Disoriented, imperialism chooses leadershipMonday, 02 November 2020 20:47
Disoriented, imperialism chooses leadership
Marked by the pandemic and the economic and social crisis, the next U.S. presidential elections will confront the two historic imperialist parties. Current President Donald Trump is leading the Republican ticket; Obama's former Vice President, Joe Biden, the Democrat. These are expressions of the last two administrations, both of which failed.
Polls show Biden as the favorite, with 51% of the popular vote against 43% for Trump according to a BBC "poll of polls" (10/27). However, North American voting system is not direct, but through an electoral college, so these figures are relative. A more detailed analysis also favors the Democratic Party (PD) candidate. The electoral college is made up of delegates from each state according to their representation in congress, and whoever wins in each one gets all the delegates; on the other hand, many states are historically defined for one party or another, so those who determine the result are the so-called “swing states”. In this study by the BBC, Trump would keep 4 of the swing states he won in 2016, and would not get any back, while Biden would keep 4 of the ones won by Hillary Clinton, and would get 6 of the ones won by Trump. In some, he appears with a clear advantage, as is the case of 3 important industrial states that helped Trump win in 2016: Michigan (dif 9%), Pennsylvania (dif 3.8%) and Wisconsin (dif 5.5%), the three of them members of the so-called "Rust Belt". However, the same authors of the study warn that one must read the polls with skepticism, not only because of the latest gaffes in elections around the globe, but more specifically because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic and its effects on the world economy and the vote itself on November 3rd. In fact, the pandemic conditions have led to an unprecedented flood of early votes: 84 million to date.
This uncertainty must be attributed not only to COVID-19, which in fact accelerated the world crisis that was already developing, but also to the quagmire of the change in imperialist orientation promised by the Trump administration. This is reflected in the electoral campaign itself. Trump left out several elements of the speech that led him to the presidency in 2016. Although he continues his bravado against China, he cannot show any substantial numbers of industrial job recoveries that he was supposed to create through the trade war with China and other countries like Mexico to repatriate factories. And although some North American companies took their industrial plants out of China, it was only to move them to semicolonies in Southeast Asia, while another part of the industrial companies turned to supporting Biden, angry at the increase in the price of intermediate products imported from China due to the application of tariffs. On the numbers side, the trade deficit with China continues and the worst blow is related to the pandemic: China is positioned as the only large industrial economy that will close 2020 recovering pre-crisis production levels. This may explain the possibility of losing several industrial Rust Belt states electorally. Trump's campaign no longer emphasizes these problems and puts in the center the slogan of "law and order," polarizing with old contradictions that the formation of the North American State as such could not and will not resolve, such as racism, the subjugation of Black people, the relationship of the States to the central government and of the State institutions to each other. In effect, the appointment by the Republican majority in the Senate of Amy Coney Barrett as a new member of the Supreme Court as a right-wing bulwark to overturn the judiciary in favor of conservative sectors has displaced the pandemic in the political discussion of recent weeks. As for the position of imperialism in the world, although the current administration made progress in breaking the old scaffolding of post-war international institutions like the Paris agreement, the WTO or even the WHO, it has not been able to negotiate a new configuration that defines a strategic orientation for capital. On the international level, the most important achievement was the defense to the hilt of Israel's diplomatic and military advance over Palestine and the Middle East in general, although this is also being questioned by mobilizations within the Zionist monstrosity.
