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The Internationalist
  October 2020

Trump Looks to Cops and Fascists, Democrats Appeal to Pentagon Brass

Repression Elections 2020

You Can’t Fight Trump with Democrats

Internationalist contingent at May Day march in New York City, 2018. (Internationalist photo)

OCTOBER 30 – U.S. capitalism is in a heap of trouble, and as usual, the working class and oppressed are paying the price. It’s about to get a lot worse. The country is beset by a deadly plague, the worst in a century, which is intensifying. The economy is in a new depression, the deepest since the 1930s, with long-term consequences that are just beginning to be felt. An explosion of outrage over racist cop brutality brought millions into the streets daily in the largest sustained protest movement in U.S. history, as the orgy of police murder continues unabated. The ruling class is sharply divided after a failed impeachment process, while U.S. society is deeply polarized over just about everything. And now we are on the eve of an election which could easily – even likely – set off weeks of turbulent unrest and perhaps a constitutional crisis not seen since 1876.

Of these many crises, the most immediate is the election, not only for president but also for control of Congress. President Donald Trump is stumping the country with incendiary speeches laced with racist appeals, shout-outs to fascist thugs and paeans to kill-crazed cops while conjuring up hordes of antifa protesters invading white suburbs. The white-supremacist-in-chief vows that the only way he could lose is if the vote is rigged, and refuses to say he would hand over office. Meanwhile, Republican operatives are recruiting armed “poll watchers” to intimidate voters, particularly in black and Hispanic areas, and Republican lawyers are gearing up to throw out mail ballots and jam vote counts. Meanwhile, Walmart, foreseeing looting and civil unrest, as a “precautionary measure” has pulled guns and ammunition off the sales floors of its stores.

In answer to Trump’s “law and order” campaign, Democratic standard-bearer Joe Biden calls to shoot “rioters” in the leg (he just did it again) while his running mate, Kamala Harris, brags she was California’s former “top cop.” Biden & Co. seem to be sleepwalking through the campaign, holding no mass rallies, no door-to-door canvassing, encouraging mail ballots, relying on huge TV ad buys while Trump dominates social media. The Dems figure that anger over Trump’s COVID-19 denial and revulsion against the racist misogynist president will be enough to win. They’re appealing to people yearning to return to “the way things used to be,” with nothing for workers who still haven’t recovered from the depression following the 2008 crash.

Repugnance for the immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, fascist-loving white supremacist in the White House who is running for reelection as president of the Confederate slavocracy is utterly justified. Trump’s victory is a threat to the entire black population of the U.S., even as cynical millionaires like 50 Cent and Ice Cube back him. But the Democrats, the party that has led every major war U.S. imperialism has waged, from the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the napalming of Vietnam to Barack Obama’s kill list of drone strikes in the Middle East, are just as much the enemies of the poor, oppressed and working people, and all the more dangerous because many have illusions in them.

As revolutionary Marxists – supporters of the politics of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, the leaders of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution – we speak the truth to the masses. And the truth is that neither Republicans nor Democrats will or can do away with the terrible scourges brought upon us by the decaying capitalist system of war, poverty and racism which they represent. The workers and oppressed should not give one vote for Democrats, Republicans or any capitalist party or politician. We need a party to defend those victimized by the bourgeois rulers, including women, gay, lesbian and transgender people, survivors of the racist injustice system. We need a workers party to fight all the bosses’ parties on a revolutionary program to sweep away the entire capitalist system that is the source of our misery.

At the same time, while giving no political support to bourgeois parties, class-conscious workers fight against all attacks on democratic rights such as we face today.

