A Statement by the League for the Revolutionary Party

Defeat Trump’s White-Supremacist Assault on Democracy!

October 15, 2020

Pride and Black Lives Matter march on June 13, 2020, in Washington

The massive uprising of Black Lives Matter protests must be built upon in the struggle against Trumpism and all of the injustices of capitalism.

Donald Trump’s presidency has delivered a relentless stream of atrocities. From the ongoing mass abduction and abuse of refugee children to the encouragement of deadly neo-fascist attacks on Black Lives Matter protests, his four years in power have been horrendous for people of color, working-class people and many others. Trump’s depraved racism escalated to mass homicide: when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck in the U.S. in Democratic-run cities and it became clear it was killing Blacks and Latinos at a far higher rate than whites,the White House saw an opportunity to weaponize the pandemic for electoral gain: with the prospect of fewer people of color alive to vote, they decided to sabotage efforts to combat the virus. Now the bid by Trump and the Republicans to establish white-supremacist authoritarian rule over the country is set to reach a menacing climax with the November election.

While uncertainty surrounds Trump’s fate following his contracting the Covid-19 virus, his and the Republicans’ schemes to rig the election and steal another term are moving ahead. They plan to use any means necessary to disrupt voting, including purging voters rolls, closing polling locations, sabotaging the delivery of mail ballots and encouraging their violent far-right supporters to intimidate voters and interrupt voting on election day. They then will turn to the courts to block the counting of as many ballots as possible and seek to have the Republican-dominated Supreme Court effectively hand them victory.

The president and his allies’ efforts to steal the election are a preview of how they plan to govern. The mass reactionary movement that Trump rallied with his racist authoritarianism has become a battering ram for far-right Republicans to realize their dream of entrenching minority-party rule by utilizing the many inequities that were built into the Constitution to protect the power of the ruling class, and especially that of the slave states, from the will of the of the people. And with a new far-right majority on the Supreme Court committed to their vision, they plan to have the legal clock turned back a hundred years. They want to gut or completely overturn the voting rights and other protections that were won by the struggles of Black people of the 1960s, as well as the rights won by women, LGBTQ+ and other oppressed people since then including women’s reproductive rights and same-sex partners’ marriage rights. And they want to demolish the achievements of the labor struggles of the 1930s: the right of workers to organize in unions is an immediate target, and the overturn of the Affordable Care Act will be just the beginning of an offensive from which no social welfare program will be safe.

Trumpism must be stopped. It is vitally necessary to vote them out of office and mount mass actions to beat back the right-wing threat!

But working-class and oppressed people especially must be clear-eyed about the record and intentions of the Democrats who would replace them in power. Trump’s electoral rival, Joe Biden, is the embodiment of the Democratic Party’s long history of betraying its promises to all those facing injustice and inequality. As a senator, he was a principal architect of this country’s current nightmare of racist policing and mass incarceration, he supported harsh anti-immigrant laws, and he backed restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. Despite his carefully crafted “regular guy” image, Biden has always put capitalist profits ahead of working-class interests: he crafted legislation allowing banks to rip off their customers, backed free-trade deals that encouraged manufacturers to shift production to low-wage countries like China, and supported imperialist military adventures around the world, including George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Nevertheless, Biden and the Democrats’ crimes must not blind us to the fact that there is a crucial difference between them and today’s Republicans. Both parties serve the U.S. capitalist ruling class, but the Republicans’ commitment to mobilizing support with racist appeals to whites has driven them to embrace authoritarianism. Soon Black and Brown people will be a majority in this country, with no small number of whites having been convinced to oppose racism, so to maintain their rule the Republicans must above all attack the right to vote and have all votes counted. The Democrats, on the other hand, rely on the votes of people of color in order to have a chance of gaining power – so, if only out of self-interest, they need to oppose Trump’s most extreme racist atrocities and the Republicans’ assault on voting rights. Likewise, while they have a long and ongoing history of resisting militant labor struggles, the Democrats also rely on unions as an important part of their electoral machinery. They seek not to crush the unions but to keep their leaderships tame.

