One of two events, both disasters for the working class, will occur on November 4. Either Barack Obama, spouting his phony “end-of-racism” message, will prevail (as polls predict), or a sudden upsurge in overt racism (always a possibility in the U.S.) might propel John McCain into office. We in Progressive Labor Party do not believe in voting in the bosses’ election system. They completely control this electoral circus and only those who swear allegiance to them are even allowed access to it.
Although important tactical differences exist between Democrats and Republicans, both are committed to capitalism and U.S. “democracy.” The rich and powerful who own and rule the U.S. clearly will never give up their power peacefully. They will also spill the blood of millions of workers and soldiers to protect their imperialist interests overseas from their capitalist rivals, waging wider wars which will lead to another world war.
They offer us the chance to vote for “our representatives” when both parties are actually financed by the richest of the rich, who they serve in all important matters. For instance, in the current financial crisis, polls showed that voters opposed the government bailout plan. But even mere weeks before an “historic” election, the politicians of both parties approved rescuing the banks. The richest bosses feared that panic would undermine their ability to pocket their profits as usual and that imperialist rivals would be able to take advantage of their weakness. After a momentary show of reluctance, the “representatives” fell into line with the rulers’ program.
HOW ELECTORAL SYSTEM SERVES RULERS’ NEEDS
All politicians work for the ruling class. However, if the parties and politicians were completely alike, the electoral system wouldn’t serve all the rulers’ needs. First they want workers, students and professionals to believe we can elect someone who represents their “interests.” Anti-racists have black and Latin candidates, anti-sexists can vote for women and those concerned about the environment are given candidates who talk about fighting global warming as long as business profits aren’t affected.
The presidential primaries had someone for everyone, an attempt to win workers to see the electoral system as the only option for change.
A secondary effect of drawing workers into the election circus is to build the illusion that voters determine government policy. Workers are encouraged to feel they’re responsible for the government’s actions. If something goes wrong, then just vote for a replacement. But in reality, the candidates and parties will do the opposite of what they campaigned for if important interests of the rulers are involved.
With his broad appeal, probable victor Obama poses the graver danger. Many workers and youth see him as a “solution” to the catastrophe of the Bush years. Obama & Co. seek to lure masses of workers to the rulers’ agenda of ever-expanding wars paid for by workers.
THE ‘CARROT AND THE STICK’
Rulers also use the electoral system to co-opt mass protests against capitalism and its racism, sexism and wars. When millions took to the streets to protest the Vietnam War, liberal Senator Eugene McCarthy was trotted out to entice them back into the fold of dead-end campaigning and voting that changed nothing.
In the 1960s, millions of students and workers rebelling against the harsh racism and segregation, north and south, were given black mayors and “anti-poverty” programs that bought off a few and left masses of black workers still facing police brutality and the lower wages of a racist system.
However, while the rulers can use the “carrot” of an “anti-war” Eugene McCarthy or black legislators and “anti-poverty” programs, they simultaneously will use the “stick:” the cops, National Guard and the Army to kill anti-war demonstrators (Kent State and Jackson State); repress black uprisings (sending the 82nd Airborne to put down the 1967 Detroit black rebellion); covert state terror (the FBI’s COINTELPRO); and imprison 2.4 million people, 70% black and Latino.
When the rulers worry that our struggles may threaten their profits, they may give us a crumb: a dollar more on the minimum wage, OSHA laws (governmental on-the-job safety regulations) with one inspector for every 10,000 workplaces, laws against discrimination that are rarely enforced. Later, those crumbs are taken away when they see that we’ve bought into the election shell game instead of militant working-class struggle.
Relying on elections to improve our conditions is a treadmill to oblivion.
Freeing ourselves from the passive pull-the-voting-lever mentality starts with militant struggle like the Boeing machinists’ strike in Seattle, or the teachers’ strike in Morelos, Mexico. Mass marches, demonstrations and standing up to the boss may help teach us to fight back instead of accepting the “democratic” program. But to really overcome capitalism’s exploitation and wars, we also need to struggle for more profound change — a new system where workers will be in control.
U.S. rulers are desperate to maintain their system of wealth and profits. They killed 3,000,000 Vietnamese and 58,000 U.S. soldiers trying to control a small country’s workers and resources. They’ve killed over a million Iraqi workers with eight years of Clinton bombing surrounded by eight years of Bush aggression trying to maintain control of the world’s oil supply.
RAW DEAL FOR WORKERS
But now, to marshal the forces U.S. imperialism requires, Obama may try an end run around blatant militarism and the draft. With the crippled U.S. economy shedding 200,000 jobs a month, he may opt for a Roosevelt New Deal-style employment program to rally workers around the flag. The Times (10/26/08) reports that Obama “proposes increases for education, infrastructure, research, foreign aid, and the military.”
For workers, voting for warmaker Obama is no better than backing McCain. Viewing Obama’s election as a triumph over racism would be a serious political error. By every measure imaginable — from wages to health to education to imprisonment to jobs and home foreclosures — racist disparity rages in the U.S. Because capitalism breeds racism and imperialist oil wars, Obama can’t and won’t end or even alleviate either. Only the working class can.
U.S. rulers claim to be “democratic,” but they really preside over a capitalist dictatorship. They own the wealth, control the mass culture and media and use their government and its military and police forces to maintain their power. Communists in PLP believe the working class must overthrow their dictatorship and replace it with a workers’ dictatorship where the vast majority will be armed to prevent the capitalists from ever returning to power.
