THE NEW AMERICAN MARXIST REVIEW

by dannymitch

A REVOLUTIONARY CLASS ANALYSIS OF AMERICA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Using the basic Marxist point of view that class is defined as, “your relationship to the means of production”, let me begin by identifying the “means of production”.  In the 20th century, we defined them as literally the factories and office buildings we worked in, and this is still basically true.  For the longest time we’ve assumed that a family or a few major shareholders were the owner’s, or Ruling Class (RC).  We thought like this because we were using Karl Marx’s point of view, from the 19th century, to define a 20th century reality.  Now, in the 21st century am I still going to use this 19th century thinking?  Not without a few updates to the basic definitions of Marxism.  Beyond just the new definition of Means of Production, we need to redefine the Middle Class as collaborators or our allies.  We also want to broaden the definition of Working Class to reflect the fact that class is defined by how you make your money, and not about how much money you make.

In the new reality of the 21st century economies, known as the Global Economy, I have to broaden my definition of Means of Production to reflect the new economic relationship the “free-trade” policies of many of the world’s emerging economies are forging.  Entities like Global Value Funds, Merger and Acquisition Funds, Hedge Funds, Real Estate Investment Trust, Mortgage Derivatives and just a host of “new” financial products and services that even Marx never dreamed of are causing consolidation on a global scale.  It’s not just the owner of the McDonald’s that you have to bargain with, it’s also the “shareholders” you have to contend with.  They want to increase their shareholder value, at all cost.  They are the driving force behind many a CEO’s (middle class collaborators) drive to lower cost by layoffs and benefit cuts.

These shareholders are these Funds, Billionaire Speculators, Holding Companies, Banks and other financial vehicles that channel the wealth from multiple economies into the next wave of global mergers and acquisitions.  Every time we negotiate a contract or demand any kind of benefits we are preventing them from increasing shareholder value or dividends or profit or excess value or whatever you want to call it.  In the global economy your paycheck might be shrinking to support the profits of a company in France, England, Saudi Arabia or one of the major banks here in the US that we just helped with a taxpayer bailout.

Even China is a shareholder in the global economy.  They’ve put their global revolution for Socialism on hold so they can become a player in the global stock market.  I’ll bet you Marx never saw that coming, a Socialist economy and a Capitalist one are trading partners?  They also share a Ruling Class relationship in their use of the stock market to extract excess value from the global economies.

It is a monumental task to attack these kinds of forces.  It’s impossible to stop these mergers and the influence they have on pricing are going to exact heavy tolls on all our lives.  We’ve never needed international solidarity more than we do now.  We also need broad based class solidarity within our own society.  Just because someone is making more money than you doesn’t mean it is okay if they get their wages or benefits cut.  None of us needs to be going backwards in our wages or buying power while these global entities are raking in trillions in profits.

We need to clearly define the needs of working class people to determine if either of the two political parties represents those interests.  Then, we need to talk about how we can build our solidarity into an effective defense against global capitalism.

The Issues, as I see them, are pretty straight forward.  As long as there is even 0.1% unemployment we will need to tax the richest people on the globe, to provide a “social” safety net for them and the retirees, the disabled, businesses that go bankrupt, disaster victims, environmental disasters, etc.  Labor law reform is another area that needs legislative attention.  Trade union democracy has been neglected for way too long.  Not to mention civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, tenants’ rights and affordable rents, mortgages and healthcare.  I usually put them into two main categories, Economic issues and Social issues.

Economic issues are defined by my Marxist analysis, my relationship to the means of production and the issues that affect us, directly.  The job market, a strong economy, labor laws and the strength of unions are the foundation upon which Marxists organize around because labor is the heartbeat of the economy, labor is the main contradiction.  It is the strongest influence we have in the economy and it must be organized so its representatives can act as the political voice of the working class.  But labor must have its allies and for them we need a separate Labor Party (LP) structure to bring together all the Social issue organizations with all the Economic issue organizations.  From this national unity we can achieve international solidarity, eventually.

