Workers Vanguard No. 1170
21 February 2020
Spartacist Speech at PDC Holiday Appeal
"Our Goal Is Nothing Less than a Workers America"
The following speech, edited for publication, was delivered by Spartacist League speaker Dylan Turé at the Partisan Defense Committee’s 34th annual Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners in New York City on January 25.
As socialists, the fight to free class-war prisoners is part of our broader fight to build a workers party that would lead the struggle against capitalist oppression and against the U.S. imperialist system itself. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched in protest, demanding that the American occupiers get out of their country. This is the same population that the U.S. claimed greeted its invading troops as liberators? And this is how many years after the U.S. supposedly ended its war against their country?
The twin parties of the American capitalist class, the Democrats and the Republicans, are as united as ever in beefing up the biggest cop on earth, U.S. imperialism, to protect the biggest property owners on earth. Their latest act of war was a vicious provocation: the drone strike assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Soleimani. Some Democrats whined about the manner in which it was carried out, but none object to the underlying machinery of war and terror that is the U.S. behemoth. In any case, the barbarous practice of drone strikes was perfected under Barack Obama, who claimed the imperial right to kill “terrorists” anywhere, anytime, including U.S. citizens, without even the pretense of judicial process.
Everyone seemed to think Trump was the end of the world. But what’s actually new about the American empire? It has an image problem: Trump is the unmasked, openly racist version of imperialism, whereas his predecessor kept a slick Harvard lawyer gloss on the same policies. But what’s Trump actually done differently? He scrapped the Iran nuclear deal that was supported by most American politicians because he and the anti-Iran hawks thought they had a better tactic to keep Iran in line. But the Democrats and Republicans had all agreed with the premise of the deal: to undermine the Iranian regime.
Otherwise it’s been business as usual. The military provocations and trade war against China, as well as the U.S.-backed counterrevolutionary protests in Hong Kong, are the continuation of the Democrats’ pivot to Asia, that is, the imperialists’ attempt to encircle, strangle, and ultimately overthrow the Chinese deformed workers state. The U.S. rulers are backing right-wing coups in Latin America, a story as old as the hills. In Bolivia, they’re backing fascistic Christian elites, who forced bourgeois-populist Evo Morales to flee to Mexico and are persecuting his impoverished and indigenous supporters. In Venezuela they’re backing Juan Guaidó and his cronies, who are still trying to overthrow the Maduro regime. In December, the Democrats and Republicans came together to vote up a $22 billion increase to the world’s largest military budget, and then offered their support to the USMCA, i.e., NAFTA 2, which will ratchet up the “free trade” rape and pillage of Mexico.
This is the post-Soviet world. After decades of military provocations and anti-communist propaganda campaigns, the imperialists finally helped push through a capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union, destroying the historic gains of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Since then, U.S. imperialism has run roughshod over the entire world, launching war after war against oppressed nations, levelling sanctions that starve and kill millions, assassinating leaders after branding them “terrorists.” There is only one way out from under the boot of imperialism: socialist revolution, and that requires new Bolshevik parties, as part of a reforged Fourth International, not least here in the belly of the beast.
Down here in that proverbial belly, Obama’s mass deportation machine rolls on under Trump’s command, breaking up families just as before, terrorizing working-class communities with more I.C.E. roundups, and deporting almost at the record rates set by the Democrats. Trump’s travel bans target some of the very countries that the Democrats when in power preferred to simply bomb. The racist killer cops—the modern-day slave hunters—continue to do their job, killing almost as many black people each year as they did before Trump. The mass incarceration system still holds nearly 2.3 million souls, disproportionately black, which is the highest incarceration rate of any country on earth by far.
This is the American state, the machinery of violence that keeps the class of capitalists in power over the workers and all the oppressed. Its origins are in the enforcement of black chattel slavery, a history you can see stamped deep in its every day workings, as clear as a white slaveowner’s brand on a black slave. Even the fascist scum, who were emboldened by Trump’s victory, are a product of the decaying capitalist system itself, a system that is maintained by both parties. When these race terrorists raise their heads they must be stopped by mobilizations of labor/black power.
No to the Capitalist Parties of War and Oppression!
Today, the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls squabble in their unwatchably dull debates, trying to play up their claims to Obama’s legacy. And in a way they’re right. They really would carry out more of the same—exploitation, racist oppression and war—if elected. But Trump is beating them to the punch, and will continue to do so if re-elected. The ruling class makes life on the American plantation hell no matter which party is taking its turn as overseer.
