By Lenny Brody – Jan 3, 2024
It is becoming clear that the United States is in a serious political crisis. By political crisis we mean that the ruling class is no longer able to rule and control the masses of people in the same way it has been running the country in the past period of time. Since the end of the Second World War the dominant section of the capitalist class has controlled the working class through the two party system in general and through the Democratic Party in particular. In fact the Democratic Party emerged from WWII as the most influential organization within the working class. The foundation for this was laid in the 1930s with the role of Democratic President Roosevelt and the New Deal.
When we look at activity in the electoral arena we see that on the one hand important sections of the working class have been blocked from participation in the electoral arena through legal and extra-legal methods. These attacks on the poor are well documented. On the other hand leaders of the working class have been mislead into fighting for limited reforms which are periodically given and then taken away. Under these conditions the dominant international financial section of the capitalist class has had no trouble controlling the masses of people in the US and also rendering peripheral the right-wing, more nationally based section of the capitalist class.
Political developments in the final analysis are the result of economic developments. For more than 50 years global capitalism has been undergoing a slow, but qualitative economic transformation. With the discovery of the semiconductor or microchip, the capitalist process of production has been undergoing a transformation from industrial, nationally centered production to a global, electronics based production. Production based on electronics is not just labor-saving, but labor-replacing. With the continuing development of this labor-replacing technology the global capitalist system has entered a structural, fundamental crisis. This new form of production has been expressed in the de-industrialization that has racked the US economy. Not only are jobs being eliminated, but the limited jobs being created are mostly low skilled and low paying. This labor replacing technology has increasingly forged a new revolutionary section of the working class. The social effects of this transformation can be seen in the growth of the “informal” economy and the deterioration of the social and economic institutions within the US. The healthcare and education systems have been undergoing a rapid deterioration. Government policies are shredding the limited social safety net. In the wake of the 2007-2008 economic crisis, US society has entered a period of serious social decline. The masses of working class people are struggling to survive under these conditions and are looking for solutions. The Democratic Party and the liberal establishment, representing the dominant section of the ruling class, have been “unable” to provide answers to the problems.
As a result of these developing economic conditions, the ruling circles are looking for political means of controlling the situation. When we examine history we see that forms of fascism and authoritarian rule are established on the basis of the country’s own historical development. Authoritarian or fascist governments do not come into existence due to the policies of evil men, like Trump or other right-wing fanatics. Bourgeois, “democratic” governments are replaced when economic and political needs of the ruling class demand change. Hitler was not the cause of fascism in Germany. It was a major sector of finance capital, the major German industrial corporations, like I.G. Farben, Volkswagen, Siemens, Krupp and Daimler-Benz, that needed fascism to accomplish their economic and political goals and used Hitler for their purposes.
A study of US history shows that the context for fascism in the US will not be an ideological fringe movement backed by a limited reactionary section of capital. The transformation from one form of rule to another comes about within the developing struggle for political power. The elements of the ruling class that are supporting the “populist,” “MAGA” Republicans are disrupting the goals and ability of the dominant sector of the ruling class to run the country. This polarization within the ruling class is the context for the unfolding political crisis within the US. Many “progressives” and activists on the left only see the danger of the MAGA Republicans and their policies and are supporting the powerful, dominant section of the ruling class. However, we see tendencies within the dominant, “liberal” section of the ruling class to move toward a more authoritarian form of government in order to block the MAGA Republicans from disrupting their policies for the global capitalist economy.
Given the particulars of US history it is probable that if fascism comes to the US it will likely be under the guise of fighting against “fascism.” Georgi Dimitroff, in his writings on fascism pointed out that, “It is a peculiarity of the development of American fascism that at the present stage this fascism comes forward principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism, which it accuses of being an un-American tendency imported from abroad.”
The current political situation in the US is quite complex. First, it is critical to understand that it is the deteriorating economic situation that is driving the various political responses. Since the current economic crisis is systemic, neither the dominant, global sector of the ruling class nor the “populist” sector has a solution or a way out. Both sectors may be forced to turn toward authoritarian measures to control the response of the masses to the growing poverty and deterioration of social life.
At this time the dominant sector of the ruling class is leading the mass struggle against the populist sector. Many “progressive” activists are advocating supporting this “liberal” sector of the ruling class in a “united front” effort to block the “fascist” right-wing populists. This approach of “uniting to fight the right” ignores the fact that these “liberal” capitalists have no solution to the economic crisis and may turn toward authoritarian policies. Both sectors of the ruling class are questioning their ability to control the US working class through measures of “bourgeois democracy.”
Thus the political crisis in the US demands that revolutionaries participate in the class struggle so that the political independence of the working class is preserved and strengthened, rather than fighting in a way that increases the power of one section of the ruling class. Under the economic and political conditions today, political independence relies on the organization and education of the leaders of the revolutionary section of the working class. It is important for revolutionaries to avoid distractions and concentrate on this task.
Lenny Brody has been politically active for 50 years fighting in the interests of poor and working class people. He was involved in the civil rights movement in South Carolina and the anti Vietnam War protests during the 1960s. Since that time he has studied economics and theories of political change while continuing his political activism. Mr. Brody is a member of The University of the Poor and is working to build an independent political movement that will empower the poor and dispossessed victims of the current economic crisis.