The following resolution was approved by Socialist Action’s 20th National Convention in November 2022
Intensification of world capitalist crises
World capitalism’s neo-liberal globalization is best characterized as a new form of organization where global value chains have become the dominant form of production, employing workers for one out of every five jobs on the planet. From low to high tech commodities, basic consumer goods to heavy capital equipment, food to services, goods for the world market are now produced across many countries, integrated through global value chains.
Led by the dominant capitalist-imperialist nations, especially the U.S. and China, the system involves the capture and transfer of surplus value from workers in poorer countries to leading corporations in the advanced countries. Today, while global value chain corporations represent only 15 percent of all trading firms worldwide, they capture some 80 percent of total trade. Disruption of these value chains, even for brief periods of time, as with the present U.S.-instigated war in Ukraine, can have drastic consequences everywhere.
This globalization and associated broad-ranging and mounting crises today are essentially driven by the inherent contradictions in the capitalist system itself. In the advanced capitalist nations declining average profit rates are countered in order to remain competitive by ever intensifying attacks on working people. Massive social cutbacks, anti-labor legislation, layoffs, part time casualization of work, forced overtime, computer surveillance-intensification of the labor process/speedup, cuts in fringe benefits, increased taxes on working people, crippling student debt, decreased taxes, if any, on the rich, obliteration of pensions, the imposition of multiple-tier wage systems, not to mention the reactionary decisions, local, state and national, attacking multiple aspects of women’s right to abortion, are the norm. Endless imperialist wars of intervention, exploitation, and conquest financed by ever-increasing military expenditures to further boost the already monopolized weapons’ industries, are also capitalism’s inherent horrors.
The Biden administrations “pivot to Asia” and its incessant diatribes against China and Russia, including the latest provocative visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan, aim at buttressing U.S. imperialism’s compulsion to re-order world markets to the advantage of failing U.S. corporations, to bolster U.S. war spending, while inevitably posing the threat of war, if not nuclear war.
The imperialists ceaselessly aim to counter what Marx described as the “law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.”
The world imperialist/capitalist system centers on making workers everywhere pay for capitalism’s central and inherent contradiction. When these heinous measures prove insufficient to stem profit declines, the ruling elite embark on massive efforts to transfer production – de-industrialization – outside their own borders to free themselves from the gains workers have won following decades of struggle. The result is the ever-increasing exploitation, super-exploitation and degradation of life across the globe. Meanwhile, the ruling class literally gifts countless $trillions via near zero interest rate corporate loans that are instantly re-invested in the casino-like stock market, where the market manipulators always win. The “financialization” process operates independently of which capitalist party is in office. While the government claims that the “loans” to the corporate elite aim at encouraging them to invest in new plants that will supposedly create new jobs, this is rarely the case.
Maintaining at all costs the ever-threatened rate of profit, that inevitably drives the system forward, but inevitably sets it back into recession and depression, increasingly supersedes all considerations of human life.
The examples are multiple and need only the briefest of mention, notwithstanding the horrors they portend for humanity.
Today, the only force capable of challenging capitalism’s deepening degradation of every aspect of life – the working class the world over – remains largely unorganized and/or devoid of an independent leadership aimed at putting an end to the insane system itself. The daily construction of this leadership, however difficult or distant at any particular moment, in the form of mass revolutionary socialist parties worldwide, and especially in the imperialist U.S. heartland, built on the Leninist model, and complimented by qualitatively expanded, democratic, independent and revitalized trade unions allied with all the struggles of the oppressed and exploited remains central to Socialist Action’s reason for being. We fight for a revolutionary Fourth International as we build the nucleus of a deeply-rooted mass Leninist party in the U.S. There can be no fundamental challenge to capitalist barbarism in all its manifestations that does not center on these two objectives.
With the exception of revolutionary Cuba, a healthy workers state with some inevitable bureaucratic distortions, there are no deformed or degenerated workers’ states in the world today.* At great cost to the working class in these states, and with the collaboration of the Stalinist bureaucracies in tandem with U.S. and Western European imperialism, capitalism has been fully restored. The process began in China in 1979 under Deng Xiaoping and in the USSR a decade later under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. We have documented the process in extensive resolutions, articles and books over the past three-plus decades. The gains of the great Chinese and Russian Revolutions have been systematically obliterated.
With Stalinist collaboration with U.S. imperialism, the monopoly of foreign trade was abolished, allowing imperialist capital to freely enter the previously closed markets, exploit relatively skilled workers, and take control of major industries. The planned economies were abandoned, including previous revolutionary gains in free social services of every type. State property, the basis of the planned economy that prioritized human needs over capitalist profits, was largely abolished. What remained of this vital sector, that is, what did not go directly to the Stalinist bureaucracy cum capitalists, was “converted” from state property to “rental property” administrated by former Stalinist bureaucrats, who operated with “state support” to maximize personal private profit.
At the level of international politics a “détente” was established wherein support to national liberation struggles was largely ended in return for ever-deepening and profitable imperialist investments in the former workers’ states. This “peaceful coexistence” détente was also based on guarantees that the Communist Parties the world over would not challenge capitalist governments anywhere. Stalin’s infamous “socialism in one country” became the watchword for subordinating revolution everywhere to preserving the privileges of the USSR’s bureaucratic caste.
During the genocidal U.S. war against Vietnam that slaughtered four million people, mostly civilians, the world witnessed U.S. Richard President Nixon visiting China while Soviet bureaucrats similarly accommodated U.S. imperialism by restricting aid to the Vietnamese fighters to force a “negotiated settlement” far short of what the Vietnamese had won on the ground.
The Sino-Soviet dispute during that period saw the Stalinist bureaucracies engaged in border wars between each other while competing for U.S. favor. The Chinese Maoists declared the USSR, not U.S. imperialism, the “main enemy.”
The “new cold war”?
Today, while the U.S. focuses on its major competitor for world markets – its pivot to Asia/China – the world is awash with ever new and often temporary economic alliances aimed at advantaging one or another group of capitalist competitors. In sharp contrast to the post-WWII Cold War period, today there are no wars between nations with fundamentally different social systems, that is, workers’ states vs. capitalist states.
The BRICS alignment, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, for example, is organized to advance the ruling class interests of each of these more powerful capitalist states. The politics of the leaders, however rightwing, reformist, or whatever, are subordinate to advancing their economic interests, in every case to the disadvantage of poorer nations and the working class in general. The same with the more recent Silk Road and other trading blocs established by China. The U.S./NATO/European Union military/economic alliance similarly serves the interests of the ruling class elite.
U.S. bluster about this or that competitor being a human rights abuser barely masks the glaring reality that the U.S. imperialist beast, daily slaughters and exploits poor and oppressed people around the world.
That China and Russia have but a handful of foreign military bases around the world does NOT inform us that their “investments” are benign. By definition, there are no generous/benevolent capitalist states. China’s development loans and projects around the world aim at the extraction of surplus value via direct labor exploitation, or unpayable loans for infrastructure development projects that end up, after default, in the Chinese confiscation of major foreign facilities, as with China’s acquisition of major ports in Sri Lanka and other Chinese-financed massive infrastructure projects in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere.
China, with a GDP that today approaches or actually exceeds the U.S., and with 1,000 billionaires, as compared to some 735 [Forbes] in the U.S., is undoubtedly a major capitalist-imperialist exploiter on the world stage. [Socialist Action’s lengthy 2018 National Convention resolution designating China as imperialist fully demonstrates this proposition.]
National liberation struggles: The right of self-determination of poor and oppressed peoples
We begin here with the central principle that has guided revolutionary socialists with regard to imperialist war and intervention in poor and oppressed countries the world over. We unconditionally support the right of these nations to self-determination, that is, to be free from imperialist or colonial occupation, intervention and war in all of their manifestations. This single principle was central to the victory of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which freed Czarist Russia’s conquered peoples, the infamous “prison house of nationalities,” setting the example for revolutionary fighters the world over. Today U.S. imperialism, with 1,100 military bases in 110 countries [Recent Congressional reports put the number of countries with ongoing U.S. military operations at 159!] reigns as “the chief cop of the world.” Its overriding objective is the subjugation and exploitation of poor and oppressed people and nations to advance the economic interests of U.S. imperialism.
Every U.S. war, or U.S.-supported war, overt or covert, in recent decades, and long before, including in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Libya, Nicaragua, Grenada, Venezuela, Chile, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, El Salvador, Serbia, across Africa, the Middle East, in Palestine and beyond, has been aimed at advancing the interests of U.S. imperialism’s corporate elite.
Our position in the U.S. antiwar movement with regard to all has always been “U.S. Out Now! Hands Off! Bring the Troops Home Now! and Self-determination For All Poor and Oppressed People and Nations!
We hold this view regardless of the politics and class orientation of the leaders of the nations under imperialist attack. Indeed, with few exceptions, the leadership of the resistance to imperialist intervention has been variations of bourgeois nationalism, or even clerical nationalism. Although socialists have often been active participants in national liberations struggles, they have rarely been the central leaders. When they have been central leaders, as in the Cuban Revolution, the anti-imperialist struggle has led to socialist revolution.
