U.S. workers’ missing weapon: A fighting mass workingclass party

Electrical workers in New York City striking against Charter/Spectrum, April 2017. As bosses heat up class war against workers, working class lacks a crucial weapon: a mass multiracial revolutionary class-struggle party. Photo: IBEW Local 3.

Note: RAN refers to this website, Reality Analysis Notes. Numbered citations are included in the References section at the end of this post.

As Reality Analysis Notes (RAN) pointed out in its Foundational Political Analysis «American capitalism enters a darker new era» (21 June 2017), the U.S. federal regime of President Donald Trump and his “Nazi circus” (an alliance of fascistic and proto-fascistic forces together with the extremist-right “establishment” now dominating the Republican Party) represents a significantly new and ominous stage in the degeneration of American capitalism within the ongoing decay of the global imperialist order – a condition that Marxist analysis identifies as the “death agony” of capitalism in its “epoch of decay“. But the ascendancy of Trump & Co. also signals a significant intensification of class war by America’s ruling capitalist strata against the nation’s multiracial working class (and the masses of the dispossessed as a whole).

Class war on working people

In the face of this increasingly vicious onslaught, the working class finds itself nearly defenseless. Despite the recent wave of public schoolteacher strikes and mass protests, the USA’s trade union movement has seen decades of disastrous decline – not just in numbers, but particularly in terms of the venality and treachery of the predominantly pro-capitalist, private-profit-subservient labor union bureaucracy. [1] As RAN has noted, this pro-capitalist leadership has eschewed solidarity-based mass work actions such as strikes in favor of reliance on the “fairness” of the regulatory apparatus and court system of the bourgeois (capitalist) state – i.e., “legal” mechanisms originally implemented by the ruling class itself to squelch labor militancy and bring unions under state control.

While allowing labor unions to shrivel into near-impotency, in the political dimension the bureaucracy has likewise maintained its loyal subservience to capitalism’s ruling elite by doing as much as possible to corral the labor movement within the confines of the U.S. capitalist political structure with its two major capitalist parties – Republicans (GOP) and Democrats – and, of course, particularly channeling union members and other working people into labor’s subordinate participation in the Democratic Party. Warnings about the dangers posed by these policies to the U.S. working class and organized labor movement have been repeatedly voiced by the revolutionary Marxist movement. For example, these issues were acutely analyzed in a recent issue of the revolutionary Marxist paper Workers Vanguard (WV), discussing the Janus v. AFSCME case then before the U.S. Supreme Court. (A further serious attack on union power, the court’s recent ruling abrogates many unions’ dues collection rights, thus dealing a disastrous blow to their financial resources.) As the article points out:

It is the labor misleaders themselves who have paved the way for the Janus attack. Abandoning the class-struggle methods that built the unions, the labor bureaucracy has simply lain down in the face of relentless attacks on unions while resorting to reliance on the capitalist government, the courts and the Democratic Party.

At every turn, the union misleaders showcase their support to the capitalist system while enjoying the perks and privileges of union office, including posts inside the Democratic Party. Every election cycle, millions of union dollars and millions of union members are mobilized for voter turnout for the bourgeois “lesser evil.”

This long history of treacherous collaborations and capitulations by the labor movement’s misleaders has also paved the way for the ascendancy of Donald Trump and his extremist-right/proto-fascistic cabal. From the White House and top echelons of Trump’s administration, to the rabidly rightwing GOP officials currently dominating the U.S. House and Senate, to arch-reactionary state and local governments and officials nationwide, the policies of Trump & Co. (facilitated by the legacy and collaboration of Democratic Party liberalism and elements in the labor bureaucracy) encapsulate the raw and ruthless cruelty and criminality at the core of modern capitalism and inherent in its decay. The brutal inhumanity of these policies has been burned into the infamy of history by an escalating spate of draconian atrocities that have evoked comparisons to the methods of the Nazi Gestapo (Germany’s State Security Police) of the 1930s and 1940s.

