Jan 24, 2021
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took the oath of office on January 20. Speaking afterward, Biden made three points: One, “our democracy” has triumphed; two, the nation needs “unity”; three, facing the virus, he will “listen to the science”.
If by “democracy” Biden means the votes were all tabulated, and the winner was recognized, yes, then “democracy” triumphed. Donald Trump had tried scam after scam to keep the presidency for himself, despite the vote.
But counting up votes is not the same as “democracy”. Holding an election between the same two parties that take turns at running the government is not “democracy”—not when each of those parties has always put the interests of the moneyed class first.
Both parties decided on, directed and/or supported the foreign wars that serve the interests of this country’s big corporations and banks, to the detriment of working people in and out of the army.
Both parties carried out policies in this country that drove down the standard of living of working people so the billionaire class could become obscenely richer.
Trump got in office through elections. So did Biden. But their elections produced only “democracy” for the moneyed class each served.
When Biden speaks of “unity”, he says he wants to bring the nation together.
But every call for “unity” hides the fact that in this “nation” we are divided by class. The capitalist class drives to increase its wealth by lowering the standard of living of the working class and other parts of the laboring population. This division is basic to capitalist society.
Biden’s call for “unity” is a call for us to forget we are exploited—to link arms with the very wealthy class that exploits us.
We need unity—but unity of all people who work for our living. We need unity as the basic condition of our fight to defend ourselves.
Today that unity can be shattered by people who dredge up the worst racist attitudes of a capitalist society that found its beginnings in and accumulated its first wealth through slavery. That unity can be shattered by people who want to divide us according to which ethnic group we are part of and how recently our families came to this country. That unity can be shattered by people who still treat women as possessions without any rights to make their own independent decisions.
All the different parts of the working class can strengthen us for our fight against the capitalist class—but only if we unify as a class.
Finally, Biden says he will “listen to the science” in the battle against the virus.
“Science” doesn’t simply mean masks and vaccines—although those may be important in the face of a deadly virus allowed to get out of control.
“Science” must first recognize how the virus got out of control. That is the product of a decades-long destruction of the public health system—carried out by both parties seeking to divert public money to the capitalist class. Political choices led to tens, even hundreds of thousands of deaths.
“Science” must mean, for example, asking why so many people died in nursing homes run by private interests in the pursuit of profit—leading to conditions hospitable to the virus.
“Science” must mean—even right now—overturning the political choice that put production, distribution and even administration of the vaccine in private hands, intent on making a profit.
But this is a “science” that neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump would ever “listen to”.
The ones who do “listen” are the people who work in these labs and production facilities. They are the ones who know what is happening today. They are the ones who could open the door so science could be listened to tomorrow.