The Third International after Lenin

Friday, January 27, 2017

The bi-partisan bourgeois war party

Democrats, Liberals and their middle-class radical camp followers have been reduced to decrying  “the horror” of the Trump administration's opening days. But millions of urban and rural working people in the United States are already in the midst of an unfolding Obama-induced horror for eight years.

Some insights from a 2003 letter by Jack Barnes and Steve Clark, leaders on the U.S. Socialist Workers Party, on the California recall election of that year seem pertinent.

....Washington faces one undefeatable enemy: world capitalism’s inevitably deepening depression conditions and—over time, but just as inevitable—resistance to its effects among the toilers that will bring reinforcements, make possible the stripping away of illusions, and increase class solidarity and political consciousness as the consequences of the mounting social catastrophe unfold. 

.... the converging course of the capitalist parties is shifting very gradually but steadily to the right. That trend will continue so long as the rulers don’t try to move too far, too fast, in their assaults on social conquests won by workers and the oppressed through the rise of the CIO social movement in the 1930s and by the mass proletarian-based struggle for Black rights, related fights by Latinos, and the women’s movement and its worldwide repercussions, initiated in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Supreme Court will remind them if they do. 

....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.  

.... 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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