Need for Democratic Renewal
July 22, 2010
Democratic renewal – that is, fundamental change in the political process and political system – is the central point in the program of the Workers Party. This is the key problem which the working class and people must solve in order to open the path for progress.
Why? Because when all is said and done, what is missing from our country is the role of people as the creators, shapers and decision-makers of their own social environment. The working class and people have a very definite agenda and vision for society – an agenda and vision which is suppressed by the fact that the political power – the public authority – is monopolized by an exploiting minority. The drive of the people to create their society, to humanize their own social environment, is one of the defining human qualities.
The experience of the Workers Party shows over and again how, despite the fact that people are alienated from the current political process and political system, they continually find ways to come into the public arena and struggle to get control over the social conditions in which they live. This can be seen in the struggles of the people for their economic rights, in the struggles against war and militarism, in the work to build up their own political movement, etc.
The Workers Party has pointed out again and again, for example in the Campaign for Economic Rights, that our country has all the resources at its disposal to take a great leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom -- to put an end to the whole historical era in which the main preoccupation of people is with economic survival. The Party has also pointed out that the aspirations and struggles of the people have put the solution to this problem on the agenda. We say that in the final analysis, the solution is very simple. The People Must Decide.
From the very beginnings of our country, the peoples who came here aspired and struggled to build a society which, in fact, recognizes the equality of all human beings and ends all persecution, discrimination and oppression on the basis of belief, national origin, sex, etc. What is blocking this aspiration, this great historical project of American people? It is the capitalist state – a political power which was founded and thrives on the oppression and enslavement of whole nations. It is very easy to abolish the system of discrimination and oppression – the people must decide.
So too, generations upon generations of Americans have fought against aggressive, imperialist wars striving to create that world of peace and friendship so ardently desired by peoples everywhere. It is the capitalist-imperialist state – a political power which on a world scale is the number one oppressor of nations – which is making these wars and blocking the aspiration of the American people to live in friendship with the peoples of the world. It is very easy to solve this problem, to end imperialist wars and antagonisms between nations – the People Must Decide the questions of foreign policy.
Our Party has actively taken up the Campaign for Economic Rights which asserts that every individual, simply by virtue of his/her humanity, has the right to a job or a livelihood, to food, clothing and shelter, to health care, education and so on. Our experience is that the overwhelming majority of people embrace this program and in various ways, millions are fighting, at least partially, to implement it. What is blocking the implementation of this right. It is the political power of the capitalist class which insists that human beings have no rights which society must recognize, that every individual must fend for herself/himself in the so-called free market and that the only role of the workers and people is to be available to be exploited at the whim and will of the capitalists.
It is very easy to create a society which recognizes and guarantees all the inalienable economic rights of the people. All that is required is that the people themselves hold the power and are able to decide on the aims and direction of the economy.
Our Party's fundamental aim is to create a socialist and communist society – a society which abolishes the exploitation of human beings. How can such a society be created and how will it be created. It will be created when the people decide. Does anyone really think, that the workers – the overwhelming majority of population – are going to decide to create a society in which a few capitalists are given the right and power to exploit them?
It has become commonplace to recognize that the current political power completely excludes the people, has written the concerns and demands of people out of the equation. But it is more than that. Things are not staying in the same place and this political power is becoming and can only become more arbitrary, more dictatorial, more active in suppressing the needs of people and the requirements of social development.
For example, we have written about how the government without any discussion, much less a binding referendum, is simply privatizing the public infrastructure by fiat. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are dismantling much of the social safety net built up over previous decades. This policy is carried out without the consent of the people and in opposition to their vital needs. Of course, in foreign affairs, while carrying out a program for world domination and continually branding other nations and states as "terrorists" and "outlaws", U.S. imperialism not only spits in the face of world public opinion but is tearing down the entire edifice of international law and established norms between countries.
This arbitrariness comes from the fact that the government is, in fact, nothing more nor less than the organized class power of monopoly capital. The monopoly capitalists are a tiny fraction of the population who live by the exploitation of the majority. But this is not all. Today the monopoly capitalist system is in all-sided crisis, precisely because it stands in opposition to the requirements of social development. In crisis and decay, the monopoly capitalists can think only of protecting and increasing their profits – of increasing the exploitation of the workers to the maximum, of super-exploiting the peoples of other countries – of robbery at home and war abroad. Monopoly capital, the economic domination of the entire country by a tiny handful, is in complete contradiction with democracy, with the progress of society and the emancipation of the people. This is why the arbitrariness of the political power, its repressive and dictatorial aspects can only become more pronounced.
In fact, despite all the talk about democracy and rule of the people, the state power in our country has always been the organized power of the exploiting class. Historically, the emergence of the state is linked with the emergence of private property in the means of production. Before the division of society into classes there were no antagonistic relations between people and hence no state, no public authority, alienated from the people. There was only the authority of the people themselves. It is only with division of society into classes – into exploiters and exploited – that the state arises as an organ of the exploiting class to maintain the system of private property in the means of production.
This is why the workers and people – born into a society divided into classes and kept enslaved and oppressed by the arbitrary, violent power of the exploiters – have no choice but to be political. This is why the workers and people must wage a political struggle against the state power of monopoly capital in order to advance their interests and agenda. This is why the workers and people, in order to create that society which we aspire for and are struggling for, must win the battle for democracy and create a new political power which enables the people to play their role as shapers and decision-makers.
In fact if we look at the history of the last several hundred years (and more), we can see that the struggle of the people to empower themselves is the main driving force of history.
In the struggles against feudalism, the people repudiated the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings and put on the agenda the demand that sovereignty – political power – arises from and belonged to the people. Of course, the bourgeoisie ended up stealing the fruits of the anti-feudal struggle. Despite its fanfare about democracy, the capitalists only substituted the rule by the Lords of Capital for the old rule by the lords of the land. The capitalists brought back the arbitrary power of the Kings in the form of the arbitrary power of the executive branch of government.
But faced with this situation, the working class and people have continued, on all fronts, their drive to demand inclusion and claim power. People have waged countless struggles both to reform the existing system as well as to overthrow the dictatorship of the capitalists altogether and replace it with the political power of the workers and people. Thus, for example, repeated struggles were waged to extend the franchise, movements were initiated to implement such things as referendums and the right to recall elected officials. In addition, the workers and people built up their own political parties – mass workers and communist parties – as a means to empower themselves. On a world scale, the workers in the Soviet Union and later Albania created the first proletarian state powers – marking the beginning of a new era in history.
In sum then, the whole course of history as well as the demands of social development, have brought the people to centerstage. The people are seeking to create a new state power which arises from and empowers the people and is used by them to carry through the struggle to abolish the exploitation of human beings.
This is what is on the historical agenda and it can be said that the real starting point of political knowledge is recognition of the irreconcilable antagonism between the workers and people, on the one hand, and the capitalist state – the existing political power – on the other. This is the starting point of people grasping the necessity for independent political action – grasping that they can emancipate themselves only through political struggle against the oppressive state of the exploiters.