Against the establishment in 2020

BY:Ezra Xie & T. Gracchus| January 27, 2020
Against the establishment in 2020


Editor’s note: This article responds to the November 2019 discussion question on political independence, working-class leadership, and the fight for democracy.

When the House of Representatives formally passed the articles of impeachment on December 18, the entire media apparatus of the American liberal establishment applauded the votes as a victory of democratic and legal institutions against Trump, a demagogue backed by what was framed as an irrational and untamed mass of rabble. One almost feels that the removal of this “dangerous” president from power is an inevitability. The impeachment was likewise heralded as a victory for the Democratic Party itself, for organizations like the #Resistance and MoveOn, which are its avowed activist organs.

Despite this narrative, the only means deployed by the Democrats on the path to impeachment were those which preserved the primacy of the ​institutions themselves. Instead of calling on the American people, even symbolically, to resist the corruption and criminality of the political establishment, the Democrats resorted to backroom deals and symbolic threats of a removal which is, given the political reality of the GOP-controlled Senate, highly unlikely. This very symbolic action of impeachment is hardly a victory felt by the working masses of America, who are more concerned about their day-to-day work, medical expenses, and rent in an increasingly precarious economy, in which class disparity continues to expand regardless of who occupies the White House.

The unwillingness of the champions of impeachment to call on the American people for support reflects a timidity and fear matched only by the total indifference manifested by the American working masses, an indifference born of long experience with the purely symbolic resistance offered by the official political opposition in Washington, the FBI, and by the officially sanctioned professional “activists” lined up to wait for official awards. Far from a victory of the people, the impeachment process reflects a deeply entrenched political establishment flexing its muscles behind the scenes, using the media to present the results to the American people as a completed fact.

Both parties dislike Trump because he professes to speak for the voiceless masses.

We must not forget that the cause of Trump’s impeachment is not his corruption, his continuation of American imperialism, or his expansion of anti-immigrant violence. Instead, Trump is guilty because he attempted to investigate the corruption of Joe Biden and his son. It is a wonderful coincidence that the entire Democratic Party came to the defense of Biden, a favorite of the centrists’ political machine, just at this moment when Bernie Sanders’ progressive coalition is gaining momentum. Trump’s action, legal or not, is irrelevant to the working class, and is of central concern ​only ​ to the professional-managerial class which is materially and ideologically invested in the redemption of a bankrupt institutional​ ​ order exposed in all its weakness and degeneration by Trump. Sometimes, the professional media class even openly advocates for anti-democratic and anti-popular reforms, dreaming of the days when the Senate was chosen by the elite instead of the people themselves, when the impartial aristocracy of the Senate had not been polluted by mass politics. The political establishment of both parties dislike Trump, not because of his reactionary policies, many of which had already existed in the Bush and Obama years, but because he professes to speak for the voiceless masses, not the technocratic elites.

The working-class movement, meanwhile, to the extent that it strives for its own independent political consciousness, has everywhere exposed the fundamental unity of the bourgeois forces which vie for its votes and influence. It has, in the face of stiff resistance, forced socialists to power as representatives and assembly members across the nation. It has closed ranks in defense of Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when both the Republican right and the Democratic party openly avowed their distaste for their progressive program. It has catapulted Bernie Sanders to the head of the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, brushing aside the old power of the establishment media and party bureaucrats despite their best efforts to portray Sanders’ supporters as extremists, demagogues, or even agents of Russia (not dissimilar to their rhetoric against Trump).

The CPUSA has a proud tradition of the Popular Front.

The true test of the independence of the American working-class movement is its ability to draw its power not from the institutions and their toadying servants but from the American people themselves. The Communist Party USA has a proud tradition of the Popular Front, which united broad sections of the American people from all nations and all political parties. This unity, far from originating in a fretful defense of the establishment, was on the contrary motivated by the overwhelming popular roar of outrage: “Enough is Enough!” The American working class has nothing to gain from an impeachment that in no way advances their interests and indeed is aimed only at shoring up the rapidly decaying political establishment while more and more profits flow up to the oligarchs in Washington and line the pockets of their professional lickspittles. Their professional activists only grease the wheels of official ideology, wheels which the working-class movement consistently reveals to have long since gone off the rails.

Of all the forces facing down Trump, only one can truly be characterized as “popular.” The presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders is not just that of a progressive personality but the backbone of a broad and transformative popular movement led by the working class. Even more important than the advocacy of democratic and progressive policies, which, as we saw in 2008 and 2012, can indeed be praised and championed even by the most rank opportunists, is the extent to which he has thrown in his lot with the American people. Drawing from the American progressive tradition of abolitionism, populism, and socialism, anti-establishment working-class movements, from the Justice Democrats to resurgent union activism to American Descendants of Slavery, allied with Sanders and facing mutual hostilities from the establishment of both parties, are rising from the earth to challenge the dying American liberal institutions. No one understands this better than Sanders himself, whose very campaign slogan is “Not Me, Us!” and who constantly states in public that real changes in history were never won by one individual but rather through concerted popular struggle against the entrenched establishment. No wonder the political elites see “Russian” or “Chinese” influences everywhere, preferring to imagine themselves besieged by foreign powers rather than face down the American working masses who are now rearing their heads for the first time in half a century.

It is and has always been the stated mission of the Communist Party USA, however, to align itself directly and unreservedly with the American working masses, and to aid in the concentration and discipline of the nation’s progressive forces. To this end, the Party should not just campaign for Sanders but must fully immerse itself ​within ​ the progressive and anti-establishment movement for which Sanders is the spokesman. This movement has succeeded in advancing the political confidence, organizational discipline, and class consciousness of the American masses. It has surpassed the liberals’ moralizing and the centrists’ nostalgia, and has founded an opposition to Trump that is instead rooted in the vigor of popular power, ​This ​ national movement of the American people, and not of the degenerating liberal party and institutions, is the ​concrete basis ​ for a genuine and new Popular Front, the true opponent of the oligarchy represented by Trump and the two-party establishment. The Popular Front will be revived from the depths of our national past into a living march of the People, millions strong, united in minds and hearts against the anti-democratic monopoly bourgeoisie, fascist instigators, and professional technocrats. The history and position of the CPUSA allows us to occupy a unique tendency within this wider popular movement, one that will fight for the true political independence of the American working class, which, in turn, freed from the chains of political vacillation, hypocritical moralism, and cowardly institutionalism, will be able to lead the popular movement to victory.




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