A victory for Biden and the Democrats will therefore deal a significant setback to the far right and its drive for authoritarian rule. It will allow everyone who is committed to saving the country’s relatively democratic rights more time to organize and fight to defend them. And with the deadly pandemic continuing to rage and the world economy on the verge of collapsing into another Great Depression, working-class and oppressed people will face an onslaught of attempts to make them pay for the crisis and will desperately need their democratic rights to defend themselves. Indeed, it is for this reason that the masses of working-class and oppressed people have always proven the most reliable defenders of democracy – it is a matter of survival.

Towards that end, we as revolutionary socialists advocate voting to oust Trump, which means voting for Biden even though he belongs to our enemy class. This is an urgently necessary defensive tactic. Every four years, the working class gets to choose who will govern on behalf of the capitalists who profit from their exploitation and oppression. Especially when the result will effect the extent to which the masses will have rights to organize and defend their interests, as it does this year, we must take a side.

Further, to defeat Trump and the Republicans’ plans to steal the election and prevent any moves by the Democrats to compromise with them, massive protest action that builds on the recent extraordinary uprising against racist policing must be prepared. To that end, while the election will formally be decided by the vote in key swing states, in order to make the legitimacy of mass action clear, socialists should support the greatest possible vote everywhere for Biden and all Democratic candidates who are opposed to the Republican assault on democratic rights. Such a strategy will not only be able to deny Trump and the Republicans another four years in power. It will also help working-class and oppressed people prepare to challenge a Democratic government that will inevitably seek to promote the interests of capitalist profits at their expense.

“Trump or We Burn the Country”

Trump would have had no chance of becoming president in 2016 had it not been for the demoralizing effects of Democratic administrations betraying their supporters, and for Hillary Clinton’s arrogantly elitist campaign. He was able to capture power thanks to massive voter-suppression efforts by Republicans in swing states – on top of assistance from the FBI’s leaking of damaging information about Clinton, and the Russian government’s hacking of Democratic Party’s emails. These factors allowed Trump to secure a majority of the delegates to the Electoral College despite his losing the popular vote by millions.

Trump will again benefit from all those methods and more in his bid to steal another four years in the White House, but this time he will be able to also use the powers of the presidency and the Justice Department as part of his campaign. The courts are central to the Republicans’ anti-democratic plans. After packing the Federal courts with a record number of new far-right judges, they are rushing to create a new far-right super-majority on the Supreme Court by confirming Amy Coney Barrett for its vacant seat. They are openly justifying their rush to install her by pointing to the need for the Court to determine the election winner, and they have good reason to be confident Barrett will play her part. She is on record, for example, stating her view that voting is not a right and that the Constitution allows for whole classes of citizens to be disenfranchised. [1]

Most ominously, Trump is looking to mobilize his supporters to intimidate voters and disrupt polling. His campaign is openly recruiting a “Trump Army” with that aim, and he used the first presidential debate to send the violent neo-fascist Proud Boys gang the message that they should “stand by” for orders – “somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” The neo-Nazi “Daily Stormer” leader Andrew Anglin responded: “I got shivers. I still have shivers … He is telling the people to stand by. As in: get ready for war.” [2] Just how far Trump’s violent supporters are prepared to go was shown when the FBI foiled a plot by members of one far-right terrorist militia to abduct the Democratic governor of Michigan and storm the state’s Capitol with the aim of igniting a “civil war.” And Trump and the Republicans showed how far they are prepared to go to encourage similar plots in the future by responding to the arrests by issuing new condemnations of Governor Whitmer! [3]

Trump’s willingness to unleash such terrorists in order to hold on to power is reminiscent of how Syria’s Assad dictatorship responded to the uprising for democracy there. Troops sent to crush the first protests spray-painted city walls with the slogan “Assad or we burn the country,” and then followed through on their threat with genocidal violence. Trump is not in a position today to launch anything comparable – popular opposition to him is far too great, and no significant section of the ruling class would support it. However, he is capable of orchestrating sufficient violence and chaos to try to cheat his way to another term – unless there is a massive vote for Biden and the Democrats and it is backed by mass action.

