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Dissecting the Two-Party System

It often takes direct experience to better understand one's surroundings; whether it be a toddler's mastering of cause and effect, or for our purposes, realizing the Democratic Party's true nature. This latest life lesson has been taught to us by the Democrats themselves, who, public opinion cast aside, have continued to support the Iraq War, not to mention other collusions with the Republicans on many matters that represent "high crimes and misdemeanors".

Millions who had sincere illusions in the Democrats have been shocked at how rapidly the illusory divide between the two parties has disappeared, especially over the last few years. Explaining this process in a way that doesn't place the blame on this-or-that individual becomes increasingly urgent. We must explain the common class interests shared by both parties so that working people can begin the process of building our own political alternative. Otherwise, the current situation of war, inequality, and racism will only continue to intensify.

The key fact that helps explain the policies of the Democrats is that they, like the Republicans, are parties that represent the capitalist class (this seemingly abstract generalization will be confirmed later by more concrete examples). At its base, both political parties are not responsible to any working-class organization or oversight, aside from elections that are held years apart and controlled and manipulated by large financial interests. What the two parties are really responsible for is the well-being of the capitalist owned and operated economy, which relies on maximizing profits at the expense of workers' wages, and demands that U.S. corporations outperform their foreign capitalist competitors.
Of course the capitalist class is not completely united: it consists of manufacturers and banks of varying sizes, heavy and light industry, those that compete versus monopolies, international and national corporations, and many other distinctions that require different strategies - advocated from the mouths of different politicians - to achieve their varying goals. Therefore, instead of one party, there are two, where the different capitalist groupings gather to have their voice best heard, all the while pushing, shoving, and throwing money about to have their particular interest be in the spotlight. Having two parties also helps perpetuate the illusion that there is a real choice.

There are, however, certain principles that the capitalist class collectively agrees on, and are therefore shared by both parties, resulting in the 'bi-partisan consensus' that we often see reached. A couple of recent examples should serve to demonstrate this clearly. In June, Senate Resolution 211 was agreed upon unanimously[!], to "condemn restrictions on freedom of speech in Venezuela" (a hugely false accusation). The real purpose of the resolution is to undermine the vastly popular and democratic Venezuelan revolution, whose only crime thus far has been to threaten U.S. corporate interests that have dominated Venezuela for generations; a crime the capitalist class in the U.S. can mutually agree to punish.

The resolution has increased tensions between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments. It has also been used in an effort to destabilize Venezuela politically by giving credibility to "opposition" groups that have in the past participated in armed coups against the democratically elected government. Historically, resolutions such as these have been used to unite U.S. politicians in a strategy that eventually - through one route or another - results in the "regime change" of an independent nation. The real motive is always the same: the dominance of U.S. corporations abroad is being threatened.

The next bi-partisan agreement that illustrates the common interests of both capitalist-bought parties was an amendment to the latest defense spending bill, where Iran was unanimously[!] denounced for "contributing to the destabilization of Iraq", and for "the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces". This is all but a declaration of war - or at the very least constructs a bridge to one - a virtual carbon copy of the distortions, exaggerations, and blatant lies that led the U.S. into Iraq.
The more important issue at stake is prolonging the war in Iraq and preparing for confrontation of Iran - a strategy that both parties agree on. The material basis for this course is simple: regional strategic domination serves all the capitalists, ensuring them raw-materials (especially oil), control over markets, cheap labor, and an advantage over their European and Asian capitalist competitors. World domination is indeed good for business.

One mustn't forget that going to war with Iraq was also a bi-partisan decision, even though the many Democrats who voted for the initial authorization now claim they were "tricked" by Bush (how embarrassing to have to claim you were outsmarted by Bush!) Since the invasion the Democrats have voted - sometimes unanimously - to continue funding the war, while falling back on the Republican-conceived and cynically disgusting rationale of "supporting the troops", when the troops would be best served by bringing them home.