Election Campaign: A Festival of Reaction

On June 1, Trump sought to impose martial law in Washington, D.C., trying to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act.  (John Duricka / AP)

The election campaign has been a festival of reaction, with both the main parties of U.S. imperialism wrapping themselves in the flag, Democrats and Republicans alike calling to “get tough on China,” and competing with each other in hailing the repressive forces of the capitalist state. Yet dreading four more years of Trump and his gang of all-round reactionaries, millions of young people, African Americans, Latinos, women and many union workers have been waiting hours in line at early voting sites to cast a ballot for Biden-Harris, while hard-core Trumpers are focusing on November 3. Now we’re down to the wire, and everyone is focusing on Election Day … and the days and weeks of turmoil likely to come after.

Trump has more than once proclaimed that as president he has “total” authority, that he “calls the shots,” that states “can’t do anything” without his approval, that “I have the power to do whatever I want as president.”1 In June Trump tried to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act against anti-racist protesters in Washington, D.C.; in July he dispatched federal snatch squads to Portland in an attempt to impose martial law; in August he put Kenosha, Wisconsin under National Guard occupation; in September he sent a hit squad to Washington state to gun down an antifa activist from Portland.

Trump figures he can count on the I.C.E. immigration cops and other Department of Homeland Security forces (Border Patrol, Federal Protective Services, U.S. Marshals) who act as his private police invading other jurisdictions. Plus his attorney general William Barr is busily lining up local police around the country. Scenarios are not hard to foresee: “security” forces signed up by Republican PACs, along with right-wing militias and fascists provoke clashes during the voting or in the next days; local cops crack down on protesters; the administration declares a civil disorder under 18 U.S. Code, Section 231 and deploys the U.S. military to lock down “Democrat-run cities,” as he threatened to do in June. Or Plan B, or C, or D.

Yet the response of the Democratic Party is to look to the same repressive apparatus which Friedrich Engels (and Lenin after him) defined as the special bodies of armed men (police, military) and their auxiliaries (courts, prisons) who are the heart of the capitalist state. Never forget that while police forces from New York to Minneapolis to Portland, Seattle and elsewhere may chafe at the bit, as we have stressed, in cities from coast to coast, “Democrats are the bosses of the racist killer cops.” Meanwhile, Biden has said that if Trump refuses to leave, he expects the Pentagon chiefs and the Secret Service to “escort him from the White House with dispatch.” So we are hearing coup talk on both sides. But so far it is just talk, we’ll see what comes next.

Trump is an outlier, seeking to install an authoritarian regime, while Biden with all his talk of “decency” and civility is counting on the core of U.S. imperialist power to ensure his victory.  Proud Boy thugs must be stopped with workers power, but the vastly larger strategic threat posed by the Democrats is exemplified by the arsenal that has laid waste to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, before that Vietnam and Korea under their command (as well the Republicans’).

As we approach the deadline, many leftists and “progressive” trade-unionists have vowed to hit the streets to “defeat the Trump coup.” For the most part these will likely be pro-Biden demonstrations. Revolutionary Marxists, in contrast, will fight not for the victory of one of the bourgeois contenders but to defend democratic rights with sharp class struggle pointing toward establishing organizing centers of workers power.

The Face of Barbarism

Over a century ago, the Polish-German communist Rosa Luxemburg wrote that the choice is “socialism or barbarism.” Today we are staring barbarism in the face.

The coronavirus pandemic has already led to the deaths of more than 225,000 people in the U.S., and over 1 million across the globe. Nearly 9 million people in the United States have fallen ill with COVID-19, with new cases averaging 75,000 a day and climbing. Globally there have been 45 million reported cases. While the U.S. is rightly regarded as the having the worst record in handling the deadly disease, Western Europe has had 5.9 million cases and close to 200,000 deaths. And while the Democrats just pin the virus’ spread on Trump with his anti-scientific bombast and talk of COVID-19 miraculously “disappearing,” half the deaths in the U.S. (110,000) have been in states with Democratic governors, although now the deadly toll is rising rapidly in Republican-governed states like Florida and Texas.

