By Ed Dalton
Upholding the Election Boycott Against the Voting Myth
America, specifically the US, has woven into its fabric slavery, colonialism, genocide, and exploitation. These are not aberrations but are as American “as apple pie.” There is no sense in mincing words, America as an entity must be destroyed. It was the domination of the continent of North America which helped the current capitalist ruling class prop up its rule around the world. The US as the world’s foremost imperialist and sole hegemonic superpower came into its dominant position on the back of the working class, and most glaringly the racially oppressed sections of it. The wealth it accumulated is what has allowed it act as the brutal policeman of the entire world. As hundreds of thousands take to the streets of the US to condemn the racist brutality of the police, we can only pause in observance that this country behaves globally as the police do in the ghetto. For the US, the whole of the third world is its ghetto to plunder and brutalize, and the people of the nations oppressed by imperialism have never stopped rising up.
In this context, the loyal agents of the ruling class and those they have tricked into collaboration have been hard at work trying to channel the anger of the people into voting and registering “more Black votes.” Registered voters are most often older white men and this is not mainly a matter of access but one of class interests. Only the wealthy whites have a clear interest in the preservation of this system. Their flag still represents racism and inequality and should rightly be regarded as the world’s most prominent hate symbol. Requests that the people legitimize this by voting within it, or continue to vote for it is a betrayal. All voting in the US is backward nationalism, the nationalism of the oppressors and exploiters. The working class can never vote out their exploitation, cannot vote down the profiteers and insisting that they try this miserable failing strategy is nothing short of carrying out the bosses’ work among the people.
Reforms, if they are to be any value at all, are not brought about by casting ballots, even the politicians with the sense to pander to the people are only compelled to do so by uprisings and violence. One mass demonstration which embraces rebellion is worth a million reformist politicians. Voting is not a call for change, but a call to remain the same.
The electioneering opportunists who put on a ‘left wing’ mask only offer more of the same. The most effective among them have always operated on the basis of seeking concessions from the workers when class struggle arises, and all of their most genuine members are asked to make concessions when joining. As many young people are looking for groups and movements to join, finding life under the capitalist system undesirable and unbearable, it is extremely important they avoid such groups, in order to link up with revolutionaries or forge their own path.
Voting is allowed by this inhumane system precisely because it cannot alter the system, and in fact voting is critical to its preservation, by giving the People the ability “decide.” As Karl Marx said, “’Every few years the oppressed are authorized to decide which members of the oppressor class will represent and crush them in parliament!” Elections just renew the rule of the boss against the worker.
But What Does Revolution Mean and is it Possible?
The people begin to talk about revolution and the ruling class can turn this interest into another purchasable item, even into electoral slogans. Outsider candidates on the right and ‘left’ like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders respectively, both used “revolution” as part of their campaign strategy, and both inevitably came around to supporting the establishment candidates when they had successfully diverted interest in revolution into electoral dead-ends.
A revolution is not simply gradual change or reforms which make life more bearable under capitalism. It is not simply a radical change in race and gender relations, and it is not a question of openly recognizing exploitation and oppression—it is the most radical transformation, the most thorough and serious. Mao Zedong explained what revolution is: “Revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” The great revolutionary thinker and Black leader of the US Malcolm X had a similar sentiment, “You don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-other-cheek revolution. There is no such thing as a non-violent revolution.” He was serious and elaborated that, “Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way.”
Those who try to gut the words of great revolutionaries to declare ‘peace’ operate on the basis that revolution is actually impossible, and by ‘peace’ they only mean surrender. These types are called revisionists – they revise the revolutionary content out of history, they are convinced that revolution is impossible. The enemy in power, the enemy in the White House, in the Police Headquarters, and in the Army and National Guard Barracks believe it is possible, they drill and plan for it all the time. The enemy certainly believes that revolution is possible in a place like the US, a place whose very identity signifies the misery of so many. It is time you believe it too, and believe it as fervently as Malcolm X or Mao.
Lenin did it in Russia, Mao did it in China, and countless others around the world did not sit idly by and hope for a bigger and better protest or a new politician to change things for them. They understood that revolution is possible, but it requires certain elements to guarantee success. This is where so many go wrong, they stop paying attention and proceed without these elements and conditions.
What is Needed to Make Revolution?
First, there are conditions which create a revolutionary situation. These exist today all over the world, the current stage of capitalism has reached its limits, it has become bloated and flabby. It scours the earth and accumulates too many enemies, it is rotting. It is forced to reorganize itself constantly in order to survive. This means that it cannot rule in the old way anymore, and furthermore that the working class cannot go on living in the old way, the desire for change starts to brew, and the imperialist will go to fascist extremes to maintain its rule. These are objective conditions making the world today very ripe for revolutions.
Most importantly, the working class needs its own Party. It cannot be led by anything else, and it cannot get very far with spontaneous eruptions, even the most militant, violent, and rebellious ones cannot secure revolution. It needs its own Party to unite all the different struggles of all the workers under its revolutionary program. Spontaneous rebellions can die out, a stable body of the most committed and disciplined of the whole class cannot be so easily faded. This is the Communist Party and it is the most strict and professional revolutionary organization of the working class. This Party existed once in the US, but succumbed to the wounds of revisionism, it turned into its opposite from the working class Party to another ruling class party. This began in the 1930’s and ended up with those who falsely use the title now hopelessly serving the Democratic Party in the electoral farce. They are not Communists, and there is no Communist Party, the workers and people need one! This makes the main task reconstituting the Communist Party in this country as part of the world proletarian revolution, which has gone into the offensive against imperialism.
