And the US midterm elections
The 2018 US elections demonstrate the deepening crisis of US imperialism as well as the lengths it will go to in order to preserve itself. The decaying order of the old State, in its growing desperation, has to try on “new” masks in order to maintain the appearance of legitimacy. Politics that seem unusual can be a successful gambit on the part of the ruling class to draw more voters into its trap, a counterinsurgency mechanism it desperately needs. In such conditions the importance of election boycotts and agitation around the revolutionary politics of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, cannot be understated.
In a recent article in the theoretical journal Struggle Sessions on the topic of social fascism, it was explained that in such moments of crisis the US imperialist class will reach out for things that stable capitalism in the US typically sees as too far from establishment politics. We aim to bring this home by analyzing the 2018 elections and the maneuvers of the two main bourgeois parties. For the Republican Party this means more open adherence to their proto-fascist ideas and a more aggressive pursuit of fascist policy. Their rhetoric is in some cases pulled straight from the “white genocide” fearmongering of the “alt-right” fascists, as they attempt to appeal to the white labor aristocracy and petty bourgeoisie, who constantly fear displacement. They attempt to frame basic economic issues—that is to say the effect that the crisis of imperialism is having internally in the world’s largest imperialist superpower—not as a problem of imperialism itself, but as an identity-based issue. They portray all problems as an example of power slipping from the old white boys’ club, and the Democratic Party is too happy to make use of this angle by propagating their own response in the form of intersectional imperialism.
Trump’s approval rating, even according to bourgeois estimates, is in the 30th percentile; however, this number is not established with any real social investigation among the majority of people, who are not registered to vote. Going among the masses would put the approval rating considerably lower. His approval is the highest is among white and wealthy demographics, and this forces the Republican Party to double down on its racist rhetoric in the conventional sense. It compels them to use what worked in the Trump campaign to attempt to appeal to the populist fascist sentiment among mainly white Christian men and to a lesser degree women from the same demographic. It compels them to keep up their “radical” “anti-establishment” façade. The rise of fascism in the US is becoming increasingly apparent. The ruling class is not fundamentally united regarding its method of rule; those most early to panic are the very same ones making fascist policy and fascist appeals to a growing organized fascist base among sections of the masses. This includes Trump’s public sympathies with the fascists of Charlottesville, the family separation policy, the use of ICE as SA troops, and the use of border patrol as its SS—deployed to terrorize and torment people near the US-Mexico border. This grim reality only feeds the desperate back into the arms of the Democratic Party, an organization that has never been anything but anti-people. In short, crisis has compelled the Republicans to increase their flirtation with fascism, largely to the benefit of their twins, the Democrats.
Diversity, for the imperialist class
The Democratic Party, having run a total caricature of an establishment candidate in the last presidential election, is also entrenching itself further into its position, with only slight modification. Their use of identity politics, whose goal was to make the identities of their candidates void out their politics, failed them in the presidential elections. The masses, fed up with the imperialist-imposed crisis, were looking for anything but an establishment candidate. And what did the Democrats do but bank on Hillary Clinton, the most establishment candidate they could find—and then highlight the fact that she is a woman! This somehow made her meaningfully different according to them. Throughout the 2016 presidential elections the Democratic Party highlighted Clinton’s gender as her major selling point over and over again, deaf to the fact that even those who do vote (a small minority of people) still found her nauseating, playing into to Trump’s fake “anti-establishment” campaigning.
The Democrats then switched to conspiracy-mongering more typical of the Republicans by incessantly howling about the specter of Russian interference. This switching of tactics is not uncommon for the ruling-class parties, as in essence they are alike, representing identical class interests. What the Democratic Party has adjusted is its tolerance for “anti-establishment” candidates. Unlike many who vote Democrat, the party itself is well aware that many who supported Sanders went to the Trump camp on this basis. The fascists and social democrats are but two sides of the same coin, and the imperialist bourgeoisie polish this coin in crisis. So we enter the period where the mainstream parties will increasingly flirt with their respective kinks: for the Republicans this is proto-fascism proper; for the Democrats it is proto–social democracy, otherwise known as social fascism. Both achieve a certain clearing of the way, a transitional period for fascism proper to make use of. Both are a harbinger of the most sickening future.
While doubling down on its diverse and colorful imperialism and at the same time flirting with aspects of social democracy and tolerating candidates they normally would not, the Democrats have presented voters with a buffet of candidates appealing to marginalized identity: they boast the first trans woman candidate for Senate, from Vermont; the first Muslim woman candidate, from Michigan; the first native woman, from New Mexico—it goes on and on, including candidates running not only on race and gender but on the basis of sexuality as well. As if changing the identities of individual administrators of the ruling class can at all alter class identity of Congress and the State.
