Trump is defeated but the American working class remains powerless

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The Presidential election and the legislative by-elections in the House of Representatives and in the Senate just took place in the United-States. They put a stop to the mobilization against police violence. They mostly opposed the two main bourgeois parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This means that neither the campaign led during these elections nor the results form a basis or a rallying factor for the American working-class. In these elections, like in the previous ones, and also apart from the elections, the attempts of the working-class, of the oppressed minorities, of the working women and of the youth in their strikes and demonstrations… have ultimately been subordinated to the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party, with the help of Christian God-botherers has always had a popular basis, especially among self-employed workers, liberal professions, low-level executives, prison guards, policemen, professional soldiers (in ever increasing numbers), Cuban immigrants…

Its rival, the former pro-slavery party, has also been deceiving vast amounts of waged workers since the imperialist age. This has been the fruit of the craftiness of the Democratic politicians (just as shady as the Republicans are), with the support of minority clergies (Catholic, Baptist, Muslim…), as well as the complicity of the corrupt bureaucracies of exploited’s organizations. The bureaucracies of the trade-unions (AFL-CIO, CTW) and of the national and ethnic-based movements (including BLM), the social democracy (Sanders, DSA…), the debris of Stalinism (CPUSA, RCP …) and even groups stemmed from Trotskysm (Cliffites of the former ISO, Grantists of SAlt, Shachtmanites of the LRP …) obstinately refuse to build a workers’ alternative to both major bourgeois parties.

Political opportunism always hides behind a show pragmatism, explaining that a call to vote for Hawkin (Green Party), as does Socialist Alternative, or to vote for Biden (Democratic Party), as do Sanders, the CPUSA or the RCP, is a lesser evil, that it is possible to steer them toward their left …

However, the whole history of the United States has shown that both the Democratic and Republican Parties are in the hands of the bourgeoisie.

Americans have for some time been providing the European world with the proof that a bourgeois republic is a republic of capitalist business men in which politics are only a business deal, like any other. (Friedrich Engels, December 31st, 1892)

The “right-wing party” and the “left-wing party” are both equally financed by capitalist groups.

Listed companies have increased their cash donations to Democratic groups this year… Three quarters of business leaders surveyed by the Yale School of Management on September 23 said they would be voting for Mr Biden. (Financial Times, Sept 27th, 2020)

Democratic and Republican parliamentary majorities and presidents have alternately taken over the attacks against the working class and the interference in the rest of the world. In these conditions, as far as the American working-class is concerned, the result of these elections reveals a major political confusion, while sectors of the working class and of the school-going youth have shown an impressive militancy against racism and police abuse. This tendency also resulted in the rise of the main socialist organization (DSA) and in the success of Sanders’ campaign.

Does this mean that no lesson can be drawn learnt from these elections and that it is business as usual everything goes on as before? Not at all.

The confrontation that took place in these elections reflects the division of the ruling class on a hot topic: What are the prospects for American imperialism? More precisely, which form of government, which political regime best meets the challenges the American bourgeoisie has to take up? Indeed, all capitalists’ political representatives basically agree both on the loss of the economic, political and military influence of the first world imperialism abroad, and on the designation of the Chinese imperialism as the most important threat to the American imperialism. In the domestic field, they also agree on the need to cut social expenditures and to maintain order, and even on the resort to printing money for supporting the capitalists in the economic crisis. The turns with the greatest ease from “the independence of the Central Bank” and from “the monetary orthodoxy” to “Keynesian monetary and fiscal stimulus” as needs arise.

Yet the bourgeoisie is politically divided. As it faces decline, the wing of the bourgeoisie represented by the Republican Party and Trump became more aggressive against Iran and Venezuela, against China and its other imperialist rivals, even though they are “traditional allies”. In a context of strong unemployment and impoverishment of a part of the population, Trump sought to gather a political force based on a populist, “anti-system” and conspiracy line. It makes scapegoats of immigrants and “welfare” people, which in some ways is closer to the fascist rhetoric than to the traditional themes of the Republican Party.

In a Bonapartist attempt, Trump run his campaign on a few simple watchwords (over and over, “Make America Great Again”), in endlessly pointing out the Chinese enemy, even alleging that the Covid was a Chinese invention. To continue with capitalism throughout the pandemic as though nothing had happened, the disease being deliberately minimized whereas it has mainly hit the poors, the Blacks… To restore law and order against protesters after the murders of Blacks by the police, through state violence with the National Guard and the military (which the staff denied him) and even with the intervention of fascist militia. To accuse Biden, his opponent, of steering the society toward “socialism or communism”!

Trump is obviously not so stupid to mistake Biden for a revolutionary like Daniel De Leon (1852-1914), Eugene Debs (1855-1926) or James Cannon (1890-1974)… or even for a social democrat like Bernie Sanders who means to limit but not to question the capitalists’ privileges.

Trump was all but a theorist. He confusedly felt that the confrontation with other imperialisms requires a more authoritarian and centralised regime at home. Without paying undue attention to the fiction of the American democracy, Trump had forewarned that his defeat would just mean that the elections had been rigged.

Quite the reverse, the other wing of the bourgeoisie represented by the Democrats and Biden is in favour of old tricks, for its home policy and abroad, purporting to seek conciliation, consensus, national unity and the respect of democratic rules. In short, for capitalist exploitation and business to carry on as usual in peace and serenity.

It is time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. (Joe Biden, November 7th, 2020)

The results unquestionably show a victory for Biden, but Trump has not been wiped out: the difference of votes is about 4.5 million out of more than 147 million, that is slightly over 3% with a far greater turnout, where both candidates increased their votes by millions. Furthermore, the candidate of the Libertarian Party (Jorgensen) obtained more than 1.6 million votes at the expense of Trump.