The second requirement, which is absent today, is the existence of an army which serves the broad masses of the people. An army unlike any other, because it is for and by the working class, an army that does not only fight, but also produces, and carries out aid in its community. This army carries out the majority of the Communist Party’s work among the people, it surrounds and defends the Party, it is commanded strictly by the Party and develops in its main task: fighting. Its soldiers are not mercenaries, it is not a job for them, they are ideologically and politically committed to carrying out the program of the Communist Party. The working class and all who suffer at the hands of US imperialism need such an army. Mao was correct to say “without a people’s army, the people have nothing.” For the US, this means a Red Army, one that can carry out and guarantee the victory of socialist revolution.
The third requirement is that of the broad United Front that must be built around the Party and Red Army, composed mainly of working class organizations and other organizations which support the revolutionary struggle for real change. This Front unites all the struggles which are necessary under capitalism. It is protected by the Red Army and serves to replenish its ranks. The conditions which keep workers and the people oppressed and exploited come in a diverse array, and combating them requires diverse and specialized organizations of the people. As the Party leads and the Army fights, the Front gradually becomes the administrators of all day-to-day struggles and the affairs of the people, it ensures democracy and unity, helping to defeat and drive out the old state and implement the New State. It sets up People’s Committees as the new ruling body, whose commissioners are elected and subject to recall at any time.
These three requirements come together as an integrated whole, led by the Party of the working class, because the working class is the only section of society which can really transform it for everyone.
The only strategy for the revolutionary victory of the proletariat against the exploiters is People’s War, that is a revolutionary war carried out by the broad masses of people, led by the working class, which progresses in stages. First it is small and facing an overwhelming enemy, but it grows in struggle and maintains fluid mobility, through fighting the battles it is sure to win. The People’s War serves to build up and strengthen all of the above elements, and eventually reaches a stage of balance against the enemy forces of the Old State. When it has this parity with the enemy forces, the tactics in the war change and the intensity increases, the enemy and people cannot indefinitely co-exist, and one must overcome the other. Through serving the people and exposing the old state in the People’s War, the forces of the people can overcome the enemy politically and militarily. This signifies a shift in the balance, and the people go on the offensive for the final conquest of power over the enemy’s whole territory. With the people mobilized against the small handful of elites, the enemy and their army, courts, and police will not stand a chance. The enemy is strategically weak because it rules the many with the few, but it is tactically strong, it has superior weapons and financing. This means the war will not be quick, it must be patiently fought for as long as it takes to overcome the enemy’s tactical strength.
The revolutionary strategy of the proletariat was developed by Mao Zedong, who proved its merits in the Chinese revolution and it has been studied and taken up by revolutionaries all over the world. The strategy is universal for both the third world and the first alike. The key to its success is the creative application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM), mainly Maoism, because today it is the third and highest stage of all revolutionary science.
Those who ask the people to step backward into the electoral farce, lack faith in the people to grasp science and make revolution. The revolutionary instead places faith in the masses of people to do just that.
But What Now?
Even though US imperialism is rocked by waves of unrest and uprisings, it is clear that without the three requirements, a revolution is not attainable. This only means that the subjective forces of revolution lag behind the objective conditions for it. This can and must be overcome. First, by grasping MLM and applying it creatively at the present juncture.
The boycott of the ruling class elections is part of this struggle, to insist upon revolution as the solution and draw more people into the struggle for making it a reality. This converts voter abstinence, which is already the highest of any developed country, into an active and conscious boycott that promotes revolutionary solutions.
The struggle needs leadership, spontaneous uprisings end spontaneously and get washed out by the active service of the revisionists and opportunists. The first thing revolutionaries must do is “sweep away the colossal pile of garbage,” that is the influence and presence of revisionism and opportunism, mainly of the electoral variety. Then the revolutionaries must go among the “deepest and most profound masses,” that is to say the core of the people who face the harshest exploitation and receive the most oppression to maintain that level of inhuman exploitation. These are the very people most prone to inevitable rebellion, when they stand the whole country shakes.
It is these people who must be educated in what revolution is, and how to wage it successfully. The capitalist school system offers no lessons in this, but the class struggle does. Stable bodies of mass organizations must be developed in all these struggles. The revolutionaries must join up with Maoist leadership which alone can provide comprehensive leadership over the struggles. The few converge to reconstitute the Party and this is how leadership emerges. There has never been a successful revolution without such leadership.
War is inevitable, capitalism makes it so, social peace cannot exist in the company of inequality. It would be foolish to rush the gate of the enemy unprepared, and suicidal idealism can serve the enemy as well as capitulation and electoralism, as both serve to liquidate revolutionary struggle in their own respective ways. Instead of propping up another ‘left’ party or organization to continue losing in elections, or worse, winning them only to continue serving the elite, demand that the only genuine party of the working class be reconstituted, promote and defend the reconstitution efforts already taking place across the US.
Link up with the existing revolutionary mass organizations, or if you have the experience and ability, initiate them among the struggle with the guidance and support of those who have been doing this work. Tribune of the People is committed to supporting and covering the work of such mass organizations in the People’s struggles. Anyone who supports the paper and is willing to put in the work can form a Support Committee as a way to learn and teach revolution today. This serves to unite revolutionaries and fellow travelers all across the US, it cultivates the struggle.
Contact Tribune of the People for information on starting a Support Committee, share our articles with your co-workers, friends, and neighbors, discuss politics and the real requirements for moving forward beyond the electoral farce and beyond protests. Begin challenging unscientific approaches to changing this rotten system and convince comrades to outgrow amateurish ideas and to defect from revisionism, win them to revolution and Communism. This is the only hope for world, and it is inevitable, we must all take our place in history, and assume our posts in the world proletarian revolution. Make this generation the last one that the capitalists will torment in this country!