But socialist leadership or not, however critical for the final outcome of any and all national liberation struggles, we begin, again, with our unconditional rejection of imperialist intervention. We do so with the full knowledge that the defeat of the imperialist interveners opens the door wider for the anti-imperialist struggle to become an anti-capitalist struggle, that is, to proceed to the construction of a socialist society, in accord with our fundamental conception of permanent revolution.
As participants in national liberation struggles, revolutionary socialists aim to build mass revolutionary socialist parties aimed at winning the masses to our socialist perspectives and program. These include efforts to win the masses to social measures that bring broader layers into the struggle, measures that bourgeois nationalist leaders most often oppose, including land reform and nationalizations under workers control. That is, we apply the method of the Transitional Program. Any abstention or opposition of revolutionary socialists to supporting national liberation struggles against imperialist intervention can only reduce them to sterile sectarians, or worse.
We say worse because we have been witness in our ranks to currents that utterly failed to understand the essence of our anti-imperialist/self-determination/national liberation programmatic conceptions, as with the split we were compelled to endure a few years ago when a minority falsely characterized the U.S.-abetted, financed and orchestrated imperialist war against Syria as a civil war between the Syria masses on the one side and the Bashar Assad government on the other. This minority effectively sided with the U.S.-backed jihadists aimed at Assad’s overthrow while Socialist Action advocated the military victory of Assad’s army against the U.S.-orchestrated war. Tragically, comrades in Socialist Action found themselves on opposite sides of a war that today few, if any, consider anything but yet another U.S. imperialist slaughter, a slaughter that took the lives of 500,000 Syrians. We were for the defeat of the U.S./NATO/Gulf State monarchies backed invaders and the military victory of the Assad government against them. Had we forces inside Syria we would have had the same position and acted on it.
With regard to the 20-year U.S. war in Afghanistan, we have seen a similar twisted interpretations of the right of self-determination wherein the Fourth International’s hatred for the reactionary Taliban leadership of the struggle against U.S. intervention led them to unclear, to say the least, conclusions when the U.S. was forced to withdraw one year ago. Socialist Action hailed the U.S. defeat as a victory for the Afghan people while the FI misleaders, ambiguous at best, bemoaned the U.S. withdrawal based on the Taliban’s reactionary positions on women, as if the U.S. imperialist occupiers, who murdered an estimated million Afghanis, were more progressive with regard to women’s rights! That several “radical” women’s rights supporters aligned with the FI took positions in U.S.-sponsored Afghan NGO’s established under the imperialist occupation, tragically was a factor in the FI’s equivocations and its refusal to characterize the U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban victory as a defeat for U.S. imperialism.
The “law of identity” in politics
Another dispute that roiled and divided antiwar and socialist organizations was the Syrian government’s request for Russian aid during the U.S.-imperialist orchestrated war. We have written volumes on this dispute, including two popular pamphlets. In accord with our stance regarding the unconditional right of self-determination of poor and oppressed nations, we supported the right of the beleaguered Syrian government to seek the aid of Russia as well as Iran and the Lebanese-based Hezbollah. In fact, had the Syrian’s not sought such aid, and received it, in short order Syria would have become a virtual U.S. colony. The U.S.-backed jihadists in combination with NATO and the Gulf State monarchies, at that moment occupied almost three-quarters of Syria’s land mass and were poised on the outskirts of Damascus, to take control of its capital and strategic city.
Citing the fact that Russia was a capitalist-imperialist nation, albeit, one of qualitatively lesser import on a world scale, the Fourth International and, again, a minority in Socialist Action, opposed the Russian intervention. This took the form of their advocacy that Socialist Action should propose to the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) the broad-based united front antiwar coalition that we helped to form, the demand “U.S. and Russia Out Now! Their thesis was that both Russia and the U.S. were equally imperialist nations and that revolutionaries do not take sides between competing imperialisms. In sharp contrast, our analysis began with the facts as opposed to the abstract “identity” theses wherein we were supposedly obligated to equally condemn all imperialism.
The facts were presented and debated in infinite detail, with Socialist Action repeatedly concluding that the essence of the war in Syria was a U.S./NATO/Gulf State monarchy orchestrated war to remove the Syrian government, dismember Syria, divide up its vast fossil fuel and agricultural resources and replace its government with a U.S.-controlled puppet regime.
Socialist Action repeatedly debated this issue in the course of five years, including at several National Committee plenums and at two national conventions. Without exception, the majority of our elected leadership and rank-and-file, following full democratic debate, affirmed the positions outlined above.
U.S. antiwar movement
There is no doubt that the U.S.-instigated and/or abetted wars in Syria and Ukraine have taken a serious toll on today’s deeply divided and largely demobilized U.S. antiwar movement. The mass demonstrations in the tens and hundreds of thousands that we helped to initiate and organize in years past have today been reduced to small-scale protests, at best in the hundreds. A combination of government-promoted demonization of leaders of nations under attack, outright government censorship, and the liberal/social democratic and “third camp” reformist groups, has divided the movement and demoralized many activists. UNAC’s efforts today to revive this movement and link it to the ongoing massive social cutbacks and racist attacks has been ongoing, most recently in its call for October 15-23, 2022 nationwide coordinated protests opposing all U.S. wars and broadside attacks on working people. While we fully expect that these will be extremely modest in size, we intend to fully participate in accord with our resources. As we write this text, some 70 October 15-23 protests, mostly in the U.S., have been scheduled, with the initial October 15 actions in Oakland, New York and Minneapolis all in the range, as we estimated, of approximately 100 participants.
Capitalism’s media monopoly barrage notwithstanding, the great majority of the population stands opposed to endless U.S. wars and increasingly understand that the ever-increasing $billions spent on the military and its wars of plunder, exploitation and conquest around the world are not in their interest. Today’s social movements are increasingly aware of this simple proposition as with the broad understanding of the climate movement’s designation of the Pentagon as the world’s largest polluter. Similarly, UNAC and other antiwar forces increasingly stand opposed to all “U.S. racist wars against working people at home and abroad.” Socialist Action’s continued and leading participation in the antiwar movement, despite its present quiescence, is essential.
For a democratic secular Palestine
In recent years, we have seen major protests in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people, protests where a central demand has increasingly been “End All Aid to Apartheid Israel!” The recognition of the illegitimacy of the racist, Zionist, colonial settler, apartheid state of Israel is today widespread, so much so that Democrats and Republicans have felt compelled to pass repressive legislation that punishes students and others who organize to defend Palestinian rights, including threats of suspension, expulsion and banning groups that oppose the Zionist state.
The most recent dis-invitation of Pulitzer Prize novelist Alice Walker from the annual Bay Area Book Festival is instructive. Walker’s criticism of the Zionist state was spuriously deemed anti-Semitic. A broadly-supported movement and petition entitled “Stand With Alice Walker: Anti-Zionism Is NOT Anti-Semitism,” that Socialist Action helped to initiate, was signed in protest in a matter of days by 4,000 people across the country and internationally.
Today the “two-state solution” to the Israel/Palestine issue is largely rejected in recognition of the fact that the Israeli Zionist state, by force and violence, ongoing exclusion/expulsion, endless new “settlements,” imprisonment and murder has largely reduced historic Palestinian to tiny, isolated, disconnected, Zionist Army-occupied, non-viable entities that are more like prisons than any semblance of an independent nation. Socialist Action’s historic position supporting a democratic secular Palestine with the right of return of all disposed Palestinians, is today accepted among most Palestinian organizations, the broad U.S. left and in the U.S. and the world populations more generally – all a reflection of the growing understanding that the great imperialist powers intervene and fund the Zionist state in a similar manner that they do with regard to poor, oppressed and imperialist-occupied nations and peoples around the world. Needless to say, the achievement of a democratic, secular Palestine, where Arabs Jews, Christians and all others can live together in peace and harmony is predicated on broader revolutionary developments in the Middle East, including a socialist federation of the region that replaces the present imperialist-backed various dictatorships and the historically imperialist-divided region with a socialist order that prioritizes the fulfillment of human needs and equality as opposed to capitalist profit, exploitation and endless war.
The war in Ukraine
Today, the war in Ukraine has seriously divided large components of the U.S. and the international antiwar movement more generally. Important differences of opinion have also been expressed in Socialist Action’s leadership bodies. We have also written extensively on this debate and adopted a series of texts and resolutions, the most recent of which appears on our website entitled, “Ukraine: No to the U.S.-orchestrated War and Fascist Coup.” July 24, 2022. We propose a separate convention discussion/debate on this issue and to begin the discussion with the above Ukraine text.