How Bad Can Trump’s Crimes Get?

Despite how openly Trump and the Republicans are telegraphing their plans to steal the election, some still imagine that they would not go so far as to encourage bloodshed. Such underestimations of the depravity of Trump and his allies have been voiced ever since Trump first entered the White House, when many imagined that he would govern more moderately than his campaign’s promotion of racism and violent authoritarianism suggested. But Trump has spent the last four years relentlessly stomping on those illusions, culminating in his responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and the uprising of protest against racist policing.

In the early days of the pandemic, when the major outbreaks were concentrated in cities in Democratic-run states and it became clear that people of color were dying at far higher rates than whites, leaked communications show the White House responded by shelving plans for a strong Federal response and deliberately allowed the virus to spread. The Trumpsters imagined that the pandemic’s higher death rates among people of color would alter the demographics of the electorate to their advantage. And they planned to bolster their electoral support in the states of the Midwest and South that Republicans currently govern by pointing to the horrors of the pandemic in “blue” states like California and New York. [4] In their racist response they even withheld more than half-a-billion dollars in emergency pandemic relief funds from Native American tribal governments that Congress had approved, only relenting after a Federal judge condemned the “irreparable harm” they had caused and ordered them to release the funds. [5]

The sociopathic calculations that shaped the Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic were further confirmed when it became clear that the pandemic was spreading to Republican-led states and swing states. As the Washington Post reported at the end of July:

“In the past couple of weeks, senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among “our people” in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest — including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said. … This new approach seemed to resonate …” [6]

But even then, Trump put electoral calculations before saving lives. Anxious to continue projecting an image of an invincible “strong man,” he continued to discourage mask-wearing, and his campaign organized super-spreader mass rallies around the country that endangered and even killed some of his own most loyal supporters; he even held public gatherings at the White House that have left a large number of administration figures, including Trump himself, ailing from the disease.

In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, Trump condemned demonstrators as terrorists and escalated threats of repression against them. His move to invoke the Insurrection Act and unleash active-duty armed forces against protests was blocked by military leaders. But he was able to have his Attorney General and partner-in-crime, Bill Barr, use Federal law enforcement forces to abduct suspected protesters from the streets in Portland, in an ominous step toward the creation of paramilitary death squads. And since then, following Trump’s calls for retribution, federal marshals under Barr’s direction acted as a death squad: when they located Michael Reinoehl, the Black Lives Matter protester suspected of killing a far-right Trump supporter in Portland, they made no attempt to arrest him and instead immediately killed him in a hail of bullets. [7]

Trump has escalated his calls for “retribution” against protesters to the point of inspiring and then celebrating deadly violence by far-right militia members. After two wealthy white Republican homeowners in St. Louis pulled out guns and threatened to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters who were marching past their mansion, Trump hailed them as heroes and featured them at the Republican convention. The day after he celebrated these would-be vigilantes, a heavily armed young Trump supporter was inspired to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin where a protest was taking place against a racist police killing, and killed two protesters. Trump responded by celebrating the Kenosha killer, a model for his “stand by” instruction to fascist types.

With another four years in power, Trump and the Republicans could be expected to persecute left-wing and activist groups as terrorist and seditious conspiracies. They will authorize further extrajudicial violence by law enforcement officers and encourage the further growth of armed far-right groupings and their deadly attacks.

The Republican Plan for a Comprehensive Overturn of Democratic Rights

Trump’s personal aims may extend no further than continuing to corruptly amass wealth and power for himself and his family. But the most right-wing elements in the Republican Party have been developing plans for decades to enact a reactionary transformation of this country’s social order, and they will be poised to realize those plans if Trump secures another term.

