By Ed Dalton
Those who would liquidate the question of revolutionary communism, whether they do it under a black flag or a red one, all rush to the defense of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) whenever it is attacked, safeguarding one of the largest social-fascist political parties which is part of the bourgeois state.
While the DSA relies on good old-fashioned US imperialist liberal “common sense” to push its phony politics, what lurks underneath this veneer is the old state’s best bet for rebranding itself among the people and liquidating the revolutionary potential of the people, especially the youth.
The state must not be understood in the abstract, as this monolithic, omnipotent, and inhuman specter. The state is made up of people, all serving as different ideological and physical representatives of imperialism, all carrying out the armed and administrative rule of the imperialist class.
The US imperialist state and the culture which the US imperialist ruling class produces and controls are the worst in the world. The US is the world’s main influencer, main warmonger, main profiteer, and of course the main force behind exploitation and oppression at the global scale. In the world of police, the US is the biggest cop, a cannibal among the people.
The world’s most advanced and most accomplished monster is US imperialism. The US state rests on a pile of corpses; anyone entering it has to climb that pile—adding to it. The DSA, as the grease trap of the so-called left in the US, has one primary function: getting others to discard their scruples in the same way that they have, to better serve the imperialist state.
From police officers and police union officials, to informants, to active imperialist military, to so-called anarchists, to radical-liberals, to edgy teenagers, to self-proclaimed “communists” (revisionists), the DSA has them all as card-carrying members and at the same time boasts above all left-unity. The DSA must be understood as an apparatus to unite the “left” with the imperialists themselves.
“We are not homogeneous” is an excuse you will hear DSA-ers make, parroting the excuses made by the backward “not-all-men” and our favorite “not-all-cops.” The fact remains; if you enter an apparatus and disagree with some of its worse aspects but pardon them by uniting with those that stand for such aspects without making any difference at all, you have abandoned, or are in the process of abandoning your scruples. Positive contributions to world revolution will not be made from inside the imperialist state apparatus and hence cannot be made from inside the DSA.
Revisionists everywhere tend to cry out “but the DSA is not a democratic centralist organization;” a banal argument. No one accused the DSA of being revolutionary; its counter-revolutionary character prevents it, obviously, from using democratic centralism. The lack of centralism is not a pardon; the biggest US imperialist parties are themselves non-centralized, rife with vicious and bitter sectarianism internally and externally. None the less, if it were wrong to condemn them as a whole organization, then the DSA would come into contradiction with its very existence. While there are the shameless lackeys of the Democratic party within the majority of the DSA, there is also a smaller faction who base their political identity off “left” opposition to the Democrats: one side wants to rehab the Democrats, the other wants to become them independently. One of the aspects of the Party of a new type as explained by Lenin is its democratic centralist character, all the bourgeois parties of the old type lack this feature.
The mess of the DSA is so great that even self-proclaimed anarchists get roped into this naked pro-US-state organization, all the while of course trafficking in bourgeois anti-communism on the basis that communists stand for a state (even if this state has not been realized yet). These vultures with a black flag would rather join the DSA and the US imperialist state than accept any tactical alliance with actual communists, because deep down they know that the bourgeois state can pardon their decadent existence whereas the proletarian state will not. If we use the rubric of ruling vs non-ruling parties to defend the DSA, this same courtesy must apply to the other reactionary bourgeois political parties as well. Just because you ride in the back of the car and are neither driving nor navigating at this very moment does not magically make you a pedestrian, one of us, one of the people, etc.
All over the country, the DSA acts as the spearhead for the Democratic Party. They traffic in and poach among the peoples struggles, be it housing, antifascism, workers’ struggles, etc. There you will find the DSA either endorsing Democrat candidates or feebly promoting their own. In the final analysis, this is only trying to give a facelift to the decrepit image of US elections, a venture that in no way benefits the majority of oppressed and exploited people, be they in the US or abroad.
We see the dogmatic Left-Unitarians decry any criticism of the DSA as “attacking other socialists.” They have now, from their pulpit of ineptitude, declared the DSA as socialists! This is because what they see when they peer into the cesspool of the DSA resembles themselves in a big way, their likeness is that of twins. Some will pompously insist that the DSA is not so good but that the contradiction between them and actual socialists is “non-antagonistic.” They trade in Mao’s terms, provided they serve the opposite purpose intended.
