Both the Republican and Democratic conventions are now over. It is time for some additional reflections. First, as per the period of McGovern, the rainbow coalition, Jesse Jackson’s attempt to run and now Bernie Sanders, the reformist and populist left is left holding an empty balloon, deflated by promises to build a movement or a political revolution. These promises are nothing other than demagoguery. Some of these people will hibernate till the next election, hoping that we forget this election experience. Some will hop on the bandwagon of other insignificant candidates, still pushing their opportunist/populist political line.
Capitalism now is at the stage of imperialism, the most advanced stage of capitalist development. At this point, there are no longer progressive elements of capitalism for the left to pursue. This is the case in both dominated and imperialist social formations. So now, a political line with the objective of enlarging bourgeois democratic rights is opportunist and populist. There is no room for bringing revolutionary perspectives and objectives from this line.
Another form opportunism takes in regards to elections is the ultra-leftist opportunist who thinks boycotting an election is a revolutionary perspective. Boycotting a bourgeois election presumes a secondary contradiction in which we disagree and will not participate. It is the inversion of right opportunism, which advocates that we can gain in participating in elections.
Yet another argument advocating bourgeois elections, is based on the idea of replicating a political line advocated by Lenin – the Duma. For a few different reasons, this argument is totally wrong. The most obvious one is the fact that Lenin’s orientation was implemented in a social formation that is totally different from the one today. Secondly, we are in a new era of capitalism. At the time of Lenin, capitalism was still in antagonistic struggle with feudalism. We are not.
Further, at the time of Lenin, capitalism still had some progressive bones left in the struggle against feudalism. Now capitalism, at the stage of imperialism, is devoid of progressiveness. At the time of Lenin, even when capitalism still carried some progressive content, Lenin never swayed from the objective of proletarian revolution, never argued for cohabitation or coalition, but rather to expose capitalism by coming up with demands he knew they would not accept. This is the fundamental difference when a revolutionary articulates a political line and a populist/opportunist is attempting to copy that line. One achieves a revolutionary objective and the other will inevitably achieve a total recuperation by capitalism.
Elections are a form, at the political superstructure, to regulate class or fraction of class dominance in a class-divided society. Elections mostly regulate secondary contradictions within the power block. The left and right opportunist fringes of the radical petit bourgeoisie do not seem to grasp that reality. This denial allows them to perpetuate the myth of bourgeois democracy.
At an early period of capitalism, the contradictions were among the dominant classes, meaning the capitalist and feudal classes. Now, the contradictions are mostly within the capitalist class. This is especially the case in the US social formation, as it never experienced feudalism. These contradictions within the capitalist class are secondary contradictions. The potential contradictions between Sanders, Clinton or Trump are secondary contradictions. The left’s participation in elections, and often their analysis, will also enter the arena from the perspective of those secondary contradictions. The laws of contradiction always teach us that we cannot resolve a contradiction in any phenomenon only by addressing the secondary contradictions of that phenomenon. Such an approach will only lead to reforming that phenomenon. In the case of capitalism, where an antagonism exists in its reproduction (capital and labor), it will only result in those secondary elements integrating bourgeois democracy/dictatorship. Left and right opportunism are not immune to that process. A debate between left and right opportunists around any candidate or the choice or non-choice of any candidate falls in the category of a secondary debate and will objectively lead to nowhere.
Elections are a sub-element, a form in the political field of the superstructure for the reproduction of class dominancy. The superstructure, political and ideological fields, function in a relation of relative autonomy with the economic base, but both elections as a form, and the superstructures, as formal abstracts, are determined by and dependent on the base. It is totally inadmissible to look at elections or bourgeois democracy as a whole without having, even at least a minimum appropriation of the economy at the time of the electoral process. This approach is also a reflection of the atrophy and stagnation of revolutionary proletarian science in the hands of the petite bourgeoisie. This is one of the reasons this stagnated left is always reacting, on a defensive mode, to phenomenon, instead of developing their capacity, from a certain level of appropriation, to deal with it from a revolutionary perspective.
All elections are always superseded by three factors: 1) the struggle for production, 2) the form of organizing production, and 3) class struggles that condense and determined production. Class struggles are always defined by their final objective: political power. They are very unpredictable and have already made liars out of some proletarian revolutionaries by flopping their predictions. Venturing in the prediction field is a metaphysical approach. But, it is important to decipher class struggles, to have a level of appropriation and for proletarian revolutionaries to be prepared for any eventualities, politically, ideologically and theoretically.