Even though the Republicans have been making thinly disguised racist appeals for decades, the party’s traditional leadership during the last presidential campaign was shocked by the support Trump won with his openly racist and violent, authoritarian rhetoric. Combined with his shameless celebration of capitalist profiteering, Trump stirred up a toxic ideological mix that appealed to much of the base of the party. It allowed him to bring together its different reactionary trends, including the evangelical Christian movement, the growing racist vigilantism among police and the military, and the broader racist radicalization of whites (especially small business owners but no small number of working-class whites as well).

The Republican establishment would have preferred Trump to have not so openly embraced white supremacy, in order to avoid provoking resistance to their rule. But it is willing to use him and his base to clear the way for their reactionary agenda. Leading the development of the most far-reaching Republican plans have been judicial activists supported by mega-rich financial sponsors. They have long dreamed of seizing control of the federal judiciary and imposing a sweeping overturn of democratic rights and social programs that a majority of citizens would never vote to accept. Gathered under the banner of “originalism” – supposed fidelity to the original intentions of the “founding fathers” – the far-right judges are committed to using all the undemocratic aspects of the Constitution that were originally adopted to entrench the power of the states dominated by slave owners. Towards this end, Trump and the Republicans have filled a record number of federal court vacancies with far-right judges. The ultimate prize is of course the Supreme Court. With an expanded far-right majority they hope to achieve over time what would amount to a constitutional coup.

They hope to strip Congress’s most democratic body, the House of Representatives, of its important powers to investigate the president’s administration and hold it accountable, leaving those powers to the grossly undemocratic Senate dominated by the least populated and whitest states, And they plan on elevating the presidency to the position of a “unitary executive” above the other branches of government, with the powers of an authoritarian “strong man” ruler. This would mean, in the words of Trump’s justice Brett Kavanaugh, that the president would be free to “decline to follow” any law. [8]

In this vision of an authoritarian presidency, only impeachment and removal from office by the Senate could possibly constrain such a ruler. But the fact that such action requires the approval of two-thirds of Senators means that a minority of little more than a third of that body, representing a small minority of the national population, could keep a dictator in power.

Through their control of the presidency, Senate and the courts, the Republicans envision turning the legislative clock back a hundred years. Not only do they want to nullify the gains won by the civil rights movement and subsequent struggles by oppressed people; they also are eager to overturn the rights that enable workers to organize in unions, invalidate federal laws that impose a minimum wage, workplace safety, consumer and environmental protections, and they plan to attack the Federal government’s social welfare programs by finding the agencies that oversee them to be unconstitutional.

The Capitalists Choose Sides

For the first few years of Trump’s rule, the ruling class was by-and-large happy to profit from the government’s racist authoritarianism. Trump’s trillion-dollar tax cut sent corporate profits booming even though the underlying economy continued to stagnate, and it bought the cooperation of CEOs everywhere. Nevertheless, the president’s corruption and erratic decision-making conflicted with their longer-term interests, and his kowtowing to Putin and hostility to traditional allies weakened U.S. imperial power around the world. On top of that, this year Trump has delivered the ruling class a perfect storm of disasters, and most capitalists are now desperate to be rescued from the consequences.

First, the White House’s response to the pandemic has been a catastrophic failure. Most people recognize this obvious fact because of the horrific number of unnecessary deaths. However, the way business managers and politicians have forced workers to labor in unsafe conditions and die for the sake of corporate profits shows how the capitalist class is generally not moved by such concerns. But they are worried about their profits and on that score the U.S.’s unchecked pandemic is a disaster – even capitalists who have enjoyed big gains know their long-term interests are threatened. They are anxious to have an administration in Washington that they can reasonably hope will display some more competence and stability.

