Note: This pamphlet was written in 1996, during the Clinton and Dole presidential campaign. Today in 2004, the ruling class is holding its every four year circus. Workers and youth are now presented with Kerry as the answer to Bush.
The anti-war movement, with its line of "Anyone But Bush," is basically behind Kerry even though most people see that Kerry is as much for the Iraq war as Bush. Their differences are tactical: Kerry wants a UN figleaf for the war, while asking for 40,000 more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq.
Both Bush and Kerry defend the plans by Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, etc. to control Iraq and the flow of oil profits from the Middle East. Both support the need for U.S. imperialism to maintain world domination controlling the oil rich Middle East. So the elections become a fight among sections of the ruling class over tactics of how to keep U.S. imperialism as the top dog in the imperialist world.
The Big Con, though pointing out the similarities between Cole and Clinton, failed to emphasize the tactical differences among the bosses, which sometimes become very sharp, as it is the case today in the case of Bush-Kerry. The pamphlet failed to address the fact that the ruling class uses the elections to fight out their contradictions short of civil war, and took the old line that basically there was no difference between the Democrat and Republican candidates. While that is true strategically, tactically there are a lot of differences among the candidates.
Historically, the great danger to the Left and the working class is the "lesser of two evils" illusion, the notion that the working class and its communist party should unite with "lesser evil" capitalists against the "greater evil" or "fascist" capitalists. The Bolsheviks and the Communist International adopted that line, the "United Front Against Fascism" line, in the mid-1930s. It proved to be an utter loser everywhere, and led the communist movement to stop fighting for communist revolution.
Stalin, the Bolsheviks, and the Comintern were blazing new trails. No other communist revolution had ever taken place. They had some excuse for making this error. The communist movement of today has none. The "liberals" remain, strategically, the greatest danger to the working class.
- July 2004
The bosses tell us we live in the most democratic country in the world. They tell us that through the sacred act of voting in elections our voices are heard. The bosses push voting and elections with slogans like, "choose or lose" and "rock the vote". We hear it from MTV, NAACP, schools, churches, PTAs, and the mass media, all trying to make us think we can change our lives by walking into a voting booth and pulling a lever.
First only rich white male land owners voted, then most men, then women, and finally black workers in the South. After 220 years most workers, except immigrants, have the ability to vote in the bosses' elections. The result of all this voting? We live in a society where racist cops terrorize our cities, where one in three young black men is in the criminal justice system, where black churches burn, where women suffer degrading sexism, and bosses' wars for profit threaten the lives of our youth. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference if Clinton, Dole, Powell or Perot, is President, or if the Governor or Mayor is black, latin, or white. We still have capitalism.
Is this brutal oppression what workers voted for? Not on your life. But this is what we've gotten and will continue to get as long as we line up and march passively into the capitalist's voting booths. Voting is just picking your poison - strychnine, arsenic, or cyanide.
As Karl Marx said "Every few years workers are given the opportunity to choose amongst their oppressors to decide who will represent and repress them."
Well, we say to the bosses, "No thanks!" We will not choose which of your political parties will be in charge when the next round of world war, layoffs, welfare cuts, or police violence hits. We don't need your democracy. We need communism. Our class, the working class, will take power in a communist revolution under the leadership of our Party, Progressive Labor Party (PLP).
Under capitalism, the government and elections are controlled by the capitalist class, the rich rulers who control the factories, mines, mills, and offices. They use all electoral parties, Democratic, Republican and other parties, to maintain their profit system. Their interests are directly opposed to our interests, the well being of the working class. Our labor produces all goods and services, all value, and creates the profit they steal. No matter who we vote for, they still own everything and control what we produce. To change this we need communist revolution, then we make these decisions. It's either us or them.
If the elected officials are just front men for the ruling class, who is really in charge? The richest and most powerful industrialists and bankers run capitalist countries. In the U.S. they rule through two powerful committees, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Tri-Lateral Commission (TLC). The CFR is headed by a Rockefeller or someone similar. It contains the CEO's of the largest corporations and banks, all present and future candidates for U.S. President as well as virtually all cabinet members. Big generals like Colin Powell are also members as are the Federal Reserve Bank governors. When Nixon was President, 110 members of his Administration were members of the CFR and took their orders from it. Half of Reagan's cabinet came from the CFR. Carter, Mondale and Bush were all members as is Clinton and his entire cabinet. All the top brass of the media, from right-wing to liberal, are in the CFR.
