With the upcoming Virginia governor’s race we are faced with two sides of the same coin, Republicans or Democrats, both corporate candidates who serve the rich and tout their credentials and history to back it up. Realistically we know one of these two candidates will win.
What is most exceptional and significant about this race is the independent candidate Princess Blanding running under the Liberation Party of Virginia. Blanding entered the race after struggling against the Richmond cops who gunned down her unarmed, naked brother – Marcus David Peters – as he was having a mental breakdown. This tragedy pushed her to fight against police murder and work to stop the rountine killings of civillians by cops. She knew that to get to the roots of this and many other issues workers cannot put our faith in the Republican or Democrat capitalist parties.
This should be commended and is one of the first stepping stones to take for building an independent working class movement and organization which can get to the roots of social issues such as state violence against workers. Which is more than can be said for so-called socialists in the Democratic Socialists of America who refuse to break their organizational and political reliance on the Democratic Party often under the excuse that to run separately from the Democrats makes them a marginal political force – that’s nothing but an opportunistic excuse to serve the liberal capitalist agenda.
Blanding’s policies have many good points, many of which focus on investing in the well being of working families and counteracting the repressive measures of the state on workers – which disproportionately affect workers of color. From banning police unions, ending qualified immunity, fighting for housing security, healthcare for all, protecting marginalized groups of workers such as LGBTQ workers, to even promoting gun ownership for all people and their right to remain armed. These measures, if enacted, would dramatically improve the lives of Virginia working families.
Where we differ from Blanding is that the Liberation Party of Virginia is not a workers party, and the party program is not a genuine socialist workers program.
We need an honest assessment of the state of Virginia and its central role in propping up US imperialism, from the suburbs of Northern Virginia where imperialist bureaucrats commute to the various state institutions like the Pentagon, to Eastern Virginia where the US Navy holds its key infrastructure, to southwestern Virginia where US military munitions are manufactured at places like the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, our state is one giant supply chain to feed and profit off of US imperialism.
A genuine workers party embraces the tenets of worker internationalism, our solidarity and commitment is to the workers of the world, not our domestic ruling class and its reactionary nationalism. While we do applaud Blanding’s commitment to immigrant workers and fighting for greater protections on their behalf it is not enough to offer a passing mention of them while ignoring the role Virginia has in enabling attacks on workers across the world.
Much of the rhetoric by the Liberation Party refers to a “broken system” that needs to be fixed. This is a faulty premise, the problems workers face in this state are not a result of a “broken system”, but a result of the capitalist system working exactly as it was intended to. We need to get our bearings if we really want to build a solid foundation that can lead towards workers power. That requires recognizing that capitalism cannot be reformed into its opposite – into a workers democracy.
The supposed democracy we have today is a capitalist democracy, it is only meant to serve the interests of the rich while forcing workers to tag along, denying us real political agency to effect change. We could have the most progressive democratic reforms under the current economic system and it still won’t change the fact that the rich own everything and workers own nothing but our labor power to exchange for a wage. We all have formal rights to engage in political action, but we all don’t have the funds and resources to do it – which makes these formal rights meaningless.
Our goal cannot be to simply lay hold of the existing state machinery, but to smash it and its parasitic, oppressive nature upon workers of Virginia and the world. We need a workers party in Virginia founded on this crucial understanding, that workers here cannot have our class interests realized except by overthrowing the state and the class dictatorship of the rich which the state ensures.
The role of any independent workers party is not to get elected under capitalist democracy, but to use elections as a bully pulpit, a tribune of the workers, to propagandize and agitate to the general public a true workers program when provided the spotlight during election cycles. The job of the party is to lead and prepare workers for the conquest of state power, not by assuming a role to manage over this system, but to destroy it and create a new state power controlled by workers which can actually address the root issue of police murders, mass incarceration, and worker poverty.
So long as the rich are allowed to retain their ownership over the things workers need to live healthy lives – from the hospitals, to the farms, to the grocery stores, to education, and even recreation – the working class will always be stuck in a cycle of exploitation and oppression, especially workers of color, women workers, LGBTQ workers, etc.
We need a new type of party which is rooted in this understanding, otherwise we would be no different than every other fringe third party like the Greens or the Libertarians who just want to assume some executive role over the capitalist state and its hollow democracy. We call on the Liberation Party of Virginia to adopt a truly socialist and workers political program and political orientation. It’s crucial we build this new type of party and begin the task of educating workers on these key political truths as to what it’s really going to take to achieve worker liberation.