When it comes to which of the two, present day political parties, the Democrats or the Republicans, represents these issues best, it’s the Democrats, hands down.  But do the Democrats cover all the issues, equally?  The answer is no.  Now that the global economy is here, they are doing less and less for us and more against us.  We are bailing Capitalists out of one blunder after another and yet big business is taking more and more of their “taxable” profits, overseas.  The Stock Market is getting lower taxes and less regulation, while a Democrat sits in the White House and he wants to “fast track” a new “fair trade” agreement.  After NAFTA, we just can’t trust them.  Clearly the need for a better, stronger and more controllable political party is obvious.

Among the middle class there are allies and collaborators who must be identified and dealt with accordingly.  By middle-class I mean people who hire and fire workers, either in a small business or a large corporation.  Most of the time the issues will tell us who’s an ally and who is not.  Depending on their own self-interest, small and large businesses and other middle class professionals, will often be at odds over tax issues, labor issues, healthcare, gay rights, etc.  Within these contexts, we will give Democrats, the liberal wing of capitalism, our support and they will be our ally on an issue by issue basis.  The collaborators and apologists for big business and global capital, the Republicans, will be treated with the same distain as the Ruling-class.

The Ruling-class is quite a new enemy since globalization has occurred.  Corporate headquarters could be located anywhere on earth, literally.  More than just a family name or a corporation, we are now dealing with global empires and trillion-dollar funds that are merging and acquiring companies on a faster and larger scale than ever before.  Manipulating large swath of the economy at will, these “global investors” are using every known trick to pit one low wage country against the other in the never ending search for “increased investor value.”  They treat factories and workers like disposable razors as they search the globe for lower and lower paid workers.  First Mexico, then India, then Cambodia and now China and who knows who will be next.  When one country gets organized they sell their stock and invest in another low wage country.  What they used to do between America’s northern and southern workers, they now do on a global scale between the “new emerging economies” and the industrialized nations.

But before we can have a Labor Party we need a strong American Marxist Party (AMP).  One that has a strong base within the working class from which to lead, in the formation of a broad based labor-community alliance. It is an important first step in grounding a national organization in a strong union base that will be used as a platform for building working class political power.  A national network of community based, labor organizing committees will solidify and legitimize our claim to be the true third party in American politics.

In true Marxist style, membership will be defined by your “relationship to the means of production.”  This means that if you sell your labor, your skills or your intellectual property to someone else for a wage or salary, you may be eligible to join the AMP.  If you hire and fire anyone as part of your job, then you would not be eligible for membership, as you are a middle class employee.

The primary work of members is to build the party base by working through the Organizing Committee of the AMP.  These independent unions will be brought together through the democratic, bottom-up practices of the AMP, to participate in the local and national structures and to hold office at these levels.  From the local committee to the national leadership and eventually political office in the name of the Labor Party, should be the goals and the right of every AMP member.

Our platform for the AMP will be guided by our Marxist analysis and our advances in the trade union struggles.  We will demand the equality of labor and its rightful claim to our share of a company’s success.  “In unity there is strength,” will have true meaning in the AMP and hopefully in the broader based Labor Party.   The exact issues will reflex the times they are drafted in and will keep changing with history. But the guiding principles will be the same, class struggle and the inevitable victory of Socialism.

Although Marx never specifically mentioned this twist in the growth and scale of both Capitalism and Socialism, he did give us the basic strategy, “workers of the world, unite!”  Now, more than ever our international solidarity has to be realized.  We will need a global approach to our organizing and we don’t even have a political party to help us do this.  It is labor, the main contradiction in society, which is supposed to lead this struggle, but here in America we have stopped using Marxism because the Soviet-model has collapsed.  It was too dogmatic, it had to be changed and democratized.  Although, the Chinese-model (capital-socialism) is succeeding, it still struggles with its democracy and civil liberties issues.  We need to develop an American-Marxism that will once again take Marxism to a new vision of socialism, liberty and justice for all.  We can do this! ;{-

Advertisements