Trump’s anti-immigrant Gestapo

Immigrants – especially those that are undocumented, stigmatized as “illegal aliens” – have been Trump’s most salient victims of choice, targeted by policies that have instituted and encouraged an escalating series of outrages. RAN’s above-cited Foundational Analysis described Trump’s “sustained Gestapo-style terror assault” against immigrants, which has been typified in raids and other aggressive actions by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency – activities described by RAN as “distinctive in their appalling cruelty and ruthlessness, with parents yanked from their families and friends and neighbors literally kidnapped off the street.”

As RAN’s analysis has also noted, Trump’s policies are merely an expansion and intensification of progressively harsher anti-immigrant crackdowns pursued by the Democrat Obama regime and other previous administrations. Using this open door, Trump has sadistically discarded any sensitivity to harsh “optics” in favor of bolstering his “tough guy” image, stoking the bigotry of his racist, nativist mass base, and endeavoring to de-sensitize the American public at large through arrogant repetition and escalation.

Exulting in their orgy of ruthless cruelty, Trump and his gang have ratcheted up their repression, launching a “Zero Tolerance” campaign of terroristic savagery explicitly designed as a “deterrent” to desperate immigrants, with an ultimate aim of halting virtually all immigration into the United States. As a result, Trump’s crackdown has escalated from massive roundups of immigrants at worksites and more aggressive violence by Border Patrol agents (including the killing of an unarmed young immigrant woman by a Texas state border trooper), to the brutal “family separation” policy ripping immigrant children from their parents and families (even a breastfeeding baby from its mother). This of course has precipitated a national crisis of families being torn apart, and their displaced children – ranging from toddlers to teenagers – being separated from their imprisoned parents and herded into wire cages in detention centers (compared to “kennels” in some news reports) operated by Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency..

Undocumented immigrant children imprisoned by Trump’s ICE in wire cage in McAllen, Texas. Photo: U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

While these draconian policies highlight the consummate evil of capitalist rule in its agony of degeneration and dying, ultimately Trump’s vicious war on immigrants is directed at further repression of the entire working class, particularly in ratcheting up the regimentation of U.S. society. Put another way: this mounting repression against the immigrant workforce must also be recognized as a particularly aggressive assault on the most vulnerable sectors of the working class as a whole.

The dynamics of immigrant worker exploitation were captured quite succinctly by another Workers Vanguard analysis published 22 September 2017 with the headline «No Deportations!»

The U.S. capitalists view Mexico and Latin America as destinations for capital export and a vast reservoir of cheap, vulnerable labor to be tapped or returned as dictated by the demands of the economy. At the same time, immigrant workers play a vital role in the U.S. economy, including by filling some of the most dangerous and lowest-paying jobs.

While some sections of the labor movement have occasionally protested the oppression of undocumented immigrants, the pro-capitalist “business union” bureaucracy on the whole has largely ignored this sector of the population – and working class – and raised not a finger to defend or organize immigrant workers on a significant scale. At the same time, as RAN has described, by allowing the class-consciousness of American workers to disintegrate, failing to mount a strong fight in the class struggle, and presiding over the widespread loss of jobs and erosion of wages and benefits, union officialdom enabled billionaire Trump to feign concern for “laid-off factory workers”, “crushed” communities, “the forgotten men and women of our country”, and “people who work hard but no longer have a voice”. A preeminent demagogue and con artist, vigorously stoking fear and racial-ethnic bigotry, Trump was thus able to manipulate sizable sections of the U.S. working class (ethnically white in particular) to rally to him – even with his patently reactionary, anti-worker messages and policies – as their political “voice” and “champion”.

Lies, flim-flam, and attacks

The disastrous results summarized in RAN’s 2017 Foundational Analysis have been corroborated even further over the past year. Having hoodwinked enclaves of white workers (and even an occasional minority voter) in the 2016 election to help hand him the keys to the executive suite of U.S. capitalism’s imperialist state apparatus, Trump – empowered by his extremist-right collaborators controlling both U.S. legislative houses – has cynically “remembered” the “forgotten men and women” of the working class by continuing to intensify the capitalists’ class war against them to a savage new level.

