election year, the anti-capitalist left needs, and some coalitions are already conducting, an activist Dump Trump, Fight and Force Biden (DTFB) organizing strategy. It could oust Trump and drive back his forces, expose Biden and the Democratic Party, and force a Biden Administration to enact and fund a set of non-reformist reforms, envisioned in radical versions of the Green New Deal and Health Care for All, and in the Movement for Black Lives program. DTFB organizing could also contribute to building the left and social movements, provide the foundations for an independent left political party, and give a glimpse of a better, radically democratic and sustainable world. Too good to be true? Keep reading.

Can We In Good Conscience Vote for Biden?

Presidential elections offer a moment when people who are generally checked out of politics, begin to tune in. We should not squander this opportunity. In so far as COVID-19 allows normal election activities — canvassing, phone-banking, leaflet drops, tabling at events, holding forums, rallies and marches — we can do these in a way that forwards a left agenda. Poor people’s community organizations and social justice organizations have grown exponentially over the last ten years. Several are developing the Dump Trump, Fight Biden strategy (for example, The Frontline, Durham for All, and Reclaim Philadelphia). The socialist left can be in the mix, organizing with and alongside them.

In conversations and leaflets we would disseminate our message, explaining why dump Trump, why it is necessary to vote for Biden, how we can fight and force a Biden presidency to go far beyond his tepid program and his own horrible record on domestic and international issues.

It is true, that advocates for voting for the lesser evil have consistently exaggerated the differences between the Democratic and Republican candidates. However, others have made what I believe is a convincing case as to why the 2020 election is different (for example, Noam Chomsky and Barbara Ransby) and I will not belabor that here.

But just to be clear: everything said about Biden by those who argue against voting for him is true. These truths however, in this moment, don’t carry the day, if you believe, as I do, that Trump has to be stopped in his tracks, repudiated, to decisively interrupt the downward spiral toward a white supremacist autocracy. And a strategic vote for Biden makes sense since his administration will be forced to bargain with “progressive” Democrats in the Congress, and it should be possible to win significant programs, call them non-reformist or revolutionary reforms.

The DTFB Program of Revolutionary Reforms

We don’t have to wait until after the election to fight for a package of “non-reformist” reforms. By non-reformist reforms I mean programs and policies that:

  • Demonstrate the virtues of radically democratic organizations and social relations which prove that “Every Cook Can Govern” – for example, worker-owned and controlled co-ops, democratically-run teams to treat chronic diseases, participatory budgeting in local government.
  • Honor and reward the skills and contributions of those in non-elite, professional, college diploma- requiring work.
  • Significantly shift political power downward and outward and Increase social organization and power at the base of our society.
  • Provide a solid social safety net that increases the confidence and fighting power of the working class.
  • Challenge all hierarchy including based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, and spiritual practice.

We can be clear that Joe Biden and his corporate party Democrats will continue, whatever campaign promises they make, to serve corporate elites, attempt to stabilize their faltering system, and reinforce their control. But they can be pushed, they can be moved, they can be confronted by the movements we build and by the progressive Green New Deal contingent in the Democratic Party.

Defeating Trump — and mobilizing to defend that electoral victory as we surely will have to — can build popular energy to organize for more wins. So it is very important that as we organize this vote against Trump we also organize for a program and vision that excites people, encouraging them to join the many different movements that are working to win these demands.

The Community Energy Example

Let’s take one example, fundamental to all societies, the energy system and the potential to replace today’s Investor Owned Utilities (the IOUs), one of the pillars of capitalist domination, with its challenger in the U.S. today, a confederation of public, democratically run “Community Energy” utilities, envisioned in the radical versions of the Green New Deal.

Winning considerable support and appropriations for Community Energy is no pipe dream. If Biden wins, there will be congressional movement on climate change, with adaptation/mitigation programs a major item in the stimulus and worker/renter protection package they will be forced to enact. To be sure, most of this will be payouts to corporate interests, perhaps increased funding by the Department of Energy to the coal companies for research and pilot projects for carbon sequestration.

But with determined organizing, the left could win significant support to advance “Just Transition” programs for workers and communities including the Community Energy model.

