A Response to the Joint Statement Issued by Pseudo-Leftist Organizations
*The contents of this article are the opinions the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the Socialist Party or the Editorial Board.
Last week, a collection of so-called leftist organizations – including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Communist Party USA (CPUSA), the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) and others – issued a joint statement as part of their Left Inside/Outside Project entitled “Socialist groups issue unity statement: Fighting Trump and building the left.” In it, these so-called socialist organizations posit that all radical elements within the United States should rally behind the banner of the Democratic Party in order to combat Trumpism and that doing so is the only path forward if we hope to undermine the disastrous effects of Donald’s Trump’s presidency. The statement begins by rattling off the various failings of the Trump administration – the undermining of policies implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the implementation of the racist Muslim ban, the reinvigorating of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), attacks on efforts to chip away at police brutality, promote workers’ rights and protect the LGBTQIA community. Further, the statement notes that the recent promotion of Judge Brett Kavanuagh to the Supreme Court establishes a conservative majority on that body which will undoubtedly wreak havoc on the nation for decades to come. Along with this, the statement points to the rise in white supremacist and racist action, both in city streets and the halls of government in this country and across the globe, as ever more evidence that Trump and his policies must be fought with a concerted effort on the part of revolutionaries, a concerted effort that includes and is mostly limited to working with and promoting candidates from the Democratic Party.
To be fair, these weak-kneed radicals are at least correct in their assessment of Trump’s presidency and the disastrous and widespread effects it has had on the people of this nation and those across the globe. We are undoubtedly witnessing the rise of fascistic policies in this nation and if nothing is done to undermine the efforts which continually promote these policies we will most surely witness the ever-expanding destruction of this nation’s most desperate and deserving classes, as well as the environment under which they are forced to live. However, what this statement gets right in factual evidence, it gets horribly wrong in advancing a proper agenda for fighting this all-encompassing attack being waged against the American working class and all exploited and oppressed peoples now being crushed beneath its weight.
First and foremost, the assertion that the Democratic Party can be used as a vehicle for promoting radical and revolutionary change is a fallacy as despicable and foolish as any other pushed onto the desperate masses of this nation. What these organizations have done in promoting such a line is nothing short of promoting the very propaganda which has neutered the radical movement in this country since the turn of the century and, perhaps even more disturbing, made it clear that they are victims of its double-speak just like any other American patriot or misguided liberal. That this line is a bourgeois liberal construct can not be argued – by attempting to unite radical elements to promote a party which has failed, over the course of this country’s entire history, to advance any agenda which substantially benefits the working classes or the various exploited masses which make up its ranks, is nothing short of making more pawns for the capitalist political class’s bloody game of imperialism and self-serving power lust. Nothing could be more despicable than an organization that claims to be radical and takes such an anti-revolutionary stance!
Let us not forget what the last Democratic Party success looked like for the American people. Former-president Barack Obama, who campaigned on “hope and change” and peddled an image of progressivism and an anti-establishment worldview, was an enactor of some of this nation’s most atrocious actions. Under Obama, we saw the torture of Chelsea Manning, the extrajudicial murder of Abdulrahman al Awlaki and the countless other innocent victims killed by the largest number of drone attacks issued under any other president in history, the arming of Saudi Arabia and allowance of its pursuit of destruction and genocide in Yemen, allowing for multi-million dollar banks to be bailed out by the American people and not holding accountable any of those responsible, the destruction of Libya, the most deportations of any president in history, the renewal of the Patriot Act and the use of the Espionage Act to track down journalists and whistleblowers within the government. Further, Obama’s policies allowed millions of Americans to fall below the poverty line and his healthcare plan fell flat on its promises to provide healthcare to all Americans. Is this the face of your resistance? Is this what you would refer to as a revolutionary push toward the people-led government that your organizations claim to support? If so, then you are as much a detriment to the radical banner of socialism as the bourgeois politicians which have worked for decades to undermine our ideals and sully the name of our movement.
As cliched as it may sound, no revolution has ever been waged or won at the ballot box, particularly when that ballot box is only available to two parties which have sworn, both in word and deed, to uphold the very capitalist system which now keeps the struggling masses under foot. Surely, any person who fancies themselves a revolutionary thinker can see that a change in politicians is not going to amount to any change in the daily lives of this nation’s people, nor is it going to lead to any improvement in our dying eco-systems – what we need are new politics, a new system of governance which puts the needs of the people ahead of those of the wealthy class which has tirelessly, over generations, exploited resources from the planet and stolen dignity from the people in its insatiable hunt for money and power. No Democrat is going to advance an agenda that would undermine the core tenets of capitalism for doing so would mean that those now struggling would be afforded access to those things which are required for survival – healthcare, food and housing – and would require that they and those of their ilk would no longer be able to grow wealthy atop the backs of the working and suffering peoples of this nation and all nations across the globe.
