Excerpted from the main political report to the Central Committee, December 1980.
At this first post-election meeting of our Central Committee our deliberations must reflect on and respond to the fact that in many ways we have a new political situation.
The 1980 presidential election brought to a head many of the infected boils of U.S. capitalism. Much of the old was shattered. Many of the old illusions were smashed. As a result more than usual the surface reality is scattered with political debris. And politics and life have become even more complex.
Political eruptions always bring with them both negative and positive, progressive and reactionary attitudes, resulting in new relationships and new alliances. Such an eruption stimulates moods of fightback. But it also brings out of the woodwork all of the reactionary, ultra-Right, racist vermin. The 1980 electoral political eruption is no different.
Without wishful thinking or panic we have to assess both the positive and negative changes in the new objective picture. And just as a navigator must not confuse the waves with the ocean tides or currents, we must not confuse the momentary negative factors with the more basic longer-range social and economic trends which have not reversed course.
There are many new contradictory currents and cross currents. Much that appears on the surface can be misleading.
For example, Reagan’s huge electoral college majority can in no way be interpreted as an endorsement by the people for policies of war, aggression and nuclear superiority. If anything, the anti-war sentiment is stronger now than at any time since the Vietnam War.
There is confusion, anxiety and fear. But there is also the stirring of a great awakening. There is some passivity and pessimism. But there is also growing concern and a readiness on the part of the people to resist. And, more than anything else the people are on the alert — waiting and watching — with a growing conviction that we are entering a new period of heightened struggles.
Four years ago there were widespread illusions about Carter. The majority of the people have no such illusions regarding Reagan or the present Congress. This is true even for many of those who voted for Reagan.
There is nothing in the new situation that would in any way justify conclusions either that things will right themselves or work themselves out automatically or spontaneously or that we are inevitably and irretrievably headed into a new reactionary period of McCarthyism.
There are new problems. But there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the new situation that justifies moods of retreat or tactics based on withdrawing from struggles or of going on the defensive.
Our task is to make correct, balanced assessments and to think through carefully how best the working class, the people, can take advantage of every new opening, how best the people can come together for a winning fightback.
Our task is to expose the reactionary, ultra-Right demagogy, to pinpoint the obstacles and to propose a line of tactics that will convince the people that they can not only defend their past gains, but win new concessions and reforms. With correct leadership, the obstacles can be turned into their opposites.
Landslide Against Carter
The outcome of the 1980 elections demonstrated a combination of disgust, anger, some cynicism, frustration, confusion and mass alienation from the electoral process itself. There was a further break with traditional voting patterns.
The result was a landslide, a mass rejection, a repudiation of the four miserable years of the Carter Administration. There was a popular determination to get rid of Carter. And for very valid reasons.
The voting patterns expressed feelings of desperation, of being trapped in the two-party choice between two equally reactionary conservative candidates.
The voters exhibited unprecedented disillusionment with the two old parties. But the patterns also revealed that, although disillusioned, large numbers were not yet ready to strike out of the trap and onto a path of active political independence.
The sentiment for political independence is much greater than the actual vote indicates. Millions who think and are for political independence did not take this path only because of a feeling that independent candidates could not win.
There was no deep conviction that a vote for either Carter or Reagan would improve things. Therefore, millions of voters picked a long shot, a gamble that maybe one would not be as bad as the other.
Large numbers of the voting public chose different ways to register their protest. Thirty per cent refused to register. A public opinion poll showed that a big majority of the unregistered would have voted for the Democrats, Anderson and others, including Communists.
Of those who did go to the polls, a record 71/2 million voted outside the two-party system. The rest split 51-41 percent for Reagan. Thus, Reagan won the election with about 26 per cent of the eligible voters.
In other words, of the one-half of the eligible voters who actually voted only one-quarter voted for Reagan. This means that 75 percent of the eligible voters — the majority of Americans — did not vote for Reagan.
We should take special note of the fact that of 160 million potential voters only 84 million voted; 75 million did not. If you include the millions of non-citizens who are not eligible to vote, the percentage of the public which voted is even smaller. This is important because when we speak of the coming struggles all of the 160 million-plus are “eligible” and must be included in the mobilizations.
To this must be added the fact that Reagan did not win in the industrial working-class centers. A majority of people earning less than $15,000 per year voted against Reagan.
Black and Hispanic voters overwhelmingly voted against Reagan’s racist views and policies. But they did not vote enthusiastically for Carter either.
A significant section of the 26 per cent who voted for Reagan do not support his reactionary, Right-wing views. Not all who are against abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment are anti-labor or against social welfare programs. Many who voted for Reagan because of his promise to cut taxes will now join in the struggle for real tax cuts.
