In recent weeks, an unprecedented level of protest has arisen from within many of this system's own institutions of political power and public opinion-shaping. Mainly this is coming from younger people who signed up to work for Democratic elected officials or in international aid agencies, at least in part out of a belief that these officials and institutions were a way to make the world better.
Now, to their horror, they are confronting the utterly disproportionate slaughter of Palestinian civilians being funded and supported by the U.S. They are finding themselves in the position of being complicit in genocidal war crimes carried out by “their” government, “their” agencies, and “their” bosses unless they speak out, and many are refusing to go along quietly.
A few examples:
- As of November 8, more than 1,000 employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a letter calling for an “immediate ceasefire.” AID is an international aid agency that in the name of “American generosity” provides humanitarian aid to oppressed countries around the world. (This is part of the network of aid/control that enables the U.S. to act as a great democratic benefactor to the people of the world.) The letter, from 10 percent of USAID's staff, called out “numerous violations of international law,” such as Israel cutting off food, water and power to two million Palestinians in Gaza. It also said there could be no resolution of the violence in the region that did not address “ending Israel’s of the Palestinian territories and settlements on occupied land.”
- On November 8, more than 100 Congressional staffers—masked to conceal their identities—walked out of their jobs and protested on the steps of the Capitol building. They spread out more than 10,000 carnations to represent the number of Palestinians killed so far. In a statement, they said, “We are horrified by the overwhelming response by the Israeli government that has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza.… Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill are not listening to the people they represent. We demand our leaders speak up: call for a ceasefire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate de-escalation now.” This is unprecedented and is considered a grave violation of staffers' "professional obligation" to not contradict the politicians they work for.
More than 550 staffers signed a letter—initiated by Jewish and Muslim staffers—calling on their bosses to use their power to protect innocent Palestinian civilians in “imminent danger.” Adam Ramer, the Political Director for Rep. Ro Khanna, resigned after two weeks on the job in protest of Khanna’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza.
- Thousands of former campaign staffers who once threw themselves into working to get Democrats elected only to see them backing war crimes and genocide have also spoken out, writing letters to the people they worked for insisting that they stand against the slaughter in Gaza. This includes 400 staffers from Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, 400 staffers from Bernie Sanders’s campaign, and 300 people who served as delegates for Sanders’s presidential run.
500 former Biden campaign staffers formed a group called Biden Alumni for Peace and Justice and wrote in an open letter: “If you fail to act swiftly [for a ceasefire] your legacy will be complicity in the face of genocide.”
- There have also been significant statements of protest from within higher levels of the government, and even the repressive apparatus of this system. On November 14, 500 political appointees and staff members from 40 different federal agencies sent Biden a letter protesting his support for Israel (this includes political appointees from the National Security Council, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department). In early October, Josh Paul, director of a bureau within the State Department, resigned, saying that the U.S.’s “provision of lethal aid to Israel” was "shortsighted, destructive, unjust, and contradictory to the very values that we publicly espouse." There have also been at least three “internal memos” [a system where State Department staff can register dissent privately, supposedly without fear of retribution] sent to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, signed by dozens of staffers.
- In terms of cracks in major U.S. media, the Los Angeles Times official Editorial Board issued an editorial on November 16 titled “Cease-fire now. The killing in Gaza must stop,” which described Israel’s actions as “indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians” and “slaughter” and “atrocities.”
Many of the people speaking out (even if they try to maintain anonymity with masks, etc.) are potentially risking their careers and personal safety. Sen. John Fetterman’s office told staffers that public criticism of policies that they (correctly) view as war crimes is “prohibited.” One staffer who tried to raise her concerns privately to her supervisors was reprimanded. Meanwhile, pro-Zionist forces are actively doxing (publicizing the names and personal information) of pro-Palestinian voices. Almost all protesters interviewed have said they fear for their jobs and often for their personal safety.
While some of these protests are coming from concern about the damage that support for Israel is doing to the reputation and strategic interests of U.S. imperialism, or to the electoral prospects of Joe Biden, the vast majority of people speaking up are doing so out of real turmoil and conscience. These are people who refuse to stand aside in the face of their government's support for the genocidal savagery toward the Palestinian people.
This kind of protest and resistance—from within the U.S. establishment itself—is very important, and needs to spread. Thousands are alienated from and outraged by Biden and the U.S. government for their role in backing the Israeli genocide. There should be even more mass non-compliance, and breaking ranks—from within the institutions, and throughout all of society.
It also needs to go further—from the righteous outrage against this war crime, to people coming to recognize the criminal nature of the whole system and the whole ruling class. While particularly egregious, the U.S. backing of Israel right now is entirely in keeping—not an anomaly to—the basic functioning of the U.S. capitalist-imperialist system, throughout its history to the present day.
The American Crimes series on revcom.us is documenting 100 of just some of the worst crimes of this country—mass slaughter, torture, imprisonment, coups, bombings, lies and environmental destruction. As the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian said in a short piece, “,” this list “speaks not just to 'isolated incidents' of wrongdoing but a whole pattern of atrocities, repeated over and over again, reflecting the essential nature of this country—a list that will continue to grow until a revolution overthrows and uproots the system of capitalism-imperialism that rules in this country and replaces it with a radically different and far better system, based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have written.”
This revolution is not just necessary, but possible. This initial breaking of ranks in response to this system's war crimes—from within the government's institutions themselves—reveals just some of the potential for further splitting.
This comes at an increasingly volatile time as this whole society is being ripped apart. While the rulers of this system are in almost full unity in their backing of the Israeli genocide on Palestinian people, they are otherwise deeply divided. One section of the rulers, the Republican fascists, are moving toward an outright fascist form of rule, aiming to rip off the “democratic” cover of the way this society has been ruled as part of installing an all-out fascist agenda of open white supremacy, patriarchal oppression of women and LGBTQ people, ethnic cleansing of immigrants and theocratic, anti-scientific lunacy. The other section of the rulers, the Democrats, are fighting for the horrific way things have been while aggressively facing off with their imperial rivals Russia and China in a way that holds the danger of direct conflict and even nuclear war.
All this makes the revolution that humanity needs more possible. If the actual nature of this system is being laid bare to millions, and its legitimacy challenged… If people see the potential for a whole new way to live, and a fundamentally different system concentrated in that Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America… If all the American chauvinism, bourgeois electoral bullshit and other ways of thinking and acting that legitimize this system is sharply struggled against… And if there's a force of revolutionaries—applying a strategic approach and having an impact on society, bringing all this to light in a situation where the conflict between fascists and upholders of the old order breaks even more fully open, then such “breaking of ranks” could assume far greater significance.