After the Elections: Which Way Forward?
It’s over. But it’s not. When the election campaigns began more than a year ago, over half of the people said they thought the country was going in the wrong direction. Today seventy-five per cent of the people say the country is going in the wrong direction. This election has been the stage upon which we have seen an intensification of the political polarization that has been building in American society for years.
American workers are angry, confused and deeply divided about what the problem is and how to go forward. Donald Trump won the electoral vote and is the president-elect, but Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Thousands across the country are in the streets protesting against Trump; thousands would also have been in the streets if Clinton had won. Some have characterized the elections as a “cultural civil war.” One observer said the elections were like a family going through a bitterly contested divorce, where the judge tells the child to choose which one she wants to live with, and the kid doesn’t want to live with either one.
But this election has really been about direction: which way forward? That is why the real battleground is over consciousness, about winning over the hearts and minds of the American people. The reality is that every solution proposed by the candidates benefited the ruling class. To win the American people over to their program, the ruling class perpetuates the old ideas, drawing upon the worst aspects of American history, while at the same time testing just how far the people will go toward accepting a fascist political ideology. But these are new times and the battle is on for working class consciousness, a consciousness which understands the real cause of their dire circumstances and a path forward to solutions aligned with their actual interests. Revolutionaries play an indispensable role in winning the battle for the class to understand its common interests and itself as a class.
Life and Death
What is at the bottom of all this? People entered into this process angry that their “lives are being wrecked” by the economy and demanding in one way or another that the government do something about it. What the people see every day on the ground is that the economy is not working for them. For many, there is increasingly no work at all. This is serious. This is life and death. If you don’t have a job, how do you put food on the table for your children? How do you get health care for them when they are sick? How do you even provide a home for them?
This is why the people have been forced to turn to a government they hate to demand solutions to their plight. What they are coming to see, is the government serves the interests of a corporate ruling elite that has taken over the political system. Look at the options the campaigns for the presidency presented: a billionaire real estate speculator versus an open representative of Wall Street and global capital.
From Ferguson to Flint to Standing Rock, we find the workers – those who are on the bottom, left out, excluded, passed over – fighting against the corporate takeover of every resource in society. How can we allow the privatization of water? It is a fundamental need for life itself. How can we allow the continuing violent attacks by a police force, especially directed at Black youth, who are an integral part of a new class rising up to demand that the basic needs of life be met? How can we allow the continuing attacks against our immigrant brothers and sisters?
The Real Cause
The need for livable wage jobs was the central demand put forth by American workers in this election. One has only to drive through the miles and miles of the rusted out mills and towns that were once the heart of the industrial Midwest to recognize that this gets to the very core of what is polarizing America. Or take a drive through Appalachia, where the extreme poverty is apparent in every shack alongside the roadway. Or look carefully at every center of our great cities to see the massive unemployment and its effects. Or travel through the heart of California and view the conditions of those who harvest the crops of the breadbasket of America.
But the ruling class and its politicians have been very skillful in steering the debate away from the real causes of this deep and ongoing economic crisis. Neither of the two candidates spoke about the real cause being the new technology based in electronics that no longer requires human labor. Go to any auto plant in America, or around the globe and you will see more robots than you do humans. Or go to any warehouse, UPS facility, or Amazon and you will see that human beings are hardly to be found. What is more, this process is accelerating exponentially. Today, driverless trucks are delivering beer in Colorado. The jobs of 3 million truck drivers are in peril. This electronic revolution is not going away and the jobs are not coming back. There is no way we can go back to a pre-electronic past.
How does American society deal with a broken economy brought on by laborless production? What is to become of a growing section of society which the capitalist class no longer needs? They are like the canary in the mine. Society as we have known it is being destroyed. Answering these questions is the real meaning of what these elections have been all about.
The Fight for a Cooperative Society
So how do we go forward? These times call for big solutions to big problems and people don’t wage that kind of fight without hope. They can’t win without a vision. The guiding principle of the American dream is if you just work hard enough and don’t give up, you can succeed. This principle has been dashed. The times now call for a political movement organized around a program that reflects the fight for the basic demands of this class, which is most imperiled by the current crisis.
Winning the battle for consciousness is decisive to the outcome. A class conscious of its interests and willing to act on those interests can politically turn the country in the direction of creating the new society, to solve the problems faced by the millions of workers who are displaced, dispossessed and excluded. This is the only option for our class to be guided by the vision of a new cooperative society that is organized to distribute the abundance of society according to need. This is our cause, our fight and our vision for new America.
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