In addition to the mass protest vote against Carter, one of the main reasons for Reagan’s victory was a conscious, quick change in tactics by Reagan’s image-makers. Especially reflected in the Cleveland debate, there was a marked shift to center in Reagan’s rhetoric and tactics. Perceiving the people’s desire for peace, detente, more jobs, less taxes and lower prices, Reagan began to moderate his speeches, statements, views and policies drastically. He emphasized that he is not “trigger happy,” not a “warmonger.”
Mood of the Voters
The conservative Brooklyn newspaper, the Tablet, published an editorial on a conference of senior citizens which is a good description of the mood of a large section of the voters:
They were all concerned about the economy. They had worked hard all their lives and felt themselves entitled to freedom from money worries at this stage of their lives. They felt betrayed by inflation, government promises and the general lack of fairness in the way they were treated by society….
Yet once they began to articulate what they wanted from society it was also obvious that they were demanding deep social changes in our economic system.
They wanted their income protected from inflation. They wanted their decreased income sheltered from taxation, and taxes shifted to those who had greater ability to pay them. They wanted corporate profits limited in order that adequate pensions could be paid workers. Yet it was a federalized program of income maintenance, social security, that they jost trusted and respected. They felt that medical services and housing were rights they were entitled to and at government expense.
They were not trying to write a socialistic charter. They would deny that they were anything but conservative Americans… Yet when they looked carefully at the social problems that they understood and wanted to help solve, they came up with some very radical solutions.
This is still the mood of most.
We must avoid simplistic assessments of a very complex moment, made up of many storms, many currents and confusing signals. Wrong assessments can lead to wrong approaches to present and future struggles. Unwarranted pessimistic assessments lead to less initiative and passive acceptance of reactionary policies.
There is always a need for correct assessments of setbacks. But the negatives of the 1980 elections can lead to wrong conclusions if they are viewed in a wrong framework of “a Right-wing sweep,” “a reactionary landslide,” “a mandate for racism,” which in fact did not take place.
When placed in the setting of recent electoral history, in the overall sense Reagan won 1 per cent more of the eligible vote than Gerald Ford won in 1976. He received one-tenth of 1 percent more than Nixon got in 1968. And he received 8.3 percent less than Nixon and Wallace combined in 1968. These figures are important to note because they indicate a slight trend, but by no means an ultra-Right tidal wave.
In a New York Times-CBS poll it was found that 1 of every 5 voters (20 percent of those who voted) changed their minds about the candidate of their choice in the last five days before the election. This further confirms that voters were not enthusiastic about or deeply committed to the personalities or the programs of the two major parties.
Also, as part of the same Times-CBS poll of 12,000 voters taken immediately after they cast their vote, 38 per cent of those who voted for Reagan said they did so not for ideological reasons but because they believed it was “time for a change,” while only 11 per cent did so because they regard themselves as “conservatives.”
The Targets of Ultra-Right
Within this situation, the concentration policy of the ultra-Right forces for the defeat of a number of liberal and some mildly liberal senators had its desired effect.
In the main these senators were from states with small blocks of working-class, Black and Chicano voters and large farm and middle-class concentrations. These are states where the number of people who voted increased, while the total number of those who voted declined in jost other states, which means the ultra-Right was able to mobilize forces who in the past did not vote.
A special analysis of the defeat of the six senators shows that in at least four of the six states the Republican senatorial candidate was carried to victory on Reagan’s coattails, which was enhanced by the fact that all six states, with the possible exception of Wisconsin, are normally Republican in presidential years.
Moreover, we should keep in mind that two of the Senate incumbents whom the Right had targeted for defeat — Hart of Colorado and Cranston of California — won re-election. And Dodd defeated the reactionary Right-wing Buckley in Connecticut and Holtzman would have won in New York except for Javits’ reactionary role as the spoiler.
Most important is the fact that all but one of the Black members of Congress were re-elected and two new Afro-American Congressmen were elected. This is also true of Afro-Americans elected to state legislative bodies. And keep in mind that a number of members of the Black Caucus in Congress were also targeted for defeat by the ultra-Right. They conducted vicious racist and redbaiting campaigns against these Congressmen.
Also, it is important to note that by-and-large the main Right-wing attack against the liberals was on issues such as government-financed abortions and ERA. This means the ultra-Right was able to demagogically use issues such as “big government spending,” “right to life,” “excessive welfare” and pornography.
Ultra Right and Right Wing
While there was no ideological swing to the Right and no ultra-Right racist mandate, we would be naive not to recognize some increase in the activity of the ultra-Right.
