The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Notes on mass psychology & Trumpism

Is Trump a "New York liberal"? 

[See http://themilitant.com/2016/8008/index.shtml for that characterization.]

Shifts in bourgeois electoralism in the last 40 years make definitions of  liberalism a moving target.

Recalled this from 1992:

....This is a mass psychology most of us have not seen in our political lifetimes - a widespread belief among layers of people that what is needed is not this or that particular solution, but a charismatic individual in high office who also has the will to impose change, whatever it may be. The conflicting class interests that underlie the rising social crisis get covered up in capitalist society; the fact that the mounting economic and social problems faced by millions are class questions is kept hidden. Nothing that happens in U.S. politics today openly takes the form of class politics.

Politically, fighting workers are the last remaining liberals in the United States today. As the bipartisan axis of social policy has kept shifting to the right over the past twenty years, most self-proclaimed liberals have become less and less liberals of the New Deal/Fair Deal variety. But fighting workers still talk like liberals, because it is the only politics they know. There is no politics except bourgeois politics in the United States on any mass level, and there has not been for decades.

We should never be fooled by this political reality into concluding that workers in the United States are somehow committed to bourgeois liberalism, however; they are not. Any more than we should be fooled into thinking that the working class here in Britain has moved to the right because many workers vote Conservative when the Tories promise lower taxes. No, it is just that as the Labour Party acts more and more openly as a bourgeois party, workers - if they go to the polls at all - vote under normal conditions for what they hope may at least improve their immediate situation. Both examples underline the absence of any genuinely independent political voice of the working class, either in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Nowhere in the world today, in fact, does the working class have a political voice powerful enough to be heard on any mass scale (with the exception of revolutionary Cuba, that is). Many organizations speak in the name of the working class - social democratic and Stalinist parties, centrist formations, union officialdoms. But none of them speaks for the interests of the working class. These voices pretending to speak for labor, pretending to speak for the traditions of socialism, actually speak as lieutenants of the capitalist rulers in decline, who are squeezing the working class.

This political misleadership, this lack of any clear working-class political alternative or program, tosses layers of workers into the same pot with hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, from the middle classes who find the radical solutions they are looking for among demagogic voices on the far right of bourgeois politics.

From: The Militant - 9/6/99
http://www.themilitant.com/1999/6330/6330_26.html

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From:

The Militant - November 24, 2003 -- Behind the outcome of California election:

....workers are not loyal to the ideology of imperialist liberalism. That was not even true between 1936 and 1948, the high tide of the Roosevelt administration’s “New Deal” and the Truman administration’s initial “Fair Deal,” much less today. 

In this regard, the campaign wrap-up editorial in the October 27 issue of the Militant slipped in saying that, “Despite Davis’s very liberal record over the past two years, half of union households voted to oust him” (emphasis added). It has never been the fact, and never the position of communists, that workers are more prone to be attracted to the program of imperialist liberalism than imperialist conservatism. Either way, working people and the oppressed go to the wall.

In the absence of any mass proletarian leadership, working people seldom vote on the basis of “program.” To the degree workers vote—and the “electorate” under bourgeois democracy is disproportionately weighted toward the middle class and professionals—they look above all for a possible road forward in face of the concrete conditions of daily life under capitalism. In doing so, they’re forced to choose between the twin parties of the exploiting classes, or occasionally a short-lived “third party” offshoot of one of them. And if “our country” is fighting a war, they have to be very convinced before switching from the incumbent “commander in chief.”

So-called party loyalty is shallow in U.S. capitalism’s two-party system, relative to imperialist countries with mass ideological parties—be they labor, social democratic, Stalinist, or Catholic- or Protestant-based. This fact has served the U.S. rulers well when their social system is under strain. The fact that the chief executive has a fixed term is a stabilizer underlying this party fluidity. A recall, like impeachment, is never anything but a hesitantly used last resort for the rulers. But the pornographication of politics and its sabotage of civility may well increase the use of these forms, and with them space for destabilizing radical right demagogy within bourgeois politics.

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