Second, Trump’s racist authoritarianism, shameless corruption and ostentatious flaunting of personal wealth is adding more fuel to the leftward political radicalization of large sections of the population. The ruling class knows that widespread anger at the enormous gap between rich and poor and its continued growth could explode into social upheavals that threaten their wealth and power. They were already concerned by the growing popularity of calls for big social welfare policies to be paid for by raising taxes on the rich such as “Medicare for All” and a “Green New Deal,” as well as the continuing electoral successes of left-wing Democrats who most strongly push for such demands like Bernie Sanders and the “squad” of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. But the potential for mass leftward radicalization to break from simply supporting left-wing candidates in elections and into mass action for such urgently felt demands truly terrifies the ruling class. And the potential for such a breakthrough was shown by the recent uprising of Black Lives Matter protests – the largest sustained protest movement in U.S. history.

Under these circumstances, the ruling class generally prefers political leaders who can try to calm the growing anger. Trump is hardly that leader, and his response to the Black Lives Matter protests confirmed the dangers. His verbal attacks and threats against the movement only succeeded in stirring more people to join it, and when he failed to “dominate” the protests with a show of police and military force, Trump was left looking intolerably weak.

These factors have been decisive in driving most of the capitalist class to abandon Trump and throw their support behind Biden. That is indicated by the Democratic campaign’s more successful fund-raising in recent months, including $364 million in August, an all-time single-month record – the numerous small donors eager to help get rid of Trump have been joined by more super-rich contributors signing big checks. As one Wall Street banker told Vanity Fair magazine:

“The majority of my friends on Wall Street would like to see Trump lose to Biden. They’re saying, “We’d like to see Biden crush Trump.’” Wall Street’s not this amorphous, unified blob … but the majority of people I talk to on Wall Street think it’s worth taking the hit [of losing their tax cuts] to get Trump out of office. They view him as an existential threat.” [9]

The ruling class’s alignment behind Biden has been underscored by endorsements from prominent Republicans like former Ohio Governor and presidential candidate John Kasich and former party chairman Michael Steele along with other “Never Trumpers,” and by the support of nearly 500 former generals, admirals, National Security Advisors and others who signed a letter in support of Biden’s election. [10] Meanwhile the Republican national convention featured a notable lack of leading political figures. Half of the featured speakers were Trumps, while leading GOP figures like Senators McConnell and Graham and Representative McCarthy were nowhere in sight.

The Democratic Party – “We’re Capitalists, That’s Just the Way it Is”

Behind the ruling class’s turn to Biden lies not just its desperation to limit the damage of the Trump presidency, but also its trust in the Democratic party to protect and promote its fundamental interests. That trust has been forged over many years in which the Democrats have taken turns in power with the Republicans; each party has enforced austerity for the masses at home as well as U.S. imperialism’s military power and economic super-exploitation around the globe. Contrary to the image they promote as friends of labor and oppressed people, and despite the small number of their members of Congress who do challenge capitalist interests, the Democrats are in reality a major party of the imperialist ruling class. As their leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, bluntly declared: “We’re capitalists, that’s just the way it is.” [11]

The Democrats’ “progressive” identity isn’t meaningless, however. It is central to the unique service the party is able to offer the ruling class in maintaining the social stability that capitalism needs. While Trump inspires more and more people to come out into the streets in protest, the Democratic Party claims to be on the side of working-class and oppressed people and tries to persuade people to forego pressing their demands through direct action in protests and strikes, and instead place all their hopes in passive electoralism. Its image has enabled the party to maintain its alliance with the leaders of the unions and civil rights organizations, whom it uses to hold back demands for mass struggle whenever possible.

This service has proven particularly useful to the ruling class in times of social crisis, when the potential for mass struggles to grow and threaten vital capitalist interests has been especially acute. The party’s “progressive” image was forged in response to the need to hold back the two great upsurges of mass struggle of the previous century. The great union struggles of the 1930s forced it to drop the banner of free market capitalism and adopt the friend-of-labor image. FDR’s New Deal granted concessions that mitigated capitalism’s most provocative injustices, and in particular granted rights to union membership. But at the same time it enmeshed the unions in a web of laws limiting their ability to strike, detouring the workers’ struggles from growing into a revolutionary threat. Similarly, in the 1950s and 1960s the civil rights and Black liberation movements forced the party to concede the end of Jim Crow segregation in the South, at the cost of losing its openly racist “Dixiecrat” wing. That turn allowed the U.S. to continue to wage its bloody imperialist wars around the world in the name of promoting democratic freedoms, and it succeeded for years in diverting mass movements into Democratic electoral campaigns. Thus did the party earn its reputation as the “graveyard of social struggles.”

