What’s behind the mind-boggling mess of candidates running for President this electoral round, ranging from the ultra-reactionary Trump all the way across the spectrum to the pseudo-left populist Bernie? We’ve never before seen such a mad chaotic rush of people eager to run the government for the capitalist class, with so many squabbling bullshitters in one place.
Each one claims to have a unique approach and program with which they wish to lead America into a better tomorrow. But their better tomorrow is not ours. For us, they’re all just trouble.
Politics is a Reflection of Economics
Politics, including at election time, is a mirror that reflects the goings-on in the economy. When we see clusterfuckery in the political field, we can usually point to clusterfuckery in the economic field as the cause. Financialization has pushed the economy deep into a pit of debt mixed with toxic bubbles of false wealth inflated through speculative gambling. Not just individual enterprises, but capitalism as a whole is experiencing rapidly intensifying crisis. Each candidate is attempting to offer a special brand of snake oil as a cure, but each formula has side effects negating any medicinal properties it might have. Everything they do to try to mitigate the crisis only ends up making it worse.
The Current Capitalist Crisis of Representativity
These candidates don’t represent us. Of course we know that, and most people haven’t believed in that farce for some time. That’s why voter turnout is so low by international standards, and why Congress and other political institutions draw single-digit approval ratings in the polls. So why are all these clowns running? It’s not merely for self-enrichment or self-aggrandizement, though surely that plays a part for most. The electoral arena is where the capitalist class as a whole works out its internal differences, and chooses someone to act as their collective representative, in order to preserve and promote their common interests.
But while each candidate attempts to fill that role, they must also try to handle the conflicting imperatives of all the different concentrations of capital within the class– financial, banking, industrial, commercial – as they battle it out over which gets to dominate the future of the economy.
Banking capital would like the whole economy to just be handed over to the banks. Industrial capital wants to suck the last drops of juice from labor exploitation and the natural world first. Finance capital wants to put us all on lockdown while they print more money for themselves. Some want the cheapest possible workforce, while others see the need to throw the masses a bone so we don’t upset their whole banquet table.
Though these fractions of capital are intertwined, tangled in a web of common ownership and interests, they are simultaneously in conflict, and so finding someone who can represent them as a whole is proving very difficult.
37 candidates and counting: the pandemonium on the capitalists’ own battlefield is a measure of their internal class contradictions.
None of the candidates has an alternative to offer that can encompass all of their interests and solve their common crisis. Most of them are not being seriously considered to serve as the next sapper-firefighter, even while their display of bribes and threats during the electoral process may help douse the fires of mass discontent. Bernie and Hillary attempt to herd disaffected progressives back into the ring, while autocrat-wannabes like Trump, with antics like shutting down journalists, are showing us a little preview of capitalism’s future as it trends toward fascism.
Whoever Wins, We Lose
Whoever wins, the future ushered in by the new President will be for capitalists; not for us.
The job description of United States President prioritizes one aim over all others: to facilitate the accumulation of capital by the dominant classes, by any means necessary. Whoever wins will be tasked with fixing the ailing machine and making sure it doesn’t break down completely. All they’re disagreeing over is the best way to get that job done.
We Shouldn’t Side with One Monster Over Another
The capitalists rely heavily on the petite bourgeoisie, including NGOs, to be their foot soldiers at election time, directing them to corral the masses into the nonthreatening activity. They want to keep everyone busy organizing for them, and voting for them, rather than organizing ourselves to fight against them.
Opportunists (those who try to reconcile fundamentally opposing forces) and sellouts always try to convince us to take sides among the different fractions of capital, to ally with one “lesser evil” (and its representatives) over another. But allying with one against another never does us any good. All of them are our fundamental enemy. It’s smarter to let them fight it out, while we strengthen our own forces. We can use the contradictions among them to advance our own struggle.
Forget the side debates, like whether Greens for Bernie are betraying their own candidate Jill Stein, or if Hillary is a strategic vote, or how weird Trump’s hair is. While there are superficial differences among them, they are not qualitatively different. It doesn’t matter if a candidate is a “good person” or not. They’re ALL running for the job of capitalist steward. If their intentions were good, they would struggle to overturn capitalism—not to run it, not to fix it.
None has an end game that doesn’t involve sinking further into economic crisis and corresponding levels of repression and international conquest. Liberals and socialists running a capitalist economy still have to run the capitalist economy, which has its own non-negotiable imperatives. Thus, historically, left populism always transfers into right populism (never the other way around). So even if Bernie’s elected, sooner or later he’ll likely wind up being the next Trump anyway.
We Need a New Game
We can’t solve our social problems by being drawn into this puppet show. Whoever gets elected will only make things worse. They can’t do otherwise. Capitalism’s crisis, which is global, can’t be solved in the framework of capitalism; it can only be managed and prolonged. Its duration will be defined and determined by the capacity of the working class and the masses to face the situation and provide a genuine alternative.
The only way to get out of this social crisis is to cut the Gordian knot of capitalism, chuck it all and build a new economy on a new basis: one for the masses, by the masses, led by the working class, in our interests.