The news has been about this absurd impeachment pageantry in D.C. We obviously have no side in this, but we will say this: Trump briefly withholding military aid from Ukraine was no crime against the working class. The real crime was the U.S.-orchestrated fascist-infested coup in 2014, carried out by the Obama administration with Joe Biden as point man. Trump, like any American president, does horrible things every day. But the Democrats are not going after him for his crimes against the workers and oppressed, because they agree on these!
The Democrats rushing to defend that pig Biden’s piglet kid raking it in on that Ukrainian company’s board of directors (totally standard functioning of the imperialist system) isn’t exactly inspiring the masses. And the Democrats’ embrace of “whistle-blowers” is blatantly hypocritical: they hate real whistle-blowers. The Obama administration used the Espionage Act to imprison more than all previous presidents combined, like: Chelsea Manning, who the Obama administration tortured; Edward Snowden, who the Democrats drove into exile; and Julian Assange, who they drove into hiding in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and is now facing likely extradition to the U.S.
What this impeachment crap shows more than anything is that the Democrats have nothing to offer; like Hillary in 2016, most can’t even be bothered to pretend they do. They just put Russiagate on repeat, again with this lie that Russia is undermining American democracy. This “democracy,” which serves the capitalist class and masks its rule, was built on slavery and continues today through racist voter disenfranchisement. Some so-called “progressive” Democrats think that impeachment is not the best tactic. For example, Bernie Sanders thinks that his party should focus more on making promises to struggling workers and the poor.
But these promises have always been, and will always be lies. Capitalist governments do not simply hand out beneficial reforms if voters elect the politicians who make nice promises. No! Every gain for the working class and oppressed has come through hard struggle. Bernie, Ro Khanna, “the Squad,” and all these “progressive” Democrats fully support U.S. imperialism and capitalism at home. They want to shroud its policies in humanitarian garb. In fact, they are perfectly united with the centrist, so-called “corporate” Democrats like the Clintons and the Bidens in the quest for their party, the other party of racism and war, to retake the helm. These types are more effective at further tying young activists and workers to the Democrats and to American capitalism. They’re more dangerous because they sell it better.
Yes to a Revolutionary
There is plenty of explosive tinder in the world today. France has been rocked by mass strikes as the working class took a stand against government theft of their pensions. The same U.S. capitalist class that wages war abroad is waging attacks here on the ability to retire (ever), and much more. Black people live under the gun of the racist capitalist state, immigrants are hunted down, women continue to suffer attacks on basic rights like abortion, and unions are chiseled away at or busted outright. For working-class, black, and immigrant America, there’s no dream left to pursue, it’s just the same old nightmare. Sooner or later, they won’t take it anymore, and these forces will rise up against their oppressors.
There’s been a long slump in working-class struggle, but recently we got a taste of a real willingness to stand up and fight. Last fall, the United Auto Workers waged a 40-day strike against General Motors, the longest company-wide auto strike in the U.S. since the early 1970s. Teachers strikes have broken out from West Virginia to California, fighting against poverty wages and a crumbling public education system that leaves black and Latino kids rusting on the scrapheap of decaying American capitalism.
But something big was missing in these strikes. Why didn’t these unions utilize the hard class-struggle strategies that worked so well in building the industrial unions in the first place? Why the sell-out deals, with the membership herded back to work when they knew they could have won so much more? What was missing was a union leadership that understands that the bosses and workers have irreconcilable, opposing interests; a leadership that understands that the bosses’ promises can’t be trusted and that the bosses’ parties cannot be relied on; a leadership that on principle would never go to the bosses’ courts in the name of fighting corruption in the labor movement; a leadership that stands on the principle: Government hands off the unions!
The union bureaucracy is pro-capitalist and pro-Democratic Party. It enforces class peace to keep the bosses’ profits flowing. We need a leadership that actually fights for the working class, independent of and opposed to all the tools of the bosses. This struggle for a class-struggle leadership leads straight to the struggle for a working-class party; a party that will be 70 percent black, Latino and other minorities; a party that will fight to mobilize the multiracial working class in defense of all the oppressed; a party that will speak the language of the oppressed and exploited, not just the English of the inner-city or Appalachian working class but Caribbean patois, Punjabi, and, crucially, Spanish; a party that will fight for a revolution that tears down the dungeons that entomb this country’s class-war prisoners.
It won’t be just another reformist party, looking for temporary and superficial legislative gains, but rather a revolutionary party, one that starts on the picket lines and continues right through the struggle for power. Our goal is nothing less than a workers America in a workers world.
We understand the huge gulf between where we are today and where humanity needs to go. The key missing element is revolutionary leadership of the only potentially revolutionary class. The International Communist League is committed to building the kind of revolutionary International that Lenin and Trotsky would recognize as their own, that can lead the working class in sweeping this rotten old order into the dustbin of history, opening the way to a communist future.