In recent years the Democrats’ unique ability to restrain outbreaks of struggle by working-class and oppressed people has enabled it when in power to impose anti-working class and racist policies that the Republicans would likely not have been able to implement without triggering upheaval. Bill Clinton’s presidency, for example, pushed through “free trade” agreements that devastated the industrial working class, austerity policies symbolized by “the end of welfare as we know it,” and the dramatic expansion of racist policing and mass incarceration now known as the “New Jim Crow.” By weakening social justice movements and demoralizing their supporters, the Democrats’ betrayals paved the way for the election of Republican administrations that advanced capitalist interests even further.

Likewise, Barack Obama responded to the 2008 financial crisis by bailing out Wall Street while doing little to help millions facing unemployment and foreclosure. The consequent fear among middle-class and working-class whites of being displaced from their privileged place in the system, combined with the U.S.’s toxic history of racism, prepared many to support Trump’s right-wing populism.

The Democrats’ reliance on certain democratic rights, most importantly voting rights as well as trade unions rights, means that their victory will afford the masses of working-class and oppressed people more time to organize in defense of their interests. But the party leadership wants to use those rights to strangle initiatives toward independent struggle and political action. If they succeed, not only will the masses’ conditions of life dramatically worsen, but the way will be paved for a resurgence of the racist far right in an even more ominous form than today under Trump.

How Socialists Campaign for a Democratic Victory

Our call for electorally supporting Biden and the Democrats in no way means support for their policies. It is fundamentally a tactical and defensive effort to get rid of Trump and end Republican control of the government, in order to gain time for the struggles of our class to build. Accordingly, in campaigning for Democrats we do not paper over their record and views. On the contrary, we make those absolutely clear: our objective is to raise working-class consciousness, which means spelling out the Democrats’ role in defending capitalism and its crimes.

Note that our policy of calling for ousting Trump and the Republicans does not mean automatic support for all Democrats. A few Democrats in Congress showed that they do not oppose Trump’s attacks on democracy by refusing to support his impeachment, and socialists certainly have no duty to support the election of such traitors.

Honest and thorough exposures of the Democrats and the overall capitalist nature of the party are essential to winning an audience among voters who rightly hate the Democrats for their anti-working class and racist policies, and convincing them to vote for the Democrats. And they are essential for preparing all working-class and oppressed people for the independent struggles that will have to be built under future Democratic administrations. We therefore campaign independently of the official campaigns as much as possible, producing separate socialist propaganda explaining the issues. We call on all organizations of the working class and oppressed people to do likewise.

At the same time, we must warn that the Democratic Party’s only decisive attachment to democracy is self-interest – they need people to have the right to vote, for example, in order to have a chance of gaining power for themselves. Their fundamental loyalty is to capitalism; if mass struggles threaten ruling-class power, Democrats have proved time and again that they are prepared to tear up democratic rights and unleash the repressive forces of the state when necessary. This was seen most recently with the response of Democratic governors and mayors to the Black Lives Matter protests: in states and cities across the country, they supported the police when they attacked nonviolent protests and in many states called in National Guard troops to restore order. Therefore socialists must warn of the danger of the Democratic Party betraying the masses, both before and after their accession to power, in order both to resist those betrayals, and to explain the need for a political party that organizes the workers and oppressed to fight independently for their interests.