Capitalism’s multiple crises
The global warming climate catastrophe
Here, despite the uncontested facts, the world’s major powers press on to increase fossil fuel production in the face of ever-intensifying killer heat waves, deadly floods and hurricanes, inundation of low lying land masses, drying up and poisoning of major water supplies – all accompanied by unprecedented environmental destruction across the board. Forests are decimated, oceans and rivers are irreversibly polluted, air is poisoned, nature is torn asunder, with no end in sight. 2,000 people died in a single week from the recent heat wave in Spain and Portugal alone! All of the above are the undeniable reality everywhere. And all this in the context of leading scientists informing the world a decade earlier that humanity’s timeline to accomplish fundamental change was ten years before irreversible catastrophe threatened our very existence! Yet fossil fuel production increased! Fossil fuel wars are on the rise! Offshore drilling is on the rise with the $billionaire corporations obscenely competing over the right to drill the Arctic Circle now that global warming is increasingly melting the ice caps! And while poor nations like Pakistan are ravaged by unprecedented monsoon floods with millions dead and disposed, fertile land washed away, crops destroyed en masse and millions left to stave! Pakistan’s catastrophe is repeated everywhere!
Dominated by the major capitalist powers, the UN’s periodic Conference of Parties (COP) gatherings have become infamous in their absolute bankruptcy.
In the U.S. the Democrat’s proposed and much hyped $6 trillion “Green Revolution” and related infrastructure and financial aid to workers bills were gutted and reduced to $1.5 trillion over ten years, with the vast proportion allocated to the corporate elite. The same with Biden’s recent so-called Inflation Reduction Act, that gifted additional $billions to the corporate elite – including tax breaks to the world’s richest capitalist, Elon Musk and his Tesla corporation – and did virtually nothing to mitigate the oncoming climate catastrophes that threaten in the short term, all life on earth. Indeed, fossil fuel production is on the rise worldwide, matched by endless oil wars, mostly orchestrated by U.S. corporations, but joined to the hip by every European and Africa oil corporation and their military forces, today scrambling to frack “Blood Meth” and build African and European Liquid Natural Gas plants everywhere to provide Western Europe with the fossil fuels that the U.S. elite plan to substitute for the present Russian reserves and pipelines. [Editor’s note: The latter, Nord Stream 1 and 2, were likely secretly obliterated by U.S. imperialism in early October following the operations of the U.S. fleet that conducted lengthy military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea regions where the pipelines laid, that the U.S. dominates. This single monstrous act released the largest recorded amount of climate catastrophe greenhouse gas ever recorded, methane, while effectively terminating Russia’s supplying the greater proportion of fossil fuel to Germany and Europe – a $multi-trillion boon to U.S. fossil fuel corporations that immediately sought to sell U.S. fracked Liquefied Natural gas to Europe at four times the Russian price! (See socialistaction.org)]
Hence, the U.S.’s increased focus on Africa in addition to Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, the Middle East in general, all rich in fossil fuel reserves. While Ukraine, with the fourth largest LNG reserves in the world, is today central to the present U.S. imperialist project, the U.S.-instigated war there is a glaring example that no imperialist power today offers the slightest indication of intention to turn away from the deadly fossil fuel scenario that every serious scientists asserts threatens in the relatively short term life on earth for billions of its inhabitants.
That Biden briefly visited the Saudi monarch, “Mr. Bone Saw” (MBS) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to plead for his near slave labor state to increase fossil fuel production in order to bring down the price of gas, tells us that U.S. imperialism has no solutions other than death and destruction.
Secretary of State Blinken in early August announced U.S. “concerns” over some 30 “terrorist militias” operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, implying that the U.S. did not rule out sending major troops deployments there. Blinken declined to mention that to this day U.S. corporate monopolies of the JP Morgan Chase ilk (the JP Morgan-Rockefeller $trillionaire banks) retain major mineral interests in the Congo.
Imperialism’s de-industrialization strategy
Again, driven by ever-increasing pressures on profit rates, the major powers have significantly shifted production of increasing numbers of major and minor commodities to low wage, non-union countries, where labor and social rights barely exist. Simultaneously, and for the same reasons, past economic and social gains won in struggle in the major capitalist nations are steadily eroded on every front. In the U.S. the percentage of unionized workers stands at a 100-plus year low. Social benefits are increasingly eroded whether it in the form of decreased access to medical care and unemployment insurance or public education and other vital social services. Mortgage foreclosures and evictions are in the rise. Rampant inflation, now approaching 10 percent, daily robs millions of the basic means of subsistence. Rising mortgage interest rates, skyrocketing real estate prices and rental costs increasingly threaten broad sections of the population. Homelessness is on the rise everywhere. Tens of millions of workers “live” in the low wage part-time, casual or gig economy subordinate labor force. Announced unemployment figures have no correspondence to reality. The claimed and touted current rate of 3.5 percent masks the more accurate and official Labor Participation Rate of 65 percent. Child labor in major U.S. factories is on the rise. In poor nations it is the norm!
In all cases women workers suffer the brunt of capitalism’s ever-deepening crises. In poor nations uncompetitive factories employing women at near slave wages are closed and converted to corporate run sex slave operations. Capitalism’s degradation of human beings knows no limits!
Erosion of basic democratic rights I: Women
The fact that neither the U.S. Supreme Court, nor any other court in the country, approved any of the 100-plus lawsuits filed by Trump and his associates to overturn the 2020 presidential elections informs us that the U.S. ruling class sees no compelling need to impose fascist-like rule today. But that option has not been permanently removed from their options. Indeed, heinous attacks on fundamental democratic rights are on the ruling class agenda.
The Supreme Court’s abolition of Roe v. Wade and its reactionary aftermath across the country informs us that basic democratic rights won in struggle decades ago can never be taken for granted. The court’s decision, long in the making, is the present pretext to launch a broadside attack not only on the basic right of women to control their own bodies, but also on a broad range of related critical issues that openly threaten women today, including outright imprisonment, denial of health care access and to safe and effective abortion-inducing medications, denial of critical medical treatment under any circumstances and more. The Democrats have long been complicit in this generalized assault on women, from their decades-long and repeated refusal to abolish the infamous Hyde Amendment to their failure to pass fundamental abortion rights legislature when they controlled both chambers of the U.S. government.
The abolition of the constitutional right to abortion redounds against women on every front, exacerbating the increasing cutbacks in childcare, fostering widening wage differentials and continued job and promotion discrimination, while justifying sexual harassment and violence. With regard to all of the above, the direct and indirect effect of the attacks against women are to maintain and intensify the capitalist objective of extracting profits from the most oppressed sectors of the population. Intimidation and control are among capitalism’s prime objectives. The most rabid sectors are pressing for legislation declaring the fetus a human being in order to imprison, if not execute women who choose to terminate their pregnancies.
Sexism, racism, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and attacks against immigrants and all the oppressed, in all their myriad forms, serve to divide and demoralize the working class, scapegoat the most oppressed and pit one section against the other, with the objective of turning workers against workers and not against the boss.
At the beginning of 2022, women across the country were filled with a sense of foreboding, or perhaps hopeful that the new Supreme Court would rule narrowly on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case. The case concerned the constitutionality of a Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The state asked the Supreme Court to remove the federal constitutional right to abortion granted 50 years before in Roe v. Wade. Yet there no mass mobilizations aimed at pressing the court to reject Dobbs, only small groups of activists in Washington at the Supreme Court and elsewhere demanding “Women’s Right To Abortion – No Apologies.”
On May 2, an anonymous leak revealed the Court’s draft opinion indicating its intention to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nevertheless, there were still no mass mobilizations, a tragic indication of the demobilized state of the women’s movement.
On June 24 the decision was announced. The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not confer the right to abortion and that this authority must be returned to the states.
Women’s outrage exploded. It was expressed in small towns and cities of all sizes, in states where the right to abortion is codified in law or state constitutions and in states that were looking at the right to abortion being abolished or nearly abolished. The outpouring included all generations, cultures and races.
And others joined in solidarity. It was clear that if the Supreme Court could strip the right of bodily autonomy from 51 percent of the population, that other’s rights would also be at risk. So gay men, trans persons and non-binary individuals joined the protests.
The ever-evolving demands were clear including:
• Abortion is Healthcare
• Women’s Right To Abortion – No Apologies
• Bans Off Our Bodies
• Hands Off My Uterus, and
• Restore Legal Abortion Nationwide Now
The Women’s March
A group calling itself “The Women’s March” had previously called for a Washington D.C. march and rally on the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency. The outpouring was so great that “sister” marches were organized throughout the country. Some five million participated, in broad solidarity with women and against Trump’s crude misogyny and racist, reactionary rants.
After these massive national actions, the Women’s March underwent a period of discord on their national board. It ended with the resignation of Co-Chairs Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist who has extended family in the Israeli occupied territories and Tamika Mallory, a Black activist who has worked with the Nation of Islam and has spoken out in support of Black Liberation Army exile, Assata Shakur. Both were falsely accused of anti-Semitism.
A new board was established that focused solely on electing Democrats. But seeing the response around the country protesting the Supreme Court decision on abortion, the Women’s March the joined with Planned Parenthood and other organizations to call the October 8, 2022 March in Washington D.C., that focused heavily on promoting participation in the November mid-term elections and the election of Democrats. Organizers established an online map to facilitate activists across the country locating marches and rallies in their local zip code. But the Women’s March was always clear that they were not involved or liable for these local actions. They would only organize in Washington D.C. on October 8, where their filed permit application listed an expected turnout of 2,000. Estimates of D.C. attendance ranged from this figure to perhaps 5,000. The scattered local actions attracted a few hundred at best, often less.
