The U.S Elections and the Tasks of Revolutionaries
Articles from the pages of Rally,Comrades!
on the elections and the Way Forward for America
November / December 2016
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.
November / December 2016
Today, the political party system is in crisis. A fundamental shift in the economy, brought on by technology that no longer requires human labor, has caused the elimination of millions of jobs, leaving the workers desperately searching for the necessities of life. Politically, there is a sense that the country has lost its way, and that it is headed in the wrong direction, with established political rulers either unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
November / December 2016
Today, our starting point has to be the qualitatively new conditions — a leap in the economy and the consequent dissolution of the economic system and its relations. The battle emerging today is who will control the State. The ruling class has to control the State if they are going to protect private property. The workers have to control the State if they are going to gain control of their lives. That struggle is not “fight the right.” That implies supporting one section of the capitalist class against another. We are dealing with the beginning stages of revolution.
November / December 2016
The participation of broad sections of the new class in the 2016 Sanders Democratic Party primary election campaign created an important opportunity for the development of its consciousness. The class achieves its political independence in a series of partial and necessary stages. Its motion in and around the Sanders campaign expressed an undeniable impulse to break with the Democratic Party. The Sanders message drew in a wide range of political forces. In addition to dispossessed workers fighting for their immediate demands, union leaders, workers, business owners, bourgeois political operatives, leftists, and “left wing populists” of various stripes and tendencies were drawn to his message.
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.
Everyone understands that our country is approaching a certain political nodal line. What is the process of political development? First comes the objective foundation for change, then the scattered spontaneous reaction to this new emerging change, then comes the discussion, debate, and consolidation of ideas about that change, and out of that comes an organized effort to adjust to the new reality.
The fork in the political road that we have referred to so often is clearly coming into view. We can already see the outlines of the coming political struggle. Economic polarization in the extreme is recognized by all and accepted as the foundation for inevitable political polarization.
The U.S. two-party system that has protected the economy is in crisis and in the beginning stages of self-destruction. The capitalist class knows that it can no longer rule in the old ways. From the state budget battles to the fight for immigrant rights, for decent health care and the protection of public education, to the Occupy Wall Street movement, the American people are increasingly aware that something is terribly wrong.
Fascism today is a political response to globalization – capitalism in the age of electronics – and the U.S. battle to dominate the global economy. It is the political expression of the objective concentration of wealth and the spread of poverty. Fascism is not about reaction, that is, returning to some past period. It is a revolutionary political movement that arises in response to a threat to private property relations. It seeks not to adjust this or that policy, that is, to “reform” the system.
The motion toward a third party is part of the splitting, wrecking, and destruction that we call polarization. This third party motion is arising on the basis of the destruction of the capitalist system and the battle to reorganize society around the new means of production. It is an expression of the economic and political process that influences everything else in that general process and how it unfolds.
Politics, a concentrated expression of economics, is the struggle for political power. Elections are a narrow stage on which part of this struggle takes place. Chicagoans had a rare opportunity to see this up close when challenger Jésus (Chuy) Garcia forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff. He did this despite the $30 million war chest amassed by Emanuel and despite endorsements of Emanuel from nearly the entire political establishment, including President Obama. On April 7 Garcia lost by 55% to 45%.
The U.S. economy continues to teeter on the edge, as we enter the fall election campaign. The transition to automation and robotic production has made the capitalist organization of economic life fundamentally unsustainable. As employment shrinks and wages decline, the working class is unable to purchase the social product, depressing the market. Corporations increasingly refuse to pay taxes to fund services for workers they no longer need, advocating austerity policies that depress the market further.
It is almost impossible to make an overarching assessment of the international and domestic situation in one article. Instead, we must try to grasp the central objective link that is pulling all the events in a certain direction at this particular moment. That link, generally speaking, is also connected to the central link of strategy. Political strategy isn’t something you invent and then struggle to impose on others. Political strategy must utilize the lumber, the historical relations and ideologies at hand, in order to achieve one’s goals under new conditions.
“You cannot have this enormous income disparity — You’re going to slice the country down the middle. It’s not going to hold.” – Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stone, March 29, 2012. As the 2012 elections campaign heats up, the country is being wrenched apart. The gains in manufacturing jobs over the past seventy years have been wiped out in the past ten. Even Newt Gingrich has been forced to admit that the real unemployment rate in America is more like 23 per cent.
One of the important outcomes of the presidential elections was the emergence of Black and Latino objective unity. This Black and Latino unity was not a conscious effort. That is, Latinos and Blacks did not say “Let’s unite and vote for Obama.” But by voting for Obama, however, Blacks and Latinos were objectively moving along the same lines — a common demand for health care, for decent housing, for education for their children, for jobs and a way out of poverty.
Elections shape and determine the mood of the people and indicate what approaches are necessary to maintain social control. The U.S. electoral process has developed with and rested upon the economic basis of American industrial progress and rising standards of living. The thinking of the people is still tied to the interests of the capitalist class, but as globalization and robotic production undermine the old economic reality, class contradictions once held in check begin to assert themselves.
“Therefore I say: Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Politics is undergoing major change in this country. The corporatization of government has placed severe limits on what the politicians and the two major corporate parties can do. At the same time, the vast majority of Americans face the destruction of their way of life. Today’s two- party system is splitting and polarizing, opening the way for something new.
Today 82 per cent of the American people believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and they are looking for change. They want solutions. They want answers. And no wonder. The crisis at the very roots of American society is reflected in the growing polarization of wealth and poverty. Last year 482 billionaires for the first time could not all make it onto the Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans.
Revolutionaries face complex and challenging problems at this stage of the revolutionary process. In every arena and in every struggle the revolutionary movement is blocked by the influence of the Democratic and Republican parties over the minds of the workers, their domination of the political terrain, and their ability to use their influence and wealth to divert the social struggle away from its aims. They frame every struggle as a fight over apparently opposing views, each one of which serves the policies and interests of the capitalist class they represent. Nothing can be achieved without breaking this control over the political thinking and political organization of the workers.
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