Our support for a Democratic victory in November is attuned to Trump and the Republicans’ plans to attempt to cheat their way to another term in power. Socialists must encourage working-class and oppressed people to be ready to mobilize in the streets in massive action to defeat any attempt by the Republicans and their judges to steal victory. To that end, we must recognize that a huge majority for the Democrats will add legitimacy to any mass action that may prove necessary to defeat a right-wing power grab. It will also mean the Democratic leadership will be less able to repeat anything like Al Gore’s concession of the 2000 election to George W. Bush in the interests of national stability, even though if all votes had been counted he would have won.

Similarly, socialists should support the Democrats not only keeping control of the House of Representatives but also gaining control of the Senate. If the Democrats win the Senate, they will lose the excuse that they have to compromise away the interests of their supporters in order to get Republican votes to get anything passed.

Democratic control of both Houses of Congress will inspire demands to enact major reform legislation. But then if Congress does act, its reforms will face obstruction by the reactionary courts. To overcome such obstacles, some federal judges can be removed by impeachment, e.g. Justice Kavanaugh, who lied in his confirmation process. More generally, our movements will have to call for the Democrats to “pack the courts,” i.e., add new judges committed to preserving democratic rights to outnumber the reactionaries. A necessary step towards these ends would be doing away with the Senate’s anti-democratic filibuster rule and other blockading traditions that allow a minority to veto legislation.

Overall, social struggles under a Biden administration will be likely framed by an economic collapse into another Great Depression; such a collapse has been delayed so far only by massive deficit spending, but millions of working-class and poor people are already suffering terrible economic hardship, including mounting hunger and homelessness. The pandemic and Trump’s response to it precipitated the economic crisis, but its underlying cause is the long-term decline of capitalist profits. [12]

Policies to address the suffering caused by the crisis will require seizing the ruling class’s wealth through heavy taxes and expropriations, in order to fund programs for the common good. But a Democratic administration will resist such measures and look to help the capitalists revive profits at the working class’s expense. Working-class people will have to organize and fight such attacks at every turn. When liberals inevitably complain that struggles under Democratic administrations can only help the right wing regain power, socialists must explain that on the contrary, it is betrayals by the Democratic leaders that demoralize the masses, sending some into a defeated passivity and others looking for alternatives that will be filled by the far right unless there is a genuine working-class, socialist solution.

Socialists promote independent struggles of the working class and oppressed, especially in the streets and workplaces, as well as through building working-class election campaigns independent of both Republicans and Democrats. A tactical note: if an independent electoral candidacy against both parties would risk helping an anti-democratic Republican to win, we should favor running in the Democratic primary rather than in the general election, in order to expose the Democratic establishment and lay the groundwork for a future independent campaign. In doing so we would explain that we are not Democratic loyalists but are running as Democrats to avoid helping the Republicans. We seek to prove that the Democratic party is no solution and that working-class and oppressed people need a party of their own.

And in that light, we should note there is one significant left party contesting this year’s elections – the Green Party. The Greens are not a working-class or socialist party, but a small section of the left does support them. Nonetheless, socialists should condemn them for running campaigns in 2020 that threaten to siphon votes from Democrats and help Trump and the Republicans win.

What Revolutionary Socialists Stand For

Capitalism condemns humanity to ever worse suffering. The grave problems of society will only be solved when working-class and oppressed people have a government of their own that takes control of the economy from the capitalists in order to use its great productive capacity to build a society of freedom and plenty for all. To do that, the masses will have to rise up in revolution and overthrow the state power of cops and soldiers that the ruling class relies on defend its domination of society.

In place of the capitalists’ state power, the working class will have to form its own state to defend its rule against attempts at counter-revolution. A workers’ state will adopt far more democratic forms of government than voting in elections every few years, between which politicians are free to betray their promises. The workers’ and oppressed will need a government based on councils of elected representatives who enjoy no material privileges and can be recalled and replaced at any time by a democratic vote. [13]

Such a revolution to transform society can only be carried out when the vast masses of workers have come to understand the need for it. Most will come to this conclusion not by reading books, but by fighting to win their needs through reforms under the system based on their own experience of mass struggles. Those struggles must ultimately prove capitalism’s inability to concede the reforms that the masses’ need, and show the working class that it has the power to rule society itself.

