Workers need to build our own party, a labor party

Change in White House won’t end boss attacks on workers

By Terry Evans
January 18, 2021
Methodist Hospital nurses in Arcadia, California, demand more workers Jan. 2. “It eats at you morally when you can’t give the best care” because of staffing shortages, said Kelly Coulston.
Methodist Hospital nurses in Arcadia, California, demand more workers Jan. 2. “It eats at you morally when you can’t give the best care” because of staffing shortages, said Kelly Coulston.

As the transfer of the presidency from Donald Trump to Joe Biden draws near, and the fight over which capitalist party will control the Senate closes, the political crises within both the Democratic and Republican parties continue to unfold.

Whatever the outcome, working people will continue to face a government driving to make us bear the burden of the economic crisis.

As its presidential ticket did in 2020, the only party acting on the capacities of workers and farmers to fight against the attacks of the employers and their government will be the Socialist Workers Party and its candidates in 2021.

Throughout the last year SWP candidates earned respect for their unwavering opposition to every assault bosses and their governments waged on workers’ jobs, wages, safety and our rights, refusing to accept the government’s insistence that the pandemic requires workers to make “sacrifices.”

They found interest in discussing the Militant and its coverage of the struggles of working people worldwide, and in the SWP’s campaign platform, which explains what workers can do today to build a movement to lead millions to replace capitalist rule with a workers and farmers government.

President-elect Joe Biden perpetuates the deception that his new administration will act for all Americans, just as all his predecessors have claimed to do. “We’re going to get through this,” Biden told the press Dec 29. But there is no “we.” The interests of working people and the capitalist rulers are fundamentally counterposed. The capitalist class depends on maximizing their profits by intensifying the exploitation of workers and farmers. This is the cause of the far-reaching layoffs, wage cuts, eviction threats, farm bankruptcies and overflowing hospitals we face.

While liberals are excited about Democrats taking the presidency,  barely, they’re already worried about someone like President Trump — or Trump himself — getting elected in 2024.

The Biden presidency will reproduce similar conditions to those created under the Barack Obama-Biden administration through its efforts to regulate our lives and by its inherent scorn for those Hillary Clinton called “deplorable.” These conditions led millions to vote for Trump.

The Washington Post editors urged Biden Jan. 2 to take steps now to avoid this happening: to get rid of the Electoral College, to allow Democrats to win the presidency with support from only a few heavily populated areas; to vastly expand mail-in ballots; and to eliminate “third party spoilers throwing elections to candidates most voters dislike.” Such a move is aimed at targeting the SWP and other working-class parties.

With Biden in the White House, Democrats will no longer have Trump to blame for the calamitous conditions the capitalist crisis inflicts on working people. The capitalist rulers will rely on the Biden administration to defend their state power and protect U.S. imperialist interests abroad. Biden also faces growing demands from the liberal wing of his own party, who seek either to capture the party or else form their own.

On Jan. 4, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the “squad” of radical Democrats, said she is considering running against fellow party incumbent Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2022.

Behind liberals’ feigned empathy for those hardest hit by the crisis is a program of reforms that would reinforce workers’ dependency on the capitalist rulers’ state. This is the opposite of what we need and what the SWP raises — that working people need to rely on ourselves, to join together to fight for our class interests.

Some 10 million more people are without a job than a year ago, according to government figures, which are jury-rigged to hide the real depth of the crisis. The Democrats — like the Republicans — have no serious proposals to end joblessness, other than to tell us to rely on the capitalist “market.”

Workers face broader social crisis

In addition, workers face a broader social crisis. The rulers’ only answer to rising coronavirus infections and overflowing hospitals is stepped-up government lockdowns on production and small shopkeepers. Officials heap blame on working people for being so-called superspreaders. They try to get us to turn on each other, to deflect responsibility from the disastrous consequences of “health care” under the rule of the capitalist class. On New Year’s Eve the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department unleashed a “Superspreader Task Force,” hundreds of cops and deputies charged with breaking up social events.

Meanwhile, officials in the same state told hospital authorities to prepare for “crisis-care,” their code word for leaving medical workers in overflowing hospitals to decide who gets treatment and who is left to die.

“Despite the massive resources at their disposal the class that holds power is incapable of providing jobs, safe working conditions and adequate health care for working people,” Rachele Fruit, the SWP’s candidate in a just-concluded Senate race in Georgia, told the Militant. “That’s why my campaign explained workers and our unions need to wrest control of all aspects of production from the bosses. As we do so, we will discover our own worth and see it is possible for our class and its allies to take command of the entire economy.”

“We are inches from one another, knocking into each other through the plastic sheets,” poultry production line worker Juana Hernandez at the George’s plant in Springdale, Arkansas, told the Washington Post, describing the conditions she’s forced to work in. The Trump administration has allowed 15 pilot poultry plants to jack up line speeds, up to 175 birds per minute, despite the pandemic, and plans to extend that in the next few days.

That is the line speed fought for by former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during the Obama administration, at the insistence of profit-hungry poultry plant bosses. Vilsack has now been nominated by Biden to head up the Department of Agriculture again.

As conditions like this continue to take their toll, workers will look for ways to defend themselves and to act independently of the bosses’ Democratic and Republican parties.

“The SWP’s 2020 candidates set an example of what is possible, and raised the kind of fighting action program that working people and our unions need to advance. It lays out the road for workers to form our own political party, speak out in the interests of all those exploited and oppressed by capital, and fight to take political power,” John Studer, the party’s national campaign director, told the Militant.

“In the coming days the party will be launching 2021 campaigns for Senate, Congress, mayors and more all across the country to advance this perspective.”