Who Do the Politicians Think They’re Fooling?
December 10, 2016
To listen to the political representatives of big capital talk, it would seem as if they were all revolutionaries. These days, the Republicans, the Democrats, the big business lobbyists, the Donald Trumps and Bernie Sanders, all talk about the need for an upheaval of the “establishment” and advertise themselves as opponents of big government and “special interests.”
Of course, the most common response to this is to point out the obvious – that the chances of the current political establishment genuinely reforming itself are less than the chances of pigs learning to fly.
It is also important to note that this torrent of “anti-establishment” propaganda is an aspect of the pluralist ideology of the capitalists. This pluralist ideology seeks to mystify the real class character of the state power by covering over the fundamental relationship between the economic base of the society and its political superstructure.
Capitalism is a system in which the social property (including the tools and natural resources) created by the whole society over many generations are owned by a small number of private individuals. The capitalists, by monopolizing the very means required by the majority in order to secure their livelihood, are able to grab hold of fabulous riches by exploiting the labor of the workers. The working class – the class whose labor produces all new values – is separated from the implements of labor and the workers have no way to secure a livelihood except by selling their labor-power, day in and day out, to the capitalist owners. The capitalists in turn exploit the labor of the workers, returning in wages only a small fraction of the new values created by the workers. Under capitalism, the living human labor of the workers is looked upon solely as a means for enriching the capitalist owners.
From its very emergence, the working class has been locked in an all-sided, irreconcilable struggle against capitalist exploitation and the capitalist class. Just to maintain their physical existence, the workers are forced to fight the capitalists over the issues of wages, hours of work, working conditions and so forth. In addition, the working class wages continual struggles in the political sphere, asserting its rights in opposition to and struggle against the capitalist class and capitalist state. The workers have won many victories in their economic and political battles but still the fundamental problem remains unresolved and the same issues come up again and again. One day the workers are able to establish union organizations and gain higher wages; but the next day, the capitalists are able to smash the union and cut wages. The overwhelming majority of the workers still live in a state of job and economic insecurity. Furthermore, the inherent and insatiable drive of capital to maximize profit places it in irreconcilable opposition to the needs and requirements of society as a whole. Attempts by society as a whole to protect the natural environment or guarantee workers a safe work environment, the struggle of the workers to restrict the “right” of the capitalists to hire and fire at will or increase exploitation to the maximum – all these things, are looked upon by the capitalist as just so many infringements on the “sanctity” of the rights of private property in the means of production.
Ever since the division of society into social classes, the ruling class has created and fortified the state as an instrument for maintaining these social relations – for keeping the laboring classes oppressed and exploited and for suppressing their struggles. In the U.S. today, the rights of private property in the means of production still remain as the very foundation of the political superstructure. In class society, the political system and the state enforce the existing property relations.
The “anti-establishment” propaganda from the political representatives in the Democratic and Republican parties is designed to obscure these fundamental facts with a fairy-tale about a “pluralist society” allegedly free of class conflict and class struggle. This entire fairy tale is designed to create the illusion that the existing state machine is not an instrument of class oppression and in fact that this same state machine could be utilized in the interests of the workers if only it is administered by the “right people.” In other words, we are told that the very same state machine which not ten times or a hundred times or a thousand times, but innumerable times, has used violence to suppress the workers’ movement, that this same state machine will miraculously become the instrument of emancipation for the workers; that the same state which was founded on the enslavement of the African people will miraculously become the instrument of their liberation; that this same state which has launched hundreds of aggressive wars against other nations will become an instrument of peace, etc.