A Brief Reflection on the Relationship Between Syriza and Bernie Sanders

bernie-hope

by Danny Haiphong

From Black Agenda Report

“The left within the US and the West gave almost uncritical support to Syriza and paid little attention to its shortcomings.”

The Greek Syriza party and Bernie Sanders’ US president campaign have something in common: neither has any intention to challenge the global capitalist system. “Syriza began and remains a social democratic party committed to the maintenance of the Wall Street-controlled European order,” and “Bernie Sanders is a ruling class tool.”

Each day as a social service worker, I am confronted with the oppressive conditions imposed on poor and working people by the world capitalist system. And everyday, social workers in similar positions are coerced to believe, consciously or unconsciously, that the institutions that hire them have the capacity to improve the lives of the millions who come seeking assistance. While this may be true on a case-by-case basis, it is NEVER true on a mass basis. There is nothing of material benefit that the world capitalist system can offer to its exploited subjects, especially under the current conditions of the neo-liberal end game of 21st century imperialism. So just as social workers are built to align themselves professionally with the operations of imperialism, Bernie-mania and the debacle in Greece have illuminated the depths the system must go to manipulate opposition into political alignment with the ruling system.

Imperialism is ruled by the 1 Percent, which is better termed the ruling class. Profits and power are the primary objectives of this class. The ruling class enriches itself by exploiting labor and trading looted assets via Wall Street and global finance. To keep the profits flowing, imperialism has turned on itself through ruthless global austerity and privatization. Imperialism maintains order through its Mass Black Incarceration State, which comprises 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, and a repressive apparatus with over 1000 military bases and mass surveillance capabilities. Meanwhile, three billion people around the world live on less than $2.50 per day and more than half of the planet’s wealth resides in the hands of around 80 super-rich capitalists.

Such an order of extreme inequality couldn’t survive without coercion and suppression. The state is responsible for imposing physical force on the exploited to give space to the psychological coercion of politicians, corporate media pundits, and the miseducation narratives of the school system. Bernie Sanders and Syriza are primary examples of the complex character of imperialist psychological manipulation in the realm of the state. Each case represents the crisis of the “left” in the Western world, albeit in different contexts.

“There is nothing of material benefit that the world capitalist system can offer to its exploited subjects.”

In the case of Bernie, much of what passes as the left in the US is being corralled into his brand of electoral “socialism.” Despite voting for the invasion of Afghanistan during his time in the Senate and supporting Israeli war crimes in Palestine, Bernie is being paraded as the “progressive” option in the 2016 election. On the one hand, Bernie’s socialist rhetoric shows how the US imperialist system has been forced to adjust its rhetoric to appease the interests of poor and working people. On the other, Bernie’s brand of economism represents the shrewdest form of deception that rivals the current Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. Bernie has promised labor unions (which have fully backed Sanders) and workers generally that his administration would put an end to the “rigged” US economy through “political revolution.” What he has not explained is how he will do that by supporting the trillion dollar US war enterprise and actively campaigning for Hilary Clinton’s almost certain victory in the primaries.

As for Syriza, the acceptance of a bail out deal has taken the winds out of the sails of a political party that actively campaigned against the ruthless austerity agenda of the oligarchic “troika” alliance of the EU, ECB and IMF. Syriza’s original program is, as of this writing, completely undermined by the terms of the 86 billion dollar Eurozone deal that requires Greece to implement harsh austerity measures within forty-eight hours of passage. Intense debate has ensued around how to think about Syriza among various leftists. Most of the debate has occurred withinin imperialist countries like the US. Some argue that Syriza was a liberal social democratic party from the start and thus was bound to align itself with the financial ruling class. Others stand firm in their defense of Syriza, claiming that what the EU, ECB, and IMF are forcing upon Greece amounts to a financial coup.

However, while both positions contain truth, neither provides a clear analysis of the contradictions that preceded Syriza’s capitulation. Syriza’s mass support came from the party’s anti-austerity platform and not necessarily its popular character. From the beginning, Syriza made clear it wanted to remain in the EU orbit. This was inherently antithetical to a genuine struggle against austerity in the same way that Bernie Sanders support for Israel is clearly divergent from changing a “rigged” economy based on imperial plunder. As John Pilger notes, Syriza began and remains a social democratic party committed to the maintenance of the Wall Street controlled European order. It showed its commitment by never moving forward on an exit plan from the Euro-dominated grips of the EU. Even still, the left within the US and the West gave almost uncritical support to Syriza and paid little attention to its shortcomings.

