US Political Realignments Rooted in Global Transformation
The goal of the U.S. is to dominate the world economically and politically in an era of history in which qualitatively new means of production are destroying all previous economic and social relations and laying the foundation for struggle on a world scale.
The ruling class cannot succeed in its goals without restructuring the economic, political and cultural life of America. They must continue to consolidate and expand the merger of corporations and government through nationalization in the interest of stabilizing capitalism and instituting economic “reforms” which will address the overall system.
They must win over a section of the American people to their program in the face of growing unemployment, poverty and austerity. They appeal to the “middle class” of all identity groups in the name of an all-American unity, while at the same time they isolate the masses within these groups by abandoning any social responsibility for their plight and implementing a fascist police state. The structural and racial inequalities within capitalism will make this attempt at all-American unity impossible.
Global Economy and Perpetual War
The world is now on a perpetual war footing. The economies and societies of the world are being militarized. Demonstrations in the U.S. and elsewhere are attacked with guns and tanks. Civil rights are violated. The point is we are already at war. War is politics by other means.
As the economies of the world deteriorate — as buying and selling breaks down due to the introduction of labor replacing technologies — the space for peaceful resolution of the world’s economic problems is diminishing. We see the escalating situation in the increased U.S. military encirclement of China and in the U.S. effort to install a missile shield in Europe aimed at Russia. We see the potential for smaller antagonisms to become larger wars — such as between Japan and China or in the U.S. military build-up in the Philippines. We see it in the U.S. sabotage of industrial capacities or intellectual property of the various countries.
Regional blocs between the U.S. and the Europeans on the one hand — as witnessed in the recent wars in Libya, Syria and Mali — and in the objective forcing together of Russia and China on the other hand, are consolidating. They are not simply a reaction to the military aggression of the U.S., but also an attempt to create or protect the market for their economies, which are increasingly based in electronics.
The more the market shrinks the greater is the competition. The more rapidly the means of production are developed the greater is the inability of the masses to consume.
Along with continual war, the global rulers are attempting to solve the problem of the market through policies like the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership or by renewing NAFTA. But national interests and the advance of regional blocs simply intensify the contradictions. Both the U.S. and China have a first-strike nuclear doctrine. The slightest miscalculation on either side could launch the rockets.
All-American Unity Impossible
The striving toward an all-American unity is a key component of ruling class strategy. They are attempting to create an all-American unity by working through the leaders that they have created to move the masses. But because of the objective racial inequality within capitalism this can amount to nothing more than all-white unity.
The modern definitions of an “American middle class” were introduced by the U.S. ruling class propaganda machine during the post-World War II period. American capitalism, virtually unscathed by the destruction of the war, used the Marshall Plan rapidly to expand its financial investments and industrial production to rebuild war-torn Western Europe and Japan.
Simultaneously, it propelled massive, unprecedented capital investments into the new markets of Africa and Asia created by the dismantling of European direct colonialism. This expansion, along with the rising cold war with the Soviet Union, the anti-communist witch hunts characterized by the House on Un-American Activities Committee, the Korean War and more, required a national political unity — an all-American unity. This was in fact an all-white unity. It was made possible through sharing a small part of the new-found spoils with the white American workers. As a result, the expanding and predominantly union section of the U.S. working class, along with a fast growing social stratum of “white collar” professionals experienced a constantly rising standard of living for 30 years. These predominantly white workers and professionals became the newly defined and commonly referred to as the “middle class.”
The Civil Rights and Women’s movements were taking shape during this same post-war period. Their decades-long struggles that followed were in large part the demand to be included in the trickle-down benefits of the economic expansion. Organizations that arose out of these movements framed the political issues for equality, specific to the identity of their respective movement, all with the objective to get a piece of the American Dream.
As the massive industrial centers of the country expanded, Blacks, Latinos and women increasingly entered the industrial and professional workforce and became part of America’s growing homeowner landscape. During this period, identity politics found an economic base and stable forms of organization and ideological centers amongst those fortunate enough to join the new “American middle class.”
At the same time, racial inequality is built into the system of capitalism itself, making it impossible for Blacks and Latinos to be fully integrated into the “middle class.” Because they started from this position in society, the Blacks’ and Latinos’ situation has declined more than other sections of the working class. America cannot overcome its history without changing the economic system. While the ruling class has to prevent these groups uniting on the basis of class, the revolutionaries must show these same groups that uniting in their class interests is an indispensable part of being able to resolve their problems once and for all.
By the early 1980s post-war industrial economic expansion came to an end, as all corners of the world were brought into the developing global market of production and exchange. The accelerated use of robotic, computer-driven production, the resultant globalization of the economy and the hundreds of millions of jobs eliminated worldwide over the last forty years have destroyed the capitalist market. The new electronic-based, global-capitalist economy produces far more than it can consume.
The result is an economy that is rapidly polarizing as its economic middle is being destroyed. Most of America’s old industrial centers and their suburban rings have been boarded-up, abandoned and otherwise destroyed. So too has been the fate of a large section of that broad, post-war, industrial “middle class.” As the economic middle is destroyed, what remains still provides the ideological and political glue — the center – that ties the working class to the strategy and politics of the capitalist class and the two corporate parties.
