The Democratic and Republican primaries offer two different visions of how Corporate America – the US capitalist class – sees a way forward; how they see resolving their problems. Their main problems are increased frustration and anger at home and waning power abroad.
One wing of the US capitalist class – mainly the newly rich – sees the solution as being a reversion to the policies of George Bush, but on steroids. In the main, they are backing the Republicans, and it shows. The Republican primaries can basically be called throwing them red meat – increasingly bloody and aggressive sound bytes. The Democratic “debate” last night put on a display of a more strategic approach.
All the candidates talked about income inequality, the need to raise the minimum wage, paid family leave, etc. In other words, the themes that Bernie Sanders has been concentrating on for months. Alone, Sanders attacked the “billionaire class”, but his proposals weren’t all that different from the others. One thing they all agreed on is the threat posed to the United States by… the Republicans!
The discussion on foreign policy was defining in some ways. The general theme was the necessity of working with “our allies” in the region, which means the different states like Saudi state – one of the most reactionary and repressive ones in the world – and the best way to oppose “Putin”, meaning Russian capitalism. There was a fair bit of discussion on what to do in Syria, but no solution was reached. The reason is that they all – to the very last candidate – see the issue as one of how the different regimes can work out their interests. Not a single candidate sees the working class majority in the region as being the subject, the actors, on the stage of history; for all the candidates the working class majority is just an object of history, just props on the stage.
Take the rise of the Islamic State: Even if it were true that the US were financing it (for which there is no serious evidence), but whatever forces are behind it (and it seems that a section of the Kuwaiti clerical/capitalist class was one of the original financiers), the rise of this form of fascism would not have been possible had there not been the right situation on
the ground. That situation was, mainly, the defeat of the Arab Spring, especially in Syria itself. And what was that revolt in Syria? As one Syrian put it, “this is a revolt of the poor.”
But it’s exactly this that none of the candidates can recognize, because they all represent US capitalism, with the main difference being how to best advance the interests. Of course, there are secondary differences in that some of them – Sanders especially – make demagogic appeals to the anger of millions in the US. “What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have,” as Sanders put it last night, along with his call for a “political revolution.”
But what does that “revolution” amount to? “We need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest,” Sanders said. “If we want free tuition at public colleges and universities, millions of young people are going to have to demand it, and give the Republicans an offer they can’t refuse. If we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, workers are going to have to come together and look the Republicans in the eye, and say, “We know what’s going on. You vote against us, you are out of your job.’”
In other words, “come together”… to vote in more Democrats.
Just a few days before this “debate”, the Wall St. Journal published an article on “America’s Fading Footprint in the Middle East”. They wrote: “As seasoned politicians and diplomats survey the mayhem, they struggle to recall a moment when America counted for so little in the Middle East—and when it was held in such contempt, by friend and foe alike.” The failure of the Bush policy of direct military intervention with or without any support of “our” allies, was proven to be a failure. (All the candidates last night agreed, for example, about how disastrous the invasion of Iraq was.) Corporate America’s installation of Obama in 2008 was as much about reversing that policy, reverting to a policy of “diplomacy”, as anything. That policy has also resulted in further weakening, as the Wall St. Journal article explains. However, it seems unlikely that the mainstream of Corporate America – the US capitalist class – is ready to abandon that approach just yet.
In the future, they will. That is the threat that the Republicans represent, but the Democrats offer no solution either. Not for US capitalism, because there is no solution to their problems. And most certainly not for the US working class. For us, the first step will be to build the movement in the streets and link the various movements together as the tendency for that movement develops to run its own candidates. Candidates who are outside of and opposed to the Republicrat paradigm.