Saturday, November 05, 2016

Campaigning for socialism

"You sell your candidates and your programs the way a business sells its products."

Many parts of the American economy are still in recession, with productivity and real incomes falling, and inflation and unemployment rising. Unemployment is far higher among black and young workers.  The fall in profitability has caused many plants to close down. Many Americans live below the official poverty line. Of course, all the advertising and all the money in the world may be sufficient to convince who the voters should cast their ballot, but they are no help when it comes down to the real nitty-gritty, putting the promises into action and curing economic ills.

As American workers go to the polls to elect their next president it will require a massive feat of amnesia.  Sadly, the vast majority of Americans are content to keep capitalism’s representative in the White House. When the new president takes the oath, we hear a speech full of assurances about a new era, the end of outmoded ways, a pledge to build a better world. That kind of speech was made by every president elected. In every case, it was followed by inevitable disillusionment and despair… until a new candidate came along, to make the same old promises and parrot a variation of the same old speech, the American people will experience what they have had many times before.

After the inauguration, the reality will set in - that capitalism takes no account of politicians' promises. Our hope lies in a greater participation by the American working class in the democratic process, to establish socialism. Sadly, the vast majority of Americans are content to keep capitalism’s representative in the White House. The working-class vote is undervalued by the vast sums spent by capitalist politicians in influencing its use, for it is, in fact, a priceless weapon in the founding of a money-free world. Until the vote is used to this effect, the American working class will continue to suffer under the rule of a heartless and inhuman capitalist society. Clinton and Trump talk endlessly about change because that is what the voters to whom they appeal are looking for and that is one thing they will not get.

Socialists consider most of what passes for “democracy” in the U.S. to be phony and corrupt – “the best democracy that money can buy.” But we do not deny the existence of some democratic elements in the political system. One such element is the suffrage itself, which we hope will eventually play a role in establishing the fuller democracy of socialism. The strength of these democratic elements changes over time, and the direction of change cannot be a matter of indifference to socialists. One crucial factor is the extent to which the capitalist class is able effectively to silence critics of capitalism by controlling the  media. Until the mid-20th century, public hustings and going on the stump were important mediums of free political discussion, through which socialists could reach quite a large audience. This democratic medium was displaced by television, to which socialists had virtually no access. Now the internet and social media is starting to undermine the monopoly of the corporate mass media.

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