North America has voted. Imperialist democracy goes further in its decompositionWednesday, 18 November 2020 11:33
North America has voted
Imperialist democracy goes further in its decomposition
On Tuesday night, November 3rd, the results of the US presidential election were still unclear. Without a landslide victory, nor winning the state of Florida, the Democrats already knew they were entering the quagmire of an election challenged by Trump, who had been preparing the ground with accusations of fraud since at least the first debate. A little over a week later, Trump's judicial strategy to challenge results in several states is coming from failure to failure, but it’s not at the legal level that we should focus our attention. Biden has a good chance of becoming president when the electoral college meets in early December. However, the idea that he won by fraud has permeated a large section of the population and his talk of healing wounds by seeking unity after the extreme polarization that the election only partially reflected has, for the time being, no perspective of being based on material elements, something that only a way out of the crisis could provide.
The winding process of political crisis opened on the night of November 3rd is still underway, since for the moment the so-called transition is bogged down and Trump and the Republicans are not giving up on challenging the election result. Here we will limit ourselves to pointing out some elements of the situation.
Trump and Trumpism were not repudiated
Far from all forecasts, Trump obtained so far (the count continues in several states) over 72.5 million votes in the election. He is the second-largest vote-getter in history, second only to Biden himself, who received more than 77.5 million votes so far. The difference between the two is much greater than the one Hillary Clinton obtained in relation to Trump himself in 2016, it’s true. However, after almost 4 years in the White House, with a policy that shook up political and ideological polarization, a disastrous handling of the pandemic, and a very recent entry into recession, Trump won more votes than in 2016 and presents a gigantic electoral base that complicates the pretensions of the cream of the Republican Party (RP or GOP) to go to a calmer transition process. Trump has not been repudiated at the polls; on the contrary, he has received the support of just under half the population.
The mass voting signals a crisis of imperialist democracy
Obviously, if with such a number of votes Trump did not win the presidency, it is because Biden managed not only to overcome him in the so-called popular vote, but also to achieve sufficient differences in the so-called swing states. This means a massive influx of voters to the polls, the largest since 1908 (65.7% participation), considering the votes counted so far (63.9% participation), but which could even surpass it if the projected 66.5% is reached. (The Washington Post, 5th November) When Obama was elected amid the 2008 crisis with a turnout of 61.6%, we had already stated that this, far from showing the strength of imperialist democracy, represented a crisis. With this new surge of electoral participation, the relationship of the masses with the bourgeois institutions, in their decline, comes into question, since the US electoral system is based on an elite democracy. But before the failure of those elites, the irruption of the great masses who go to vote generates a contradiction that imperialists have not yet managed to solve. That irruption in politics blurs the role of the organized elites in the two big parties of imperialist democracy, the Democratic and Republican parties, which remain both, after harvesting such results, in a profound crisis.
The institutions of the republic lose their historical basis
The challenge posed by Trump in ignoring the results and denouncing electoral fraud makes the series of state institutions that make up the so-called US "republic" crunch. First, the relationship of the federal union with the states and the mediation role played in presidential elections by the electoral college that elects the president. Then, at the federal level and in each state, the role of bourgeois judiciary and its relationship with the rest of the public powers. We count more than a week now with an administration operating on these mechanisms and putting them under extreme tension.
A sector of the so-called progressive or democratic socialists in the US, which are echoed by a number of variants of Trotskyist centrism, intend to develop this questioning in terms of a radical democratic program, by raising the unicameral parliament and the end of the electoral college to replace it with the direct vote of the president. But political institutions are the product of history, and in the US, they have served as a state mechanism to attenuate class contradictions, in their labyrinthine manifestations, like the tensions between the countryside and the city, between different bourgeois sectors, and between these and the working masses. After WWII, these institutions acquired a broader mass base, with the extension of the New Deal policies and the undisputed US hegemony in the design of the post-war equilibrium, based on its preponderance of labor productivity, Fordism, the dollar, Bretton Woods and its institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the UN. Perhaps we are witnessing the open clash between these state institutions of the main imperialist power, result of previous historical processes (independence, constitution, civil war, post war equilibrium), with a divergent development in the bases of society and in the contradictions developing within it, spurred on by the irreversible historical crisis of imperialism. If all these institutions functioned as an attenuator of the social contradictions, this was based, as Lenin and Trotsky put it, on the special position of certain imperialist countries in the world market, that 'fat' came from the spoliation of the colonies, the semi-colonies and, later, a relationship of tutelage over Europe and Japan. The program of revolutionaries should not be oriented towards renewing those institutions of imperialist democracy, which moreover is a utopia from the material and historical point of view, but to develop that contradiction between the development of the economic base in its dynamic of crisis and the inertia of the scaffolding of the political superstructures. It’s on the basis of these historical contradictions that revolutions, coups d'état and counter-revolutions are produced. The task is to prepare the workers' vanguard for that kind of development, by opposing the institutions of the imperialist state, the revolution to destroy it, and the dictatorship of the proletariat, which puts forward a new relationship with property by socializing the means of production.