From Day One, beginning in early 2017, at the same time that he was commencing his official assault on immigrants, Trump and his rightwing henchmen (with occasional assistance from various liberal enablers in the Democratic Party and treacherous labor leadership) have proceeded to unleash a wrecking ball against the standard of living, quality of life, and basic welfare of the U.S. working class and virtually all lower-income segments of the population. This onslaught has been further facilitated by the Swindler-in-Chief’s impressive skills as a fabulist and fraudster. A master of mendacious bombast, via his Twitter feeds, media events, and grandiloquent oratory, Trump has been weaving a mythical vision of an American economic Shangri-La now supposedly booming with jobs and prosperity newly created by his political wizardry.

United Steel Workers union president Leo Gerard shaking Trump’s hand in approval of tariffs on steel imports, expanding trade war and feeding Trump’s policies of nationalistic poison. Liberal enablers, including various labor bureaucrats, have played key role in “normalizing” Trump and empowering his reactionary agenda. Photo via AmericanManufacturing.org.

Thus, fleeting stock market upticks were grasped to proclaim that Trump’s election itself had boosted the economy and created jobs. Ballyhooing morsels of positive news while ignoring unfavorable data, and floating grandiose empty promises (such as his fabulous “infrastructure program”, which seems faker than a Potemkin village), Trump has maintained a running theater of imaginary success. All of this has both bolstered his flim-flam and distracted from what is a bitterly painfully cruel reality for American working people as a whole: stagnant wage levels, a falling rate of job growth, growing poverty, and Trump & Co.’s particularly vicious series of attacks against healthcare and public benefit programs (on which even significant numbers of his own supporters depend).

As with every capitalist economy, a central characteristic is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Accordingly, there is a continuous compulsion for U.S. capitalists to endeavor to reduce costs by suppressing wage levels. Trump is proving himself unusually adroit at presiding over this process while simultaneously beguiling many workers into embracing his worthless promises of prosperity to come.

According to data in the Washington Post, over the past year, inflation-adjusted wages have dropped for both production and nonsupervisory workers – 80% of the privately employed workforce. Referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, a Talking Points Memo article headlined: “Fed Chief ‘Puzzled’ That Despite Good Economy, Few Workers Getting Raises”. And in what is purportedly the “wealthiest country on earth”, over 40% of the population are low-income or impoverished.

But the rise of Trump – and Trumpism – must be perceived in a broader context, farther-reaching than merely the Trump phenomenon itself. Not only is Trump’s rise a dangerous indication of the ongoing decay of the capitalist-imperialist order, but also it demonstrates that a preponderance of the U.S. bourgeoisie (capitalist class) has consolidated behind support for Trump’s leadership of an extremist rightwing horde – aggressively and audaciously pursuing a blatantly racist, militarist, kleptocratic agenda – to spearhead their escalating war on the working class and masses of dispossessed and oppressed. It’s actually a more sinister strengthening of the ongoing class war that America’s rulers, with the aid of both GOP and Democratic policies, have been intensifying over decades (particularly assisted by the betrayals of the mainstream labor leadership).

Thus, while 83% of Trump & Co.’s tax cut payoffs flow to the richest one percent of the population, [2] this merely exacerbates an inequality gap that is clearly inherent in capitalism and has been widening drastically over several decades. For example, from 35% in the 1970s, the share of national household wealth owned by the richest 10% of families has mushroomed to 70% now. [3]

The Trump-GOP tax cut/military beefup law is merely one of the more sensational in an array of other cutbacks to social programs carried out by the Trump regime, and its ramifications include not just inequality and a widening of the income gap, but also longterm impacts on the future viability of critical social benefit and “safety net” programs, particularly Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Already, the ballooning budget deficits produced by tax revenue shortfalls plus massive new gushers of military allocations are being brandished as a pretext for proposed cutbacks to these social benefit programs.

Donald Trump displaying tax bill with his signature, December 2017. A huge giveaway to the wealthy that will compromise future revenues for social benefit programs, the measure amounts to a major attack on U.S. working class. Photo: RAN screenshot from CNN.

In a June 8 Counterpoint report, analyst Pete Dolack cites St. Louis Federal Reserve data that “After reaching a peak of 52 percent in 1969, the percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product going to wages has fallen to 43 percent ….” In fact, referring to the conclusion of a New York Times report he summarizes, Dolack notes that “The amount of GDP going to wages during the past five years has been the lowest it has been since 1929 ….”

