Workers, not bourgeois politicians, define the struggle

BY:Maicol David Lynch| February 7, 2020
Workers, not bourgeois politicians, define the struggle


Editor’s note: The following is a response to “Liberalism Hinders Working-Class Leadership” (Denny), continuing the  November 2019 discussion question on political independence, working-class leadership, and the fight for democracy.

The Communist Party USA since its foundation nearly 101 years ago has maintained working-class leadership and a working-class revolutionary worldview unique from any other political party in the country. With that said, our short-term strategy and tactics have come under fire from many on the left who do not understand the nature of the U.S. working class and the immediate struggles at hand.

For example, the terms “progressive,” “social democratic,” “socialist,” and “communist” are hardly understood outside the leftist bubble that we oftentimes forget that we live in. The masses of working Americans are indeed frustrated with the two-party system, hence the election of Trump in 2016, but they are by no means demanding a violent overthrow of the government in favor of a Soviet-style socialist system. Let’s be clear: Americans are demanding universal healthcare, affordable or free college education, jobs, an end to war and imperialism, etc. These are reforms that could well be achieved under a progressive government, but it’s important to remember that universal healthcare and the “welfare state” have also been held up by liberal and social democratic governments in Europe.

Comrade Denny rightfully points out in his response to this question that “liberalism hinders working class leadership,” but why stop there? And are liberals the primary enemy of the U.S. working class right now? No. Conservatism and fascism also fit the category of anti-worker political ideologies, and it is the GOP/Trump administration fascist danger which is threatening the advancement of democracy and pro-labor/pro-people reforms.

It’s also important to remember that the term “liberal” is a moving target. Simón Bolívar, the liberal founding father of 19th-century Gran Colombia (which includes modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama), predated Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the ideals of socialist revolution. But his legacy continues to inspire leftist movements in Latin America, from the Chavista-led Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela to the left-wing Marxist guerillas known as FARC in Colombia.

Also, most progressive union leaders and American working-class voters tend to self-identify as “liberal,” although they may be 100% for Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the socialist-oriented reforms they stand for. Labels can be very dangerous when building a mass movement for socialism, especially in the United States where terms like “social democrat,” “socialist,” and “communist” are still not widely understood by the majority of hard-working Americans.

So what is our job? We must continue to play a leadership role in the wider movement against Trump and the extreme right. We can do so while building the party and pushing workers to unite around the issues where they can then be organized and radicalized: unity, education, and solidarity are key to the movements’ success, after all. We cannot get lost in labels or in individual liberal or conservative candidates, since the struggle will continue long after Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump go to the grave. Does voting for a liberal or progressive Democrat in the November elections make us any less “communist” than someone who stays home waiting for violent revolution to break out tomorrow? No, it just means we are living in reality. After all, the Soviet Union allied itself with the capitalist powers led by (liberal) Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the USA and (conservative) Winston Churchill in Britain, yet the Soviets never surrendered their Marxist-Leninist worldview despite working with non-communist forces to defeat fascism to achieve immediate gains for a much longer-term survival of socialism. If the Soviet Union could do it, why can’t we? Trump and the GOP will not be ousted any other way except for at the polls in November. We must remember this!

Movements are built around issues and ideas, so let the struggle in this “socialist moment” be our guide to achieving permanent working-class leadership in this country. Let’s not give the establishment Democrats that much power over defining what the struggle represents for the masses of working Americans. Let’s make the struggle our own! As Gus Hall, the former secretary-general of the CPUSA, once stated, “We must remember that this is bourgeois politics, not socialist politics.” We can’t expect the 2020 presidential candidates to represent our long-term goals for socialism in this country, but we can rally with the masses of working Americans to defeat the extreme right in November and therefore lay the foundations for a more democratic and socialist future. Together, we shall overcome!

Image: Amanda Hirsch, Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0.


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