To achieve this, millions of workers must join PLP to embrace communist ideas of sharing the wealth we produce according to everyone’s needs, along with anti-racist, anti-sexist and internationalist ideas which are necessary to unite the working class in its struggle for power.J
TEAM OBAMA: IMPERIALISTS ONE AND ALL
Before Obama was given the resources to campaign for the presidency, he had to meet with, be vetted by and swear his allegiance to the bosses’ flag of profits before a committee of Wall Street financial tycoons and then they donated $7.9 million to Obama’s campaign (Reuters, 6/5.08).
Obama’s economic advisor is the ruling class’s top economic assassin Paul Volcker, who has frequently met with the candidate since the financial crisis broke. As Federal Reserve chief, Volcker “solved” the bankers’ inflation crisis of the early 1980s by jacking up interest rates and causing unemployment rates unseen since the Great Depression.
Today, Volcker and Obama push for a fascistic concentration of finance under tightened state control. Volcker was chief economist at Chase Manhattan bank when David Rockefeller ran it. With Rockefeller, he co-founded the imperialist Trilateral Commission.
On October 25, The New York Times published a list of “Possible Presidential Appointments.” As Obama’s treasury secretary, the Times pointed to Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers. Geithner, head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, has toiled for Rockefeller’s Council On Foreign Relations and Kissinger Associates, which advises Exxon Mobil and other firms that depend on the U.S war machine. Geithner was a leading engineer of J.P. Morgan Chase’s takeover of Bear Stearns and the $250-billion federal buy-in to major banks.
Summers, who as Clinton’s treasury boss helped dismantle Welfare, tried mightily to restore officer training at Harvard when he was its president. The Times says Richard Lugar may run the State Department. In 1997 and 1998, Lugar sponsored a little-known terrorist attack drill that put local police under Pentagon control in cities from coast to coast.
BOSSES USE ELECTIONS TO SETTLE THEIR OWN CONFLICTS
In addition to countering any worker protests against the system, elections are also used to provide a peaceful way to deal with conflicts among different sections of the ruling class. Various capitalists who are united in pursuing profits can sometimes have different economic and political needs. Those who are deeply invested in oil production internationally (tracing back to the Rockefeller and Morgan fortunes) are sometimes in conflict with those whose fortunes are tied to domestic oil production.
The government is used to mediate these differences. For instance, the “liberal” internationalists use environmental regulations to hamstring domestic oil producers. As a side effect, the liberals can appear to be pursuing the environmental goals of their supporters.
Health care “reform” is an issue where mediating conflicts between the rulers is combined with attempts to con us into believing that the government represents our interests. The older established section of the rulers, whose fortunes are centered in large industrial and financial institutions, provides most of the health care insurance available to U.S. workers. For decades they’ve been trying to reduce that expense by creating a system where more bosses (and also workers in general) will share that burden by increasing the number of workers who are insured but making the coverage considerably poorer and less expensive than the largest bosses pay now.
Small and medium-sized bosses, who rarely provide insurance coverage, fight these plans by having “their” politicians argue that they will lower the quality of health care available to workers (true). But they downplay the reality that tens of millions of uninsured workers must often choose between paying for food or for medical care.
Resolving this debate may solve problems for some set of bosses, but whether workers support one side or the other, all of us will wind up with the short end of the stick.
Seeking Cannon Fodder, Obama Enlists Mass Murderer Powell
War criminal Colin Powell’s recent endorsement of Barack Obama speaks volumes about the Obama camp’s militaristic intentions. Powell has a long military history of serving U.S. rulers, from Vietnam to Gulf Wars I and II (see below). This endorsement means Obama embraces the “Powell Doctrine,” which demands rallying wide popular and international support to unleash overwhelming force against any imperialist rivals threatening U.S. bosses’ interests, particularly oil.
As part of this strategy, the Obama-Powell love match aims at reversing the sharp decline — 41% last year — in black enlistment in the armed forces. They especially want to stem the loss — mainly due to the racist nature of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — of black sergeants, who train recruits and thus form the backbone of the Army and Marines. The rulers also count on loyal retired black non commission officers (NCOs) to recruit and spread patriotism in their neighborhoods.
In 1996, Charles Moskos, who later worked on Clinton’s Hart-Rudman Commission reports outlining U.S. imperialism’s goals for the 21st Century, co-wrote a book called “All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way.” In it he said, “The beneficial impact of black sergeants extends beyond the Army. Every year 2,000 black NCOs in the Army (4,000 in the military as a whole) retire from service….The impact of this group of men — and now women as well — on the civilian black community will be tangible and positive.” Obama hopes having Powell on board will help him get the 91,000 additional soldiers he demands for, among other stated aims, expanding the Afghan war into Pakistan.
With 35 years as a professional soldier, Powell rose to full General. He got his start as a captain and later a major in the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, serving as a South Vietnamese Army advisor and as assistant chief of staff for the Americal 23rd Infantry Division. He was assigned to investigate the My Lai Massacre of Vietnamese women and children, which he whitewashed, saying that “relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” (So “excellent” that 3,000,000 Vietnamese were slaughtered).
In 2004, Powell told TV interviewer Larry King, “I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. In war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again.”
Adding to his executioner “laurels,” Powell — as senior military assistant to Reagan’s Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger — helped carry out the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1986 air strike on Libya.
Powell drips with the blood of the millions of Iraqis he helped kill in Desert Genocides I and II to benefit Exxon Mobil’s oil empire. Powell personally directed the slaughter in the first war as chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs. He “justified” the second invasion by lying to the UN about Iraq’s weapons programs. Powell currently serves as a director in the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. imperialism’s top think-tank.
An Obama presidency would put into practice Powell’s strategy for mass murder, while attempting to win working-class youth, especially black youth, to become cannon fodder for U.S. rulers in present and future oil wars.