Yet in China, where the disease first appeared, there have been only 95,000 cases and less than 5,000 deaths. Why this striking difference? Trump and the Democrats absurdly accuse China of some underhanded plot or mishandling the coronavirus. In fact, China did far, far better than the West in containing it and treating the victims. The reason is simple: China, a bureaucratically deformed workers state with a planned economy, quickly directed resources to where they were needed to save human lives. Every symptomatic case was housed in isolation centers while two new hospitals were built from scratch in ten days in Wuhan. In the capitalist world, the pandemic threatened to overwhelm a public health system gutted by decades of cutbacks, and all but the most serious cases were sent home, to infect family members and others.2

Now the economic consequences of this capitalist disaster are hitting home. The initial impact was mitigated by the one-time $1,200 “stimulus” checks and the $600/week pandemic unemployment assistance, which included many workers normally unable to get unemployment benefits (but not millions of hard-hit immigrants). Since the beginning of March, over 66 million workers filed unemployment claims, far more than at any time in U.S. history. Now many so-called “furloughs” are becoming permanent job losses. Not only start-ups and restaurants but long-established retail chains, hotels and other capitalist giants have closed their doors. The airlines are teetering, even with over $50 billion in free cash from the federal government, and mass layoffs are being announced. In mid-town Manhattan, 90% of office space is empty, a disaster for the commercial real estate speculators, which will then shake Wall Street banks.

On top of mass unemployment that will take years to overcome, a “Tidal Wave of Evictions” is looming, as the Wall Street Journal (28 October) headlined on its front page, as various federal and state moratoriums expire. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, triggered by usurious “sub-prime mortgages,” 10 million home “owners” lost their homes as banks foreclosed. Now the number of residential renters unable to keep up with rent is estimated at between 30 and 50 million households. Should those evictions go through, it would produce an explosion in homelessness. But such a calamity could also produce a tidal wave of class struggle – the key question is leadership, and specifically one prepared to wage a revolutionary fight to bring down capitalism.

In this period of putrefying capitalism, with social services pared to the bone, public schools under bipartisan attack, tens of millions unemployed, major industries on the edge of bankruptcy, the whole house of cards could collapse. Under these conditions, no lasting reforms to soften the devastation are possible. Talk from Bernie Sanders liberals and reformist pseudo-socialists of a “Green New Deal,” “Medicare for all” and other measures of “welfare state” capitalism are pipe dreams. Not only are the “corporate Democrats” who run the party dead-set against them, Wall Street won’t finance them. The Federal Reserve pumped trillions of dollars into the economy by running the printing presses and buying up corporate bonds. But soon the music of this frenzied “dance of the trillions” will stop.

Early on in the pandemic, after the initial shock that sent share prices tumbling, many decried the obscene spectacle of Wall Street indexes reaching record heights while the economy was largely shut down, with profits falling and tens of thousands dying. But there was a (grotesque) logic to it: who needs profits when Uncle Sam, or in this case Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell, is pouring billions into your coffers? Time to party on. The winners – IT monopolists Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon – raked in the dough. Apple soared to $2 trillion market evaluation in August, five months after passing the $1 trillion mark. Megafirms drove up their market value with stock buybacks; others have been cashing out of this “casino capitalism.” Now with rising infection rates in Europe and the uncertain U.S. election, the selloff may have begun.

It all spells trouble for those exploited and oppressed by capitalism, whose toil produces the profits the bosses are gambling with. Those workers who were hoodwinked by Trump into believing his lies about reviving U.S. industry have nothing to show for it. But the Democrats are no better. The “free trade” policies of the Clinton-Obama-Biden administrations hollowed out domestic production, leaving many blue-collar workers jobless. As for the super-rich, the U.S. ruling class is not enamored of the erratic Donald Trump, but they do enjoy the billions from his tax “reform,” which the Democrats voted for. Biden reassured New York billionaires at a ritzy fundraiser in the swanky Carlyle Hotel in June 2019, that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he is elected, that he would not “demonize anybody who has made money.”

