Thursday, January 26, 2012

State of the Union.

The state of the union is a big deal for US capitalism. All the muckety mucks are there and the president gives a sort of a perspective. Well that is supposed to be what happens. More realistically what happens especially in an election year is that the president lays out his or her strategy for winning that election. This address was very much orientated to the coming elections. But this does not mean there is nothing to be learned from thinking about what was said.

Obama started and finished with the heroic deeds of US imperialism abroad. Bin Laden etc. He was announcing that US imperialism had no intention of taking any step back from its imperialist role. In fact it is stepping up its presence in South East Asia and trying to strengthen its presence in Central Asia. The problem is US imperialism is financially broke. It is fighting its wars with other countries money. And along with this there is the rising class anger at home which will eventually be reflected in rebellions in the military and undermine the recruiting of hundreds of thousands of young people to fight the wars.

Over 90%, an unprecedented figure, supported Obama's call in his speech for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. He was laying out the attack he will make on the Republicans in November and especially Romney if he is the candidate. While boasting about the pulling of GM back from the brink of collapse by cutting workers wages and benefits Obama did not mention the falling living standards of the majority of US workers. His theme was that all was pretty much well in America, we just needed a little tightening up here and there, a little more fairness in the system, a little more attention to investment in the economy and all would be right. And of course he was the man for the job.

Obama is developing experience. He delivers his speeches with more confidence now. He has finally decided that licking the boots of the Republicans cannot be his only strategy. He still of course licks the boots of the major corporations in spite of his talk of more fair taxes. However US capitalism is in a major crisis, economically, militarily and politically. Whether this explodes before or after November we cannot say. But explode it will and if Obama is still in power all his glib talk and rhetoric will count for little.

The Occupy movement, the battles of the long shore workers on the West coast, the movement against the attacks on union rights in Wisconsin and Ohio, the movement against foreclosures, all these are signs of the coming upsurge in struggle. All his oratory, or all the speechifying of the coming president whoever he or she is will not prevent the class battles that are now developing beneath the surface from coming to the fore. A period of great class struggle lies ahead.

Activists must not take their eye of this reality. A period of great struggle lies ahead because US capitalism is moving to put its own working class on rations. Of course there will be ebbs and flows in the struggle, their will be defeats as well as victories, there will be the rise of great progressive movements which will include all kinds of confusion, there will also be the rise of reactionary movements of significant power. US capitalism has not been putting together its reactionary forces, has not been laying down its reactionary propaganda, has not had a monopoly over politics for all this time to lie down and surrender without a fight. Major conflict between the classes lies ahead.

The workers movement must be helped to its feet and the first step in this is to take up the role of the union leaders who refuse to lead. Their abdication in the face of the opportunities that now exist is a disgrace. Not only is it a case of abdication the bulk of the trade union leadership are afraid of the rising movement of struggle and are trying to put it down or at the very least distance its self from it and cling on for dear life to the capitalist Democratic Party.

But it is not only the role of the union leaders. There is also the role of the left and activist movement. We have made our share of mistakes also. It was new forces that led the Occupy movement and the whatever we say and whatever criticisms we have about the movements in Wisconsin and Ohio the union structures were what this movement developed around. We have to look at our past role and mistakes. We have to see the damaging role that the left and radical movement's sectarianism, ultra left ism and opportunism has played in the workers movement. We have to attempt to see that the now upsurge in working class struggle is defended against opportunism, sectarianism and ultra leftism.


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