Ruling class propaganda appeals to and targets this economic middle every day, to politically influence the country as a whole. The two ruling class political parties are working overtime to make social issue appeals to the “middle class” cores found in all of the various identity groupings, including whites. These appeals include “protecting the middle class,” “equal rights of opportunity,” “middle class values,” “right to choose,” “same sex marriage,” ‘paths to citizenship” and declarations about strengthening the economy and creating jobs.
However, today the significance of the term “middle class” is purely political and not at all economic. The ruling class has no economic expansion and no trickle-down bribe to offer. But it still needs to keep its ties to the masses. To do this, it needs to ideologically win over those — that core — who still own property. This includes a large section of he working class. It is here that we find the central importance of the ruling class term “middle class.”
Economic and Political Realignments
The Democratic Party’s victory in the 2012 elections gave rise to much discussion about a “Rising American Electorate” (RAE). The media has reduced this RAE to only a question of ethnicity or gender, but this is only its features.
As early as 2002, in their article “Majority Rules — The Coming Democratic Dominance” published in The New Republic in 2002 and in their book The Emerging Democratic Majority published in the same year, John Judis and Ruy Texeira wrote of this rising new American electorate. They showed that the change was not simply a matter of numbers or identity groups. Instead, they argued, the significance of this new electorate lay in its role in and the connection to the developing new economy based in electronics and the society that was being created by it.
“If this emerging Democratic majority has eluded many observers,” they wrote, “perhaps it is because it differs substantially from the New Deal Democratic coalition that dominated American politics from 1932 to 1968… The [Republicans] can scour the coal pits of West Virginia or the boarded up steel mills of Youngstown for converts, but America’s future lies in places like Silicon Valley and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. The party that most clearly embodies the culture and beliefs of these areas will dominate political discourse in postindustrial America at the dawn of the new century, just as the McKinley Republicans dominated nascent industrial America at the dawn of the last.”
The Democratic Party began to restructure itself in the 1990s to align with the massive shifts that were taking place as a result of electronics. It positioned itself to represent the capitalist forces that were driving the development of a world economy. Among the American people, it moved away from its traditional base, becoming a party of this “new electorate,” as Judis and Texeira wrote,
“professionals, women and minorities rather than blue-collar workers.”
The Republican Party is going through its own process of restructuring and its current situation is reflected in the 2012 Presidential election results. “Telling is Romney’s defeat in 13 of the nation’s largest 15 cities,” Sam Tanenhaus wrote in the February 10, 2013 New Republic online, “but also Indianapolis, San Diego, Houston, even Dallas. If the trends of the 2012 elections continue,” he went on, “the GOP could find itself unable to count on a single state that has as many as 20 electoral votes.”
Despite its current problems, the Republican Party is not finished yet. It remains key to the two-party facade of capitalist democracy. Neither is the capitalists’ method of rule finished yet — the use of the South as the political reserve to control the entire country. This Southern program for power is expressed politically in the neoliberal mantra: slash social programs, privatize public services, deregulate the economy and the environment, cut taxes for the rich, increase military spending to fund the drive for empire. Under today’s conditions, this program is the end of democracy and the implementation of a fascist order.
The missing piece in the analysis of commentators trying to understand the RAE is the qualitative transformation taking place in the economy and how this is reshaping politics in America. As the economy deteriorates society will only polarize even more. There is a narrowing of who is able to participate in the political process. This is being justified by using the historical divisions in American society to facilitate the development of fascism, race being a central factor.
The attacks on democracy in Michigan under the Emergency Financial Manager laws were instituted first in predominantly Black cities, and with the addition of Detroit, stripped almost half of the African Americans in Michigan of local democracy. This obvious ploy to use race baiting to destroy democracy throughout the state and impose dictatorship as a solution to the fiscal crisis was soundly defeated in November. (The Governor has flouted the wish of the people and instituted yet another EFM, this time in Detroit).
The promoters of this vision of a “Rising American Electorate” are in reality referring to the upper strata of all the identity groups, including whites. In fact, a huge section of the RAE “coalition” is poor, and part of the growing dispossessed. They are economically unstable, faced with foreclosure, unemployment, and poverty. Programs to help the “middle class” will not help them, yet they are being pulled along in this coalition under the lead of the upper strata.
The two-party system is not over yet, and it will continue to play its role to enforce capital’s rule. At the same time, the rulers are not afraid to let the idea of a third party float to the surface — as long it is under their control. On the other hand, a third party is not simply a subjective thing. It is an expression of real political and economic motion. While the Republican and Democratic parties appear to be moving apart, in reality they have the same program. Because people cannot redress their grievances within this party system the result is a social motion away from the two parties. This is the objective foundation for a third party to emerge.
Revolutionaries must be prepared to use the developing social motion for a third party to lay the foundation for a workers party that can represent the independent political interests of our class.
Report of the LRNA Standing Committee, March 2013
May/June 2013. Vol23.Ed3
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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