California now has over 40 long established publicly-owned utilities, including in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco and also over 20 “Community Choice” utilities. These latter were created and run over the last ten years by cities, counties, and multi-county partnerships by seizing from their corporate Investor Owned Utility, pursuant to California law, the responsibility to supply electricity to the public in their areas. These public utilities and Community Choice Programs, all together, now serve over half of California energy customers and are building out mostly local sun and wind installations, many small and neighborhood sized, some quite large “utility” scale, producing electricity near the point of use and only requiring some upgrade of today’s electric grid.

Compare this to the Investor Owned Utility system that almost entirely relies on huge remote coal and gas plants, these being very slowly replaced by huge remote sun and wind plantations, with the whole ensemble of remote generating plants connected to users by high volume, high security, very expensive grids that traverse forests, rivers, and farmlands. These grids are of course only as reliable as their most vulnerable wires and pylons whose failures in storms and high winds have been responsible for hundreds of deaths and close to $40 billion in damages in the 2018 and 2019 California wildfires. As to 2020 the wildfire, some have already been attributed to down wires, and the loss of life and damage have yet to be computed.

Compared to the IOU model, the Community Energy system is quick to build and easy to repair by local workers, less environmentally risky, and far less expensive, using proven off the shelf technologies whose costs are continuously decreasing. Further, the Community Energy utilities work with and support local movements in transportation, housing, urban form, agriculture, and climate justice to reconstruct our cities and suburbs as well as build a culture of energy conservation and use reduction. And all are experimenting with democratic structures, quite complex in a confederated system of huge size. These visionary (and practical!) models exemplify the kind of social collaboration and democratic social ownership that is central to our vision of socialism.

Every movement now organizing has within it some “practical visionary” ideas for more deeply democratic, participatory, just and environmentally sustainable ways of living. In policing: the “defund police, reimagine public safety” movement features democratically organized community institutions. As to the economy the Evergreen Project, Cooperation Jackson, and the worker cooperative movement offer inspiration. Models of horizontally organized health care delivery and education are being replicated across the country. Then there’s social housing and also recent advances in public banking in California which are also being considered around the country. And participatory budgeting programs, though with little actual money to be distributed, are operating in some cities.

Considering the current balance of forces – a still pretty marginal left, a disorganized and divided working class, powerful capital – and the magnitude of our crises, these models may appear either palliatives with little importance or steps far beyond what people are ready for. Still, they represent important necessary preparatory work for what could be a new stage in the battle, as increasingly destructive and life threatening events (pandemics, climate destruction, economic collapse) combine to spur new levels of action — just as George Floyd’s murder finally brought hundreds of thousands into the streets. Projects in democratic living provide the models and building blocks for the coming necessary social and economic reconstruction.

The DTFB Strategy – Movement and Party Building

Critics of electoral strategies and programs that advocate voting for the lesser evil (rather than for an independent left party candidate) contend (1) that electoral work, except for the independent left party, detracts from struggles to build the movements from below that that have always been necessary to winning anything significant, and (2) that any support or work for the Democratic Party candidate is at the expense of building, slowly to be sure, the powerful left party we need.

These contentions should be laid to rest. First, the electoral work being suggested here does not suck effort from movement building. It is in fact complementary and reinforcing. The canvassing, forums, leaflets, and the rest in DTFB do not glorify the lesser evil but critique Biden, and they prepare for a campaign to force the Biden administration to fund the Green New Deal and Black Lives Matter programs that the movements are fighting for.

A great majority of those now organizing pursuant to a DTFB strategy are also movement activists and bringing the DTFB message to movement organizations, thus radicalizing them. The DTFB encourages coalition-building, bringing together single-issue organizations around a common target and a comprehensive program.

Second, of course we do need a powerful party. But how to create the conditions for its development? In the U.S., with its great barriers to third party success, the DTFB strategy may well be among the most effective ways to build that national party. Because, in bringing the movements and left together and creating activist bases across the country, we create the embryo and foundations of that party.

For the last many election years we have argued among ourselves about who to vote for – either an independent left party candidate or for the lesser evil, maybe just in the swing states. But except for the few of who live where the Greens or other independent left parties are campaigning, most of us remain for that excruciating election period on the sidelines, excoriating both capitalist parties and fearing for the outcome.

