Road of the Party:
What is Blocking the Way?
October 21, 2012
In this column, "Road of the Party," we discuss some of the fundamental political and theoretical issues facing the working class.
At least from the time of the publication of the "Communist Manifesto," the capitalist class has been haunted by the working class movement and modern communism. In fact, the first thing on the agenda of the capitalists is how to suppress and liquidate the workers' movement. Anti-communism has long been written into the law of the land in the U.S. A myriad of additional laws and bureaucratic regulations are used to hamstring the trade union movement. Whenever a strike of the workers threatens the interests of the capitalists or a popular movement begins to gain strength, the government turns to its huge apparatus of repression and attempts to turn the matter into an issue of "law and
To thwart the development of the independent political movement of the workers, the capitalists have rigged the political system, giving the Republican and Democratic parties a monopoly over political affairs. These parties impose the pre-set agenda of monopoly capital on our country. Of course, the Democrats and Republicans put on a show and play a real con game on the public by pretending to "argue" over the agenda. But both "sides" of the "debate" remain within the limits set by the capitalists. Thus, for example, the Republicans demand the all-around privatization of the public schools while the Democrats advertise their program of partial privatization not merely as the "lesser evil" but as a real victory for the people. This pre-set agenda completely excludes the workers and prevents our country from finding solutions to the pressing economic, social and political problems facing the people.
Only revolutionary politics can release the initiative of the workers
Through their monopoly over the mass media, the capitalists try to limit any and every political discussion. Thus, for example, the people are offered the "choice" of higher taxes or less social spending. But all the while the monopoly-controlled media starts from the unspoken assumption that the bulk of the government's budget must go to the military arms merchants or the Wall Street bankers. Similarly the workers are threatened that if they don't accept wage cuts, they will lose their jobs. Again, the unspoken assumption is that – first, last, and always – the profits of the capitalists must be protected.
The monopoly-controlled media works to degrade the consciousness of the people. Continuous disinformation campaigns are used to hide the aims of the capitalists and mystify the causes of social problems. A blockade of silence is maintained against the working class and popular struggles, against the Workers Party and modern communism. In fact, the monopoly-controlled media tries to defame every section of the people – labelling the youth as "criminals," the oppressed minorities as "culturally backward," the workers as "apathetic and selfish," etc., etc.
In sum, the entire political and ideological apparatus of the capitalists is used to de-politicize the workers and prevent the development of their self-conscious, independent organization and movement.
The experience of the Workers Party is this marginalization and de-politicalization of people can be broken by giving expression to the independent class aims of the workers. From the cradle to the grave, people are bombarded with propaganda, threats and repression insisting that social change is a "hopeless dream." Bourgeois ideology tries to suppress every criticism of the status quo by insisting that those who "don't make it" in this "best of all worlds" have only themselves and their "immoral" behavior to blame.
The Workers Party works to bring to the fore the experience and aspirations of the people themselves, both their criticism of the status quo as well as their vision and aim for society and life. Popularizing and summing up the struggles of people, giving systematic and theoretical substantiation to the thinking and experience of people, brings these aspirations to the fore and creates a new atmosphere in which the workers and people are increasingly conscious of their own movement. This work of embedding our thought and action in the real-life struggle for emancipation includes popularizing and learning from the history of the working class and communist movements.
Starting from the aspirations of the working people, the Party works out a concrete politics which transcends the limits of the capitalist agenda and empowers the workers to fight for their own class interests. Thus we never accept the blackmail that the workers must accept the "lesser evil," that the only "choice" is whether taxes should be raised or social programs cut, that to oppose the war program of U.S. imperialism is tantamount to supporting some other imperialist power. The Workers Party presents an alternative based on the fundamental interests of the workers, an alternative which goes against the privileges of private property in the means of production and which breaks the monopoly of the capitalists over political affairs. Only such a genuinely revolutionary politics can release the initiative of the workers to come into the political arena under their own banners and with their own independent program.
The Struggle Against Opportunism
In order to disrupt the self-conscious, independent organization of the working class, the capitalists foster various opportunist trends within the working class and popular movements. These opportunist trends include social democracy and modern revisionism – the phony socialists and phony communists.