The danger emerges from a number of directions. Right-wing forces have tightened their control over parts of the government apparatus, over key Senate committees and of course they have gained an influence in the executive branch.
The Right-wing groups are having less difficulty raising sums of money, which means that some sections of monopoly capital are laying their bets on a continuing growth of the Right sector.
In this new situation it is important to see the inter-connection between the conservative Right elements and the ultra-Right forces. But it is just as important not to view them as one undifferentiated ultra-Right mass. Such an assessment gives the ultra-Right forces an influence they do not have.
While masses are not committed to the ultra-Right ideology, a number of specific Right-wing ideas have become more thinkable, even if not acceptable, to sections of the population. These ideas include: “the oppressed, over-taxed middle class,” “the government is spending too much” (which never includes military spending or corporate welfare), “the U.S. is being dumped on,” “the Blacks have won too much,” and, of course, “the Soviet threat” and “the expanded U.S. national interests” (which take in jost of the capitalist world).
These concepts give the ultra-Right and the Right-wing a base to work on.
While small, the Ku Klux Klan has also become more active and bold. For the first time in decades there are efforts to make it a centralized national movement.
And the evangelical, religion-based movements like the fanatic fundamentalist Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority are a serious development, especially because they have roots in the Baptist Church.
There is also some coming together and coordination between these ultra-Right organizations and the Zionists, who are an extremely active, jost reactionary movement. The Begin-Falwell love feast was symbolic of this new togetherness.
The new financial base of the Right in the 1980 elections was the meteoric rise of big business Political Action Committees (PACs).
Up until 1975 it was a federal crime for corporations to finance congressional or presidential candidates. Now, after three-quarters of a century, the Federal Election Commission has decriminalized direct corporate election buying. The big business PACs grew from 139 to 1,222, with only 300 organized by trade unions. As a result, the 1980 elections cost over half a billion dollars.
The corporate PACs and the massive funds they can now legally use, add a new means of corporate control over the two-party system. Because of this it is more and more difficult for masses to use the two old parties as vehicles for the election of liberal candidates.
We are now in the midst of a post-election blitzkrieg by all the reactionary forces, who are trying to make gains and win victories they were not able to achieve through the voting process.
They are trying to overwhelm the people and to create the impression that a “Conservative Revolution” has taken place, that we are seeing a sharp shift to the Right in the country as a whole, and that the election was an “ultra-Right landslide victory.”
They are working to create an atjosphere in which the people will be intimidated, will throw up their hands in despair because “the country has swung to the Right and therefore it’s hopeless to fight.”
Leading this blitzkrieg is the Wall Street Journal’s campaign in one editorial after another, sending warning signals to Reagan, based on Margaret Thatcher’s experience.
To illustrate, let me quote from the November 14 Wall Street Journaleditorial, “The Thatcher Lesson”:
Margaret Thatcher has made a virtue of balancing her cabinet…. This was no “administration of the radical right,” but one in which anti-spending and tax cut proponents were balanced by a group of “middle-grounders,” aljost every one of them armed with electoral commitments to increase spending.
Mrs. Thatcher’s experience would counsel Mr. Reagan against too much moderation in making his Cabinet choices. There will be plenty of pressures from elsewhere for inaction and business-as-usual. On foreign policy, he should look for people who sounded the alarm early and often.
So we are seeing the reactionary worms crawling out of the woodwork.
Even the shabby, mothballed Heritage Foundation, the Right-wing “think-tank,” has come up with a 20-volume study. This study recommends to Reagan such measures as: the re-establishment of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Internal Security Committee of the McCarthy period. They recommend “providing support, including weapons, to Right-wing Latin American military governments, reducing emphasis on human rights as the basis for U.S. foreign policy and the halting of affirmative action programs.”
These are all efforts to use the elections to move the country to the Right in fact.
The elections were a maximum effort by the ultra-Right, neo-fascist forces in our country. They went all out.
On the other hand, the democratic and liberal forces were without focus or a unifying center. The four years of the Carter Administration blocked any possibilities for such a development. The Anderson candidacy also effectively diverted the rise of an effective, organized third party force.
The politicians in the Democratic Party hierarchy seriously miscalculated the mood of the people. This led them and Carter to conduct their campaigns and their policies of the past years around the misconception that working-class, Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican voters had “no place to go politically” except the Democratic Party. This was the two-party trap in operation.
A correct assessment of the 1980 election must start with a rejection of the false claim that it signified a Right-wing landslide. The fightback must start with a rejection of the post-election blitzkrieg.
The 7 1/2 million who voted for various independent tickets were a very important breakaway from the two-party system. In fact, the two-party Humpty-Dumpty will never be put back together again in the same old way.
