World Perspectives 2016: Chapter IV.9. The Political Situation and Class Struggle in the US

 

120.        In the United States, the upcoming presidential election of 2016 will be an important event of global significance. Hillary Clinton basically represents the continuation of Obama’s policy, i.e., trying to maintain the leading global position of US imperialism, while at the same time making concessions to allies and rivals as dictated by the weakening of US capitalism (e.g., Obama’s Syria policy, negotiations with Iran, his attempt to avoid or at least to reduce political tensions domestically – as his response to the police killings of black people has shown). However, the ongoing economic crisis has led to the decline of significant sectors of the middle class, which forms the social base for the ultra-reactionary Tea Party movement. At the same time, significant sectors among the monopoly bourgeoisie think they will be able to reverse the decline of the US by launching an ultra-reactionary, full military offensive. This adventurist, arch-reactionary wing is represented by various presidential candidates of the Republican Party, with the billionaire Donald Trump being the leading contender. It is symptomatic that the candidate from the Bush clan appears to be one of the more moderate contenders, while Trump is reaping much success in the polls with a campaign which combines elements of Hitlerism with clownery. If Trumps becomes president, he will make George W. Bush look like a dove.

 

121.        An interesting phenomenon is the successful campaign of Bernie Sanders – a left liberal in the Democratic Party who is usually characterized by the US media as a “socialist.” While Sanders is no socialist by any meaningful standards [1], his success reflects an important shift to the left among sectors of the working class and youth. However, while revolutionaries should pedagogically address his supporters, they should also sharply denounce those centrists who opportunistically adapt to Sanders and might even support him (e.g., the SA/CWI’s public figure Kshama Sawant). For Marxists, support for a presidential candidate of the Democratic Party – an imperialist party of the US monopoly bourgeoisie – is not permissible under any conditions.

 

122.        In the realm of class struggle, the Black Lives Matters movement has been the most important development brought on by the clearly racist-motivated serial exoneration of police who have killed black Americans. This mass movement arose spontaneously, outside of the control of the black middle class establishment which is closely related to the Democratic Party (e.g., Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton). It reflects the potential for a revolutionary black movement in the US today. Revolutionaries wholeheartedly support this movement and combine this with agitation for building self-defense units (composed of black as well as sympathetic Latino and white militants), action committees in black neighborhoods, and efforts to build links with anti-racist forces among the white workers’ movement. Similarly, it is important to support the struggle of Latino migrant workers and poor and to link them to the black movement and to progressive white sectors of the working class. A revolutionary black movement has to be linked to the slogan of a revolutionary movement of people of color, which is the application of the slogan for the revolutionary migrant movement to the concrete circumstances of the US.

 



[1] See e.g., Harry Jaffe: Bernie Sanders is no socialist: Socialism is his brand, but he’s a Democrat in every way but name. I wrote Bernie's biography so I know: On capitalism, on Israel, on foreign policy, on Nader, he's quite traditional, Jan 16, 2016, http://www.salon.com/2016/01/16/bernie_sanders_is_no_socialist_socialism_is_his_brand_but_hes_a_democrat_in_every_way_but_name/