Election reflections: Where next after the conventions?

By Abayomi Azikiwe
August 18, 2016

Now that both the Republican and Democratic national conventions are over, the political character of these capitalist parties in the United States is clear for all conscious people to see. There was nothing new that developed among the leading forces in either of the organizations that ostensibly represent the U.S. electorate.

In Cleveland at the RNC, the forces of billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump dominated the gathering with speeches calling for the U.S. to return to its past glory. What glory, one may ask?

Are they speaking of going back to the 1940s and 1950s, when racial segregation was still legal in the country and any remote notions of equality and self-determination for African Americans would be considered communistic, warranting an investigation by Congress for subversion?

Or do they seek an even further retreat into the early 20th century, when lynch law was considered the norm, and African Americans accused of crossing the racial and social boundaries designated by the ruling class in both the North and the South could face deadly consequences?

Also, the questions of imperialism and militarism were addressed only from the perspective of the effectiveness of an agenda for global domination that, as articulated by spokespeople from the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, State Department, operates in the best interests of the defense industry and international finance capital. Of course, notions over whether the wars of the last quarter century in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Colombia, etc., were necessary interventions never reached the podium. The ideas advanced revolve around the “toughness” of the capitalist-imperialist state in its willingness to exert U.S. influence around the world.

Trump’s positions, which seem to advocate a protectionist economic and foreign policy, are clearly demagogic. Modern-day capitalism is tantamount to globalization or, as most socialists say, imperialistic. How can one man such as Trump reverse the course of modern-day imperialism without the backing of the social class he represents?

V.I. Lenin clearly pointed out a century ago, in 1916 during World War I, in his seminal work titled “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism”:  “Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general. But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism at a definite and very high stage of its development, when certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres. Economically, the main thing in this process is the displacement of capitalist free competition by capitalist monopoly.

“Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creating large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and carrying concentrations of production and capital to the point where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of millions. At the same time the monopolies, which have grown out of free competition, do not eliminate the latter, but exist above it and alongside it, and thereby give rise to a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts. Monopoly is the transition from capitalism to a higher system.”

Consequently, Trump, like his Democratic Party counterparts, is attempting to sell the electorate on false dreams of an America where jobs will be brought back at decent wages, therefore eliminating the need for immigrant labor. Xenophobia, racism and this imaginary “protectionism” is the future of U.S. capitalism. Such an ideological position defies logic and the historical development of capitalism over the last century.

Democrats and their illusionary ‘diversity’

In Philadelphia at the DNC, the same general line advocated by the Trump wing of the Republican Party also prevailed. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats seek to once again frighten African Americans, Latinos/as, Middle Easterners, Asians, women, LGBTQ communities, people living with disabilities, environmentalists and even peace advocates that their brand of capitalist-imperialism is safer and more productive.

These two political wings of the ruling class rely on different constituencies to carry out the same objectives. The Democrats must get the votes of the nationally oppressed, the working class and their trade unions, the majority of women and other exploited sectors of the proletariat and racially excluded groups. Hillary Clinton cannot win without these important constituencies, who now numerically make up the majority of the population.

Yet despite the long list of African Americans and other nationally oppressed groups who served as delegates to the DNC and spoke from the rostrum, they have no real authority in the Democratic Party. The trick here is to take the most oppressed and exploited and get them to vote and work against their own interests. This same strategy is shared by the Republicans, as well as utilizing racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and militarism. White working- and middle-class people are encouraged to vote for Trump because he will supposedly expel the “Islamist threat” both domestically and internationally and bring good-paying employment back to the U.S.

After the passage of a series of Civil Rights bills during 1957-68, the national oppression of African Americans went from a classic colonial model to one of neocolonialism. In other words, allow selected politicians and entertainers to serve as a buffer between the African-American masses and the ruling class without any fundamental transformation of capitalist ownership and relations of production.

Kwame Nkrumah, former president of the first Republic of Ghana, a leading Pan-Africanist and socialist who served as the chief strategist of the African Revolution from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, wrote in the conclusion of his groundbreaking study titled “Neo-Colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism”: “When Africa becomes economically free and politically united, the monopolists will come face to face with their own working class in their own countries, and a new struggle will arise within which the liquidation and collapse of imperialism will be complete. As this book has attempted to show, in the same way as the internal crisis of capitalism within the developed world arose through the uncontrolled action of national capital, so a greater crisis is being provoked today by similar uncontrolled action of international capitalism in the developing parts of the world.

“Before the problem can be solved it must at least be understood. It cannot be resolved merely by pretending that neo-colonialism does not exist. It must be realized that the methods at present employed to solve the problem of world poverty are not likely to yield any result other than to extend the crisis.”

Therefore, the imperialist militarism and jingoism that flowed from the podium during the final night of the DNC represents the actual program of this purported “liberal” wing of the capitalist class. Nonetheless, there is no solution to be found in the endless wars of destabilization and conquest led by Washington and Wall Street.

The only solution lies in the formation of a mass party of the working class and oppressed which speaks directly for and in the interests of the people. What we can expect from the Democrats and the Republicans is much of the same propaganda and broken promises. The future resides with the efforts of the exploited and the oppressed when they are organized, mobilized and deployed in their own name.