However, the assault on wages and family incomes is only one facet of the elite’s war on the working class. RAN’s June 2017 analysis detailed how these attacks have targeted a broad array of rights and benefits, both on the job (e.g., sick and holiday leave, health insurance, work hours and schedules, pensions) as well as public, societal benefits (such as healthcare programs, education, public transportation, Social Security, food supplement programs, affordable housing, public assistance).

And as RAN’s analysis further described, working conditions have also been downgraded (such as the shift from regular-schedule hours to “on-demand”, unpredictable work schedules). Employment-unemployment statistics have also hidden the massive shift toward part-time work and the “gig” economy.

Worsening the status of American workers even further is the emergence of “non-compete” agreements, required as a condition of employment by increasing numbers of employers. Demanded as a condition for being hired, these are enforceable contracts that place workers in legal jeopardy, constraining them from working in the same trade or profession with a different employers – even if they lose their job with the employer that forced them to sign a “non-compete” agreement. For Trump, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. ruling elite’s class war against the working class, one can plausibly surmise that these facets of intensified exploitation are considered a strategic advantage.

Adding to his mayhem, Trump has also launched a new global trade war. While it is hyped with his usual bombastic promises to “Make America Great Again”, Trump’s escalating international fracas is predicted to wreak havoc with demand for U.S.products and services, resulting in both higher prices for consumers and job losses for workforces in various industries.

Media headlines highlight the realities that belie Trump’s bombastic promises and claims of “unleashing a new era of American prosperity perhaps like we’ve never seen before.” Graphic: RAN.

But although it’s being clobbered hard, over and over, the working class – as RAN’s 2017 Foundational Analysis has underscored – actually possesses tremendous potential strength. With enough solidarity, “Only the working class has the power to shut down production and the routine operation of capitalism’s basic institutions, and bring the whole capitalist system to a grinding halt.” Unfortunately, the sellout policies and political “culture” of the labor movement’s “business union” leaders have been stymying and hamstringing this massive power. As a result,

… playing nice with the class enemy has been leading to nothing but disaster after disaster for organized labor and the U.S. working class as a whole. A resurgence of more militant union activity would definitely be a crucial first step in reversing this trend of class-collaboration, deference, and defeatism.

America’s political dead end

In this context of steadily more aggressive class war by America’s capitalist elite against the working class, it’s crucial to understand that – in the longer term – the ascendancy of the Trump scourge is, in all probability, not merely an isolated, one-off, unfortunate phenomenon. On the contrary, the prospect of persistently more authoritarian and fascistic regimes is predictable as America’s bourgeoisie seeks to regiment the U.S. population and gird the nation into a garrison state in response to mounting economic instability and global imperialist competition.

Even if, via American capitalism’s absurdly rigged and byzantine electoral system, Trump and his gang can somehow be dislodged – and replaced perhaps by a seemingly less barbaric and more urbane imperialist state regime – in the longer term ongoing economic and societal decay together with the USA’s inherently anti-democratic political structure (such as the electoral-vote system and gerrymandering, also described by RAN) provides a ripe environment for the emergence of future “Trumps” and further federal and state governmental conquests by proto-fascists and other rightwing extremists. Viewed from this vantage, the current effort by elements within the liberal wing of the capitalist establishment and its Democratic Party to create a “Blue Wave” (of Democrats to seize majorities in the U.S. House and Senate) as some kind of rebuff or antidote to Trump and his horde seems a particularly feeble and deceptive gesture. Here it’s well to keep in mind that the collaboration of key Democrats with the Trump regime, and their function as enablers of Trump’s class war strategy, demonstrate that such liberals are inherently treacherous “allies” – even if newly elected in a “Blue Wave”.

Liberalism paves way for rightwing reaction

Also in this regard, it’s helpful to recall the role of past liberal regimes. By systematically ratcheting up domestic surveillance and repression, finagling labor sellouts and helping to weaken union power, tightening crackdowns on immigrants, fanning the flames of chauvinist-nativist-racist hysteria, and revving up imperialist escapades abroad, Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama have each in turn set the stage for the relentlessly more ferocious brutality and predations of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. In effect, liberal Democratic administrations (voted for as “lesser evils” by many leftists) seem to play the role of “warm-up acts” for subsequent hard-right reactionary regimes.