Biden, on the other hand, has very little to show for it. He needs to contain the movements that have been developing in the face of the accumulation of social contradictions generated by the impossibility of giving an imperialist solution to the crisis of 2008, on which the new contradictions generated by the current crisis are mounted. With the help of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the trade union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO, he has managed to develop a discourse that tries to co-opt these movements and at the same time avoid alienating the sympathies of the imperialist bourgeois sectors that support his campaign. We are talking about the cream of finance capital on Wall Street and the giants of the "new economy" of Silicon Valley. Biden knows that if he has any chance of winning, it is by bringing together all the anti-Trump sectors: that is why he is attacking him on some angles, like his drift in policy towards China and Russia, promising a supposed "multilateralism"... to sustain an even more aggressive advance on China. This is probably the only serious element of Biden's proposal: sustaining an offensive to try to accelerate the assimilation of the former Workers' States is undoubtedly the only strategic solution that imperialists have had in mind for decades. The problem is the objective obstacles that the imperialist decomposition itself opposes to this task. Other points that Biden enunciates are the reform of state spending, taxes, even the minimum wage, a rather absurd discussion for an imperialist country but which is also raised in the European Union. It so happens that the aid introduced by Trump to try to get out of the current crisis, the biggest rescue package in history (US$ 2.2 billion), as well as the packages of China’s central state and provinces and the one voted for by the EU, are generating a spiral of indebtedness which lays the foundations for a new jump in the world capitalist crisis.
Recession and Pandemic
Trump's gruesome handling of the pandemic is unquestionable: with 230,000 dead and 9 million infected, even the administration itself confesses that it has become an uncontrollable problem. But the new data of a 7.2% growth of the GDP in the 3rd quarter of this year against the previous quarter has allowed the Trumpists to resume the offensive in terms of which candidate is handling the economy better. The truth is that even before the pandemic, economic growth had been slowing down after a decade of growth under the previous administration following the 2008 crisis. And the consequences of the pandemic drove the economy into recession, with huge job losses. Neither GDP nor employment levels have returned to pre-March levels. And what's worse, the so-called second wave of the pandemic, both in Europe and in the US, calls into question whether the 3rd quarter recovery will be maintained, at least at that pace. In fact, the IMF puts the year-on-year fall for the end of the year at 4.3%. In the face of this gloomy outlook, the answer is a new stimulus package that Trump tried to put in place by decree but finally got stuck in Congress. This package will probably be approved once the election is over, whoever the winner is, increasing the state's debt, to which we must add the stock market bubble that marks that the recovery, as happened in 2008, is only being shored up with the issuance of fictitious capital. The difference is that this time it appears as a "preventive issue" that far from stimulating growth could drown the vigor of the companies in their dispute for the world market, where the tendential laws of capital are fully in force.
We have already talked about the weaknesses of the trade war launched against China. This does not mean that China is emerging as the winner from this confrontation. The Chinese CP is taking advantage of the fact that U.S. imperialism is concentrated on settling its internal crisis to take up positions in the world, but at the same time it is also resorting to unparalleled indebtedness to encourage its manufacturing sector and its internal market, feeding another type of bubble. The imperialist disorientation, added to the development of the crisis of the world economy, gives rise to all kinds of political crises, from the EU, to the different regions where the semi-colonial sub-bourgeoisies are left without an axis that would at least allow them to curb the social crisis and the crisis of the State institutions. All these elements, far from making "America great again", lay the basis for all these contradictions to strike even harder at the foundations of US imperialism.
The most novel element of the US situation, even worldwide, is the outbreak of the social crisis whose elements have been accumulating in the depths of the class contradictions at least since the crisis of 2008. Movements that emerged after that crisis, like Black Lives Matter and others like Occupy Wall Street, although they were institutionally incorporated at the time through Bernie Sanders' campaign, are precedents to the enormous mobilizations for the continuous murder of Black people by the police, whose turning point was the murder of George Floyd in May, in the midst of the states' quarantine policies. This social deterioration clashes with the propaganda of 10 years of growth, a banner disputed by the two parties of the imperialist order. And this clash is not only evident in the struggle of the Black people and the massive questioning of the police institution, but in several union struggles, where workers are fighting to recover what they lost in the post-2008 collective negotiations, while the bourgeoisie is outlining that the working class should instead give greater "concessions" to the companies in view of the current recession.