Nothing would change for those on top, but for those at the bottom of capitalist society, the “good old days” pre-Trump were not good at all. The average weekly real wages of production workers are less than they were 50 years ago ($318 in 2019, $328 in 1969, in 1982-84 dollars). Today millions of working people are fighting for survival, looking into the abyss. In New York City you only have to recall the flashing red lights of the ambulances carrying off COVID patients at all hours, the refrigerated trailers with cadavers to be transported to mass graves on Ward Island where they were buried in boxes stacked three high and two across. In much of the rest of the country this terrifying scene is playing out today as hospitals are filled to capacity. And on top of that, mass joblessness and homelessness, evictions and endless racist cop violence (1,574 civilians killed by police in the U.S. in 2020, up to October 10).

Trump’s Schemes, and the Democrats’

Trump and his cabinet attend June 1 photo-op in Washington D.C. after feds brutalize protesters. Democrats are relying on Pentagon chief General Milley (on right). (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Donald Trump has not been reticent about voicing his intentions. He has tweeted that mail ballots, which in recent years have been heavily Democratic, will lead to “the Greatest Rigged Election in history,” that people “grab them from mailboxes” and “print thousands of forgeries” (May 24). He has insisted that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged” (August 17). He has several times refused to commit to a “peaceful transition” of office, saying in one interview: “There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation” (September 23). He has tweeted “Must know Election results on the night of the Election” (July 30), before most mail ballots would have been counted.

A lengthy article on “The Election That Could Break America” by Barton Gellman in the November 2020 issue of The Atlantic, released late last month, detailed the many possible ways in which Trump could use his power to prevent a decisive, legally unambiguous outcome against him. Notably there are numerous ambiguities in the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which resulted from the contested 1876 Hayes vs. Tilden presidential election that led to the “Compromise” that removed federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction and laying the basis for Jim Crow segregation. There are also deadlines which require that electors in the highly undemocratic Electoral College cast their ballots by this December 14.

Gellman reported plans by Republicans in key “battleground states,” several of which have Democratic governors and Republican-controlled legislatures due to gerrymandering. The chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party confirmed that he had discussed with Trump’s national campaign the possibility of the legislature appointing a slate of pro-Trump electors even if the vote count goes to Biden. This would be “legal” under the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2000 election which handed the presidency to Republican George W. Bush even though Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote. And now conservatives have a solid lock on the high court with the rushed confirmation of rightist Amy Coney Barrett after liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last month.

But it’s not just legal maneuvering. This month, Attorney General Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf have been going around the country talking with local police chiefs (but not mayors) in “Democrat-run cities,” including New York City and Portland, Oregon, about plans for the next few months. Barr’s Department of Justice offered $3 million to Minneapolis police to provide “training” following the racist cop murder of George Floyd last May. The Wall Street Journal (5 October) reported that the New York Police Department is putting all 35,000 uniformed cops through two-day retraining on dealing with large-scale protests, and police commissioner Dermot Shea canceled all leaves and vacations through the end of the year citing the possibility of “violence.” Coming from the NYPD chief, that’s a threat.

What that retraining could consist of might be a repeat of the kind of massive repression that Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg carried out during the 2004 Republican convention in New York when the police arrested entire demonstrations of 1,500 protesters and locked up almost 2,000 of them without food and water in Pier 57. Meanwhile, in preparation for the October 3 Portland rally by the fascist Proud Boys, the DOJ federalized the riot police squads of the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department and the Oregon State Police. This means that anyone who so much as sneezes near one of these robocops could face federal charges of years in jail rather than disorderly conduct misdemeanors. It also means that the feds could de facto seize operational control of local police in a hot situation.