As early as the latter half of the 19th century, Karl Marx's theory of scientific socialism had become the main trend in the working class movement, inspiring the workers to come out as a class-for-themselves under the banner of socialism and communism. Facing this situation, the capitalists worked to split and undermine the workers' movement by disguising their ideology and program with phrases taken from socialism. Opportunism and revisionism are the reflection of capitalist ideology inside the working class movement. Opportunism and revisionism surrender the general and fundamental interests of the workers and subordinate the workers to the politics of the capitalist class.
Today, in fact, opportunism and revisionism have become part of the official ideology and state system of capitalism. In the former socialist countries, modern revisionism gained the leadership of the Soviet Union in the 1950's and was used to take the fortress of communism from within and pave the way for the restoration of capitalism. In western Europe and elsewhere, socialist and communist parties have been repeatedly brought to power to save the capitalist system. In the U.S., the social democrats and phony communists long ago joined the Democratic Party, and work overtime to keep the workers under the tutelage of this capitalist party. In fact, the capitalists in the U.S. have worked systematically to strengthen the objective basis for opportunism and revisionism by creating an "aristocracy of labor." This small "upper crust" of the trade union movement, ensconced in the leadership of the AFL-CIO, are invited to sit on the Boards of Directors of corporations, given positions in government, the universities, etc. The capitalists have created similar bought-and-paid for "leaders" in the movements of the oppressed minorities, the women's movement, etc.
Social democracy and modern revisionism work to suppress the political independence of the workers. They insist that workers can only be "pragmatic" and participate in political affairs by aligning themselves under the wing of the so-called "progressive" section of the capitalists. They deny that the workers are a class-for-themselves and divide the people into competing pressure groups and interest groups while insisting that people must work "within" the framework – the political limits – already laid down by the capitalists.
The struggle against opportunism is an essential part of the struggle of the working class
The atmosphere fostered by opportunism is just as stifling and apolitical as the atmosphere created by the monopoly-controlled media. Genuine political discussion is ruled out of order and the thought and action of the people is kept within the narrowest possible framework. Not only do the opportunists create every illusion in the capitalist system and capitalist state. When push comes to shove – when a real crisis develops and the interests of capital are threatened – opportunism openly embraces the aims of the capitalists themselves. Thus, for example, the leaders of the AFL-CIO embrace the program of "increasing the competitiveness of U.S. capitalism." Similarly, at key moments such as the wars in Yugoslavia and the Persian Gulf, many "leaders" of the peace movement openly adopt the chauvinist positions of U.S. imperialism.
To disrupt the working class and popular movements, the capitalists also employ a variety of anarchist ideologies and sects. Such groupings often advertise themselves as "communists" and "revolutionaries." But such sects generally abstain from politics and the sum total of their activity is to try to impose their particular pet mantras on the movement. This dogmatism works to undermine the political unity of the workers and create an atmosphere of division. The capitalists hope that in rejecting the dogmatism of such sects, activists will also reject genuine communism.
"Left" sectarianism, just like social democracy and modern revisionism, denies the revolutionary and independent role of the working class. Despite "revolutionary" phrases about the "judgment day," in real political life the "left" dogmatists offer no alternative and leave the workers under the tutelage of capitalist politics. In other words, such dogmatists do not see or join in the motion of the class to organize and assert itself. Rather they are determined to abstain from politics until such time as the masses embrace their special sectarian dogmas.
The Workers Party recognizes that the struggle against opportunism is an essential and continuous to be part of the struggle of the working class. It is part and parcel of the struggle against bourgeois ideology and politics. But the struggle against opportunism cannot be waged as an isolated thing in itself. On the contrary. The struggle against opportunism must be waged in the course of taking up the decisive tasks facing the movement.
The key thing is to give political expression to the independent aims and program of the workers. It is such an independent politics which empowers people to break the strangle hold of capitalist politics, give expression to their aspirations and vision for the new communist society and accumulate forces for the socialist revolution. It is precisely because social democracy, revisionism and left dogmatism fight against the independent political role of the workers that they are roadblocks to the movement.