By Valerie Williams
‘Left’ and ‘right’ are terms used to describe two ends of the political spectrum. The left being described as the side of progressive politics or politics that signify moving towards a more just and equal world. The right being comprised of beliefs and principles to preserve ruling class power or to even drag society backwards.
Societies and social relationships reflect the way in which the fruits of labor are produced, divided and distributed among those within an economic system. Capitalism requires cooperative production while ownership is private, creating accumulative wealth for the few. Left-wing politics are those which seek to lessening or eliminating this accumulation of wealth globally.
The imperialist ruling class often must stave off the threat of revolution by the working class, which tremendously outnumber them, by superficially appearing to be concerned with the workers’ struggles The Democratic Party under Barack Obama was able to tactfully employ this strategy, but since the United States has been steadily marching toward a serious economic crisis well before the emergence of Covid-19, it has been the Social Democrats who have taken the lead in conning the working masses.
Social-democratic parties take different forms depending on the country, but the most relevant Social Democrats in the US are the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
If you visit the DSA’s website, you will be put through an exercise in patience as you sift through the abundant hypotheticals and assertions of what they are not to distinguish what the Party Program entails. In fact, they do not even claim to be a political party but are legally categorized as a political non-governmental organization (NGO).
On the page titled “What is Democratic Socialism?” they attempt to answer the presumed questions of the reader. Instead of plainly articulating what their economic and social policies entail, they attempt at every turn to distinguish themselves from the ‘other’ socialists that you’ve been warned about, most importantly by drawing a THICK line in the sand between Communists and Social Democrats. Naturally, there is a good reason for this type of political obfuscation and that reason can be easily deduced when you put together the many scattered pieces of their answers: they are simply not socialist. DSA’s political program views socialism with as much pessimism as they view the visitors to their website.
Socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat (the system in which the working class exercises its rule over other classes); It is a planned economic system that produces based on the needs of the people, rather than the pursuit of profit. We understand scientifically that all things are in motion and this too applies to politics and the state. Socialism is not a stagnant political system, it is marching forward towards a stateless and classless society (communism). If so-called ‘socialists’ do not actively move towards this goal they are really just capitalists in disguise.
The DSA makes a considerable effort to redefine socialism entirely. Their definition of socialism is not concretely laid out but rather hinted at as some distant utopia with grandiose statements such as, “Although a long-term goal of socialism is to eliminate all but the most enjoyable kinds of labor, we recognize that unappealing jobs will long remain.”
This utopian distant future is sobered by utter defeatism and an idea of settling for meager reforms with statements like: “In the short term we can’t eliminate private corporations, but we can bring them under greater democratic control. The government could use regulations and tax incentives to encourage companies to act in the public interest and outlaw destructive activities such as exporting jobs to low-wage countries and polluting our environment.”
Anyone who is aware of the duplicity of the capitalist system when it comes to the enforcement of laws should see how simply passing laws to ‘encourage’ corporations to be fairer to workers is wishful thinking and a futile exercise. This idealism is further evident in the fact that they seem to be totally ignorant to the fact that capitalism cannot exist without exploitation and oppression. The capitalist must exploit labor to make profit. If they paid everyone what their labor was worth, they themselves would receive nothing since they do not work. This is a basic fact of capitalism.
As an example of restrictions put on corporations to ensure ‘fairer’ labor practices in the United States, they propose using regulations and tax incentives to encourage companies to act in the public interest and outlaw destructive activities such as exporting jobs to low-wage countries and polluting our environment. They neglect to mention the fact that the US economy is subject to the rules of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. As the world’s sole-hegemonic imperialist superpower, it is compelled to seek foreign markets as well as cheap labor and raw materials in the poorest countries across the world. The idea that an NGO can destroy imperialism, the foundation of the whole US economy, through tax incentives is pure delusion.
Again the question is posed, if the capitalists are not extracting their wealth for low paid workers in other countries, how does the DSA plan to have a capitalist economy while raising the pay rate of Americans? This would necessarily mean that the capitalist would have to voluntarily agree to a pay cut, which they will never do. It stands to reason that these sort of grandiose statements made by the DSA are just another example of their utter populist pandering to young workers who they believe to be none-the-wiser to the obvious contradictions in their ideas.