So there is a full-scale operation underway to ramp up heavy-duty repression on Election Day and after, combined with a huge legal offensive seeking to ensure a Trump “victory.” What, then, are the Democrats planning? They have their own phalanx of lawyers, of course. Democratic governors could counter electors appointed by Republican legislatures by naming their own slates, so that two different sets could show up at the Electoral College. Liberal activist groups such as Hold the Line (which has put out a 55-page “how-to” guide) have been making plans for mass pro-Biden “election protection” demonstrations from November 3 onward. Various reformist left groups have joined in calling for mass mobilization to “defend the vote,” meaning to put Democrat Biden in the White House.

Top-level Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have also been meeting to prepare plans to counter a Trump power grab. The Transition Integrity Project (TIP) held war games this June with “a bipartisan group of over 100 current and former senior government and campaign leaders and other experts” to look at various scenarios in a contested election. The TIP’s August 3 report, “Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition,” concludes that “The administrative transition process itself may be highly disrupted” and “The potential for violent conflict is high, particularly since Trump encourages his supporters to take up arms.” It also noted that “Trump might himself initiate a foreign crisis” to divert media attention. An attack on Chinese forces would put the Democrats in a bind, as they have put themselves forward as the bigger anti-Communist war hawks.

But what happens when the Trump regime, with control of the White House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the massive federal government apparatus, digs in? All the TIP scenarios except for a clear Biden win ended up with two competing claimants to the White House, in which case, “It was unclear what the military would do.” The TIP’s imagined positive outcome hinges on the Pentagon brass leaking that “the Joint Chiefs’ commitment was to the Constitution rather than to the President,” while the Secret Service demonstrated its “culture of professionalism” by “indicating that it would be ‘loyal to the office, not to the person’ and therefore it would escort Trump out of the White House on January 20.” In other words, it would take a military assist for Democrat Biden to take office.

Likewise, the Gellman Atlantic article admonishes, “If you have a place in the military chain of command, remember your duty to turn aside unlawful orders.” And it’s not just war gamers and pundits. There was Biden’s comment on Trevor Noah’s Daily Show (June 11) that he was “so damn proud” of military leaders who had recently criticized Trump, and “I’m absolutely convinced, they will escort him from the White House with dispatch.” And in August, two well-known retired military officers wrote an open letter to General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raising the danger of authoritarian rule and saying that “If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order” (DefenseOne, 8 August).

Revolutionary Leadership Is Key

Then we have the left in the United States, such as it is. And that is overwhelmingly reformist and in the Democrats’ camp. In our earlier article on the elections (Democrats’ Pro-Cop Ticket Vies with Trump Over ‘Law and Order’” (The Internationalist No. 61, September-October 2020), we noted that several groups are this time around openly calling to vote for Biden, including the former Moscow Stalinist Communist Party USA (CPUSA), “which has regularly backed Democrats since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936,” and the Maoists of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), with its various front groups (Refuse Fascism, World Can’t Wait), with its guru Bob Avakian calling for “actually voting for the Democratic Party candidate, Biden, in order to effectively vote against Trump.”

Now they have been joined by the main leaders of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which since its birth in the 1980s has been tied to the Democratic Party by an umbilical cord.3 The DSA has expanded ten-fold since pre-Trump days, becoming the voice of millennial social democracy. In particular, it was the backbone of Senator Bernie Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential election up until that campaign collapsed as the party leadership rolled out its heavyweights to ensure Biden’s nomination in the Super Tuesday primaries last April.4 DSA superstar Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quickly announced that she would be voting for Biden. But last year the DSA passed a “Bernie or Bust” resolution and after bust came in April, it tweeted “We are not endorsing Joe Biden.”

But with the moment of truth fast approaching – big surprise! –the Socialist Majority Caucus and a host of other prominent DSAers announced that they were “Organizing Against Trump” and appealed to others to join in “phonebanking, textbanking, doorknocking, and other organizing to defeat Trump,” i.e., to get out the vote for you-know-who. There’s not much to be said to or about these foot soldiers for the Democrats, many of whom may aspire to move up the ranks to run for office, or to become staffers in a Biden administration or in unions led by “progressive” Democrats. In various places, DSA candidates will be elected, particularly in big cities like New York and Chicago or in college towns, meaning that they will act as ward heelers and sheep dogs for the Democratic machine to keep the millennials in line.

