Defeat right wing extremism and clear the path to socialism
Millions opposed to Trump’s agenda have been on the march since his inauguration in January. Here, the Women’s March in Washington D.C., only one day after the Trump inauguration. AP

Following is the text of a speech by Rick Nagin, Ohio district organizer of the Communist Party, USA. The speech was delivered at Ohio University, April 6, 2017, at a forum on Communism and Social Justice:

The November election was a watershed moment. I think it is likely that U.S. politics will never be the same. We have a new situation and a new dynamic — an open struggle between the forces of fascism, right wing extremism, and the forces of democracy.

We do not yet have fascism. We do not have a terroristic dictatorship. We have a government supported by fascists that includes some fascists and white supremacists. It is a government of right wing billionaires and generals. It is a government with an extremist, racist, misogynist, anti-working class and broadly anti-democratic ultra-nationalist agenda. It is an agenda that encourages reckless destruction of the environment and could threaten survival of the human race. It is an agenda that would recklessly bypass diplomacy and embrace pre-emptive military aggression.

This agenda did not appear overnight, but has been emerging over the past 50 years. It’s an at-tempt to roll back the gains won by working people and their progressive allies in the New Deal, and the Civil Rights/Great Society period. It is a concerted attack on the living standards and democratic rights and institutions that have been won through very long and painful struggles by the American people. This extremist program has been embraced and adopted by the Republican Party, which has been able to implement parts of it in many states.

But the most important thing is that from the day Trump was elected, millions of Americans have taken to the streets and demonstrated that they do not accept the fascist direction. The mass upsurge of the people is unlike anything we have ever seen. It is much broader, more united, diverse and mature than what happened in the 1960’s. and maybe even the 1930’s.

With no sign of letting up, high points have been the Jan. 15 rallies for health care called by Bernie Sanders involving tens of thousands; the national women’s marches Jan. 21 involving an estimated 5 million people; the mass demonstrations at airports following Trump’s Muslim Ban order; the overflow town hall meetings protesting the Republican attempt to repeal the Afford-able Care Act and the flooding of their offices with phone calls, petitions, rallies and sit ins.

The movement has scored important victories including blocking some of Trump’s cabinet nominees and preventing for now the repeal and replacement of the ACA. The movement has fueled the continuing exposure of Trump’s corrupt financial ties and nepotism it has forced the firing of his national security advisor, the resignation of the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and exposed his illegal connections to oligarchs and autocrats in Russia, Turkey and other countries. At this point the administration is in turmoil and Trump’s approval ratings are at a record low.

The mass upsurge of the people goes way beyond those who voted for Hillary Clinton. It includes those who voted third party, those who did not vote and growing numbers of those who realize they mistakenly voted for Trump out of anger and frustration with the status quo. The movement includes cities, states and campuses which have defied Trump and declared them-selves sanctuaries for immigrants.

Reflects a growing radicalization

This resistance movement also reflects a growing radicalization of the people, especially youth, African Americans and low income people, who polls show now have a higher opinion of social-ism than capitalism. The combination of spontaneous mass upsurge and growing radicalization gives promise for very fundamental change and an unprecedented opportunity to build socialist consciousness, and the revolutionary working class movement. It is a moment of great danger, but also great opportunity.

Fundamentally, this movement grows out of a deep contradiction in the capitalist system. That contradiction is that, while there has been unprecedented globalization and socialization of production, the unprecedented wealth this has generated is concentrated in the tiniest number of private hands. According to the recently released Wealth-X billionaire census, published in the New York Times Feb. 26, at the end of 2015 there were some 2,500 billionaires in the world holding a total wealth close to $8 trillion. They account for 3 one hundred thousandth of a per cent of the world’s population.

The U.S. has the largest number, about 560, with $2 trillion in wealth. Such concentration of wealth cannot be rationally defended and shows that capitalism has reached the stage where it is the main obstacle to higher living standards, greater rights and freedom for the working people, who produced this wealth and comprise the vast majority of the population. In the political arena, such concentration of wealth naturally causes anti-democratic tendencies in the ruling class.

So what must be done? First, we need a general vision.

We obviously need a massive reform to tax the obscene accumulation of wealth by the billionaires and use that money to meet the urgent needs of the people.

This includes a massive public works program to create millions of jobs at union wages. All workers must have the right to organize and bargain collectively when a majority sign union cards.

Workers must be guaranteed full wages when their places of work close until they are retrained and re-employed.

There must be equal pay for equal work for women and racially oppressed minorities.

Health care, education and a clean environment must be guaranteed as human rights to all U.S. residents.

Higher education at state run schools should be tuition-free and all student loan debt should be abolished.

We should call for unconditional amnesty for all undocumented workers now living within our borders and provide an easy path to citizenship.

We must demand full reproductive rights for women without interference from church or state.
All voter suppression laws must be repealed to guarantee that every American upon turning 18 is encouraged to vote and has full access to the ballot.

Cap must be eliminated

The cap on Social Security taxes must be eliminated without regard to income and benefits must be expanded to guarantee retirement security for all.

There is pressing and obvious need for a national overhaul of criminal justice with guarantees that police forces fully reflect the diversity of the communities they are sworn to protect, that police are made fully accountable when they kill innocent civilians and that racial bias is eliminated from the entire system.

All forms of discrimination based on sexual preference or orientation must be ended. Our government must make an unconditional commitment to end human-induced climate change.
We demand the closing of all foreign military bases, the return of Guantanamo to the people of Cuba and an end to the embargo on trade. with that country.

