Defend Democratic Rights!

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA, April 13, 2014

On April 4 at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer handed down an opinion defending the indefensible. According to the Court, the supreme political power of the executive branch and president does not even exclude the targeting and killing of civilians. Thus, the Court has affirmed, in particular, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (passed by Congress in a nearly unanimous vote on September 14, 2001.) According to the ruling, “Congress enacted the AUMF, authorizing the Executive to use necessary and appropriate military force against al-Qa’ida and affiliated forces.” The ruling goes on to emphasize that the law does not specify geographical limits of any kind.

The Court's opinion tells the whole world that the U.S. government is a government of murderers. Not only is the AUMF a declaration of war against the whole world, it is another declaration that the American people have no rights which are recognized by the government. Once again, the government has made it clear that anyone who opposes it can and will be branded as an “enemy combatant.” Today the U.S. government recognizes no law; it is nothing but the dictatorial, repressive power of the capitalist class, a power, based on violence, and centered in the executive branch of government.

Combat This Growing Fascism!

The rights of the people are not “gifts” or privileges bestowed on us by the government. They belong to us by virtue of our humanity and throughout our history we have claimed these rights through struggle against the arbitrary, dictatorial power of the exploiting classes. So it is today. We will continue to defend our rights. We must continue to organize ourselves and struggle against the entire government program of war, repression, racism and exploitation. We must use every available means to demand an end to the government's repression and to win safeguards for our rights.

From the very founding of our country to the present, the American people have tenaciously opposed any interference of the military in the affairs of the country and the people. Yet, trampling the very principles of democracy into the ground, the capitalist state has continuously carried on the militarization of our country and repeatedly used troops against the popular movements of the people – against the civil rights and anti-war movements, against the strike struggles of the workers, etc.

Even according to bourgeois democratic theory such rights as the freedom of political association and the right to due legal process are supposed to be inviolable and one of the decisive guarantees retained by the people to protect themselves against the usurpation of power by the government. Furthermore, according to democratic theory, the powers of government must be precisely defined and restricted to only those powers which are expressly delegated to it by the people.

Yet the entire 200-year history of the U.S. state shows that every right which is promised on paper is negated in 1,000,001 ways. Time and again, the government has created various pretexts and so-called national emergencies as one means to trample underfoot the inviolable rights of the people and to usurp arbitrary and unlimited power unto itself. As early as 1798, for example, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act to legalize widespread political repression. In recent decades, the U.S. government has hysterically preached anti-communism and used this as a pretext to outlaw political organizations, blacklist, harass, persecute and jail tens of thousands of people for such “crimes” as expressing their political views. In the 1960's and 1970's, the FBI carried out its Cointelpro operations, to harass, infiltrate and suppress a broad array of civil rights, anti-war and political organizations. Countless other examples can be given.

The fact is that today, as in the past, the government uses such terms as “national security” and “national interest” to assert that the interests of the big capitalist class are the interests of the people and country as a whole. But it is precisely because, in reality, the capitalist program is a program of aggressive, imperialist war, a program of robbery of the public treasury and of increasing the exploitation of the people, a program of racism, that the government finds it necessary to strengthen its apparatus of repression.

Today, the government tries to justify the fascistization of the state by claiming that the “war against terrorism” has created a “national crisis” and a “national emergency.” And according to the government's logic, the “national interests” can only be interpreted and defended by the executive branch of government (i.e. the Obama administration). Thus, it is necessary for the executive to usurp unlimited and absolute power in order to insure the very survival of the American people.

This completely negates the people's democratic rights. The very concept of inalienable rights arose to give expression to the fact that the people are the real, sovereign power and to provide the people with certain guarantees against the arbitrary usurpation of power. In other words, rights are needed, most of all, at the time of “emergencies” in order for the people to protect themselves against the government.

The only real defense is the independent organizations of the people and our capacity to struggle against the power of the rich. To win lasting guarantees for our rights, we must defeat the political power of the capitalists and create a new political power which arises from and serves the people themselves.