Then there are those self-proclaimed socialist groups, several of which make some claim of affinity with Lenin and Trotsky, which are formally not calling to vote for Biden, but are in practice lining up with the Democrats in the post-election turmoil to come. Socialist Alternative (SAlt) is now calling for votes to the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins. The Greens are a minor capitalist party whose role is to act as a pressure group on the Democrats. SAlt now says it “warned at every stage in both Bernie’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns that the Democratic Party leadership simply would not accept him as their nominee,” while leaving out how it stumped for Democratic candidate Sanders, including with its #Movement4Bernie. Now it is putting forward the same Green New Deal/Medicare/tax the rich program of the Sanders/AOC Democrats.

With the election heating up, SAlt has even come out with a CYA article on “Why the Left Shouldn’t Support Joe Biden.” At the same time, two SAlt-aligned union presidents issued an appeal that “Unions Need to Get Organized Now to Defend the Vote” (Socialist Alternative, 20 October), saying that “if Trump, the Republicans, and their lawyers try to steal the election through voter disenfranchisement,” then “we should organize mass demonstrations demanding every vote counts.” It cites a widely circulated resolution of the Rochester, New York Labor Council calling on the national AFL-CIO to “prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power.” This is a call to mobilize labor to put Democrat Biden, the quintessential capitalist establishment pol and master of mass incarceration, in office.

A second group, Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), issued a call for a “United Front Against Reaction” which has since morphed into a “United Front Against Repression” to protest Trump’s “Constitution-shredding bid to steal the election.” While vowing to defend democratic rights “while still maintaining our own independent political identities,” this is a classic popular-front call to “fight the right” with contingents in the demonstrations and marches to come, which will overwhelmingly be demonstrations of political support to Biden. In the election itself, the FSP is calling to vote for Jeff Mackler, the write-in presidential candidate of Socialist Action (S.A.).

S.A.’s Mackler is running on a platform not that different from that of other social-democratic groups like the FSP and SAlt. It repeats the calls pushed by the  DSA and the entire reformist milieu to cut funding to the police, throwing in disarm and disband, without saying that this is impossible short of a socialist revolution. Plus tax the rich, shut down the war machine, community control, nationalize big oil. When it comes to how this is to be done, Socialist Action talks only of “a fundamental reorganization of society – for socialism.” Similar calls could be found from left elements in social-democratic parties in Sweden or Britain, who seek to introduce “socialism” within the framework of the capitalist state.

Then-vice-president Joe Biden meeting with police chiefs. Democrat Biden has always mantained close ties with the police, but now they back Trump.   (CQ Roll Call)

But as Election Day draws near, S.A. has taken up the call to hit the streets to “counter a potential Trump coup.” It adds: “Yes, we will say – assuming this is clear – that Biden won the election and should be president,” while then piously adding that it would expose “the totally corrupt nature of billionaire capitalist-orchestrated elections and Democrat Biden.” No matter how much S.A. says it would act “without in any manner indicating political support to Biden and the Democrats,” this is saying it would mobilize to ensure that he takes office, which is political support. Genuine revolutionaries would mobilize against violation of democratic rights and police repression, but on a program of opposing the Democrats and all capitalist parties and fighting for socialist revolution.

Today, authentic Trotskyists must be prepared to mobilize on a class basis, politically independent and against all bourgeois parties, in fighting to defend democratic rights and to oppose repression by the capitalist state, represented by both Democrats and Republicans. In the concrete, leftists mobilizing in the streets against an attempt by the Trump regime to annul the popular vote will face repression by police forces under the command of Democratic mayors and governors, and which are effusively supported by both Biden and Trump. Revolutionary Marxists must make it crystal clear that we would oppose the attempt to install an authoritarian government by extra-legal means but do not call for Biden taking office, from which he will repress the working people, telling his pals the cops to shoot us in the leg while Harris moves to lock us up.

