By Yossi Schwartz, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 23 July 2019, www.thecommunists.net
We live in an extreme reactionary episode of the capitalist system. However it is not one sided as in a country after country the exploited and the oppressed are fighting back.
Donald Trump’s reflects the worst side of the American imperialism. He is openly a nationalist, a racist and a misogynist. A twin brother of the Israeli Prime Minister, of Narendra Modi of India and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. He reflects the motion to the right and the reactionary aspiration to roll back history to the time prior to the civil war, or at least to the Jim Craw period when racists lynched black people.
However every motion has its counter motion. The most important motion to the left in the USA is the black radical movement known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). These men and women hate not only the white racism of Trump and his supporters but also the hypocrisy of the other imperialist party –the Democratic Party. The white liberal supporters of the Democratic Party accuse them for not voting for Clinton. They claim that black people shortchanged democracy by refusing to endorse Clinton. The day after the election, US News World Reports summed this position: “Clinton made her case to black voters. Why didn’t they hear her?”
Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Movement for Black Lives coalition, Black Lives Matter and longtime organizer in black and Latino communities, sees these accusation by the white liberals as part of a long history of blaming black people for the sicknesses of American capitalist racist system.’
The BLM became famous when they protested the George Zimmerman’s acquittal after killing Trayvon Martin in July 2013.
This protest was followed by the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in August 2014. Brown’s body was left in the hot Missouri sun for hours to rot. Ferguson’s courts and police force are infamous for targeting black citizens for arrest and fines to collect millions of dollars to the city’s treasury.
These protests were the beginning of the Black Lives coalition that is composed by more than 50 other racial justice organizations.
In April 2016, the coalition publicized its political platform: “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice”.
This very advanced platform begins with the following words: “Black humanity and dignity requires Black political will and power. Despite constant exploitation and perpetual oppression, Black people have bravely and brilliantly been the driving force pushing the U.S. towards the ideals it articulates but has never achieved. In recent years we have taken to the streets, launched massive campaigns, and impacted elections, but our elected leaders have failed to address the legitimate demands of our Movement. We can no longer wait.”
“We believe in elevating the experiences and leadership of the most marginalized Black people, including but not limited to those who are women, queer, trans, femmes, gender nonconforming, Muslim, formerly and currently incarcerated, cash poor and working class, disabled, undocumented, and immigrant”.
“While this platform is focused on domestic policies, we know that patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, militarism, and white supremacy know no borders. We stand in solidarity with our international family against the ravages of global capitalism and anti-Black racism, human-made climate change, war, and exploitation.” (1)
This platform reflects the militant spirit of important sectors of the vanguard in the USA. From this coalition revolutionaries will emerge. Great figures similar to the Jamaican poet Claude McKay and Otto Huiswoud both joined the Communist International at the time it was led by Lenin and Trotsky and before it was degenerated under Stalin.
In addition to the BLM there are others who move to the left. In June 2018, 29 year old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender, won in New York's 14th Congressional District. This victory came after she won the Democratic primary elections with 79% of the vote. She is known for raising important issues like Medicare-for-All, free college, a carbon tax, the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and a federal jobs guarantee. Some observers say that her election being a harbinger of a "socialist moment" in American politics.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not the only woman who reflects a motion to the left as a counter motion to Trump and the right. In the current Congress there are four Congresswomen – Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ayanna Pressley – who take democratic anti- racist positions. In July this year the four called to impeach Trump.
Omar said that this is a president who equated neo-Nazis with those who protest against them in Charlottesville. Rsahida Tlaib said that she was elected to fight the corporate assault and the corruption in the USA which means support for an impeachment of Trump. Trump demagogically said that she is a supporter of Al-Qaeda.
Tlaib and Omar have been the target of vicious attacks for their solidarity with the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) and their criticism of the state of Israel. The House Democrats have not only opposed Tlaib on these counts; they’ve allowed Republicans’ racist attacks on Tlaib and Omar over these issues to go unchallenged. (2)
On April 9 this year five members of the DSA had secured seats on Chicago’s City Council. DSA’s nationwide membership has grown nearly tenfold since the 2016 presidential election. (3)
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its youth section, Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA).is composed by students from colleges and high schools, It is a member of the International Union of Socialist Youth, an affiliate of the Socialist International. The Socialist international was re- established in 1951 as a successor to the Labour and Socialist International, but its roots were the Second international that was established in 1889 after the first international collapsed following the effect of the failure of the Paris commune the first time the workers and the masses held power in a major city.
In 1914, it fell apart when major European socialist parties supported the entry of their respective countries in a world imperialist war. As result revolutionaries formed the Communist International (Third International) in 1919, while those who supported the reformist illusion of “evolutionary socialism” kept the social-democratic name.