The Democratic Party understands its long history of coopting legitimate people’s struggles and delegitimizing them. It believes that if US imperialism is to overcome its current crisis it must embrace diversity, identity politics, and postmodernism: it must become intersectional imperialism. They have done this in the military and applauded the Israeli publicity stunts that promote a gay and vegan version of their fascist settler agenda; as long as it’s vegan gays helping carry out genocide, they can still call it “progressive.” The idea that those murdered, imprisoned, and abused will somehow feel better if their jailer or killer is transgender/native/Muslim (etc.) is particularly hard to stomach as Democratic Party shills keep up what they have always been telling the people: this time it’s different. We heard the same thing when promised a Black, Democratic president—one who, once in power, bombed more countries and deported more people than his white Republican predecessor. Identity politics have been the con of the Democrats for quite some time; they are just improving the scam.
Improving the scam means accepting not only the fact that the youth, who they hope to tap into since the Republicans hope to tap into the elderly voters, have been steeped in identity politics, on both the right and slightly left of the right, but also the fact that younger voters proved willing to jump ship on transparently establishment candidates. The Democrats are forced to fake it and make concessions to the social democrats.
This is most remarkably exemplified in Ocasio-Cortez, who not only fits the criteria for a diverse imperialism, but also claims to be a “democratic socialist.” The Democratic Party offering space inside of itself to a Democratic Socialists of America caucus is further evidence of this despair-driven trend of ploys to recuperate votes for a totally bankrupt party. If the 2016 presidential elections did not forever stain and expose the total uselessness of the Democrats, nothing will. The result will likely be that the DSA will grow in the next five to ten years to contend with the Democrats, if the Democrats do not assimilate it into their ranks to better control it. This will result in a line struggle internal to all DSA branches. The majority, more right-wing than even the rest of the organization, is pushing for liquidation into the Democratic Party—but both sides are aiding in rehabbing the public image of the decaying old Democratic Party.
As the Republicans dust off Nazi-esque propaganda relics, which pose the “other” as shady criminal immigrants set to prey on “stable” white Americans, they have not in essence broken with the classic Nazi scapegoating of Jews. This time, it’s framed in terms of propaganda about “Hollywood” (a code word for Jews) controlling the government through elections. Of course, in capitalist society all major media is controlled by the ruling imperialist class or their compradors. This fearmongering about Hollywood Jews is not far off from the far-right conspiracy theories of “reptilian overlords” and a “Zionist Occupied Government”.
The Democrats on the other hand merely seek to whitewash imperialism’s crimes against the world in order to stabilize it so it can continue extracting superprofits from the most oppressed. This is one respect in which social democracy clearly serves imperialism’s purposes, helping it appeal to labor aristocrats and the lower petty bourgeoisie, who rely on these superprofits to maintain a certain mode of life as well as the worldview that comes with it.
By keeping up their “anti-establishment” disguise the Democrats have been able to turn an election that would normally be a lost cause into a close race between Robert Francis O’Rourke and Ted Cruz, two imperialist monsters. One is a white-bread gringo rich kid who assisted in the gentrification and displacement of barrios in El Paso and is a firm supporter of Israel’s militarized fascist borders; the other is a gusano Cuban American whose family has long been in service of US imperialism, going back to the days of the reactionary comprador Batista regime. Where the Democrats have attempted to brown-wash O’Rourke by popularizing the nickname “Beto,” which was bestowed upon him by a Latin American house servant, Cruz is a white man of Cuban ancestry—both are alike in their parties’ pandering to their respective identity-politicking con games.
Another word on identity politics and postmodernism
Identity politics and its parent, postmodernism, are bourgeois inventions and bourgeois devices that are in essence anti-Communism and objectively in the category of fascist social conditioning. Not only are these devices concretely used to divide various oppressed sections of the masses and turn worker against worker, but the CIA’s shady history with French philosophy shows that they are also consciously employed by imperialism because they offer imperialism a tangible benefit.
