The images of chaos from Washington DC with the pro-Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol are the mirror of a democracy in advanced state of decay. For decades, the facade of the much-celebrated “American Dream” and the artificial prosperity of the most powerful economy in the world was hiding the accumulated rottenness of an entire system.
The history of American Democracy, especially in the 20th century, is full of class exploitation, social and racial violence, imperialist interventions and wars, cultural values based on social Darwinism and the deification of money. Several generations of Americans were raised under the belief that there is no alternative to Capitalism, that Communism is a menace and the U.S. is the “guardian of the free world”.
The same American Democracy – the famous metropolis of capitalist prosperity and the “land of opportunity” - is the one where, in the midst of significant scientific and technological progress, a handful of capitalists (the richest 5%) own the 80% of the total wealth produced by millions of working men and women. In the United States of America, the combined wealth of 600 richest men have a combined net worth of $4 trillion while, at the same time, almost 40 million Americans are living in poverty and 18.5 million of them in conditions of “extreme poverty”.
The most powerful state in the world failed to address the recent pandemic, showing the grave inefficiencies of healthcare's commercialization. With 373,000 Covid-19 related deaths and more than 22 million cases, the images of mass graves being dug in New York's Hart Island are the tragic reminder of the U.S. utter failure to meet the challenge of the pandemic.
But, of course, the pandemic is only the peak of the iceberg. During the last 20 years the U.S. is undergoing a slow but steady division in social and political terms. The so-called “war on terror”, which began with the September 11th terrorist attacks, has now been transformed into an undeclared “civil war” in the very heart of the U.S. The 2008 global capitalist financial crisis and the emergence of new powers (China, Russia) which challenge America's hegemony in the world's political stage, have contributed significantly to the sharpening of the intra-bourgeois competition within the United States.
These “tectonic shifts” were clearly reflected in last November's Presidential Election and the fierce battle between Biden and Trump, who are both political representatives of different parts of the U.S. monopoly capital. From this perspective, Trump's refusal to accept the electoral result and his defiant rhetoric, which paved the way to the violent events in Washington DC, cannot be analyzed merely as a result of his personality. The siege of the Capitol by various far-right groups was well-organized and carried out under the guidance of sections of the bourgeois class and the state mechanisms. The message to their competitors was clear: the fight for dominance, within the U.S. bourgeois system and the state apparatus, will be very hard and can even take forms far beyond the usual institutional “democratic frameworks”.
Trumpism, a symptom of rotten Capitalism
The major problem is the perception that the majority of the American people have about what the “establishment” is. For those who stormed the Capitol on January 6th the establishment are politicians like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, etc. On the other hand, for the supporters of the Democratic Party, Trump is the embodiment of “evil” and the fascist who wants to destroy American Democracy.
Almost no one in the United States is even thinking that the actual establishment, which goes far beyond the political rivalry between Democrats and Republicans, is the capitalist system itself. Capitalism is the source of inequalities, poverty, unemployment, wars, racism and police repression. It is the same exploitative system and its mechanisms which produce far-right “monsters”, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, using them as a bulwark against the radicalization of the working class.
Donald Trump is leaving the White House, President-elect Joe Biden is coming, but the situation for the working people of the U.S. can only get worse as long as the means of production are in the hands of the capitalists.
What is truly needed is a revolutionary Communist Party, completely free of social democratic illusions, based on Marxist-Leninist principles, which can lead the struggle of the country's labor movement towards the socialist transformation of society. So that the American people will become masters of their own destiny, owners of their own wealth, in a society without exploitation of man by man.
* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.