Biden doesn’t represent a way out for imperialism
Clearly, the Trumpist project had as its axis to deal with this crisis of the postwar equilibrium, going to a change in the imperialist orientation to take the initiative and to disrupt all that institutional scaffolding. That project was halfway through, since Trump modified several of those relations, but he didn't manage to carry it through to the end. Biden's victory, besides being totally questioned by Trump's campaign against the legitimacy of the elections and the perspective of having the Senate against him (there are still two seats left to be defined in Georgia), puts a weak government in the White House, also from the point of view that all its proposals are, at least for the moment, to reverse the changes that Trump made in 4 years, trying to return to a status quo that no longer exists. That is not a serious plan for a way out of the crisis, far from it. To be clear that it’s necessary to have a firmer policy towards China and Russia to develop the assimilation of the former workers' states does not say much if the strategic question that has been running around in the imperialist heads for at least three decades is not answered: How to do it? For now, the future government of Biden has already been labeled by US imperialism as a transitional government.
The political crisis in the United States is disrupting world politics
At this conjuncture, the tortuous nature of the presidential transition, which has two long months ahead of it, is deepening even more what we have been seeing since the beginning of the pandemic and the crisis: as US imperialism is embroiled in its own internal crisis, different class sectors and the governments that represent them are taking positions in the world. China is advancing in a more aggressive approach (China Sea, conflict with India, Hong Kong and Taiwan), Turkey is developing its own agenda in defiance of the EU (conflict with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, support for Azerbaijan in the war in Nagorno-Karabakh), important conflicts are taking place within the EU. There is even concern that Trump will take untimely international policy action in the two months remaining to his administration. In addition to this, processes of mass struggle continue to develop in various countries of the world, with different contents, but all under the shadow of the advance of the world crisis and the lack of a clear north for the different bourgeois and petty-bourgeois factions.
The containment of the movements of struggle is only temporary
As for the movements of struggle within the US itself, which put on the table all the social contradictions that have accumulated since the 2008 crisis and their deepness, we must be clear that the diversion to the elections under the banner of "getting Trump out" and the massive support that progressives and the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) gave to Biden do not mean that these processes have been closed. Although the leaderships of the movements are likely to be co-opted by the bourgeois state and its institutions, the historical and social basis of the movements remain unresolved and we can foresee that they will explode with greater virulence, now against a State led by the Democrats, whose party already appears divided between the conservative wing of the political elite that leads it and the sectors that are under pressure from the movements, as shown by the debate began the day after the election on the loss of seats in the House of Representatives (the Democrats maintain their majority, but with a smaller margin).
The working class continues to act diluted
Two points to consider in the election are the open support of the AFL-CIO union bureaucracy for the Democrats (this is nothing new), but also of some unions that have led important struggles in recent years, and, on the other hand, to note that Trump lost the election when the Democrats regained their strongholds in the historic industrial regions of the so-called Rust Belt (specifically the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania). The latter does not mean, by any means, that there has been a turnaround in the preferences of industrial workers in those areas. As always, the intervention of the working class in bourgeois elections is an intervention in itself atomized and diluted, and even more so when there are no candidates from any party with a program of class independence. Rather, the option was to follow Trump's Bonapartism, which attempts a direct "connection" and in already cultural terms (because little was left of the discourse of recovering the factories from the 2016 campaign) or the class conciliation that represents the old alliance that unites the trade union bureaucracy with the imperialist bourgeoisie of the Democratic Party. But, in addition, the working class did not play a role as such either in the processes of struggle, although we did see the intervention of some unions in the mobilizations over racial issues and against the police, vanguard experiences that we must propagandize and develop as part of the programmatic elaboration of our class, taking up slogans like throwing the police out of the unions or not transporting repressors on the buses. Undoubtedly, the tasks of self-defense to confront the repressive forces and even the armed forces through the arming of the working class is today a central debate for every conscious worker and for every revolutionary.
An International Revolutionary Leadership is Urgent
For the working class and its industrial proletarian core to intervene in the situation, it’s not enough to agitate for class independence. It’s necessary to develop, on the basis of the experience that a vanguard sector is gaining in the current crisis and the open confrontations, the elaboration of a transitional program where the proletariat stands, through its control of the economy and its role in the administration of things, as capable of giving a way out of the capitalist crisis by confronting the military bureaucratic apparatus, whose role is not only to dominate the working class of a country, but to maintain the survival of capitalism in its putrefaction on the whole planet. Confronting imperialism and the US State is a colossal task and can only be posed in an iron unity with the workers of Europe and Japan, and above all with the semi-colonial peoples who are fighting against the interference of the IMF and the US armies in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, in short, in the whole world. The aim is to lay the foundations of a revolutionary party in the United States, a party armed with the theory of permanent revolution, as a section of the reconstructed Fourth International. Once again, we insist on our call for an International Conference of the currents and tendencies that defend the program of the dictatorship of the proletariat to discuss the preparatory tasks to achieve this objective. The acceleration of the crisis is extreme; our challenges are urgent.