of America's Two-Party System
& the Need for a True Workers Alliance
By Lil Joe
American (and European) workers often confuse
the Democratic Party as the American version of the European
Social-Democratic and Labour Parties. But this is not
true. The American Democratic Party was originally the
political party of the American slave-holders in the South, and
their supporters in the North.
The Republican Party arose as an anti-slavery
party in the North. The International Working-Men's
Association supported the Republican Party as the anti-slavery
party, but at the same time advocated that American workers form
their own class party and form a direct alliance with, and
support of the slave rebellion in the South.
The U.S. Democratic Party is also a class
party. It is not a working-class party financially based in
the trade unions, however. Rather the opposite. The
Democratic Party is a capitalist class party. We must keep
in mind the determining characteristic of a political party is
not its rhetoric, or even its program and/or platform but its
financial basis and, based on that, its social composition.
The Democratic Party is financially based in
industrial capital, domestic capital. It only seems to be a
labor party' because the American industrial unions have gotten
out the vote and campaigned for the Democratic Presidential
candidate. Historically, American workers, unlike workers in the
industrialized capitalist countries elsewhere, do not and have
not had a class party.
Of course, there have been political
formations that call themselves “labor party “ and
“worker's party.” But there has never been a labor party, in
the United States that is created and financed by labor unions,
and socially based in the working-class as a whole. A true
working class party would run candidates for winnable national
offices against Democrats as well as Republicans.
Labor party praxis advocates an understanding
of economics of class struggle. The Democratic Party is
financially based in industrial domestic capital, the American
steel industry, for instance. Thus, in promoting tariffs
the Democrats represent the interests of U.S. steel. That is
quintessential although Democrats masquerade this capital
partisanship as fighting for steel workers job security.
Yet the steel workers have not benefited from
these tariffs. It is American capitalists in price hikes
in production and distribution that benefit from tariffs.
The American workers, and farmers, as consumers do not benefit
from tariffs. Neither do workers and peasant as consumers
in 3rd world countries benefit from tariffs benefit in their
I must repeat. The Democratic Party is the
party of capital, not of labor. The Democrats in the trade union
bureaucracy would have us believe that the Democratic Party is
"progressive," supportable by trade union's dues.
This is class betrayal! Fundamentally, in the Senate, the
presidency and the national judicial representations the
Democrats are based in capital, not labor.
Were the Democratic Party a labor party it
would be a creature of organized labor in politics, in their own
name, as are the socialist parties in Europe, and Labour Party
in Great Britain. To be held accountable to labor, the
class party must be socially based in the working-class as a
class, and financially supported exclusively by trade unions. But
the Democratic Party in its national committee and in the Senate
and upper chambers of States and in the presidency and judiciary
is based socially and financially in contributions from domestic
and/or industrial capital.
U.S. Representative Dennis
Kucinich of Ohio presents himself as a worker
militant. In fact, he is from the working-class but this
is a case of the incidental or the inessential masquerading as
essential. This kind of masquerade comes on the scene every
Presidential election year. This masquerade—let's call
it what is, a charade—has a history going back to the
Communist Party U.S.A.'s promoting the millionaire Democrat
The so-called Left laps up the Democratic
vomit and rhetoric of "anti-party" Party hacks and campaign
artists such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who present the
Democratic Party as the "progressive alternative" to
the Republicans. Their rhetoric present themselves as Blacks in
the Democratic Party rather than what they are, namely,
Democrats in the Democratic Party.
The same conclusion applies to trade
unionists who campaign for Democrats. Politically, they are not
trade unionists in the Democratic Party but Democratic Party
representatives in the trade unions. To build a successful labor
party in the U.S., we must elect union members to leadership who
will struggle for a Labor Party, rather than those who seek
advantage as hacks for the Democrat Party.
The so-called liberal and
"progressive" wing of the Democratic Party presents
itself pragmatically as a "viable" alternative to the
Republican "right-wing." The issue is lapped up
by the American "Left" as urgently of pragmatic. Prior
to its own Negro exhibit at its 2000 Convention, the Republican
Party was presented as racist and fascist.
