Toward a Mass-Based Independent Working-Class Party by Saladin Muhammad
Originally published on 10/5/2019
(Following are excerpts from a much longer contribution by Saladin Muhammad, founder of Black Workers For Justice and co-coordinator of the Southern Workers Assembly. The full text can be accessed at http://www.socialistorganizer.com.)
While recognizing that the election of Trump/Pence is a symptom of the capitalist crisis and the obvious failure of the Democratic Party to provide a program of social policies that address vital needs of working-class and oppressed people, Trump’s role in government cannot simply be referred to as a symptom, like unemployment
The Trump/Pence regime represents a blatant racist and fascist section of the U.S. ruling class shaping a neo-fascist direction of the State and fostering a racist social movement that seeks to divide and intimidate the working class, especially the nationally oppressed sectors.
Without being identified as a force struggling to expose, isolate, and defeat the Trump/Pence regime, working-class Black and other oppressed masses of color will not feel that an independent mass working-class party-building effort is fully including the struggle against deep and racist impacts of the capitalist crisis on them.
“Impeach, Jail, and Overturn Executive Orders and Policies Established by the Trump/Pence Regime!” needs to be projected as a slogan of the movement tobuild an independent mass working-class and oppressed peoples’ political agenda during the 2018 and 2020 election periods.
Yes, an Impeach the Trump/Pence Regime slogan and campaign will project some objective expression of alignment with the Democratic Party, but we must project a program that elevates Impeach Trump/Pence to a program that also challenges the general “protect capitalism/imperialism” program of the Democratic Party.
Advancing an independent political action program
The popular front strategy of many on the Left against fascism has meant supporting the so-called liberal wing of capitalism — in the U.S. case, the Democratic Party, as the so-called lesser of two evils. Forces on the Left, especially among the nationally oppressed working-class sectors, must develop and promote an independent political action program that links running and electing political candidates to a strategic program and plan to build areas of mass-based power.
Uniting the mass bases around an independent program and in worker assemblies that run local candidates for offices in non-partisan elections, or organize for local and statewide referendums, can begin to establish the identity and challenges of the mass party in the electoral arena.
Elected officials must be accountable to a conscious and active political mass base — a mass base that is not only active in elections but that, day after day, is building power and influence in the social and economic institutions within the political districts, cities, counties, and states of the elected officials.
We also must expose how bourgeois democracy intentionally disenfranchises large numbers of working-class people of color, and how the vote for the highest office of the United States, the president, is not decided by the majority vote of the citizens. The building of mass-based struggles challenging this undemocratic electoral system must be one of the major tasks of the mass work toward building an independent mass working-class and oppressed peoples’ party.
Fighting structural racism
A movement to form a working-class and oppressed peoples’ independent party has to make the struggle against structural racism a major part of the working-class political program and struggle. This means, especially for the Left, recognizing the Black liberation movement under the leadership of the Black working class and the struggle for African American self-determination as an autonomous flank in U.S. and international working-class struggle against capitalism and imperialism.
As has been typical during the deepening of the capitalist crisis, structural racism has created a reactionary white nationalist consciousness, a form of national chauvinism among many white workers and poor people according to which Blacks, Latinos, Native Americas and immigrants from the global South, are their main enemy — diverting their attention from their real enemy: the capitalist class.
The labor movement, as the most organized and resourceful section of the working class, must be won as a major force for building an independent working-class and oppressed mass political party. With rank-and-file democracy and control and a social-movement unionism perspective, trade unions are in the best position to help forge unity among a large percentage of the U.S. multinational working-class.
Building Black liberation assemblies
For the Black liberation movement, the perspective of uniting the common Black working-class mass-issue struggles into Black working-class-led Black liberation movement battlefronts struggling for mass-based power is critical for linking the Black Left to the Black working-class and developing a consciousness and base for an independent working-class and oppressed peoples’ mass political party.
The formation of Black liberation assemblies — promoted by the National Assembly for Black Liberation held on May 18-20, 2018 in Durham, N.C. — is an organizing form to develop unity in action around independent local, state, and national demands that begin to bring a national and international character and support to the struggles and strategies for local contending and transformative power.
The Black working class enters the broad alliance of working-class-led forces as part of a Black liberation movement struggling for self-determination, as a form of dual contending and transformative power against a settler-colonial capitalist and imperialist State. Promoting an understanding of the importance of the struggle against structural racism as an essential part of building a movement and political party for working-class political independence must be a major task of the Left within the labor movement.