Tuesday, November 6, 2012

US Elections. How did the US working class get in this mess?

As election day unfolds here in the US to me the major question is this. How did the US working class get into this mess where the result will be either an extreme right wing capitalist (Romney) and member of a bizarre religious cult, or a slightly less extreme right wing member of the capitalist establishment (Obama) with slightly less right wing views on social issues. This to me is the question we have to answer above all others. 

I believe that in our work we answer in this way. The reason we are in this mess is above all else because of the role of the union leaders. These union leaders who control the unions with their millions of members are absolutely committed to capitalism. They can see no alternative. They also get their perks from capitalism. So for these reasons they cling on to the capitalist system and the capitalist Democratic Party. For these union leaders any struggle against capitalism would only lead to chaos as they do not believe the working class can build an alternative society. I believe that the first thing we have to do in this election is to explain that the dominant reason the US working class are in this mess, have no alternative to these two capitalist parties and politicians, is the capitalist ideology of the leaders of the workers organizations. The finger has to be pointed, the union leaders have to be named and blamed, with their capitalist policies they have forfeited their right to lead the trade unions.  

However I also believe there is another reason we are in this mess. This is the false policies of the left forces over the past decades. I think I remember that in the late 1960's there was an estimated one million people in the US who considered themselves revolutionaries. These came out of the black revolt and the anti Vietnam war movement and the women's movement. If this figure is correct, or if it is even half this number, then what happened to all these forces, why were they not able to cohere to make a difference? I have also recently seen polls saying that over 30% of young Americans favor socialism over capitalism. Where are they in this election?

I believe that a major problem and what shattered the potential of these forces in the 1960's and which blocks the development of these potential left forces today, was and is, the left sectarianism of the these groups. Splitting into fragments, spitting at each other with venom, the thinking of the left groups is overwhelmingly dominated by how can they get a leg up, win more recruits than what they see as the rival groups. Look at where we are today. There are three or four different candidates running for President from three or four of these left sectarian groups. They will get a handful, much less than that, of votes, and their affect will be entirely negative. Anybody who notices them at all will be put off socialism. These socialist candidates will be seen as warring cranks at best.  

What was and is necessary in the US workers' and left movement at the moment is a united front approach. That is agreement between the different left forces on an agreed program strategy, tactics and orientation. To achieve this, some compromises will have to made by all the left groups. Not compromise with capitalism but compromise between the groups in order to be able to build a movement. What is also necessary is an open look at and discussion of left sectarianism and how it is practiced by practically all left groups and how it has damaged the movement. What is also necessary is a discussion about general sectarianism, that is the sectarianism which cuts the left off from the workers' movement. This is not listening to the workers movement not seeing that nothing will be gained unless there is a continual dialogue with the working class and the left committing itself to listening  to and learning from the working class.  

Such a united front can be brought together on the basis of opposition to the capitalist offensive wherever it is making itself felt. This should emphasize a guaranteed job for all, increased benefits and a minumum wage of $15 an hour or a $5 an hour wage increase whichever is greatest.  Along with this, taking up the fight on the issues of education, health care, women's rights, racism, sexism, the rights of undocumented workers and immigrants and against all wars and occupations. And events around the world and recently on the US east coast have made it clear that the issue of climate change has to be at the center of the struggle of the working class for a better life.

These can be won through the tactic of mass direct action against this capitalist offensive and for building of united fronts of struggle and opposition groups in the unions, workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and colleges.  In this way victories can be won and the mood changed. This is what is necessary. We need to rebuild for a new 1934, a new 1960's. 

In order to fight the capitalist offensive the working class movement must have an offensive policy and independent organizations and program of our own. The so called Team Concept must be ended in the workplaces, the so called Team Concept must be ended in politics, that is, no more support for the capitalist Democratic Party. Whether it is Romney or Obama  if they are not met with mass direct action the capitalist offensive will roll on. There may be some difference on women's rights and these are extremely important but these can be effectively fought by building a mass movement on the streets and workplaces and schools and colleges. After all, everything that was won by the US working class, by minorities, by women was won in the workplaces and the streets and the schools and colleges in the first place. In fact the election of Obama would more tightly tie the heads of the workers and anti racist and pro women's movement to the Democrats and prepare these for more defeats.  

So my position is no support for the capitalist parties or candidates, end left sectarianism and sectarianism and ultra leftism and build a united front of mass direct action to take on the capitalist offensive, and out of this organize the unorganized in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and colleges and build a mass workers or labor party as an alternative. 

Some people argue that such an approach, that is to work for a workers party,  is to sink into the swamp of bourgeois politics. Revolutionary politics is the ability to analyze the objective situation, draw conclusions from this and from this decide upon and carry out subjective action. The consciousness of the working class in the US is an objective factor at this time. That is the left cannot at this time affect it to any significant degree. The closest this came to happening recently was the Occupy movement with the very simple idea of  the 1%   99% which became a mass idea for a short time. But the wrong policies of the leadership of this movement, where there was a leadership, let its potential slip away.  Previous to that the mass consciousness was changed by struggles of the black revolt and the women's revolt of the 1960's and previous to that the workers movement in the 1930's. 

In the future the mass of the US working class will move. The question is where will they go when they do so. Given the weakness, the left sectarianism, the sectarianism and also the ultra leftism of the left, the working class will throw up what it sees as its own mass organizations. That is fill out and build the trade unions, develop neighborhood and community and school and college organizations, and on this basis build a mass political party, a mass workers party or labor party whichever it is called. This is what will happen. The left are too weak and their policies too inadequate and mistaken to allow the working class to go straight to the revolution and a mass revolutionary party. This will not happen. To think so is to misunderstand the lessons of history. To misunderstand the work of Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky. 

In the meantime today in these elections I believe the best we can do is explain the position outlined above, how through this position we can build support for the united front approach and an offensive fighting mass direct action strategy and in this way be in a better position when the new movement comes, to offer it a way forward and some clear ideas. 


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