How the 99% can fight back
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate leaves no doubt where Wall Street stands. Literally. The Wall Street Journal endorsed Ryan editorially on Aug. 9. Two days later, Romney made his announcement.
There’s no doubt that Ryan’s promotion signals a further push to the right by the financial and industrial .001 percenters whom the political establishment serves. Ryan has a plan for the budget that is dear to Wall Street’s heart: Cut, cut, cut all needed social programs, including entitlements that tens of millions of people rely on like Medicare and Social Security.
It is all so that the Treasury Department can keep paying the financiers the interest on the crushing national debt and keep funding wars of conquest abroad and cops and prisons at home.
And don’t forget: This monstrous warfare state — as large as the rest of the world’s war machines combined — is what generated most of this debt in the first place.
The question for workers and all oppressed people is what to do about this? Remain captive to the capitalist two-party system and hope for salvation at the ballot box? Or take the fight to an infinitely more level playing field: the factories, offices, supermarkets, streets, hospitals, schools and communities that are being devastated, where the workers make up the vast majority?
The capitalists learned a lesson from Wisconsin, Ryan’s state. When the governor there launched a frontal assault on the labor movement, the workers responded with a militant mobilization that led to weeks of occupying the State Capitol. It was a highpoint in recent U.S. labor history. But once that confrontation was dissipated into a recall campaign, the bosses came out on top. The Walker-Ryan style of hitting the workers head-on looked more promising to the ruling class as a whole.
Let’s look for a minute at Europe, where the same rightward political swing, fueled by the worst global capitalist economic crisis since the Great Depression, has brought the class struggle out into the open again.
This crisis has put the workers on the defensive everywhere. Nowhere, however, are there workers’ parties strong enough to wrest power from the ruling class. But this hasn’t stopped the Greek, Portuguese and Spanish workers, joined by many in the middle class, from going into the streets to fight the austerity plans being imposed on their governments by the big European banks.
In Greece, after tremendous and militant worker-led demonstrations, a somewhat left-wing attempt at winning parliament by the Syriza electoral party fell short, after temporarily drawing some of the energy of the masses into the elections.
Nevertheless, the European bankers, led by the Germans, thought better of their tactics and softened the blow slightly to keep the Greek government from collapsing under the weight of debt accumulated by previous bourgeois regimes. What are the bankers afraid of? The potential that the furnace of class struggle, stoked by the miseries of unemployment and hunger, will bring revolutionary leadership to the fore as the masses learn there is no other way out of this crisis.
What the working class here is going through has not yet reached the level of struggle in southern and eastern Europe — although many people here have long endured great hardships, especially given the economic disparity caused by the historical oppression of African Americans, Native and Latino/a people. But the direction here is plain to see. Poverty is rising, jobs remain stagnant while wages and benefits are cut, and big layoffs are on the horizon as government at all levels is cut back.
More is to come, and the Ryan pick is just a confirmation of that.
Wall Street has a plan, which is to push all the ill effects of their crisis on the backs of the working class. The relatively liberal capitalists and their politicians, on the other hand, have no plan of their own. The Democratic Party leadership has carried out the wishes of Wall Street ever since the crisis began in 2008-2009. The difference is that they have turned over trillions of dollars to the bankers and begun to cut social programs with a moan instead of a shout of triumph.
In this period, everything has moved to the right. Conservative pundits like Newt Gingrich, who had earlier criticized Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system as “right-wing social engineering,” are now praising him. Mouthpieces for the ultra-right Tea Party forces, like Glenn Beck, are cheering, of course.
But let’s not forget that the Tea Party was created by right-wing billionaires to give political cover to neofascists, inducing them to crawl out of the woodwork. They created a weapon to push the entire political establishment to the right.
This is not a period of social liberalism on the part of the imperialist bourgeoisie. The days of guns and butter are gone. The contradictions within their system, which make it convulse just when it becomes more productive than ever, can only be combated by class struggle. Compromise with the super-rich by electing their “lesser evil” candidates to run the government merely postpones the real struggle to combat — combatting the class of capitalist parasites that is wrecking the world.