2019 version of Roosevelt New Deal no road forward for working people

By Brian Williams
June 10, 2019

The “Green New Deal,” the project of Democratic Socialists of America member and liberal media darling House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other young self-anointed progressives, that’s backed by at least five of the Democratic Party presidential hopefuls, claims to address serious problems facing working people. They include jobs, living standards and capitalism’s damage to nature. But this “deal” offers no road forward for working people.

Ocasio-Cortez claims no one before her has “actually scoped out” the “larger solution” to problems in the U.S. and that is what her Green New Deal does.

It’s a “10-year national mobilization” scheme aimed at shoring up capitalist rule through a series of reforms, modeled on the 1930s New Deal of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the “war deal” in the second world imperialist slaughter that grew out of it and shored up U.S. capitalism.

The bill isn’t a set of measures to vote on, but a nonbinding statement of intentions. It would increase the powers of the capitalist government’s federal bureaucracy to regulate the lives of working people, imposing sacrifices on us that the liberals deem necessary in the name of saving the planet. It calls for mobilizing the federal government “on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal” to eliminate all use of fossil fuels in manufacturing and farming — and strives to eliminate all cars, air travel and cows — and to build or refit every single building in the country.

Nuclear power would be eliminated under this scheme, blocking off possibilities for billions living in the semicolonial world from gaining access to electricity and culture — all in the name of safeguarding better conditions for those in the developed countries.

Bourgeois panic-mongering

“It’s a big legislation because it’s a huge [expletive] problem! We’re all going to die,” said Sean McElwee, co-founder of the think tank Data for Progress.

But such ecological panic-mongering is only meant to convince us working people should sacrifice.

This is why Ocasio-Cortez and other democratic socialists hark back to Roosevelt and how a classless “America” came together in the 1940s.

“When FDR called on America to build 185,000 planes to fight World War 2,” her FAQ document issued as a companion to the bill says, “by the end of the war, we produced 300,000 planes.”

But there is no “we” or “America.” There are two classes, the bosses and bankers who live by exploitation and oppression, and their upper-middle-class hangers-on, and the vast majority of working people, most of whom live paycheck to paycheck.

The goal of Roosevelt and the capitalist rulers in World War II was to make the world safe for their plunder and profit at the expense of the working class. There is nothing there for us to emulate today.

At the heart of the effort of Ocasio-Cortez and her cohorts is the same goal as Roosevelt had in both his New Deal and imperialist war drive — to rescue U.S. capitalist rule.

In her FAQs document, Ocasio-Cortez explains how she intends to pay for her scheme: “The same way we paid for the New Deal, the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs. The same way we paid for World War II and our current wars.”

The U.S. rulers did this by expanding the size and reach of their government and digging deeper into the pockets of the working classes. Now the socialist Democrats are seeking to do the same with a hysteria campaign about catastrophes facing the planet.

But the root of today’s crisis facing working people, including damage to the environment, is precisely “the capitalist mode of production, the world imperialist order and the enormous wealth and power the rulers wring from nature and the exploited producers,” as the Socialist Workers Party resolution “The Stewardship of Nature Also Falls to the Working Class, In Defense of Land and Labor” explains. It is published in New International no. 14.

“As a result of the unceasing competition among capitalists to maximize profits,” the resolution states, “the product of labor’s exertion ends up worsening the perils to workers’ life and limb; polluting the soil, waters, and skies; and endangering civilization’s very survival.”

The working class must reject “all forms of fake science, exaggerations, catastrophism, and crankism,” said Jack Barnes, national secretary of the SWP, in Capitalism’s World Disorder. “Workers must not fall into accepting the common view — that is the bourgeois view — that the environment … somehow hovers above classes and outside the class struggle.”

“If we translate everything commonly thought of as an environmental issue into how to advance the protection of the working class,” said Barnes, “and how the working class can extend that protection to all, then we can hardly ever go wrong.”