PSL Statement: Biden in office, capitalists in power

What does the victory of Joe Biden mean for the left? Whose interests will be represented and fought for in the Biden-Harris administration.

January 21, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Biden and Harris at the monument to the 400,000+ people who have died in the United States from COVID-19. Photo: Twitter/Joe Biden

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in today January 20, 2021 as President and Vice-President of the United States following a tumultuous three months wherein the incumbent competitor Donald Trump waged an intense campaign to allege that the election had been stolen and electoral fraud had been committed. His campaign culminated in the storming of the Capitol building by a fascist mob on January 6 who alleged they were fighting to “stop the steal” of the election from Trump. Biden’s victory has been hailed by liberals as a grand victory and a return to “normalcy.” In this statement by the Party for Socialism and Liberation they highlight that despite the fact that an open fascist is no longer president, Biden does not represent a working class victory, and to achieve any advances there will have to be intensified struggle.

Today, just as has happened every four years since 1789, an avowed defender of the wealth and power of the ruling elite has been sworn into office as President of the United States. While a great many people are understandably relieved that Donald Trump is leaving the White House, Joe Biden’s Inauguration on its own will do nothing to remedy the urgent crises facing the working class and will do nothing to rein in the destructive role of the US war machine abroad.

Having spent almost his entire adult life as a member of the political elite, Biden has accumulated a clear track record as a reactionary politician at the service of Wall Street and the Pentagon. Biden launched his career as an opponent of school integration and went on to employ viciously racist rhetoric as he pushed the laws that would form the core architecture of the system of mass incarceration. He has helped deregulate the finance industry, notably with his vote to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and his role passing the 2005 bankruptcy law. Biden was a dutiful steward of U.S. imperialism in the Senate and as Obama’s Vice-President. He voted in favor of the blood-soaked 2003 invasion of Iraq, and even proposed the colonial-style partition of the country as a means of putting down the resistance to the U.S. occupation.

In his acceptance speech, Biden emphasized the need for national unity, reconciliation and bipartisanship. With the Republican Party embroiled in turmoil following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, some elements may be inclined to take up Biden on his offer of cooperation. And they would do so knowing full well that historically “bipartisanship” has always meant that the liberals adapt themselves to the program of the far right, not the other way around. The Democratic Party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, the only reason that they would seek “bipartisanship” at this moment is that they prefer the program of the right wing to the program of the left.

But politics is dynamic, and the intervention of the masses of people can make all the difference. The struggle of the working class has the power to force even the most reactionary politician to offer concessions. Biden knows this, and there are indicators that some of his first acts in office may be designed to head off opposition from the left.

For this struggle to be effective, it must be independent of the Democratic Party and develop its own, socialist leadership. Under Biden it will become ever clearer that the dire problems facing the world are rooted in the capitalist system itself, not the individual politician who holds office. It will become ever clearer that revolution and the complete reorganization of society is the only way out of the multiple and intensifying crises of capitalism. The Party for Socialism and Liberation will redouble its efforts towards this end.

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