Electoral Politics: Key Arena for Rising Movement
Millions of Americans are becoming politically active. As the economic crisis deepens, more and more families are unable to put food on their table and keep roofs over their heads. They are compelled to enter the electoral arena to fight for their needs. The moral revulsion to the kind of society Trump personifies has given an additional spur to this motion. People are storming the halls of Congress, taking over offices of legislators for denying healthcare, demanding government provide clean, affordable water, and fighting to save public education. They are joining mega-marches of women, scientists and youth, fighting for the rights of immigrants, for an end to police killings, and for their rights as workers. First time candidates, many of whom are women, are bringing these demands into the electoral arena. Tens of thousands of potential candidates are clamoring for information on how to run political campaigns. A record number of those running for office today are leaders in the fight to save their communities from poverty and corporate destruction.
They are running as Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Socialists, Greens, and with other parties. Some aim to force out corrupt politicians. Some seek to transform the Democratic Party. Some are joining third parties or running as independents, an expression of their deep dissatisfaction with both major parties – about half of Americans today describe themselves as independents. Others, particularly young people, are running as socialists. Regardless of party labels, many campaigns are unleashing a debate about the kind of society we are going to have, and whether there can be true democracy when corporations own the economy and government. The American people are beginning to ask, whom does government serve? It marks a step toward the understanding that workers are a class with independent interests from the ruling class.
New Social Forces and the Electoral Process
These social upsurges are driven by the shift in the economy from production with human labor to production with advanced technologies that require little or no human labor. The new labor-replacing technologies are creating an abundance of what people need to survive – food, housing, health care, and other necessities of life. At the same time an ever-growing section of society, a new class of workers, cannot survive in a system that says you must work to eat, when there is less and less work to do. A life or death battle is underway for people’s survival. It will require that workers fight as a class for a new society that provides for all, whether they have money or not. This fight will require the unity of millions.
Of great political significance is that workers who once had relatively good wages are now joining the ranks of this new class. These newly dispossessed workers are educated and used to organization. They are being forced to move against their deteriorating condition and they are arousing broad sections of society. During the recent wave of school strikes, teachers exposed how they must work two or three jobs to survive. They showed how children across America are educated in dilapidated buildings with few resources, while monies earmarked for public education are handed over to corporations. The growth of the new class and the role of the newly dispossessed are revolutionizing the political landscape, as seen in the new electoral campaigns sweeping the country.
For example, when a video of a candidate being dragged from the podium of the West Virginia House of Delegates for listing off names of politicians funded by the energy corporations went viral, people across the country were outraged. This deliberate attack on democracy by public officials in the service of the corporations resulted in donations pouring into this candidate’s local campaign.
Another West Virginia campaign took up the fight against corrupt corporate politicians who protect coal companies that are destroying the environment, the water and air, creating untold deaths from cancer and other illnesses. This candidate’s campaign theme was, “We want clean and safe jobs, a livable wage, we want clean water, we want clean air and opportunities for our children, and we want healthcare. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from – everybody is saying we want the same things. We don’t want these corporate politicians.” Such campaigns are bringing a new inclusive morality to society that says: we are all in this fight for our survival together and government must meet the demands of the people. These ideas and a movement around them are a threat to the class that rules us.
The Ruling Class and the Electoral Process
From the rulers’ standpoint, elections are a means to gauge the thinking of the people to develop the tactics to divide and contain the rising movement for a just society. Both the Democratic and Republican parties, though in different ways, are utilizing the elections to build a fascist movement that supports, among other things, the government’s program to privatize for the corporations what little remains of the public resources – schools, water, public housing and more. Both parties are forced to develop new tactics to accomplish these goals.
In the past the Democratic Party handpicked its candidates. Today, because of the groundswell of candidates demanding that government provide for people’s needs, the Democratic Party is squeezing out independent-minded candidates. Politicians who are corporate shills for the defense and energy industry are running smear campaigns against some candidates. On the fourth anniversary of the poisoning of Flint, and testament to people’s anger at both parties, groups posted eviction notices on the offices of Democratic Party and Republican Party state legislators for failing to resolve the problem that the state government created. Flint residents were met with vicious attacks by leaders of the Democratic Party, who claimed they were doing everything to help Flint.
Reforms that once benefited workers, like unions or social programs, served to unify the workers with the capitalists and guarantee corporate profits. Today, the corporations will not provide anything to workers whose labor they no longer need, as they try to prevent mass opposition to their program to protect their private property rights.
As the true nature of the corporate parties becomes more exposed, they will be forced to unleash the wrath of corporate power on the movement. However, the movement the rulers are confronting today is qualitatively different than in the past – it cannot and will not stop fighting for clean water, housing, education or healthcare – giving elections a new significance as a battleground where the independent class interests of the workers can be illuminated. As an Oklahoma teacher said, “Republicans have been working to destroy our public education system for decades. There is a reason the majority of states that are striking are primarily red states. But to be fair, seeing as how they are beholden to the same corporate masters, the Democrats have done nothing to stop this from happening.”
A Vision for Victory
The electoral arena is a key battleground and is a means to educate millions of people to prepare for the huge battles that lie ahead. Although strikes, protests, elections and the fight for new parties that represent the workers are all a necessary part of the struggle for a new society, none can change a system based on an economy that rests on private property. Ultimately, the ruling class will not allow us to vote them out of power. Today, a fascist State – the naked rule of corporate power – is arising to oppose the motion of the people for their survival.
Without a vision a people will perish
In the fight for a new society, revolutionaries participate in every battle for people’s needs, while sharing a vision of the kind of new society that can provide for all. This vision is of a cooperative society based on the public ownership of the now privately owned means of producing what society needs. In such a new society, poverty can be replaced with abundance for all. This vision necessitates that society take over the corporations as the only alternative to the fascist program put forth by the ruling class and their parties.
To reorganize society in the people’s interests is a protracted fight. It requires the building of a large organization of revolutionaries that is composed of a whole corps of active, fighting thinkers. How do revolutionaries help workers see that they are members of a class with independent interests from the rulers? What is the next strategic step in unifying our forces? An organization of revolutionaries discusses such questions in the context of the overall battle of the participants. Once it is grasped by millions that we are a class with independent interests from the ruling class, the fight of the people for political power to create a new cooperative society will leap forward.
Revolutionaries seize this moment to build an organization that gets out the ideas that can make history. We are in a war for the existence of humanity and we can win.
July/August 2018 Vol28.Ed4
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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