The Impossibility of a Socialist Representative Without a Workers’ Party

The Impossibility of a Socialist Representative Without a Workers’ Party


By now, you may have heard that an alleged Socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has won a major upset primary election against Democrat Joe Crowley. In and of itself, this single victory can and will do little to improve the lives of the working class. Of this there is no debate, one representative is insignificant. Symptomatically though, this election upset tells us quite a lot. The most promising and hopeful aspect to glean from this is that the working class is eager and hungry for an alternative. That about wraps up the positives unfortunately.

Before we explore the negative side of the equation, we’ll subject Alexandria to a bit more scrutiny. One of the key slogans that has propelled Alexandria to victory in a predominantly immigrant district is the call to abolish ICE, but what does this mean to Alexandria? Quoting from an NPR interview paints us a picture.

INSKEEP: Although, I mean, you’re still going to have immigration officers, right? You’re still going to have customs officers, if you got your way. I mean, there’s going to be border enforcement. It’d just be under a different name.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think it’s a different name and a different approach, you know?

INSKEEP: Although there is the question of – let’s just call it border security. I mean, do you favor securing the borders so that people cannot cross illegally?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think – I do think that we have to have a secure border. We need to make sure that people are, in fact, documented.

In essence Alexandria merely wishes to rebrand ICE and change the logo while keeping the function of forcibly preventing unauthorized entry in to the United States by those seeking asylum from conditions caused by the very same United States. Certainly she would like to do this in a more ‘humane’ matter, but this begs the question for Alexandria. How do you humanely keep people from escaping a slaughterhouse that you have constructed? And yes, because Alexandria is now contending to be a member of the United States government, it is appropriate to word the question in such a way that places responsibility for the creation of the slaughterhouse at her feet.

So why exactly does Alexandria claim the title of Socialist?

INSKEEP: Let me ask about another issue here, if I can. You are a member of Democratic Socialists of America, an organization. Democratic socialist is what Bernie Sanders calls himself. He’s been on this program saying what he means by that. What do you mean by being a socialist?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think what it means is basically saying that we’re at a point of modernity in the United States where we should guarantee a basic level of dignity here. That means that all children should have access and have an equitable guarantee, equitable education, health care, and aim for a world where Americans aren’t threatened in their stability of health care, education and housing.

This definition of Socialism is almost indistinguishable from the fascist favorite fourteen words. “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Except for Alexandria instead of white children she would have American children a guaranteed future.

Beyond the single primary election, this victory of Alexandria’s serves to show us precisely what a workers’ party cannot be. A workers’ party cannot rely upon an electoral strategy. Indeed, the electoral strategy is a strategy concocted to exhaust the energies of the working class in a fruitless effort to pin all of our hopes on the capitalist State power.

Rather than trying to find ‘humane’ ways of preventing families from escaping lands in which they feel their lives are threatened, we should be building the capacity to teach the children of those families so that they might succeed in school. We should be building the networks of transportation so that undocumented immigrants need not fear deportation for a routine traffic stop. Rather than trying to ‘reform’ police departments which fundamentally exist to protect private property, we should begin monitoring the armed forces of our class enemy and alerting our most vulnerable members as to their locations so that we can all be safer. These activities which directly and materially aid and empower the working class are the activities of the workers’ party. The time may come when an election can be used to aid and empower the working class, but winning the ‘honor’ of running as a Democrat is not that time. Alexandria’s victory does not represent the victory of the organized working class fighting for emancipation, it represents the atomized expression of desperation seeking any alternative to the current status quo.

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