Sometimes identity politics and postmodernism are offered to the left, with the main purpose of replacing Marxism, which is a major threat to the ruling class. In other instances they are deployed to appeal to the right and are in this case deployed inversely, not to compete with Marxism, but to spread fears of “cultural Marxism.” The right conflate Marxism with the very ideas they espouse when utilizing postmodernism, in an effort to propagate a conception of power that sees it as diffused, in order to take the blame off the State. Once more, the Democrats oblige the Republicans with a shifting of the matter onto “cultural” problems that they claim can be solved culturally, in order to prevent concerted attacks against capitalism. The Republicans are happy to parrot their version of this narrative when blaming Black culture, foreign culture, and so on to spread jingoism and reactionary nationalism and capitalize on the fears of those who maintain a settler-colonial ideology and mode of life. The problems become spiritual problems and are no longer the result of exploitation by capitalism. The so-called left and the right unite on this platform, making their disagreements nothing more than a circus, a red herring. Democrat and Republican unity against the proletariat and the people of the Third World is uncompromised, the workers of the world being their greater enemy. When it comes to “spreading democracy” (bombing and plundering the oppressed nations), they might disagree on methods but are unified in their objectives.
All revolutionary politics are anti-imperialist, and it becomes crucial to understand that if any politics, even reformist politics, in an imperialist country are to be considered progressive, then the measure for progress can only be whether or not the politics are anti-imperialist. Feeding labor aristocratic workers the superprofits of imperialism more equitably is not “progressive”—it is reactionary. Highlighting identity to safeguard imperialism’s ability to subjugate and plunder the entire world is not “progressive”—it is reactionary. The major bourgeois parties are united to accomplish this, and just play to different identities to do it, dressing it up in different language. Postmodernism, having been spurred on by the CIA, has firmly entrenched itself in academia in the US, to the point where it is almost seen as “common sense.” One of the key maneuvers of postmodernism is its overemphasis on language. It centers performance and communication, so it is well adapted to making the form of the disagreement between Republican and Democrat principal over the essence of their agreements. This has been valuable in their shared interest in swindling the masses—or at least the minority of them who still actually vote.
Conclusion: Boycott the bourgeois elections and agitate for revolution!
While deepening imperialist crisis has caused the ruling class to panic and start its flirtations with fascism and social fascism, the number of voters steadily drops and the number of young people interested in Marxism increases.
Real Marxism, which is today Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, remains firm against identity politics and wages tireless struggles against it penetrating our ranks and our thinking. We challenge it in the mass movement and overcome it internally. This necessitates exposing it within the bourgeois electoral farce that has still pulled the wool over the eyes of the so-called left (in reality they stand right of center). MLM also means we combat both imperialism and revisionism implacably. The revisionists for the most part champion bourgeois elections, with the farthest-right revisionists demanding a “lesser of two evils” approach and the centrist revisionists arguing for third parties and so-called socialist candidates. All of them are seeking, in essence, a pacifist, peaceful transition to socialism: even if they claim to support armed struggle, they see it as a hopeless distant future and completely unrealistic. They are therefore content to agitate against revolution and in the interests of the State, fulfilling their historical task as counterinsurgents in the service of imperialism.
Communists on the other hand have declared that we too will fulfill our historic task: to overthrow the ruling class of this country as part of the proletarian world revolution, which has reached the stage of strategic offensive. We have fully committed to agitating for revolution, and against capitulation and liquidation into bourgeois class enemy organizations. This means demarcation, struggle, and war are our present and future conditions. For us revolution is a process in continuous stages. We build and build our violent act of overthrowing the ruling class, which means going against their popular agents in both left and right costumes. Our path has been charted by history, and we will win. Revolution is never a straight line, and there are many bends in the road, many setbacks, and all of them contain lessons that strengthen our understanding and application of revolutionary science—of Maoism. The capitulations in Nepal, “tactical peace talks,” the betrayal of the International Communist Movement by the Avakianite revisionists, and the struggles against right-opportunism have honed our revolutionary knowledge and skill.
In the face of bourgeois elections we only offer one thing: proletarian socialist revolution. This means turning the popular passive boycott already carried out by the majority of the masses into an active, politicized boycott that promotes armed struggle and Protracted People’s War as the only viable path to meaningful change in this country.
In the face of fractured, opportunist identity politics we offer proletarian unity, national liberation, and socialism. In the face of rising fascism and its twin, social fascism, we offer resistance, the path to equality. In the face of all bourgeois parties and organizations we offer the only organized expression of our class: the Communist Party, which we aim to reconstruct. Around it we intend to build a mighty Red Army and a United Front. Conditions for stepping outside of the sham of bourgeois politics have never been better; if today is characterized by the most bloody imperialist enemy, then it must be responded to with the staunchest Communist fighters. We only have to be willing to dare to struggle if we hope to win. They have elections to win; we have a world to win.
What do we have? Nothing!
What do we want? Everything!
Protracted People’s War is the only strategy for conquering power for the proletariat!
Power is the central question of our ideology!
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism!
—Red Guards Austin, 2018