MoveOn.org, sponsor of a recent speech by Al Gore, and recipient of a $5 million contribution from billionaire George Soros, is reaping the benefits of a developing split in the ruling class.

Soros, a Hungarian immigrant, is a contradictory figure. He has been blamed for currency speculation that helped spark an economic crisis in Asia more than 10 years ago, and has been lauded for financing Russian “democracy” organizations, and for making significant contributions to immigrant rights organizations in this country.

Soros has committed himself to defeating Bush, saying that this administration’s “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric reminds him of the Nazi propaganda he heard as a child. Soros says, “America, under Bush, is a danger to the world.” In addition to his donation to Moveon.org, he has given $10 million to other anti-Bush organizing, and donations to several candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Gore, who won the 2000 presidential popular vote only to lose the presidency to post-election maneuvering and one vote on the Supreme Court, spoke to a crowd of 3,000, giving a blistering critique of the Bush administration’s attacks on civil liberties.

These figures are symbolic of the unease in sections of the ruling class, spurred by popular anger against Bush. They see the danger to U.S. prestige and trade around the world, the threat that corporate control of U.S. policy will be exposed for all to see, the risky nature of Bush’s constant threats to start more war.

Gore said, among many other things, that, “for the first time in our history, American citizens have been seized by the executive branch of government and put in prison without being charged with a crime, without having the right to a trial, without being able to see a lawyer, and without even being able to contact their families.” He condemned Bush’s use of fear following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to push an anti-democratic agenda that unconstitutionally and unnecessarily restricts civil rights.

Gore continued, “I want to challenge the Bush administration’s implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.

“Because it is simply not true.

“In fact, in my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden.

“In both cases, the administration has attacked the wrong target.

“In both cases they have recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger, while avoiding and neglecting obvious and much more important challenges that would actually help to protect the country.”

This broadside blast against Bush helps to ratchet up the struggle against Patriot Acts I and II, against Bush’s policies in Iraq, and for the defeat of Bush in 2004.

Despite their fervent and determined opposition to Bush, neither these nor other billionaires or capitalist politicians will attack Bush head-on about his anti-working-class policies. They would like us to reject Bush but stay satisfied with vague, progressive-sounding economic proposals that differ from Bush’s policies only in not being so directly and obviously piratical.

But Gore and Soros and most of the Democratic candidates are doing a much better job than previously at making clear the differences between Bush’s ultra-right leadership and their more moderate capitalist leadership. And they have the Republicans worried.

Bush and Rove, knowing that Bush would stand even more exposed if he had to steal another election as blatantly as last time, are raising unprecedented sums in an attempt to buy the 2004 elections. The large majority of capitalists are giving Bush record-setting contributions. Most of the biggest capitalists are benefiting greatly from Bush’s privatizing, militarizing, environmental-regulation-destroying, no-bid-contracts-to-friends, let-the-companies-write-the-laws-and-rules style of governing.

But Bush and Rove know that if the economy doesn’t improve for working people, Bush’s re-election is in jeopardy. No doubt Bush will try his best to create enough of a boost to the economy that he can claim progress. He is trumpeting the creation of several hundred thousand jobs, while ignoring the reality of the 3 million jobs lost. But the unemployed aren’t fooled — they still don’t have jobs.

We should welcome the outbreak of sanity among the likes of Gore and Soros, but they aren’t going to do the door knocking and talking on the job that will guarantee Bush’s defeat. And while we welcome them, let’s not let them determine how far our demands go.

Marc Brodine is chair of the Washington State Communist Party. He can be reached at marcbrodine@comcast.net.