Undocumented immigrant children sleep on floor of wire cage in Nogales, Arizona in 2014, incarcerated by liberal Democrat Barack Obama’s ICE. In many ways, liberal policies and administrations have paved the way for more savage repression under Trump’s “Nazi circus” and other future reactionary regimes. Photo via Twitter.

Let’s imagine that, by some fluke of political winds and tides, a left-liberal “democratic socialist” Democratic Party were to be elevated into control of all three branches of the U.S. capitalist state. What, then, would actually be gained? As RAN has pointed out,

In contrast to far-right and “conservative” parties of capitalism’s dominant elite, liberalism seeks to buttress the capitalist system (and retard its ongoing deterioration) by trying to smooth its rough edges of exploitation, public hardship, and imperialism. For this, its major tools consist of sympatico rhetoric (abundantly applied) and a constantly mutating variety of reformist measures, from regulations to public services to popular benefit programs and subsidies. These are designed to mitigate the effects of systemic crises and alleviate the desperation of the masses of the population.

But, as Trump and his House of Horrors are now demonstrating, nothing about this dribbling “transfer of resources” is certain or secure. When a prevailing segment of the capitalist power structure decide they’re sick and tired of their precious profits being taxed to support government programs (other than law enforcement and the military) and to provide subsidies for those the elite regard as “moochers” (i.e., most of the other 99.99% of the population), all those liberal reforms – the entire intricate infrastructure – can end up on the chopping block ….

In other words, in the short term, such a liberal regime might deferentially deign to administrate American capitalist exploitation and imperialist adventures in a somewhat more “genteel” manner. In the longer term, the ruthless power of the dominant capitalist moguls, fueled by their vast financial and property resources, will surely prevail, and whatever defenses liberals might try to install to prevent the drift toward far-right authoritarianism can be ultimately defeated.

Congratulating Donald Trump following 2016 election, Barack Obama assures him “we’re all on the same team”. Democrats and other liberal enablers have deferentially helped “normalize” Trump and legitimize his depredations and atrocities. Photo: RAN library.

But let’s dispel these scenarios from the world of fairytales and focus attention on far more secure probabilities. While fantasies of a “democratic socialist” takeover of the Democratic Party are currently in vogue, RAN’s analysis has emphasized the much firmer realities of this entrenched, institutionalized organizational bastion of capitalist political power, pointing out that

… the intrinsic purpose, program, structure, and control of the Democratic Party is capitalist. In contrast to the the GOP – the other major party of U.S. capitalism and imperialism – the Democrats are now dominated fundamentally by wealthy backers committed to the ideology of bolstering capitalism/imperialism, currently with liberal policies.

Liberal pundits, media writers, and leaders like to portray the Democrats as a blurry amalgam of assorted “constituencies” – organized labor, business interests, black rights, Latino rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and other “interest groups”, movements, and causes. But in reality, the Democrats are primarily organized and funded by the more liberal wing of Wall Street and the “power elite” of American capitalism, and beholden to maintaining the power of this ruling stratum, and the global hegemony of U.S. imperialism.

This particularly includes endeavoring to maintain the domination of global markets, resources such as oil and gas reserves, and militarily strategic positions. As political writer Paul Street has observed (in a book review of The Democrats: A Critical History by Lance Selfa), in global war after war and military escapade after escapade, “the Democrats have stood in the vanguard of U.S. militarism.”

Heavily bankrolled by “blue billionaires”, the Democratic Party has been described by former Richard Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips as “history’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party”.

While the GOP has been perceived as guardians of a more “conservative” (i.e., rightwing, and increasingly “hard right”, aka “fringe”) capitalist agenda, the Democrats tend to embrace a more liberal approach for preserving capitalist power and profits, as well as minimal support for some social issues favored by their constituent “camp followers”. As Street phrases the issue, “It is the Democrats’ job to police and define the leftmost parameters of acceptable political debate” – i.e., “acceptable” to the capitalist power structure.

At all costs, the Democrats are dedicated to ensuring the unity and coherence of the nation’s capitalist state.

