This excerpted Q&A with Workers World Party U.S. presidential candidate Monica Moorehead was published by The North Star on June 8. (thenorthstar.info)
The North Star: Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview. First question. Why are you running?
Monica Moorehead: To use the bourgeois electoral arena to expose the hypocrisy and bogus nature of these elections that attempt to convince the U.S. masses that real change will come from them. As a revolutionary working-class party we use these elections to present a real alternative to the empty promises that the Democrats and Republicans convey every four years. (Please see our 10-point program.)
TNS: Are you even attempting/trying to gain ballot access in any states?
MM: Yes, including New Jersey, Utah, Wisconsin, and we are also exploring write-in campaigns and online voting as well.
TNS: What would you say to leftists who think that it’s not worthwhile to run for offices they know they won’t win?
MM: It’s very important to use every opportunity to push forward the need for independent struggle, and the electoral arena is a very important platform to broaden this view. The last thing that we are concerned with is how many votes we may gain in this election. Notwithstanding that, we know there are those who would view our campaign as an opportunity to use their vote as a protest.
TNS: What is the difference between your candidacy and all the other left/socialist presidential campaigns happening this year?
MM: We feel that our campaign is very unique from the point of view of showing class solidarity with the most oppressed, who are on the frontlines in the struggle against racist police violence, deportations and raids against immigrants, mass incarceration and for revolutionary socialism, which can only come about with the abolishment of capitalism. Another important aspect of our campaign is to help orient revolutionary activists on how to push the class struggle forward beyond the elections. We have a unique and outstanding history of defense of the socialist camp, despite any shortcomings, and all those under imperialist attack, even when not popular. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we did not abandon the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. We believe it is more relevant than ever.
TNS: Why not run a coalition or fusion ticket with another socialist party or left group for president, like the Green Party of New York, and [the International Socialist Organization] did for the gubernatorial race of 2014?
MM: In principle, we would not be against uniting with other left forces around a revolutionary program of action. It is, however, a question of how to make this a reality in a practical sense. It would take a lot of time and effort to put aside any organizational needs to make this happen. We attend gatherings of the left to push socialist unity as much as possible.
TNS: What impact do you think your campaign will have for your party, the American Left and independent working-class political action, in general?
MM: We hope that our campaign will reinforce the view that voting for any bourgeois candidate will not fundamentally change conditions to meet the needs of the people. An independent, anti-capitalist perspective is the way forward. And that we are contributing to the discussion and interest in socialism in this country.
TNS: You’ve run for president previously. What did those previous campaigns accomplish for WWP? What did they accomplish for the working class?
MM: Some of the accomplishments from previous campaigns include helping to give a voice to those who have been disenfranchised and marginalized by the biased electoral process, including prisoners, young people, the undocumented and others. In 1996, WWP won more votes than any other socialist party in the U.S, which reflected — despite being hampered by limited resources and restrictions imposed by bourgeois laws — the strength of our program and fightback perspective broke through this barrier by crashing third-party debates and pressuring big business media to take serious note of our campaign.
TNS: Has the energy, time and money invested in this, and previous campaigns, been worth it, as far as helping to build the socialist movement, increasing class consciousness among workers and expanding the membership of the WWP are concerned?
MM: Yes, anytime we can raise class consciousness it is a contribution.
TNS: How have you stayed energized, committed and inspired to continue fighting for socialism for so long?
MM: Through Marxist ideas, the prognosis that capitalism is coming to a dead end due to its inherent anarchy and greed for profits is becoming more and more of reality — not only for revolutionary forces but for the masses as a whole. The fact that, with the Sanders campaign, people are more and more attracted to socialism is a reflection of this prognosis. That gives our party the necessary motivation and optimism to keep moving forward.
TNS: How and why did you choose Lamont Lilly to be your running mate?
MM: Lamont is a dynamic organizer, writer, and listener — especially to those of the younger generation. He is knowledgeable of the current challenges and conditions facing young people, especially in Black and other oppressed communities.
