Thursday, June 28, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Deepening Crisis of Two Party Rule

Kentucky Teachers Swarm the State Capital in Frankfurt

by Sean O'Torain

There is much discussion about the recent election victory of Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez unseating the ten-term Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New Yorks 14thCongressional District. There is much discussion about this on social media, some of it quite heated. I have some thought and observations about this development.

I do not, and have never supported the Democratic Party and will not advocate support for the Democratic Party. It is one of the two capitalist parties in the US and in the division of labor between these two parties it plays the role of containing any movement and struggles that arise around labor or social rights.

Recently Bernie Sanders has been playing a point role in this activity. The Democratic Party has always represented and always will represent US imperialism at home and abroad. It is the also the only party on a world scale that has used nuclear weapons and used them against civilian urban populations at that. Some of us around this Blog have concluded that the two party capitalist monopoly in the US is breaking up. This in our opinion is the context within which all discussion of political struggle must take place.

This break up of the two capitalist party monopoly is because US imperialism can no longer afford its world role and at the same time keep the US working class at the living standards they experienced in the post World War Two decades. US Imperialism’s ‘solution’ to this is increasingly going into debt and simultaneously cutting the living standards of the US working class. Since Reagan fired the Air Traffic controllers there has been an intensified offensive by US capitalism against the US working class. The result is increased disenchantment with the two capitalist parties. Over 100 million eligible voters did not vote in the last election. One recent poll shows 57% want a new party, that is they reject the Democrats or Republicans.

If the trade union leaders would lead we could already have a mass workers' party, a mass labor party taking off. But the present leadership will not take any serious measures against the bosses as they see no alternative to capitalism and repress any movement from below that threatens this world view and their comfortable positions. So the ending of the two capitalist party monopoly will be a drawn out fragmented process. It is in the interests of the working class that this monopoly is ended, The victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic Primary in New York hastens this break up of the two party monopoly. 

In my opinion, it does so in this way. 

It sharpens the conflict inside the Democratic Party between the crazed capitalist leadership around millionaires Schumer and Pelosi. Crowley who lost, and lost badly in this primary, was a major player in the Pelosi Schumer leadership. We’ve witnessed Pelosi's immediate panic stricken denial that the Democratic Party was going socialist. Panic-stricken because she understood she had to rush to assure the Party's capitalist backers that they could still trust the Democratic Party. Frothing at the mouth these multi millionaires like Pelosi will fight to see that the Democratic Party remains a capitalist party and they will prevail in this fight.

Those of us around 
Facts For Working people did not support Sanders in his run against Clinton and explained that not only would he lose the nomination but he would go on to support Clinton who would win the nomination. I believe that it is definite that the Democratic Party will remain a capitalist, US imperialist and militaristic party. 

I believe, as other comrades have mentioned on this blog, that we are on the way to seeing two or more parties emerge out of the Republicans as the Trump elements continue down their path of brutally and crudely carrying out the offensive against the working class, against minorities and against women. There is another wing of the Republicans that sees that Trump's method is too crude, can very easily lead to major battles and fighting in the streets and burning cities, and that a more subtle assault, a more subtle offensive against the working class is necessary. I believe around this element it is likely a new party will develop.

Out of the Democratic Party and from around the periphery of the Democratic Party I believe we will also see two parties emerge. The Schumer wing will remain absolutely committed to seeing that the Party remains a conscious and determined party of capitalism. There will be another wing that will increasingly see that this is not the way that peoples' lives can be improved and this wing will come into conflict with the Schumer wing. It is already coming into conflict with the Schumer wing.

A split will take place at some point, either a formal split or a new party will develop outside the Democratic Party and the anti Schumer wing and its supporters will be drawn to that Party. At some stage, as the Democratic Party fragments and as new political forces develop, a split will open up in the pro capitalist pro Democratic Party trade union leadership and a section of the union movement will become involved in either building or becoming part of a new party. It is the movement from the rank and file of organized labor that will facilitate splits in the present leadership, and throw up new leaders who will take some offensive action against the more brutal aspects of the  capitalist offensive. But having no alternative to capitalism, these elements will also move to contain the new movement and any new party within the boundaries of capitalism and the so-called free market.

As we examine this process we have to recognize the importance of the recent strikes and actions of teachers and education workers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and other states. There is talk of candidates being run from amongst the activists in these struggles. This is a very important development, and organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez belongs, should, instead of running as Democratic Party candidates, be putting their resources in to helping these fighters from the teachers and education workers strikes and other strikes and struggles to run candidates on the issues they are fighting on and run independent of the Democratic Party. 