The CFR makes major decisions on the use of the U.S. military and economic power. They set policy on the U.S. entry into World War II, Vietnam and other conflicts. They decide U.S. policy on the Middle East, China, Europe, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Sharp differences may very well break out in the CFR, but eventually one group of capitalists and their henchmen dominate. Then all CFR members must carry out these policies from whatever position they hold, in and out of the government.
The Tri-Lateral Commission (TLC) is the CFR on an international level. It was organized in 1973 by David Rockefeller and includes the U.S. and Canada, Western Europe and Japan. It grew out of a need for collaboration among the leading capitalist powers. It tries to settle disputes peacefully, but again, it is subject to the decisions of whatever group proves the most powerful. It is inevitable that these profit thirsty bosses will not settle all arguments peacefully. Imperialist war is their only solution.
If the bosses control both parties and the whole election process, why do they have them? Why spend millions and even billions on elections when the outcome is predictable: bosses win, workers lose? There are two main reasons. 1) Elections are held to distract us and make us think we have a say in what goes on, that we can reform capitalism or improve our lives by voting. 2) The bosses use elections is to settle their own disagreements.
Elections are a diversion for workers who desperately want to fight for a better world. Instead of taking direct militant or armed action against the system, workers are suckered into trying to reform capitalism by voting for "better" candidates. They try to convince workers that the Democratic party or black, latin, or other minority politicians will save them. If we recruit just 10% of these workers to the communist Progressive Labor Party, the world will be a very different place.
In the U.S., the bosses pose the Democratic Party as the workers representatives, opposing them to the ultra-right Republicans. Many think they are the lesser of two evils, but you'll need a microscope to see the difference. In other countries, other parties play this fake pro-worker role. In Mexico its the PRD, the FMLN in El Salvador, the Labor Party in Britain, and in India it's the Congress Party. What have the Democrats done?
Clinton made endless promises to workers to get elected. As soon as he won, the got NAFTA and GATT passed to better exploit workers in Mexico and other countries and drag down conditions of U.S. workers. He didn't pass a jobs program nor anti-scab legislation. He put 100,000 more cops on the street to break strikes and brutalize non-white workers. He broke a railroad strike. He has endorsed the destruction of welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. He worked with a Democratic congress from 1992-1994, and then with the Republicans to pass a budget that eliminated 254 social programs, and a $20 billion bailout of Wall Street bankers' investments in Mexico during the latter's financial crisis. He invaded Haiti and Bosnia, continued Bush's invasion of Somalia to stabilize that country for the benefit of Conoco Oil, bombed Iraq twice, and is preparing us for war against Iran. It is clear that the Democratic Party serves the bosses, not workers. If the Democrats are no good, are black and latin politicians any better?
Many workers no longer trust Democrats like Clinton and think they should "elect one of their own" to public office to improve things for "their people". Yet all the elected black and Latin politicians supported layoffs and balanced budgets on the backs of the workers in order to pay off the banks. Black politicians, virtually all Democrats, have supported policies which increased the jailing and police murder of young black men. This is the job of all elected officials under capitalism.
In New York City, Dinkins (like other black politicians) cut all social programs while increasing money for more cops. Marion Barry, mayor of Washington, D.C., is dishing out one of the most vicious attacks on black working class people in recent memory. Carol Mosely-Braun, junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, has consistently cast pro-business, anti-working class votes. When the late Ron Brown hit a mountain in Bosnia, he was leading an imperialist investment mission to Yugoslavia on behalf of the biggest U.S. corporations.
In spite of tens of thousands of minority politicians in office, there is more racism and racist unemployment than ever. This is because racism is necessary for the capitalists to make maximum profit.
Some say the height of black representation was the election of Mandela to the presidency of South Africa. No sooner was he elected then he defended the right to private property. He s a "born again" capitalist. He tells workers to stop striking, to stop demanding higher wages, to wait for a better life. He begs foreign capitalists to invest heavily in South Africa even though their profits will be taken out of the hides of black and white workers in South Africa. The face at the top changed, but the capitalist story is the same.
The "race" or nationality of a politician is never any guarantee that he/she will serve the workers. Around the world people in impoverished nations are exploited by "one of their own". Immense poverty in Mexico is presided over by Mexicans. India, the world's most populous democracy, has so much poverty that ten million women and girls have been forced into prostitution. The right to vote for Indian politicians hasn't helped.
