How to Unite the People

September 21, 2009

Every day, workers are urgently raising such questions as: "What is holding back the development of our independent class movement?" "Why are we still relatively disorganized?" "Why are there splits and divisions amongst the workers?," etc.

Part of addressing this problem, is recognizing that the capitalist class exerts continuous pressure against the working class and popular movement.

The capitalists, of course, have an immense political and ideological apparatus at their disposal, including the government itself, the two big political parties, the monopoly-controlled media, the educational institutions, etc. and so forth. What is more, the capitalists have created a privileged, sold-out stratum amongst the workers. This privileged stratum or labor aristocracy is a real trojan horse used by the capitalists to smuggle their ideology and politics into the working class and popular movements.

Today the labor aristocracy, and especially the top officialdom of the AFL-CIO, is part of the government apparatus itself, sitting on various labor boards and participating in "tripartite" cooperation with the government and big business. The labor aristocracy itself controls billions of dollars in workers' pensions and other funds and frequently sits on the Board of Directors of various corporations. Following similar tactics, monopoly capital has created similar stratum amongst other sections of the people – in the women's movement, in the oppressed minority communities, etc.

These privileged stratum, bribed by imperialism with a small portion of the super-profits it derives from the super-exploitation of peoples throughout the world, constitute the objective social base – the class basis – for the penetration of capitalist ideology and politics within the working class and popular movements. Although the labor aristocracy is numerically very small, its influence is widespread precisely because the capitalist class has installed it as the official representative of the workers, and given it a broad platform within the working class and society as a whole.

The very starting point of the labor aristocracy is to renounce socialism and the independent class interests of the workers and to embrace the economic and political system of capitalism, including U.S. imperialism's worldwide empire. The labor aristocracy works to corrode the class consciousness of the workers by substituting the ideology of class compromise and capitulation for class struggle and continually diverting and liquidating the mass struggles of the people. The labor aristocracy seeks to reduce the working class and other oppressed sections of the people to separate and competing interest groups which accept the system of capitalist exploitation and, at most, seek a slightly bigger slice of the pie for themselves. In practical political life, the labor aristocracy, in the main, operates as a "left-wing" of the Democratic Party, bringing liberalism into the working class and popular movements.

In the current conditions, when the capitalist system is in a deep and all-sided crisis and monopoly capital is carrying out a thoroughly anti-social offensive against the American people, the politics of the labor aristocracy is becoming increasingly isolated and the liberal-labor alliance is under great strain.

In fact, many trade unionists and sincere political activists are straining for a real fight against the anti-social agenda. They want to break the strangling embrace of the Democratic Party which has been in the forefront of slashing social programs, which is pushing for the privatization of the public school system, which is bombing Afghanistan and Pakistan, digging in for long-term occupation and counter-insurgency war in Iraq, militarizing Latin America, and, in general, leading the entire anti-social offensive.

In these conditions, the labor aristocracy is working overtime, trying to drag us backwards. By covering up the crimes of Obama and the Democrats, the labor aristocracy is trying to lull people to sleep about the grave dangers and intensity of the anti-social offensive and actually pave the way for the implementation of this agenda. The labor aristocracy works to narrow the focus and scope of the popular struggles and de-politicize the people and prevent the development of a mass, independent working class and popular movement.

The present period – characterized by the unresolvable crisis of capitalism, the anti-social agenda of the monopolies and the deepening class and political polarization – confronts the class conscious workers and activists with great responsibilities as well as broad possibilities. Addressing the situation, means helping create conditions for cementing a new political unity amongst the workers and people. This requires a broad political and theoretical outlook; it requires engaging the widest possible sections of people in discussion over fundamental questions; it requires popularizing and bringing to center-stage a genuinely pro-social agenda which can unite the vast majority of people and open the path for the progress of our country. It short, it means helping give political expression to the independent aims and agenda of the people themselves.

The Workers Party is taking up this challenge. Firstly, we work to go as deeply as possible amongst the broadest sections of people – amongst the vast majority of people who presently are locked out and excluded from politics – and help bring them into struggle on the basis of their own aims and program. In addition, the Party always strives to develop the common struggle and build the common front amongst the broadest sections of people by adhering to the principle of unity in action to fight against the anti-social agenda and defend the interests of the people. This work is vital, especially at this time, in order to create the maximum space in which the people can operate and advance their movement and in order to create the best possible conditions for those still under the influence of liberalism and the labor aristocracy to take up the struggle. Cementing the unity of the people and accelerating the fight against the anti-social agenda also requires waging a consistent and principled struggle against liberalism and the labor aristocracy in order to foster the class independence of the workers and break the strangling embrace of capitalist ideology and politics.

This is the way to bring about that new political unity, so ardently desired by the people – the unity which expresses the common humanity and political objectives of the people and welds them into an invincible social force.