TNS: What excites you personally about Moorehead/Lilly 2016?
MM: Getting the opportunity to work with and talk to young activists who both want to be in the street and at the same time learn from seasoned activists about how past struggles are tied to the challenges of organizing today. I think it’s very important for seasoned activists to listen and learn from the younger generation of revolutionaries who have so much to offer to the struggles today.
TNS: Is the idea of the vanguard party of the working class dead in 2016?
MM: No, not at all. A party is needed to defeat our class enemy; only a cadre organization can be steeled and prepared and ready to do the work necessary to abolish capitalism.
TNS: What will it take to build a mass workers’ movement going forward?
MM: It will take the development of what we call “professional, dedicated revolutionaries” who possess the desire and skills to win over the most class-conscious workers of all nationalities, genders, gender identities, languages, etc. But we cannot substitute ourselves for the masses; conditions have to be right.
TNS: How do we build a mass left or broad left party in the United States?
MM: It will take unique conditions to achieve those goals.
TNS: Is there any potential for some kind of left convergence in the United States?
MM: There is always that potential. That kind of consciousness still lags in the U.S., but we are confident the day will come.
TNS: Would the Workers World Party consider becoming part of an electoral coalition of parties? If so, or if not, why?
MM: We have always been interested in building socialist unity, which will help strengthen the revolutionary movement in this country.
TNS: What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement?
MM: Our party made a decision to run two African-American candidates mainly to show our solidarity with and commitment to defending the Black Lives Matter movement, which is in the forefront of the righteous fight against police violence, mass incarceration and white supremacy. Our party wholeheartedly views the struggle against racism as the acid test in the ongoing quest to build solidarity among the multinational working class. Fighting white supremacy is the main lynchpin to every issue, be it political or economic, in the U.S. The BLM is a continuation of the long struggle against racism and for self determination in this country and should be defended unconditionally.
TNS: What are your thoughts on the fight for 15 and 15 Now?
MM: The Fight for 15 is a critical, important struggle being led by some of the most oppressed sectors of the working class, including low-wage workers who are disproportionately Black and Brown women. This struggle is first and foremost a struggle for survival but also helps to expose the criminality of the capitalist system that denies workers of their right to a living wage, the right to organize and for dignity. Our campaign stands in unwavering solidarity with the Fight for 15.
TNS: How do we break the sociopolitical stranglehold that the Democratic Party has over the Black community and communities of color in general?
MM: Independent organizing and revolutionary propaganda. The oppressed are learning every day that the Democratic Party is not the solution. Witness what the Black community has lost even with a Black president, or the Latino community, which has gone through the experience of mass deportations despite so many promises from Democrats. More and more are expressing the idea, especially youth of color, that only independent action can lead to change.
TNS: What are your thoughts on Podemos in Spain, and Syriza in Greece?
MM: In both cases these parties are a manifestation of a movement of a section of the masses to the left, in response to the 2008 capitalist crisis, but not so far to the left that they support a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Neither Podemos nor Syriza presents such a revolutionary threat to capitalism, nor do they even claim to do that. The election of Jeremy Corbyn to Labor Party leader in Britain, the Sanders movement here and the Nuit Debout movement in France are manifestations of a similar shift to the left. The problem for revolutionaries is to join the struggle these movements are engaged in while keeping organizational and political independence and winning the activists to a more revolutionary ideology.
TNS: What are your thoughts on the thawing relations between the U.S. and Cuba?
MM: Since the birth of the Cuban Revolution, we have defended this glorious revolution. If the U.S. is “thawing” its relations it is only because it was not able to bring Cuba to its knees. There is a wing of U.S. capitalists who salivate at the Cuban market but its interests are still the same: sabotaging the Revolution and bringing down socialism. We are confident however that the Cuban Revolution, its leadership and its people are not abandoning socialism or their Revolution.
TNS: What are your thoughts on the situation in Syria?
