The Latin American pseudo-left and the US elections

por Rafael Azul
12 noviembre 2016

The pseudo-left tendencies that are grouped around the Argentine petty-bourgeois nationalist (morenista) Socialist Workers Party (PTS), and that form the Trotskyist Fraction/Fourth International (TFFI) recently weighed in on the US presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. On October 24, the TFFI US affiliate, Left Voice, published an on-line commentary entitled “The Bankruptcy of Lesser Evilism” by Robert Belano. Nine days later, the PTS’s on-line newspaper, Izquierda Diario followed up with an article by Celeste Murillo titled “Women, Afro-Americans and Latinos could determine the outcome of the US elections” (Mujeres, afroamericanos y latinos pueden definir la elección en Estados Unidos). Translations of Belano’s and Murillo’s articles were also published by the TFFI French and Brazilian sections.

Both those articles are in line with the strategy of pseudo-left currents across the world to maintain workers divided along communal, racial, and sexual lines, just when the workers across the world, black and white, immigrant and native, men and women are accelerating their struggles in defense of their living standards and democratic rights.

Murillo’s commentary takes much of its data, from the Voter Participation Center.

For Murillo there is no end in how many ways to divide the working class; she makes use the ever more detailed demographics of identity politics; she lists white men and women, unmarried and married women, black men and women, Latinos and Latino subgroups. The word class is never mentioned.

Under a subheading called “race matters”, Murillo claims that the “racial factor continues to be decisive in [US] elections”, benefiting Hillary Clinton, who hopes to maintain the racial and ethnic coalition that elected Barak Obama.

The author holds that the crisis in the Republican Part is in part a function of the decreasing percentage of “white male voters” in the US population, who, Murillo claims were the traditional base of the Republican Party (“the time is gone when 90 percent of voters were white, mostly male,” in the 1970s) The subtext, that white males support Republicans and Trump to defend their privileged position in society has become a mantra among “progressives” and the pseudo left.

Belano’s article also hinges on identity politics. He compares the political positions of both Trump and Clinton, pointing out that what makes Trump appear as a greater evil is that Hillary Clinton “still relies on the votes of women, Latinos and Black people and cannot and would not” make openly racist and sexist declarations. “Therefore it would be obviously incorrect to put and equal sign between Clinton and Trump,” adds Belano.

Coincidentally, Belano’s commentary was published on the same day that the World Socialist published an perspective with a similar title – The 2016 elections and the dead-end of “lesser evil” politics — In that statement, the WSWS political reporter Patrick Martin makes the point that both capitalist candidates, Clinton and Trump, reflect the terminal crisis of US and world capitalism.

The truth, however, is that the choice of Clinton or Trump is a choice between two forms of terminal cancer. And given Clinton’s support for expanded military intervention in the Middle East and a full-scale confrontation with Russia, the world’s second-largest nuclear power, it cannot be said with any certainty which of the two diseases would prove more quickly fatal.

Patrick Martin places the issue of lesser evil politics in the context of the crisis and decay of world capitalism and drive to war by US imperialism that makes this election unlike any other. Under these conditions even the most minimal concession to workers, the middle classes, the poor, or the elderly is completely unrealizable. On the contrary the aim of the ruling class is to strip the working class from all of its hard-fought gains. In this it counts with the assistance of the trade unions and organizations such as Left Voice and Izquierda Diario.

Belano and Murillo do not call for a vote for either Clinton or Trump, or any of the candidates running in the election. Both reject the “lesser evil” argument. According to Bolano “it is precisely the Democrats politicians [sic] who will actually carry out the policies that deport immigrants, kill or lock up Black people en masse, and surveil Muslims.” What then is he proposing? A turn and support for identity groups.

While Belano makes a few generally correct observations about the Republican and Democratic parties and their candidate; and advises people not to be fooled. However he the attempts some fooling on his own by calling on women, workers and youth to build a workers party on the basis of petty-bourgeois movements such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, of the Fight for $15.

The problem with “lesser evil” politics, according to Bolano is that it “prevents any independent political organization from emerging from progressive mass movements like Black Lives Matter, Occupy, or the Fight for $15.” By breaking with the politics of “lesser evil” and turning to these movements, a workers party will arise “that challenges the capitalists for power,” declares Bolano.

It is a fraud to link the term “independent” to groups such as Black Lives Matter, an upper middle class movement, which fully supports the Hillary Clinton campaign, as do the remnants of the Occupy Wall Street Movement that have largely found their way into the Democratic Party and single issue politics, such as Fight for 15.

“Fight for 15” is a construct of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Hillary Clinton addressed its convention last June in Chicago, when she was posing as a progressive against Bernie Sanders. She would soon distance herself from the minimal demand for a $15 minimum wage. No matter, the SEIU bureaucracy endorsed her campaign in November 2015 and continues to do so.

At a time in which workers are rebelling against the betrayals of their own trade unions, Fight for 15, which campaigns to organize fast-food workers on the basis of hunger wages is committed to keeping workers corralled in the Democratic Party.

Bolano’s call support for those movements is a back-door support for Clinton and the Democratic Party. He rejects the socialist demand for the independence of the working class from bourgeois parties. To suggest that workers, women and youth turn to those organizations to build an independent socialist party has all the elements of a bad joke.

In the last year in the United States important struggles have taken place by Auto Workers, Communication Workers, Teachers, Transit Workers, public Employees, entertainment industry workers against attacks on their living standards, pensions and health benefits. Workers, native born and immigrant, across gender and ethnic lines have been thrown into struggle against their employers, their trade unions, and government authorities, including Democratic Party government officials.

In fact none of the organizations that form Trotskyist Fraction of the Fourth International severed whatever connections they once may have had with revolutionary socialism, Trotskyism and the Fourth International. Their aim is to consciously divide the working class into various nationalities and identities, pitting black, white, immigrant, native, male and female workers against each other, to prevent the development of revolutionary socialist consciousness and to block the development of an international revolutionary leadership based on a socialist program.