The above examples illustrate how the U.S. employing class, represented by the two political parties, comes to fundamental agreement on foreign policy decisions: like Iraq, Venezuela and Iran are all to be aggressively confronted. This militaristic posture of the two-party system has a material foundation also: the economic deterioration of the U.S. capitalists in relation to its foreign competitors, forcing them to use military force where in the past they had only to impose "free trade" in order to profit from their economic superiority (a strategy that isn't even working for them in Latin America anymore.).

As the Iraqi quagmire has deepened and the realization that the war is un-winnable is now widely accepted, ways to move forward have divided the once-united representatives of capital. As far as the politicians are concerned, every solution to the Iraq problem is lose-lose. The obvious answer for the average U.S. citizen - "troops out now" - is an unbearable thought for the employing class, who have invested far too much economically and politically in the disaster, and are unwilling to leave the oil and regional dominance to their overseas capitalist competitors.

This is where distinctions between the capitalists' goals and their strategy can become critical, especially when the previously agreed-upon strategy begins to falter, as has happened in Iraq. Some sectors believe everything will be lost in Iraq, meaning, that not only could the war be lost, but the social repercussions at home could lead to a radicalization of society - a process that has already begun - bringing with it the inherent threat of social revolution.

Consequently, many of them are switching political parties with the ease of someone changing socks. The Democrats are now leading the electoral fund raising drive while many previously die-hard Republican billionaires are lining up behind either Hillary or Obama - and for good reason. Both presidential front runners have made their allegiance to the capitalist class' interests widely known: they oppose the Venezuelan revolution, tirelessly warmonger against Iran, support the Iraq War (though they urge using "better tactics"), rattle and hum about the so-called "war on terror" (and thus the need for domestic spying and the destruction of civil liberties), and support continual attacks on the American working class so as to benefit their billionaire sponsors. Wall Street has made it clear: voting for the Democrats will be good for business.

The strategic change advocated by the Democrats in regards to Iraq is virtually the same advice given to Bush by the Iraq Study Group headed by arch-conservative James Baker: strengthen other allies in the Middle East and cut a deal with Syria and Iran, use physical intervention in Iraq when needed (presumably to protect oil investments); and install a new Iraqi dictator when appropriate, all the while eliminating suspected "terrorist" targets. This seems to be the new tactical shift agreed upon by the representatives of big business, and explains why former Republican donors are suddenly finding refuge with the "opposition".

Whichever party ends up in power next year, their policy will be largely based on the fact that U.S. capitalists are losing ground internationally and how to use the massive military machine to defend their interests. This conundrum has created a division amongst them as to how to move forward, with one section - Bush's cronies - advocating a succession of never-ending "surges" in Iraq, while the other - the Democrats - would rather focus the military on other targets (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, etc.). Both approaches will only benefit a tiny, rich section of the U.S. population. The task, therefore, is to break completely from these corporate-run parties. Workers must fight within their unions to dissociate from the Democrats, and in so doing, organize at the grass roots level to build a mass political alternative for the working class, which has no interest in militarism and world domination.

homepage: homepage: http://www.socialistappeal.org


yes, once again: 06.Dec.2007 14:31

rosa

there are NO good democrats. I dont care how radical they may sound, or what they might promise.

Socialists don't want to talk about decentralization 06.Dec.2007 14:49

StevetheGreen

The socialist party of Oregon merged with the Pacific party and formed the Pacific Green party several years ago and while I am certainly sympathetic to the socialist approach as it relates to populas politics, I could never align myself with an ideaology that demands centralized power.

As a Green and "social" Liberatarian, I find much in common with the basic tenants of socialism.
But the reality is that transforming an industrialized capitalist economic system into a socialist state always seems to include the eradication of civil liberties and freedoms. One of the things that separate Greens and socialists idealogically is the concept of decentralization (which is one of the Green party's 10 key values). Greens believe you can put people and the planet first without eradicating their freedoms.