Trump was poorly elected in 2016 (with 2 million less votes than Clinton) and in 2020 he tried to expand his voting base in including a section of the population eager to confront young socialists or anarchists, Black activists… in the streets. His electorate is mixed: it stands at both end sof the income scale. He gets as many votes among those who make over $200,000 a year and among those who get less than $30,000. Trump attracts 55% of voters self-declared as “White”, 12% of “Afro-Americans” and 32% of “Latinos”. The Black and Latino voters are more divided than the Democratic bureaucracy expected, particularly since in capitalism they are competing with newly arrived illegal immigrants.

The Republican Party retains the majority in the Senate and the Democratic Party is weakened in the House of Representatives. The vote counting has yet to be completed but Trump already contests it in some States. However Biden already obtained the majority of 279 electors which assures his victory, even though the archaic system is more favourable to the rural areas (where the Republican Party is dominant) than to the cities (more propitious to the Democratic Party). Biden gets 85% in New York County, 86% in San Francisco, 93% in Washington …

Trump may well refuse to admit the result, but with the reluctance of secret services and of military staff, he does not have the political means for a coup. This would destabilize the ruling ideology (respect of the Constitution, designation of leaders by vote, professed anti-racism…) and pave the way for an intervention of the working class itself (some unions preventively called for a general strike in case of a takeover). The pro-Trump media and the Republican bigwigs have consequently dropped him. After the large mobilization against police abuse, the majority of the bourgeoisie is undoubtedly not tempted by this risky venture and it steps behind the respect of the vote and of the institutions, which serve as a façade for its rule.

Does this mean that Trump was only a chapter that has just been closed and that things are going to return to normal as before? Nothing is for certain.

Indeed, all the issues faced by the US imperialism persist.

The GDP growth forecast for 2020 is -4.9% in the US and +2% in China. Over 12 months, that is to say in comparing the growth to the same term of the previous year, the figures for the third term show -2.9% in the USA and +4.9% in China.

Besides, while the pandemic is under control in China, it runs freely in the US and continues to wreak havoc. In this field, just as in the economy, the Chinese bourgeoisie still fully uses the authoritarian and anti-democratic regime, stemmed from Stalinism, now to reach its goals. At the same time, the American society seems to be torn apart because of its claims of being a democracy (as shown on the use of the antivirus facemasks).

US imperialism is evidently the most powerful with a yearly GDP of $21,500 billion versus $15,000 for Chinese imperialism. US big companies prevail in nearly all branches, its culture is widespread over the world and its military superiority is indisputable. But the Chinese economy has some assets: its workforce and home market are gigantic (1.415 billion inhabitants versus 331,5 million in the US), its infrastructures and industrial equipment are recent, it enjoys a better image in ruled countries. The Chinese capitalism is compelled to extend internationally if it means to remain competitive (to guarantee good prospects and resources and to offer its companies a worldwide scope…) and also to preserve social peace. The Chinese bourgeoisie, as the latest to appear, is now confronted everywhere to long-standing imperialist powers, primarily Japan and the United States.

The Biden-Harris government will try to neutralize Russia and to round up other imperialisms such as France or Germany…to hamper China. By re-entering the Paris Agreement, Biden firstly intends to impose custom barriers to the “polluting countries”, primarily China. But he is not out of the wood. The continuation of the trade war will not be more beneficial to the US than to other imperialisms but it will hasten the next world capitalist crises. However, the policy of appeasement and of national reconciliation that Biden wants to pursue can only work in calm weather, when the growth is steady and strong, when capitalism can buy social peace in doling out enough scraps to a significant part of the working-class.

Yet the world situation goes the other way round. “Populism”, Bonapartist temptation or even fascism will not die in the US with Trump’s electoral defeat. As long as it does not have its very own political representation, a workers’ party which unites it, apart from the bourgeoisie, including during elections, the American working-class is doomed to sway from one fringe of a bourgeois party to the other.

A genuine workers’ party can only be both revolutionary and internationalist. To begin with, conscious workers must unite on a Marxist program in a nationwide organization, bound to their brothers and sisters abroad. A challenge for the vanguard is to call for the unions and the organizations defending the oppressed to split up with the Democrats.

In the trade unions as well as in a potential party launched by the unions, in companies, in administrations, in neighbourhoods and in universities, the communist organization will fight for:

  • A quality public health system, free for all and financed by the bosses. All medical examinations, operations, necessary treatments for workers’ lives must be free, from insulin to anti-cancer treatments.
  • The suppression of patents on vaccines, medicine and medical technology, the expropriation of the capitalist groups of private clinics and of health insurance companies from these sectors.
  • The expropriation of all large property owning companies, in the behalf of the workers, of all the housings of large owning companies and the guaranteed availability of cheap quality housing to everyone.
  • Pay raises, adequate and guaranteed retirement pensions, decent unemployment benefits paid by the bosses.
  • The hosting of refugees, economic migrants and students, equality of rights for all workers.
  • A free, public, secular, quality education system at all levels, including university. The cancellation of all student loans.
  • All religions, sects, firms, army and all unscientific interests, out of education.
  • The return to public administration of all privatized services: “Charter Schools” (generalized by Obama), prisons, social care, retirement homes, public hospitals…
  • The actual right to abortion.
  • Protection of the environment.
  • The dismantling and disarmament of militarized police forces and of racist and fascist militia, the only way to put a stop to racist violence, to end military interventions.
  • The removal of the Supreme Court…

Such demands can only be met with the self-defence of the workers and of the oppressed against the police, with the establishment of a workers’ government, with the dismantlement of the bourgeois state, with the expropriation of the capitalist groups, and with the perspective of world socialism.

November 8th, 2020

Permanent Revolution Collective (Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey)