- AFSCME Local 444 negotiations assesment 1997
- Preparing for Revolution: A discussion document
- The Internal lives of Revolutionary Organizations
- Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers
- Sanders: Our Alternative
- The Nature of the New European Left
- Catastrophic Climate Change: Caused by Capitalism
- University of California workers and Unions
- An Invitation to Our Readers
Friday, February 24, 2017
Bannon and the Gang are Preparing for a War Against Workers
Afscme Local 444, retired
People might be right that Trump may well be stupid, but his main theoreticians aren't. People have said that proof of his stupidity is putting a person who hates the EPA in charge of the EPA, someone who has no respect for workers, hates unions and violates labor law as Secretary of Labor, an idiotic anti-public school religious fanatic in charge of public education, an out of touch surgeon in charge of housing etc.
Bu Bannon, the neo Nazi former Goldman Sachs guy (talk about corporatist) who is his mentor, makes it very clear at the CPAC conference yesterday why these choices are made when he claimed that the goal of the Trump Administration is: “deconstruction of the administrative state”
By this he meant a system of "...taxes, regulations and trade pacts that........ stymie economic growth and infringe upon one’s sovereignty." “If you look at these Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction,” Bannon said.
We should realize that when Bannon talks of sovereignty he is talking about the State/government make no bones about it. He is talking about the all powerful state as the "executive" of the capitalist class as a whole. A state or government that will defend the interests of US capitalism first and foremost on US soil. That part of the state he is attacking, will be eliminating, is that part that protects us to a degree, that part of the state that attempts to regulate the excesses of the so-called free market. That curbs market forces and its rapacious profit seeking adherents from destroying everything they touch, the water we drink, (flint, West Virginia) the air we breathe, (Porter Ranch) the forests and land we love to walk in and hunt on and fish on (Standing Rock). This was why they had to put an end to the Native Americans and their allies at Standing Rock.
They actually intend to strengthen the state, their state. The tragic BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico was caused because government regulators allowed the deep water drilling industry write its own laws. But that is not enough for these right wing nationalists, and right wing nationalism is by nature racist. Things were moving too slowly. They want to get their grubby little hands on the USPS, education, transportation, everything public as this is money out, it is our wealth returned to us in part in the form of social services and it took a struggle to get that temporary relief. These crumbs were a concession that has been made to the US working class over time. But this is not productive capital, it pushes private capital out of the marketplace and undermines profit making.
After the collapse of Stalinism, US capitalism talked of "Full Spectrum Dominance". What they meant by this was the freedom of capital to travel the globe free of obstacles like unions, government regulation and the like. Both parties of capital do this. Clinton, Obama, they all do it. The Democratic Party plays the role of "good guy" in this good cop bad cop political scenario where capitalism seeks to take back from us everything we've won over a century and more. But why the aggression now? Is it wise, might they wake the sleeping giant that is the US working class? They well might, in fact they will. But we cannot blame them for this overconfidence. Bannon and his gang have read the history of the US working class we can bank on it and it is the potential power of the US working class that has slowed them but the US working class has been very quiet of late.
The US capitalist class does not fear the trade union leadership, the present heads of the organized sector of the class that still has the potential to shut down the US economy. Why should they? The building trades leaders were in the Oval Office with the Predator in Chief laughing and praising him. The lawyer who heads the Teamsters, James Hoffa, loves the guy. They have savaged us for years and are in the process of eradicating that last bastion of trade unionism in the US-----the public sector.
These are dangerous times but there is the positive side to this. It is beginning to wake the American workers and middle classes out of their stupor. Republican Senators at Town Hall meetings have faced a barrage of angry constituents, many of them older, many of them registered Republicans who are angry and afraid their health care, limited as it is, will get worse under Trump. Women are concerned and all are concerned about the environment and the affect gutting regulations, giving capital a free rein, will have on their lives. Immigrants, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ communities, all are concerned about the racism and white nationalism/neo Nazi ideology that is present in the White House.
Those workers that thought Trump will bring back the traditional jobs that have been lost not so much to offshoring but technology and innovation, are in for a surprise. They too will join the ranks of those victimized even more than they are now by the savagery of the so-called free market and the all powerful state.