At its previous Party Conventions, the
Democratic Party boasted that it "looks like America"
implying that the Republicans were lily-white, i.e., racists.
But, when the Republicans came up with their own Negroes and
women speakers, the Black delegates to the Democrats said that
they, not the Republican Blacks were the authentic Negroes!
But the Democratic Party has always openly
presented itself as a party of capitalism. The Clinton-Lieberman
Democratic Leadership Council made this class partisanship
Yet, ostensibly "fighting fascism,"
the "Left" promotes the Democrats to
"protect" workers, Blacks, Jews and socialist
organizers from Republican "fascists." In reality, the
Democrats are just as much based in, and representative of
"corporate capital" as are the Republicans.
The United States Congress does not have a
single trade unionist in it. In class terms, the Democrats and
Republicans monopolize Congress as anti-communists, in effect,
present themselves as a united front against labor. As a member
of this Democratic Party and member of Congress, Kucinich
is an integral part of the capitalist's political united front.
Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone
(deceased) in the Senate, and John Conyers and Kucinich in the
House of Representatives represent the Democratic Party in the
labor and "progressive" movements. Conyers and
Kucinich both have their out-of-inner-city poverty stories. They
even support the idea of African-American reparation.
The big hoodwink of the American
"Left" came when the Democrats ran Jesse Jackson for
nomination. Although he knew he had no a chance of winning
the Party nomination, Jesse Jackson's not-so-hidden agenda was
to bring Black and "progressives" into the Democratic
Party by promoting voter registration and elevating himself to a
status as "President of African-Americans." This
gambit made him a prominent player in the Democratic Party.
Jesse Jackson was a complete opportunist!
Jackson knew he couldn't win— thought he talked about his
grand momma's quilt and his moving "from the outhouse to
the White House." Jackson advanced this class
collaborationist line in racial terms in his typical rhetoric.
He said, to paraphrase, Some
Americans came on the free men ships and others on slave ships
but now we're all "in the same boat.”
What is indeed clear, however, is that Black
and White workers and unemployed homeless are part of the same
working-class and the impoverished surplus population and have
nothing economically in common with American capitalists.
On what rational basis could Jesse Jackson
conclude that Howard Hughes and the Rockefellers are "in
the same boat" with Black exploited workers and homeless
Blacks sleeping in filthy alleys? Instead of an economic
and political analysis, at his campaign stops and at the
Democratic Party Convention, Jackson mealy-mouthed emotional
rants comprised of out-of-poverty stories—"My dad was a
share-cropper" and slogans completely void of political
content—"Keep hope alive" and metaphorical anecdotal
stories about how his grandma stitched quilts together with
patches of different colors.
At the Democratic Convention, Jackson’s
apologetic sermon appealed to Jews for forgiveness for his
"Hymietown” remark, sloganeered about rainbows, and
biblically referenced our preciousness in “God’s
sight"—all these remarks were devoid of the oppressive
political reality of black workers and America’s poor. Jackson
abandoned working class needs for his primary Democratic
responsibility, namely, to instruct his Convention
"delegates" to support the Democratic Party candidate,
What we see playing out today, in the
Presidential campaigns, both of Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton,
is the refinement by the Democrats of the Jesse Jackson strategy
of bringing alienated Democrats back into the fold, and attract
"progressives" to the Democratic Party. They know that
they have no chance of winning.
The Democratic Party's 2003-4 Black strategy
is to have Al Sharpton and/or Carol Mosely-Brawn to attract
disaffected Black voters and women and to use Kucinich against
Nader, or whomsoever the Greens select as their nominee to the
* * *
Charles Johnson on the meaning of Obama
The Seattle novelist and expert on Martin Luther
King Jr. believes that Obama's election is a sea-change moment for
America and the world. "So we have evolved in terms of our understanding
that excellence is colorblind."— 28 April 2009
Robin Lindley—You’ve described Obama’s rise
as evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Charles Johnson: It speaks
more to evolution in terms of the public attitude of the American people
than Obama himself. He did not run as a challenging black candidate
[but] on the promise of somebody who would bridge the divisions in
American society. He doesn’t belong to the generation of Jesse Jackson
and others. . . . Obama gave that talk on Fathers’ Day last year at a
church in Chicago about better parenting and black responsibility. He
was basically taking a page from the playbook of Bill Cosby, and Jesse
Jackson was furious with him and got caught on the air saying he wanted
to cut [Obama’s] nuts off for talking down to Ns, and he used the N
word. So we [need] more honesty and not illusions.
