Third Party: Indispensable Step for Our Class
The fork in the political road that we have referred to so often is clearly coming into view. We can already see the outlines of the coming political struggle. Economic polarization in the extreme is recognized by all and accepted as the foundation for inevitable political polarization.
This elementary, spontaneous, semi-conscious political polarization forces the radical or revolutionary organizations to clarify their tasks, goals and tactics. Our task is to be part of the historic effort to transform the disorganized, disoriented American mass into a conscious political force. Our tactic is to participate in their crossing over from the defensive to the offensive. Our goal is to utilize this spontaneous process to prepare the people to reclaim their country by assuming state power and transforming the property relations from private to public.
The spokespersons for the ruling class have accustomed the American people to make their political judgments based on what seems obvious. Perceptual knowledge is always dangerous, for it masks the underlying laws that govern development. There is a certain process that the American people have to go through. First, they blame the political party in power. Then they blame both parties. Then they come to see that neither party will solve the problem and a plague on both houses. The next step is to see that the problem is systemic.
This is an important step since the struggle is fought out in the socio-political superstructure. The move toward political consciousness is important, and we must prepare ourselves for whatever eventually might occur. That preparation begins with a clear understanding of the causal relationship between the economy, politics and social motion.
Third Parties and Crisis
The economy develops on a more or less spontaneous basis. Politics has to be conscious. It has to clear the path for the spontaneous development of the economy. As the economy changes, the old parties – tied to their constituents – tend to become stuck in the mud. As the traditional parties become more disjoined from new economic reality, new parties arise to secure bourgeois relations under new conditions.
Parties don’t come about because somebody wants them. They come about as an expression of the formation of a new foundation and changes in the economy and society. First comes the need for something to happen. Then there is a striving for it to happen. But it can’t happen unless there is a political motion that makes it possible. One of the aspects of the political scene today is the growing identity of the two major parties in the minds of the masses. This opens the door to the idea of a third party.
Third parties arise in time of economic change or crisis. Whether their political leaders are conscious of it or not, they are trying to save the existing system by “fixing” it. One aspect of this motion is to adjust the politics of the country to the new economic and social realities. An example of this is Henry Wallace’s “People’s Progressive Party” of 1948. Another would be the formation of the British Labor Party at the beginning of the crisis of imperialism in 1900. The other aspect is to go back to the “good old days.” These parties and groupings are essentially reactionary and often have the trappings of social fascism.
Under conditions of quantitative economic development, third parties could and sometimes did succeed. Today we are seeing the quantitative development of a qualitatively new economy. It is not possible for a bourgeois party to quantitatively deal with a new and antagonistic qualitative development.
The developing polarization within and perceived ineffectiveness of the Democratic and Republican parties are setting the stage for the breaks in the continuity of the current political party system. Whether and when the polarization is expressed in the formation of a centrist party, a “social-democratic” party or a fascist party – or some combination – some sort of political party realignment would set the conditions to accelerate the political polarization and political formation of the new class.
The third party is an absolutely indispensable stage in the revolutionary process. It will serve to further develop consciousness of the separate interests of the masses of American people against those of corporate interests. It is a necessary and inevitable step toward a workers’ party and the embryonic form of political class-consciousness it represents.
Fascism on the Attack
As we have predicted, the dialectical motion of the economics of the leap is leap downward, partial recovery, stagnation, polarization, destruction and another leap downward. These are not categories, but are mixed and interpenetrated. The country has rapidly gone through the partial recovery of the early Obama administration and is now mired in stagnation. We are also into the phase of polarization. This phase is expressed as the further concentration of wealth and poverty. A new level of intractable poverty reflects the record profits of the corporations. Political resistance is inevitable. This new stage of economic polarization is intense enough to begin the process of political polarization.
Any serious discussion of the economy is bound to bring the questions of race and class to the forefront. Discussions of race and class have been skillfully covered over because they bring out the contradictions in American history that have allowed the ruling class to rule so long. With so many blacks today in leading positions in the capitalist state bureaucracy, the military and Wall Street it is no longer possible to speak of the African Americans as a cohesive “people,” nor hide the crucial role of the bourgeois blacks in facilitating the oppression and isolation of the poorer blacks and therefore the control of all the developing new class. As this reality of integration within the ruling class becomes clear, there is nothing left but the reality of class.
Fascist tendencies are becoming clear, and the coming elections will further illuminate this process. A fascist movement is forming. It is a hodge-podge of reactionaries, conservatives, racists, social criminals and thugs.
At its heart, though, are knowledgeable, cultured fascists who are revolutionaries with a defined vision of a new social and economic order.
True to its history, the fascist movement is emerging as more than the party of “No.” It is emerging as the party of attack. As one liberal bourgeois commentator put it, “If Obama came out for motherhood they would attack him.” This is different from the obstructionism of the reactionaries and conservatives. As usual, the party of attack has the privilege of choosing the battlefield. These battlefields are also becoming clear. The overall issue will be the economy.
In the process of development, we see the right wing dividing between reaction and fascism. The conservatives and the reactionaries are obstructionist, seeking to go back to the past or to hold back change. The more fascistic elements are on the attack, choosing what and where to attack. They do not have a program, but rather their attacks are abstract, disregarding whatever advances might have been made in some other field. This is different from the obstructionism of the old conservatives and reactionaries. This kind of struggle will intensify and raise the social consciousness of the American people. The group around Obama has to move to the left in its rhetoric to the American people in order to defend itself against these attacks.
Third party opening to teach class interests
It is rational to ask, “If a third party will be against the interests of the people and cannot succeed, why do we support this motion?” It isn’t as if we endorse this motion or make it a part of our program. There is a certain logic to history that we call “the line of march.” It is not possible to skip this stage. The struggle for and exposure of a third party is a “school” for the revolutionaries. We cannot make the fight for a worker’s party without counter-posing it to the ruling class’ effort to solve their problem with a new bourgeois party.
Class-consciousness will emerge from the mass struggle. It is the school where revolutionaries connect theory and vision with the harsh reality of state and class. A workers’ party can emerge only when the national interest becomes expressed as class interests, when the well being of America is absolutely expressed in the well being of its working people.
We are nearing an historic nodal line. The side that wins is the side that is in position where the fire is hot and has the weapons of clarity and sense of purpose.
The Political Report of the Standing Committee, League of Revolutionaries for a New America, September 2010.
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011