By Matt Handocerdos
As the United States enters its 20th day of the government shutdown, workers and the people in general grow more tired and frustrated with the entire US capitalist state, not just with President Trump or either of the bourgeois political parties. This will soon be the longest government shutdown in US history.
Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the press that a meeting between Democrats and the President ended with him walking out in frustration because the Democrats wouldn’t agree to passing border security bill to include funding for a border wall.
Trump initiated the government shutdown after the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives refused to support funding for a $5 billion border wall on the US-Mexico border. The slogan “Build the wall!” was central to Trump’s presidential campaign, with the promise that he would make Mexico pay for it.
At the core of the Democrat-Republican schism is the funding for that very border wall, not border security as their rhetoric insists. Both bourgeois political parties believe and support the militarized and deadly US-Mexico border and the Department of Homeland Security’s imperialist mission.
The Democrats are not and have never been friends to the Spanish-speaking undocumented immigrant masses from the oppressed nations of Latin America. As imperialists, they ultimately push the agenda of world domination and imperialist plunder.
The Democrats, while not openly racist and nationalist like their Republican counterparts, are more dangerous because they are manipulative and posture as progressive. But they regularly will go farther and farther to the right as if to prove to the US populace that Democrats can be just as tough on border security as the Republicans.
President Trump’s bold and arrogant takeover of the federal government is akin to a hostage crisis, as if he were saying, “You give me the border wall or I’ll cross my arms and deny federal funding for government programs.”
While it’s easy to think of Trump as an immature child throwing a temper tantrum – like how many political satirist often characterize him – that’s only the aesthetic of a much deeper problem: the belligerent fascism he represents within capitalism.
Due to the freeze on funding, approximately 420,000 federal workers are working without pay and 380,000 are furloughed without pay. For many federal workers, they don’t have a choice. They must continue working, even if they don’t receive a paycheck, since the state must continue to operate in the name of imperialism, or what is referred to as national interest. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 prohibits federal workers from striking.
However, the reactionary nature of these federal workers and their proximity to the imperialist state does little to solicit empathy from the US masses. The majority of the working class in the US is not aligned with imperialism, nor do they care about class traitors like prison guards or ICE office workers not getting paid.
Some of the first federal agencies to cease operations drastically were the Federal Drug Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, federally-funded prisons, certain publicly-funded museums and the airport’s Transportation Service Administration.
Truly, the government shutdown has a dual aspect: it both limits the repressive agencies of the capitalist state but also shuts down several social services. It is very possible that, if the shutdown doesn’t end in time, food stamps could be delayed and low-income working-class families could be evicted. For the poor masses and workers, this would spell disaster.
The government shutdown leaves many lessons for the masses and revolutionaries. The US is the sole hegemonic imperialist power. Imperialism, as Lenin said, is the last stage of a dying, decaying capitalism. With every passing year bourgeois politicians pass or take away reforms in an insane balancing act that fails at masking capitalism’s irreconcilable contradictions. And the masses are made more cynical and angrier with bourgeois politics.
Wherever the bourgeois government is weak and failing, Communists should take advantage to expose the moribund nature of imperialism. But Communists must also serve the people to carry out socialist revolution to destroy capitalism once and for all. As in guerrilla warfare, the guerrilla must attack the weak spots of the enemy.
Even if Trump and the Democrats come to an agreement and end the government shutdown, which they inevitably will, the capitalist crises won’t end. It wasn’t the first shutdown, and it won’t be the last.
There have been a total of 20 government shutdowns in US history. Most government shutdowns were disputes over federal spending on public programs like welfare, education, etc. Only one other shutdown was on immigration – that was January of last year with Democrats weakly defending DACA but quickly giving up.
At the core of the government shutdown, then, isn’t simply the $5 billion border wall but imperialism’s ever-sharpening internal contradictions.
As the struggle continues between the more fascistic section versus the liberal faction of the US bourgeoisie, American nationalist-fascist forces grow both inside and outside the state.
Communists must not be confused by the government shutdown. It is a schism within the imperialist state that must be exposed for what it is: a secondary distraction.
Instead, Communists must organize the rebellion of the workers and the most profound masses into revolution, not to shut down the US government but to destroy it once and for all. Capitalism cannot provide for the people. Only a socialist state can do that. And only the Dictatorship of the Proletariat can administer that socialist state.