Friday, September 7, 2012

The road to socialism can’t be ridden on the wrong horse.

From CPUSA New Hampshire's Facebook page:

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. 

Here we are in the midst of another national election cycle. Here we are once again jostling for place and relevancy among the various single issue campaigns and fringe groups, trying to get our voice heard in the chaos and doing what we can to make money and members aka: surviving. And here we are, pushing the same failed position of the “united front” against the fringe right, and oddly enough supporting a party and candidate which, by any standard, qualifies as “ultra right” in and of itself.
 Make no mistake, despite wishful thinking to the contrary in America we basically have a one party system- the capitalist party- having two wings. The liberal wing is called the Democratic Party and the conservative wing is called the Republican Party. Neither party is capable of change on a systematic level but only of granting miniscule, expedient, and convenient concessions easily taken back once no longer convenient. It’s not a recent development, the American political system was designed to be largely reactionary and ineffective, passing the least amount of concessions it can bear and only at the behest of their capitalist masters like good little puppets. But what can giveth can be taketh away just as easily.  This is why discussing the elimination of social security is on the table these days, because Wall Street needs new blood and they sense a tasty new morsel with all that potential investment money to squander and profit from. It’s why they’ve even been discussing the elimination of Medicare and Medicaid. It’s why they’ve already eliminated so many social programs.  It’s because they are only supported when convenient. They never would have dared to consider these extreme ideas in the past, but things have escalated due to the loss of two factors, the conditions which led to their creations.
 These programs were created and supported on two conditions- our competition with a functioning socialist alternative and massive grassroots support for their creation and continuation.  Neither of these exists anymore, and in the case of grassroots support it is unlikely it would even affect the election of either party without an electoral alternative to threaten them with, and when they both agree on something we are stuck with it. They have the chance to eliminate the programs and we have no way to stop them. We have a government that can now act with complete impunity. But how did it get this way?
 Over the last 30 years the entire political compass has shifted, and the Democrats are headed on one direction, my friends, and it isn’t leftward. Starting in the mid 70’s the Democrats have been moving rightward, being pulled in that direction by fanatics on the right who kept trying to move the entire map right-ward, which is why the political “center” is still objectively right-wing. The move to the right in the national sphere started with Clinton, who would have been considered a Republican 30 years prior, and that it is both an accident of history, and a booming economy that helps people forget that Clinton presided over the wholesale destruction of nearly the entire social welfare system in America. He’s also responsible for the massive deregulation of the banking system that has brought us the last two recessions and which, in time, may signal the beginning of the end of Democracy here in America. Clinton not only deregulated like a champ, but there was also his little adventure in Bosnia, where we intervened in a religious war between Muslims and Catholics that was killing people on both sides. Not something leftist would do. And let’s not forget the literally millions of Iraqi children whose blood are staining his hands.
 But that was almost 20 years ago, so where does the present Democratic Party stand now? They’ve illegally assassinated American citizens; they’re contributed to massive military adventures and humanitarian crisis illegally and unconstitutionally. They’ve invaded sovereign countries illegally. How does that make them any different than the Republicans? We’re also still fighting two wars that are still technically illegal by the constitution, still torturing people, Gitmo is still open, and whistleblowers are being prosecuted at a record pace. And what about ACTA, a secret treaty that the Obama administration refuses to divulge any parts of, illegally, despite multiple FOIA requests they refuse to tell us about it. And this is Obama, folks, not the republican boogeyman we had 10 years ago.
The fact of the matter is, things are worse now than under either Bush or Clinton. We’ve got massive political suppression of votes with voter ID and with the Department of Homeland Security orchestrating the local police responses to the occupy movement. We’ve got massive invasion of privacy issues, we’ve got illegal secret treaties that will destroy the internet as we know it. We’ve got massive unemployment and their only idea is to make construction jobs or give money to banks. We’ve got record deficits caused largely by Bush era tax cuts that the democrats can’t even summon the courage to fight with any energy. We’ve got the largest instance of political graft ever with the Affordable Healthcare act, in which the government will now force every American to buy private, for profit healthcare or be taxed.
Despite these facts, there are still some who argue that the Democrats pose an alternative, that they are capable of real progression, that their revolution by baby steps can eventually (in a couple of lifetimes of wishful thinking I suppose), take us to the end goal of socialism in America; and that the Democrats are somehow not to be included in the ranks of the “ultra right”.
Here’s a brief glimpse into some of their so-called accomplishments according to the CPUSA so-called “Political Action Commission”:
  • Affordable Health Care Act extends coverage to 35 million uninsured people, outlaws denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and extends until age 26 the coverage of children under their parents’ plans.
Better to be called “Insurance company subsidy/  life support bill”,  mandates that everybody help keep our broken, for-profit system going by making sure we all stay enslaved to it for life, and punishes us for not having insurance by raising our taxes. The problem isn’t that we don’t have insurance, insurance agents don’t give our one pill. The problem is access to healthcare, and the only acceptable response by the party should be an unequivocal and resolute demand for single payer. It is an utter disgrace that the party continues to support the bill, even upon the flimsiest of arguments. Golden chains are still chains, and for-profit corporations are still the enemy, or are we no longer communists?  
