After the Elections: The Fight For Our Future
The record voter turnout and decisive electoral defeat of the Donald Trump administration is a victory for the working class and the entire American people. An outstanding grassroots mobilization not only defeated him in the popular election by some four million votes, a total that may rise to eight or ten million by the time all the deep blue state votes are counted. It also prevailed even in the electoral college.
The victory was an extension and continuation of the George Floyd rebellion that rocked America since June. Millions demanded the defunding and abolition of the police and protested the mishandling of the pandemic, including its disproportionate impact on African Americans. Over 65 percent of eligible voters turned out, despite the November spike in the deadly COVID-19 cases. In one example, early voting by 18- to 29-year olds increased dramatically, including by 700 percent in the swing states of Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan.
The fascist offensive continues to threaten America, however. There are three great dangers. The first and most immediate is that the Trump administration has stated that it may not leave office. It is apparently moving to a strategy of legal challenges, delaying tactics, and social chaos designed to rally Republican state legislatures to overturn the will of the people and appoint Trump electors. We dare not underestimate the power of Trump to bend Republican political officials to his will. Anything short of an unconditional concession by Trump is totally unacceptable.
The second great danger is that the fascist social base that Trump has built continues to “stand by.” The Proud Boys, the militias, and the white nationalists are not going away and will be out there working to recruit and physically attack those fighting against police terror and the results of the pandemic. The victory of right-wing Senators and the defeat of progressive propositions indicate the power of demagogic populism, especially when amplified by its presence on social media and the airwaves.
The third and ultimately most serious danger is the stable fascist groups embedded in the economy – Wall Street, the transnational corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the unchecked power of technology corporations. These forces pose a mortal danger to democracy that will continue to exist unless and until the people rise up to seize the levers of power away from them.
The damage Trump has already done cannot easily be reversed. The migrant families destroyed, the COVID-19 deaths and the damage to the earth can never be repaired. And especially if Republicans keep control of the Senate, there is no easy path to undo the unleashing of polluters, the Trump tax giveaways, the impending mass evictions, and the rampant voter suppression. All these battles remain at the heart of our agenda.
The System Is Broken
The resistance can and should use any law and lawsuit that will help us secure our victory, but we dare not rely on the Constitution and the courts as a strategy. The assurances by mainstream media and Democratic Party leaders that “the system is working” are a dangerous lie. The fact that Trump is even contesting the clear expression of the will of the people is a sign that American democracy is broken.
The 2000 Bush-Gore election is one example. Al Gore and the Democratic Party leadership relied on the courts, refused to mobilize their base to defend the election results, and allowed the US Supreme Court to overturn the will of the voters.
The whole history of the Trump administration has exposed the underlying, undemocratic structure of the American political system. In the 2016 general election, Republicans who won a minority of votes in elections for the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and the presidency ended up controlling all three. Their elected officials then used their power to pack the Supreme Court and lower courts all across the land with pro-corporate and anti-democratic judges.
How is this possible? Contrary to what many of us were taught in school, the US Constitution does not even guarantee political democracy, not to mention economic democracy. When workers fight for their basic demands today, they confront constitutional obstacles put in place by eighteenth-century slave owners and other wealthy capitalists to defend slavery and corporate property rights. In the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court notoriously used the Constitution to rule that African Americans “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect” and could be “bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it.”
The checks and balances in the Constitution were specifically designed not only to protect slavery but, in the words of James Madison, to thwart a “rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project” that would benefit the people at the expense of the wealthy. The Constitution has served as a vehicle not only to oppress African Americans but to politically control and exploit working people of all colors.
The 2020 election has proved not that the system worked but that it has to be changed. This has been done before. The Civil War brought about the abolition of slavery and established the human rights embodied in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. It will take an equal or greater popular mobilization to create a Constitution that aligns with the needs and aspirations of the people today.
Real Democracy Requires Political Revolution
The trend toward fascism in the US and internationally is based in the fact that corporate private property and democracy are incompatible in the era of electronics. The introduction of digital technology into the economy has created a fundamental antagonism between the production of material goods by robots and artificial intelligence and the system of private property. This creates a new class of workers that are temporary, part-time workers, minimum wage, below minimum wage, gig workers, partially unemployed, or permanently unemployed. When human workers are replaced, a system based on the buying and selling of labor power can no longer function. Corporate owners with little or no need for human labor have little regard for human beings. While the new class is driven into political struggle, including voting, just to be able to survive, the corporate class is driven to embrace fascist dictatorship to prevent human beings from using their vote in a way that interferes with profits.
In this situation, we have a historic choice. If we accept the domination of corporate property in the form of a fascist state, then government that derives its just powers from the “consent of the governed” will become a thing of the past. The alternative is to plan now to make a fight for real democracy, take government away from corporations, put it genuinely in the hands of the people, and reorganize the economy around distribution according to human need instead of private profit. We cannot secure real and lasting democracy as long as control over the necessities of human life is left in the hands of private corporations.
Strategy in this situation must rely on this new class that is forced to fight the government for the necessities of life that it needs and deserves. Strategy has to further rely on the developing unity of that new class, as it begins to sense that it cannot win these basic demands without consciously opposing the relentless attempts by Trump and the rest of the ruling class to divide it by race, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, or religion. In addition, it now has to repudiate those Democratic Party leaders who are already attacking the very masses of people of color, low-income people, and youth who gave them their margin of victory.
Strategy further depends on connecting with the deep moral indignation of the American people at the disgusting inhumanity of a government that murders African Americans with impunity, separates migrant children from their families, and does nothing while hundreds of thousands of all colors die of COVID-19. Democracy and morality are also basic needs. The very essence of America is the idea that whenever a government tramples on the right of the people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.
Despite the brutality and immorality of the system, massive popular movements have arisen over the past decade: the immigrant rights marches, Occupy, Fight for 15, the women’s marches, the opposition to the Muslim ban, the fight at Standing Rock, the MeToo Movement, the red state teachers rebellions, the anti-gun violence marches, the climate strikes, the movement to Abolish Ice, the George Floyd rebellion, and the war against COVID-19. They are proof that with strategy and a vision for a new society, we have the power to defeat the ruling class dictatorship and move forward toward the cooperative society we are striving for. The fight for democracy is indispensable and will immediately be tested in the upcoming battles we face against the eviction crisis and the pandemic spike.
Published: November 10, 2020
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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