Since Joseph Biden’s Sept. 1 speech singling out “MAGA Republicans” as a “clear and present danger,” the president and other Democrats continue to target former President Donald Trump and the tens of millions who voted for him as a danger to “national security.” Backed by the liberal media and middle-class left, they hail the role of the FBI, which specializes in spying and disruption against unions and working people.
Washington’s political police are trampling on constitutional freedoms that working people have fought for and need. Regardless of who these forces go after today, tomorrow they will focus their attention and attacks on the working class and its vanguard. This is a law of history.
Freedom to assemble, to speak out and organize, to protest are crucial for workers involved in today’s strike struggles for higher wages amid soaring prices, for shift schedules that allow time for family life, and against speedup and other dangerous conditions. Mobilizing to defend these freedoms is central to building a fighting labor movement, including the right to worship freely, against unreasonable search and seizure, or cruel and unusual punishment.
Unions are more popular than they’ve been in decades, as workers face a stepped-up drive by employers to protect their profits at our expense. Biden says his administration is the most pro-union ever. But backing the rail bosses, he invoked the notorious Railway Labor Act, tying up rail workers in years of mediation, multiple “cooling off” periods and a Presidential Emergency Board to deny them the right to strike.
The U.S. rulers increasingly fear what more working people know from their own experience — the Democratic and Republican parties have no answers to the crisis of capitalism that don’t bolster bosses’ attacks and worsen deteriorating conditions inflicted on us for years. With more workers looking for ways to resist, the rulers look to strengthen their state power and the FBI.
Pointing to the threat of Trump and his supporters, Biden said Sept. 15 that he had developed the “first-ever national strategy for countering domestic terrorism.” He claimed a “through-line of hate” has existed in the U.S. since its founding that “never fully goes away.” Today, he said, “white supremacy is the greatest terrorist threat.” And, if you don’t agree, Biden says, you’re complicit with it.
Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson made similar charges the day before, claiming parents who challenge “woke” policies at local school board meetings were “MAGA extremists.” He compared them to people facing trial on charges of participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. Last October, the National School Boards Association similarly smeared parents as “domestic terrorists” for demanding a say in their children’s education. Attorney General Merrick Garland responded to the board’s attack by unleashing the FBI to spy on them.
Under the pretext of protecting “national security,” the U.S. rulers have spent years trying to refurbish the FBI’s image after revelations about their anti-working-class record of spying and disruption were forced into the public, including by the Socialist Workers Party lawsuit against the FBI in the 1970s and ’80s. Biden’s targeting of “MAGA Republicans” Sept. 1 signaled a more aggressive use of FBI snoops against his opponents in capitalist politics.
The expansion of Washington’s political police has gone hand in hand with a growing centralization of political powers in the hands of the presidency, carried out by recent Democratic and Republican administrations.
Moves to strengthen executive power
Bypassing debate and legislation in Congress, more and more decision-making that affects our lives is taken by the White House and the government’s expanding array of federal regulatory agencies. Their purpose is to check the lives and behavior of working people. A key role in the expansion of government powers is played by a well-remunerated layer in the middle class that has grown enormously in recent decades. They fill key roles in the universities, media, “think tanks,” foundations, nongovernment organizations, “nonprofits” and in a legion of government agencies and boards.
They see themselves as smarter than ordinary working people. They look down on us, convinced they’re destined to act for us, because we can’t be expected to act for ourselves. They fear working people acting in our own interests and facilitate the erosion of constitutional freedoms won in hard-fought struggles that protect us against the state.
“This ‘meritocratic’ middle layer has no class policy course of its own,” explains Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes in Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism. “To the degree they commit themselves to a course of action — often camouflaged as caring, feeling, thoughtful and above all very intelligent — such policies derive from the needs and demands of their bourgeois patrons.”
Biden hires 87,000 more IRS agents
In August the Biden administration announced it will hire 87,000 more IRS agents over the next 10 years, and increase by hundreds the number of armed special agents above the current 2,100. The agency claims it will go after tax cheats.
In a serious assault on the labor movement in 2019, IRS and FBI agents raided the homes of a number of national United Auto Workers officials, charging they were engaged in “corruption” that had to be cleaned up. A number were arrested, put on trial, and are in prison. Workers know we face a variety of challenges in our unions, but it’s our business to deal with them as we fight the bosses — not the cops, courts and prisons of the capitalist rulers. Their role is to attack and weaken the unions.
Opposing all government intrusion into union affairs is essential for building unions as an independent fighting force that can defend workers against the bosses.
Biden and other Democrats are convinced that the key to pushing “deplorable” working people out of politics is to prevent Trump from ever running for office again. They dream of convicting him of espionage or some other high crime.
For over six years they’ve relied on the FBI, compliant judges and innumerable congressional “inquiries” to pursue this goal. Today Biden’s Justice Department and the Democrat-led Congress are casting an ever-widening net trying to ensnare Trump and his supporters. They issued dozens of subpoenas this month, saying they had to launch a probe into fundraising by Trump’s Save America political action committee. This comes on top of the hearings and prosecutions launched against people of all sorts who were at the rally and/or Jan. 6 Capitol riot, as well as the FBI raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
In Georgia prosecutors are going after 16 people who signed on as would-be Trump electors in 2020 because they believed Trump had won the vote there. Their lawyers deny they did anything wrong, saying their actions were a legitimate contingency plan as they waited for a court ruling on a challenge to the outcome of the vote.
None of these moves have anything to do with defending our rights or improving the conditions of working people. They’re all aimed at the Democratic Party finding a road to long-term control in Washington and sidelining the working class. They’re a deadly threat to constitutional freedoms.