Some minimum reflections:
* Our argument has already been that US capitalism has reached a level of structural crisis. The contradictions among the capitalist power bloc, although secondary, are adopting a path for an eventual violent resolution. The contradictions are based on the forms of reproduction and accumulation of capital. Now, speculation is becoming the principal form of capital reproduction, but speculation is unproductive. This unproductive practice of capital is seriously affecting its reproduction. The dominant fraction of capitalists in that form of reproduction is hedge fund capitalism, and it is the hegemonic fraction in the capitalist power block.
* At the stage of imperialism, all the forms of production and accumulation of the capitalist bloc are so intertwined that no fraction of the capitalist class is capable of emerging as an independent force, capable of offering an alternative. In the Obama campaign, the attempt to attack Romney as a venture capitalist failed miserably simply because all the attackers such as organized labor, city officials and the Clintons were all involved in similar economic practices. The Clinton Foundation, although an NGO, is objectively a hedge fund company.
Trump’s call to revive industrial production, “Making America Great Again,” is also in the same hole. He is also intertwined in many forms of capital accumulation. At the same time, he is showcasing his autocratic capacities as an exceptional political means to deal with crisis. But at the level of class struggle, will finance capital be willing to trade its ultra-liberalism, a center ideological pole for its reproduction, for the autocracy of TRUMP. Yet, again class struggles and the dynamic of the relations of forces will define the advancement of capitalism in the midst of the ongoing structural crisis.
* We can observe at this moment in the structural crisis of capitalism, capitalism is facing a deeper problem of legitimacy and representativeness. There are objectively two folds to that problem. No politicians have been able, in this electoral campaign, to emerge as a potential unifier the capitalist block. Since Obama, the secondary contradictions within capitalism have steadily been addressed in a combative way. The staunch opposition to Obamacare, the sit-in, in Congress, a remembrance of the civil rights movement are all examples showing that historical bourgeois democratic structures are steadily weakening and possibly ceding to a more antagonistic approach and a new form of bourgeois democracy. Trump is the precursor of that approach and represents the tendency of a new and exceptional model of bourgeois democracy in the US social formation: Fascism. The so-called silent majority is emerging as a social base, but is too small and too weak, not yet organized and structured to yield representativeness and legitimacy. Trump is not even able to unify the Republican Party under his alternatives, hampering his legitimacy even more.
* The liberal and ultra-liberal tendency of finance capital has not yet been able also to unite behind Clinton. So among the capitalist class no politician has yet been able to emerge as the one capable to represent their interest, even as they all are intertwined in their forms of capital accumulation, mainly in the field of finance capital, pushing closer to the probability of a stalemate and of a more dramatic resolution. This is not the first time American capitalism chose an antagonistic path to resolve a contradiction addressing their forms of capital accumulation. The war for independence and the civil war were both respectively examples of antagonistic approaches to resolving internal contradictions of the capitalist class, even if they were secondary contradictions.
* The second fold is that none of those politicians are able to rally the masses behind any project of any fraction of the capitalist class. This is objectively the purpose of elections – rallying the masses, especially the petite bourgeoisie behind a political class orientation, which, in the final analysis, serves the interest of the capitalist power bloc as a whole. Clinton is the logical candidate to win this battle in the electoral process but will not win the battle of legitimacy among the capitalist class and not even among the popular masses. At this moment of the structural crisis of capitalism, it is increasingly rotten to the core. No field of science has yet produced a model to un-rot a phenomenon. Even fascism can’t achieve that goal, except to simply prolong the life of this model, and war was the best booster for capital.
A societal alternative is always a class alternative. It is important to constantly analyze the social formation and appropriate the dynamic of class struggle to constantly rectify or consolidate it to adapt a proletarian perspective and proletarian political line to objective reality. But it must be clear that due to the fact of the low level of mass organization, especially the low level of working class autonomous organizations, any alternative will come from the capitalist class. Even a spontaneous popular uprising by the masses resisting the effects of capitalist crisis might temporarily derail them but still, if no proletarian alternative has emerged as a potential alternative force, capitalism will be capable of regaining control of the situation.
Contrarily to ultra-left petit bourgeois opportunist and populist that tends to believe that revolution is a far away project (and even if it was), we still need to work for it since the revolutionary objective will not land on us, it will have to be constructed subjectively and transferred to the objective right now, at this moment, toward its final realization.
Proletarian revolutionaries should not waste any time since proletarian revolution must be the order of the day. The proletarian organization is the embryo of that societal revolutionary project. We should invest our time primarily to organize the proletariat and the masses for proletarian revolution.