Since Ronald Reagan was elected president more than three decades ago, right-wing extremists gathered in the Republican Party have been attempting to restructure the role and functions of government to the advantage of the top layers of the capitalist class.
One of their main aims has been to dismantle the bundle of social programs and rights (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and voting, civil, disability, women’s and labor rights, and much more) that were legislated over the past eight decades. These progressive breakthroughs are anathema to them. Instead of triumphs, the right wing sees them as sorry episodes in American history….
What will it take to save these core components of our social compact? The same thing that it took to win them – sustained mass struggle of a broad-based labor-led multiracial movement. Without such a movement it is hard to see how these social protections will be maintained – not to mention improved upon.
Yes, in the White House and Congress there are supporters of social entitlements and rights (and that too is necessary for a winning struggle) but it’s not sufficient. They don’t have the social power to stand up to a right-wing-driven offensive that includes nearly every section of the capitalist class. That social power resides with the masses of people who put elected officials into office.
In these circumstances, the left and progressive community has a crucial role. Here’s what it can, and must, do:
1) Bring to light the linkages between capitalism’s inner dynamics, the capitalist economic crisis and the current onslaught on people’s living standards and rights. In particular, remind everyone that unregulated “free enterprise” that got us into this mess won’t get us out, and that’s where the need for a proactive, pro-people government comes into the picture.
2) Make the case that job creation is the nation’s immediate and overarching priority. In fact, austerity measures at this moment are harmful for working people, for the economy and for our fiscal health in the long term. Indeed, chipping away core social programs would be a dagger to the heart of working people, especially people of color, and exactly the wrong medicine for an economy that limps along due to lack of consumer spending.
3) Put together a strategy that singles out the main obstacle to positive change – right-wing extremism – as well as the main social groups that have to be assembled to preserve America’s social compact and expand it.
4) Elevate the struggle against racism – an ideological and social practice that feeds the corporate bottom line, interweaves with the political project of the far right, and gravely weakens the struggle to defend past gains and win future victories. Qualitative turns in a progressive and radical direction are organically bound up with growing anti-racist thinking and action on the part of white people, especially white workers.
5) Find the forms to unite the broadest possible movement in defense of these programs and rights. Narrow approaches that bypass allies, even temporary ones, set radical against more immediate demands, and minimize the danger from right-wing extremism, are of no help. The task is not to propose the most radical solutions to every problem, but, in the first place, to organize struggles around the demands that millions are ready to fight on.
6) Connect every struggle against the right to the coming national elections.
Not for a long time has the left and progressive community been so badly needed to play its historic role. Let’s do it.
Stripping away the Commspeak, Sam Webb’s message is clear.
Free enterprise, rather than the socialism which actually caused them, must be blamed for America’s economic problems. This lie must then be used to rally and unite all who stand to lose income or jobs in the short term, if government programs are cut. Government jobs programs, which will be controlled and robbed blind by the communists and their allies, must be put forward as the best way out of the “jobs crisis.”
Fighting “racism” must be a priority. This actually means promoting racism. Blacks must be exploited as a voting bloc for the Democrats, “empowered” to demand ever more from Federal and state governments and used to intimidate and harass the left’s opposition.
All who fight for rational and responsible government, confined and restored to its limited Constitutional roles, must be demonized and smeared as “right wing” and “extreme.”
This war will be fought on the streets of America, by a handful of communists and tens thousands of their dupes.
More importantly though, this will be a propaganda war. And that is where the left, trained in the black arts of smearing and demonizing their enemy, and with a largely complicit media, has an advantage.
If you think US left rhetoric has been pretty harsh lately, you ain’t seen nothing yet!