While it is true that Anderson’s candidacy was a diversion, jost of the votes for him were serious votes for political independence.
The early support for Anderson by the New York Times, CBS and sectors of Republicans, including the Rockefellers, was an indication of how seriously sections of big business took the threat to the two-party system. They were so worried that they created the Anderson candidacy to draw the increasing numbers of independent voters away from real independence.
The decision of the Anderson forces not to build any viable organized structure was a conscious one. The aim was to divert and prevent the building of an organized movement for political independence, for a third party, and to leave no organized movement behind.
To a large extent the Anderson candidacy succeeded in doing just that. Anderson’s candidacy was not a movement, but a candidate with support. In the main, it was independent only in form. And today the independent forces around Anderson’s campaign are scattered and in disarray. But the sentiment, the momentum, is still very much alive and will grow.
As we said at our 22nd National Convention:
The only substantial force seeking consistently to unify all these independent forces in the direction of a people’s anti-monopoly party, led primarily by labor, is the Communist Party. That has been our historic position. It remains our position and policy today.
This continues to be one of our main post-election tasks: to unite, organize, mobilize and activate all the various independent forces and sentiments into formations that will develop the strength and power to counter the reactionary offensive.
One of the very significant developments in this election campaign is that more than ever before candidates who campaigned from an independent base – separate from the two-party machines – while still running mainly on the Democratic Party line, won election and re-election. This was especially true in the election of Black candidates and candidates in working-class areas, which is further evidence of the growth of sentiment for political independence. This must be carefully and seriously taken into consideration when we plan our future electoral activities.
Political independence has a number of roots. The forms vary. This is a reflection of its uneven development. There are more advanced forms in which the level of independence and the movements are more advanced. It is especially important to take note of this in the cities, states and wards where Black and Chicano peoples are the majority of the population.
The Citizens Party was a new, more Left expression of political independence. In a sense, it faced the lesser evil problem – especially the Anderson variety – as a more difficult obstacle than our Party did.
The Citizens Party campaign continued to suffer from the weaknesses that had already emerged at its national convention in Cleveland, namely, lack of labor support, a leadership too narrowly confined to white intellectuals and professionals, a narrow concentration on ecological, and energy issues, and weaknesses in the struggle against racism.
This lack of working-class and trade union base, the attempt to limit the leadership to liberal professional elements, the chauvinism by some of the leaders and the lack of a clear, anti-monopoly position were obstacles to attracting wide support and votes, especially from working-class and specially oppressed people.
The Citizens Party campaign was proof that political independence cannot be focused on only one or two issues, especially if the issues are not in the center ring of life. Ecology and energy are important issues, but alone they do not create the basis for a broad-based political party. The fact that our Party received bigger votes in numerous working-class districts, cities and wards clearly reflected these weaknesses as well as our strengths.
However, considering all the difficulties, the Citizens Party received a significant vote, especially around college and university towns.
The Libertarians, among all independents, had by far the biggest campaign treasury. But they did not make a breakthrough mainly because people generally feel that the Libertarian view of society-without any kind of government restrictions-is not realistic and would, in fact, give the monopolies even greater power and domination over the lives of people. Many voted for their anti-tax and anti-militarist approach.
The Trotskyites, the Socialist Workers Party, as in the past worked to hide their real face by trying to appear as “the socialist candidates.” There is no question that in some cases this cover-up, this sham, works. But generally there was a significant decrease in their vote. During election campaigns they totally conceal their ideological positions and present purely programs of reform.
The Socialist Party and David McReynolds’ candidacy was a minimal campaign effort, which explains their generally low vote.
In addition to the above, there were the state and regional independent forms, such as the Peace and Freedom Party in California, the Consumers Education Protective Association in Pennsylvania and the Liberty Union Party in Vermont.
We must view our new relations with these parties as very positive. We must study them from the viewpoint of developing political independence and our Party’s relationship with it.
Adding up all these independent forms, it is clear the sentiment and the crystallization of the movement toward political independence and toward a new mass-based political party has come a long way. At this stage it is emerging in a variety of forms, moving in the same direction.
We must take seriously and work out — jointly with all these varied forces — the next steps.
These developments of political independence are also a very important part of the new political situation.
We must establish clearer outlines for our Party’s relationships with movements and forces, especially with Center and Left forces. This is important because we are in a period when our relationships with such forces will continue to grow. Such relationships must rest on honest, frankly stated principles.
Following are some general guidelines for establishing and conducting these relationships on sound principles.
1) We are for the maximum, the broadest unity possible, for clearly-stated minimum objectives and programs.
