By WYATT MUND
Although the presidential election is a year away, the rallying cries for the Democratic Party candidates have become quite loud as they gear up for the state primaries. The clutter of would-be presidential candidates and the miles of discussion about who would be best to “beat Trump” has obfuscated real political developments, and confused workers and students about what a candidate who actually represents them would look like.
No matter their posturing, the reality of the matter is that the Democratic and Republican parties represent two sides of the same ruling-class coin. While they clearly have their differences and squabbles, they are united in firmly backing the interests of U.S. capital through austerity at home and imperialism abroad.
Even the “radical left” darling of the capitalist Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, has been clear in his support for border enforcement, imperialist war, and interventions. It is undeniable that both these two parties represent the bosses—big finance, big landowners, and big business. They are the parties of Wall Street and war.
For too long, the working class in the United States has been politically subordinated to the parties of the bosses. Even our unions, creations of fierce workers’ struggles across the decades, have been pressured into becoming obedient servants of the Democratic Party. Speaking generally, the union leadership’s politics have been molded to support the agenda of the Democrats. The unions are left unable to strike their own class independent political line.
What could be the solution to such a political deadlock? The answer has been given in many countries and times before—the creation of a labor party!
What is a labor party? Put simply, it’s a party based upon the working class and labor movement. A party for all those who toil for a wage, the party of the majority, the 99%, the workers. A party based on the unions and workers’ organizations as they appear and develop.
Many decry all attempts to push a “third party” in this country, but the reality is that the United States has never seen the creation of a truly mass, working-class party of its own, although the Socialist Party at the beginning of the 20th century was fairly sizable. Since then, a labor party has come close to emerging in the U.S. several times, but the task of crystalizing it was always diverted.
Perhaps the creation of a labor party sounds fantastic or disconnected to reality today, but on the contrary, the conditions for the emergence of a labor party are already present. Consider that since the beginning of 2018, the highest number of workers have been on strike in this country since 1986. There is rising union militancy and consciousness in America, a wave that hasn’t been seen in a generation, according to the Washington Post. The teachers’ strikes ignited the current flame, and further growth and developments have come from the hotel strikes, the Stop and Shop strike, continued mobilizations from nurses, the GM strike, and the Chicago teachers once again.
It is strikingly apparent how the bosses will readily go on the offensive in order to continue appropriating all of the value we produce. To counter that, workers, and oppressed people need to defend our livelihoods with organizations that are really our own.
Despite decades of austerity and anti-union propaganda, despite the bureaucratic union leadership’s complacency with the two-party system and stifling of independent organizing, workers in this country are once again beginning to realize that together, as labor united, they can fight and win against the bosses. Workers are going on strike and unionizing who have never done so before but who see, more and more, their class interests laid in front of them.
Rather than pay heed to this or that Democrat flavor of the week, the real political struggle emerging in this country indicates that a strong labor revival is going to gather momentum just around the corner. And as labor militancy spreads, the conditions for a wholly different kind of party in opposition to the Republicans and Democrats ripen.
A labor party born out of militant struggle would have no interest in continuing the pro-corporate destruction of the planet, have no reason to continue the brutal wars that murder countless workers overseas by using American workers as cannon fodder, have no desire to continue the racist mass incarceration of millions of Black and Brown workers who are denied due process, have no wish to carry out the xenophobic policing of borders and violence against immigrants. A labor party could strike against this society based on the needs of profit, and fight for the establishment of one based on actual human needs.
Of course, a labor party might be liable toward bureaucratization, stagnation, and degeneration—as we have seen countless times in the historical record when working-class parties have been formed in other countries. Workers and socialists would have to struggle to maintain a labor party that is fully democratic and responsive to the ranks, fighting for the interests of the working class not just in the voting booth but on the picket line and in the streets. The tasks to keep rank-and-file consciousness constant and to have the party function as a living weapon of political action will need to be maintained every step of the way.
It must be stated that a labor party would not in and of itself guarantee ultimate victory for the working class. A revolutionary socialist party is needed for that. But the struggle for a labor party and its creation would be a significant step in the larger class struggle.
The bosses already have two parties, run by and for the ruling class. To do better, we need to stand on our own two legs as an independent working-class body. We need a labor party!