“Bernie’s brand of economism represents the shrewdest form of deception.”

Let this be a lesson that shows how Imperialism’s relationship to Syriza and Bernie Sanders are similar despite the different contexts from which they emerged. Syriza’s popularity and power stems from the unrest and struggle of the Greek working class. At the same time, Syriza’s alignment with the EU is indicative of its privileged class character and the immense weight of pressure imposed by the “troika” of imperialism. These contradictions are in constant motion, but have been largely stripped of the global context that pits world imperialism against the majority of humanity. Bernie Sanders is a ruling class tool whose purpose is to mobilize as many progressive forces as possible back to the Democratic Party. Despite their differences, both Bernie and Syriza guarantee service to only one political objective: that the rule of imperialism will go unchallenged under their leadership.

Inevitably, critiques of Bernie Sanders or Syriza bring us to the question: what is the alternative? For Greece, that is up to the workers and oppressed there to decide. If Syriza is determined as the only party at the moment capable of holding off the fascist Golden Dawn and giving radical forces space to organize Greece out of the Eurozone, then support should be lent critically as alternative forms of organization and internal as well as external struggle develops. However, Syriza’s recent policy decisions have showed that this may lead to more stabilized, but no less exploitative, capitalism. As for Bernie, there is no scenario that would make him into a force worthy of even the most critical of support. He is a representative of the American Empire, and an enemy to all who want an end to the suffering it has wrought. What is most urgent at the moment are for the ideas and practices of people like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, and many others to take hold in this period. Radical and revolutionary cannot be mentioned as mere catch phrases or ideas. These terms must stand the test of practice and be evaluated within the context of history. Only then can the significance of the developments in Greece be held to an internationalist standard of global solidarity against the common enemy of imperialism.

“If neither Syriza nor Bernie currently represent the interests of the working class and oppressed, we have to seek out and organize a system that does.”

Some on the left, especially in the US, will take offense to a Bernie Sanders and Syriza comparison. The point of this article was not to claim that Syriza and Bernie are cut from the same cloth in totality. However, each case shows the necessity of a people’s upsurge, one led by the oppressed toward revolutionary ends. In the end, no amount of maneuvering can change what has been proven to this point. If neither Syriza nor Bernie currently represent the interests of the working class and oppressed, we have to seek out and organize a system that does. It is certain that imperialism will continue to force Greece into financial and political subservience and ensure that alternative institutions like BRICS lose opportunities to detach the world from the system’s exploitative grip. There also should be zero doubt that Bernie Sanders will work day and night to keep the US empire dominant in the world in the unlikely scenario that he were to win the presidential nomination. The lesson here is to realize that no matter how progressive the rhetoric may be, politicians and parties that come to power within a capitalist state will inevitably reinforce the system’s manipulation of the leftist and progressive sentiments. And whether it falls on Greek PM Tsipras or US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, their role in aligning the left to the imperialist system must be called out.

Why Communists Support LGBTQ Liberation and Trans People of Color

2015 PRIDE - FIST

Marriage, the family, and all the traditional views of what sexuality and reproduction should be, are centered around private property and exploitation. The oppression of women, as well as of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people is built in to the capitalist-imperialist system.

It is due to that fact that these oppressive traditions are rooted in capitalism, that Marxist-Leninists have been among the fiercest fighters for LGBTQI liberation. Here are a few brief points demonstrating this:

  • After the Socialist Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union became the first country on earth to legalize homosexual love.
  • The first Broadway play to champion LGBTQI rights was “The Children’s Hour.” It was written by Lillian Hellman, a communist who defend Marxism-Leninism her entire life.
  • Harry Hay, the founder the Mattachine Society, is considered one of the greatest pioneers of the LGBTQI liberation movement. He was a member of the Communist Party.
  • The Black Panther Party aligned itself with the LGBTQ liberation movement. Huey Newton gave speeches in defense of LGBTQI people, calling out capitalism and imperialism for oppressing them.
  • In the 1970s, the most well-known LGBTQI rights groups formed the Gay Liberation Front. It openly talked about overthrowing capitalism with socialist revolution.
  • Currently, socialist Cuba is one of the most pro-LGBTI societies on earth. Trans-gender surgery is provided free of charge. School curriculum is all inclusive, and the government sponsors a pro-LGBTQ media campaign.

