[Marxism] (Socialist Voice) Bush's election has changed nothing
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Nov 9 02:21:18 MST 2004
Socialist Voice is a online discussion and news bulletin published a
individuals in the Canadian labor movement, several of who are former
leaders of the Communist League of Canada, which is associated with the
Socialist Workers Party of the United States. Their break with the SWP
current came over the issue of the latter's rejection of any solidarity
with Iraqis fighting against the occupation of their country, and
related opposition to international antiwar protests. This is a
corrected version of what I sent earlier -- i.e, it is not in free
verse, that is, not stairstepped..
*********************************************************** S O C I A L
I S T V O I C E Debate and dialogue on issues before the workers
Number 21, November 8, 2004 www.socialistvoice.com
Editors' Note: Readers are encouraged to forward or distribute issues of
Socialist Voice. Please contribute comments and criticisms, subscribe,
or unsubscribe by writing: socialistvoice at sympatico.ca. All issues of
Socialist Voice are available at www.socialistvoice.com. --Roger Annis
and John Riddell
BUSH'S ELECTION HAS DECIDED NOTHING By Fred Feldman
Nothing has been decided by the U.S. presidential election, except the
choice of the dominant wing of the U.S. ruling class.
The imperialists are neither nearer nor farther from their goal of
suppressing Iraq. The Cuban revolution is neither nearer or farther from
being overthrown. The Venezuelan revolution is still advancing, not
retreating. Gay rights are neither nearer or farther from being
decisively victorious or defeat. The economy remains parlous, the
recovery weak and partially counteracted, and international competition
An assault on social security and other attacks on working people are
sure to gain momentum, but this is due to the low level of resistance
from labor, the oppressed nationalities, and women, not to the outcome
of the vote count. The crisis of orientation of the Bush administration
is neither nearer nor further from being resolved.
What Are Elections For?
The purpose of elections in imperialist democracy is to manufacture
consent, reinforce and preserve backwardness, and undermine
self-confidence and independence of the oppressed and exploited in their
own power to make change. And these elections have done their job.
Bush has a mandate to rule, but it comes not from the voters but from
the ruling class. It expects him to show more finesse in dealing with
the competition and resistance Washington faces abroad, while continuing
the ruthless attacks on our living standards and democratic rights.
For the next fairly brief period, the rulers and their media will unite
to sell us the New Popular Bush who cannot be defied. But Bush has yet
to decisively win any battle where he has faced real mass resistance.
Nor, of course, have the imperialists yet been decisively defeated in
any such battle. Now the Iraqis will be told, "See, you must bow to the
occupation for Super-Bush cannot be defeated." The Iranians will be told
that they cannot defend their sovereignty. The Venezuelans will be told
to drop any idea of taking the land. The Cubans are being told, "You
will suffer more without end." DON'T BELIEVE IT. THE U.S. RULERS ARE
Why Kerry Lost
We should remember how imperialist-democratic politics work. The defeat
of Kerry did not occur he supported the war or failed to speak to the
concerns of workers. Kerry's prowar, antiworker stand was what made him
acceptable to the bourgeoisie as a possible alternative. And given the
problems that Bush has run into internationally, plus oil prices and the
favorable competitive position that the Euro has won against the dollar,
that alternative seemed attractive to many of the rulers. But in the
end, they feared the results of changing the president--which might have
made sections of the masses feel stronger and more confident--more than
the consequences of Bush's inadequacies, which they can deal with in
other ways if this proves necessary.
But if Kerry had in fact talked against the war or used a lot of
populist pro-worker demagogy, the bourgeoisie would have sunk him
without a trace, just as they sunk George McGovern's campaign in 1972.
The elections did not provide a referendum on the war, because the
bourgeoisie do not allow these matters to be decided that way. There was
no vote for the war by the masses, because imperialist democracy
provides them no say on that matter whatsoever.
We have to fight every trace of the idea that the function of the
working people in politics is to provide voting cattle for the liberals
and deny this to the conservatives. We must oppose fulmination against
white workers (or others) who voted for the Republicans rather than the
Democrats. We must reject the idea that workers who vote Republican
"vote against their interests" while workers who vote Democratic "do
not." That concept is the way to keep running in the mouse cage of
Given the absence today of working-class struggle, or its very low
level, most workers retreat. They turn inward to their families and
communities. Yes, they can fear change. Religion--never absent, I might
add, under capitalist (that is, pre-communist) conditions--gets
Impact of Inpouring Profits
In addition, the United States and the working class is tremendously
affected and partly shaped by the inpouring of profits from the colonial
world that shape the society and affect all layers of all classes. These
profits shape the racist stratification of peoples and are the reason
why the imperialist two-party system has been able to maintain its
monopoly position for the last hundred years. It is a myth that these
benefits touch only white workers or only the labor aristocracy, and
even more of a myth that they touch only those who vote Republican.