2) We place no preconceived programs or forms as conditions for unity. But we also will not accept any.
3) We are not looking for substitutes for the Communist Party. And we will not accept any.
4) We are seeking honest working relationships, for unity in struggle. We do not want to dominate or be dominated.
The bottom line is that the success of the united front and coalitions very much depends on how strongly and how well the Communist Party puts forth its unique positions, while continuing and strengthening the relationships with broader forces.
Analysis of Voting Results
We don’t have and never will have all the vote totals our Party received, but there are a number of conclusions I would like to draw based on the voting patterns and the statistics we do have:
1) We are clearly building a Communist constituency.
2) jost important in this election is the fact that in spite of the increased number of Left and independent candidates in the field we increased our total number of votes. The top votes in Illinois, Ohio, Washington State, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut puts us in the 1-2 percent of total vote bracket. In one or two cities and districts the Party vote was in the 5 percent range, and in Seattle it was at the 10 percent level. And, led by Chicago, in a growing number of cities and states we came in fourth after Anderson.
Based on our top vote in the 25 states where we were on the ballot our estimate is that the total will be about 157,000. When you add states like California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida, where we were not on the ballot and where we could expect big totals, we can honestly speak of a total Communist vote in the 250,000 or more range.
Also, this year we already have more than usual evidence, both direct and circumstantial, of an increase in blatant refusals to count our votes. In some states, the open refusal to count the Communist vote was on a large scale.
3) Analysis and assessment of our campaign must be within the context that it was carried out in the midst of a greatly intensified anti-Communist and anti-Soviet campaign that has reached hysteria proportions. Especially viewed within this context, for instance, the nearly one-half million signatures on Communist petitions is a heroic achievement. And of all the Left candidates we face the greatest obstacles, the jost vote stealing and the sharpest attacks by the enemy. In fact there were very few attacks on the other Left candidates.
Measured by the yardstick of the 1980 campaign, recognition of our Party’s legality and acceptance of its program and candidates as representing a legitimate current of political thought has reached a new and higher level. This is all the more remarkable because, as I mentioned previously, it has occurred at a time when anti-Communism and anti-Sovietism have reached a crescendo that recalls the worst days of the cold war.
The new level of acceptance of our Party was evident in the treatment accorded us by the mass media, in the absence of harassment of our petition circulators and in the generally respectful and often friendly reception which they were given. It was also evident in the treatment of our Party by jost election officials and the courts.
What Lies Ahead?
The jost important question for this meeting is: What lies ahead for the United States?
A sense of fear and apprehension about the future has intensified since November 4. Each “leak” from the Reagan inner-circle has increased the people’s concern. And if there are any doubts about the direction the new administration will take, the “leaks” and the Cabinet appointments should have removed them.
Overall, the nature and direction of the Reagan Administration policies will not be basically different from the Carter Administration policies, especially those of the past two years, which were reactionary and conservative. Reagan’s reactionaryism will jost likely take a more direct route. There will be fewer cosmetic cover-up concessions.
The new administration will be more openly anti-labor, anti-democratic and racist. There will be more Right-wing pressures, both from outside and within the administration.
For the new administration the initial period will be one of testing to see how far and how openly they can pursue their policies without a popular backlash.
But after the initial period, the administration will be forced to deal with the domestic political and economic realities.
The world also will not change or adjust to Reagan’s conservatism. Among the many economic problems the Reagan Administration will face is the developing economic crisis in the rest of the capitalist world. As happened during the crisis of the 1930s, the undertow of the crisis in the rest of the capitalist world will help to create the basis for a new dip in the U.S. economy.
Times Have Changed
Many try, but it is not possible to make an exact forecast of things to come by comparing the Reagan Administration to past reactionary conservative administrations. Times have changed.
The conservative policies of Herbert Hoover were molded by booming economic growth, by the meteoric rise of industrial monopolies; the basic industries were without trade unions and racism was rampant, without government curbs. Inflation was no problem for the Hoover Administration.
As we know, Hoover’s conservative policies crashed with the economic crash, which in turn led to the historic mass struggles that created the objective basis for the New Deal concessions made under Roosevelt.
The McCarthy period of reactionary conservatism also had to deal with a different set of objective factors. U. S. foreign policy was based on the illusions of a U.S. atom bomb monopoly and with concepts of “the American Century.” The Dulles policies of rolling back the borders of socialism were in vogue. The post-war U.S. economy was expanding into all corners of the world, with the exception of the socialist sector.