As we saw recently with Venezuela, socialists are quick to tell people what to do, how to do it, and when and if they can do it. I concede that US "pyscops" has spread alot of misinformation in Venezuela, but the reality is that the grassroots supporters of Chavez also had some problems with his attempt to further consolidate power and centralize the decision making process and they ultimately rejected it.

But it is only fair to acknowledge that Chavez's reaction to the vote was not typical of the dictator that the US power elite have tried to label him as.

But why does it seem that socialist experiments always seem to gravitate toward centralizing power?
Is it an inherant fault of socialism?

Or is it something more complex?

Be Careful 06.Dec.2007 15:52

Ann Arkey

You wrote "Workers must fight within their unions to dissociate from the Democrats, and in so doing, organize at the grass roots level to build a mass political alternative for the working class, which has no interest in militarism and world domination"

I say, be careful with the use of the word "fight" it could be taken as a violent radicalization according to the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act of 2007, which happens to be sponsored by Jane Harmon (D-CA) and co-sponsored by David Reichert (R-WA)... A two party system indeed.

Blackwater is watching you!

re: stevethegreen 06.Dec.2007 20:47

Max

steve,

i don't know where to begin. Your "liberal" perspective of socialism comes straight from the textbooks of the ruling class. Although it's hard to sort out the misconceptions, distortions, and lies that filled your short post, i'll do my best. you say:

"I could never align myself with an ideology that demands centralized power."

this line is instructive in how you "argue" -- a vague sentence is thrown out as a bogeyman, while nothing is explained at all. The US' mainstream newspapers use the exact same tactic, which seems to be where you get most of your ideas from. Socialism in fact does not "demand centralized power". The few successes of the working-class taking political power-- the Paris Commune, Russian Revolution -- vastly democratized, i.e., decentralized, political power. Even completely unsuccessful revolutions set up "soviets" (local decision making bodies) that were to be the basis for the future political superstructure.

And PLEASE, stop confusing all of us by comparing Stalinism to Socialism: the two are mutually exclusive phenomenon. One is revolutionary, the other is counter-revolutionary (I suggest reading Trotsky's The Revolution Betrayed if you are honestly interested in the subject,). The socialist perspective on centralization is this: the productive forces (the vast machinery that creates the world we live in) need to be somehow democratically coordinated, i.e., centralized. So the abstract bogeyman of 'centralization' is in actuality a concrete thing that needs to be dealt with in reality. It is nice that the Green Party has decentralization as one of their core values; it seems odd that they NEVER explain what this will look like, or how it will happen...hmmm.

you write:

"Greens believe you can put people and the planet first without eradicating their freedoms".

More bogeyman!!! Enough already!!!

you write:

"As we saw recently with Venezuela, socialists are quick to tell people what to do, how to do it, and when and if they can do it."

once again, nothing explained. One reads this and assumes that the NY Times is right that Chavez is an Authoritarian dictator, and this somehow proves the rest of your argument correct. At least you were cordial enough to admit that your opinion might have been corrupted by the mainstream media on this one.

Steve, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume your a well-meaning individual who either spent too much time in higher education, or just fanatically reads mainstream political publications. Either way, you ENTIRE opinion on socialism is WAY OFF, and looks A LOT like the red-baiting you'd see come out of George Bush's mouth, with a 'left-radical' twist

Soda Pop Democracy 06.Dec.2007 22:46

Ecotopian Yeti

This is what I call Soda Pop Democracy which is a corporatist offered choice of one shit coloured water for another posing as some democratic endeavour. Democracy is not a consumer choice of two or more products over the other. This Soda Pop Democracy which is now global from France to Australia is a brilliant propaganda created by Edward Bernays to make the citizen believe that for democracy to exist you must have the corporations. He called it Democracity.


