Democratic Campaigns of the Ruling Class Divert Attention from the Class Struggle
In the last few months the ruling class has unleashed an incredible barrage of democratic campaigns to confuse and disorient the working class. The democratic mystification is used skillfully by the bourgeoisie in diverting political discontent within the working class into harmless traps that keep workers tied to the state and dilute the working class within a broader "civic movement" (interclassist people’s movements). Notable democratic campaigns in recent months include not only the union reform campaigns and the ongoing presidential campaign mentioned above, but also those centered on anti-police brutality and corruption movements, the ideological campaign around investing in the stock market, the Elian Gonzalez affair, and the anti-globalization movement.
The anti-police brutality campaigns respond to growing discontent, especially among minority workers, provoked by the strengthening of the state’s repressive apparatus. The movement serves the bourgeoisie by tying the movement to the state and bourgeois legality. The central slogan of these movements, "No Justice, No Peace," contains within it the false notion that somehow justice false notion that somehow justice is possible under capitalism, that somehow police who shoot and kill unarmed, innocent civilians will be punished in the courts. The demands of this movement that call for consultation between police officials and black community "leaders", i.e., local businessmen, clergy, etc., for the hiring of more minority officers, etc. express the bourgeois nature of this movement.
The ideological campaign around stock market investment is not confined simply to the U.S., but occurs in Europe and elsewhere as well. In Germany, the unions are now demanding that workers receive part of their wages in stocks, for example. The phenomenon of workers dabbling on the market via the Internet is all too common, and is accompanied with an ideological campaign pressing the false proposition that there is no class struggle, workers "own" the companies too and have a vested interest in capitalist prosperity – the essence of democratic capitalism.
The Elian Gonzalez campaign has been used successfully to promote a false democratic framework(i.e., the Cuban exile community’s desire to keep the child in a "free America"), and the Clinton administration’s invocation of the natural rights of parents and cherished democratic "rule of law." For five months this law." For five months this affair has the subject of intensive media coverage, reflecting the ruling class’s recognition that it is better to stir passions and public debate about a total sideshow, rather than .focus on the central contradictions in capitalist society.
Anti-globalization and the Development of a False Anti-capitalism
After the union reform campaign, the most pernicious of the recent democratic media blitzes has been the anti-globalization movement, and the accompanying fanfare about the rise of a new "anti-capitalism," which has provoked serious confusions within the libertarian and De Leonist milieu. Groups like the De Leonist New Unionist seem mesmerized by the confrontations in the street in Seattle last November, incapable of offering any political analysis of the movement whatsoever. News and Letters sees Seattle as the birth of a new revolutionary movement.
An article in Discussion Bulletin by Lauren Goldner acknowledges the anti-globalization movement’s reactionary protectionism on the one hand, but on the other sees it as offering the greatest potential since 1968, bringing together militant lesbians, tree huggers and industrial workers in a new movement. Such an outlook precisely serves the bourgeoisie’s intereststhe bourgeoisie’s interests by denigrating the autonomy of proletarian struggle and by diluting the working class’ grievances within a list of perceived social ills, i.e., gay rights, feminism, ecology, animal rights, and workers rights, as if all were equivalent in weight.
Three council communist groups endorsed an anarchist call to create an "anti-capitalist" wing within the anti-globalization movement, apparently in the belief that it would be possible to have a proletariat wing of a capitalist movement. The media’s coverage of the new anti-capitalist movement, as exemplified by interviews with John Zerzan, the theoretical guru to the masked anarchists in Seattle who smashed Starbucks windows during the anti-WTO protests, represents a cynical attempt by the bourgeoisie to define anti-capitalism as purposeless violence and rioting, which is designed a)to cut it off from working class support and b)to mislead younger generations of workers away from the terrain of proletarian struggle into a political dead-end.
A significant aspect of the bourgeoisie’s current offensive is designed to accentuate the isolation of current minoritarian reflection and struggle within the working class by blocking the younger generations of workers from the historic experience and class terrain of the prolet and class terrain of the proletariat. It can be seen in the derision of history, the dismissal of marxism as a "philosophy of dead white men,", in the notion of the "end of history," and the denigration of the meaning of historical historical experience making inroads amongst working class youth.
The bourgeoisie’s efforts to postpone as long as possible the outbreak of class confrontations is in part linked to an attempt to break the younger generations from the experience of the older generation of workers. It is now over thirty-years since the generation of ’68 experienced the first upsurge in class struggle following the end of the reconstruction period, and near twenty years since the onset of the significant struggles of the third wave in which workers challenged union control of their struggles and openly posed the question of extension.
Stalling the class struggle as the generation of 1968 ages and the encouragement of early retirements are all part of the bourgeoisie’s attempt to set up a situation in which it will confront a working class cut off from the experience of ’68 and the third wave. This all the more heightens the necessity for the revolutionary minorities within the class to direct its efforts towards the new generations of workers to assure that the lessons of past struggles can serve as guideposts in the confrontations to come.