Fascism, the U.S. Presidential Elections and the Tasks of Revolutionaries
The 2016 Presidential elections are unlike anything this country has seen in decades. The question on everyone’s mind is why, and for those dedicated to making a better world, what is to be done?
Historically, qualitative changes in the economy, brought forth by the introduction of new motive forces, have been accompanied by a struggle over how they will be controlled. This is a political struggle.
This is happening today. Electronic production is doing away with human labor in one sector of the economy after another. It is creating an untenable situation for those pushed out of the economy altogether. Nobody wants to, or can, buy their ability to work. We refer to these workers as a new part of the working class; a new class. The new class has no choice but to fight for their basic needs in order to simply survive. The ruling class has to contain and destroy that fight.
The ruling class is doing everything in its power to keep its hold on all of the resources to produce the means of life. They are compelled to transform the bourgeois democratic State, step-by-step, layer by layer, into a fascist State. They are conscious about what they are fighting for. The new class can only go forward by fighting for a cooperative communist society, where the new means of production are publicly owned, and where the means of life are distributed without money. The new class of workers can only fight in this direction, but are not yet conscious of the meaning of their fight.
This is what the elections are a part of.
The work of revolutionaries is to disseminate a vision of what is possible. It is a vision of a world where no one has to fight another for the daily bread of existence. It is a vision where cooperation and fulfilling the needs of humanity are the guiding principles. The new conditions and the formation of the new class make widespread dissemination of this vision possible, and necessary.
During the industrial era, the capitalist system was held together by ruling class ideology, backed up by the economic and social bribery of a section of workers, who were given relatively good wages and standard of living. These workers became the key to keeping the rest of the working class supporting capitalism and the global policies of the capitalist class. Today, globalization based on production without human labor is forcing the rulers to discard this pillar of control. In its place, a fascist State is being created to control the working class struggle for survival and their fight for a new society.
This objective situation is colliding with what the American people call the American way of life – fair play, justice, decency. People’s thinking is becoming unhinged from the capitalist political superstructure. Their thinking is up for grabs. Which way it goes, whether toward fascism or communism, depends in no small part on what revolutionaries do.
The League is going into this election with the purpose of arousing as much revolutionary thinking as possible — distributing the press and connecting with people who are serious about not just changing an elected official, but changing a system. The workers are being pulled into process of the elections (working in the campaigns themselves, participating in the rallies, bringing up the issues in their churches, schools, organizations and communities), seeking redress of their grievances. They need to understand the process they are part of, the solution to their problems and what they must do to resolve them.
The demands and program of the new class have to become part of the debate during the elections. The propaganda and morality of the ruling class must be challenged.
Global Instability and Polarization
Despite rosy recent U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and employment figures, the state of the global economy as a whole remains precarious. The basis of this instability is the revolutionary, qualitative leap from electro-mechanical production to robotics. Martin Ford’s recent book, The Rise of the Robots, describes in detail how computerized technology is rapidly displacing workers in one sector after another, all around the world. Unlike prior labor-saving machinery that increased the productivity of workers, Ford points out that now the “machines themselves are turning into workers.” A 2013 study by the University of Oxford’s Martin School concluded that nearly 50% of remaining U.S. jobs are susceptible to full automation in the next twenty years.
The so-called “stop-go” recovery of the global and national economy since the 2008 recession is a reflection of the antagonism created by the introduction and spread of these electronic means of production into a private property economy. As automation relentlessly replaces human labor, it creates enormous profits on one side and a new class on the other. The result is a polarization of wealth and poverty unprecedented in human history. The destitution becomes so extreme and so widespread, that it begins to act as a brake on the system’s ability to circulate commodities.
The 2016 electoral process is taking place in an atmosphere of economic danger and uncertainty, driving an ever increasing motion toward world war and fascism at home. The economic polarization of wealth and poverty is reflected in a growing social polarization, and is the basis for political polarization.