To be clear, the contradiction between the DSA and communist revolutionaries is nothing but the contradiction between the bourgeois and the proletariat; this is antagonistic in our conditions. In certain conditions, it changes to becoming non-antagonistic. This happens in the third world when a section of the bourgeoisie is willing to unite with the oppressed classes against foreign imperialism. For an imperialist or pro-imperialist party like the DSA, this exception is not possible. Imperialism and one’s orientation toward it is the measure of progress, above all else.
The request that revolutionaries weigh each individual DSA member separately when addressing the DSA is the same thing as insisting that the DSA go unaddressed. If they were only individuals with individual opinions, they would not all be together in the same organization.
Revolutionaries make this consideration when and where possible; the rank and file of any enemy organization should be won away from such organizing when possible. On the other hand, it is wrong to believe that somehow the DSA as a whole can be won over to united front work. A precondition would be their whole organization siding against imperialism, which they cannot and will not do. Like the reactionaries of the Second International, the DSA has and will continue to exhibit jingoist and US-centric views. Their politics and programs do not orient to the lowest masses, but to the labor aristocrats and business owners whose mode of living and mode of thinking places them above, and in most cases, in opposition to the hardcore of the proletariat. Communists are not bashful about their support for the proletariat above all classes. As Lenin correctly insisted, the Communist Party is to be the party of the proletariat, distinct from and opposed to the parties of all other classes.
There are other circumstances and conditions where those with capitalist ideas do not pose an antagonistic contradiction but a non-antagonistic one. This condition means that the proletariat is in a position of power, to educate and transform those with mistaken ideas among the people; even those with counter-revolutionary views can be transformed. In such conditions, the DSA would not exist as an organization. This is not the condition which determines the contradictions between revolutionaries and the DSA today in the US.
The proletariat and the revolutionaries of the US exist under a bourgeois dictatorship, with the whole might of the state against us. When the worker is accused by the state, the worker is always guilty. The very idea of uniting with those who defend and promote bourgeois and imperialist ideas, who take part in the old decaying bourgeois state, those who include police and politicians, while the state remains a bourgeois imperialist dictatorship is beyond the pale of reason—it lapses into the irrational dogma of the Left-Unitarians and completely liquidates the United Front.
Unity is enjoyed on the basis of struggle. Unity and any United Front is only possible with shared class interests and the ability to cooperate in these interests. Anyone who thinks the interests of the state intersect with our own has already gone over to the enemy camp. The United Front is then a question of uniting the ally classes of the proletariat with the leadership of the proletariat—in the strategic interests of the proletariat mainly, never at the expense of these strategic interests. The United Front is a composition of class forces with the proletariat at the center; it is not a composition of revisionist and anti-revisionist forces as the Left-Unitarian dreams.
It makes no difference to us if the cop who bludgeons us at protests is a member of the DSA or of the Republicans. It makes no difference to us if the boss who fires us is “sympathetic to socialists.” Regardless of their personal views, these people are performing a function: they are administrating exploitation and oppression in the interests of imperialism.
In the world’s foremost and most brutal imperialist citadel, there can be no tactical unity with such forces, as the conditions making the contradiction between the bourgeois and the proletariat a secondary one are non-existent. In fact, such a unity cannot ever exist—at least as long as imperialism does. It is easy enough to see the policeman as a pig when he brings down his club or draws his gun, yet cognitive malfunction manifests when it comes to identifying the slick-talking liberal bourgeois politician as the same swine, even though he is standing right behind the open and ugly pig. Marxism must cut through all this excrement and insist always on the class nature of the state. Pigs on one side, people on the other. We have had enough pig shit for a hundred lifetimes.
So why do revolutionaries despise the DSA rats and their filthy brood? For all the same reasons that they combat and resist imperialism, and the sheer fact that when imperialism tries to conceal itself as “socialist” to give vile cover to its blood trade, the revolutionary has the added responsibility of preventing this, of impeding their ability to traffic in the people’s struggles. In the words of Chairman Gonzalo:
“The task is to fight revisionism and fight it relentlessly. We must keep in mind the lesson that we can’t fight imperialism without combating revisionism. And our Congress has declared that we must wage a relentless and uncompromising struggle against imperialism, revisionism and reaction worldwide.
“How should we carry out this struggle? In all spheres: the ideological, the economic, and the political–we must fight them in each one of these classic spheres. For if we should fail to carry out the struggle against revisionism, we wouldn’t be communists. A communist has the obligation to combat revisionism, untiringly, and implacably.”