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In every stage of its development, capital has created those political forms which most productively advance the maximization of profit. Today, this process is being shaped on the one hand by the requirements of global capital and on the other by the creation of a world proletariat.
Economic organization is shifting from nationally based markets to areas of investment and markets which are unprotected by national boundaries or subject to the traditional perogatives of sovereignty or national interests. A supranational ruling class, with no ties to any given nation or national interest, is steadily replacing the nationally based ruling classes of the period of rising capitalism and imperialism. Facing them across a widening abyss is the growing world proletariat which is united, objectively at least, in their common poverty.
This changed situation is forcing fundamental changes in the world political
order. Bribery and bourgeois democracy in a handful of exploiting nations
and fascism as the method of rule over the exploited people's of the world
the political rule of imperialism is being turned to the steady
but accelerating implementation of fascism worldwide. It is developing unevenly
and within the confines of national history and culture, but it is developing.
It is not the result of some world wide conspiracy or the work of some fringe
group. Rather, fascism today is an outgrowth of the introduction into capitalism
of labor replacing technology itself, generalized by the process of globalization.
The new world order
A global economic system and a supranational ruling class need institutions of global rule. New institutions are being created such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and existing ones such as the U.N., the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank are being reformed to facilitate the dismantling of national barriers to trade and investment. These new structures and their various multilateral agreements are eroding the traditional perogatives and power of the nation-state.
This has, predictably, provoked widespread reaction across the political spectrum. There are still many forces, in both the public and private sector, tied to national organization and they are struggling to maintain the rights of sovereignty. For instance, at the First Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Singapore last year, a variety of 'developing' nations protested the Multilateral Agreement on Investment being pushed by the WTO because it abrogates the nation's decision making powers concerning its own economic life.
The solutions proposed by this array of forces range from fighting to retain national perogatives to the hope that the capitalists can be persuaded to agree to some new form of governance which institutes mechanisms to restrain global capitalism and its consequences. Neither of these is possible.
Nation-states are creatures of a particular stage in history. Centuries in the making, they arose and developed as capitalism arose and developed and reordered the world. They not only defined a national market, but also served to develop and protect that market, and the interests of nationally based capital. From this home base each national bourgeoisie could launch its campaign for its country to rule the world. With the development of imperialism, capital has become only steadily more internationalized and now global in its nature. The stage of nation-states is over. Globalization is shifting decision making 'upward' to arenas outside of the nation-state's historically evolved political mechanisms, causing a loss of rights in general. But there is nothing inherently democratic or virtuous in the nation-state for the world's proletariat. In fact, its demise will remove a powerful obstacle to class unity among them.
The period of reform is over. Capital no longer has the luxury to bestow privileges on nor allow the participation of any of the peoples of the world in the political decision making process. Under imperialism, capital ruled in the imperialist countries through bribery - the provision of economic, social and political privileges to a section of the workers in the home country. The bribe guaranteed that these workers would see the resolution of conflict within the confines of capitalist social relations, would support their own bourgeoisie in times of crisis and war and would exert influence on the rest of their class to pull them behind the policies and interests of the rulers. The superprofits to bankroll the bribe came from colonial exploitation, guaranteed by the fascist rule of the colonial and neocolonial regimes installed by the imperialist countries.
Bourgeois democracy has been a key element of the bribe. It is important to remember that bourgeois democracy is not true democracy. True democracy is impossible as long as one class owns the means of survival of the other. Bourgeois democracy is simply a political form - although a 'freer, wider, and clearer form of class oppression and class struggle' (Lenin, Socialist Revolution and Self-Determination, Collected Works, vol. 22, p. 145) - which has been used by the bourgeoisie to help facilitate the development of capitalism. It is more characterized by fraud and deceit than any notion of real freedom, except, of course, for the ruling class.