Elections and the Fight against Fascism
The ruling class is constantly engaged in “sand table” discussions of the situation. It is the only way they can study, assess, sum up and plan to maintain power. Every recent election has been used to take away the rights of common people, consolidate the merging of the State and corporations, and further develop a fascist State, and to take another step toward convincing the American people that fascism is the solution to their problems.
Fascism today is based upon the objective social destruction of the capitalist economic system wrought by electronic production. A fascist program is being implemented by a global capitalist class to protect private property. In countries around the world, fascist economic and political policies have matured by varying degrees over the past 20 years. Since the 2008 global economic crisis, this modern fascism has been accelerated under the guise of “austerity” worldwide.
The ruling class is already planning how to control the social and political situation for the soon-to-come downturns in the economy. Above all, they are planning to secure the system of private property. They are united on this program. They differ only on the means to achieve it. Revolutionaries have to look at the elections as objectively as the ruling class does and hold our own sand table discussions.
The ruling class has always used elections to gauge the thinking of the people and what they are ready to do. Within the current electoral process, political “poles” are provided to gauge where the American people are ideologically, socially, politically. The ruling class needs to find out to what extent the demands of the new class for food, clothing, homes, education and health care is coming to the fore.
Both political parties and their candidates are part of the same ruling class political apparatus, using various ideological positions to manipulate the apprehension, fear and disorientation of the workers, to create the conditions for consolidating a fascist society and government. This includes the “right wing populism” of the Republican Party and the “left wing populism” of the Democratic Party.
The most important aspect of U.S. populism is its non-class outlook. Ideologically, populism is never directed against the capitalist system. It rejects the idea that the working class has interests absolutely hostile to those of the capitalist class. Any attempts to do away with the class character of the emerging struggle today are ploys to derail the workers’ independent political thinking and activity, to win them over to fascism.
Populism dominates the electoral process. On the one hand is the dangerous, anti-immigrant, anti-working class populist rhetoric that strives to consolidate a base for social fascism. With these ideas the ruling class attempts to shape the thinking of workers as they respond to their deteriorating conditions, to make it appear as if fascism is just the most simple and obvious solution to their problems. On the other hand, are appeals to adopt a populist all-class, social democratic program, that corrals independent political impulses and directs them into the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party remains the glue that ties the workers to the capitalists politically. Breaking that connection is a first step in the development of working class political independence.
The populist message has deep roots in American politics. It touches a nerve among workers, who are seeing their lives go up in smoke. Whether they gravitate toward the left or the right, or toward the unraveling middle, the workers are attempting to solve their problems and redress their grievances. All the candidates are appealing to and using these fears to get across their message.
Currently, Trump and the Republican Party give voice to and organize not only the outright fascists, but seek to convince the American people, including the new class, that the enemy and problem is the new class itself. While the Republican Party nominee is not yet decided and may be someone other than Trump, none of the candidates, or any other Republicans are substantially disagreeing with him. They seek to create a foundation for national unity among a section of the workers, while sowing divisions among the rest, so the ruling class can continue to consolidate its fascist hold, in order to implement its program.
The message of the Sanders’ campaign appeals to the democratic and economic aspirations of people. Those who want a more just and humane world are gravitating around his candidacy. Here we see how the ruling class is using the Sanders’ campaign to capture this motion and derail any motion toward restructuring the private property system. Regardless of what happens, the campaign will have the effect of directing support to the Democratic Party, which will position Sanders and others like him to play a role in any future motion toward a third party.
Revolutionaries should not underestimate the importance of the Sanders’ campaign to the revolutionary process, however. A section of the working class is using the Sanders’ campaign as a vehicle to fight for its concrete demands. The rising demand that the government resolve the problems of the people and the open discussion of socialism is a development of extreme significance. It paves the way for a real discussion about what it will take to reorganize society in the interests of humanity and the steps to achieve it. The class achieves its political independence in a series of partial and necessary stages. If revolutionaries fail to fight for the completion of each stage as it becomes possible, the process cannot advance. Revolutionaries can unite with those gravitating towards Sanders’ message and introduce a vision of the solution and a strategy to get there. We rest on the scattered, basic demands of the class to show that a cooperative society is not only possible, but is the practical solution to the problems of today.