The bosses channel all reform movements into the electoral process. The potential for revolutionary fervor is stuffed into ballot boxes. This includes trade unions, environmentalists, health care reformers, the NAACP, NOW, and many groups which claim to be against racism and sexism. The bosses will even create a reform movement where none exists when they have to distract angry workers attention from taking direct armed action. Now they are even creating new political parties, the Perot party, the Green party, and more to come as the old parties are discredited.
Some of the best vote pushers are the trade union leaders. The AFL-CIO honchos tell us to re-elect the same Clinton Democratic gang that spent the last four years passing more anti-labor legislation than any president in the last 50 years. They're using workers' money to mount campaigns and send out youth organizers to get out the vote to put Clinton back with a Democratic Congress. They support the capitalist profit system which requires $400 billion worth of corporate welfare, mass unemployment, falling wages, massive downsizing and war.
Those bosses who have the most money, power, and influence are better able to finance and support a candidate who will win the election and carry out their policies. Elections can become the battleground when groups of bosses disagree. The bosses' tactics for maintaining power vary, but they all agree on maintaining a profit system. Some realize that they must sometimes sacrifice short-run profits in the interest of long-range stability. Others want to make a quick buck and don't worry about the long-range effects.
These differences cause fights between bosses in different industries and even within industries. For example, the recent battle over the cost of health care was waged between large corporations and large insurance companies. Both the health insurance industry and corporations are against the tobacco industry because smoking creates health problems that cost some bosses money.
Sometimes the struggle between different groups within the ruling class plays out in political scandals. Watergate is an example. The Nixon administration, backed by the bosses from the Southwestern and Western U.S., was trying to get "dirt" on their Democratic opponents to give themselves political control. The Rockefeller dominated eastern establishment were out to maintain their supremacy over their Sun Belt challengers.
The Rockefeller forces won out, dumped Nixon, installed Nelson Rockefeller as vice-president and worked through Ford as President until Carter, a long time CFR member, was elected in `76.
So, when differences persist, or a group of rulers rebels, the elections become the battleground. And if one group does not like the outcome of the elections, they will organize a counter-offensive
When these techniques fail sections of the ruling class have resorted to violence and assassinated presidents. The assassination of JFK was the most recent, a result of the battle between old money on the east coast, and up and coming capitalists in the south and west.
Probably the sharpest difference between U.S. bosses was reflected over the future of slavery in the South. The slave owners wanted to maintain slave labor to produce cotton. But the Northern bosses wanted wage labor; that would bring them the biggest profits in their capitalist industries. That clash led to armed conflict, the Civil War. Exploitation of wage labor, rather than slave labor, won out.
Many of the economic problems which exist in the U.S. today prevailed in 1933 Germany. A "free election" was held. Over 13 million voted for the communists and social democrats. Eleven million voted for Hitler. The German president von Hindenburg then handed over the government to Hitler and his "minority" Nazi party. You know the rest; the Nazis established the most terrorist bosses' dictatorship the world had seen up until that time.
This is not the exception but the rule under capitalism. When it appears that workers have elected an anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist government, the bosses simply nullify the elections with armed force and install fascism. In Iran in 1953, in Guatemala in 1954 and in Chile in 1973, the U.S. CIA directed the violent overthrow of elected governments and helped install fascist dictatorship.
Finally, when workers ignore their elected officials and take direct action, the bosses combine the force of the police and army with elections to divert their struggle back within capitalism's rules. In France in 1968, ten million industrial and government workers organized a general strike and shut down the country. After appealing to the German bosses to prepare to send in the German tank corps, the bosses' president DeGaulle made a deal with the fake Communist Party to convince the workers to end the strike in favor of a new election.
The bosses don't merely maintain democracy and then resort to fascism when the going gets tough. They use democracy and fascism SIMULTANEOUSLY. While some workers may feel slightly better off with steady jobs, adequate food, clothing and shelter, tens of millions of others suffer chronic unemployment, no medical insurance, and police terror. This is especially true in the mainly non-white inner cities with prison-like schools, drug-infested neighborhoods, minimum-wage poverty jobs, and racism in every area of life. For millions of workers in the world, fascism is a daily part of life.
PLP has never and will never encourage workers to vote for the lesser of two evils. We have confidence in the working class and we know that the leaders of communist society will come from those ranks. We can't stop fascism from happening. but that doesn't mean that we should be afraid. Fascism is a stage of capitalism. And during this stage the Party will continue to grow. Even under the extreme repression of fascism our class will continue to fight for communism. How well we conduct the fight in the future is directly connected to how we build the party today.