The program of the DSA emphasizes commitment to democracy as means and end. It fails to explain that democracy is a form that its nature is determined by its class content. Athens was the democracy of the slave masters. Parliamentary democracy is the form of capitalist democracy, while workers and oppressed councils’ democracy is the form of the working class power.
The DSA says that because “we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow, DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people.”
The DSA says: “At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. As we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow, DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people. For example, we support reforms that:
* decrease the influence of money in politics
* empower ordinary people in workplaces and the economy
* restructure gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable.
We are activists committed to democracy as not simply one of our political values but our means of restructuring society. Our vision is of a society in which people have a real voice in the choices and relationships that affect the entirety of our lives. We call this vision democratic socialism — a vision of a more free, democratic and humane society.
We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane international social order based both on democratic planning and market mechanisms to achieve equitable distribution of resources, meaningful work, a healthy environment, sustainable growth, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.“ (4)
Nothing is wrong with demands for reforms in favor of the exploited and the oppressed but history has shown time and again that unless the struggles for reforms are connected to revolutionary perspective and propaganda, reforms that are achieved today will be reversed after a while. That unless the socialists are united in one international party in times of major conflicts their unity is falling apart.
Socialist politics begins with understanding that the first principle is the independence of the working class from the class enemy –the capitalists and their parties. This was clearly understood by Eugene Victor Debs who founded the American Socialist party
He said in 1912: “We are today entering upon a national campaign of the profoundest interest to the working class and the country. In this campaign there are but two parties and but one issue. There is no longer even the pretense of difference between the so-called Republican and Democratic parties. They are substantially one in what they stand for. They are opposed to each other on no question of principle but purely in a content for the spoils of office.
To the workers of the country these two parties in name are one in fact. They, or rather it, stands for capitalism, for the private ownership of the means of subsistence, for the exploitation of the workers, and for wage-slavery.
Both of these old capitalist class machines are going to pieces. Having outlived their time they have become corrupt and worse than useless and now present a spectacle of political degeneracy never before witnessed in this or any other country. Both are torn by dissension and rife with disintegration. The evolution of the forces underlying them is tearing them from their foundations and sweeping them to inevitable destruction….. The message of socialism, which, a few years ago was spurned by these people, falls today upon eager ears and receptive minds. Their prejudice has melted away. They are now prepared to cast their fortune with the only political party that proposes a change of system and the only party that has a right to appeal to the intelligence of the people.”
Thus the perspective of a socialist movement must lead to a break with the Democratic Party that is the party of the capitalists and imperialists. This party is controlled by the big capitalists similar to the Republican Party. They are enemies of the workers and all the oppressed. The USA as an imperialist state is behind many local wars, reactionary policies toward non-imperialist states and play a very dangerous game that may lead to a WWIII with other major imperialist states like Russia and China.
The issue of a Labor party is not new in the USA. It was raised by Leon Trotsky who said: “Are we in favor of the creation of a reformist labor party? No. Are we in favor of a policy which can give to the trade unions the possibility to put its weight upon the balance of the forces? Yes. It can become a reformist party – it depends upon the development. Here comes in the question of program. I mentioned yesterday and I will underline it today – we must have a program of transitional demands, the most complete of them is a workers’ and farmers’ government. We are for a party, for an independent party of the toiling masses who will take power in the state. We must concretize it – we are for the creation of factory committees, for workers’ control of industry through the factory committees. All these questions are now pending in the air. They speak of technocracy and put forward the slogan of “production for use.” We oppose this charlatan formula and advance the workers’ control of production through the factory committees.”
Of course today the demands should include black power, the full rights of the LGBT, the right of women workers and most importantly the most oppressed and exploited layers of women workers. However the transitional program that Trotsky advocated is essentially the correct program for the USA even today.
3) Emma Whitford, 22 May 2019, http://inthesetimes.com/article/21859/democratic-socialists-of-america-elected-officials-hold-accountable-DSA
4) Democratic Socialists of America (DSA): About Us, https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/
5) Eugene V. Debs “This Is Our Year ” But Two Parties And But One Issue
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Other articles by the RCIT: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/north-america/
See also: Yossi Schwartz: The Racists Who Attack Rashida Tlaib, 15.05.2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/north-america/the-racists-who-attack-rashida-tlaib/
By Yossi Schwartz: Massacres, Plundering and Land Grabbing: The Similarity and Dissimilarity between the U.S. and Israel, 27.11.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-similarity-and-dissimilarity-between-the-u-s-and-israel-in-massacres-plundering-and-land-grabbing/
Michael Pröbsting: The Meaning, Consequences and Lessons of Trump‘s Victory. On the Lessons of the US Presidential Election Outcome and the Perspectives for the Domestic and International Class Struggle, 24.November 2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/meaning-of-trump/