The 2012 elections and socialism

No objective person can fail to see that the presidential election is currently the main form of the class struggle in our country. The working class and its allies on the one hand and the right-wing extremist section of corporate power on the other are committing all the resources at their disposal to this fight.

The AFL-CIO has promised to mobilize 400,000 volunteers and to provide this huge army with all the funds, literature and organization it can muster. Labor's allies among minorities, women, youth and many others will add tens of thousands more to build this mass movement to re-elect President Barack Obama, defend democracy and prevent an all-out legislative assault on the living standards and basic rights of the American people.

On the other hand, every right-wing extremist group is trying to activate its members and use unprecedented corporate funds to spread fear, lies and hatred for the president in hopes of dividing and intimidating the working class, suppressing its vote and electing the GOP candidate, presumably Mitt Romney.

The reelection of Obama together with a supportive Congress alone will not guarantee solutions to the serious problems facing our country, but it will greatly improve the ability of the American people to fight to end the economic crisis, create jobs, assure the rights of labor, minorities, women, immigrants and the LGBT community and address severe challenges in areas of health, education, retirement, the environment and government services.

On the other hand, if Romney wins and Republicans control Congress, the American people will be forced to fight for basic survival and the most elementary social, economic and political rights.

This became clear from the results of the 2010 elections when victorious right-wing extremists forced the working class and people in many states into protracted battles to preserve long-established rights of labor, minorities, immigrants and women, as well as access to public education, social services, voting and, in the case of Michigan, even the right to self-government.

Despite the stark differences, despite all that is at stake and despite the obvious mobilization of personnel and resources on both sides, some on the left, in the Occupy movement and among progressive intellectuals continue with a variety of pretexts, usually some criticism of Obama, to denigrate and disparage the electoral battle, to discourage active participation in it and spread the outrageous claim that the outcome is irrelevant.

It's obvious who benefits from this. It plays directly into the hands of the Republicans and the one-percenters who seek by any means necessary to suppress and demobilize the votes of the working class and its allies. In fact, it amounts to an abandonment of the fight and a complete capitulation to the most reactionary, anti-democratic forces in our country.

The leftists who hold these views seek to justify themselves with the claim that elections in our country are "rigged" or, at least, favor corporate forces. They also advance the strange argument that elections, involving hundreds of thousands in rallies, intense persuasion and door-to-door canvassing and eventually engaging tens of millions, are not mass movements.

The fact is that in every arena of the class struggle under capitalism workers fight an uphill battle. Corporate power is not called "the ruling class" for nothing. Even in the best of circumstances, when unionized workers simply seek a contract, they operate in a playing field where employers have the power to lock them out, hire scabs and threaten to shut the plant - a threat that they sometimes carry out.

The outcome is always some kind of compromise far short of ending capitalism. Does this mean progressive forces should turn their backs on the fight and downplay its importance?

The Communist Manifesto emphatically rejects this idea. It states that the class struggle is an objective reality, not something that socialists invent, create or instigate. It may not and generally does not take the form that left forces might prefer and it goes on whether or not they choose to participate. But the Manifesto states that, regardless of the form the class struggle takes, the role of socialists is to "fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class" and "in the movement of the present" also to "take care of the future of that movement."

In other words, you may choose to abstain from the 2012 elections, but, if you do, you will not advance the fight for socialism, you will do nothing to affect the balance of forces or bring about "the final conflict."

To move the ball towards the goal you must be on the field. Everyone can take part and a myriad of skills are needed. At each stage your impact will depend on how hard and how well you play. But one thing is certain - you will have no influence if you sit out the game.

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  • rick does a good job of laying out why the elections are important & that it is important to try to reelect Obama & the Dems. I do concur, as far as that goes.

    However, I believe his analysis has some real holes. Unfortunately, the title is symtimatic of this problem. While the article makes the argument that the electoral arena is important, "2012 Elections & Socialism" is absolutely NOT about Socialism!

    Further, as one who has stated (to rick) that our elections are "rigged," I would argue that they most assuredly ARE! One must be a millionaire (at least) to be able to participate. Only 2 parties of the same corporate class are the only one's that can realistically win. Millions, and growing, are denied the basic right to vote. Districts are gerrymandered & an Electoral College stands between voters and election, (to assume continued ruling class rule). Further, only corporate controlled media will tell us all what the issues are & who is a "credible" candidate. How on earth can one speak of the class struggle or socialism & deny this basic truth of our nation's capitalist class system?