One of the things that has to be addressed
seriously is the dysteleological behavior in black male culture. At a
community college in the South three young black women asked me “Mr.
Johnson, what’s wrong with these young black men?” I said, “I know what
you’re talking about, but I don’t know what the solution is.” They were
Robin Lindley What were these young women
seeing in young black men?
Charles Johnson: They were
seeing guys who just want to get over and get laid. They were seeing
guys who do drugs or sell drugs. They were seeing guys who didn’t have
their values, like valuing an education. They wanted guys they could
feel good about, but they didn’t have that, which is sad.
I have talked about that in many
essays, and people don’t want you to talk about it. King would tal
* * *
Sharpton and Jackson Endorse War on Terror—A Black Agenda Radio commentary
by Glen Ford—Jesse Jackson said that the killing of bin Laden was a “huge
psychological victory.” By this he clearly meant a psychological victory for
Barack Obama, who put the hit out on bin Laden,just as he has placed American
citizens on assassination lists with no recourse to due process. President Obama
badly needed that psychological victory, since unemployment went up last month
and now looms as the rock on which his presidency might shatter. . . .
Jackson either needs to hand in his anti-war credentials right now, or find a
good mouth doctor that will stop him from encouraging those who would increase
the $1.2 trillion national security budget that is pushing human needs programs
into the Valley of Death. Does Rev. Jackson think Obama deserves a “huge
psychological boost” for having
killed almost one thousand innocent civilian men, women and children in
Pakistan last year with his drones, and is guaranteed to kill even more this
Al Sharpton shows that he is as crude and vulgar as his mentor Don King.
Sharpton compliments Obama for being “cool under fire”—as if the world is
attacking the White House, rather than the other way around. Obama, says
Sharpton, “can see the bigger picture.” It does not bother Sharpton that Obama’s
bigger picture means bigger wars. Which is alright with Sharpton, as long as he
gets a bigger check.—
* * *
* * *
The Shadows of Youth
The Remarkable Journey of the Civil
By Andrew B. Lewis
With deep admiration and rigorous
scholarship, historian Lewis (Gonna
Sit at the Welcome Table)
revisits the ragtag band of young men
and women who formed the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Impatient with what they considered the
overly cautious and accommodating pace
of the NAACP and
Luther King Jr., the black college
students and their white allies,
inspired by Gandhi's principles of
nonviolence and moral integrity, risked
their lives to challenge a deeply
entrenched system. Fanning out over the
Jim Crow South, SNCC organized sit-ins,
voter registration drives, Freedom
Schools and protest marches. Despite
early successes, the movement
disintegrated in the late 1960s,
succeeded by the militant Black Power
movement. The highly readable history
follows the later careers of the
principal leaders. Some, like
Stokely Carmichael and
Brown, became bitter and
disillusioned. Others, including
Julian Bond and
John Lewis, tempered their idealism
and moved from protest to politics,
assuming positions of leadership within
the very institutions they had
challenged. According to the author, No
organization contributed more to the
civil rights movement than SNCC, and
with his eloquent book, he offers a
* * * *
Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow
Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
mass incarceration of people of color through the War on
Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child
born today is less likely to be raised by both parents
than a black child born during slavery. The absence of
black fathers from families across America is not simply
a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time
watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black
men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away
for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed
by whites. Most people seem to
imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of
poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at
rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This war has
been focused overwhelmingly on low-level drug offenses,
like marijuana possession—the very crimes that happen
with equal frequency in middle class white communities.
* * *
update 25 November