Because of their lack of a sufficient orientation to the working class the leaderships of organizations like the DSA do not see the importance of these developments where the education workers strikes are talking of running their own candidates. It is out of these struggles and similar struggles in the future that a mass party that represents working people will likely develop. Activists and socialists and the DSA should support these struggles running candidates out of their struggles, rooted in their struggles and around the demands that they fought for in their struggles; running them not as Democrats but as independent working peoples candidates.

The DSA should be helping to bring these various struggles together to run throughout the country as candidates of a unified political alternative, offering a unified political alternative. This would hasten the development of a mass workers party in the US.

So on now to the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This in my opinion should be seen as part of the process of hastening the ending of the two capitalist party monopoly over US politics. It is in this sense that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is positive. If this is correct and in my opinion it is, this raises the question of what socialists should have said and done in this recent primary fight in the Bronx. 

Being opposed to being part of and never supporting the capitalist Democratic Party is in my opinion correct. However, does this mean socialists should never on any occasion advocate a vote for any Democratic Party candidate either in a primary or in a general election?  I believe that, as other comrades have pointed out, it is a question of what takes the movement of the working class forward at any given time and also, what resources the socialists have available?

Some of us around this Blog called for a vote against Moore in Alabama and for the Democrat. This position was taken as it was thought that the defeat of Moore would lift the head of the movement that was and is developing against Trump, and a victory for Moore would have had the opposite effect. Also, it was explained that for socialists to stand aside and say a plague on both houses would have severely cut socialists off from building any base amongst the working class and especially in this case, given the racist and degenerate person Moore was, amongst the African American population and also large sections of women in the state.

I believe that it is not a principle that a vote will never be cast for a Democratic Party candidate either in a primary or an election. I believe that at times such a vote can be cast as long as it is explained that under no conditions does this mean support for the capitalist Democratic Party, rather it is a vote to place the movement of struggle in a better position and to allow the socialist movement a better chance of putting down roots in the working class, minorities and women. I also believe that this is only  permissible if as part of the overall process, the socialists explain that a party of the working class is needed and that, while advocating a vote on occasion for a Democrat for tactical reasons, they continue to work to campaign for and build a new party of the working class and as part of this build in a non-sectarian fashion a revolutionary socialist current within that party and movement.

In the explanation of calling for a vote for the Democrat and against Moore in Alabama this Blog raised the following point: What would happen if an election was taking place in a state and the Republican Party candidate was running for governor on a platform of closing all abortion facilities in the state and the other the Democratic Party candidate was running on a platform of keeping them open and increasing funding for family planning? Would the socialists stand aside? If they did and the anti choice candidate won and closed all the facilities, not only would this be a major blow to women, but another result would be that the chance of the socialists building a base amongst working people, especially working class women, would, to put it mildly, be seriously damaged. This is especially important today when women are at the forefront of the struggle against Trump and when women have entered the paid workforce as never before.

In discussing this issue and saying that while never supporting the Democratic Party and at all times building support for a working class party and building a socialist current within that party, this does not mean that there never can be an occasion when a vote for a Democratic Party candidate can be advocated. Of course on any such occasion it would be essential and any such step would only be  admissible if the work of advocating for and organizing for a workers party and building within that party a socialist current went ahead uninterrupted. Also it would only be admissible if at all times it was explained that the threat that capitalism means to working people and life on earth can only be ended by the mass action of the working class, not by electoral means. 

In raising this issue and putting forward these ideas and this suggestion I expect an assault from many socialist organizations. My ideas will be treated as treason in some fronts. I am not saying that there may not be flaws in my position and those of us around this Blog that raise it. I long ago learnt that it is a bad mistake to be too certain that we know everything and are always correct.

I am more than open to hearing any criticisms of my views but on two conditions: One, that those who oppose the position I suggest here take up my suggestions in the context of what best takes the movement of struggle forward. And two, deal with the indisputable reality that the socialist left has so far been unable to put down any significant roots in the working class in this country and they include as part of any criticism of my suggestions some ideas of why this is so. 

1 comment:

Sean said...

It seems that at least one person interpreted this article as suggesting that the Democratic Party" would do good for the people of the US. This was my response. "As the author of the article you refer to #### I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. I do not think I at any time said the Democratic Party was "good" as you say for this country. I in fact repeated a number of times that I did not or would not support the Democratic Party. What I said was that the defeat of Crowley was "positive" as it did a couple of things. It increases the deepening divide in the Democratic Party and thus brings closer the fragmentation of that Party, brings closer the opening of the road for a party of the working class and as part of this process makes clear to people like Alexandria and the many others like her that there will be no future in the Democratic Party and that the way forward is to help construct a new Party of and for working class people. Thank you for your comments. Sean O'Torain.