Hillary Clinton is certainly the best person to further the program of the global ruling class, nationally and internationally. She echoes the same populist rhetoric and themes as Sanders. While some of their key positions are different, many of their proposed policies and positions are similar or the same. She approaches everything from the standpoint of clearing the way for global expansion, and for speculative capital searching the world for ways to make money. She is part of an extensive network of corporate supporters and has deep alliances in the Democratic Party. Her history of serving in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of State give her the global standing, the credentials and experience in managing the international affairs of the most powerful nation in the world. She has proven that she will pursue the social, economic and political changes needed to advance private property interests, including keeping the U.S. on a perpetual war footing.
Revolutionaries can chart their way through the labyrinth of these elections only if they keep the realities of today upper most in their minds. The qualitatively new conditions present the opportunity to realize the demands of the class, including the aspirations for a cultured and peaceful existence. Revolutionaries must utilize the struggle and the ferment created by the elections, along with the propaganda and actions of the ruling class, to move our class from the defensive — defending the capitalist system and what they once had — to the offensive — fighting for a cooperative society that is possible.
Polarization and the Thinking of the People
Once material conditions change, people become open to a new way of thinking. Some of the core ruling class beliefs and ideas that have held American society together are losing their hold. The immensity and rapidity of such changes — and the significance of this process for revolution — cannot be overestimated.
The idea of the “American Dream,” which says life will be better for everyone, is waning. The idea that all you have to do to succeed is “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” the idea that blames the poor for their poverty is also waning, as “hard work” is no longer seen as a guarantee of success.
Other indicators of the broad and objective changes in the thinking of the American people are: a majority believe the economic system is unfair, and a growing majority does not trust the government or political leaders. Corporations are seen as holding too much power. There is an eroding of confidence in the police. This is seen in the tremendous reaction developing against the police killings. And more recently is the widespread national outrage at the government over the poisoning of the water of the entire city of Flint, Michigan.
Underlying these changes in thinking is the dramatic influence of the worsening economic conditions of the American people. More than half of Americans have less than $1,000 to their name and nearly a quarter have less than $100. Fifteen thousand people become homeless every month in Los Angeles, a city with 22 billionaires and more millionaires than anywhere in the country. One-third of America is without healthcare. Government austerity policies continue to be implemented, as the rulers transfer whatever wealth remains to the rich.
Most significant for revolutionaries at this moment is the potential for the new class to unite as a result of these conditions. As robotic production spreads, for the first time an unprecedented equality of poverty is creating the basis for real class unity. Although poverty rates for Blacks and Latinos are almost three times higher than whites, the rates are narrowing. More than 19 million whites, or 41% all people living in poverty, live below the official poverty line. Today, a significant share of all high school graduates cannot get a job that allows them to survive.
The rulers are aware of the danger posed by these changing conditions. Of immediate concern to the rulers is the potential for a section of these workers to unite politically. Such unity could awaken larger sections of society to the plight of the new class. This could intensify a process already underway — for society to group around the demands of this new class, rather than the fascist solution the rulers’ are offering.
Containing the awakening of the new class is the number one political task of the ruling class. They are using every divisive ideology history has handed them. However, the people’s awakening is part of an objective process and cannot be stopped. The current electoral process must be viewed within this context.
The rulers are unleashing a massive propaganda war to keep the thinking of society tied to private property. The elections are a means for them to test ideas, deepen divisions, crush the impulse for class unity, consolidate a social base for fascism, and build a fascist movement. Such a movement will be made up of not only the more backward workers, but also the forces from within the corporate-government and the military.
While many workers are being moved by the rulers toward a more fascistic outlook, a growing number within the new class are moving toward a more class-based position. Revolutionaries have to grab hold of, and develop, these arising seeds of class awareness, no matter how contradictory and embryonic they are.
