BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, October 20 — With the U.S. presidential elections around the corner, college students here held a study-action group to address some questions our friends may be having, mainly, “Can you vote away the ills of capitalism?”
One young woman voted for Barack Obama in 2008 with great zeal. Today she is a PL’er and believes that “when it comes to war and foreign policy, Republicans and Democrats are the same.” Even so, she fears that Republicans will cut funds for family planning and preventative health services for poor and uninsured workers. Actually, Democrat Clinton made the biggest cuts in welfare.
In reality, racist unemployment and sexist healthcare cuts are a daily reality for workers under Obama. Nearly one in three teens is unemployed. The expansion of minimum-wage jobs has lowered wages overall. More than $60 million in cuts have been made to Planned Parenthood. Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center is being shut down, a huge blow to the borough’s majority black and Latino residents and to the hospital’s mainly female workforce. As the Obama administration has demonstrated, these attacks will continue no matter who is president.
The State and Class Dictatorship
The Progressive Labor Party rejects bourgeois democracy, the capitalists’ form of government. As Karl Marx noted, all governments are absolute dictatorships of the class that holds state power. Under bourgeois democracy, the bosses use elections to confuse and distract workers from organizing in their own interests.
Presidential campaigns are one of the rulers’ main tools to hide their brutal control over every aspect of capitalist society, regardless of which party or candidate comes out ahead at the polls. Despite the candidates’ tactical disagreements, a vote for Democrat Barack Obama is essentially no different than a vote for Republican Mitt Romney. Both serve the bosses’ class interests.
In our study group, we considered how elections are both a con game for workers and a method to settle differences for the ruling class. As our friend from Haiti said, “Voting is to keep us in check. They have voting so we don’t revolt.”
Voting is Futile
Nothing frightens capitalists more than workers’ anger. To prevent armed revolt, the bosses channel reform movements into the electoral process, where that anger is neutralized. Whatever gains workers have made are the result of mass organizing against the bosses led by communists, not because of voting. The eight-hour day was enacted after years of strikes in basic industries and the threat of a national railway strike. Communists organized the fight for unemployment insurance and the Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37 which led to the unionization of autoworkers, the basis for decent pay and health care. While reform victories are short-lived, they demonstrate that change — and ultimately communist revolution — can be achieved only through long-term mass struggle.
We asked our friends who have mobilized for Shantel Davis, the 23-year-old black woman executed in June by a Brooklyn kkkop, if we could vote away racist police shootings. They unanimously replied that we could not. They understand that capitalism rules through state-sanctioned, systematic violence to suppress and intimidate workers.
The bosses run our schools, hospitals, and workplaces to squeeze out maximum profit while indoctrinating workers with capitalist ideology. Under their dictatorship, the capitalists own everything — including their puppet politicians, rigged court system, and racist and murderous cops. As the competition between national groups of capitalists sharpens, the bosses need more intensive and massive terror — fascism — to fight broader wars for even more profit.
Elections are like being asked, “Would you prefer to be decapitated or shot in the head?” Communists refuse to choose which politician will be in charge of the next round of layoffs, cuts, wars, and police violence. Our goal is a society where working people run everything for the working class.
Under communism, everyone will be entrusted with the power and responsibility to think, speak out, and act in their class interest. Goods will be produced and distributed according to need. In contrast to bosses’ democracy, communist government demands full and open discussion and criticism. Once a decision is made, collective struggle will put it into practice.
What To Do?
Some of our friends think capitalism can never end: “It’s been around so long. Change is difficult.” Indeed, change is difficult. But mountains turn into soil, your childhood enemy comes to be your best friend, and passive workers become fierce revolutionaries. The question now is how.
The Progressive Labor Party says communist revolution is truly the only solution, and what’s rotten must be destroyed at the root. For that we need millions of workers to unite under the banner of the communist PLP. Every time a worker joins PL, a cop trembles in fear and a capitalist is that much closer to a bullet to the head. Yes, revolution will be violent. What did our friends think of that? They agreed to another study group for further discussion!