And as we mostly stand on the sidelines, the DP is recruiting for its ground campaign, especially phone banking to identify Biden voters and then Get Out The Vote. The recruits include:

  • Thousands from its base who still believe in the party, that it fights for working people, does its best.
  • Thousands from the unions, especially teachers, nurses, and other public workers whose leaderships “suggest” that union staff and activists get involved.
  • Thousands from the environmental, social justice, women’s movements, and others that rely on the DP to protect them in legislative combat even as they recognize that the party often disappoints them.
  • Uncounted numbers of radicalized young people new to politics but wanting to get engaged.
  • Even young anti-capitalists who have gravitated into our orbit are tempted to take jobs or get involved in working for the Dems.

These volunteers are fed the scripts authorized by the Party. They’re subjected to DP pep talks, and participate in rallies. They have fun and meet friends at after work beer parties. Becoming integrated into the Party, they come to believe the propaganda they sell, and are motivated to work to return the Party to former glories.

If we had been active, mounted a challenge, many of those activists would have entered our ranks and come to appreciate our vision, the feasibility of our goals, and the necessity of achieving them.

Socialist commitments may begin with recognition of the evils of capitalism, often in bitter experience. But long-term commitment to socialist democracy, to continued work and struggle through thick and thin, that requires the confidence and inspiration that comes with knowledge of the necessity and possibility of building a better, democratic, and sustainable new world. DTFB organizing strategy offers a glimpse of that better possible world, through realizable alternatives, that could greatly improve life for so many and meet the challenge of our times.

Bill Resnick is a member of Solidarity. He hosts “The Old Mole Variety Hour” on KBOO radio in Portland, Oregon. He has published in the Columbia Law Review, Socialist Review, Against the Current, the Portland Alliance and the Portland Oregonian.

The curse of the 2020 elections

Peter Solenberger

Joe Biden and Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

In an August 22, 2020 article Solidarity’s Election Poll David Finkel, writing for the Solidarity National Committee, reported that 47% of Solidarity respondents supported voting for Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, 27% supported voting for Hawkins and Walker in “safe states” and for Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden in “battleground states,” and 21% supported voting for Biden in all states. Biden had not yet picked Kamal Harris for his running mate.

The Solidarity members email list, our current discussion bulletin, had an exchange on the poll results. The Solidarity Webzine was to carry at least some of the exchange. The Solidarity Green Party Working Group adopted the statement Solidarity and the 2020 presidential election on August 25 and submitted it to the Webzine. The statement affirms Solidarity’s historic support for independent working-class political action and opposition to voting for Democrats or Republicans. It advocates voting for Hawkins and Walker, not Biden.

The process of making public the Solidarity discussion took a somewhat different course from the one I’d anticipated. The Green Party Working Group statement appears as it did on the Solidarity members email list. Bill Resnick and John B. Cannon have written new pieces advocating voting for Biden and Harris in battleground states. I’m replying to their articles to balance out the first round of the public discussion.

“Dump Trump, Fight and Force Biden: An Electoral Strategy for the Left”

Bill’s article Dump Trump, Fight and Force Biden: An Electoral Strategy for the Left is really two articles. The first quarter of the article is an argument for critically supporting Biden to stop Trump. The argument boils down to its final paragraph.

But just to be clear: everything said about Biden by those who argue against voting for him is true. These truths however, in this moment, don’t carry the day, if you believe, as I do, that Trump has to be stopped in his tracks, repudiated, to decisively interrupt the downward spiral toward a white supremacist autocracy. And a strategic vote for Biden makes sense since his administration will be forced to bargain with “progressive” Democrats in the Congress, and it should be possible to win significant programs, call them non-reformist or revolutionary reforms.

If I thought that voting for Biden would “decisively interrupt the downward spiral toward a white supremacist autocracy,” I’d do it. I’d also pray and possibly even sacrifice a goat. But I don’t believe that the US is in imminent danger of becoming a white supremacist autocracy — more on that below — and I don’t believe that electing Biden would “decisively interrupt” the real downward spiral in that direction.

The Democrats are indeed the lesser evil, compared to the Republicans. But they can’t be understood on their own. They’re part of the two-party system. In a cycle usually lasting eight years, about the same as the business cycle, the Democrats’ base gets fired up, the Democrats win, they fail to deliver, they demoralize their base, and they lose. The Republican side is the inverse.