They were generally led by young women; the speakers talked about losing their right to abortion, not going back to before Roe and how to help women access abortion now. They told personal stories of their mothers and grandmothers. Women spoke of remembering back alley abortions. But the terribly small size of the protests in comparison to the millions who had previously taken to the streets indicated the demoralized state of the movement, not to mention its reformist leaderships’ subordination to the Democratic Party.
The Immediate War On Women
The immediate response to the Supreme Court decision was the war on women and girls launched by the Republican Party. Every day since that decision states have been eliminating state laws that protected the right to abortion. Republican state legislators, governors, and judges have enthusiastically stripped away the basic right of body autonomy and the right to health care.
The situation now is horrendous. Abortion is totally banned in 12 states. Twenty-five states are currently considering laws and state constitutional amendments that virtually ban or severely restrict abortions. Fifteen states are described as “hostile” with strict bans just short of prohibition. Abortion providers are disappearing from these states.
The national landscape is one of deadly chaos, as those seeking abortion and abortion providers contend with a new and confusing array of rules, laws, rulings and medical responses. The atrocities escalated as soon as the court decision was announced. Girls who were rape victims were denied abortion. Women could be forced to carry a dead fetus as doctors would face huge fines and long prison sentences for performing an abortion. Women were unable to get an abortion after they miscarried and endured hours of painful labor. Women had to endure arduous journeys to find an abortion provider. Women with cancer will now have to wait until they are sicker before an abortion is allowed.
Meanwhile, Democrats who verbally opposed the decision did nothing. Their energy was not focused on finding any immediate solutions to guarantee that every woman and girl has the right to access a safe, legal abortion.
Instead, Democrats have used this horrific situation to immediately raise money to line their election coffers. While they have known for a long time that Roe would be overturned, their objectives aimed at using the abortion issue to elect Democrats. They were looking ahead to the midterm elections, caring nothing about relieving the suffering immediately.
In fact, Democrats have minimized the present crisis by continually arguing that the only solution is through the electoral process and a patchwork of privately raised abortion funds to facilitate travel to the few states where abortion is legal. In short, Democrats shifted the collective responsibility of the nation to defend abortion and women’s rights back onto the individuals who are suffering.
Most everyone knew this that was coming but the Democrats nevertheless focused on what they considered to be their unlimited fund raising potential by claiming to be “pro choice.”
It was not just the Democrats who failed women, but also organizations like Planned Parenthood, that saw the suffering and had to close clinics in states where abortion was now illegal and every day had to assist abortion providers to navigate the new laws and possible penalties. They also concentrated on political contributions instead of demanding immediate solutions. They also surrendered in advance. This was always the plan. A Planned Parenthood operative in Iowa City was quoted as saying as early as March, “We’ll win in the midterms after they get rid of Roe.”
While women locally were angry and rising up throughout the country, the Democrats were focused on Washington D.C. and what they saw as their own political future.
What Is The Movement We Need?
We demand immediate action! A national declaration against the war on abortion rights as a Public Health Emergency!
This demand is obvious as we are emerging from two years of COVID. This could have been planned for and instituted immediately after the court decision voiding Roe… an immediate declaration against the war on abortion rights as a public health emergency – like COVID and Monkey Pox. In addition the government is fully able to provide legal, safe abortions nationwide on all federal lands and in all FQMCs (Federal Qualified Medical Centers), which are in cities and towns across the United States.
We need an independent movement.
That means not one that is dependent on or subordinate to the Democratic Party for its strategy and tactics. It is helpful to look to the abortion rights movements in South America, where millions took to the streets again and again, growing in numbers and determination, tearing down the laws criminalizing abortion. In Poland, women challenged the government’s proposed draconian laws with militant coordinated mass actions in cities across the country. They did not waste time with political parties and elections. How often have we seen principled demands disappear into an electoral dynamic of “compromises” that are not what we want or need? Our energy needs to be in organizing for what we do want. This is how we got Roe v. Wade from a conservative court in the first place.
We need a democratic broad based united front.
We have seen our own mass movement in the streets of our cities and towns across the country. Now we need mass meetings to democratically decide on our demands where everyone is invited to join. These decisions should not be made in private back rooms by party bosses.
We need to oppose Red Baiting
We have already seen Democratic Party-initiated red baiting coming rearing its head. We need to reject this and all divisive tactics. We need to build a strong united movement that welcomes all. We need actions decided by all participating individuals and organizations.
We need to be rooted in mass action and creative acts of conscience.
There is power in numbers and consistent visibility. This is how women across the globe are winning abortion rights while we are losing ours.
The fight for abortion rights is not going away anytime soon. Women and their allies are angry now, and young women are being radicalized by this struggle in new ways. Not all women will be duped into voting for the Democratic Party. This is a new and emerging movement. We need to watch it closely and most importantly, to get involved in any way we can. Building local actions, passing out flyers at mass demonstrations, and analyzing and championing the movement on our website will bring us closer to recruiting some of the best women fighters.
Democrats organize “mass actions” to disorient social movements
Today the major national women’s organizations, for decades increasingly subordinate to the Democrats, offer no strategic orientation to winning the right to abortion, or any other basic rights for women, other than resort to the Democratic Party’s electoral apparatus. When NOW, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or any of the myriad of NGO’s – all increasingly dominated by corporate executives – do advocate and organize mass protests, they are invariably to feature Democratic Party politicians and to advocate and organize to getting out the vote.
The same with the recent Women’s March-initiated Houston conference call for a mass October 2022 protests in Washington. D.C. and cities around the country. Almost every Houston conference speaker and workshop presenter at this partially virtual event was a seasoned Democratic Party operative camouflaged with credentials ranging from corporate-funded NGO leaders, to corporate executives to functionaries in the various reformist-pro-Democratic Party outfits and perhaps a scattering of “radicals” experienced in corralling unsuspecting activists into class collaborationist politics.
No doubt they will all take the lead in promoting Biden’s new “left turn.” A Sept. 2, 2022 New York Times article entitled, “Biden Portrays Democracy As Under Fire in the U.S.” was explicit, quoting excerpts from Biden’s planned Sept. 2 Independence Hall, Philadelphia speech as follows:
“MAGA [Trump’s Make America Great Again] forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”
Other excerpts that the NYT reported were planned for delivery by Biden were: “For a long time we’ve assured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it is not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us.” Sheer demagogy from a racist president who opposed basic civil rights and abortion for most of his career!
Over the past decades we have learned some important lessons in this regard as has the U.S. ruling class itself. During the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement era mass protests were almost entirely in the purview of independent fighting social movements. They were almost universally shunned, attacked, discredited, red-baited or restricted (denial of permits, march routes, etc.) by the ruling class. Their success, in our view, was measured by their sheer size, where millions took to the streets to demonstrate in life that they represented the vast majority and that the government’s wars, racist and sexist policies did not represent the views of the American people. This exposure of the massive contradiction between what the vast majority demanded and what a capitalist government sought to maintain, served to radicalize an entire generation. It served to break tens of thousands from capitalist politics. It convinced the majority that the government did not represent them and indeed, that they were the legitimate majority on the key issues of the day. It served to flood the ranks of a tiny and isolated socialist left with a new generation of youthful revolutionaries. It broke the hold of the witchhunt and significantly expanded the ranks of revolutionary parties, especially our predecessor party the SWP, which played a leading role in helping to initiate and lead the various independent, mass action, democratically-organized united front mobilizations that dramatically changed public consciousness and, in time, made it impossible for the ruling rich to fully continue its heinous policies.
During those decades organizations like NOW and CLUW (Coalition of Labor Union Women) functioned as democratic, mass action and mass open conference planning organizations that mobilized huge numbers and whose platform speakers always included fighting representatives of the broad left, as well leading SWP spokespersons. Mass, open antiwar conferences of 5,000 activists discussed and debated all questions and proceeded to call coordinated demonstrations that mobilized millions.
Today, the ruling class has learned some critical lessons regarding mass actions, first and foremost that they cannot be left to the left alone to organize. Hence, in literally every critical social arena today we have seen the ruling class and its allied institutions and social forces organize their own mass “protests” to accomplish their own ends and to stifle the growth of potentially independent forces that aim to challenge their policies.
There are few if any exceptions to this phenomenon today. We have repeatedly seen essentially Democratic Party-organized mass protests supposedly championing the environment, Chicano/Latinx rights, women’s rights, LGBTQI+ rights, labor rights, and civil rights. But in sharp contrast to decades past, few, if any, of these have been organized by conscious forces outside the Democratic Party. All have been largely devoid of rank-and-file planning, discussion and debate. All have excluded all speakers that challenge ruling class prerogatives. None have fundamentally fostered the growth of revolutionary movements. Indeed, all of the above outcomes have been consciously planned and prepared by the ruling class.
