NO TO BUSH - NO TO THE DEMOCRATS
Workers International League- http://www.socialistappeal.org
In Defense of Marxism- http://www.marxist.com
No to Bush! No to the Democrats!
By the US Socialist Appeal Editorial Board
Making predictions in the complex world of electoral politics is difficult, but we can say without any doubt that regardless of who wins in 2004, the interests of the working class will not be served. The 2004 campaign will be a big business campaign and the winner will be a big-business candidate. Still, in the coming months, there will be a lot of pressure from those on the left who want to defeat Bush at all costs. The logic behind this sentiment is understandable - for millions of Americans, GW Bush represents all that is evil, decrepit, and dangerous in the world (a capitalist world).
But is this a real solution? Can voting for a "lesser evil" candidate lead to genuine, lasting improvement, peace, jobs, stability, universal health care and education? The answer is clearly "No!"
Most working people do not like Bush and the Republicans, but they don't like what the Democrats have to offer either. Millions do not really believe the old "worker friendly" lie any longer, and expressed their discontent by staying away from the polls in 2002. The only political alternative for the US working class and its trade unions is class independence. Signing over our fate to the representatives of the capitalists is a sure recipe for disaster.
Only a mass party of labor, based on the trade unions and armed with a program of socialist demands can fight back in the interests of the hundreds of millions of workers in the USA. Only with such a party can the process of falling wages, dropping living standards and shrinking rights be halted. The Democrats will never be capable of this.
The working class has to become aware of not only its economic power, but its political power as well. It has to be a class by itself and for itself. The only force the working class can trust is itself - its leaders must arise out of the struggle against the bosses, the government, and the labor bureaucracy itself.
The backing of the Democratic Party by the leading bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO is not only counter-productive, more importantly it is a complete betrayal of the rank and file. The energy and finances of the only mass working class organization in the United States are being sold out to the so-called "liberal" representatives of the capitalist class. This is a situation which is completely in contradiction with the class interests of the American workers. The members of the trade unions are expected to not only hand over most of their lifetime in work to the bosses, but through the actions of their own leadership must give up their political independence as well.
The Democrats have already proven in hundreds of incidents that they cannot be trusted to look out for the workers. They refuse to even fulfill one tenth of the meager promises they make. This leaves the labor movement only one alternative - a complete declaration of political independence. And what better opportunity exists for such a move than now? The Democratic Party has proved its utter worthlessness as far as the working class is concerned - it cannot oppose Bush on a class basis. Even AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, nominally their best supporter, has been forced to come out in mild criticism of them. Still, many people will ask, why don't we give critical support to someone "progressive" like Kucinich or Dean? The answer is clear - they are seeking the Presidency as the candidate of a capitalist party. There is no such thing as a "progressive bourgeoisie" in the age of imperialism - even less so in the world's most powerful capitalist country.
The progressive historical role of the capitalist class is long finished - they can bring nothing but instability, war, oppression and misery to the people of the world. The only reason they have held on to power so long is due to the crisis of leadership of the working class and the outright betrayal of their "socialist" and "communist" leadership.
Due to the absence of experienced and theoretically trained revolutionary parties with a clear class and Marxist perspective, all revolutions since October 1917 have failed. What is needed now is to break the masses and the labor movement from the degenerate Democratic Party - not to foment illusions in them, no matter how "progressive" a candidate may seem. Any support whatsoever for a candidate of the capitalist Democratic Party would blur the class interests involved, and would be the worst sort of class collaboration.
The interests of the capitalist class and the working class are 100 percent opposed, and our task is to increase class-consciousness and unity, not confuse the issue by allowing the possibility that "some" capitalists are "OK". While we would be more than happy if all the promises of universal health care, job creation, cuts in the military budget, repeal of anti-labor laws, and so on came to pass, we must explain that no matter how sincere these candidates are, they are acting only to save the capitalist system. The capitalists have had their chance; on the agenda in the coming period is the overthrow of the capitalist system once and for all. We must fight against all illusions in the system and its representatives.
In our discussions with the many honest supporters of the Democrats, who in our two-party system gravitate towards the "left", we must explain the need for class independence and a mass party of working people - there is no solution on a capitalist basis.
However, in the tumultuous years ahead, it is not ruled out that someone like Kucinich could break with the Democrats and run as an independent (perhaps along the lines of Nader's campaign as a Green in 2000). In this case, we would have to examine the situation concretely. If this candidate brought with him or her a significant layer of the radicalized youth, attracted the most militant labor activists and unions, and served as a point of reference in breaking the stranglehold of the two capitalist parties, we would have to consider very critical support. But even outside the Democratic Party, such a candidate would serve only to channel discontent along harmless lines. We would have to continually expose their weaknesses and call on them to break with their class interests, explaining to their supporters the need for class independence, the involvement of the unions, a socialist program, etc. But that is the music of the future - at the present time we must be extremely clear about the class issues involved: we can only trust our own class and our own power - no faith in the representatives and parties of the opposing class! The "left" Democrats will work to confuse the class issues. We must patiently explain to working people that it doesn't matter if the President is black, female, Latino, white, etc. What matters are the class interests defended by that candidate.
Only a system of workers' democracy - socialism - can genuinely improve the conditions of life for all workers. But to recognize this fact is not enough. We must develop a concrete plan of action to begin the fight back against the attacks of the capitalist class. The main point we must emphasize is the utter incapacity of the Democrats to defend the interests of working people - and this has always been the case. But this is not to say that they will not stage a comeback in the future - as we explained above, it is inevitable that they will. It is therefore imperative that we build a real alternative to the two capitalist parties - we can no longer allow a handful of rich people to control our destinies.
Also in this special July 4 edition of the US Socialist Appeal:
USA: No to the War on Workers at Home and Abroad!
Partners in Crime: American Big Business and the Nazis. By Yosef Mikhah.
Corporate corruption and the Bush administration By Mick Brooks (June 2003)
The cost of more Guantanamos By Michael Roberts (April 28, 2003).
The world economy after Iraq By Michael Roberts (April 27, 2003).
Class War Heats Up in the US. By John Peterson (April 10, 2003)
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