Besides the illusions of dominating the world, the aim of the Dulles-McCarthy conservatism was to expunge every last vestige of the New Deal, to strip the trade union movement of its militant Left-Communist sector. There was the massive effort to destroy the Communist Party and the use of the attack on the Party to destroy the influence and effectiveness of all progressive and liberal forces. It was an effort to fundamentally change both the world and domestic balance of power, by way of U.S. domination.
But the world revolutionary process continued its victorious march. The old colonial-imperialist empires toppled like dominos. The balance of world forces continued to tip. But it tipped against imperialism.
The opposition to a foreign policy based on a myth of U.S. military superiority and a fear that McCarthyism had become a threat to all democratic rights and democratic institutions gave rise not only to mass concern, but to mass movements.
The end of the McCarthy period was signaled by the defeat of Right-wing, conservative candidates in the 1954 elections. The same kind of signals can be sent by the coming 1981 and 1982 elections.
Different Balance of Forces
Reagan’s reactionary conservatism must deal with a different, set of circumstances, a different balance of domestic and world forces.
Reagan will have to deal with the same forces of the world revolutionary process and the same contradictions between the United States and the other capitalist countries that corralled and gelded Carter’s foreign policy.
Reagan will have to deal with the same Soviet Union, now even more powerful. He will have to deal with the same Soviet Union that has prevented the outbreak of a major war since the end of World War II, the same Soviet Union, with its policies of peace and detente, which has prevented the limited wars from becoming major wars, the same Soviet Union whose policies have made it possible for the oppressed colonial nations to win liberation without being destroyed in the process.
These policies and the same, tremendously increased prestige and influence of the Soviet Union will continue to be the jost important factor in the world reality that the Reagan Administration will have to deal with.
Because of these new realities the major sector of U.S. monopoly capital does not now support or have confidence in the concept that a military confrontation with the Soviet Union is now a sane option.
Reagan in the Real World
So the Reagan Administration will push plans for breakthroughs in nuclear military technology, dreaming it can achieve military nuclear superiority. It will push for U.S. military superiority in the Persian Gulf, Middle East and Western Europe.
The Reagan Administration will, wherever possible, try to use force to halt the world revolutionary process in Africa and South America. It jost likely will speed up the arming of reactionary forces in the Caribbean and Central American countries. It will push the statehood swindle for Puerto Rico. In an attempt to convince the American people to accept these aggressive war policies the Reagan Administration will try hard to bury the Vietnam syndrome.
It will feel its way toward a situation where it can hold both Taiwan and China on a leash. If further proof was needed that the Maoists have used their anti-Soviet policy as a tradeoff for concessions from U.S. imperialism, we now have their sickening hints that if the Reagan Administration establishes closer ties with Taiwan they will become less anti-Soviet.
Reagan talks about “linkage,” about linking the advances of the world revolutionary process, the victories of socialism and national liberation, to U.S.-Soviet relations. But he will soon find out that is like demanding that the world stop spinning.
There is no way anyone can unlink the Soviet Union or other socialist countries from the world revolutionary process. The Reagan Administration will have to learn that the key indestructible link of world reality is the relationship between the Soviet Union and the world revolutionary process.
It is one thing to make Hollywood movies about make-believe worlds. It is quite another to formulate policies in a real world in which U.S. imperialism is not the director or the sole producer.
On the home front, the Reagan Administration is facing a series of chronic economic problems which have become fixed features of the present stage of the crisis of state monopoly capitalism.
These fixed features include the structural inflation, a bloated military establishment, increasing unemployment, the negative effects of the multinationals, the problems of productivity, the high interest rates, the capital investment strike resulting in sick industries and plant closings, a declining real income and an unprecedented level of consumer debt.
Supply-Side Grand Larceny
Reagan will try to deal with these problems with the same reactionary conservative Milton Friedman supply-side economics, which was mainly responsible for Carter’s defeat. This was recently defined by the Right-wing head of the Federal Reserve Board, Paul Volker: “The standard of living of the average American has to decline.” And the same thought was expressed by aNew York Times editorial on November 16: “Real economic growth depends overwhelmingly on government discipline and incentive that stimulates production and restrains consumption.” Simply put, this means-produce more and eat less. This supplyside grand larceny school of economics will be the guide for the Reagan Administration.
Supply-side economics is a cover-up code for a new level of grand larceny by monopoly capital. It is state monopoly capitalism in the raw.
Not satisfied with maximum profits at the point of production, the corporations want the state to make the jost brazen shift of wealth in the history of capitalism, from the working class and people to the biggest monopolies. This is to be accomplished through all kinds of tax schemes and giveaways, by removing all restrictions and regulations on corporate grand larceny.
This places the state not only in the role of “enforcer,” but as a full, direct participant in the robbery of the people.