MM: U.S. imperialism and its NATO allies took advantage of an opening from the so-called Arab Spring to foment a reactionary insurgency against the al-Assad government of Syria. Unlike in Libya in 2011, the Assad government has survived, with the aid of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah movement of Lebanon. We oppose all U.S., NATO, Israeli, Saudi and Turkish intervention in Syria, and believe these imperialist countries and allies have committed war crimes there. Our campaign demand is to end U.S. intervention.
TNS: Do you think a new cold war is brewing between the U.S. and Russia, or the U.S. and China?
MM: The U.S. is expanding NATO eastward to surround Russia with weapons and an ever-growing alliance of hostile forces. This alliance included all the old imperialist powers of Western Europe and the new bourgeois states of the East. In the Pacific, Washington is trying to strengthen its military alliance with Japanese imperialism directed at China and Korea. A “new Cold War” may not be the proper term, since the old Cold War was between two clearly demarked social systems, capitalist and socialist. The current situation is of growing imperialist threats from the U.S.-led alliances that may break out into a major war. We oppose the U.S., NATO and Japan in this battle and as a campaign slogan demand disarmament of the Pentagon.
TNS: Do you think Russia and China are imperialists? If so, or if not why?
MM: We would not put an equal sign between either of these countries and the U.S.-led imperialists. Wherever these countries confront the U.S.-NATO-Japan imperialist alliance in the world, we would oppose that imperialist alliance and work for its defeat. This is regardless of the class character of Russia or China. Russia and China are not the same. Russia is a capitalist country, which nevertheless confronts U.S.-NATO imperialism on its own borders. China still retains its socialist foundations even though it is home to a growing class of very wealthy capitalists.
TNS: What are your thoughts on electoral defeat of the left in Venezuela and Bolivia?
MM: This is indeed a setback. U.S. imperialism has worked 24/7 to turn back the gains of the revolutionary anti-imperialist momentum in South America. But the Bolivian and Venezuelan masses have tasted liberation and power and will not go back to the days of colonial subjugation. International solidarity is urgent.
TNS: Which way forward: more reforms or revolution, and how do we get there from here?
MM: Capitalism is at a dead end, which means it cannot buy itself out of another crisis with war or other measures it has used in the past. The working class in the U.S. is experiencing some of its worst problems, and it will only get worse in the future. We may win some reforms here or there — which communists should fight for — but organizing mass actions and people’s power is the only way forward.
TNS: What will the revolution look like in the U.S.?
MM: The revolution will take on a number of aspects, including general strikes, takeover of the means of production, and massive demonstrations of a spontaneous and organized nature. It will look like no other revolution in human history, as this is the height of imperialism. Just dealing with the questions of Black self-determination, the fact that the Southwest was robbed from Mexico or the genocide of Indigenous people all give the U.S. revolution a unique character.
TNS: What does socialism mean to you?
MM: Socialism is an economic system that will empower the workers to seize the reigns of production to collectively meet all human needs, not corporate profits. In order for socialism to succeed, those who have been denied the most under capitalism will have the greatest opportunity to develop their skills through education. All workers, regardless of their skills and talents, will have a say — collectively — in terms of how a new society is developed free of racism, war and all forms of bigotry.
TNS: What advice would you give to young people just entering community activism, the labor movement and/or the socialist movement?
MM: Join forces with others who have a clear view of fighting racism along with fighting for the interests of the workers, especially the most oppressed. Avoid depending on bourgeois forces for perspective or guidance. Build people’s power but with the aim of abolishing the system, as we cannot have class peace as long as capitalism stands.
TNS: What are your plans politically, post November 2016?
MM: Of course continuing to organize and fight back. Whoever wins the November elections, whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, a fightback will be needed. Clinton is a warmonger and Trump is a dangerous racist demagogue, so national mobilizations will be in order. In addition, next year is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. WWP plans to commemorate that anniversary in several ways as a way to contribute to the class struggle.