Now that Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, the media is reporting that there is already a movement afoot to have him impeached. An online petition has gathered over 125,000 signatures as of this writing.
As Marxist-Leninists, we need to be clear about the significance of this, and not be distracted by the smoke and mirrors being sold to the population at large.
Kavanaugh is a liar and has a history of sexual assault on females. (We’re not saying “alleged” because there are too many credible accounts.) This is despicable. We would rather have someone of character in any position of power, as they would be less likely to be swayed by partisan politics and less easily corrupted by the real powers that be – the capitalist class.
But no one is going to be nominated or confirmed who is not a trustworthy member of the ruling class. Not by either party. There are distinctions between bad and worse, but from a working class point of view, they are all bad in one way or another.
What we see, if we subject the situation to historical materialist analysis, is another evidence of the severity of the crisis of capitalism currently in process. It’s not the good guys versus the bad guys. It’s one faction of the oligarchy versus another faction. They use spin and propaganda to convince the public at large that there are good guys and bad guys, but this is not the case.
Merrick Garland, had he been confirmed, is only somewhat less conservative than, say, Chief Justice Roberts. He was carefully picked because he was conservative enough that he might have been confirmed. Had George W. Bush nominated him, he would be on the Supreme Court right now.
What is going on is a skirmish between two factions of the ruling class. Each wants to situate themselves more firmly in power. The Republicans try to garner political support from people who are afraid of change. The Democrats try to gain cover from those who have the least to lose if change occurs. Neither is going to challenge the basic structure of capitalist society.
If you believe what they say, you would think that the Democrats care a great deal about women. In fact, however, if they cared that much about women, then pay equity would have been established long ago, domestic violence would be much more strictly punished, parental leave would be on a par with what is common in Sweden or Germany, and so forth. None of this has transpired. They talk like that to get women to vote for them but do the very least they can about the real problems because having oppressed people (whether by gender, race, class, sexual preference, or what have you) is good for capitalism. Why? Because exploitation is fundamental to capitalism. Having a segment of the population that is easily exploited is good for business.
This is one way in which the crisis of capitalism is playing out. Here are the thesis and antithesis: The Republicans’ stance is to keep wealth and power isolated into very few hands by convincing the public at large that they will lose what they have if things change. The Democrats’ stance is to keep wealth and power in the hands of a few by convincing the populace that those few really care about them. While it appears that the Republicans won this round, in fact it only exacerbates the crisis.
As these two forces collide, there are several possible syntheses which could emerge. One is that the fascist tendency within the Republican party will become stronger, as it strives harder to hold on to power. This would cause the traditional Republican base to shrink as they feel locked out of power within the party.
Another is that the centrist wing of the Democratic party will get stronger (there is no truly liberal wing, as the entire political landscape has shifted so far to the right) which will cause massive disruption within the Democratic party and weaken them for some time. The current leadership will fight dirty to avoid moving even an inch to the center, which looks like moving to the left to them. They would become even more ineffective at the polls due to the disorder within their ranks.
Either of those alternatives will cause disturbance in society at large. Some of the working class will become more radically leftist; some will move farther to the right. Relative proportions will depend on variables that are unpredictable at this time. If there is enough movement in either direction, it will affect decisions made by members of the ruling class. With all their power, they can’t just ignore us.
It’s too soon to say which of these will emerge. Plan for both.