This instinctual compulsion to seek flag-waving unity behind American imperialism and “making America great” for business also explains why the leadership of the party has been so quick to “pledge allegiance” to the new Trump/GOP regime and has labored so assiduously to legitimize, enable, and normalize Trump’s agenda.

Book titles encapsulate the essence of liberalism – endeavoring to maintain capitalism while promoting measures to soften the rough edges of exploitation, oppression, and imperialism. Graphics: RobertReich.org and Amazon.

The Democrats’ current Blue Wave fervor (fueled by the prospect of capitalizing on the mushrooming mass outrage over Trump’s atrocities and threats) emerges in the context of an apparent leftward shift in the political impulses of assorted segments of the American population, including glimmers of realization of the two-party political trap and frustration with the cul-de-sac of mainstream capitalist political choices. Socialism – which actually means the truly democratic, collective control of the social-economic system by the masses of people within it – is suddenly being widely embraced as a desirable goal (albeit often as a vague, somewhat confused notion of some kind of ultra-liberalism). As with the “socialist” Bernie Sanders phenomenon in 2016, the current Democratic Party makeover attempt is being aided by several ostensibly “independent” leftist political factions that function basically to channel mass disaffection and malaise back toward mainstream liberalism and the Democrats’ wing of the capitalist-imperialist establishment.

A quite useful exposé of the role of such left-liberal forces is provided in a critique of the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) group and opposition dynamics within it, posted on The Internationalist website with the title «For a Revolutionary Party, Not the “Tagtail of Any Bourgeois Party”». Via a succinctly documented collection of evidence, the analysis aptly characterizes the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) as “a pressure group on and in the Democratic Party” with “a whole history of embodying social-imperialism….”

Regarding the Green Party, the critique accurately describes the organization as “a capitalist party, albeit a minor one” and underscores that in the U.S. it is “basically a home for homeless liberal Democrats.” This assessment conforms for the most part with that of the revolutionary Marxist Spartacist League and its paper Workers Vanguard (previously cited above), which has characterized the Green Party as a “small-time capitalist” party “which acts as a shill for the Democrats….” Various articles in WV have cited how the Greens, rather than renounce the intrinsic exploitation, oppression, and imperialist appetites of American capitalism, have merely advocated liberal reforms aimed at maintaining the basic system while softening its roughest edges – positions likewise embraced by by various Democratic Party left-liberals. Besides mild reforms, this has included reluctance to oppose the bombings of Syria and Iraq as well as other U.S. imperialist depredations, and a Green Party program advocating “controls on immigration, if only for the sake of national security.” [4]

In a 2008 article «For a Workers Party to Fight for a Workers Government!» WV took aim at the campaign of then-Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney to highlight the capitalist essence of the Green program:

McKinney is as progressive a capitalist politician as one will find today in the U.S., but she is a capitalist politician nonetheless, and as such a defender of the bourgeois order who merely seeks to ameliorate its worst “excesses.” She is an opponent of the class victory of the working class – i.e., the destruction of this order through socialist revolution.

Revitalizing mass workingclass strength

In contrast to this pathetic Kabuki dance on the “progressive” liberal left, along with jeremiads over the crumbling of organized labor, there’s a growing realization, especially on the radical left, of the critical need for resuscitation of the USA’s labor movement. As RAN’s Foundational Statement pointed out:

Today, the need for the long-overdue revitalization of the labor movement is posed acutely. In the face of an increasingly aggressive class war and mounting crises that have impacted tens of millions of workingclass families, a class-struggle-focused labor movement would defy, combat, and seek to vanquish the wealthy parasites that comprise America’s ruling class. …

Despite the decimation of organized labor, there still remain powerful unions – some with particularly large contingents of black and immigrant memberships – representing thousands (and even tens or hundreds of thousands) of workers with tremendous social power that could be wielded on behalf of the general working class and oppressed masses of the USA and even more widely in North America. These include retail and food workers, warehouse workers, communication workers, longshore workers, school workers, health and hospital workers, public transportation workers, truckers, sanitation workers, construction workers, and many other collective workforces.

