The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"The direction of motion today among capitalist parties and politicians is to the left in bourgeois terms, not to the right."

Excerpt from 2016 Havana Book Fair speech by US Socialist Workers Party leader Mary-Alice Waters:

....The US national security apparatus has undergone a massive expansion over the 15 years since 9/11, facilitated by technological advances embodied in the Internet and spread of what is called “social media.” Concerns about this among workers and others is one of the elements driving support for the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, for many years a Democrat, now running as a Republican (and, yes, marked by “New York values” the entire time, as the Texas-Cuban has taunted him).

Some on the left in the US think Trump speaks for a deeply reactionary, even fascist, development among sections of the working class. That is a gross misreading. There is no growing ultrarightist, much less fascist, movement in the US today. The direction of motion among capitalist parties and politicians is to the left in bourgeois terms, not to the right. That motion, among other things, has been registered in the bipartisan shift toward opening diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.

Most people here in Cuba are surprised when we explain that we have no more difficulty selling our press and talking working-class politics with those who attend large Trump election rallies than we do engaging in the same communist propaganda work at Bernie Sanders election events.

The ever-expanding surveillance of and intrusion into every aspect of our lives by Washington’s national security apparatus is hated by the working class. As are arbitrary “executive actions” and “regulation.” And there’s nothing reactionary about that. Smaller government has been a cornerstone of the communist program from 1848 to today.

Reaction to smoldering depression

It is not Trump’s crude anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim invective that accounts for his showing in initial primaries. It is his slashing attacks on the hypocrisy, lies, and manipulations of the political “establishment.” It is his success in casting himself as an “outsider.” Above all, it is his ability to play on the anxiety and fear generated by the smoldering depression conditions US workers have known for almost a decade, and the feeling of helplessness in face of an imperialist world order that is coming apart at an accelerating pace.

It is the heroin epidemic that is devastating working-class families across the US. It is the deliberately manipulated and camouflaged size of the scourge of unemployment. It is the scandalous lack of medical care and help for young workers who have been torn apart mentally and physically as cannon fodder for Washington’s military actions in the Mideast. It is the numbing and terrifying disregard for human life that marks the spreading class conflicts in the Mideast and beyond.

The ancient mandarin curse, “May you live in interesting times,” is for revolutionaries, for communists, a tremendous opportunity — and responsibility. And that is what we in the Socialist Workers Party will be oriented to, in the streets, factories, and on picket lines.

There are no large-scale labor battles today, no powerful social protest movements. There are many signs of growing resistance, however. There are strikes, fights against employer lockouts, and actions for a $15 minimum wage and a union. There are protests against cop killings that have pressed the rulers, for the first time in many years, to hand down indictments and firings in a number of prominent cases, putting a leash on police violence to some degree.

Above all, there is an unprecedented economic and social crisis unfolding across the capitalist system worldwide. When that crisis breaks, as it will sooner or later, the kind of class battles at the center of the books we are discussing here today will explode once more.

Fifty-five years ago, on the eve of the battle of Playa Girón, Fidel confidently assured the Cuban people, “There will be a victorious revolution in the United States before there is a victorious counterrevolution in Cuba.”

He was right then, and the line of struggle he laid out more than five decades ago remains our common guide to action. We can only add that the political capacities and revolutionary potential of workers and farmers in the US are today as utterly discounted by the ruling powers as were those of the Cuban toilers. And just as wrongly.

Speed the day!

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