Workers have no side in bosses’ civil war
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 7:25PM

The bitter U.S. midterm elections exposed the all-out battle within the U.S. ruling class—and how far the two main factions may be willing to go as they prepare for fascism and war. Both sides are attacking the liberal democratic trappings of capitalist dictatorship, from the U.S. Senate and Supreme Court to the vote-counting process itself. President Donald Trump called the ballots in Florida “massively infected.” The rulers’ mainstream media are worrying that the U.S. has “arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war” (, 7/31). The New York Times’ Paul Krugman warned of “a growing crisis of legitimacy for the U.S. political system” (11/8).
As U.S. bosses fight among themselves, China’s more united imperialist rulers are positioning themselves to overtake them economically and militarily, from Africa to Latin America. As the Times recently noted in a five-alarm package of articles on China: “An isolated, impoverished backwater has evolved into the most significant rival to the United States since the fall of the Soviet Union” (11/18). From aggressive tariffs (taxes on imports) to rising tensions around Taiwan to a near collision of rival warships in the South China Sea, the two superpowers are charting a collision course for global conflict.
    In periods of crisis, in order to close ranks against outside enemies while bringing workers at home to heel, the capitalists must discipline and unify their own class—by any means necessary. The midterm elections represented their latest clash over how best to keep their lethal profit system afloat. At some point, these disagreements will get bloodier.
Two parties, one capitalist nightmare
For workers, the stakes could not be higher. The U.S. bosses—Republicans or Democrats, open gutter racists or lying liberal misleaders—have nothing to offer us but racism, poverty, fascism, and imperialist war. Like fellow mass murderers George W. Bush and Barack Obama, or Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, they are two sides of the same nightmare. But in the absence of a world-wide communist movement, workers are vulnerable to the false ideology of voting as the road to social change. On November 6, the horrific racist policies of Trump and the Republikkkan Party led tens of millions to try to find something better.
Though only 47 percent of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot, it still marked the highest turnout for a U.S. midterm since 1966 (, 11/8). There were 36 percent more voters under 30 than in 2014 (, 11/8). Electoral enthusiasm spells progress for the bosses: “’When you have two Muslim-American women in Congress, suddenly every young Muslim-American woman sees that as a possibility,’ said Sayu Bhojwani, president of New American Leaders, an organization that helps immigrants run for public office” (NYT, 10/31). As the New York Times gloated, “Democracy did remarkably well last week” (11/14).
But there is no lesser evil under capitalism—only profit-driven evil. Capitalism cannot be reformed or voted into providing a decent life for workers. Only a communist revolution can stop racism, sexism, mass unemployment, and imperialist war. Only a communist society, run by and for workers, without money or profit, can serve the needs of the international working class.
There are no good bosses  
The international main wing of the U.S. ruling class is centered in finance capital and multinational corporations like JPMorgan Chase and ExxonMobil. It is predominantly represented by the Democratic Party, alongside billionaires like George Soros and Warren Buffett. The main wing derives much of its profit from multilateral trade and imperialist control over labor, markets, and cheap Middle Eastern oil. To defend their interests, these bosses need military alliances, and a mass, multiracial U.S. military—including immigrant troops—to fight an inevitable World War III. In general, they would prefer fascism with a liberal, “democratic” cast, to contain workers’ anger within the electoral system.  
The smaller, nationalist wing makes most of its money from domestically based industry. More focused on short-term profits, they oppose paying extra taxes to prepare the U.S. for a leading role in the next global war. Their strategy is to establish a “Fortress America”—a more contained, less ambitious world power. Backed by billionaires like the Koch and Mercer families, these bosses have used Trump and his white supremacist base to advance their agenda and withdraw from entangling, costly agreements like the Paris climate accord. They would use Nazi-style fascism as the way to discipline workers to accept whatever sacrifices are required as economic and political pressures intensify.
But while there are important differences among the bosses, and the political stooges who front for them, there are no good bosses. Ayanna Pressley, soon to become the first Black woman in Congress from Massachusetts, stumped for the arch-racist Hillary Clinton in 2016 (Boston Globe, 1/31). “Progressive” winning candidates like Ilhan Omar and the “fake “socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on abolishing the gestapo-like Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Within a week of their election, they were already retracting their pledge (CBS News, 11/12). They know that the racist abuse of immigrants is fundamental to U.S. capitalism. Case in point: their political forebear, Obama, who deported more than 3 million men, women, and children.
Bosses’ infighting, racists’ terror
The main wing owns significantly more resources and grassroots support. Yet after the October confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the domestic wing held all four centers of political power: the White House, both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court. This unprecedented situation sparked vicious infighting. The bosses’ liberal democracy seemed off-balance, unstable, even unsustainable.
But after the “blue wave” that swung the House of Representatives back to the Democrats, and peeled off millions of white women and suburbanites who had backed Trump in 2016, it seems more likely that the main wing could recapture the White House and possibly the Senate in 2020. Post-Trump, the Republican Party might be reclaimed as the loyal opposition. Two-party electoral democracy might continue to serve the dominant imperialists’ purpose, at least for a while longer.
It’s another question entirely whether the domestic wing will be willing to take a back seat again—or whether Trump’s angry, racist base will continue to play by the rules. On November 9, a fervent Trump supporter named Cesar Sayoc was charged with mailing homemade bombs to 13 individuals or companies associated with the main wing, including Obama, Soros, and the TV network CNN. As Sayoc’s former lawyer said, Trump “welcomed all extremists, all outsiders, all outliers, and [Sayoc] felt that somebody was finally talking to him” (Washington Post, 10/29).
This was not an isolated case. Since the summer of 2015, when Trump’s presidential campaign took off, more than a dozen of his known backers have planned or committed acts of racist terror (, 10/27). More generally, the number of terror-related incidents in the U.S. have more than tripled since 2013:
In 2017, there were 65 incidents totaling 95 deaths. In a recent analysis of the data by the news site Quartz, roughly 60 percent of those incidents were driven by racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, antigovernment or other right-wing ideologies. Left-wing ideologies, like radical environmentalism, were responsible for 11 attacks. Muslim extremists committed just seven attacks (NYT, 11/3).
In mid-November, in Pasco County, Florida, investigators “seized 110 illegal weapons including a rocket launcher and two functional pipe bombs … and indicted 39 members or associates of Florida white supremacist gangs” (, 11/18).
Class struggle, not bosses’ struggles
Both wings of the ruling class want political loyalty from masses of workers, and will stop at nothing to get it. While Trump’s open racism is abhorrent, the main wing bosses are not the answer. For them, “fighting racism” is about neutralizing real struggle while building patriotism en route to inter-imperialist war.
Progressive Labor Party has a different plan.  We seek to organize sharp and principled anti-racist class struggle on the road to smashing capitalism. Our only ally in this fight is the international working class. Join us!

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (
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