    As well, while the electoral fight is extremely important & we all do have real class interests in the outcome, I would not call it a "movement," regardless of the numbers involved. It numbers of people participating is the central issue in determining whether something is a "movement," then the millions of Americans attending pro sports events are a "mass movement." "Movements," at least from my point of view, involve long-term, multi-faceted, struggles/activities aimed at changing some aspect of national or local rules. I would view the Civil Rights "Movement" or Peace "Movement" as examples of long-term social "Movements." Electoral activity, while important, is only one of the TACTICS that any particular "Movement" can participate in.

    None of the above is in any way ;an argument NOT to participate in elections, or even an argument concerning the importance of elections. Here, however, is what I, at least, see as the real difference. IF we recognize electoral activity as the class arena that it, in fact, is, then it is IMPARITIVE that the left/org'd labor, people's movement have an organized push to actually change the (yes, rigged) ground that we stand on, not only during elections, but during the legislative period between those elections. Barring this, we can only have a tailing of the old corporate parties which actually creates the very destain for elections that Rick's article takes on!

    Posted by bruce bostick, 05/15/2012 6:39pm (2 years ago)

  • In reference to "those few on the left" , I feel like the true intentions of those people are being misrepresented. I don't think that anyone is saying that sitting out the elections is a good idea, that solves nothing. But what they are expressing is the clear curruption of government officials. I think overall and more then anything the youth want plain talk , honest and no illusions. I will be voting for obama but i have no question about who obama serves. How about honest diaolouge , back him because its nessisary obviously, but let's not make him into a super hero.

    Posted by andres valenzuela , 04/29/2012 6:02pm (2 years ago)

  • On the money! Rick Nagin has correctly laid oust where we are at and why we must be a part of the fightback movement that is taking place thru this election campaign.

    Posted by Armando Ramirez, 04/29/2012 10:43am (2 years ago)

  • We need to re-elect Obama if for no other reason than the future of the supreme court nominees...
    also global warming , and other important issues... fair taxation to increase our stimulus money to create jobs rebuilding our infra structure..reduce defense spending , save our union jobs, save our social Security and medicare initiate single payer healthcare , save our postal workers increase our funding of renewable energies.close tax loopholes for corporations.stop subsidies for agriculture and oil monopolies

    Posted by zada merrill, 04/28/2012 11:20pm (2 years ago)

  • There are certainly other arenas and forms of the class struggle that should be fully supported. But the election is the main form and will have the most impact on every other issue. This is not an argument against supporting and participating in other struggles; it is an argument against sitting out or denigrating the main one.

    Posted by Rick Nagin, 04/28/2012 2:44am (2 years ago)

  • You call people to chose between arrogance and Hypocrisy. Unfortunately that is the reality,there is no relation between socialism and your call.

    Posted by Kay Hassan, 04/27/2012 7:53am (2 years ago)

  • Marx said, "The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressive class are to represent and repress them."

    Let's not kid ourselves. The United States is a government of the oligarchy. Obama ain't gonna chance that. Stop kidding youirselves.

    Posted by detectivetom, 04/27/2012 4:01am (2 years ago)

  • The elections is really about who will ran the world. The technocrats that ran Europe now pushing austerity what control of the USA, the Goldman Sac's of the world will push their agenda on us. Mitt Romney advisers are currently working for Goldman Sacs. Mitt Romney himself ran an equality firm, who looted firms, sold off their asserts and he himself became rich off their misery. Mitt Romney is another Bush. Most of his advisers were from the Bush administration. Wall Street backs Romney. Romney thinks its a good idea to have corporations ran this country, he's all in favor of going to war with Iran. The solution is to back all progressive candidates.

    Posted by Paul McClung, 04/26/2012 11:47pm (2 years ago)

  • BRAVO!

    Posted by motherforever, 04/26/2012 3:12pm (2 years ago)

  • The article certainly shows the importance of electoral activity, but I'm not so sure it's the only arena. The author says "you will do nothing" in the next-to-last paragraph.

    Doesn't that contradict the idea, expressed in a lot of our articles, that the fight on the sidewalks is also important?

    Posted by jim lane, 04/26/2012 1:46pm (2 years ago)

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