No dissection necessary 07.Dec.2007 04:55

Mike Novack stepbystpefarm <a> mtdata.com

Two contesting parties is the consequence of "first past the post" vote counting, the only stable arrangement of power factions. What interests those parties represent, what interests get left out unrepresented, that's a matter of historical process and changes over time. Note that what interests are included is mostly a LOCAL matter so we only sort of have natitional parties.

In our system, IF "outside" interests can organize themselves into a contesting third party, the historical disruption point is at about 10%. At that point one or both of the major parties will readjust their coalitions in an attempt to break off chunks of this threat. If they succeed, the third party dies BUT its interests (some of them) are now represented. If the major parties can't do this, neither can readjust, then there is a chance that the growing third party will displace one of them. This happened just once in American history (the Republicans displaced the Whigs).

Understand? The Republicans weren't always "the party of big business" (relative to the Democrats), the Democrats didn't always include "labor", environmentalism was once a Republican thing and the "New Deal" ideas didn't originate with the Democrats (but with the "Progressives", a branch of the Republicans, think people like Bob LaFollette)

Not "First Past The Post" 07.Dec.2007 07:08

blues

Power is always centralized. The relationship between power in freedom is oblique, not straightforward. But something is always "in power." The only questions about power are whether the power is hidden, or whether the power is granted by the population.

Freedom is a different issue. Roughly, you are free when you can speak your mind without fear. Obviously, a society in which there exists a monopoly on information dissemination is not very free.

The two-party system is a direct consequence of the plurality method of voting. (The "first past the post" (pseudo)concept is just confusing.) I have proposed a voting method that does not mandate a two-party system. If you search down to "blues" you will find it described HERE.

Re Max 07.Dec.2007 09:01

StevetheGreen

First of all, I have anything BUT a "liberal" perspective.

My judgement that socialist governments tend to centralize power more extremely than other philosphies is based in fact and can be easily verified by looking at what has happened where socialism has been implemented.

You then go on to charge me as being vauge and yet all I did was pose a question.
I.E. Why does it seem that socialist governments tend to want to centralize power?

Either my question is legitimate or you can offer a substantive rebuttle to why the question is not accurate.

You then go on to introduce a desperate strawman that claims that I compared socialism to Stalinism.
Please point out where I did that.
You can't and you won't because I didn't.

As far as reading or watching or listening to the mainstream corporate media, yes I do.
I think everyone should.

I also read, watch, and listen to a very wide variety of independent sources which are much more prevalent in the information I take in on a daily basis.

I think the question I posed deserves a substantive answer or a relative rebuttle.
Why did you choose instead to misrepresent what I said instead of responding to my "corporate media induced" question?

Could it be because you can't?

