La Voz December 2018 Magazine Editorial

Written by La Voz Editorial Committee

This issue of La Voz comes out at a time in which developments in the international, national, and local arenas continue to expose the ongoing crisis of capitalist legitimacy. In the Americas, elections in Brazil and the United States have deep implications for the future of working class power and the sustainability of the capitalist system, to say nothing of the planet. In the U.S., midterm elections have not vindicated liberals’ hopes for a “blue wave,” for the Democratic Party is not proposing durable solutions to working class problems. In Brazil the news are much worse, extruding a loathsome proto-fascist in the form of Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro and Trump are far from the only far-right to proto-fascists running roughshod today.
The economic crisis led to a now entrenched political crisis of legitimacy and leadership of the establishment parties in bourgeois democratic regimes.  In this context, we witness globally the growth of far-right and neo-fascist groups international. Racist mobs march in European cities, demonize asylum-seekers and call for the deployment of the military to the southern border in the United States, injure and even murder people of color, Jewish and LGBTQ+ people, immigrants and anti-racist protesters and artists in the US, Italy, Brazil and elsewhere. In our current crisis, capital shows its true colors. Through its bourgeois states, police forces, and allied fascist street thugs, it poses a mortal threat to everyone who is not rich, cis-heterosexual male, and of a privileged citizenship or racial caste, all over the world. When forced to choose between its profits and planetary survival, it always chooses the first. We must organize our class to fight back and defeat these reactionary forces.
This is not only a moment in which the right reveals its true nature. Liberalism does as well. Liberal leaders from Macron to Pelosi enable the far-right, rehabilitating fascists or calling for “bipartisanship” with racists, misogynists, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes. The bourgeois press in Europe eulogizes the Merkel era, stale even at its start thirteen years ago, with its technocratic and neoliberal nostrums. Now in the period of its dusk, it is still capable of casting a mesmerizing halo to a media all too willing to forget, or ignore, the German state’s and banking sector’s role in exacerbating the financial crisis which has devoured societies and futures across Southern Europe and beyond.
As was evident in the run-up to the US midterm elections, liberals seem to stand for nothing any longer aside from perpetuating electoral illusions. They really believed that simply not being Trump would bring a “blue wave.” From Pelosi to Macron to Merkel, liberals’ center-left and center-right continue to propose their supposed competence and skill in technocracy and state administration as an alternative to the far-right international of Bannon, Trump, Salvini and the rest. Yet working class and oppressed people by and large met the US elections as they have done for generations: mostly, with indifference, accurately reasoning that neither of the ruling class parties will do anything to help solve their problems: inadequate and extortionately expensive housing, poor health and lack of access to healthcare, public schools deprived of funds and children deprived of futures by racism, social immobility, and police brutality, to say nothing of the accumulation by dispossession dictatorship known as the US military to which both US ruling class parties abjectly subordinate themselves.
A similar set of circumstances accounted for the decline of the PT in Brazil. In recent years it has come to promote class collaboration with Brazilian capital and austerity, and tens of millions of everyday Brazilians saw this clearly. While Bolsonaro won 57.8 million votes to Haddad’s tally of just above 47 million, 42 million Brazilians chose either to abstain, to void their votes, or to submit a blank vote. The stakes of centrist parties’ class collaboration are just as high in Brazil as they are in the US, if not moreso. In the world’s sixth most-populous country and fourth largest (for now) democracy, Bolsonaro celebrates torture and all manner of violence against women, black and LGBTQ+ people, along with the Brazilian military dictatorship which ruled with an iron fist between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. He promises to violently crush workers movements and democracy protesters, and most chillingly, to visit genocide on indigenous peoples. The last is in the service of extractive capital, which wants to deforest Amazonia. This would spell doom not only for Brazilians but also for the whole human race and the species with whom we share the earth, as the Amazon rain forests are a crucial “lung” for the planet, mitigating the impacts of human-made global warming. When push comes to shove, capital literally chooses imminent planetary destruction over any potential threat to its profits.
In the Korean Peninsula, a complex situation unfolds with the official end of the hostilities between North and South and talk of reunification. South Korea’s leader Moon Jae-in bucks the international trend toward the right. A progressive, he promises to implement a “workers first economy,” to address the irregular work regime in which one third of South Koreans labor under precarity, and to hold Chaebols, the business conglomerates that dominate the South’s economy, more accountable. Signs that the North will denuclearize are also promising. However, while a militant working class perspective welcomes peace and denuclearization, it must maintain a dialectical position of both hope and skepticism. There could indeed be openings to working class power, but the material context must be confronted with realism. The South Korean economy has been in recession over the past decade as both China and India increasingly challenge it in the international manufacturing sector. The past decade has also been a period of rising worker unrest, especially among workers at leading industrial companies such as Hyundai and Samsung. This forms the backdrop for inter-Korean negotiations, as the South sees the North as a source of agricultural land and cheap labor. Meanwhile, future integration of the North into the capitalist system poses many questions.
Under what terms will this integration take place? What will be the role of the many regional and global powers – from South Korea to China, Japan, and Russia? What about the United States, still intervening with a neocolonial military force in the peninsula? What will integration mean for workers in both Koreas? The vision of Lenin for the worker’s state, inspired by the Paris Commune, is our own party’s strategic goal. This represents the sine qua non for a transition to a classless and stateless communist society. North Korea is a very far cry from this, and Marxists should be under no illusions in this respect. However, as Marxists, it is still our duty to enact both solidarity with the workers in the North and the South, and to pose sharp questions about Korean reunification. A reunification under the domination of South Korean capital in alliance with regional and international imperialism, as would likely be the case, would liberate neither South nor North Korean workers. We call for solidarity and support of Korean workers on both sides of the current border at all times and especially when they move into conflict with their respective states and ruling classes.
Closer to home, the acuteness of the climate crisis again intrudes on Californians’ consciousnesses, with massive fires in both the northern and southern halves of the US’s largest state. Amidst the smoke and haze, Los Angeles and Oakland educators are gearing up to strike this winter, while other education union locals are starting to pay more attention and see the potential for coordinated statewide action. Marriott workers are still on strike in multiple cities, and the spread of labor militancy grows. Workers are in motion, and we recognize the importance of united fronts against the far-right, and independent, working class combat organizations. The hope of smashing capitalism is based on the deeply felt call to eradicate the ills of grotesque militarism and fascist creep, and to save the planet from irreversible climate ruin. It is not just the absence of capitalism that animates the socialist movement, however. It is the belief that humankind is capable of building a future in which we work collectively to provide for each and all of our needs.

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