We call for slashing military spending to the level required by actual defense needs and the destruction of all nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals.

These are the basic immediate demands for reforms for social and economic security for the people of our country within the existing capitalist system.

These goals are achievable with the resources our country possesses, but they require us to keep working to build and expand the mass resistance to the Trump/right wing extremist agenda.

For the time being, unfortunately, we must play defense. Together with organized labor we must build the grassroots movement to resist every step they make in the direction of fascism.

We should begin right now by demanding that Congress reject any renewed effort to repeal the ACA.
We must protect and expand Medicare and Medicaid.

The next key fight will probably be over the Republican plan to shovel more of our nation’s wealth to the billionaires and increase taxes on the people.

But, at the same time we should understand that the fascist danger will always remain so long as the system that funnels the wealth created by working people into the hands of a greedy few continues. We Communists fight for the best possible life for workers within the capitalist system, but we also realize that that system must be ended for full security, full democracy and full freedom to be achieved. We are for reforms, but we are not reformists. We believe that ultimately corporate power must end and be replaced by working class power, which is the essence of socialism.

Essential to defeat

It is essential to defeat the right wing extremist Trump agenda but that is not the end of the struggle. In this we differ from Democrats and liberal reformers.

The Democrats seek to gain leadership of the mass upsurge and use it to get elected in 2018. They seek to stabilize capitalism and preserve it. Our aim is to defeat the right wing section of corporate power so as to weaken and destabilize capitalism in order to eventually establish socialism.

The November election exposed the inability of liberalism, by itself, to reach enough of the people and convince them it would solve their problems. The same thing is happening in Western Europe, India, Japan and other countries. The 2018 elections are important and we will seek, as we do in every election, the best possible outcome for working people. But, as we build the immediate struggles at both the grassroots and in the electoral-legislative arena, our mission is also to build the deeper and broader mass movement for socialism.

After hundreds of thousands of years of classless communal food gathering societies, classes first arose out of early farming communities approximately 10,000 years ago and one of the four main centers was in what is now Latin America and gave rise to the great class-based civilizations of the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas.

Ever since classes first arose, the great majority of the people have been exploited and oppressed by the owners of land and property in various forms of class society —feudal, slave-owning or capitalist. Capitalism is the last of these exploitative class systems and there is ample reason to believe it is nearing the end of its rope.

In the last century the first socialist societies arose. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the formation of the first of these in Russia. These first societies without economic exploitation, arose under extremely difficult conditions. No experience existed to guide the building of such societies and socialism arose in countries with great deficits in education, health care and economic development. It arose in countries with few democratic traditions and institutions and faced an extremely hostile capitalist world that was determined to use every means possible, including unleashing genocidal wars, to stifle and crush their development.

Despite this and in a very short period of time they made great achievements and showed that the possibility for building a society free of economic exploitation, was real and not a pipe dream. We have a lot to learn from that experience, but socialism in the United States will certainly be far different, since we would not face the same challenges.

We would face other obstacles, including ridding ourselves of the ideological debris left by capitalism and its predecessors. This includes racism, male supremacy and individualism.

Racism is a special feature and form of oppression that is central and almost unique to American capitalism. It is a method of divide and rule that was welded into the fabric of our country before the actual founding of the United States, after the rebellion of small farmers and slaves, both Black and white, led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676.

Overcame the uprising

When the British overcame that uprising, the Virginia House of Burgesses enacted its infamous slave codes requiring that slaves be Black and overseers, craftsmen and others be white. These laws gave a legal basis for the ideology of white supremacy and white superiority, which then, and, up to the present day, has been spread into every aspect of American society and extended to the oppression of all people of color.

The fight against racism is a fight for democracy. It is a fight to unite Black, white and brown Americans against their common exploiters and oppressors and to demonstrate to white Americans that they cannot advance in any arena without their brothers and sisters of color. The fight against racism strikes at the heart of U.S. capitalism, which is why racism is so hard to root out and why the fight for equality is so fiercely resisted by the U.S. ruling class and its supporters.

Like male supremacy, homophobia and other forms of oppression, it is a special issue that must be explicitly addressed and will not automatically disappear with the achievement of socialism. This is why racism and male supremacy are at the heart of the right-wing extremist/Trump pro-gram. The drive to suppress access to voting, public education, decent housing, health and human services all have a sharp racist and male supremacist edge aimed at dividing working people and enforcing the second class status of people of color and women

In fact, neither socialism, nor any other step in that direction can be won without building the greatest possible unity of working people, beginning with building racial unity and gender solidarity.
We Communists are often accused of being optimists and having faith in the people. To these charges, we plead guilty. We reject the cynical values and defeatist attitudes spread by the ruling class, who would like us to believe that capitalism is eternal and is rooted in human nature. We know from experience, especially the experience of organizing unions, that working people can overcome the divisive influences of the exploiters and act in their real interests and the interests of their class. We are in fact, confident that socialism is inevitable. The socialist genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back.

Our party seeks to make this transition come about as peacefully, painlessly and rapidly as possible. We seek a society of, by and for the working people of all races and backgrounds, one that is modern, just, democratic, peaceful and green.

We invite all of you to join us in achieving this goal.


Rick Nagin
Rick Nagin

Rick Nagin has written for People's World and its predecessors since 1970. He has been active for many years in Cleveland politics and the labor movement.