A Challenge for the Left: Unite & Defeat Austerity
The argument for a new form of left unity in our country based on our respective organizations' relatively small numbers and the potential value of pooling our limited resources is a compelling one. As is the contention that whatever differences exist today amongst us are mostly about the past and it would be a good thing to keep the discussion going on evaluation of the socialist movement's history in the U.S. and worldwide while at the same time concentrating our efforts on meeting the political challenges of the day. I am convinced that the effort to achieve such unity is possible if we maintain an atmosphere of tolerance and eschew subjective responses to past encounters and disputes.
However, I am equally certain that such an effort will fail if it is premised on combining our numbers alone or if we fail to collectively define the nature of today's primary challenges and agreement on our objectives in the immediate period ahead.
I would argue that the central tasks of the left today are the struggle for democracy and the defense of working people in the face of the onslaught by those who benefit the most from contemporary capitalism.
This effort should involve not only members of existing socialist groups and publications but the many unorganized left activists in the struggle for economic and social justice, democracy and peace.
A strategy has been put in place in the upper echelons of the system to deal with and resolve the crisis of the current economic system by preserving the wealth and prerogatives of the privileged and exploiters, by forcing working women and men and their families to accept a smaller share of the wealth produced in the economy and therefore a lower standard of living, a diminution - and in some case elimination - of social welfare guarantees acquired by working people over centuries of struggle.
This entails moves to eliminate any semblance of economic democracy including the right to organize and confront capital collectively.
It involves guaranteeing the right of capital to operate unrestricted across the planet without regard for the safety or welfare of working people while restricting the right of working people to move across borders in search of a means to earn a living.
It means preservation of a system involving the maintenance of gross economic and social inequities between ethnic and racial groups and between men and women. It means the promotion of a two-tiered education system that further entrenches class and racial divisions.
This class warfare involves preservation of a system that seeks only short term economic gains for the one-percent. It is oblivious to the threat this entails for the health of the biosphere and the preservation of life on the planet. It ignores the fact that the immediate effect of climate change falls most heavily on the communities of the less fortunate.
Call it "austerity," or its larger more systemic designation "neoliberalism," this class warfare is a major element in the massive upsurges today in countries and regions across the globe.
Everywhere people on the left are aware that the root of this campaign is traceable to the effort to salvage capitalism in the midst of crisis and that the world needs more socialism. I would argue that the path ahead must lead in that direction and that the key to the growth and increased influence and relevance of the socialist left lies in unity in action in defense of democracy and the well-being of working people everywhere. This must involve the day to day and militant defense of social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, food and housing assistance, aid to needy children, Head Start and environmental protection.
Moreover, a program of a united left must offer an alternative view of politics and economics; one that encompasses greater economic democracy, advancement of the true interests of the 99 percent and an equitable sharing of the wealth of nations. It would require a lot of hard work, and debate and exploration that cannot be accomplished in one day but we can do it, together.
Carl Bloice is Co-Chair, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).