In the past 28 years, eight years of Bill Clinton, eight years of George W. Bush, eight years of Barack Obama, and four years of Donald Trump. Trump has been so awful that the alternation may be accelerated this time. But it will continue. Most likely Biden now, a Republican — perhaps another another Trump — in four or eight years.

As the Green Party Working Group statement explains:

The alternation of Democratic and Republican administrations traces not a circle but a downward spiral toward barbarism. The capitalists use the duopoly to block solutions to the problems their system creates. This is ultimately self-destructive, since the barbarism will engulf them too. But capitalism is not a rational system.

The only way out is for the working class to assert its power. Revolutionary socialists know this. But Trump’s snarling has led many to advocate voting for the lesser evil “this time,” even though that undercuts their ability to educate the working class about the need to act independently in the electoral arena, as well as on the picket lines and in the streets.

The latter three-fourths of Bill’s article advocates organizing around “a package of ‘non-reformist’ reforms” or, in the language of the revolutionary socialist movement since the Communist International, a program of transitional demands.

The two parts of Bill’s article are connected just by the title. They have no necessary logical connection. I support organizing around Bill’s transitional demands, but I don’t support his call to vote for Biden and Harris.

Electing Biden and Harris wouldn’t “decisively interrupt the downward spiral toward a white supremacist autocracy.” It would jump us to the next phase of the downward spiral. That would improve the immediate situation, but only at the cost of reinforcing the two-party system which locks in the downward spiral.

Bill claims that “a strategic vote for Biden makes sense since his administration will be forced to bargain with ‘progressive’ Democrats in the Congress, and it should be possible to win significant programs, call them non-reformist or revolutionary reforms.” Forced to bargain? Win significant programs?

Biden has repeatedly said, including in his September 29 debate with Trump, that he doesn’t support Medicare for All, the Green New Deal or defunding police, he has defeated the socialists, and he is the Democratic Party. The Democratic National Convention showed the space the party is willing to give the progressives. AOC was allotted 60 seconds to nominate Bernie Sanders. She took 96 seconds and was silenced for the rest of the convention.

A vote for Biden and Harris, motivated in the first quarter of Bill’s article, would be a vote for an administration adamantly opposed to the transitional program outlined in the following three quarters.

Elections are less important than class struggle. At most they reveal and ratify the results of class struggle. But to the extent that elections are important, voting for an avowed enemy of what you want seems a poor strategy.

To quote Eugene V. Debs from a campaign speech 120 years ago, “I would address a few words to those who are in sympathy with the Social Democratic Party, but who hesitate to vote for it for fear they may lose their votes. Let me say to you: It is infinitely better to vote for freedom and fail than to vote for slavery and succeed.” (This seems to be the basis for the famous misquote, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”)

In this year’s presidential election Debs’s admonition means voting for Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker.

“Stay focused on the real fightback: the defeat of Trumpism will not come at the ballot box”

John B. Cannon’s article Stay focused on the real fightback: the defeat of Trumpism will not come at the ballot box is better, in my view, beginning with its title. It too, argues for critical support for Biden and Harris, but it makes modest claims for the efficacy of doing so:

Voting for Joe Biden in the midst of a crisis which has put neoliberalism to the test is an incredibly weak bulwark against any of this — so much so that it should be pretty quickly dismissed as a serious line of defense. Even a Biden win might not provide any reprieve in the long term, if the really dangerous fascist leader turns out to be not Trump, but a less disorganized protégé down the road.

This should be put more strongly: A Biden/Harris victory will continue the downward spiral through neoliberalism toward barbarism.

Like Bill’s article, John’s includes many points that I agree with. I particularly like:

The Democratic Party is flashing signs that despite the increasing combativeness of its constituencies, it will follow in the pattern of 2000 and 2004 and do nothing to organize a real fightback, even as Trump looks to 2000 and calls for two, three, many Floridas. Socialists should stand together with social movement forces to respond on the streets to defend election integrity and marginalized communities, organize an anti-fascist fightback, and hopefully, promote a “de-Trumpification” of governing institutions — all of which the Democratic Party intends to soft-pedal so as not to offend its anti-Trump, Republican lite allies.

But the article accepts the same pessimistic conclusion about the 2020 election as Bill’s, the need to critically support the lesser evil “this time.”