The United States is a privileged nation in the world, as a consequence
of its substantial and ongoing world hegemony. Empty moralizing and
fulmination about the white workers as the sole recipients of privilege
is incorrect, worthless politically, and ultimately reactionary. And
limiting this denunciation to those who vote Republican--the others are
OK--is electoralism carried to the absurd.
The benefits of imperialist domination do affect the whites, including
workers, disproportionately. But all classes of all nationalities are
affected, not just workers, and not just workers of the dominant
nationality. After all, the reason why all the immigrants come here is
to be in the places that imperialist superprofits go rather than the
places from which they are taken. They need a piece of that action, and
many of them--like the rest of us--do get some.
If you want to reach out only to those who are not affected to some
degree by the vast wealth pouring in, you have to live in the countries
from which the wealth is coming. Imperialist superprofits--along with
the class struggles we have waged-- is the reason why we have been able
to make any progress at all in winning, through struggle, any safety net
from the imperialist rulers, as compared to the situation in Indonesia
or the Philippines or central Africa.
Workers of all nationalities do carry out progressive anti-imperialist
struggles today, such as the fight to organize unions. The importance of
unions lies not in their small or large numbers but in the desperate
need of the working class for these basic organizations that confront
the employer on the job. Nationalist organizations, revolutionary
organizations, youth organizations, academic societies, and so on cannot
do this job. The unions are small today. That just means that in any
general rise of struggle today, unions--whether the ones we have now or
new ones arising out of struggle--will grow tremendously.
The answer to this election and its outcome does not lie in winning more
votes for the next Kerry or in a civil war to crush the atavistic "red
states." The answer lies in more class struggle by workers farmers,
students, Blacks, Chicanos, immigrants against exploitation, repression,
discrimination, and war.
Gay Marriage Debate
The fight for gay rights has proven to be a significant and long-term
component of this process. It is extremely important not to exaggerate
the setback to gay rights represented by the victory of anti-gay
marriage referenda in 11 states. The idea of gay marriage exploded into
the consciousness of tens of millions of people this year for the first
time in their lives and in U.S. history--and, for that matter, the
history of the modern world.
Given the newness and apparent strangeness of the idea for those
encountering it for the first time, plus the continuing depth of
prejudices of all kinds maintained by class society, it was a foregone
conclusion that the reactionary referenda would be successful this year.
It was an easy victory for the Republicans, and a handy assist toward
the primary goal of helping re-elect Bush. Supporters of gay rights have
focussed on protests, educational campaigns, court actions, and highly
visible actions such as the defiant and proud weddings in San Francisco.
Of course, the top Democratic candidates gave no support to this fight.
Clinton and others are now insisting that the Democratic Party must
become more antigay, more anti-abortion, more antilabour, and more
prowar to regain the "heartland"--that is, to win the heart of the
billionaire families who have preferred the Republicans to the Democrats
in six of the last nine elections.
While gays have been victimized by the constitutional amendment
operation, people are now being made aware in an unprecedented way of a
new and important question of equality, non-discrimination, and
democratic rights. The referenda are not a decisive setback for the gay
movement, but the beginning of a fight that has a positive future,
especially if other class battles at home and abroad grow stronger in
the coming years. From the standpoint of working people, the fight for
gay marriage was vastly more important than which of their enemies won
Basis for an Alternative
Imperialism, reaction, and backwardness won the election. This is hardly
surprising. The U.S. political system is the ideal one for imperialism,
and in this setup, only imperialism, reaction, and backwardness can win
The people who voted for Nader are not the base of a future mass party
of the oppressed and exploited in this country--any more than those who
voted for Bush are the mass base of fascism. Some or many of the Nader
supporters may be won in the struggles of working people.. But the major
benefit of the Nader campaign was not that it forged the base of a new
mass party but as propaganda against the two-party imperialist trap.
It is the mass of the oppressed and exploited themselves who provide the
basis for a real alternative, which will arise not primarily out of
polemics against people who vote for the capitalist parties, but out of
massive class struggles.
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