Workers Vanguard No. 1140
21 September 2018
The Working Class vs. the Capitalist Exploiters
(Quote of the Week)
We reprint below an excerpt from a 1953 public forum by James P. Cannon, the founding leader of American Trotskyism, exposing the fraud of American bourgeois democracy and the nature of the dual parties of the capitalist exploiters. The chief task in the struggle for proletarian power is to forge a workers party committed to sweeping away the whole capitalist order through socialist revolution.
What we have in this country are not two separate class parties, but two factions of the same ruling class—the Republican faction and the Democratic faction. This was a very good and convenient system for rich and stable American capitalism. From one point of view, it flexibly contained the antagonisms within the capitalist ranks. It gave a political expression for the conflicts of interests between different factions and sections of the capitalist class itself. In another respect, the two-party system, expressing the interests of two factions of the ruling class, but pretending to represent all the people, was an excellent safety valve for popular discontent.
When people got fed up with the administration in power, they could always find relief for their dissatisfaction. The traditional American slogan always was, “Turn the rascals out.” The only alternative, however, was to put another set of rascals in. That never did much good, but it gave the people a little satisfaction without disturbing the bourgeois rule.…
American capitalism is not in love with democracy. It’s no principle of American capitalism that we must maintain all the democratic forms—free speech, free press, free rights to organize, and all the rest. The only principle the American capitalists have is the exploitation of labor, the extraction of profits, and the enrichment of themselves at the expense of the workers. That’s their principle.
—James P. Cannon, “The Coming Struggle for Power in America,” the Militant, 16 February 1953