So profound is the capitalist machine’s propaganda that, not only has it convinced the desperate masses that only by the hands of one of the two arms of capital might they be liberated, it has convinced so-called radicals that they need help from the bourgeois machine in order to see their dreams achieved. To be fair, one could hardly expect anything less from the likes of DSA – this organization has made no secret of its love affair with the Democratic Party and has proudly boasted of its achievements in getting candidates elected under the Democratic Party’s banner. That these candidates quickly abandon the “radical” ideals which were supposed to set them apart from establishment politicians is of little consequence to these social democrats – they are an organization of reformists and, as such, have no interest in doing the necessary work of revolution which marks its successes over long periods of time upon the backs of countless trampled comrades. However, these other organizations which have signed onto this reformist accord leave the true radical with a feeling of despair – FRSO touts themselves as an organization inspired by the likes of V.I. Lenin and Mao Zedong, yet turns their back on these revolutionaries’ ideals by aligning with a capitalist party and encouraging the oppressed to enforce and participate in bourgeois elections; CPUSA was once the American arm of the Russian Revolution and led inspiring movements across the country, including the Deep South where they successfully organized sharecroppers, miners and tenant farmers, and has now succumb to the very propaganda it sought to undermine and is encouraging participation in a system it once realized as wholly flawed and incapable of repair. To see radical organizations so easily crumble to the whims of a system they claim to deplore is a disheartening embarrassment to all who still wave the red banner proudly.
In their statement, these organizations tout various campaigns and candidates which are signaling the inevitable success of reformist socialism – an oxymoron in itself as, any student of history or revolution knows, one can not reform capitalism or the bodies which seek to maintain its grip on society – but each of these candidates has unabashedly endorsed Democratic Party lines and refused to break from the establishment’s ideals and proposals. Democrats who call themselves socialists are progressive liberals at best – if your socialism does not include the abolition of capitalism, if it does not eradicate exploitation and advance an agenda which puts control of industry into the hands of toilers, if it does not seek to eliminate the oppression of immigrants, women, minorities and the LGBTQIA community, if it does not seek to dismantle the military industrial complex which rains terror upon all nations of the world, if it does not seek to reinvigorate our planet’s environment through punishing those corporations which poison it for profit, then you are nothing more than another liberal seeking to use social issues as a vehicle for gaining power over the same exploited masses you claim to represent. You are as much a villain to the people as those you claim to oppose.
To be fair, both those within and without the radical movement can’t be wholly blamed for this misguided perspective of strategy – those beyond the revolutionary movement have not yet been properly radicalized and believe, with the best of intentions, that the neoliberal policies of the Democratic Party best represent their agenda, or at least represent it better than the alternative; those within the revolutionary movement, who are unfortunate enough to be members of an organization that would propose such cowardly and half-cocked ideas, are either standing in lockstep with their organization or being ignored by its leadership in regard to such strategies. However, these organizations, which tout their revolutionary ideals, education and strategy are the real enemies of the people – these propositions do nothing to forward the goals of revolutionary, international socialism and serve only to miseducate a new generation to the movement’s true goals and unite with what can only be seen as our true and mortal enemies – the wealthy class and the politicians who promote their agendas. Such actions are truly despicable and worthy of the most harsh condemnation that committed revolutionaries can conjure in word or action!
As leftists, it should be our soul intention to build a movement beyond the capitalist parties, for succumbing to their whims – even by participating in their bourgeois system of farcical democracy – makes us little more than agents of their corruption and oppression. In his seminal masterpiece The State and Revolution, Lenin made the following statement which still rings true today: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament.” As such, anyone who participates in the choosing of those representatives is an agent of the repression they promote. A revolutionary leftist movement should be led by the notion that all who hope for change must abandon the parties and systems which have made change impossible. Simultaneously, the revolutionary party must unite with workers, activists and the mass of oppressed peoples to establish community programs to fill the gaps left for generations by the apathy of the ruling class and work as the political arm of these organizations. The party must engage in electoral action, not as part of the capitalist charade but as a foil to their halfhearted attempts to liberate and save the mass of suffering peoples. We do not unseat our oppressors by taking part in the systems they have established to keep us under heel – we unseat them by establishing new systems and new methods.
This path is undeniably not an easy one to travel. Our overlords have spared no expense in stupefying the American public with propaganda and apathy-inducing commodities – those who claim to be the “resistance” have been lulled into laziness and equate one side of the capitalist coin as a version of resistance to the other side, a fact made even more reprehensible when organizations who claim to be radical fall victim to the same strategies. But for the making of a world more equitable for all upon it, the rocky road is the only one to travel and the only one that will lead us to ultimate liberation. The election of a liberal capitalist politician over the election of a conservative capitalist politician will in no way cure the disease which now plagues our people – it may lessen the blow for a time, but it will surely not create a more equitable world for the people now being crushed beneath the capitalist machine. If we are unwilling to put in the work required to establish this new world from the ground up, then surely we are unfit to advocate for it or live within it. There is no shortcut to liberation, nor is there a way to ride the coattails of corrupt politicians to the promised land – this movement is a movement of the people and, as such, it must be built from the ground up by the people. No capitalist politician will ever liberate us – we must liberate ourselves.