Any kind of actual mass strike action in this context must be directly connected to a fight to form a workers party on a program of militant class struggle to fight for a workers government. Of course the Democrat-loyal labor lieutenants of capital did not call for a strike (let alone a general one) in Rochester against the racist murder of Daniel Prude by the police – which the law-and-order duo of Biden-Harris want to beef up even further. In contrast, revolutionary Marxists fight for mass workers action, including strikes, against racist cop terror, as part of the urgent struggle against repression. What pro-Democratic Party union leaders mean when they (almost never) dare to utter the words “general strike” is basically a big demonstration combined with a work stoppage, not the prelude to a struggle for state power, as Lenin and Trotsky insisted. When unions in Wisconsin were on the verge of a general strike in February-March 2011, a measure which the Internationalist Group called for from the beginning of the struggle against Republican governor Scott Walker’s union-busting law, with tens of thousands protesting at the state capitol every day, the frightened labor bureaucrats called it off on behalf of the Democratic Party.

A “general strike,” or mass mobilization of any sort, which has as its aim to put Biden/Harris in office, could also be called off by them. Popular-front mobilizations together with sections of the bourgeoisie – which is what social democrats like S.A., SAlt and the FSP mean when they talk of a “united front,” like in the antiwar movements they built in the past – are a lifesaver for the ruling class when it is in trouble, as the U.S. bourgeoisie is right now. The danger is not only the authoritarian Trump, but Biden-Harris who boast of their support from a raft of intelligence and retired military (“deep state”) brass.

Struggles in the next period will likely be of a defensive nature, facing ramped-up repression against immigrant, African American, Latino, poor and working-class communities generally. If Trump wins, the police will be emboldened. If Biden wins, the cops will want to test his professions of support for them. If the situation is confused, the forces of state repression will seek to squelch mass unrest by cracking down hard, going after “antifa,” arresting demonstration leaders as they have done in Denver, New York and now Philadelphia, and/or carrying out mass arrests, as they have been doing for months. Only now the gloves will be off. After the mass protests last summer, the cops are itching for revenge.

Already the I.C.E. police are gearing up for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants following the elections. Black neighborhoods could be terrorized by police working in tandem with fascists and right-wing militias. The Internationalist Group has repeatedly called for bringing out the power of mass workers action against deportations, raids and racist attacks and will continue to insist that mobilizing union power in mass action, and organized defense of the rights of us all, rather than individual actions or unfocused outbursts, is key to defeating the reactionaries allied with the state. The repressive forces of the exploiters and oppressors can only defeated by a greater power, that of the workers with a leadership that seeks to really shut it down, meaning not only a street, a bridge, a tunnel or highway but bringing the capitalist system to a grinding halt.

The key to all of this is the arduous struggle to forge the nucleus of a revolutionary workers party on the program of the Bolsheviks who led the workers revolution of 1917. The Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the League for the Fourth International, has taken on that task. As the repression elections of 2020 highlight, to fight capitalist barbarism and the multiple dangers it poses to the workers and oppressed, we must wage – and win – the fight for socialist revolution. ■

  1. 1. Washington Post, 24 July 2019; CNN, 17 April 2020.
  2. 2. See our article “A Tale of Two Cities: Wuhan – New York,” The Internationalist No. 59, March-April 2020.
  3. 3. See “The Real Heritage of Harrington’s DSA” and “Democratic Socialism’ in the Service of U.S. Imperialism,” in the Internationalist Group pamphlet, DSA: Fronting for the Democrats (2018).
  4. 4. See “Like We Said, Bernie Sanders’ ‘Political Revolution’ Was a Scam,” Revolution No. 17, August 2020.