A class-struggle leadership can be forged and honed by waging a political struggle to replace the bureaucracy currently dominating the trade-union movement. Such a radical-left leadership would champion the interests of the oppressed, rallying support for black rights and defense of black people against state-sponsored terror, and for the full liberation of America’s black population as a whole; for women’s rights, abortion and contraceptive rights, and full LGBTQ rights; for full citizenship rights for immigrants; for an end to bloody wars, military adventures, and foreign occupations; for a revolutionary workers party that would advance the struggle for workingclass state power and a workers government. A high priority is to organize black, white, Latino, and immigrant workers into militant unions, unions that will fight for union-protected jobs, public works at union wages, and reinstatement of benefits, working condition protections, and union rights previously forfeited by the pro-capitalist labor leadership.

But such a revitalization must go beyond merely rejuvenating trade unions for narrow economic struggles. The class war is inherently political, and, within the workers movement, the policy and “culture” of deference to the capitalists’ Democratic Party and tortuously rigged legislative and court system must be eradicated. As RAN emphasized in an August 2017 post:

By replacing the current stodgy, pro-capitalist, “business-as-usual” union leadership with new, militant, radical-left leaders determined to fight for such a program, unions could be transformed, from the de facto pro-forma quasi-social clubs so many have become, back into authentic class-struggle organizations that will challenge capitalism itself, seeking to overthrow the class rule of the wealthy elite and create a new state power in the hands of the multiracial working class.

West Virginia teachers rally in state capitol during statewide strike, March 2018. Basically successful strike demonstrated potential power of mass workingclass action, deploying solidarity and determination to directly confront government with both economic and political demands – although some key goals were not met. Revolutionary Marxists warn that – especially in era of decay and specter of increasingly authoritarian capitalist regimes – working class must understand need to carry struggle beyond narrow, economistic issues to broader political objectives and ultimately revolutionary and socialist demands, fighting to wrest state power and social-economic hegemony from capitalist class, establishing a workers state. Photo: The74.org.

This outlook has been articulated by other voices on the radical left – preeminently the Spartacists – that have emphasized the crucial, urgent need for a mass workingclass party. In the 2008 article cited above, WV pointed out:

The U.S. is the only advanced capitalist country in which the working class does not have its own political party, not even a reformist one like the social-democratic parties in Europe, Australia or Japan. This is in large part because the bourgeoisie – abetted by the pro-capitalist labor bureaucrats – has successfully utilized the poison of racism to divide the working class and obscure the fundamental class divisions in this society. Instead, at times of significant dissatisfaction with the two major parties, the U.S. tends to produce capitalist “third parties” whose role, insofar as they ever acquire influence, has historically been to get the working class back on the road to electoralism.

And, as WV succinctly emphasized in its article «Break with the Capitalist Democrats and Republicans!» in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, “The party we fight for is a multiracial, internationalist, proletarian party capable of leading the working class, at the head of all the oppressed, in the struggle for a victorious socialist revolution.”

Other radical and left-socialist forces have also frequently publicized this critical need. For example, in a June 2014 article, The Internationalist affirmed that “… we must fight for political independence from the bosses’ parties, to begin building a workers party now, not just to fight back against capitalist attack but to lead a counteroffensive for a workers government that can do away with modern wage slavery and begin the work of international socialist revolution.”

As RAN similarly summarized in its June 2017 Foundational Analysis,

More than ever before, it should now be overwhelmingly clear that working people in the USA need their own party, a class-based party, to confront the dominant capitalist class and their state, and to lead the way through the elimination of capitalism to the implementation of a socialist reorganization of society built on the basis of the mechanisms of workingclass democracy. This of course means a program of revolutionary socialism. And it cannot be done merely within the confines of the political framework of America’s capitalist state.

Elaborating on this objective, the analysis explains that:

… it is clear that, to truly succeed, effective class struggle must go beyond trade-union struggle. A mass workingclass political party would need to lead an effective class-struggle fight on behalf of all workers. Furthermore, the goal of such a party must transcend merely attempting to “take over” U.S. capitalism’s skewed and flawed system of government.

