Editorial: Beyond the false choice
The time has come again when American workers are conned into thinking that choosing between Tweedledee and Tweedledum as their next President will make a great difference in their lives.
Oh, but isn’t Donald Trump a dangerously divisive figure and a threat to American democracy? Some argue that he may defy the election result should it go against him and refuse to leave office. Surely American workers must get behind Joe Biden and the Democrats. Yes, just like they were supposed to get behind John Kerry to defeat the warmonger George W Bush in 2004, only for nice Mr Kerry to become an enthusiastic warmonger in Barack Obama’s government.
This election is taking place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the continuing Black Lives Matter street protests. Trump is taking full advantage of the political unrest to portray himself as the law and order candidate and is accusing Democratic governors of being soft on the protesters. The Biden campaign, on the other hand, wants to present itself as standing up for social justice and being sympathetic to the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement. To bolster his progressive credentials, Biden has picked Kamala Harris as his running mate. Biden is also trying to capitalise on Trump’s alleged mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fallout from the accompanying economic slump.
However, this political posturing obscures the fundamental truth that the Republicans and Democrats are on the same side when it comes to upholding the existing system. Whether under the ‘liberal’ Joe Biden or the ‘far-right’ Donald Trump, the workers will continue to be exploited. They will have to work for a wage and if they can’t find employment they may face the indignities of poverty and even homelessness. They will still be required to fight in capitalism’s wars.
A New York Times article (‘The Wallets of Wall Street Are With Joe Biden, if Not the Hearts’,10 August) reveals whom the two main parties really serve – ‘Wall Street has fared extraordinarily well under Mr. Trump: deep cuts to taxes, slashed regulations and, until the pandemic hit, record stock prices’.
Despite this, more Wall Street capitalists appear to be ditching Trump in favour of Biden – ‘More and more finance professionals, they say, appear to be sidelining their concerns about Mr. Biden’s age — 77 — and his style. They are surprisingly unperturbed at the likelihood of his raising their taxes and stiffening oversight of their industry. In return, they welcome the more seasoned and methodical presidency they believe he could bring’.
Some American workers are getting wise to what these two parties are really about. On 30 August, thousands of American workers joined an online
‘People’s Convention’, which pledged to set up a People’s Party to fight the elections in 2021.
Unfortunately, we cannot support the reformist platform of this new party with pledges such as ‘single-payer health care, a $15 minimum wage’ (peoplesparty. org). But we are encouraged that more workers are looking beyond the established capitalist political parties. Hopefully in the not too distant future, they will begin to look beyond capitalism itself.
Introducing the Socialist Party
The Socialist Party advocates a society where production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit and organised for the benefit of all on the basis of material abundance. It does not have policies to ameliorate aspects of the existing social system. It is opposed to all war.
The Socialist Standard is the combative monthly journal of the Socialist Party, published without interruption since 1904. In the 1930s the Socialist Standard explained why capitalism would not collapse of its own accord, in response to widespread claims to the contrary, and continues to hold this view in face of the notion’s recent popularity.
Beveridge’s welfare measures of the 1940s were viewed as a reorganisation of poverty and a necessary ‘expense’ of production, and Keynesian policies designed to overcome slumps an illusion.
Today, the journal exposes as false the view that banks create money out of thin air, and explains why actions to prevent the depredation of the natural world can have limited effect and run counter to the nature of capitalism itself.
Gradualist reformers like the Labour Party believed that capitalism could be transformed through a series of social measures, but have merely become routine managers of the system.
The Bolsheviks had to be content with developing Russian capitalism under a one-party dictatorship. Both failures have given socialism a quite different — and unattractive — meaning: state ownership and control. As the Socialist Standard pointed out before both courses were followed, the results would more properly be called state capitalism.
The Socialist Party and the World Socialist Movement affirm that capitalism is incapable of meaningful change in the interests of the majority; that the basis of exploitation is the wages/money system.
The Socialist Standard is proud to have kept alive the original idea of what socialism is — a classless, stateless, wageless, moneyless society or, defined positively, a democracy in which free and equal men and women co-operate to produce the things they need to live and enjoy life, to which they have free access in accordance with the principle ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’.
Socialist Standard October 2020