Like all processes, consciousness develops in stages. The awakening underway is moving from the awareness that something is drastically wrong with society, to an understanding that workers are a class, rather than identity group based on color, sex and so forth. This is a necessary step in their development, to break their ties to the capitalist class and put forward an independent political program that represents their class interests. Class consciousness, where the workers grasp the necessity of taking political power to create a new society, is the next stage. These stages interpenetrate and are developing at the same time.
Workers of all colors throughout the country are beginning to express their common plight and their need to act together. From coal miners in West Virginia, to descendants of slaves in the Mississippi Delta, to the smaller towns and cities throughout the North, such as Flint, Michigan, and the struggles in the suburbs like Ferguson, Fullerton and Anaheim, along with the workers in the large cities, there is a growing recognition of this reality.
As one woman said, “my primary concern is putting food on my family’s kitchen table.” In a town where the powerful coal industry denies that coal chemicals are poisoning the water, another woman said, “People are stepping up and saying we deserve better. [W]hen you are poor, you’re ready to unite against injustice. We are willing to stand with any community to make it better.”
In the Rust Belt, workers are joining together to fight for water rights and for life itself. They are fighting against the Emergency Manager dictatorship and the politicians that support the corporations, despite attempts to divide them. “I think they should lock Snyder up,” said one woman from Benton Harbor Michigan, which like Flint is also under an Emergency Financial Manager. She went on to say, “Others are locked up for nothing and their lives will never be reversed. It’s one of the ways of genocide against the poor, especially the Blacks. I know a lot of whites are affected also. As soon as all of us realize if you are working class, if you are poor, whether, Black, green, or gray, we’re in the same boat. As long as they keep us divided they win.”
In another city, a fascist group came to a homeless encampment to pass out flyers blaming the undocumented and calling on the homeless to demonstrate against them. The flyers had zero impact because many of the homeless were undocumented themselves and regarded as integral members of the community.
The rulers must block the developing impulses toward unity. They use the history of racial division to divide the class, a division the ruling class created. As the robot sheds more jobs permanently, this historic tactic is losing its grip on many. For example, a 2014 Pew poll reported that 46 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, “Our country needs to continue making changes to give Blacks equal rights with whites.” By July 2015, that figure had risen to 59 percent.”
The new conditions are forcing the rulers to concentrate their attack on the new class itself. They are trying to divide the new class, stigmatize it and isolate it from society. Using history, they begin their attack against the poorest Black workers first. They are portraying Blacks as “shiftless, can’t hold a job, won’t finish school, use drugs, and criminally inclined.” As this beachhead is established, they move on to put the so-called white “trailer trash” and “illegal” immigrants into the same category. If accepted by the American people, these views would set the basis for the rulers to impose fascism on society as a whole.
Tasks of Revolutionaries
The strategy of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America is to rely on the spontaneous impulses of the class for its economic survival, to bring unity and consciousness of the ultimate solution to the new class and society. This is possible, because the movement today is objectively headed in the direction of communist revolution. Forced out of society and increasingly denied the ability to survive, no one can bribe the new class away from defending its class program.
Revolutionaries raise the demands of the new class in every venue, challenge the propaganda and immorality of the ruling class and put forward solutions in the interests of the workers. Production with electronics is creating the potential for an abundance of everything needed for all human beings to thrive. It is private property that stands in the way. The program of the new class can be summed up as the abolition of private property. This means that all have access to a decent life — a safe place to live, good food and nutrition, quality health care and education – regardless of where you come from, what color or sex you are, or how much money you have.
Accomplishing this strategy, and the widespread propaganda war that it demands, points to the urgent need for the unity of a broad core of revolutionaries. Revolutionaries need to unite around the practical demands and the program of the new class to carry history forward. The League’s mission in every struggle is to find the leaders in these emerging struggles and win them to this solution and the strategy to get there.
The elections can, and must be, utilized as a means to do this.
Political Report of the Central Body, LRNA, February 2016
March/April 2016 Vol26.Ed2
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