What might seed the creation of such a mass workingclass party? Quite likely, it will emerge from militant, class-conscious activity within the organized labor movement. This implies a context of widespread, turbulent workingclass unrest and combative trade union activity – a far cry from the current “armchair” attitude typifying the entrenched organized labor bureaucracy, waiting patiently (and mostly in vain) for courts to rule in their favor or for “friendly” legislators to come to their rescue with pro-labor laws.

To have any chance of effectiveness and eventual success, from its inception a U.S. mass workers party will need a revolutionary focus. Running candidates in electoral contests should be regarded as purely a tactic to educate the public, raise class-consciousness, and rally morale and support within the working class. Any notions of “winning a majority” of voters and capturing control of the mechanisms of the capitalist state – even on merely a municipal or county level – with the aim of assuming “control of the government”, would need to be discarded. History has demonstrated the disastrous folly of that course.

Instead, a revolutionary workers party would have the obligation to make clear its hostility to the capitalist state as a whole, and emphasize the necessity for creating a new state directly under the control of the working class. Ultimately an insurrectionary upheaval by the working class will be necessary to prevail in this class war. The capitalist state apparatus must be shattered, and replaced with a workingclass-based state infrastructure with political and administrative mechanisms developed by and for working people.

Certainly, with Trump & Co. now in the process of securing the most extremist hard-right Supreme Court in 80 years – wielding the power to approve and interpret U.S. laws, rights, and liberties for the foreseeable future – the futility of continued reliance on the mechanisms of the American capitalist state apparatus for “fairness” toward the needs of the working class and other subordinate strata of capitalist society seems corroborated even more grimly. How the prospects of life, as most American working people have known it, now will fare within an America under the dominance of such a solidly far-right bastion upholding intensified oppression, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and various similar policies, all within the U.S. Constitution’s inherently anti-democratic electoral vote system, appears dauntingly bleak.

Indeed, the bourgeois state apparatus, a particularly powerful mechanism to maintain exploitation and oppression, is one of the most potent weapons wielded by the capitalist class against the working class in this aggressive class war. Such a reality seems particularly sinister as Trump, his horde of cronies in America’s hard-right political establishment, and any future Trump-like successors continue to steer the society in an increasingly authoritarian direction.

Trump & Co.’s recent moves both in the Janus case and now the looming rightwing hijacking of the Supreme Court also soberly underscore the perilous folly of continuing to tolerate an “armchair” labor leadership and their “business union” dependency on the capitalist ruling elite, their courts, and their politicians. Playing by the bosses’ rules (i.e., the laws and judicial rulings ultimately orchestrated by the capitalist class) has been a losing game, and it’s clearly getting much, much worse. The class war against the working class and organized labor (what’s left of it) is increasing in ferocity. Working people, especially unionized workers, need a better game plan: fighting back through militant mass action. And they need a more powerful weapon: a revolutionary multiracial workingclass party guided by savvy, militant, determined leadership.

Most of all, working people and militant leftist forces in American society need to refocus and set their Eyes on the Prize: the achievement of truly democratic state power by the working class – i.e., ending capitalist class rule and establishing a democratic “class dictatorship” by the working class – a workers state leading ultimately to a socialist society with full democratic control over the basic economic and social infrastructure of human civilization. That’s the game to play, and that should be the goal.


[1] See, for example:

Kim Scipes: «The Epic Failure of Labor Leadership in the United States, 1980-2017 and Continuing» Counterpunch, 4 August 2017

Union Busting and Capitalist “Democracy”, Workers Vanguard No. 867, 31 March 2006

No Support to Capitalist Parties! For a Fighting Labor Movement! Workers Vanguard No. 852, 5 August 2005

[2] Josh Bivens: “Six months after the tax scam was passed. The results are in”. Email bulletin from Economic Policy Institute Policy Center, 22 June 2018

[3] Editorial Board: “Your Credit Card Will Pay for the Next Recession”. New York Times, 1 July 2018

[4] See, for example:

Fake-Socialist Clowns and the Bourgeois Electoral Circus, Workers Vanguard No. 1055, 31 October 2014

For a Workers Party to Fight for a Workers Government! Workers Vanguard No. 917, 4 July 2008

How the Fake Left Amnesties the Democrats, Workers Vanguard No. 873, 7 July 2006


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