Clinton gets mean

Another step on the road to social barbarism was taken in the US last week. Bill Clinton launched a ‘radical’ overhaul of the entire welfare system, which amounted to the removal of the ‘safety net’ from the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Even though Clinton’s ‘get tough on welfare’ measure has been condemned by trade unions, women’s groups, immigrant organisations, etc, the president is determined to outflank his Republican rival, Bob Dole. Hence his determination to “end welfare as we know it”.

Blair’s strategy in this country has been to out-Tory the Tories. Bill Clinton has obviously been studying New Labour carefully (or is it the other way round?) and drawn the same conclusions as Blair - the need to out-Dole Bob Dole.

Clinton has certainly gone about his mission with evangelical zeal. The new law removes the guarantee of federal cash for the poor for the first time in 61 years. Able-bodied welfare recipients will be entitled to claim assistance for no more than two consecutive years. There will be a lifetime limit of five years. After that, American civilisation will wipe its hands of you and cast you into the darkness of absolute poverty, degradation and crime - and the electric chair if you happen to be black.

In his address, Clinton declared: “We can change what is wrong. We should not pass up this historic opportunity to do what is right.” For the US ruling class a massive assault on the living standards of the working class is “right”, as their system slides into crisis - and it is workers who have to carry the can.

Clinton’s aggressive stance has confused, if not upset, liberal opinion, inside and outside the USA. ‘Hang on,’ the liberal bourgeoisie mutters. ‘You are meant to be different to the other guys - remember?’

The Guardian cannot make sense of it at all, saying, “Confused? So are we all” (August 26). Martin Walker of The Observer is also appalled by Clinton’s new face, retreating into ‘New Deal’ nostalgia: “Clinton has surrendered not only a principle of the New Deal, but its heart” (August 25).

Communists are not confused by Clinton’s attacks. As a capitalist politician, he will inevitably attack the workers. The same with Tony Blair when he gets the chance to do a Clinton. New Dealism and social democracy are rapidly becoming distant memories. As for the supposed ‘left’ conscience of the Democratic Party, Jesse Jackson, he has urged his supporters to work hard to re-elect Clinton, arguing that the alternative - Republican control of both the White House and Congress - would be even worse.

The working class in the United States must break-out of this ‘lesser of two evils’ spiral and organise itself independently from the bourgeoisie, otherwise things will go from bad to worse.

Eddie Ford