The prostration of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the Democratic Party and Biden administration was on display yet again in an interview published Wednesday by the New York Times.
The interview, titled “The Evolution of AOC,” was conducted to give Ocasio-Cortez a platform to defend herself from what she called a growing “suspicion” among workers and young people that she is nothing but a standard Democratic Party politician.
Her weak attempts to justify her right-wing role in Congress only confirmed those suspicions are correct.
“Do you see yourself as more of an insider now?” asked Times interviewer Lulu Garcia-Navarro. “I don’t think so. I mean, on a certain level, once you are engaged as a legislator, you are on the inside,” Ocasio-Cortez replied, adding that being on the inside allows her “to translate this outside energy into internal change.”
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Ocasio-Cortez’s role in Congress has not been to translate left-wing opposition into “internal change,” it has been to suffocate “outside energy” and “translate” it into support for the Democratic Party and facilitate its right-wing policies.
At this point Ocasio-Cortez has abandoned even verbal criticism of the Democratic leadership. She declared last year that she would “put aside” differences with top Democratic officials in the name of party unity, and recently endorsed Joe Biden, saying “the president has been doing a very good job so far.” This amounts to a blanket endorsement of the defining features of his presidency, including the reckless war against Russia and the premature declaration that the coronavirus pandemic is “over.”
The Times asked Ocasio-Cortez why the congresswoman believes “those on the left” continue to “accuse you of compromising on your progressive ideals as you work within the party system?”
She said left-wing criticisms are “because we haven’t really had a political presence like this in the United States before” and her critics are “bewildered” by the prospect of being in power. “I think over time there’s been an inherent association between power, ascent and quote-unquote selling out,” she said, referencing a belief “that there’s no way in this country you can accrue any kind of power without there being some Faustian compromise.”
A Faustian compromise is a pact whereby a person trades something of supreme moral or spiritual importance for some worldly or material benefit. But unlike the hero of Marlowe and Goethe who sold his soul to the devil, Ocasio-Cortez had very little to sell in the first place.
She did not, as she claims in the interview, “come from a background of direct action and activism,” and she had no political principles to betray. She was an intern in the foreign affairs office of Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy and sought a career in Democratic Party politics. She was picked up by the Democratic Party group Brand New Congress in 2017 as a candidate and joined DSA only after she was vetted, in order to boost her “left” bona fides. Her “evolution” was from an aspiring Democratic politician to an actual one.
Ocasio-Cortez is significant more as a political and social type than as an individual. She epitomizes the present-day pseudo-left, comprised largely of careerists who evince a total lack of principles and historical knowledge, let alone any connection with the class struggle or genuine socialist politics. They easily and readily become the objects of manipulation for the ruling class.
This is the role played, in the United States, by the Democratic Socialists of America, which is nothing more than a faction of the Democratic Party. Under conditions of escalating crisis, the DSA is being brought forward to play an ever more direct role in defending and implementing the policies of the ruling class.
During her tenure in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, along with other DSA members, voted to illegalize a strike by 100,000 railroad workers last December and force through a contract the workers had rejected. She cast a vote to provide $40 billion in weapons to far-right forces in Ukraine and endorsed the US/NATO war against Russia, which threatens a nuclear holocaust. She refused to vote against providing $1 billion to arm the Israeli military’s suppression of the rights of the people of Palestine.
While Faust, who through a lifetime of study had mastered vast fields of knowledge, bargained his soul in exchange for unlimited worldly pleasure, Ocasio-Cortez was content with a minor promotion. The story of Faust is the stuff of the greatest human tragedy; that of AOC is one of the lowest farce. When Nancy Pelosi made her a vice chair of the House Oversight Committee in January, she said she was “excited and humbled” and thanked her “incredible colleagues” in the Democratic leadership.
The most significant statement made in the interview was Ocasio-Cortez’s disavowal of any opposition to American imperialism. “I wouldn’t necessarily characterize my foreign policy goals as oppositional to the president’s or to the United States,” she said. “I am a member of Congress. I have sworn an oath to this country, and I take that oath very seriously.”
What about the foundational socialist principle that the class enemy is at home and the call for the unity of the international working class?
When Ocasio-Cortez says that she has “sworn an oath to this country,” what she in fact means is that she has sworn an oath to uphold the interests of the American ruling class at home and abroad.
She argued that past military interventions, coups and dictatorships have “created a trust problem among our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.” This is how the CIA might describe the consequences of the mass suffering and death created by the crimes of US imperialism in Central and South America. It’s all just a “trust problem,” rather than the irreconcilable conflict between the financial interests of US corporations and the basic needs of the Latin American masses.
AOC also did not mention the Biden administration’s on-going support for far-right coup regimes in Bolivia and Peru. Ocasio-Cortez said addressing the past is necessary to advance the interests of the US government today: “It’s not just about it being the right thing to do,” she said, “it’s a smart thing to do in order for us to reset and build trust and relationships with our hemispheric partners.”
Ocasio-Cortez combines support for Biden’s foreign policy with refusals to criticize his reactionary domestic agenda. When the Times asked her why she had ceased calling attention to the Biden administration’s immigration policies, even though his administration has retained Trump’s restrictions on entry and asylum, Ocasio-Cortez responded with her signature blend of pseudo-academic nonsense and political pabulum:
“This is one area where our policy is dictated by politics, arguably more so than almost any other,” she opined. “There are very clear recommendations and suggestions that we have made to the administration to provide relief on this issue, and it’s my belief that some of the hesitation around this has to do with a fear around just being seen as approving or providing permission structures…”
Ocasio-Cortez concluded the interview by answering affirmatively the question, “Is it OK to be a regular Democrat now?” She said, “The Democratic Party has changed dramatically in the last five years.” Unable to cite a single example showing this “dramatic change,” she merely said the party had changed because “something around 50 percent of House Democrats have been elected since 2018.”
Notably absent in the interview is any mention of the word “socialism.” Indeed, taken as a whole, the interview confirms that the DSA and AOC have as much to do with socialism as the CIA. In fact, from the standpoint of policies and objectives, the initials are interchangeable. The DSA’s political role is to (1) corral social opposition behind the Democratic Party; (2) block the development of an independent revolutionary movement; and (3) provide the pro-capitalist, imperialist Democratic Party with a “left” veneer to better carry out its policies.
But the DSA’s ability to serve this function is breaking down, in part as a result of the exposure of Ocasio-Cortez as just another pro-imperialist Democratic Party reactionary. This is why the Times and a host of publications like The Nation, New York Magazine and Jacobin have leapt to her defense in a series of desperate and dishonest attempts to present her as an agent of change. But the more she actually talks, the more she turns herself into an object of ridicule, derision and contempt. At this point, the best advice her political handlers could give AOC would be to tell her to stop bragging about her betrayals, or better yet, just shut up.