The examples are overwhelming, from the post-Trump election mass protests to the present October 8 Women’s March, to the AFL-CIO’s March of 100,000 in Washington a decade ago, to the pre- COP 25 New York City climate mobilization of 400,000, to the Los Angeles Latinx mobilizations of hundreds of thousands, and more. All have been organized by the ruling class and its kept allies. Today these include the major women’s, environment and civil rights organizations, all corporate funded as well as the associated civic, church-based and others beholden to and financed by the capitalist state. In nearly every instance all the speakers at these mobilizations were open Democrats – elected Democrats, their subordinates or their funded derivative organizations. There were no speakers at all at the COP25 NYC demonstration of 400,000, but a pre-march press conference featured only Democratic Party elected officials or their subordinates. The AFL-CIO’s labor mobilization in D.C. featured over 40 speakers; all but one, Harry Belafonte, who was silent on the issue, urged votes for Democrats.
Socialist Action’s orientation to the social movements today
Having noted the admittedly difficult state of today’s social movements our orientation remains to the masses of working people in struggle and on the streets, regardless of the momentary hold and organizational control of reformist forces. We are active participants wherever forces are in motion, always seeking to participate, influence rank-and-filers, engage in individual conversations, organize independent contingents where possible, selling our press and distributing our educational flyers. We simultaneously aim to participate in local organizations that occasionally appear that offer opportunities to meet with and engage new activists. Our orientation also includes participation in coalitions that hold out possibilities of independent mass actions, even where these coalitions are initiated by narrow sectarian forces with little or no record of past united front-type work.
As with every critical social struggle Socialist Action’s focus, as we actively participate in the women’s movement and all others, is to foster the construction of an independent united front-type, democratic, mass action oriented movement in alliance with working class allies and the struggles of the oppressed. We never stand on the sidelines as idle abstentionist critics. Wherever our forces allow, we seek to participate to help independent-minded forces move forward while fully expecting that today’s ever-deepening crises will in time open up qualitatively improved opportunities to advance working class interests.
Erosion of basic democratic rights II: Racism and LGBTQI+ discrimination
That 25 million youth, in the majority people of color, during the blatant police murder of George Floyd and other unarmed Black, Latinx, Native American and other oppressed nationalities, mobilized in 2,000 U.S. cities near the height of the COVID pandemic against what became openly know as society’s systemic racism, that is, a racism inherent in the nature of capitalism itself, gave proof to perhaps the vast majority of the population, that racist oppression is the norm not the exception in the U.S.
That unpunished daily racist police murders of unarmed people of color remains the norm in racist America today has not been obliterated from mass consciousness.
In the face of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and police repression courageous millions took to the streets. The resounding declarations affirming Black Lives Matter! and No Justice, No Peace! reverberated across the world. An unprecedented 84 percent of the U.S. population, according to CNN polls, agreed with the anti-racist demonstrators.
It is thissystemic racism, not just the police murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, that infuriated the vast majority and still does. That daily racist police murders of unarmed Blacks has been the norm for decades can no longer be denied with impunity. Minneapolis was but one example: Twenty percent of the population of 430,000 is Black. But when the police employed violence — with kicks, chokeholds, punches, shoves, takedowns, Mace and Tasers — nearly 60 percent of their victims were Black – seven times the rate of whites. Sixty-three percent of those killed by Minneapolis police prior to the Black Lives Matter mobilizations, [and likely today], – 19 people – were Black; 17 percent – or 5 people – were white.
Ingrained racismtoday, and a century and a half before these murders, has been the norm in U.S. society. During the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, 1865 to 1876, 2,000 racist lynchings of Black men, women and children were recorded, that is, after the Emancipation Proclamation. And another 4,400 lynchings between 1877 and 1950. And countless more racist murders and imprisonments, largely unreported, since.
Capitalism’s racist school-to-prison scenario
Today’s school-to-prison scenario is a prime example. Ever-segregated, underfunded schools in the communities of the poor “graduate” near majorities of functionally illiterate students, channeled into the ever-privatized-for profit mass incarceration prison-industrial-complex to work at Fortune 500 corporations at slave wages rates averaging 50 cents per hour. Half of the incarcerated are people of color. The nation that ranks second in the number of billionaires ranks first in the number and percentage of its population in jail.
The number ofCOVID-19 deaths of Blacks, Latinx and Native Americans is nearly triple the rate of whites and quality health care, if any health care, is absent for the great majority.
Racist wage differentials remain the norm. “The darker the skin color, the lower the wage rates.” And triply so for the lowest rungs of the scale largely occupied by poor, Black women.
Today 43 percent of the military’s soldiers are Black, Brown and Native American people – victims of the economic draft – and trained to police the world at a cost of $1trillion annually while U.S. cities decay.
Promises of “police reform,” instantly announced in cities across the country two years ago, came to zero. Generations of racist brutality and discrimination were pledged to be remedied with the passage of a piece of paper. The promises came to naught. A few buildings honoring racist Klan member U.S. senators and their ilk have been instantly renamed. A handful of police chiefs have resigned. A few racist cops have been charged with murder and a few convicted in contrast to yesterday, but the fundamentals of racist America remain unchanged.
In periods of economic downturn past gains of society’s most humiliated, downtrodden and oppressed are always the first to go. “Last hired, first fired” remains the norm. With regard to all indices, economic, pandemic, climate, employment, etc., catastrophe always strikes hardest at the most oppressed. The percentage of people of color stricken and dead from COVID exceeds all other groups. While the most recent data has recorded the horror that the overall life expectancy of the U.S. population over the COVID era was reduced by 2.7 years, the largest population drop in recorded history, the decline for the Blacks and Latinx population reached was 4 and 5 years respectively and for Native Americans 6.7! These figures alone demonstrate that racist America knows few if any limits regarding its discrimination and subjugation of poor and oppressed people. The same with all other indices that mark capitalisms base degeneracy, from unemployment to evictions, college admissions, job opportunities to, once again, daily racist police murders.
With the Supreme Court’s decades long ban on affirmative action in higher education at California’s university system, the percentage of Blacks has dropped to all time low.
Meanwhile, the capacity of the present “leadership” of popular movements to turn the deep mass anger and hatred of racist oppression into the electoral arena remains largely unchallenged. The contradiction between the growing mass recognition of the racist, sexist and anti-LGBTQI+ nature of U.S. society and the absence of any serious independent organization and leadership resistance, is glaring. Soon after the unprecedented mass mobilization of the Black Lives Matter movement reached its peak the cravenly reformist misleaders proved fully capable of turning the movement into the Democratic Party’s election campaign of the “former” racist politician Joseph Biden, who proceeded to campaign for and win more funding for the police at every level.
After two years in office, and Biden proving incapable of seriously implementing any of his campaign promises and with his approval ratings lower than any president in recent memory, every social movement yet again finds itself beleaguered by the Democratic Party machine with empty promises of reform and now warnings from the racist warmonger Biden himself that only his Democrats represent a bulwark against the “fascism” emanating from some in the Trump camp.
Biden’s incapacity to cancel or significantly reduce the unprecedented debts accumulated by students is yet another example of the system’s bankruptcy. Student debt today exceeds all other personal debts in U.S. society, including the total of all credit card debt and mortgage debt! The average yearly cost of college tuition, room and board in the nation’s private colleges is $52,000, a figure that puts entrance without resort to massive loans, beyond the capacity of all but the top income echelons of U.S. society. By comparison, many of Europe’s “social democratic” capitalist countries offer major grants or subsidies for higher election that make it accessible to broader layers of the population. Need we mention that poor revolutionary Cuba, embargoed, blockaded and ever-threatened by U.S.-orchestrated provocations, guarantees universal free education from the cradle to the grave ranking Cuba close to the top of the world in the percentage of its population serving as doctors or with advanced degrees.
Fighting for Queer Liberation, Part I
[Here we incorporate excerpts of a November 2021 article drafted by the Cincinnati Socialist Workers Organizations and approved by Socialist Action’s National Committee. For the full text see: socialistaction.org “Fighting for Queer Liberation, November 15, 2021.]
Over the past few decades the fight for the rights of queer folks have taken a few different forms. At the current moment legal protections have been extended in many areas from states allowing gender marker changes to the federal government recognizing same sex marriages. At the same time the very basic right to use bathrooms is under attack in many states. We stand for the extension of formal rights and call for the passage of legislation such as the Equality Act, but we recognize that is not what protects our queer siblings. As socialists we recognize that queer liberation can only be achieved through working class revolution and that any socialism that fails to fight for queer liberation is unworthy of the name. Our power comes from our position as workers and tenants, it stems from the very same systems that the capitalist class uses to extract surplus value from us and it must be used to destroy those systems. Under capitalism, queer workers experience a kind of super-exploitation due to the homophobia and transphobia that is inseparability tied to existing property relations….
Even where we have formal protections around employment, housing and medical access, we aren’t able to experience equal rights because our boss can decide to fire us on a whim, because our landlord can evict us for no reason, because healthcare is too expensive to preserve our health. Thus our very ability to exercise the rights that are “won” by liberal lawmakers and judges is only usable if we have access to these necessities unconditionally and with the support of working class organizations to protect us….
