Monday, August 17, 2020

Against Lesser Evilism

A miner walking home after a long hard day down the pit. Being weary, he takes a short cut across a field.
Soon enough, he is approached by the land-owner. 
“You are trespassing on private land, this land belongs to me.”
The miner responds, “So, how did you come by all this land?”
“My family fought the indians and drove them away,” proudly says the land-owner.
“Okay, get your jacket off” replies the miner, “and I’ll fight you for it right now!”

Poverty persists deeply entrenched and pervasive in America, and it is not for lack of resources. For the large majority of African-American families, the ghettos of the civil rights era have been passed on from parents to children, with little change. No other advanced nation tolerates the depth of deprivation allowed in the United States. Among too many poor and minority Americans, voting and choosing elected officials just isn't viewed as essential to their lives. Many families are deemed as "undeserving" and have experienced a decrease in assistance. But these crude distinctions between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor are unworthy of any progressive.

The World Socialist Party of the United States concedes that the majority of our fellow-workers are not yet class-conscious revolutionaries. Even for those who say they support socialism, most have little understanding of what it really is. They share with Bernie Sanders the view that socialism is a Scandinavian-style welfare state. A mixture of private ownership and government-run public services.  Many view socialism not as the dissolution of the State, but rather as an expansion of the scope of government. Clearly, we are very far from any sort of understanding that socialism means the end of capitalist commodity production for profit. Without a knowledge of the irreconcilable class conflict within capitalism there is little chance of political and economic transformation of society. People are not just asking to breathe; they are asking for a breath of fresh air and to breathe freely.

The World Socialist Party cannot subscribe to the idea that we should lay aside principles and refrain from criticism of Biden, the lesser evil. We are reminded of Howard Zinn’s observation on political power. “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but "who is sitting in" -- and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”  

Endorsing candidates of capitalist parties muddies the truth that the system of capitalism itself is the real enemy of the working class. As socialists we know that no transformation of society has ever been achieved through reforms within the power structure of that society. Supporting (critically or with illusions or not) candidates of the parties of the capitalist class is deceptive because it implies that the system can be changed through such reforms as long as we elect the correct capitalist candidates. 

Without a clear socialist perspective, workers can be led to believe that supporting the Democratic Party will secure important gains for working people. The Democratic Party is called the “friend of labor” and the unions have given Democrats generous contributions in an attempt to buy favors’ Yet it is a capitalist party both in form and content. Biden heartily embraces capitalism.

Liberals and progressives will brag that Biden is the lesser evil when compared with Trump. But the results of the working class relying on the Democratic Party have been disastrous: The standard of living of the working class has been in a steady decline whether the Democrats or the Republicans held the reins of government. The objective role of the Democratic Party is to politically disarm the working class and keep it disorganized. Working within the Democratic Party and electing its presidential candidates who are content with reforming capitalism can only create barriers to building socialism. The working class must see its interests as directly opposed to those of the capitalist class. It must overthrow the capitalist class, take control of the state, and then proceed to construct a new society that operates in the interests of the vast majority.

American voters have permitted themselves to be convinced that electing a new president will change things. “It's gonna be different this time.” is the refrain. But it won’t be. If Biden were actually to become President of the United States of America, it would hardly matter, for his freedom of action is too restricting and he would have very little option but to accommodate the capitalist class and their agenda. If he was elected there may be a number of cosmetic changes with implementation of some identity politics but the fundamental problem, capitalist property relations, would remain essentially unchanged. The Democratic Party (or as we like to describe them, the Damnocrats) is a party that calls for the reform, not the abolition of capitalism.  When the WSPUS speak of working class independent political action, we think in terms of class independence. In other words, a political party entirely under the control of working people, representing their interests and their interest alone.

The American working class have been fooled into accepting the concept of common interests wherein the problems of the capitalist class are theirs also. The suggestion is that people in the US all belong to one of the world's mightiest military and industrial powers, sharing equally in the glory; so let's all work still harder to increase the arms and wealth of the rulers. The belief that there exists a community of interests from which we all derive common benefits is a mistaken one but nevertheless held strongly.


 Two crucial political fallacies permeate American workers thinking.

First, that the present system can be so organized that it will operate in the interests of the majority, through a process of applied reformism;

Secondly, that “proper leadership is an essential requirement.


However, neither will ever remove any of the major social evils and the socialist’s mission is to demonstrate that fact. 

Without vibrant grassroots movements changing reality, the oligarchs and plutocrats in power will keep trampling upon working people. We need BOTH activism on the streets demonstrating against specific grievances AND we need effective electoral action for social change.


 A powerful socialist party should be the conduit for change. The street protests have often been aimed at the wrong target. A socialist party is an organization which can connect the dots between issues and movements -- from winning justice for the oppressed to fighting for migrant rights to interacting with global environmental movements. We cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which we must battle.

Biden is not encouraging working people to do things for themselves. There was no thought given to constructing a real working-class movement but simply to encourage the unions and working people to remain an appendage to the Democratic Party. The goal is not to create a socialist society for the working class but to encourage the working class to build socialism for itself.

Socialism is not about fighting for reforms or crumbs from the bosses table. We need to organize independently of the capitalist class and their parties. We need to show the working class that we have strength and power on our own because we do. This is Socialism 101.

Supporting the candidates of capitalist parties weakens us. It ties our hands to the capitalist system to resolve our problems. It’s a dead end. Reformism is not the same as socialism. We can’t make that distinction clear if we lend our support to capitalist politicians. It is contradictory to support capitalist politicians while opposing capitalism. Any candidate representing the parties of the capitalist class represent the class enemy of the working class. Our political power is in our independence from the capitalist class and their political parties. Only by organizing independent, revolutionary socialist parties of the working class around the world can we will end capitalism and establish socialism everywhere and for everyone.

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