Within the context of an expanding economy the effects of capitalism could be muted by the constant co-optation through bribery of a section of each 'national' working class and the suppression of the bottom by force. Today, labor replacing technology is allowing capital to free itself from its dependency on human labor and therefore its need to compromise with or make concessions to any workers. It is forcing labor to compete with the robot, driving wages down below the level of survival. Society is polarizing around those who have and those who don't. Those who don't are the billions of people of the world, including millions of formerly bribed workers in the imperialist countries. Those who have are the handful of millionaires and billionaires in whose interest the new international order is being run.
This is the new world order: the growing polarization of wealth and poverty,
the deterioration of traditional structures of rule and the unrelenting
pressure to drive, not only wages, but the full range of human culture to
its lowest level. The ruling class cannot allow the propertyless mass to
determine the direction of the world, which would mean where their profits,
privileges and well-being are going. Fascism provides the wherewithal to
maintain control. This control has become all the more urgent for the ruling
class since the very process which they have set in motion daily tears down
the objective barriers to unity among the world's proletariat - national
identity and bribery - that developed under imperialism.
Fascism emerging with global economy
The fascism of today will not simply be a repression of political life in the imperialist countries to the level of the politically repressive states of many 'developing' nations. It will mean the transformation of political rule everywhere, although the process of its implementation and its form will undoubtedly vary around the world. The common denominator cannot help but be a state, global in nature, which guarantees the unrestrained rule of private property on a global scale and the protection of the interests of a supranational ruling class.
This process is being played out in different ways. In part, it is emerging de facto from the steps being taken to facilitate the development of the global economy. Multilateral trading and investment agreements are proposed, debated and implemented with little, if any, public participation or with any public oversight or recourse. The Multilateral Agreement on Investments, for example, would abolish the ability of people to regulate in any way the 'behavior, entry, conditions and operations of transnational corporations in their country.'(A Treaty for Corporate Rights And Privileges, International Forum on Globalization, January 13, 1997) To the degree to which the proletariat has had an influence on restraining the rights of private property, such agreements would clearly deny it the ability to do so altogether. Renato Ruggiero, the Director of the WTO, is clear about the intentions of such agreements when he commented: 'We are writing the constitution of a single global order...' (Scott Nova and Michelle Sforza-Roderick, 'Worse than NAFTA', Preamble for Public Policy, April 1997)
The implementation of fascism is also, in part, evolving through the
full range of existing institutions within the various nation-states. As
nation-states are serving as the shell for the emergence of the global order
so too are they serving as the shell for the emergence of a global system
The advance of fascism in the US
Study after study confirms that the inequality between wealth and poverty is more pronounced in the U.S. than any other industrialized nation. The Labor Department reports that one quarter of all workers in the US are living in poverty, either unemployed, underemployed or involuntarily working part-time. The phenomenal growth of prison labor and the provisions of 'welfare reform' are creating a growing pool of slave labor comparable to that in the lowest wage countries. With the elimination of entitlements has come the repudiation of governmental responsibility on any level for the individual, leaving in the words of the economist Lester Thurow, 'no social contract but fear.'
These conditions are the foundation for the challenge to capitalist rule. The struggle for reforms, for protection from the ravages of unrestrained private property, is the only arena in which this fight can take place. The capitalists must inevitably attempt to deprive the emerging proletariat of 'democracy', and more importantly of its constitutional rights.
A blizzard of court rulings, Supreme Court decisions, new laws and various governmental policies are literally transforming the legal system in this country and thereby, the foundation of American political rights. Among the countless examples are the gutting of the Fourth Amendment, the chipping away of basic rights of privacy, and the serious inroads made into a variety of constitutional protections including the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and due process. As a result, the coercive power of the state has been greatly increased. Police at all levels operate virtually unchallenged, prison budgets exceed those of education in many states, over 5 million Americans are either in prison or under some form of legal sanction. In some cities, entire neighborhoods are under electronic surveillance.