The liberal proponents of identity politics claim to care about marginalized identities, but the instant we move from the abstract notion that race and gender are socially conditioned to ask about the actual society that conditions them and how we might reconstruct that society to end the various forms of oppression it produces they have nothing to say. In the face of the socialist demand for an end to all oppression and exploitation, liberalism reverts to tokenism, performative wokeness, and identity essentialism and, therefore, to misogyny, racism, transphobia, and all the rest. [Editor: Performative wokeness: An intolerant ideology that uses performative compassion for alleged victim groups to achieve power, moral superiority and social status. Requires no personal sacrifice and often advocates for policies that harm marginalized people.]
At best this politics critiques media and pushes for adequate representation, but representation does not pass bills or fight for rights. It is our power that does that, not looking respectable or becoming “accepted.” Our exploitation is intentional and sustained by force, nothing short of opposing oppositional force will win us concessions (and eventually the world). Because of that, Marxists do not focus on the working class because we’re particularly concerned about class oppression and exploitation relative to other types of oppression in capitalist society. Rather we orient ourselves to the workers because it is the working class that possesses the power to overthrow present society and build a new world from the ashes of the old.
Further, identity and class are deeply intertwined to the point where it’s impossible to try to understand one without the other. Can we meaningfully discuss trans oppression without talking about healthcare, housing, and employment? Of course not, but then we are talking about class…. Socialism, therefore, has women’s liberation, trans liberation, Black liberation, and so forth woven into its very core and any socialist who deviates from these demands breaks from the socialist movement itself.
Transphobia and white supremacy are built into capitalism at its heart. Any socialism that doesn’t fight against every manifestation of violence and oppression will fail, and it is impossible to vanquish any form of oppression without the socialist transformation of society….
Oppression Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Part II
The rise of rightwing extremism has meant increasing violence and illustrates the importance of unity and solidarity.
This was graphically illustrated when photos were released of a U-Haul truck filled with 31 members of the Patriotic Front from 11 different states. They were dressed in full riot gear and headed for the annual Pride in the Park event in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. They were arrested for conspiracy to riot. The Patriotic Front is a splinter group from Vanguard America. They were formed following the 2017 Unite The Right March in Charlottesville, Virginia where one of the chants was “Die Faggot Die!”
The increase of attacks based on sexual orientation and gender identity is larger than for many decades.
Socialist Action understands that everyone’s oppression is unique, while simultaneously being inherent in the capitalist system.
The physical attacks on gay men shadow the past. Once again the term “groomers” is being used. In the 1980’s this term was used to say that all gay men are pedophiles and resulted in physical assaults and murders. Today there has been a sharp rise in violent attacks in large cities as well as small towns. This was signaled in Charlottesville alongside racist and anti-Semitic threats.
The increase in transphobic slurs and violence is another threat. It also extends to children’s freedom to explore gender roles and experience solidarity. The term “grooming” has also been used regarding teachers and other adults who support young people as they navigate their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Transphobia also equates to the increase of violent attacks on trans women, particularly trans women of color.
The increase in attacks on lesbians are based on both homophobia and misogyny. Young lesbians are now experiencing a resurgence of Reparative Therapy and “corrective rape” in this country and around the world. This is coming from the right and some on the left, for simply saying they are “same sex attracted”. At the same time the threat of overturning same sex marriage is in the wings.
Socialist Action understands the importance of active solidarity with all these struggles as well as the fact that all oppression is unique. We support the right to organize around one’s specific oppression. We support movements of the oppressed to build autonomous movements to raise their own demands.
It is difficult to describe what is happening globally as either positive or negative, as oppressive laws and legislation granting rights are often in flux. In general countries with authoritarian rule have a high level of oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Chechnya, for example, is probably the most oppressive country in the world. The information we have is because of the important work of the Canadian based group the Rainbow Railroad. They work with the Russian gay underground which sometimes can rescue individuals but it is very difficult work. There was an anti-gay purge in 2017, where hundreds of gay men were arrested and tortured. Often their families were told they must kill their sons. Lesbians have also been sent to their families where authorities have used “corrective rape” as punishment.
There was a human rights investigation at the end of 2017 but afterwards another purge in 2018 took place.
Russia’s current anti-gay legislation is called a “propaganda” law forbidding promotion to children of “non traditional” sexual relations. This is used to ban all Pride marches, demonstrations and publications.
In mid-July a bill was introduced in the Duma to ban all information “promoting non traditional” sexual relations. This will expand the present law from children to everyone.
One bright note is that Taiwan has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity since 2004. In 2019 they became the first Asian country to allow same sex marriage.
According to the Kyiv International Sociological Institute a recent survey of “Equal Rights for LGBT persons” shows over the last 6 years support has almost doubled from 33 to 64 percent. Support for same sex marriage has increased from 3 percent in 2016 to 24 percent today.
Cubans, in a September 2022 referendum, approved a new Family Code that recognizes families regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Between February and April more than six million Cubans participated in the nationwide discussions. The new law includes the elimination of discrimination and the right to marry and the right for adoption.
This has been a long time in coming. Mariela Castro and her mother, Vilma Espin before her, have been educating and organizing for these rights to be included in Cuba’s Family Code.
In all matters of fundamental democratic and human rights we are ever mindful of Lenin’s What Is To Be Done admonition, “The revolutionary leader must be the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalize all these manifestations.”
The COVID pandemic: To date more than 1,067,000 are dead in the U.S. from the coronavirus, with nearly 500, as of September 1, dying daily. The U.S. stands first in the world in both these categories. No other nation comes near these horrific statistics. The number of U.S. dead, represents nearly one sixth of all dead across the world. These simple facts in plain language tell us that the world’s greatest economic and scientific power places nothing before its pursuit of profits.
An initially-panicked U.S. ruling class was belatedly compelled to resort to a series of measures aimed at COVID mitigation, including masks, social distancing, closure of public facilities/schools and investments in scientific research for an effective vaccine. Today, all these measures are increasingly abandoned, with the ruling class effectively deciding to yet again subordinate human life to capitalist profits. Back to work has become the norm today, increasingly ending mandatory mask requirements and shortening or eliminating social distancing. The unstated but operative “scientific” proposition here is the so-called scientific herd immunity notion, originally informally championed by Donald Trump, wherein the number and percentage of the COVID infected population would in time become sufficiently high so as to effectively result in a “naturally” immune population. That the most recent COVID Omicron variant was less virulent further justified the now increasingly generalized abandonment of protective measures.
This fundamentally flawed “science” aside, the real reason for the growing abandonment of mandatory protective measures is failing capitalism’s inexorable drive to maintain and increase its ever-flagging profit rates. Once again, the ruling rich subordinate human life to their need for working people to get back on the job, where profits are generated from the exploitation of human labor power regardless of the consequences.
Democratic rights under attack: We have received increasing numbers of reports from various left organizations that their internet connections have been terminated or otherwise tampered with by some of the major $billionaire corporate providers, if not by various government agencies. UNAC, with some 32,000 subscribers, was suddenly taken off the air a few months ago with their provider offering only spurious explanations that had no correspondence with UNAC’s operations. After some hassles via email exchanges, their service was restored. Other groups have been similarly subjected to overt censorship based on the providers’ political decision that the views expressed where not in accord with their version of “established facts” as in the case of Ukraine.
PayPal has banned organizations that challenge the U.S. imperialist version of events in Ukraine. YouTube has similarly banned and confiscated the files of prominent critics of U.S. policy like Chris Hedges.
These still minimal, but growing examples of censorship aside, a qualitative larger question is increasingly posed in corporate America. The vast majority of all media and communication outlets of every type – newspapers and print media, radio and television, the vast online internet conglomerates – are controlled by a handful of corporate behemoths that overwhelmingly dominate what the vast majority are allowed to see and hear.
We increasingly live in a “Truman Show” [Jim Carrey movie] or Potemkin Village world – an Orwellian-like society saturated every minute by a kept corporate media in all its manifestations, that manufactures and perpetuates the myth of an egalitarian democracy where the people rule and truth is forever prized. The truth lies elsewhere. The U.S. is ruled by an elite few billionaires and their corporate entities whose twin parties periodically spend countless $billions in rigged elections between themselves, from which working people are excluded.
The corporate media monopoly operates to burnish or prettify and deflect capitalism’s horrors, or to ignore or justify them outright. Elon Musk’s $44 billion move to purchase Twitter informs us that the world’s richest men, rule with impunity. To be sure Biden’s IRA (so-called Inflation Reduction Act) included $billions in tax rebates for Musk’s Tesla as it did to other major corporations seeking a U.S.-backed competitive edge on world markets. The IRA also gifted $billions to U.S. battery manufacturers to advantage their operations against China. Indeed, a longterm goal of the U.S. corporate elite with regard to the 20-year slaughter in Afghanistan was to secure control of that nation’s estimated $2 trillion in lithium and other minerals vital to modern-day industry’s battery production.
Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. spies on virtually the entire world, with a surveillance apparatus that is second to none. Snowden’s persecution, as with Julian Assange’s and Chelsea Manning’s, tells us that even the slightest breach of the U.S. mammoth “national security system” will not be tolerated. The recent well-publicized raid on the African People’s Socialist Party informs us that drastic punishment of dissent is not to be discounted when the U.S. ruling class prerogatives are challenged, even on a modest scale. The APSP dared to run a local Florida election campaign that damned the U.S.-initiated war in Ukraine, not to mention a campaign that advocated reparations for U.S. slavery. The FBI press conference announcing the APSP indictment charged that the APSP was acting under the direction of Russian agents. Days later Florida’s rightwing Senator Marco Rubio publically advocated government indictments of a local Cuba solidarity campaign, Brigades of Love, charging that it operated as an agent of the Cuban government. Socialist Action was among the first to come to the defense of the APSP regardless of whatever politics differences we might have.
The U.S. military-industrial complex, the “national security state” and capitalism’s broad thought control apparatus
We have written widely about the world predominance of the U.S. military, whose annual $trillion expenditures exceed almost the rest of the world combined. U.S. imperialism is undoubtedly the chief “cop of the world.” Imperialist China, by comparison, has a single military base outside its borders; Russia has six.
But here we focus on other critical arenas where the power of the ruling rich is daily exercised.
The U.S. government’s 18 branches of its $81 billion annually budgeted “U.S. Intelligence Community” includes 1.4 million personnel with top security clearance.
Another 4.25 million “Intelligence Community” employees have some type of special clearance. That’s a total approaching six million people in the U.S. spy business, not to mention the tiny proportion in the business of directly ordering and planning assassinations, kidnappings, death squad murders, covert and overt wars, drone wars, regime change military coups, cyber wars, media disinformation wars, industrial spying wars and all the rest.
This six million-member team has the central assignment of alerting the U.S. ruling class to the most feasible scenarios to defend and advance their claimed economic, political, military and social interests anywhere and everywhere. Wherever countless $millions and $billions and today $trillions can be extracted from the world’s people and nations, U.S. clandestine operatives are on the job.
That journalists like courageous WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is persecuted to the high heavens for revealing just a tiny portion of the secret workings of this comprehensive system of anti-democratic operations, informs us that the ruling class in incapable of tolerating anyone who interferes with its essential operations, not to mention individuals and political parties that aim to build mass organizations of the working class to challenge the system itself and win initial victories along that path.
Revealing the truth about U.S. war crimes around the world, not to mention exercising a journalist’s right to free speech and a free press, is unacceptable to the U.S. imperialist beast, that daily wages wars against poor and oppressed nations around the world. That the single dissident voice of a far off non-U.S. citizen must be silenced forever, informs us of the disgusting arrogance of those who command the seats of U.S. power.
These six million “national security” agents for the capitalist elite, who are permanently engaged in the various aspects of the spy business. They are complimented in the legislative arena by tens of thousands more who daily pour over every piece of proposed legislation to ensure that the central interests of corporate America and its super rich are assured.
We add to this assemblage of relatively hidden apparatchiks of the capitalist state the employees of the giant media monopolies that dominate what working people are allowed to “learn” about the operations of the system. The same can be said of the tens of thousands of corporate-funded NGOs that largely exist and are funded to lend credence to the status quo.
And then there is the electoral arena, totally dominated by the two-party duopoly, that periodically spends a few “$billion” to try to convince the working class masses that serious choices are to made by casting their votes.
Finally, we add the police to the institutions that exist to maintain capitalist obedience and control.
This combination of institutionalized capitalist control, in the best of times, functions with little resistance from the working class masses. But when the relative security that the great majority daily experience is called into question this same repressive apparatus will inevitably be called on to exercise force and violence against all those individuals and organizations who set out to seriously challenge the capitalist status quo and, in so doing, aim to win the active support of the vast majority for fundamental change. Winning that vast majority – the tens and hundreds of millions of working people who produce the nation’s wealth and have zero interest in their own exploitation or oppression, is central to the socialist vision of society’s fundamental transformation to a new world of generalized peace, freedom, equality, and the well-being of all.
The fascist option
That Donald Trump’s January 6 coup attempt proved to be a failure was no accident. While the present and ongoing House congressional hearings demonstrate that he had every intention of remaining in the White House while his multiple lawsuits and other pathetic maneuvers challenging the election results were litigated, the real U.S. ruling class, not its titular head of state, had no such intention. No doubt, in time, the record will show that while Trump pressured the nation’s various repressive agencies, the FBI, CIA, if not the military, to back his coup maneuvers, none expressed any serious interest or intent to follow Trump’s lead. Infatuated with the false notion that as president, his power was virtually unlimited, not to mention that his four years in the White House fully appraised him of the daily, heinous and violent illegal deeds committed by U.S. operatives, Trump nevertheless ran into an impenetrable wall when he posed the prospect of a coup. Not a single serious representative of the capitalist state power followed his lead, from his docile Vice President Michael Pence to the entire array of FBI, CIA and military tops, who drew the line on imposing dictatorial rule. Needless to say, they were all fully aware that the ruling rich, with myriad connections to the entire repressive establishment, including the military, wanted no part of the “moron” Trump’s coup plans. We use the word moron here in quotation marks as a reminder. Trump’s former and briefly-serving Secretary of State, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, used this term to describe Trump following the president’s departure from a National Security Council meeting where the president proposed that the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons arsenal be increased one hundred fold! “He’s a “f_ _ _ _ _ _g moron,” said Tillerson!
There is no doubt that reactionary, bully, misogynist, warmongering bigots like Trump are on the rise across the globe. Their numbers include India’s Modi, Brazil’s Bolsonario, the UK’s ex- prime minister, Boris Johnson, Hungary’s Orban, to name a few. But none of these ever-threatening reactionary figures are of the true fascist type.
Fascism enters the political scene at a special moment in the course of capitalist crises, first and foremost at a time when revolutionary-led mass working class parties and unions demonstrate the capacity to paralyze capitalist production and pose a threat to the capitalist state itself. Implementing the fascist option, that is, essentially abolishing all traditional electoral/parliamentary forms, requires mass fascist-led armed gangs capable of physically challenging, disrupting, if not murdering working class leaders and destroying their organizations. Hitler’s first and critical acts in this regard focused on the imprisonment, if not mass execution of the chief leaders of Germany’s mass Socialist and Communist Party leaders and the leaders of mass trade unions they headed.
A ruling class decision to pursue this desperate option is always based on its clear understanding that there is no alternative, other than continued chaos, than to physically challenge and annihilate the imminent prospect of working class rule arising from a revolutionary challenge to capitalism itself. We are far from this point today, although sections of the ruling rich no doubt prefer to at least support nuclei of fascist elements for possible future use.
Fascism’s extra-parliamentary gangs are usually composed of mass petty-bourgeois forces whose ranks have been economically decimated by a deepening capitalist crisis. They also include layers of “de-classed” that is, lumpen workers who a crisis-ridden capitalism has more or less permanently driven from the workforce. And finally, the exercise of the fascist option requires a leadership of fanatics with roots and connections to the capitalist class itself as well as links to forces in the military.
Today, none of these elements clearly exist in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, although aspects of all or several of them are emerging everywhere. Attacks on immigrants and the LGBTQI+ people are on the rise as is a torrent of reactionary legislation aimed at disenfranchising the oppressed community. Deportations under Biden have kept pace with, if not exceeded, his predecessors. Demands for “Full amnesty and equal rights for all!” and “No human being is illegal!” have found no takers in the ranks of the Democratic Party.
The capacity of Trump and his supporters to mobilize large crowds of fanatical supporters is on the increase as is his ongoing ability to promote electoral victories of his reactionary allies. This informs us that there is an increasing and alarming polarization in U.S. society and beyond with racist scapegoating of immigrants and the most oppressed consciously designed to deflect middle class and working class fears and frustrations over their declining state away from its central cause, inherent operations of the capitalist state.
“Lesser evilism’s” role in electoral politics
In the U.S., reformists of every ilk – social democrats/ DSA, Jacobin, past and present currents associated with the Communist Party, the Marcyite currents, the broad environmental and women’s movements – are increasingly drawn into the “lesser evil,” Democratic Party camp. Biden’s recent Philadelphia reference to the danger of fascism emanating from “some” Republican quarters is new in presidential politics and aimed at openly encouraging the “lesser evil” so-called alternative, that is, his Democrats.
Internationally, the same holds for the “broad left” today tragically including most of the groups affiliated to the Fourth International, whose present engagement in popular front/multi-class electoral coalitions is now generalized worldwide. All this in the name of stopping “fascism!” Winning support for capitalism’s “democratic” form as in the U.S. today under Joseph Biden, reformists of all stripes seek to subordinate working class organization and mobilization to support to the class enemy!
We live in difficult times indeed, times when the relative absence of independent and fighting trade unions is glaring, but also times when literally tens of millions offended by the nation’s rightwing policies and insults to their very being, take to the streets in unprecedented numbers as with the multiple-millions who mobilized during the Black Lives Matter protests or the several millions who took to the streets to defend women’s rights and oppose LGBTQI+ discrimination.
Every poll today demonstrates that the majority of youth favor socialism over capitalism. Similar polls indicate deep disgust with the two-party system and preference for a third party. While the nature of this “socialism” and “independence” remain ill-defined, the sentiment expressed is most often of the egalitarian variety, that is, against the super rich, their disgusting wealth and their generalized attacks on working people, basic democratic rights, the environment. A generalized opposition to the endless U.S. imperialist wars has also been the case for decades.
