The two corporate parties agree on almost everything of substance. “The one-party state doesn't negotiate police brutality, mass incarceration, or any other manifestation of white supremacy. Nor does it think twice before enforcing sanctions on Syria or Venezuela.” They can’t change Obamacare, simply because it is the perfect corporate bill. “Both parties agree that the profits of the rich must be maximized by any means necessary.”
Washington: A One Party State
by BAR contributor Danny Haiphong
“The healthcare debate in Washington exposes the skeleton of the one-party corporate state.”
While all capitalist societies are governed by states that manage the affairs of the ruling class, the US state has always possessed a unique character. Most European models have embraced a multi-party system as a means to ensure labor tranquility and the veneer of social democracy. The US state, on the other hand, has always fought to preserve the rule of two parties and nothing more. The main characteristic that influenced the development of the two-party system in the US was the preservation of slavery in the volatile political environment of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Two-party governance served the interests of capital well by limiting the political narrative of resistance movements and completely excluding any possibility for the white supremacist and imperialist structure of US society to be merely voted or legislated away.
After 200 years of development, Washington has become a one-party state. All branches of the state exclusively serve the interests of a small number of monopoly capitalist oligarchs. Politics in the US are thus governed by the dictatorship of monopoly capital. However, the dictatorship must never be uttered by the rulers themselves. One-party states have been soiled by anti-communist hysteria to the point that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can afford to legitimize them. So the Democratic and Republican parties have been forced to maintain a degree of ideological conflict and frame it as an exercise in democracy.
“All branches of the state exclusively serve the interests of a small number of monopoly capitalist oligarchs.”
Any assessment of the current situation in the US points to the crystallization of a one party apparatus of the ruling class. Take the healthcare debate in Washington. The GOP has attempted numerous times to push through a bill that would dismantle much of the Affordable Care Act. However, despite majorities in the House and the Senate, the GOP has been largely unsuccessful in its efforts. It took John McCain leaping from his hospital bed to the Senate floor for the GOP to gain a narrow majority on the bill’s content last week. Senate ended up rejecting the final proposal. Some may see this development as an indicator that the Affordable Care Act is popular and further cuts to Medicaid unpopular. This completely ignores the more pressing contradiction exposed by the GOP's healthcare debacle.
The GOP has faced numerous setbacks in a short time not because of the outstanding popularity of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act has only just shown majority approval this past year. What keeps the GOP from taking advantage of its political majorities is the fact that the Affordable Care Act is a Republican creation. A product of the Heritage Foundation, the Affordable Care Act further consolidated the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations' control over US healthcare. That fact is proven by the high expense of the so-called government "marketplace" plans and the threat they pose to employer-sponsored health insurance. ACA's individual mandate has placed pressure on employers to hire part-time workers to avoid coverage, further laying the costs of healthcare on the individual. Medicaid expansion has not been able to make up for the hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies that occur each year due to the inability to pay for healthcare.
“A product of the Heritage Foundation, the Affordable Care Act further consolidated the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations' control over US healthcare.”
There really is no incentive on the part of the corporate health industry to scrap the Affordable Care Act. The GOP's motivations are primarily political. A steady lurch to the political right has been characteristic of both parties over the last four decades. The Democrats were able to make the first leap toward right-wing healthcare reform during Obama's first term as President. A popular mandate for single-payer was sold down the river in place of a publicly administered, private scheme to enrich the insurance monopolies. Corporate Democrats such as Corey Booker have accumulated millions worth in donations from their pharmaceutical and health insurance sugar daddies in the process.
In essence, the healthcare debate in Washington exposes the skeleton of the one-party corporate state. Republicans and Democrats in Washington are in total agreement on policy that privileges the profits of the health sector monopolies over the healthcare needs of the people. This phenomenon can be seen in all realms of US imperial policy, both at home and abroad. Neither party disagrees that the organizing principle of US society is the profit motive. Both parties agree that the profits of the rich must be maximized by any means necessary.
“During Obama's first term as President. A popular mandate for single-payer was sold down the river in place of a publicly administered, private scheme to enrich the insurance monopolies.”
Labor exploitation is the primary means, but white supremacy is so entangled in the accumulation of profit that it cannot be disregarded. The one-party state doesn't negotiate police brutality, mass incarceration, or any other manifestation of white supremacy. Nor does it think twice before enforcing sanctions on Syria or Venezuela. US imperialism must loot and murder the darker nations of the world both at home and abroad to maximize profits and keep the poor within its own borders compliant with oppression. The two-parties have become so united in the imperialist project that only deviations on issues such as reproductive and sexual rights are allowed to stand.
And even when the Republican and Democratic parties disagree on these issues, it is only because they impact the elite of their respective persuasions. The Democrats parade themselves as the party of progress yet are the first to sell out their respective constituents. They credit themselves for winning marriage rights for gay couples and reproductive rights for women but do little to defend the poor when these rights are attacked. Elite Democrats will march in pink pussy hats but attack Jill Stein and other proponents of universal healthcare as agents of the Kremlin. And the plight of poor, Black LGBTQ people is not at all on the agenda of a one-party state concerned only with cosmetic changes to its rule.
“The two-parties have become so united in the imperialist project that only deviations on issues such as reproductive and sexual rights are allowed to stand.”
The growing distance between the one-party state and the people has severely damaged the legitimacy of US imperialism as a whole. After decades of capitalist stagnation, frozen wages, and relentless attack on civil liberties in the US mainland, issues once thought to be reserved for Black Americans and the historically colonized sectors of society are making their way to white America. The chickens are coming home to roost. Middle-aged white Americans are dying at alarming rates due to suicide and addiction. The voting population as a whole has consistently polled in favor of single-payer healthcare. A recent study has claimed that one of the primary factors for Hillary Clinton's loss was war fatigue among populations in states that traditionally vote Democrat. Many of these voters polled in the study were white.
The one party dictatorship of monopoly capital has two wings, but ultimately it is one bird. Like a bird of prey, the one-party state has fed off of the labor and lives of billions only to find itself too engorged to survive. Only the people can get rid of the beast once and for all. War, state repression, and capitalist exploitation still fall heaviest on Black America. Class war does not mean that the question of white supremacy has been resolved. However, the approach to organizing in the storm to come must be radically different than what much of the left proposes.
“War, state repression, and capitalist exploitation still fall heaviest on Black America.”
Left organizations in the US appear obsessed with recognition and incapable of challenging the Democratic Party openly, if at all. Yet it is the Democratic Party that stands most in the way of progressive and radical movements, due to its relationship to Black people in particular and working people in general. Democrats bury social movements in the graveyard of corporate, class collaboration. There is no question that the remedy, Black liberation, will be organized and led by Black people. It is the responsibility of leaders of the other sectors of oppressed and exploited people in the US to organize and educate others around why Black liberation means the total liberation of all people. To explain why Black liberation can only be fulfilled by a socialist arraignment where mass incarceration, police brutality, and all forms of dehumanization are institutionally eradicated by a workers' state. And finally, to expose the Democratic Party's sole mission to defeat any attempt by the people to organize independently of the dictatorship of capital.
The point of attack is clear. Our energies should be aimed at the Democratic Party. The GOP could not exist without it. Trump has already split the Republican Party to pieces and the healthcare debacle is case in point. But the Democrats are crumbling too, and see war with Russia as the only way out. A sense of urgency is not yet evident among the masses, let alone the left. Winter soldiers are desperately needed in harsh times to continue the ongoing struggle for liberation and socialism. The time is now to develop them.
Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be firstname.lastname@example.org