The DSA does seem to understand one principle quite well, the youth are interested in socialism and so they tailor their messaging to them. The real tragedy, of course, is that they offer nothing to the youth but a heap of rotting trash with a spritz of air-freshener. That is to say a decaying system with an mask of something new. Fettering the revolutionary and rebellious potential of our youth and dragging them by the ears back to the voting polls.
The ugly truth is that the DSA does not in fact wish to see the masses of workers rise up to topple capitalism. They do everything they can distinguish themselves from and denounce revolutionaries at every turn. They launch attacks against those who correctly refuse to vote or participate in a system in which they have no actual power in. They blame the poor position of the working class for their mistrust of the capitalists and their representatives, politicians.
When speaking of once socialist countries since turned capitalist, the DSA blames the best qualities of socialism for the triumph of the traitors to the revolutionary projects. They reject an honest analysis of history. When answering their own hypothetical question: hasn’t socialism been discredited by the collapse of Communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe? They exclaim, “Socialists have been among the harshest critics of authoritarian Communist states. Just because their bureaucratic elites called them ‘socialist’ did not make it so; they also called their regimes ‘democratic.’ Democratic socialists always opposed the ruling party-states of those societies, just as we oppose the ruling classes of capitalist societies. We applaud the democratic revolutions that have transformed the former Communist bloc. However, the improvement of people’s lives requires real democracy without ethnic rivalries and/or new forms of authoritarianism. Democratic socialists will continue to play a key role in that struggle throughout the world.”
We must indulge in analysis and unmasking of such an arrogant and false statement. 1. As already made it clear, any true socialists are wholly in favor of a dictatorship of the proletariat. It is through the firm control of the workers on production that capitalists are kept from exploiting workers. 2. The view that a worker’s state is somehow more authoritarian than a capitalist state is revealing of what they consider to freedom. Their freedom is defined by a system that is free to exploit the workers with minor tweaks to the operation. This is not freedom. Wage slavery is wage slavery no matter whether the worker has a healthcare or not. They do not and cannot enjoy to freedoms of the imperialist class. 3. Their definition of democracy must be called into question here. The reversion to capitalism from the socialist path of the Soviet Union was headed by Khrushchev after the death of Stalin. Khrushchev spent his political career reversing the course of the Soviet socialist project, what the DSA calls a “democratic revolution” was in essence a counter revolutionary coup.
The Soviet Union was the first socialist state, one that added to the history and knowledge which the working class has attained, an experience to learn from and improve. The lives of working people were greatly improved by the Russian Revolution. The starvation, underemployment, lack of education, and degradation that the people of the Russian empire once knew was overthrown by workers and their Party, the Communist Party. It is due to the heroic efforts of the people, with the political guidance of Marxism-Leninism, that the Russian empire was transformed from a semi-feudal country into the Soviet Union that industrialized and defeated the Nazis. For this we all owe our gratitude. Meanwhile the Social Democrats of Germany took the position of tailing Hitler’s Nazi party while beating Rosa Luxembourg, a Communist leader, to death.
In a flagrant distortion of the principles of socialism, they assert, “socialists look to unions to make private business more accountable,” ignoring the fact that any socialist economy does not allow for private businesses.
Revolutionaries are correct to assert that the DSA operates on appealing to a genuine interest in socialism, repackaging capitalism to this audience, which results in many young and inexperienced people joining the DSA, and working hard in its service. These misguided people are hardly counter-revolutionary enemies of the people. The necessity to demarcate between the rank-and-file, and the rats that lead them is of great importance.
Winning over the rank-and-file of youth interested in the DSA is not an impossible task – the NGO operates without regard to discipline and with a total lack of ideological training. With conscious outreach, and a tireless combative approach to its leadership, gains can be made for the revolutionary camp.
Of particular importance is supporting the election boycott, which makes it clear that “political power grows from the barrel of a gun” and is not accomplished through the farce of bourgeois elections or lifting up charlatans such as the DSA.
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