The Radical Roots of Democratic Party Dogma

Were there any doubt, the late fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court proved we are no longer dealing with your grandparents’ Democratic Party.

Screaming mobs, swarming senators, and unsubstantiated smears are the tactics of the radical Left, not the party of John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, and Sam Rayburn.

But the radicalism of today’s Democratic Party is not limited to tactics. It goes directly to its core ideology.

Today’s Democratic Party is the party of identity politics, open borders, and globalism. A party that once championed economic security for all Americans, regardless of skin color or religion, now peddles in specialized appeals to blacks, Latinos, women, gays, migrants, and Muslims. For starters.

Its theme song has gone from Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” which was “made for you and me,” to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which hopes for a world without countries and religion—“it’s easy if you try.”

Long before identity politics and post-national globalism became the Democratic Party’s anchor, the most radical fringe group on the American Left, the Weathermen, laid out their strategy for socialist revolution in America: Divide Americans along racial, ethnic, and gender lines; downplay national citizenship; erase the border; teach people to identify as members of a (transnational) race, ethnicity, or gender, rather than as American citizens or individuals.

The Weathermen grew out of the student protests of the 1960s, when the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) opposed racism, the Vietnam War and military research and recruiting on college campuses. The SDS became increasingly anti-American, anti-capitalist and pro-communist in its ideology. The organization split up, with one faction, the Weather Underground, calling for revolution through “armed struggle.” To this end, they bombed government buildings, police stations and robbed banks. The members of the group, which included Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, went “underground” to avoid arrest. In 1970, four Weathermen died making the bombs they planned to use to commit mass murder at a reception for recruits at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

In 1974, the Weather Underground published its manifesto, “Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism.”  In more than 100 pages of often turgid Marxist prose, Ayers, Dohrn, and fellow radicals presented “a concrete analysis of the particular conditions of our time and place,” their neo-Marxist ideology, and their “strategy for anti-imperialism and revolution inside the imperial U.S.”

Classical Marxist theory says the working class, the “industrial proletariat,” would lead the revolution to overthrow capitalism.

When the American working class built a good life under capitalism, the Weathermen needed to find a new “working class” to lead their revolution.

Forget about the white working class, the Weathermen said. “In the U.S. in the past twenty years, the white industrial proletariat has seldom exercised its revolutionary initiative,” as they put it.

Decades before Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign bypassed working class voters to stake its fortunes on a multiracial, multigender “Stronger Together” coalition, the Weathermen identified a “new working class” of Blacks, Hispanics, women, students, and Third World people:

Any attempt to predict the role of the U.S. working class must place great emphasis on the leadership that has been given by Black and Third World people. . . .

Third World peoples in the U.S., and also women . . . these groups have been the carriers of proletarian internationalism . . . [emphasis added]

“Proletarian internationalism” is Weather-talk for global Communism—or communist globalism, if you like. The Weathermen fancied themselves fighting alongside the Viet Cong, Palestinian terrorists, Mao’s China, and all “Third World movements opposing Western imperialism.”

This worldwide fight against “imperialism”—“think globally, act locally,” as they say—fused identity politics and globalism. Race, ethnicity, and gender transcend borders, and so does “the struggle” for socialism. Leftists see Latinos living in Pennsylvania not as American citizens but rather as members of a global class of all Spanish-speaking people on earth, what the Weathermen called “the whole class.” They helpfully explain how it works:

Black and other Third World people inside the U.S. make up oppressed nations, subjugated peoples. The oppression of Third World peoples takes many of the same forms as the imperialist control of people in colonies in Africa, Asia or Latin America . . .

Black and Third World workers [in the U.S.] have raised demands in the interest of the whole class, including the colonized of empire . . .  [emphasis added]

The New Left’s embrace of “anti-imperialist” globalism established an ideological frame that pre-disposed the college-educated new Democrats led by President Bill Clinton to support so-called free trade agreements such as NAFTA and China’s admission to the World Trade Organization. These deals moved American manufacturing jobs and entire industries to the Third World, in the process destroying the (largely) “white industrial proletariat” that had “seldom exercised its revolutionary initiative,” as the estimation of the radicals. (For a history of the New Left’s takeover of the Democratic Party and its disastrous consequences for working Americans, see Thomas Franks’ Listen, Liberal.

