This is the fourth and last installment of my interview with Jerry White, the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for president. The interview took place August 30th in Detroit. In this installment, White talks about the revolutionary program of the SEP.
I want to ask about the socialist program. Rosa Luxemburg said, “There’s no parliamentary road to socialism”–
One question I had is can socialism exist—I mean, you’re running for president—can socialism exist within the constitutional framework? And I’ll combine that with another question, and that is, what is the course of action? Is it revolution, and if so is it violent revolution?
Right, right. Well, of course the Socialist Equality Party fights to implement this program and fights for the working class to implement such a program. The working class is the overwhelming majority of the population. We certainly are fighting for the largest vote, but we understand quite clearly that the present political government stands in violation of democratic rights, including the Constitution. You know, drone assassinations including of American citizens, which the government upholds its so-called right to do. The fact that the entire voting system and the entire political system is so completely controlled by the most powerful financial interests, that the media—far from being the watchdog of democracy—publications like the New York Times are the propaganda mouthpieces.
So we are fighting for the development of a mass political movement of the working class, for the development of new forms of far more democratic organization of society—rank and file committees in the factories, in the workplaces, in neighborhoods that give real expression to the aspirations of the population. And we are fighting for a workers’ government.
Now, history has demonstrated that no ruling class ever just cedes power to the democratic aspirations of the population. As much as we hope that this can be conducted in a peaceful, democratic fashion and we fight for that to be done, we also explain and warn workers that real attacks, dangerous attacks are being prepared against the democratic rights of the working class every day. The massive expansion of NSA spying, the jailing and vindictive witch-hunting of such figures as Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who did nothing but to express their democratic aspirations in trying to warn the American population of such dangers. We know that under conditions of war that there will be an enormous effort to crack down on political dissent. I mean, even Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the 49ers, speaks out on police killings and comes under vicious attack of the media.
So history has demonstrated—I mean…in the election of 1860, the vast majority voted for Lincoln. The slaveocracy in the South did not respond to that by saying, “Ah, the people have spoken, so therefore we’re going to end our control of human beings and of slavery, which is the source of our wealth and power.” They did the opposite. They carried out a counterrevolution. They seceded from the union, they armed themselves, they attacked Fort Sumter, and it took a civil war in which more than 600,000 people died for the slaveocracy to be expropriated and to end slavery.
So as I said, we aim in every fashion possible to organize the working class politically and democratically in a struggle to impose the aspirations and the democratic will of the masses of people. But we are also political realists. We know that we’re dealing with the most violent state on the planet. A state, you know, Democratic and Republican, that has repeatedly resorted to violence against political opposition. We’re sitting here in Detroit. This a city in 1932 where workers were shot down and killed in front of the Ford Rouge factory for marching for jobs in the hunger march. We know that in 1967 in the uprising of workers and youth against inequality that Lyndon Johnson sent the 82nd Airborne right from Vietnam to the city of Detroit. We know that there have been political assassinations as policy. You know, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Big Bill Haywood and others.
So we are fighting for the working class to organize itself politically and to fight for political power. We call for the dismantling of the forces of the state—the NSA, the CIA, the military, the police. We call for the establishment of the genuine democratic control of society by the broad masses of working people. Take for example the police killings. You know, one after the other takes place. Protests emerge in Ferguson, in Baltimore, what’s the response of the U.S. government? The Obama administration has a policy of arming the police with military hardware from Iraq and Afghanistan. Look at the scenes in Ferguson and Baltimore. We’ll talk to young people, and they’ll say it looks like Iraq, it looks like Afghanistan. This is the way they’re dealing with political dissent now. What’s gonna happen in the midst of a war? Because is always when the American ruling elite is most vulnerable. Kent State, that was nothing compared to what they’ve prepared now. So we say workers have every right to defend ourselves, to organize ourselves politically, and to fight to dismantle the oppressive apparatus of the state and establish a genuine democratic control of society by the working class. A workers’ government.
A revolution isn’t something that we conjure up. It emerges objectively because there is an irreconcilable conflict between the development social production—billions of people on this planet are engaged in social production—and an outmoded system in which everything is controlled privately and all wealth is accumulated privately. And there’s also an objective contradiction between the fact that the world is becoming ever more integrated, production is planned globally; however, capitalism divides the world into rival and antagonistic nation-states, which makes any peaceful integration of the world economy impossible.
So that the question of social revolution is an objective process. The development of man’s productive forces is coming into irreconcilable conflict with a historically outmoded economic organization of society. You know, just as American capitalism could not develop in the 19th century without abolishing slavery, which is a completely system, you couldn’t have the integration of the whole American economy unless you abolished slavery. You can’t have the integration of the world economy today unless you abolish a system which is based on prehistory.
Photo source: wsws.org