We are seeing the beginnings of what must become a national movement if we are to halt this offensive. The Wall Street Journal reports today on some of the groups that have been formed since the election and that are organizing many of the protests at the Town Hall meetings. Smaller local groupings like the Voters of Watchung Hills, an affluent community in New Jersey. NJ7, a local group organized in a NJ Congressional District started by a woman who was in the group Pantsuit Nation that supported Clinton. It has 800 members in a Facebook group."I'm just so not political. "I've never been political" says its founder. The Watchung group is having meetings of 60 people or more.There is the Indivisibles, Planned Parenthood and Organize for Action and many more. Hundreds of people have been showing up at what are normally boring, orchestrated Town hall meetings, 900 turned up at one meeting in New Jersey that normally has 100.
Trump and others are saying, just like bosses' do in strikes, that these events are organized by outsiders or that people are being paid. The Democrats, who are involved through groups like Moveon.org and others, said the same thing about the Tea Party movement. Activists disagree. Paid organizers? "I wouldn't even know where to find them" one 53 year old woman told the WSJ. She said her 23 year old taught her how to use Twitter so she could follow Trump's tweets. We must not underestimate the anger that Trump's misogyny and attacks on reproductive rights has stirred up among women.
Given the role of the trade union leadership in supporting capitalism and the failure of the numerous socialist and other left grouplets that have no significant influence in the working class at all, the anger out there is being expressed through all sorts of channels. There are literally thousands of groups springing up but they exist in isolation from each other in the main with no national structure. Here in California we had a state of emergency and an ongoing battle in the Southern part of the state over a gas leak that caused an evacuation of an entire community and we just had the evacuation of 200,000 due to a possible rupture in the country's largest dam. Then we have had Flint, Black Lives Matter and police brutality and many more. These struggles must be brought together nationally in a direct action movement against Trump and his policies.
It is important for revolutionary socialists and anti-capitalists to participate in these formations in a non sectarian way and help to build and broaden this movement. Lenin may have made his share of mistakes but he was correct when he stressed that, "We can (and must) begin to build socialism, not with human material specially prepared for us, but with the human material bequeathed to us by capitalism."
People learn through struggle and sometimes very rapidly; Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programs", wrote Marx to a friend. Of course, in the latter stages of a movement, when it become a "real" movement, the program is critical.
Bannon's deconstruction of the administrative state will push the movement forward, it will increase social unrest and that part of the state that quells social unrest, the security apparatus, will be anything but deconstructed. It will be strengthened even further to drive back the working class and the resistance movement.
FFWP in our Think Tank, our weekly conference calls, have discussed whether Trump/Bannon and co are serious about their economic nationalism with regard to US capitalism's rivals internationally or was all this nationalist rhetoric simply a means to win an election? We have suggested this regime has an eye on tri-polar world under the domination of three major powers, the US, Russia and China. This seems a very likely scenario given Trump's pro-Russia stance. But a tri-polar world of this nature would also bring serious problems especially as far as the Western Europeans are concerned.
Bannon may also be be a little mad himself, overconfidence can do that and the US bourgeois, particularly the crowd around Trump, Mercer and the Koch brothers for example, is overconfident. If Bannon is serious about economic nationalism and extreme protectionist measures with regards to international competitors it will lead to a trade war, serious economic instability and the increased chance of a major war.
Either way we are in a new period. As we saw with the women's march, in the developing movement we will be in a struggle with the liberals against their soft approach, an appeal to the better nature of the ruling class and the call for a nicer, friendlier capitalism. The Democrats have proven without a doubt that workers cannot rely on this Wall Street party to fight in our interests and protests alone are not enough.
In this period people will learn this fairly quickly. Bannon himself said to his audience yesterday that things will get worse, that they will not get "their" country back without a fight. When these people are talking about "Americans' and "our" country, they are not talking about you and me, about working folk. They are not not talking about the small farmer. Bannon is talking about an extreme right wing sector of the US bourgeois. He is talking about the Wall Street Americans. In all honesty, do we really believe a Goldman Sachs Banker, a parasitic hotelier and real estate developer and people like De Vos and the crook Wilbur Ross are going to help us build a better, more secure life for working people?
Times have changed. The age of liberal wishful thinking is over. It's time to get serious about who we're dealing with. It's time to push back.