Nader and working class

Dayne Goodwin dayneg at
Sat Oct 28 09:47:42 MDT 2000

        Unfortunately workers are not born with working class
consciousness.  Helping to create working class consciousness is one of
the essential tasks for those of us who are revolutionary socialist
followers of Marx.  A crucial part of developing working class
consciousness is coming to understand that there is a capitalist ruling
class and learning how the capitalist class rules.  Particularly in the
U.S., this requires breaking down illusions about the "democratic"
political system.
        As we experience in daily conversations in the U.S., even people
who resent and resist the power of employers and the rich have difficulty
in coming to grips with the realities of class and class society.  Even
some people who seem to have an understanding of class structure and class
struggle apparently have difficulty understanding how the U.S. capitalist
political system works.
        How does the tiny capitalist class minority rule over the large
working class majority in the U.S.?  The crucial tool the capitalists use
to manage and administer this huge society is the capitalist two-party
political system.  The two-party system, with two capitalist parties
engaged in arguing over what are the best policies for the perpetuation
and prosperity of the the capitalist system and also engaged in
competition for posts in administering capitalist society, has worked
fairly well to give legitimacy to the capitalist system as being a
democratic system where 'the people' decide and actually rule.  At least
tacit assent to the capitalist political system from the working class
majority is essential to the maintenance of capitalist class rule and the
capitalist system.
        Crucial to the functioning of the U.S. capitalist two-party
political system for the last century is the success of the Democratic
Party in absorbing dissent and discontent and forestalling the development
of a politically independent mass working class movement and party.  This
is the job of the Democratic Party, playing "soft cop" to the Republican
Party "hard cop" in the capitalist two-party shell game.
        Isn't it great how the Ralph Nader Green Party presidential
campaign is challenging, exposing and maybe even disrupting the capitalist
two-party political system?  Class-conscious Marxists have a wonderful
opportunity to participate in a mass anti-establishment, anti-corporate
populist ferment that is attracting hundreds of thousands of young people.
This growing movement which was manifest in the Seattle demonstrations
against capitalist globalization is creating favorable terrain for those
who are working to develop working class consciousness.  Revolutionary
socialists in the Labor Party milieu are among those making the most of
this revolutionary opportunity with the development of Labor for Nader
        In this dimension of challenging the capitalist two-party
political system and fostering anti-capitalist class consciousness, the
Green Party Nader campaign is more politically advanced than the electoral
positions of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party
U.S.A.  The Green Party Nader campaign is more useful to actually building
mass working class consciousness than the explicitly socialist campaign of
the tiny Socialist Party or the token revolutionary socialist campaigns of
the comparably small Workers World Party and Socialist Workers Party.
        Of course we also need to break down any illusions that Ralph
Nader himself is committed to overthrowing the capitalist system.  Nader
is running on an admirably radical working class reform program but we all
know there is plenty of evidence that neither Nader nor large elements of
the Labor Party milieu have definitively broken with the Democrats and the
capitalist two-party system.  The Green Party program, at least the
Greens/Green Party U.S.A. segment's platform, is revolutionary but it
fosters illusions that "Economic Democracy" can be achieved without
removing the capitalist class from political and economic power.
        Revolutionary socialists can use these contradictions in and
around the Nader campaign to working class advantage.  We have a wonderful
opportunity to nurture and organize working class consciousness in this
anti-capitalist ferment.  It's not the only worthwhile thing that
revolutionary socialists can be doing, but in terms of the national U.S.
electoral political scene that is now getting attention from millions of
working people, I think that the Nader campaign is the most useful place
to apply our time and energy.
        Dayne Goodwin

More information about the Marxism mailing list