In this process, it is essential that the most politically conscious working-class people, along with those from other classes who commit their lives to the working class’s cause, come together to build a revolutionary socialist political party that can offer the masses leadership in day-to-day struggles while also explaining their revolutionary lessons. To best understand the crisis of capitalism and the tasks of socialist revolution, such a party must merge the ongoing lessons of the class struggle under capitalism with the insights of Marxist theory, which long ago revealed the working class’s responsibility to liberate humanity from the horrors of capitalism. We in the League for the Revolutionary Party are dedicated to contributing to the construction of such a party and urge our readers to get in touch with us to discuss these ideas more.


1. “Trump Supreme Court pick: Presidents can ignore laws they think are unconstitutional,” CNN, August 7, 2018; www.cnn.com/2018/08/06/politics/brett-kavanaugh-president-ignore-laws-unconstitutional/index.html.

2. Neil MacFarquhar, Alan Feuer, Mike Baker and Sheera Frenkel, “Far-Right Group That Trades in Political Violence Gets a Boost,” New York Times, September 30, 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/us/proud-boys-trump.html.

3. Kyle Cheney and Nick Niedzwiadek, “FBI reveals elaborate plot by Michigan militia members to kidnap Whitmer,” Politico, October 8, 2020, www.politico.com/news/2020/10/08/gretchen-whitmer-kidnapping-plot-michigan-427953.

4. Katherine Eban, “How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan ‘Went Poof Into Thin Air,’” July 30, 2020, Vanity Fair, www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air.

5. Jennifer Bendery, “Judge Orders Trump Administration To Give Tribes Their COVID-19 Relief Funds,” Huffington Post, June 17, 2020, www.huffpost.com/entry/tribes-covid-relief-treasury-department_n_5ee9093fc5b674996b9be1d9.

6. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, “One question still dogs Trump: Why not try harder to solve the coronavirus crisis?” Washington Post, July 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-not-solve-coronavirus-crisis/2020/07/26/7fca9a92-cdb0-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html.

7. Evan Hill, Mike Baker, Derek Knowles and Stella Cooper, “‘Straight to Gunshots’: How a U.S. Taskforce Killed an Antifa Activist,” New York Times, October 13, 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/us/michael-reinoehl-antifa-portland-shooting.html.

8. Brett M. Kavanaugh, “One Government, Three Branches, Five Controversies: Separation of Powers Under Presidents Bush and Obama,” Marquette Lawyer, Fall 2016, p. 14, law.marquette.edu/assets/marquette-lawyers/pdf/marquette-lawyer/2016-fall/2016-fall-p08.pdf.

9. William D. Cohan, “‘They’re Saying, “We’d Like to See Biden Crush Trump”’: For Some on Wall Street Beating Trump Is More Important Than Money,” Vanity Fair, July 9, 2020, www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/beating-trump-more-important-than-money-for-some-on-wall-street.

10. Hope Hodge Seck, “22 Retired 4-Stars Join Nearly 500 NatSec Leaders in Letter Endorsing Joe Biden,” Military, September 24, 2020, www.military.com/daily-news/2020/09/24/22-retired-4-stars-join-nearly-500-natsec-leaders-letter-endorsing-joe-biden.html.

11. “Pelosi: Democrats are Capitalists,” CNN, January 31, 2017,

12. Walter Daum and Matthew Richardson, “Marxist Analysis of the Capitalist Crisis: Bankrupt System Drives Toward Depression,” Proletarian Revolution, No. 82, Winter 2010,

13. This is a very condensed outline of an analysis begun by Marx and Engels and developed in the century and a half since. It has been enlightened by the working class’s experiences under social democratic rule in several European and Latin American countries, as well as under the Stalinist state capitalist system that arose out of the defeat of the Soviet workers’ state. For our interpretation of these lessons, see Walter Daum, The Life and Death of Stalinism, Chapter 3,