We are daily being bombarded with propaganda about how absolutely important the election is this year from the media, politicians, labor leaders, clergy, academia, civil rights leaders, rock stars, movie stars, and anti-war movement leaders ? from all the institutions that prop up the capitalist state. We are told that this is the most crucial election in our lifetime, that the future of humanity literally hangs in the balance. But it?s all a load of nonsense.
The differences between Bush and Kerry are minimal - confined to secondary issues of style, different approaches to implementing the same goals. They share the same commitment to maintaining US imperialist hegemony, the same strategic goal of preventing the emergence of any country that could challenge US domination as the world?s only superpower. They both support the war in Iraq. They both seek to whip up patriotic fever so they can plunge us into still more wars in the years ahead. They both pledge to strengthen the armed forces and thus accelerate the militarization of American society. They both support increasing state repression ? Bush through the US Patriot Act and Kerry through his pledge to implement immediately the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which include establishment of a domestic espionage network that will dwarf anything the FBI ever did. They both defend capitalism and the ruthless exploitation of the working class, in the US and around the world.
Sure, they appear to diverge sharply on secondary social questions like abortion, ecology, and stem cell research, but these are hot button issues that the capitalist class doesn?t really plan to ever resolve one way or the other. They cynically use these controversies to to whip up political emotions and distract attention from the fundamental problems of capitalism?s economic crisis and the class struggle. These divergences are more for show than anything else.
Today, elections have lost any meaning except as a mystification, as a means to confuse, trick and manipulate the working class into thinking it was ?free.? Bourgeois democracy is in fact the most sophisticated and pernicious form of class dictatorship the world has ever seen, the class dictatorship of capitalism. In the period of capitalism?s development when elections mattered, the bourgeoisie resisted the expansion of the franchise tooth and nail. Now that elections are useless except as an ideological mystification they keep expanding the franchise, making it easier and easier to register and vote ? because they want to suck more people into the charade.
For the working class, it is meaningless to participate in deciding which capitalist politician will be the titular head of the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. For the working class, it is the class struggle, the uncompromising defense of working class interests, that is the only thing that makes sense. It is this struggle, which inevitably puts the working class into confrontation with the state, that holds the seeds of the revolutionary struggle that is capable of destroying the capitalist state and its horrid economic system, and making possible the creation of a genuinely human social community, led and controlled by the working class, organized in workers councils. In such a society the guiding principle will be the fulfillment of social need, not the exploitation of labor and drive for profits. Whoever wins in November the fundamental orientation of the American state will be the same ? imperialist war abroad and austerity at home.
Internationalism, August 17, 2004.