The campaign to eliminate these rights was built on the backs of the jobless and propertyless section of society and directed first against them. By painting crime and poverty black, the ruling class effectively manipulated the color divisions of the country to their advantage. In this way, they have sought to establish a base for their fascist agenda by uniting primarily whites of all classes on the basis of skin color. Although white workers are the majority of the jobless and propertyless, the isolation of the minorities established the basis to attack the rights of all workers. There is no more proof of this than the so-called 'welfare reform'. Passed after more than fifteen years of anti-black propaganda, the true intention of changing 'welfare as we know it' is now clear: the destruction of the wages floor and the creation of a pool of labor competitive on the global market.
The American people's political voice has been reduced to a whisper. Free of the need to make concessions overall, the capitalists have little need for the posturing of the past. 'Bipartisanship' rules at all levels of government, shamelessly advancing the interests of private property over the rights of the people in every instance. Faced with politicians who 'fiddle while Rome burns' the American people are growing increasingly restive and dissatisfied. So, far the apologists of the ruling class have been able to turn even this to their advantage as they cultivate these impulses into support for increased restrictions and outright repression.
Ruling class propagandists are dutifully providing the theoretical and
philosophical justification for this new American order. In their book,
The Bell Curve, Charles Murray and his collaborator Richard Herrnstein advocate
concentration camps for the so-called genetically unintelligent poor, both
black and white. Newt Gingrich writes in his book To Renew America that
'if you are not prepared to shoulder personal responsibility then you are
not prepared to participate in American civilization.' Alvin and Heidi Toffler
claim that majority rule is an outdated concept and should be replaced by
the 'minority rule' of those who have the access to society's resources,
regardless of color. (Creating a New Civilization, 1994). Deepak Lal, an
influential UCLA economist writes in a paper presented before the world
bank that 'an efficient market economy does not require a democratic form
of government for its maintenance' (Deepak Lal, 'Participation, Markets
and Democracy', January 1994), a finding echoed by an increasing number
of studies bankrolled by foreign policy institutes and universities. For
those squeamish at the thought of such a future, foreign policy specialist
Thomas Carrothers advises in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, 'The shedding
of illusions is painful, but beneficial.' Presumably, this pain will be
as unevenly distributed as the wealth of the world.
The tasks of revolutionaries
For revolutionaries, the lessons are clear. The forces of production have outstripped the relations of production and have to be changed.
The conditions of today provide no reason for the capitalists to ally with any section of the proletariat. The great struggles of the 1930s represented a fight between warring sections of capital. The various 'united fronts' or 'popular fronts' represented a broad array of forces tied together through their fight against fascism. The section of capital that could still advance its interests through bourgeois democracy pulled these forces behind them. Today, no section of the ruling class needs the workers, except perhaps as slaves.
As our class forces continue to attempt to fight in the old ways we find that our efforts are turned against us and used to tighten the noose of a police state. Laws to protect reproductive rights clinics from violence lay the foundation for attacks on free speech and assembly. Our impulse to protect our children is turned into laws allowing extensive surveillance of individuals and encouraging vigilante behavior. Fears about crime are used to legitimate surveillance of various forms of private communication and even entire neighborhoods.
We must learn to fight in such a way that reflects the changed reality. This can only be done by separating from the ideas, interests and solutions of the ruling class. It is in this context that the formation of the Labor Party with its class program takes on such significance. Made up of the employed and unemployed, the Labor Party is an expression of the growing polarization of wealth and poverty in this country. Its program represents a conscious recognition of the workers' independent political interests. In its potential to become a center for organizing the social struggle and educating the proletariat to that independent outlook, the Labor Party represents a crucial weapon against the further advance of fascism in this country.
Ultimately, the only path to true democracy is for the proletariat to
take political power and reorganize society around its own interests. Electronics
- the technology of abundance - makes this possible. It is only when class
exploitation is ended and with it the inequality that stems from it, will
it be possible for true democracy to flourish.