Milton Friedman supply-side economics is state monopoly capitalism without concessions and without any regard for the people whatsoever.
An integral feature of supply-side economics is an attack on social welfare programs as “misguided attempts to redistribute the wealth,” as “the moral blight of dependency.” And, feeding the racist edge of this attack, one of David Rockefeller’s speechwriters said: “Expansion of welfare has halted in its tracks an ongoing improvement in the lives of the poor, particularly Blacks.”
The plan is for Reagan to declare “an economic emergency” to cover up the robbery before Congress and the people wake up.
For Black Americans supply-side economics means grand larceny plus racism.
Compared with the same period last year (the second quarter) the real median earnings of white families declined by 6.2 percent in 1980. For Black families it was a decline of 8.1 percent. For Black married couples with families the decline was 12.1 percent. And for families with one wage earner the decline was 15.1 percent.
Reagan’s cuts in government spending will mean continuing special cuts in programs that in any way benefit the racially and nationally oppressed.
Racist, Anti-People Policies
The Reagan Administration will pursue its anti-labor line. This is already clear from the proposals to kill the minimum wage by a so-called two-tier minimum wage policy. Reagan will jost likely go for a wage freeze. In this he will have the support of some liberals, like Ted Kennedy. This will be a wage freeze without any rollback or freeze in prices or corporate profits.
Reagan’s enthusiastic endorsement of the anti-busing amendment passed by Congress is a clear indication of things to come. With his blessings the ultra-Right racists in Congress will move to dismantle civil rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act of 1964.
The racists who will head Senate committees will lead the way in an attempt to destroy many programs, including affirmative action programs. These actions have already heightened the racist atjosphere throughout the country and are indirectly, if not directly, responsible for the wave of racist terror, the murder and harassment of Afro-Americans.
In one way or another the Reagan-promised so-called voluntary social security system will be put into place. This will be an attempt to destroy the only system that provides a guarantee of the ability to stay alive for the majority of our senior citizens.
They will try to reduce and eliminate vital social welfare programs, now the only means of subsistence for millions of Americans excluded from jobs.
The destruction of the minimum wage is but the opening gun in an attack that will attempt to destroy all job training and job creating programs for youth, such as the CETA programs. Whatever is left of Keynesian pump-priming economics will be replaced by Milton Friedman-Margaret Thatcher, what’s good for General Motors trickle-down economics.
Reagan and the reactionary conservatives in Congress also have plans to kill the movement for passage of the ERA and will work against all measures that would in any way move toward full equality for women in every area of life.
The farm policies of the Reagan Administration will obviously be dictated by Reagan’s old cronies who are among the very top circles, the jost reactionary elements of agribusiness on the West Coast.
This policy will be to phase out all programs, including parity payments, that small and family farmers can in any way take advantage of. Such programs will be replaced by a variety of tax breaks, machinery depreciation allowances and price supports that only the rich farmers and agribusiness can take advantage of.
The policy will be to help destroy the trade unions of farmworkers. These programs will be linked to reactionary policies directed at undocumented workers, which will also be dictated by agribusiness monopolies. These policies will guarantee that the price of food will continue to escalate.
They will attempt to abolish rent control by denying federal funds to cities which retain it.
They have plans to muzzle OSHA, to weaken unions and union political and organizing rights, to increase so-called right-to-work laws and open shops, to reverse labor reform arid strengthen all anti-labor laws.
They will attempt to eliminate restrictions on corporate water and air pollution.
They will attempt to reduce and eliminate all restrictions and regulations on big business, increase tax loopholes for the rich, subsidies and outright gifts. They will deregulate industries, increase depreciation allowances and push for the so-called “free enterprise zones,” with plans to use them as a source of cheap labor, especially in areas such as the South Bronx.
The Nature of the Struggles Ahead
When Reagan talks about working to put together a Cabinet with a “proper mix” he has in mind a Cabinet “mix” of various corporate and financial interests. This effort by Reagan reveals both the fissures and the new attempts to unite monopoly capital behind Reagan’s conservative program. The Rockefellers and their Trilateral crew are applying great pressure to be included in the Reagan “mix.”
For the initial period the great effort will be directed toward unifying the ranks of monopoly capital. For the time being the divisions in monopoly circles and the inner struggles will not be as big a factor as they have been in past periods.
Also, in this period the liberals cannot be expected to take the initiative and lead. Because of their status with one foot in each class they are not self-motivated or self-activated. In a sense they tend to go where the action is, wherever the class winds blow. They tend to be passive and conservative when the conservative winds are stronger.
Therefore, it follows that differences in monopoly circles and the liberal forces will become factors only after the people — the working class, the racially and nationally oppressed, women and youth — move into effective struggles.