Given all of this context, what if anything should socialists as socialists say about the election? In my view, this election provides no “opening” for the forces we care about and would wish to cohere politically; it is all about playing defense against these authoritarian threats. The space for an independent, progressive-movement-based, third-party candidacy has been, for all meaningful purposes, suffocated — not of course by the right, but by the Democratic Party and by liberal and popular front political pressures that have been intensified 100-fold.

The polarization won’t end with this election. A Biden administration will continue the policies of the Clinton and Obama administrations, and these will lead to the next Newt Gingrich, the next George W. Bush, the next Tea Party, and the next Donald Trump. The “liberal and popular front political pressures” to which John refers will intensify another 100-fold. “Not now” will tend to become “Not ever.”

John’s article concludes with a statement with which I’d like to agree but can’t fully:

There is a crisis unfolding around us, and for left forces, the old, well-rehearsed election arguments are a distraction. To the people who are desperate to defeat Trump, we need to be saying: besides voting for Biden, what else are you ready to do? What are you willing to do to defeat Trumpism, not only for the next few weeks but after Trump is gone? That’s an urgent conversation.

The old argument, independent political action vs. the lesser evil, is not a distraction. Not when the working class and the left are being swindled as effectively as they are this year. But John is right that after the distraction of the election activists need to discuss, What next?

The historic answer, mass mobilization of the workers and the oppressed, will have been set back by the election, whatever its outcome. But it’s still the only answer.

Peter Solenberger is a Solidarity member and labor and social justice activist in Northern Michigan.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

Ajamu Baraka

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

For the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, and right-wing coups will continue unabated. 

The reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the Democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior in the global South.”

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the Democrat Party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations. 

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism. 

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire. 

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.  

The Trump Anti-War Feign 

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected. 

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president. 

After Trumps’ surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response. 

“Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through.”

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.   

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. 

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption. 

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government. 

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism. 

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China , resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019. 

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for Feb 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press. 

“Many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.”

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.  

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.    

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution  supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But that was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested. 

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group. 

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia. 

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop. 

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics 

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign  was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Postand Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel. 

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban, who had essentially defeated the U.S., needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion. 

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and if possible to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all. 

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up  with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused  Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden 

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country. 

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.” 

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.? 

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story.  This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news  reported that no one has been able to verify the story. 

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the Democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more! 

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden. 

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated. 

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.   

This arti­cle is reprint­ed from Black Agenda Report, and was published on September 16, 2020.

Our Biden Problem

Barbara Ransby

One major party’s candidate is arguably a racist old-school misogynist, and the other is Donald Trump. What’s a leftist to do? (Design by Rachel K. Dooley / Photo via Getty Images)

This is a hard arti­cle to write. I wish our polit­i­cal land­scape were so much dif­fer­ent than it is, and I wish our polit­i­cal choic­es were bet­ter than they are.

To say Joe Biden is not an ide­al pres­i­den­tial can­di­date — for the Left or for Black peo­ple — is an under­state­ment. Of the myr­i­ad hope­fuls crowd­ing the debate stage at the begin­ning of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­maries, Biden is close to the worst. Recall Biden’s role in draft­ing and pass­ing the heinous 1994 crime bill, which con­tributed might­i­ly to the scourge of mass incar­cer­a­tion. Con­sid­er his dis­re­spect­ful and demean­ing treat­ment of Ani­ta Hill at Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion. Con­sid­er his lead­er­ship in plung­ing the U.S. into the bloody and unnec­es­sary war in Iraq. Con­sid­er the inap­pro­pri­ate hug­ging and hair sniff­ing and Tara Reade’s cred­i­ble and dis­turb­ing allegations.

Biden’s recent behav­ior digs him into a deep­er hole. Speak­ing at a Black church in Wilm­ing­ton, Del., ear­li­er this month, Biden’s response to the mas­sive protests over police killings of Black peo­ple was to sug­gest that police learn to ​“shoot ​‘em in the leg instead of in the heart.” He lat­er rolled out a list of pro­posed reforms made up of over­sight and train­ing mea­sures focused on root­ing out ​“bad cops” that fell far short of the defund­ing of police depart­ments called for by the Move­ment for Black Lives.