United States capitalist-imperialism, on the other hand, is backing a brutal regime in Honduras, which has assassinated over 176 LGBTQI activists. The US aligns itself with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other gulf state autocracies that routinely execute queer people. The US aligned government of Uganda is led by fundamentalist Christians who push hatred for LGBTQI people as a central policy. While US leaders may mouth support for LGBTQI people when demonizing the country they are currently preparing to attack, the worldwide system of capitalist-imperialism is the primary source of oppression in the world.

It is important to mention that trans people of color are also being killed and aren’t even given the dignity of being reported on the news. Mya Hall and Miriam Carey were young women from Washington, D.C. who were fatally shot by National Security Agency officers in a stolen police van. Many in our racist, cissexist, capitalistic society think that this justifies her death by police, but it does not. Their lives mattered despite capitalism screaming that they did not. Black and Brown people are struggling just to survive, and feel deeply that this society wants them dead out in the streets, especially our Queer and LGBTQI brothers and sisters. This profiling by police and the state overall reinforce white supremacy, and feed into the larger racist nature of the capitalist system killing innocent people just trying to hold on to their dignity.

We in FIST think that a revolution is the answer. We say that people around the world fighting against the US imperialists are our friends and allies. We say that working class people in the US and around the world must stand together to fight racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQI bigotry, and all other tools the bosses use to divide us. We call for the overthrow of the small group of billionaires who run the US, and creation a society where everyone has what they need to survive. We stand as the multinational, multi-gender, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-sexist group that wants to deliver a powerful punch to the ones who are responsible: the capitalist class and its goons who want everything for themselves! We must unite to fight for the only sensible solution, which is the abolition of capitalist-imperialism. Only then can revolutionary socialism, which defends all working and oppressed peoples, be established so that a better world becomes a reality for future generations.

Why Communists Support Black Liberation and the Right of Youth to Say “Fuck The Police”

The police in the United States trace their roots directly to the era of slavery. The ancestors of the police departments were the men who would hunt down slaves who had escaped to freedom and return them to brutal exploitation. The modern police forces that exist now came about only with the development of capitalism and have existed solely as a means of oppression. At all points, they have been an instrument of class rule used by the exploiters to repress workers and oppressed peoples. FIST stand firmly in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all victims of police brutality. We will be in the streets fighting for justice for black lives and demanding that racist killer cops be brought to justice. In conjunction with other groups, we are raising the demand that the police be placed under direct democratic community control as a first step towards their eventual disarmament and abolition.

A big explosion is coming, and it is already shaking this whole country. The people won’t stand for this any longer. The people that run this system know what is coming. They are sending all kinds of people to our communities, telling everyone to “stay calm,” “speak respectfully,” and “don’t protest.” Calming down and moving on with life will mean letting the police off the hook! If you want things to change, it’s time to be loud, bold, and filled with rage! What’s wrong with “Fuck the Police?” These pigs think they can kill people and get away with it. They call our peaceful marches “Lynch Mobs.” Why do these monsters deserve our respect? It’s time to shout “Fuck the Police” and keep shouting it until something changes. We can’t be silent anymore. The killing and police brutality must stop now! Let’s shut things down. Let the cops and the people who run this system be the ones who feel terrified for once! We in FIST say the police are not our friends! They serve a racist capitalist-imperialist system. We say the cops should be disarmed. The people can run the community without these murdering thugs. We need a new government that focuses on providing schools, hospitals, decent jobs and housing for everyone. This whole system, that only offers more prisons, cops, poverty, and wars, needs to be torn down.

Join Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) today!