It has been some time since we have had a situation such as the present in which the movements and actions from the grassroots are the major and the decisive factor in determining the course of events.
In taking note of the new difficulties, the new potential and possibilities and the new factors that will prod movements and struggles, the jost serious of all mistakes would be to conclude that these objective developments will move masses into action spontaneously.
We are still in a period when the critical problems and class forces can propel people in either a Left or Right direction.
Attitudes of masses and mass leaders will be shaped in part by the way our response is perceived. Not to see this is to underestimate the very real influence of our Party and the historic forces it represents among broad masses, even some laboring under the falsehoods of racism and anti-Communism.
The key words are: organization-mobilization-fightback.
There is a great need to find the means and the forms to channel the rising mass protest, anger and frustration in the proper direction.
The turnaround from Hoover and McCarthy reactionary conservatism was not spontaneous or automatic. The key element in both situations was mass movements, mass actions.
People’s Movements, Alive and Well
In enumerating the anti-labor, anti-people and racist policies and program plans of the Reagan Administration it is necessary to keep in mind that these are projections. And there is a big gap between projections and the ability to carry them out.
An important feature of the new political situation is that the people’s movements are alive and well. There are reports of the beginnings of a broad mass upsurge. Organizations in the field of civil rights, civil liberties, peace and women’s rights use words like “fantastic” and “astonishing” to describe the response of people to their post-election membership drives and fund appeals.
Since the presidential election there was the militant March on the Pentagon by 1,700 women, for peace and against the military budget.
The very wide response by the trade unions to the call for a March on Washington for jobs is a very good indicator of the mood and readiness to struggle developing in the ranks of the trade unions, especially at the grassroots level.
1,300 Black activists responded to the conference in Philadelphia to discuss the possibility of organizing some new Black political formation. This conference was a reflection of the rising mood for more advanced forms of political independence. The conference expressed many trends, all probing for ways to gain political influence in determining policies that effect the lives of Afro-America is.
There is the very important, growing movement, mainly of leading clergy, directed against the ultra-Right Moral Majority.
And of course there are important forces in Congress who will not go along with the conservative policies of the Reagan Administration. In the first place this includes the members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
It s clear the Black Caucus will be a decisive factor in the struggles of the period ahead. There is also the formation and growth of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus which will play an increasingly important role in Congress.
Since the elections there has been the historic victory of the conviction reversal of the Wilmington Ten. This struggle, led by the National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, is a lesson in how to organize, mobilize and lead a victorious mass struggle.
There are also plans and a call for a Martin Luther King Day March on Washington.
There are the plans and the call for a mass Youth Lobby for Jobs and Continuation of the CETA Programs on April 7th, initiated by the Youth Council of the National Coalition for Economic Justice (NCEJ).
The response by 2,000 activists to the conference called by the social democratic organizations is but another indication of the readiness of people to move. This was a conference that gave support to concepts of detente, cuts in the military budget and to the SALT process, including SALT III. The conference also took a sharp stand against any renewal of cold war policies.
In the same period there have been important actions and signs of trade union renewal. The tremendous, victory of the heroic J.P. Stevens workers is symbolic of this renewal.
Trade unions, such as the hospital workers’ District 1199, are making their best advances in both Northern and Southern cities, but especially in the South.
The victory of the United Electrical Workers in winning back the Stewart Warner plant in Chicago, after losing it to a violent, vicious redbaiting campaign during the McCarthy period, is another indication of the new mood and the trade, union renewal.
There are more and more examples of central labor bodies coming out in support of strikes in their cities, as was the case in Baltimore, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
To this we must add the militant role of trade union leaders such as William Winpisinger, Jim’ Balanoff, Jerry Wurf, Frank Martino, William Lucy and leaders of the United Electrical Workers and District 1199. The militant call for action against the Ku Klux Klan by the national Steelworkers’ leadership is a very important development.
One of the reasons for the upsurge in the organizing of the unorganized is the fact that unorganized workers and members of unions with a conservative leadership are the hardest hit by inflation because of their low wages.
There is greater motion and trade union activities because it is much more difficult for the trade union leaders to go along with Reagan’s, policies. This will be severely tested during 1981, when over three million workers will be involved in new contract negotiations, including coal mining, railroads, airlines, construction and over a half million postal workers.
Based on an assessment of the total picture it is correct to reject any concept that we are entering a period of only defensive struggles. The period ahead will jost likely start with a mix of defensive and offensive struggles.
We can also reject the concept that some are putting forth that the working class, the racially and nationally oppressed, youth and women” must pull in their horns. It is a new situation, with enhanced possibilities for victories.