Election 2024: Why “Genocide Joe” and Trump’s System Has to Go

Editorial for issue 45 of Socialist Revolution magazine. Subscribe now to get your copy!

Communists have no illusions that serious societal change can result from the farce of bourgeois elections. Marxists understand that, at most, “the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them,” as Lenin expressed it in State and Revolution.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean we are electoral abstentionists under all circumstances. Insofar as these charades offer openings to discuss class politics and the need for a root-and-branch reorganization of society, we engage with them, always reframing the issues from a working-class perspective. Under certain circumstances, we may even offer critical support to a candidate or run candidates of our own. But the reality in 2024 is that, yet again, there are no viable class-independent candidates proposing solutions to the problems facing the majority—and we are not at all compelled to choose between two anti-working-class options.

As Lenin said, “the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them.” / Image: public domain

Really speaking, the need for class independence on the political, organizational, and ideological fronts is the only truly principled question for Marxists—the qualitative tipping point between those who cling to the counterrevolutionary status quo and those who fight for its revolutionary overthrow. One hundred years since his death, it is worth recalling Lenin’s approach:

Class independence … is our most important general task. This does not exclude other, partial tasks, but the latter must always be subordinate to and in conformity with it. This general premise, which is confirmed by the theory of Marxism and the whole experience of the international [communist] movement, must be our point of departure.

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat … This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should be tested.

So let’s be absolutely clear about the meaning of class independence: in this day and age, there is no progressive wing of the bourgeoisie. Revolutionary communists fight for a workers’ government and do not give any support to any capitalist party or politician. This has been the position of genuine Marxists for well over a century. Unfortunately, for many decades, our ideas were like a voice in the wilderness. But today, after a generation of constant crisis and yet another demoralizing Democratic administration, millions of young people are drawing precisely this conclusion.

In the absence of a mass working-class alternative, the politics of lesser-evilism succeeded for decades in dividing and duping millions of voters into believing that the Democrats were somehow more “worker friendly” than the Republicans. But eight years of Obama disabused millions of that illusion, and a few thousand voters in a handful of swing states brought Donald Trump roaring into the White House. After four years of Trumpite dystopia, the liberals’ favorite ploy worked once again, as Biden’s promise of a “return to normality” regained them the presidency. However, the “normality” of capitalism is crisis, austerity, war, revolution, and counterrevolution, and the Democrats’ incompetence and complicity in the crimes of imperialism has been fully exposed.

It speaks volumes that, when compared to Wall Street’s bumbling octogenarian puppet, a billionaire real estate fraud from Manhattan is seen as a straight-talking “man of the people” by significant layers of the population. Biden’s only job is to be a figurehead, and he can’t even pull that off. Despite Trump’s demagogic talk of dictatorship, vengeance, and mass deportations, the Democrats’ lesser-evil argument is falling on deaf ears.

When compared to Wall Street’s bumbling octogenarian puppet, a billionaire real estate fraud from Manhattan is seen as a straight-talking “man of the people” by significant layers of the population. / Image: Emma Kaden, Flickr

The reason is simple. On Biden‘s watch, Roe v. Wade fell, and abortion has been banned or restricted in 21 states, even though the Democrats have controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress on multiple occasions in the last several decades. Inflation continues, and average household debt stands at $103,358, up 11% from 2020. More than 800 million people worldwide experience hunger or food insecurity, including one in six American children. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase Bank just had the most profitable year in US banking history. The world’s five richest men have more than doubled their gluttonous hoards since 2020, and the world’s first trillionaire may emerge within a decade.

Big Oil more than doubled its profits in 2022, raking in $219 billion, blowing away the previous record. The sick joke making the rounds at Dubai’s COP28 climate summit was that the best way to transition away from fossil fuels is to burn through them as quickly as possible. Total global military expenditure has reached a new high of $2.24 trillion, leading to a lucrative arms race as 110 armed conflicts rage around the planet. 2022 saw a record 71.1 million internally displaced people, more than double the number in 2012—and this was before Gaza.

The criminal slaughter of the Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison is being aided and abetted directly by “genocide Joe.” For millions, and particularly the youth, this sheer inhumanity was the final nail in the coffin of lesser evilism. Their conscience will no longer allow them to hold their noses in the desperate hope that their votes will shift the balance of the undemocratic and reactionary Supreme Court. They no longer buy into the argument of so-called “harm reduction,” a disgusting lie peddled by the system’s liberal-socialist apologists. As surely as they know in their bones that Trump is a mortal enemy—they feel the same about Biden. They have correctly concluded that, no matter how you dress it up, scaremonger, or scapegoat “the other” party, evil is evil.

However, mass dissatisfaction with the Democrats does not mean a majority of Americans are right-wing reactionaries. On the contrary, most people merely want stability, good jobs and wages, and a safe and healthy place to raise a family. But this simply isn’t possible for everyone under capitalism. The exploitation of wage-labor by capital and the relentless drive for profits precludes this. As an arch-capitalist himself, Trump can’t square the circle either, and he is merely filling the political vacuum in a temporary and distorted way. If reelected, those workers attracted by his poisonous bravado will eventually realize that no American president can magically wave their problems away.

For the majority, it is common knowledge that nothing will be resolved on election day, no matter who carries the day. The persistence and élan of the Gaza solidarity movement is proof that the subterranean smoldering goes far beyond electoral politics. Millions have drawn the conclusion that what is needed is not yet another election, but a concerted struggle to change society.

The persistence and élan of the Gaza solidarity movement is proof that the subterranean smoldering goes far beyond electoral politics. / Image: Socialist Revolution

What keeps the billionaires up at night is the risk of this mood erupting into open revolt. They are so worried that hundreds of the ultrarich recently published a petition all but begging to be taxed more heavily, in the hope this can pull society back from the brink. As one signatory stated: “If our elected officials refuse to address this concentration of money and power, the consequences will be dire.” And as millionaire heiress Abigail Disney ominously observed: “Throughout history, pitchforks were the inevitable consequence of extreme discontent.”

The discontent is truly extreme, and the institutions of bourgeois democracy are, indeed, under threat, with Trump acting as an accelerant. But the existential threat to bourgeois society comes from the tens of millions who refuse to accept that a handful of parasites are destined to rule over us forever.

If Trump marches triumphantly back into Washington, we would be confronted, not with the specter of fascism, but with a mass movement that could quickly surpass the breadth and depth of the summer of 2020. The power of the working class—the only force that can bury this system of misery, death, and humiliation—would be unleashed. And if the Democrats somehow win a reprieve, it will only delay the system’s day of reckoning.

The future is one of mass struggle and preparing for revolution—not electioneering and horse-trading for piddling reforms. Colossal street mobilizations, earth-shattering general strikes, and the rise of a mass communist party are on the agenda. So, too, are unhinged attacks on communism, foreshadowed by the vitriolic attempts to paint Lenin as a tyrant on the centenary of his passing. We welcome these attacks as a badge of honor—they are a sign of our enemies’ weakness, not their strength.

All revolutionary class fighters should unite under the banner of the IMT, the only genuine revolutionary communist international on the planet. Help us organize and educate the tens of thousands of communists who will lead the working class to victory and end this system in our lifetime. Worldwide intifada until victory!

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