The Weathermen believed that focusing on the United States was a distraction from what is properly understood as a global “struggle” for social justice.

This fits neatly with the Democrats’ affinity for open borders—“abolish ICE,” refuse to set any limits on the number of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, legal or illegal.

The Weather Underground addressed Mexican immigration in particular and the border:

What’s called the “Southwest of the U.S.” is in reality “EI Norte”, the vast borderland of Mexico robbed in the Mexican-American War of 1848 . . .

Hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens enter the U.S. illegally every year. They are hired for agricultural, industrial and service jobs . . . Inside the U.S., the Mexican immigrant workers are treated with racism and brutality . . . [R]oundups of “illegal” immigrants are a form of police terror against the entire Chicano community.

The Weather radicals also saw women leading the Marxist revolution alongside blacks and “Third World peoples”:

The women’s movement is rooted in the common oppression of women . . . It contains the power to transform and become a leading force in our revolution. . . .

The goal of the women’s movement they envisioned wasn’t equal pay, paid family leave, #BelievetheSurvivors, or even “there aren’t enough women bosses,” as Barack Obama said in a recent speech. No, the women’s movement was about “overturning the entire structure” of the capitalist patriarchy:

The subjugation of women is intrinsic to imperialism. Male supremacy is given concrete form in the family, in the work force, in the social institutions. Sexism is perpetuated and enforced by the culture . . . So basic is the oppression of women to the functioning of this system that . . .  we cannot win full collective liberation without overturning the entire structure of imperialism.

Linda Sarsour would feel comfortable signing on to that program. And we can easily imagine her shouting the Weathermen’s rallying cry for women:

Let us extend our sisterhood . . . to the women in Palestinian refugee camps, to the dispossessed women in Puerto Rico, and to the women in prison here.

This is the clearest expression of the Leninist united front strategy, now known as intersectionality: women, Palestinian refugees, Puerto Ricans, prisoners, blacks, gays, Third World migrants—we’re all in the same fight against capitalism!

Of the middle class, the Weatherman decreed, “their consciousness must be changed”—made “woke,” in today’s parlance. And intersectionality was the way to change it:

The interpenetration of women’s consciousness, youth consciousness, and Third World national identity are great channels through which their [middle] class consciousness—as workers opposing their class enemy—can be irrigated and made fertile. . . . Cultural identity can be an important element in the process of revolutionizing mass groupings.

“Class consciousness” has become wokeness, “interpenetration” has become intersectionality, David Hogg and “Students Demand Action” fill the “youth consciousness” niche once occupied by long-haired, drug-taking college students in the salad days of the Baby Boomers, and “cultural identity” is now the most important element in radicalizing “the masses.”

Race and gender, race and gender, race and gender—this is the mantra of today’s political and cultural elites, the prism through which they view the world and everything and everyone in it.

But what seems to be a fresh, novel insight for today’s activists is really nothing new.

When woke entertainers speak virtuously of being “global citizens,” or natter on about “the importance of race and gender,” when activists preach the “intersectionality” of “the struggles” of women, gays, Muslims, blacks, Hispanics and immigrants, they are mouthing the doctrines of the most radical of the 1960s revolutionary Communists.

Back in the day, Weathermen Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn threw bombs and crafted a neo-Marxist ideology to further the revolution. Today, they throw parties for Democratic politicians and the smart set who populate Hollywood soirees, Georgetown cocktail parties and the entire Democratic Party speak the lingo invented in a clandestine lair when the Left’s last great wave broke in America.

Some of the names may have changed, but they are not innocent.

Photo Credit: David Fenton/Getty Images

About Curtis Ellis

Curtis Ellis is policy director with America First Policies. He was also a senior policy advisor with the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign in 2016.

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