  • Stabilized the economy with $789 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that saved or created 3 million jobs. Invested billions in clean energy jobs, saved the auto industry.
Stabilized? Hardly. We’re still in the hole, unemployment is still over 10%, we’re still bleeding jobs, and zero necessary banking regulations are in place for when the next inevitable and identical crash. Keynesian solutions to market problems need to be done with cash on hand, not debt. What will happen is that our national debt will become larger than our budget, and we’ll eventually have to either raise taxes (impossible these days) or start cutting vital services. This bill is likely going to be the death knell to all the Great Society programs, and possibly even the New Deal ones. 
  • Appointed two women to the U.S. Supreme Court, including the first Latina woman, who supports the rights of working people.
Race has nothing to do with political allegiance. What he did is appoint another ant-abortion catholic who has a history of ruling against a woman’s right to choose, and an inexperienced law professor who opposes same sex marriage. They seem pretty status quo to me.
  • Ended the war in Iraq and moved toward ending the war in Afghanistan.
Really? When did that happen? Quick, somebody tell the tens of thousands of contractors and private security operatives that still operate in Iraq fighting now in proxy and without the constraints of international law.  Also, hate to break it to you, but to-date the war in Afghanistan is still booming, with over 80,000 troops still operating in country. Obama only removed a token number of troops to make some of his democratic supporters, who obviously don’t pay attention, happy. 
 Perpetual war? Illegal invasions? Invasions of privacy? Secret treaties? Funneling taxpayer money away from social programs to fund tax breaks to billionaires and bail out obsolete companies? Corruption, inefficiency, theft, murder, torture, kidnapping, oppression, and brutality- and all under the leadership of the promised candidate promising hope, transparency, and a new beginning- is this what we want more of?
My friends this isn’t the road to socialism, it’s the road to fascism, and the democrats are pushing the horses faster than the republicans ever were.
Here’s my solution.
We need to break the two-party monopoly. However, in many states it’s easier to just run as an independent than as a declared third party. So run as a socialist independent.  Do whatever it takes. We need to get people used to real socialists in local elections, and running the governments competently and effectively. Make the issue about the economy and be reasonable. Sound like a moderate (because even a center left is closer to the middle than a far right). In debates be the adult in the room. Once socialists are in office they can run for re-election under a declared socialist party of some type. This will put us on the map.
In other states we may need to challenge laws that keep third parties off the ballots. An alliance with other third parties can help us do this; make it about breaking the hegemony and expanding democracy. Organize third party debates. Don’t run from the tea party, they’re in the same boat with the Republicans as you are with the Democrats- sick of being used for votes and then ignored once elected.
Remember in 1968, when the people wanted to end the Vietnam War? The argument was whether a democrat, being more or less liberal, would end the war. In the end it was a Republican, Nixon, who finally ended it. And it wasn’t the ballot box that persuaded him to do so- it was the people on the streets. And they weren’t getting permits to march or put up with police oppression back then like we do now.
The point is to get to socialism- that is our end goal. This will never happen utilizing the slavish strategy whereby we beg for concessions bit by bit, and hope our overlords are in a giving mood. It will only ever be accomplished if we stand up on our two feet, and we lead by example. We must be the change we want to see.
 Socialism will never arrive via the Democratic Party, and it is foolish to try. We tried to end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by voting, and that didn’t even work. The DNC money poured into anti-war organizations between 2003 and 2008 and our ranks were swelled and our coffers were full. As a result the leadership of these organizations was filled with people who bought the idea that, if only we had the right party in charge the wars could be over and everything would be ok. So what happened? Obama won in 2008, the money dried up, and we’re still at war. Nothing has changed for the better, and in some ways its gotten much worse.
 Their dirty little secret is this: they need our votes to validate themselves, but your vote does not obligate them to actually do what you voted them to do. And once you do what they need you for, they drop you. Which is why we are not only ignored now, but the leadership of these organizations are still very weary to retain people critical of the Democrats. Their job isn’t to lead these organizations, it’s to keep them in line with mainstream politics, and to keep people who may be interested in an alternative out of mainstream politics, or too frustrated to stay in activism. Their job is to prevent change, not create it.  Every time the leadership of an organization puts party before principle the whole organization suffers.
On a personal note, it didn’t occur to me how bad the problem was until 2007.  I gave an anti-war speech in NH, and the video ended up on YouTube. What I discovered, however, was that the main punch of my speech was removed. My final statement was that if the democrats won’t end the war, we’d find a party that did. Removed from my speech, it sounds like I was supporting the election of a democrat out of principle, or that I was anti-war because I was a democrat. Later, I discovered that following Obama’s election the organization I belonged to saw their national budget shrink to almost nothing.
  It’s the little things that does much to discredit an organization to its membership and makes it a slave to electoral politics rather than principal. And a party that doesn’t stand for anything really isn’t a party anymore.

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