The bosses are always having peace talks but when their profits are threatened they will resort to war. When workers refuse to make sacrifices for profits the bosses use cops, scabs, injunctions, the National Guard and the Army to whip the working class back into line. They also use force to force weaker bosses to go along with the most powerful. They must streamline their decision making process so they stop fooling around with expensive elections.
World Wars I and II were both caused by different capitalists who wanted a bigger piece of world markets. In Vietnam, first the French and later the U.S. wanted to maintain Southeast Asia as their turf. In Panama, the Gulf War and in Somalia, U.S. rulers wanted to maintain control over a strategic area or resource like oil.
In all these wars it didn't matter whether the Democrats (two world wars and Vietnam) or the Republicans (Panama, Gulf, Somalia) were in the White House. War and fascism are the two main "solutions" for fights among capitalist profiteers.
Workers don't need a "two-party" system which serves only the bosses. Workers need only one party, the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party which serves the needs and aspirations of our class, the working class. PLP is organizing in ten countries on four continents to destroy the bosses and their profit system. We will establish a communist society, led by our class's communist party - composed of hundreds of millions of workers, students, soldiers and sailors - eventually everyone on the planet.
Communist revolution means that the working class, led by its communist party, takes power from the capitalist class. We will run society for the benefit of all workers. No longer will the tiny capitalist class decide the types and quantities of goods that we must make. No longer will all production be for profit. The working class will own everything and decide through its communist party what and how much to produce and distribute it according to need. The needs of the working class around the world will be the basis for these decisions. We will end racism, sexism, and imperialist war which the bosses create and use to divide and control us to maximize their profits. There will be no more rich and no more poor.
We will do away with the democracy forced on us by a profit system designed to exploit us. We will answer the bosses' dictatorship of capitalism with a workers' dictatorship designed to abolish all forms of capitalism and the ideas it fosters - greed, selfishness, "look out for number one."
We will be free to fully participate in the process of making society the best it can be for the entire working class. Our efforts will not be limited by ideas like nationalism, patriotism or racism. These promote the attitude "me for mine". Communism means promoting the idea of "us for ours". Where the "us" is the international working class and all that is produced is ours to distribute as the Party sees fit.
In communist society there won't be elections to choose leaders. There will be only one party, because workers everywhere (unlike the bosses) all have a common interest. This party will make and carry out all policy decisions collectively, in a centralized way. The choice of leaders -- both individuals and collectives -- will be made the same way it is in the Progressive Labor Party today.
Like all decisions, assignments to leadership positions will be made on the basis of politics, not popularity or chance. Everyone is not the same: there is uneven development here, as everywhere else. There are many different tasks involved in building the Party today. These will expand as the movement grows, and especially after we take power. Not everyone will carry out all of these tasks, but everyone will be encouraged to contribute as best they can, according to their commitment to communism.
Leadership decisions will be based primarily on demonstrated commitment and political skill, taking into account particular strengths and weaknesses and the needs of the Party as a whole. Who will decide these things? The existing leadership, based on their own observations of the comrades in question, and on the opinions of others who have worked with them.
Under capitalism and other forms of class society, those who spend more years in school and who do better there are considered to have greater "leadership potential." With few exceptions, this generally means people who come from wealthier families to begin with.
Communists, in contrast, pay special attention to bringing workers into leadership positions. Experience in the class struggle, lifetime familiarity with the needs of the working class, is far more important for those who would serve the people than any amount of book-learning. Those workers most oppressed by capitalism, black, latin and women workers, are especially chosen to be developed as leaders because they bring with them the experience of super-exploitation.
Communist leadership does not bring with it privilege and prestige, as it does in capitalist and socialist societies. It brings added responsibility. The responsibility of leading the Party to put the needs of the working class, the fight for communism, above all else
Do you think we can vote in a society like this? Hell no! The bosses will fight us tooth and nail. The only way for the working class to take power is through armed, violent revolution. There is no way to sugar coat it.
The bosses will tell us that they are all-powerful; that capitalism is "human nature"; that they can't be overthrown. Every worker and youth who becomes a communist, who joins PLP , proves that this is a lie. When you join and build PLP you are planting the seeds of our communist future. The more seeds, the sooner the flower of revolution will destroy the rotting profit system and encircle the globe.