Which Side Are You On?

By Bonnie Weinstein

Fight Back

A Collection of Socialist Essays

by Sylvia Weinstein

“Never and under no circumstances may the party of the proletariat enter into a party of another class or merge with it organizationally. An absolutely independent party of the proletariat is a first and decisive condition for communist politics.” —Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 1, 1929, New York 1975, p. 143-149.

Next year’s 2024 presidential election will again give the working class a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee—between two capitalist politicians representing two wings of the U.S. capitalist class—the right-wing Republicans and the liberal Democrats. And we workers will again be given the “democratic right” to choose between them.

The bulk of the labor bureaucracy are “in partnership” with the Democrats and will spend millions of dollars’ worth of our union dues to get the vote out for them.

While both parties representing the two wings of the ruling capitalist class do have differences in how they will best profit from the oppression of the working class, both parties are enemies of the working class. Both are staunch defenders of the rule of capital over labor.

Good Democrats vs. bad Democrats

There will be “Left third-party candidates”—Cornel West among them, now vying for the Green Party nomination.

In a June 23, 2023, article in CounterPunch by Erin McCarley titled, “Instead of Trashing Cornel West, Here’s what Democrats Could Do if they Actually Cared about Social and Economic Justice:”1

“Dr. West first announced his presidential launch from the People’s Party and is now seeking the nomination of the Green Party. He’s intending to build a ‘broad united front and coalition strategy’ by seeking the nomination of various third parties. …‘What I like about the third-party strategy… is that it is a clear and unequivocal affirmation of the rot at the center of the Democratic Party, and the corporate wing suffocating the progressive wing. That’s Brother Bernie, the Squad, etc. They forever run up against a stone wall and end up being a kind of cover for Wall Street, the Pentagon, etc.…. Neither party wants to tell the truth.’”

So, according to West, there’s a “rotten core” at the center the Democratic Party—the corporate wing that is suffocating the progressive wing—implying that it is possible for the Democratic Party to be reformed by simply defeating the corporate wing.

But the progressive wing within the Democratic Party would not exist without corporate support. It takes multi-millions of dollars to get elected to office in both parties. And corporations routinely support all the capitalist politicians on the right and the left because they win no matter who is elected.

And as for the Democratic Party’s so-called “Left,” Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Greg Casar and Rashida Tlaib have already declared their support for Biden in 2024.

The track record for the Greens is that, when push comes to shove, i.e., if it looks like the Democrats will lose to a Republican in some areas of the country, they will encourage their supporters to cast their votes for the Democrats instead of “throwing it away” on the Green Party.

This is not independent politics in action—it amounts to the Judas goat leading the working class to slaughter because, in the end, capitalist parties always support the capitalist class against the working class.

Workers need our own party independent of and in direct opposition to capitalism

We need a party that can expose the true nature of capitalist democracy which is democracy for the capitalist class and wage slavery for the working class.

We need a party that can rip the union leadership away from support to the Democratic Party and force them to reject their current “partnership with the bosses” and partner, instead, with workers to form a democratically organized party in direct opposition to capitalism and its anti-labor laws—laws which, among other things, outlaw workers’ most powerful weapon of class solidarity—the general strike.

The need for a new vanguard party of the working class

That the working class, in unity and solidarity against capitalism, has the power to transform society from capitalism to socialism is the singular most important message we as revolutionary socialists must bring to the masses of workers throughout the world.

It seems, at once daunting and untenable because there is no revolutionary vanguard party here in the belly of the beast. It does not exist, yet.

There are almost as many tendencies and factions as there are people who were once in a party that was a nucleus of a revolutionary vanguard party—the Socialist Workers Party. The powerful role of this vanguard party was proven during the fight against the U.S. war on Vietnam.

The party’s position of “U.S. Out Now!” while extending support to soldiers speaking out against the war made crystal clear to masses of workers who the real enemy was and it wasn’t the Vietnamese or Cambodians—it was the bloody U.S. war machine.

Standing on the side of the
working class

You can’t support a capitalist party candidate—no matter how liberal they sound—because all capitalist parties’ main objective is to continue the status quo, to continue the rule of capital. That’s why we must be anti-capitalist and unequivocally opposed to capitalist politicians.

The movement against the U.S. War on Vietnam placed blame where it belonged—on the U.S. government—both Democratic and Republican spokesmen of the capitalist class who were carrying out that war using the working class as their cannon fodder.

The SWP set an example among the ranks of the antiwar movement. When our comrades were drafted, we were expected to show up and be prepared to go to war while making it very clear to the military that we were against the war and would use our democratic right of free speech to speak out against that war while in uniform—including on the battlefield.

The war was brought to an end by soldiers refusing to fight on the battlefield, laying down their weapons, and demanding to go home.

These were not the sons of the ruling capitalist class, but ordinary workers, especially Black and Brown workers, who were not likely to get educational exemptions from the draft like many middle- and upper-class college students.

Because of the SWPs principled demand of “U.S. Out Now!” we were able to build the kind of antiwar movement that resonated with the masses of workers who bore the brunt of this war.

The overwhelming support of the “U.S. Out Now” demand led to the outspoken voices of soldiers on the battlefield and workers in the streets demanding an end to the war.

Members of the SWP at the time, who were a crucial part of this powerful mass movement have since undergone the destruction of that vanguard party. Since the SWP’s abandonment of revolutionary socialism in the years that followed the end of the war, many lost faith in the independent power of the working class—which was the real force that ended the war.

The Greens and the DSA are examples of that reformist defeatism who cheered when Obama gave his first speech as President of the United States from the balcony of the White House. As the most powerful politician in the world and the leading champion of capitalism, his presidency changed nothing.

You can’t be victorious over your class enemy if you lend them your support. That’s called “crossing the class line,” and our job is to always stand on the side of the working class.

The vanguard party and the mass party of the working class

Building a vanguard party of the working class is the first step in building a mass, independent political party in defense of the working class—a mass party that can challenge the rule of capitalism and win.

Unfortunately, at this moment in time—many labor unions, social justice movements, and antiwar groups practice class collaboration—collaborating with the bosses and lending their support to capitalist politicians instead of organizing workers in opposition to capitalism and in defense of the working class who create all the wealth of the world.

While the Democratic Party spokesmen for the capitalist class give lip-service to more humane and worker-friendly causes such as woman’s right to choose and Black Lives Matter, they have, in fact, proved ineffectual in stopping the Supreme Court from overturning Roe v. Wade and have increased funding to the police and prisons. They sound better than the Republicans, but their goals are the same—to protect and preserve capitalist rule over the wealth of the world.

Class collaborationist politics—pleading with, and lending support to the oppressor to end oppression—is the most important hurdle we must overcome today.

By building a mass, independent party in defense of the working class and firmly against capitalism we will finally be able to end capitalist war and oppression and win socialism.

Only then can we collectively raise humanity to a profoundly higher level of peace, democracy, equality, and justice for all by ending production for the personal profit of the few and establish production for the good of all under the democratic control of workers—freely distributing the wealth we create to benefit everyone and all life on the planet.