Electoral Battles Reflect Growing Polarization
Almost overnight, the whole world has been upended. The world economy stands on a knife’s edge, and millions face an uncertain future. The coronavirus has exacerbated vast historical processes underway and accelerated the pace of that change around the globe. All of our struggles, whether to get our needs met through the election fights, or housing takeovers, or speaking out for a vision of a new society, have taken on greater urgency. The more we understand what we are up against, the better we can craft our way forward. Now, more than ever, those of us who have dedicated ourselves to the cause of humanity must stay focused on the fundamental roots of these dire conditions and the vision that will, with our efforts, one day save humanity.
Roots of Turmoil
We see that all the turmoil in the world has the same root. Global transformation is shattering and transforming all existing social and political relationships. This is happening because automated production within the wage labor value system is polarizing society with unheard-of wealth on one side and unheard-of poverty on the other. This antagonism cannot be resolved within the capitalist system. It is destroying the basis of modern society, and it lies at the heart of the economic and political crisis that is engulfing the globe. It is giving the struggles around the world a revolutionary character.
Any U.S. Presidential Administration, Democrat or Republican, has to grapple with this historical reality and its results. The economic revolution is driving the shift from West to East, undermining the old U.S. dominated world order. The U.S. is still economically and militarily powerful, but, in a historical sense, it is in a trajectory of decline. The U.S. ruling class today, and their political mouthpieces, are not in disagreement about the defense of the private property system and U.S. global hegemony. They are in dangerous disagreement over how that should be accomplished.
The ruling class needs a political movement to achieve its goals. This is why they fight so hard to get our class behind one or another of their competing proposals and political parties within the electoral and every other arena.
Our class also needs its own political movement to clear the way for a new society. But our fight is for a society organized to benefit all humanity. Throughout the world and across this country, a movement is arising against poverty, fascism, and war, and for democracy, peace, and economic well-being. The obscenely inadequate response to the needs of our class, both in our daily lives and in response to the coronavirus crisis, clearly shows the immorality of a ruling class that is unfit to rule.
The goals of the ruling class and working class cannot be reconciled. It is this struggle that accounts for the intensity of the battles raging around the 2020 elections and is thrown into stark relief by the coronavirus pandemic.
World of Contradictions
There is no doubt that the Trump Administration, like every other Presidential Administration, has enriched the ruling class both economically and politically. At the same time, Trump’s policies threaten the long-term economic interests of a rising global ruling class, of which the U.S. ruling class is a leading part. This is resulting in a struggle over how these long-term interests will be advanced.
Gone are the days when any economy, including the U.S., can produce what is needed and sell what it produces within its own borders. The high productivity of the technologies of today requires a global division of labor and a global market to absorb its goods. Today, the world economy is tied together through multinational and transnational corporations, and intricate supply and distribution chains stretching across hundreds of national borders. It is dependent on international alliances and trade agreements. The Trump Administration’s economic policy of tariffs and unilateral sanctions has hurt almost every sector of the U.S. economy and disrupted the global trading system. It has frayed old relations and alliances and put the already fragile globally integrated world economy in jeopardy.
The Trump Administration accelerates the polarization fueling the reordering of world relations when it tears up agreements, slaps enemies and allies alike with tariffs and unilateral sanctions and disrespects world leaders. It is standard U.S. policy to prevent China’s rise to a dominant position in the world, but the Administration’s policies have realigned relations with its traditional allies as well. These allies cannot allow the U.S. to dictate their national interests and their economic well-being. They need oil from Iran, Germany needs gas from Russia. The E.U. and the U.K. are in open rebellion against the U.S. government over efforts to prevent the Chinese tech corporations ZTE and Huawei into their markets. They are creating alternative international payment systems, establishing new mechanisms for trade negotiations the U.S. tried to derail, and upholding agreements the U.S. has abandoned. The Trump Administration’s use of U.S. economic power to steal desperately needed medical supplies from its allies has only exacerbated this polarization.
The extent of the ruling class’s concern about these policies can be read in their opposition to them. In the last two years, hundreds of CEOs, lobbyists, U.S. business groups representing multinational and transnational corporations of all types have protested the tariffs. Some Senate Republicans have attempted to curb Trump’s tariff powers. Even his own supporters urged him to back off the most restrictive policies before the world economy crashed all together. The capitalist class has made billions off the coronavirus bailout. But the Trump Administration’s chaotic handling of the pandemic has created more problems for them by exacerbating the long-term economic problems and creating more instability as workers begin to fight back against the failure of the government to protect their welfare.
Finally, let’s look at the contradictions the ruling class faces with the race and nationality-based policies of the Trump Administration. These kinds of ideas and policies have always served the ruling class and today assists them in creating an environment for fascism. When Pompeo declared at the Munich Security Conference in February 2020, “The West is winning!” it was little reported in the U.S. and largely accepted even by the liberal Democratic establishment. It was, however, widely commented on in the international press. This “America First” vision is clear: a white, Christian nationalist power, subjugating all other peoples, religions, and colors (even their allies), armed and ready for apocalyptic conflict with enemies, especially in the “East” (read inferior peoples).
But cultivating a “white backlash” at home and a chauvinist American Exceptionalism in the world can cut both ways. The U.S. ruling class operates in a world economy and is part of a global multinational, multi-colored ruling class. To present itself as the leader of a “white man’s America” undermines its standing in the world and, more importantly, interferes with its ability to conduct trade relations on behalf of the corporations it represents.
Trump and the “America First” forces that have coalesced around him are challenging the political establishment to clear away any impediments to their vision of a new world order. After the fall of the Soviet Union, a struggle emerged among the U.S. ruling class over the Democratic Party’s policies to shape globalization under U.S. leadership. Clinton faced impeachment for it, but the forces of global speculative capital he represented ultimately triumphed and were carried on by the Bush and Obama Administrations. The entire State apparatus was grounded in and oriented around maintaining this new world order and is now fighting and resisting any change to it. These forces, including the majority of the Democratic establishment, are fighting back with every weapon they have. Their difficulty, of course, is that they are in agreement with what Trump is attempting to achieve. In fact, their leadership attacks anyone who puts forward a program that seeks to address the real problems of the American people, including within their own party.
What Does This Mean for Our Class?
Our class has no choice but to fight, but what does it need to win? The elections are an arena to put forward our demands and to possibly achieve some measure of redress. Our class unites with all proposals that take us any step in that direction.
At the same time, we have to see our fight today as no less than one battle in a larger war for the future of humanity. Our class needs to be freed from the ideas and false promises of the ruling class. We need to make decisions from the perspective of our class interests, fight for what benefits our class, and discard what does not. Our class needs unity. The strongest threads are where we are all experiencing a common economic plight. We need a vision that inspires us to fight for something: A world where no one goes without, where misery and fear for survival are forever banished, and true happiness defines our lives.
The League of Revolutionaries for a New America is on the front lines of the fight for food, homes, education, and healthcare. We fight shoulder to shoulder with all political organizations and sections of society that fight against the growing poverty, social and ecological destruction, fascism, and war. In spite of worsening economic conditions, nothing can be accomplished until the American people hold a vision of where they want to go and what they want to be.
Creating this vision with them is the overriding task of revolutionaries and the foundation of our organization. RC
May/June 2020. vol.30. Ed3
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