For the Independent Politics of the Working Class
October 21, 2012
Everyday the crisis of the current political system deepens. More and more people become fed up with the two big parties and the government and the workers grapple with the question of how to create a genuine alternative.
In this situation, tremendous pressure is being exerted against the workers' movement, trying to prevent a mass break-away from the two-party system, trying to prevent the workers from coming out as a class for themselves – coming out under their own class banners, with their own class aims and program. To work to assist and accelerate the building of a genuinely independent working class movement or to continue to create illusions in the present political set-up – this is one of the decisive questions of the day.
For example, the leaders of the AFL-CIO, as well as various opportunist political groupings, are once again picking up the chorus that the workers must accept the "lesser evil" and hope for the re-election of Barack Obama. The grave danger inherent in this view is not only that it covers up the real record – the deeds – of Barack Obama but also that it seeks to cover over the class character of the politics of both the Republicans and Democrats. What drove Barack Obama to increase military spending, slash social programs, militarize the border and triple the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan? Why is Obama so eager to collaborate in the Republican program of "free market" economics and of slashing social investments even more? It is not merely because Barack Obama is a particularly spineless politician. It is because both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – like all the Democratic and Republican politicians – are representatives of big business. The politics of these two parties is the politics of using the state machinery to protect and expand the power and privilege of the monopoly capitalist class.
Those who reject the "politics of the lesser evil" are often attacked as "apathetic" and told that "if you don't register and don't vote, you have no right to complain." But, again, this view is only covering up an essential flaw in the current political process and political system. Of course it is good to vote, if there is anyone to vote for. But under the present system, it is nearly impossible for the people to have any say whatsoever in the selection and nomination of candidates. The two big parties have been granted almost a complete monopoly over the selection of candidates. Therefore, on election day, the only "choice" offered the people is between 2 candidates both of whom have been handpicked by big business and advertised by the monopoly-controlled mass media. We must insist that under this system, the people really do not have a vote at all – they are merely being asked to give their consent to a government and a political system over which they have no control.
The issue is not only that illusions are being created about the class politics of the Republicans and Democrats and about the way in which the present political system reduces the people to "voting cattle" giving their consent to the status quo. The root problem is that politics is defined in the narrowest possible way – in a way which not only confines the participation of the people but, in reality, denies the working class any political role whatsoever.
What is politics, really? Politics is the struggle between classes for state power. The state itself only emerged in history at the time when society became divided into antagonistic classes. The exploiting class erects a state – an absolute public authority – in order to insure its domination over the exploited, laboring masses and in particular to insure that the property relations on which its existence as a class depend are imposed on the whole of society. Today, in the U.S., despite all the propaganda concerning "democracy," the reality remains that the state system and the political process have been rigged up by monopoly capital as a means to protect its class rule and enforce the capitalist exploitation of the working class. Under this set-up, politics for the masses of people is defined, at most, as a way to "make their voice known" to the powers that be. In other words, the working class must always remain under the political tutelage and domination of the capitalist class.
The crisis and bankruptcy of the current political system and political process can only be overcome through the independent class politics of the workers. The aim of this politics is for the working class itself to conquer the political power, in order to make its agenda and aims, the agenda and aims of society as a whole – that is in order to build a society which abolishes the system of exploitation of human beings, guarantees the economic and other inviolable rights of the people and empowers the people themselves as the decision-makers and leaders of society.
Such a genuine working class politics opens the broadest possible arena for the workers and people to take part in the struggle to change society and advance their own class interests. Genuine working class politics can include workers selecting and running their own candidates for office when this is a useful means of advancing their interests. But independent working class politics does not confine itself to elections, nor does it accept the current electoral system, which has been rigged in favor of the 2 big parties of the capitalist class. Genuine working class politics takes up all forms of organization and struggle appropriate to advancing the interests of the workers and openly contending with the capitalists over the direction of society.
At this time some of the key fronts on which independent working class politics is developing include: the struggle of the workers to popularize their own program as widely as possible; the struggle of the workers to build up their own independent press as a means to popularize their agenda and equip themselves with consciousness and organization; the work to mobilize the broadest sections of people, through various means, to take up active opposition to the anti-social agenda of the capitalists. Through these actions, the workers are uniting their ranks and pushing their own aims and agenda to center-stage. At all times, this independent politics of the working class keeps in the forefront the goal of winning the battle for democracy, by constituting the working class (the overwhelming majority of the population) as the sovereign political power.
Precisely because the politics of the capitalists sidelines and excludes the workers and seeks to suppress the workers' independent aims and agenda, the crisis of bourgeois politics will only deepen. The task of the times is to assist in the development of the independent class politics of the workers – only this politics can truly inspire and mobilize the people and bring them to their rightful place as the decision-makers of society.