A workers mass party is necessary to bring about liberation. 07.Dec.2007 12:49

tim

Centralization of just power of the peoples takes place in all societies and all societies recognize its just or unjust occasion. It is totally incorrect politically to describe socialism as always centralized. It is a society that emerges from Imperialist centralization which is always centralized. It is the striving for empire that distorts and pollutes the peoples drive for liberation from polluting empires. The species has built in ecological green balances that are easily recognized because of the material evolution of the species in natures laws of violence and peace each of which produces different forms of centralization. What occurrs when you always condemn Stalin as the source of unjust centralization is that you remove him from the Necessity to centralize to defeat the comming Imperialist war that Imperiallism promised through their financed pistol in Germany, the nazis party and Hitler. The goal of global imperialism at the time, was to rearm the fascist side, which America did for both Japan fascist militarism, (50% of the fascist Japanese military was supplied by U.S. Imperialism during the thirties and into the forties with strategic war materials) the same was done by U.S. Imperialism after the Nazis coup in 1933 when Grandfather Prescott Bush who was on the executive of Thysson corp. (Thysson was the finance capitalist who after 1933 headed up the Adolf Hitler project in Nazis Germany. Prescott Bush and Avril Harriman sent a huge list of strategic war materials to Nazis Germanies' military re-armament ensuring the militarization of Germanies society. The list is long and they did this while crying broke to their own workers and refusing to give work for a living wage, and allowing starvation and degrading conditions to prevail throughout America. This re-armament of Germany and Japan by the U.S. ruling class was done for a purpose. That purpose was to destroy the workers state and any hope of the workers state succeeding in any country globally. In fact the order was that had Germany won at Stalingrad that Japan was to declare war on Soviet Russia and join the Nazis armies to then proceed to the entire elimination of the slavonic peoples whom were considered inferior and to be re-placed by the nazis appointed aryan race. Imagine that Stalin knew that to meet the comming invasion finance from Imperialist France, Britain and especially the U.S with over five million troops, he was elected by 80% of the class consious workers of Russia to defeat the comming attack launched by the Nazis , but financed by world Imperialism. You could not do that when in fact the 1000 year reich, German for right state was to conquor the world and eliminate Unions, socialism, and communism as well as the inferior peoples (colored) which is going on today in Africa, Asia , and Latin America by world Imperialism led by the Worlds' leading state Terrorist George Bush and his selling and manufacturing of more WMD then all the rest of the world combined to blame Stalin for being a man of steel elected by the workers communist to stop the inevitable assault shows a lack of respect for the genious of a new workers state organizing as the only way available to them at the time. It was the Russian working classes, red army 9 five million strong) and the anti-fascist united front, that saved the world from Nazis-Fascist conquest and destruction. The Russian revolution frightened and shook the Imperialist empire builders to the core and they sought to defeat it. Sometimes centralization is needed during socialism but only when threatened by outside Imperialist militaristic aggression. That to blame those who are elected to protect the new emerging societies shows a lack of knowledge of What is do be Done. Each country needs to make a workers state and the unions are the vehicle the instrument that will do away with all forms of exploitation that the previous empirist erroneous states have done to conquor their own workers. The state can only be dismantled when the war machine and its manufactury including prisons ( a Roman War machine then called a slaveholders pen) is dismantled and thusly to deeper practice of freedoms and independence globally. It is U.S Imperialism heading world imperialism that does not allow socialism to be built in one country. Socialism of course can be built and should be built in each country but with the dismantling of the Imperialist war machine comes the global possibility of world liberation in the fullest meaning of the worlds' word, that government for, of , and by the people shall not perish. The legacy of Imperialism will still have a machine to stop the planet from being destroyed from space, but that will protect the planets life and not destroy it. End pollution wars, not endless wars for more pollution. That the green power of tidal, wind, and solar energy is already come to be with Hi-tech tools to stop pollution wars that portends the destruction of the air, land, water, plants, animals and peoples by motivating the industrial revolution with coal, gas, oil, and atomic energy. Viva social liberation.

re; stevethegreen 07.Dec.2007 13:23

max

steve,

you say:

"My judgement that socialist governments tend to centralize power more extremely than other philosphies is based in fact and can be easily verified by looking at what has happened where socialism has been implemented."

these "socialist governments" you refer to are in fact NOT socialist, but Stalinist countries, so my point is in fact relevant. The fault to your 'side' of the argument -- one that you readily adopt from the mainstream -- is your inability to distinguish between the two.

Partnership vs. Heirachy 10.Dec.2007 21:10

Brian the Green

I agree with Steve that MOST examples of socialist economies are built on models of domination and hierarchy. Why do they happen to be run by men? Dr. Riane Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade) does an excellent job documenting this in her books and recommends an alternative economic system based on cooperation and partnership to meet our needs. Both Socialist and Capitalist systems are industrial systems and generally fail to recognize the value of nature, home economics and/or volunteerism to meet our needs.

A sustainable future will combine the best aspects from each of these systems, combined with new values and beliefs to create an economic model that doesn't currently exist.

Like Steve, I believe that model will be decentralized and will be something different than socialism. and will be a huge innovation.