Rockford FIST Statement on “Burn the Confederate Flag Day”

The plan was a simple one; to hold a demonstration in solidarity with the victims of the terrorist shooting in Charleston, SC, and to burn the racist Confederate flag on a downtown street corner in Rockford, Il as part of the countrywide struggle to have the flag of the slave states removed from government buildings, public spaces and businesses. The risk was high. Rockford is a racist, segregated city, which even now is experiencing a surge of racist outrage against a proposed low-income housing project to be built in the largely white, well-off east side. The plan didn’t come to fruition after running into a stumbling block the organizers didn’t expect; we simply couldn’t get our hands on a Confederate flag to burn. Initially the plan was to expropriate a flag without paying for it, but no promising leads were found. And so, with reluctance, it was decided to purchase a flag to burn. But the local flag store was found to have removed their stock, having shipped them back to their supplier. The same was true of the Army/Navy surplus store, places notorious for peddling racist and even fascist paraphernalia unashamedly. They, too, had returned their stock to the supplier. Walmart has removed all Confederate merchandise from their shelves and online super-store Amazon has as well.

A week ago, anyone could have bought a Confederate flag at the Rockford Army/Navy surplus store, or at the flag store. Now, so suddenly, they’ve vanished. The movement to remove the flag of slavery and racism is winning victories. Major retailers are scrambling to cease sales and mass actions on the streets of big cities are advancing the struggle to consign the racist flag to history museums. In South Carolina, activist Bree Newsome heroically climbed the flagpole at the Charleston capitol building and took down the Confederate flag herself on the morning of June 27. She was promptly arrested and one hour later the flag was raised up again. Around 4pm, bail was posted and Bree was released, but she reportedly faces up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The removal of this racist rag from businesses and public spaces is obviously a positive development. A symbol of chattel slavery, racism, and daily murder is something that revolutionaries and all progressive people must fight to destroy. The steps taken towards public condemnation of this symbol is a victory, but it remains a symbol. The flag being taken down doesn’t stop the racist “war on drugs”, the mass incarceration of millions of people of color, the murders at the hands of the police and white terrorists, lack of good jobs, housing, healthcare and other essential services for poor Black and Brown communities. We must also continue to raise the demand for reparations for the Black nation in this country for centuries of slavery, apartheid and persecution. We are pleased to see the advances made in the struggle against the culture of racism, but these advances must be recognized as a symbolic and cultural victory, and not the definitive blow to the white supremacist capitalist system.

The struggle continues!

What the war in Yemen means for Revolutionaries in the US

Caleb Maupin of NYC FIST reporting in New York on June 19 reporting on his trip to Yemen and the context for the struggle against US imperialism. Full text of the speech is below.

Yemen and the Global Revolution against Terrorism

Most of us in this room consider ourselves to be revolutionaries. We have chosen to spend our lives fighting against injustice, and trying to build a new world. It’s easy to say that you are a revolutionary, but if you are serious about being a revolutionary, one thing you absolutely must do is study. Revolutionaries must be constantly studying the strategy and tactics of fighting oppression. They do this to develop new methods for defeating the oppressors, and winning victories for the people. (more…)

US imperialism’s Stamp is All over Chaos around the World

ImperialSkullAndBones

by Danny Haiphong

From Black Agenda Report

The system of profit for the few and misery for the many has reached its natural limits.”

At the Left Forum, Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) took part in a debate with other socialist organizations on the character anti-imperialist struggle must take in this period. This debate is central to the overall struggle for liberation in a period where imperialism’s destruction is more than evident throughout the planet. FIST remains firm in asserting that the primary role of revolutionaries in the US is to defend and fight for the self-determination of oppressed nations. Too often, what passes as the left in the US makes the grave mistake of siding with white supremacy by disregarding facts and parroting imperialism’s racist war narratives. What is of primary importance, then, is for revolutionaries to expose the true character of war within the context of the chaos US imperialism is causing all over the globe.

When it comes to the destruction of US imperialism, no situation is graver than in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, US imperialism’s ally in the region, is waging a bloody invasion in an attempt to reinstall the compliant government of President Mansur Hadi. Saudi Arabia’s ruling class sees its geopolitical and corporate interests threatened by the new Houthi-led government. This revolutionary provisional government has declared independence from Saudi Arabia’s neo-colonial rule, which has kept Yemen mired in poverty, sectarian strife, and political repression. Saudi Arabia’s response has been a brutal offensive that has killed over 4,000 and injured over 7,000 more.

Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen has the US imperial stamp all over it. Without the billions of dollars worth of military aid from Washington in exchange for oil, the House of Saud would not have the capacity to wage its war of aggression. Nor could it conduct its documented human rights abuses, from the indiscriminate repression of its Shia population to the longstanding practice of repressing any challenge to its rule, with impunity. However, US imperialism’s economic and geopolitical dependency on Saudi Arabia has silenced the “international community” on its human rights abuses. Since 2010 Saudi Arabia has received over 90 billion in military equipment and training from the US in exchange for nearly 15 percent of all oil exports coming out of Saudi Arabia. The US-Saudi relationship has enriched the monopoly private military contractors and oil magnets of Wall Street. This relationship ensures that much, if not all, of Saudi Arabia’s destruction of Yemen is made in the USA.

US imperialism’s economic and geopolitical dependency on Saudi Arabia has silenced the “international community” on its human rights abuses.”

Now enter Israel. The youngest settler state in history is also one of US imperialism’s largest trading partners, with 25 percent of its “defense” budget being supplied by Washington. Yet, recently re-elected Prime Minister Netanyahu has demanded Washington dish out 45 billion more in military aid. This demand is framed as a necessary step to defend the Zionist state from Iran. However, recent developments tell a different story. Reports indicate Israel’s colonial military has been aiding foreign backed terrorists in Syria and is now re-engaging in a bombing campaign of the Gaza strip. These imperialist ventures have everything to do with Iran, but not for the reasons stated by officials of the Israeli state.

US imperialism bankrolls Israel’s war machine because both it and Saudi Arabia share geopolitical interests with the Zionist state, especially on the subject of Iran. Ultimately, each imperialist country sees Iran as a primary threat to their expansionist ambitions. Expansionism and colonialism is at the very root of Zionism’s foundation, and the forced removal and genocide of the indigenous Palestinian population is a primary example. But what is often dismissed is the grand imperialist scheme that unites the forces of Empire. The ultimate aim of imperialism is to destabilize sovereign nations as a means to enrich the capitalist class at the head of the US-Israel-Saudi alliance. In this time of worldwide capitalist crisis, where the illegitimate rule of Wall Street and its surrogates can no longer reform itself to achieve the objective of endless profit, imperialism’s unholy alliance has no where else to turn but to consolidate its murderous military machinery.

What else can explain Ukraine’s current situation? In 2013, US imperialism empowered fascist forces to oust the government of Ukraine, causing a humanitarian crisis the nation has yet to recover from. The United Nations has confirmed that 2 million people have been displaced from their homeland. In the last year, nearly 7,000 have been killed in the ongoing war between the illegitimate fascist government in Kiev and the resistance of the Ukrainian people. Yet, the IMF has made a multi-billion dollar deal with Kiev on behalf of its corporate masters in the midst of the carnage. Similar to the massive investments corporations like Raytheon and Boeing make in the Zionist military establishment, the corporate incentive behind the war in Ukraine is clear. War is profitable, and capitalists will use any means to wage it.

However, the chaos of imperialism cannot be fully explained by the profits of war, particularly because much of the war being waged today has brought great cost to the imperialist system as a whole. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have cost trillions and counting and have contributed to the never-ending economic crisis in the US. In 2011, imperialism’s war on Libya sparked a jihadist flame that has left the nation too unstable for consistent corporate penetration. What the US-NATO and GCC alliance regard as “intelligence assets” in groups such as ISIS, Al Nusra Front, and other assorted jihadist elements have unleashed uncontrollable chaos throughout the region following the fall of Libya’s socialist state. Yet no matter the losses and consequences the ruling class may face under imperialism’s terminal crisis, it is the people of the world who suffer.

The ultimate aim of imperialism is to destabilize sovereign nations as a means to enrich the capitalist class at the head of the US-Israel-Saudi alliance.”