The situation is polarized, with the emergence of radicalized groups by the right, some armed, that take up the banners of racism, religious values and bourgeois freedom. These groups are the hard core of the Trump vote. Just as he polarizes with the idea that BLM and the ANTIFA are chaos and are managed by the Democrats, to galvanize his base, the AFL-CIO and progressive sectors are calling to confront the possibility that Trump will not recognize the results in a kind of "self-coup" to consolidate Biden's vote. This is the same role that the left wing of the Democrats played to co-opt the post 2008 movements, making the inorganic organic, but with a greater degree of decadence and decomposition. The idea would be that the refusal from many of Sanders’ voter to bite the bullet by voting Hillary in the 2016 was what led Trump to the presidency ... now they are calling to bite the bullet by voting conservative Biden, and in defense of the institutions of imperialist democracy that are based on that police that the masses questioned in the streets and barricades of Oregon, Wisconsin and the whole country. That democracy that was already being questioned because of its murderous role in Afghanistan and Iraq, something that Obama and Trump took into account to camouflage and curb their adventures abroad, although they have had them as in Libya, Syria or dropping the "mother of bombs" in Central Asia.
The counter-revolutionary role of Bernie Sanders’ reformism without reforms takes on a more organized form in the DSA, which in its document "National Electoral Strategy" denounces the PD candidates as a "neoliberal establishment," while its maximum referent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, calls for a vote for Biden with the argument that “it’s central to get Trump out”.
The worst thing is that a similar logic leads currents of Trotskyist centrism to, while calling for abstention, promote nevertheless a democratic United Front against an eventual 'self-coup' by Trump, as is the case of the PO from Argentina. Or they dilute any idea of a workers' program in order to try to "splice" with this left wing of the regime and with the movements, as if the latter had no leadership, as in the case of Left Voice, linked to the PTS-FT. Altamira's tendency celebrates beforehand a big electoral participation, as it did in Bolivia and Chile, strengthening from the left the main deception that the bourgeoisie tends to the masses: making them believe that they are voluntarily electing their representatives, when in reality it is imperialism that is defining it’s leadership. The elections are a distorted reflection of reality, and in them the orientation of the imperialist bourgeoisie is measured in its relation to the masses through the regime of domination, the State and imperialist democracy and its institutions. In this U.S. imperialism has a serious problem. The mechanisms of co-optation and the new counter-revolutionary leaderships are ephemeral, because the material, economic bases of capitalist domination are rotting. The key is to prepare the forces of the proletariat and its vanguard to be able to confront the imperialist state, and not to support a supposedly democratic wing of the bourgeois regime against its "right" wing.
Transitional Program and Revolutionary Leadership
The centrist currents that we listed above, and many others, propose abstention in the face of the disgraceful of the candidates of the big imperialist parties and also of the small liberal, reformist and green formations that swarm in every presidential election. However, they accompany this with a radical democratic program, which they arrive at by different paths, whether it be subordination to the movements of the Morenistas and neo-Morenistas or the theory of camps such as the one of PO in Argentina. To give an example, they flirt with Jacobinist ideas such as the abolition of the electoral college and the implementation of direct voting, and institutional reforms of that kind, and with the confrontation with Trump's "fascist right" and the paramilitaries. It is not discarded that Trump and the groups he inflames will move out of the balance of power by ignoring the results and putting an even greater political crisis on the table, even though it is unlikely, but in any case it would not be a matter of confronting them with a program of democratic reform, but with a workers' program and with the methods of our class.
From the TRFI (TRCI in Spanish, TRQI in Portuguese) we propose to develop a movement of abstention to confront the candidates of imperialism, from a stance of class independence. We call for organizing in each industry, for the recovery of the unions, for organizing the factories and workplaces against the bosses and for the massive entry of immigrants, Blacks, Latinos, youth and women into our class organizations. We call on the U.S. proletariat to take the lead in the struggle against the oppression that imperialism exerts throughout the world, to stand in solidarity with the semicolonial peoples who are fighting against the IMF and the lackey governments, thus strengthening workers' unity with the immigrants within the U.S. itself. In the face of capitalist crisis, it is necessary to develop a transitional program, that responds to the hardships of the masses from a workers' solution to leave us on the threshold of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In this way, the bases will be laid for a revolutionary party in the U.S., which will raise the anti-imperialist banners high as a section of the reconstructed Fourth International.