We must add that capitalism’s bi-partisan de-industrialization policies that have off-shored millions of union jobs to low wage nations have undoubtedly deeply angered working people, many of whom are influenced, for the time being, by Trump demagogy blaming immigrants and low wage China for taking American jobs.
In summary on this critical issue, while the fascist card is not presently on the ruling class agenda, much of the “left” employs the term to shepherd the social movements into the Democratic Party. This phenomenon is generalized across the globe from France to Brazil to Peru and the U.S.
None of this is to say that the future will not see the serious rise of well-organized and deadly fascist forces in the U.S. and elsewhere. In some countries they are already quite evident, if not fostered by top elected officials. The most recent Italian election saw the party with the largest vote totals – far from a majority – openly associated with the political heritage and party of the fascist Mussolini!
There are no magic formulas as to how to combat this horror other the ongoing efforts to rejuvenate and qualitatively expand the labor movement, the mass organizations of the oppressed and exploited and the building of the revolutionary socialist party. The staring point for all these critical objectives is a clear program of working class independence that champions in action workers’ desire for a better life, freedom, equality, security and social well being – the method of the Transitional Program. As capitalism’s deepening encroachments on every aspect of working class life proceed, there is no doubt that the need for independent mass action united front organizations will be posed in bold relief. Helping to initiate and strengthen these struggles, however modest our current forces at the moment, will prove central to Socialist Action and the movement’s future success.
The tragic state of the U.S. labor movement
We have written widely and repeatedly over the years and decades on the terrible state of the U.S. labor movement, today at its lowest level of organization and influence in perhaps the last century, if not longer. Headed by a reactionary hide-bound largely corrupt, totally bureaucratic petty-bourgeois cast, today’s “labor lieutenants of capitalism,” as Daniel DeLeon, with Lenin’s approval, described them more than a century ago, have offered near-zero resistance to capitalism’s ever-intensifying attacks. The AFL-CIO’s national conventions are replete with the passage of vacuous resolutions and decorated by Democratic Party posturing politicians. Its gatherings, local state and national, are almost, if not entirely, devoid of any conceptions of how to advance labor’s cause. It’s affiliates, with few exceptions, are similarly bankrupt.
President Biden was a featured speaker at the AFL-CIO, 29th convention in Philadelphia in June 2022. The convention’s Resolution 16, entitled “Building a Political Movement That Meets the Moment” encapsulates the federation’s central orientation.
Selected portions of the AFL-CIO read:
“Over the past two years, we’ve experienced the firsthand benefits of a pro-worker government, as the Biden-Harris administration and a supportive Congress take steps to create good union jobs, protect our democracy and create a fairer process for forming a union.”
The resolution continued: “Supporting pro-worker candidates is about more than winning elections. It’s about winning our agenda…. We need those in power to protect our right to bargain for a better life and give more working people that very same right….”
In a “critical” note the resolution stated: that the AFL-CIO would “continue to demand that the Democratic National Committee not give money to anti-union or union-busting firms.”!
Today’s labor bureaucrats are tied to the Democratic Party and capitalist politics more than at any time in recent memory. Any break with this deadly alliance is rejected out of hand by labor’s miserable excuse for a leadership even though support for a “third party” is widespread among working people. Socialist Action remains patient advocates of complementing labor’s struggles in the economic arena with the formation of a fighting independent Labor Party in alliance with all the struggles of the oppressed and exploited. Such a fundamental break with the class collaborationist policies of the bureaucracy, however, can only be effectively based on currents that lead important victories on the picket line, that is, at the point of production. Conscious fighters and the currents they lead will prove decisive in labor’s effective entry into the political arena.
Reduced to less than six percent of the private work force, bureaucratically organized and often re-structured in some areas to virtually exclude rank-and-file participation and control, the bureaucracy’s grip on the unions today is near impenetrable. In increasing numbers of unions, participation at often distant union meetings, if they are scheduled at all, is limited to a handful of pie-card officials and an ever diminishing rank-and-file. Real solidarity with striking workers, during the few strikes that do take place, is limited to the rare token picket line “support” by a few bureaucrats, whose role is to press the few militant union leaders who seek to challenge the boss class, to use local politicians posing as “friends of labor,” to press union negotiators to accept inferior contracts as “the best that can be obtained at this time.”
Indeed, what we have written above has been the general state of the labor movement for several decades, with each passing year labor’s power steadily eroded by class collaborationist misleaders.
Despite all this, every poll demonstrates that significant majorities, recently 67 percent, support unions and unionization. Workers today increasingly, understand that the boss class is not their friend and that elementary unity is a pre-requisite to advancing their interests. But the gap between this reality and struggle to re-build, democratize and fundamentally transform and expand the union movement remains massive. We know of no class struggle left wing formations in the unions today. There are no unions seriously engaged in organizing drives that seek to link the interests of working people to the interest of the country’s oppressed nationalities.
The U.S. corporate behemoth, Amazon, among the largest corporations in the world, has but one of its 117 “Fulfillment Centers” (warehouses) unionized. The notion that a single relatively isolated individual, Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls, however honest and dedicated, as was the case with last year’s Amazon collective bargaining election victory in New York’s Staten Island, can launch an effective campaign against the world’s largest retailer mega power, is absurd. Only when serious, revolutionary forces that have won mass followings in struggle and achieved victories, inside the organized labor movement, and outside as well, will the question of a real transformation of the U.S. labor movement be posed. This is not sheer bravado, but a fact of life that runs through the history of the entire labor movement. However important single dedicated individuals may be, unless they are accompanied by the motor force exercised by a democratically-organized and determined rank-and-file willing to storm the heavens until victory, there will be few if any fundamental changes in today’s deeply disoriented labor movement. The conscious participation of revolutionary socialists imbued with this perspective is our staring point.
Our critique of the present labor movement is not to say that there have not been some important exceptions to the norm of stagnation and decline. We have repeatedly noted a new militancy among some public employee unions, especially locals of the AFT, NEA, AFSCME and SEIU, although with few exceptions their leaderships remain tied to the Democratic Party. In recent years, however, teachers have engaged in impressive state-wide or regionally-coordinated strikes that have forced state legislatures to grant important financial concessions when local school board insisted that funds were not available. These were often led by newly-emerged independent forces inside the unions that resisted local and state bureaucrats’ warnings that strikes were “illegal” and could be severely punished. But here too, in most cases, union tops pressed teacher leaders, as an alternative to class struggle, to become engaged in electoral politics, that is, to run teachers for office as Democratic Party candidates.
We have also seen teacher unions, as with the recent AFT-led teacher strike in Minneapolis, champion the cause of non-teaching staff, whose ranks are significantly composed of people of color. Young people in particular have led in unionization efforts at popular food chain outlets like Starbucks and McDonalds, but these too have been largely local efforts, most often devoid of the serious participation of organized labor and having little or no impact on capitalist production, the powerhouse of the capitalist state.
While there has been a slight uptick of strike actions in the private sector, these have most often been defensive battles in response to ever-deepening employer efforts to extract ever more concessions from relatively weak and isolated unions. No strike has galvanized the kind of broad and mass labor and community solidarity sufficient to win important victories that can provide the inspiration for a future labor upsurge. Yet the ruling class’s generalized offensive will inevitable run into likely unexpected struggles wherein experienced forces with established roots fuse with an angry rank-and-file prepared to struggle to win inspiring breakthrough victories.
The lessons of the role of revolutionaries in the 1930s and 1940s including the role of our Trotskyist predecessors during the mass Minneapolis Teamster strikes in 1934, apply with full force today. They began with a handful of conscious militants who won the leadership of mass union forces, closed down the vital trucking industry and related industries, won the hearts and minds of the city’s workers and proceeded make to Minneapolis a union town. Their example paved the way for the unionization of the entire Northwest. This in turn, paved the way for the generalized growth of broad labor movement. The Minneapolis victory, including the implantation of Trotskyist cadre in unions across the country, in time, contributed to the formation, in collaboration with Trotsky, of the Fourth International itself.
The construction of revolutionary socialist Leninist parties
Socialist Action’s perspective has always been to transform our very modest nucleus of revolutionaries into a mass revolutionary socialist Leninist party with a rank-and-file deeply rooted in all the present and future struggle of working people. That has been out uninterrupted reason for being since our formation over four decades ago, during which time we have accumulated invaluable class struggle experiences and won respect from important layers of serious activists. As difficult as the times may sometimes be, that perspective always stands before us, with every modest gain cherished and embraced as a preclude to greater achievements to come.
Our orientation to patient and steady party-building and united front-type mobilizations that demonstrate workers’ power in the streets is key to the our future.
That a working class fightback will in time assume a massive character is undeniable, That experienced revolutionaries – long distance runners – will play a key role in fighting for the movements’ independence and ever-deepening unity is contingent on what revolutionaries do today.
*Tentative statement pending NC/PC discussion in the class nature of North Korea