This crisis of imperialism is both political and economic. Much of the world sees how imperialism’s policy of plunder is neither sustainable nor beneficial for humanity. Russia, China, Iran, and many other nations are trying to align themselves in a manner that will defend their sovereignty in the face of increasing threat of destabilization from Washington and its allies. Economically, the world capitalist system is incapable of recovery and is seeking to push through policies such as the TPP to extend the dominance of Wall Street capital. In short, no plan the imperialists can devise can escape the fact that the system of profit for the few and misery for the many has reached its natural limits.

But if the best the left in the US can do at this point is support Bernie Sanders, an opensupporter of Zionist Israel and the war in Afghanistan, then we can expect the chaos of imperialism to reign for the years to come. However, there is a war escalating in the US that brings the possibility of internationalism to take root again here in the citadel of imperialism. This war is on Black America. The Black Lives Matter mobilization has brought the daily murder of Black people by police to the forefront of the US political landscape. It is here where unity between oppressed people imprisoned between US borders and those terrorized beyond them can truly develop. It is not enough to highlight the bloated US military budget or denounce imperialist war for its impact on the economic situation inside of the US, however important. We must align ourselves with the people of the world in their just struggle against the chaos of imperialism so we can wage it here with similar courage and strength.

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Call for Submissions: Red Flag

Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) is proud to present Red Flag, a journal of theory and struggle, written by and for young revolutionaries. With eyewitness accounts of peoples’ struggles, Marxist analysis of current events, and revolutionary theory ranging from basic to advanced, we hope this magazine will be a tool for building the movement against imperialism, capitalism, and all forms of oppression. We are currently accepting submissions for our upcoming July 2015 issue.

Submission Types:

1) Eyewitness Accounts of People’s Struggles (500-900 Words)

2) Marxist Analysis of Current Events (500-900 Words)

3) Revolutionary Theory (500-900 Words)

Deadline:

Sunday, June 21, 2015 @ 11:59PM

Note:

For this issue, we are particularly interested in submissions focused on the LGBTQI and Black Lives Matter liberation Movements.

Information:

fightimperialism.org

Contact:

fistyouth1@gmail.com

Community control of police: reformist trap or transitional demand?

Baltimore People's Power Assembly leaders calling for Community Control of Police

Baltimore People’s Power Assembly leaders calling for Community Control of Police

By Levi Rafael, Louisville, KY

Unfortunately, there is a gap in consciousness and practical action between
the establishment of a socialist worker’s state and the situation that the
working class and oppressed finds itself in today. For one thing, many
workers and ordinary people are apprehensive and even sometimes hostile to
the idea of a worker’s state because of Cold War, anti-communist
propaganda, as well as the reactionary experiences of revisionism. On top
of that, working people are told that there is “no alternative” to the
capitalist state that we live in; that we have reached the “end of history”
and that the only way that people can have any control over their own lives
is to work within the system as it is.  They are told by the capitalist
media and education system that capitalism is the most efficient way of
organizing the economy, and that in the end workers must be willing to
sacrifice to it to keep it functioning because, after all, “there is no
alternative” to the capitalist system except “oppression under a Communist
regime.”

It is our task as Marxists and revolutionary communists to challenge this
reactionary anti-communism. We must explain, using Marxist analysis, the
real causes of revisionism and how it could be prevented in a future
worker’s state. We must explain how capitalism is based on the exploitation
of the working class, and that it’s continued existence hampers the
development of the human species and perpetuates our existing social
problems. But as Marx said, it is not enough to interpret the world: we
must also seek to change it. We have to be able to show the working class
and oppressed masses, through practical demands and action, just how a
worker’s state can be built, and why it is necessary for humanity. This is
where the necessity of including a system of *transitional demands *is
important for a revolutionary party’s program for action.