In a dis­as­trous per­for­mance in May on the syn­di­cat­ed ​“Break­fast Club” radio pro­gram, Biden told the Black host, Char­la­m­agne tha God, ​“If you have a prob­lem fig­ur­ing out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” The lev­el of arro­gance is breath­tak­ing: Biden is both tak­ing the Black vote for grant­ed (again) while appoint­ing him­self the arbiter of Black­ness; invok­ing (his notion of) Black ver­nac­u­lar adds insult to injury. A pre­sump­tu­ous, erro­neous and offen­sive notion that Biden has some kind of polit­i­cal inti­ma­cy with Black peo­ple has become an under­ly­ing mes­sage of his campaign. 

That said, if Biden is nobody’s dream, Trump is a night­mare. We know a sec­ond term of Trump will inflict enor­mous repres­sion, suf­fer­ing and death. So we face a dilem­ma: We can­not be cheer­lead­ers and apol­o­gists for neolib­er­al politi­cians like Biden, but we can­not endure four more years of Trump. Do we hold our noses yet again and sup­port a can­di­date so gross­ly out of sync with our val­ues, or do we sit on the side­lines and let an aspir­ing fas­cist hold power?

Four more years, I fear, would be a no-holds-barred grasp for the throne. GOP lead­ers are such spine­less and oppor­tunist syco­phants that they will tol­er­ate any­thing to main­tain prox­im­i­ty to the tyrant’s pow­er, or at least avoid his ire. Cou­pled with Trump’s reck­less incom­pe­tence and con­tempt for both demo­c­ra­t­ic prac­tices and the suf­fer­ing of human beings, we can visu­al­ize a cat­a­stro­phe far beyond what we have wit­nessed thus far.

We do have a choice in Novem­ber, though it’s not good. The best option this time (unless you live in a very safe Demo­c­ra­t­ic state) is not to cast a sym­bol­ic third-par­ty vote. We have to, as polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Cathy Cohen puts it, ​“vote against Trump and orga­nize against Biden.” Even if Trump is oust­ed, we need to fight Trump­ism in all man­i­fes­ta­tions while chal­leng­ing Biden’s neolib­er­al poli­cies. This is about dam­age con­trol pol­i­tics, not to be con­fused with a Biden endorsement.

Con­ven­tion­al polit­i­cal wis­dom sug­gests we should mute our cri­tiques of Biden, that a blunt, crit­i­cal assess­ment of Biden will only help Trump. But I dis­agree. Peo­ple see through hypocrisy and are tired of it. Per­haps being hon­est about what we are ask­ing peo­ple to do will actu­al­ly bring more to the polls and get them involved in post-elec­tion activism. We are not vot­ing for a sav­ior — quite the con­trary. In fact, despite the the­atrics, pres­i­den­tial elec­tions are nev­er about sav­iors. As Rachel Gilmer of the Dream Defend­ers often says, elec­toral pol­i­tics, for the Left, is about choos­ing our oppo­nents in the next round of strug­gle. We have to orga­nize our com­mu­ni­ties under a ​“Dump Trump­ism” ban­ner — through vot­er edu­ca­tion, fight­ing for safe and acces­si­ble vot­ing by mail, vir­tu­al door knock­ing and mobi­liz­ing in key states.

But here is anoth­er incon­ve­nient truth. Vot­ing, though nec­es­sary, is insuf­fi­cient. Those who came before us did not fight and die sim­ply so we could vote; they fought and died so we could live in a more just world. That world will not occur with­in the bounds of racial cap­i­tal­ism; that marks the big­ger project. Mean­while, we have to vote — and organize.

We have to build social move­ment orga­ni­za­tions and coali­tions, rein­vig­o­rate our labor unions, protest in the streets and lob­by local offi­cials, and strug­gle for fun­da­men­tal and sys­temic change on mul­ti­ple fronts. Arund­hati Roy urges us to see this moment of cri­sis as a por­tal to a new soci­ety and ​“be pre­pared to fight for it.” Defeat­ing Trump and Trump­ism is only the beginning.

Bar­bara Rans­by is a pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois-Chica­go and the author of Ella Bak­er and the Black Free­dom Move­ment: A Rad­i­cal Demo­c­ra­t­ic Vision. She is a long­time activist and a founder of the group Ella’s Daughters.

This arti­cle is reprint­ed from In These Times mag­a­zine, © 2020, and is avail­able at inthe​se​times​.com.