The communist method of advancing transitional demands came out of the
experience of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and was codified in the third
and fourth congresses of the Communist International (Comintern).
Previously, socialist programs had been divided into a *minimum *and a *maximum
*program. The minimum program advanced basic demands for reforms that could
be accomplished, through struggle, within the framework of the capitalist
system to increase the standard of living, economic power and political
freedom of the working class and the oppressed. The maximum program
demanded the expropriation of the capitalist class and the advancement to a
socialist society, in effect the forming of a worker’s state and the
transition to socialist and then communist society. But, as Trotsky argued
in his 1938 *Transitional Program, *between these two programs “no bridge
existed,” and there was no way for the masses to understand how their
struggles for day to day needs could lead to the overthrow of the
capitalist system. The system of *transitional demands *was meant to serve
as this bridge, by raising demands that, by their definition, facilitated
the practical transition from a non-revolutionary situation (where the
working class and its allies struggle only for day to day, reformist
issues, if at all) to a revolutionary situation (where the working class
and its allies are organized and actively mobilize to overthrow the
capitalist system and state and establish their own).

The most important goals of these demands have an economic and political
content to them. In the economic context, transitional demands lead to
worker’s control of the capitalist economy. In the political context, it
means the establishment of a worker’s government to take over the
capitalist state apparatus and to direct its resources to arm the working
class, and to take the necessary political measures to clear the way for a
full scale worker’s revolution. These transitional demands, however, take
place *within the framework of the capitalist economy and state*. It is not
yet the establishment of a worker’s state based on the expropriation of the
ruling class. The means of production still remain the private property of
the capitalist class, and so long as this system exists the state has a
capitalist character in preserving capitalist property. However, with the
leadership of a revolutionary communist party, based on a program for
revolutionary socialism, the working class can use these demands to go
beyond the limits of the capitalist system entirely when they realize that,
if the working class wants to keep its economic and political power gained
through the struggle for transitional demands, it will have to get rid of
the capitalist system and state entirely.

This is where some critics make the fundamental error of rejecting the call
for community control of the capitalist police. As a transitional demand,
it could be quite effective in raising both the consciousness and the
organizational forms of the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrators to a
revolutionary level. Critics are right to argue that, no matter how
democratic, the capitalist state, and therefore its police, will always
serve the capitalist system and its needs, and will crush the working class
and oppressed to do this. But if the masses in Ferguson, New York,
Cleveland, Oakland, Milwaukee, North Charleston, Madison etc, today raise
this slogan, community control over the police could lead to new forms of
community power that could serve as the basis of a new, democratic security
system run directly by the communities themselves. This is because,
objectively, the experience of community control over the police will
present the masses with two solutions in the long run: either allow the
capitalist state and its economic foundations to remain intact, and
therefore end up losing all real community control, or fight to preserve
this control by overthrowing the capitalist police system entirely and
establishing new forms of enforcing public safety based on democratic
community control. Via the transitional demand of “community control over
the police,” the #BlackLivesMatter movement could become convinced, through
practical action, of the need for a worker’s state.

Critics also make the case that practical experiences with community
control over the police have resulted in failure. They argue that community
control of police has only amounted to “citizen review boards” that can
only review cases after the fact. While this is certainly true, these
critics fail to see in this a political opportunity to move the struggle
forward, or at least educate people on what forms “community control” can
take, and ultimately what their logical conclusion must be. For example, a
revolutionary party could serve its purpose well by campaigning for:

·         the complete independence of these civilian review boards from
the apparatus of the police and government

·         for transparency in all police activities

·         for absolute control over all activities and arrests made by the
police,

·         for the civilians of this board and the community to be armed,
and the right to use physical force for public safety, including against
the police

·         for community control over the police budget, and what weapons
they’re allowed to have

·         the boards to be able to make dismissals and arrests of officers,
and to have the power to take over law enforcement duties when possible and
necessary

In *The Transitional Program,”Leon Trotsky argued how worker’s control over
capitalist industry would serve as a “school for planned economy” by giving
the workers practical experience in the democratic managing of an economy,
and preparing them organizationally and consciously to administer a
nationalized economy after the revolution. The same analogy could be drawn
with community control over the police: not only will it provide a channel
for the oppressed communities to address the pressing issues of racism and
police brutality today, but also to give the community practical experience
in the democratic administration of law enforcement, preparing them for how
they will run their state and police force in a worker’s state. For this
reason, it is important that Marxists support the call for community
control over the police as a transitional step towards actual control over
politics and law enforcement, which can only be accomplished in the
framework of a worker’s state in the process of building socialism.