Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 27, 2006

Stan Goff, Bill Fletcher and the 2-party system

Filed under: parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 8:23 pm

This post was originally meant as a response to Stan Goff’s call for voting for the Democrats in the midterm elections, but it will focus mainly on Bill Fletcher’s article “Race, the Democratic Party and electoral strategy“–originally a speech given at Columbia University.

 

Bill Fletcher

Stan cites this article in his blog entry as “giving the elections some historical context” which it does. Unfortunately, it is not quite broad enough and is content to stick within the framework of US politics and particularly the rivalry between the Democrats and the Republicans. I have a different take on this rivalry, but before presenting my views, I want to take a step back and examine the classical Marxist understanding of elections.

During the rise of socialism in the late 1800s, there was absolutely no support for bourgeois parties. There is no need to look for chapter and verse in the Marxist classics to find support for such a proposition–even though it exists. It makes far better sense just to look at what our predecessors did since actions speak louder than words. The record is clear that they built Socialist parties that ran candidates for various offices against capitalist parties. The most outstanding of these was the German Social Democratic party that enjoyed the support of millions of workers and that created a wide range of class-based institutions, from publishing houses to insurance companies.

Indeed, despite the reputation of Lenin’s “What is to be Done” as a cookbook for a new type of party, there is ample evidence within the text for the notion that he sought simply to create a Russian version of such a party:

The work of the West European Social-Democrat is in this respect facilitated by the public meetings and rallies which all are free to attend, and by the fact that in parliament he addresses the representatives of all classes. We have neither a parliament nor freedom of assembly; nevertheless, we are able to arrange meetings of workers who desire to listen to a Social-Democrat. We must also find ways and means of calling meetings of representatives of all social classes that desire to listen to a democrat; for he is no Social-Democrat who forgets in practice that “the Communists support every revolutionary movement”, that we are obliged for that reason to expound and emphasise general democratic tasks before the whole people, without for a moment concealing our socialist convictions. He is no Social-Democrat who forgets in practice his obligation to be ahead of all in raising, accentuating, and solving every general democratic question.

Some Marxists had begun to question the German party since it had begun to slowly adapt itself to bourgeois society and postpone the question of seizing power to the indefinite future. Foremost among them was Rosa Luxemburg:

The danger to universal suffrage will be lessened to the degree that we can make the ruling classes clearly aware that the real power of Social Democracy by no means rests on the influence of its deputies in the Reichstag, but that it lies outside, in the people themselves, ‘in the streets’, and that if the need arise Social Democracy is able and willing to mobilize the people directly for the protection of their political rights. This does not mean that, for example, it is sufficient to keep the general strike, as it were, at the ready, up our sleeves in order to believe ourselves equipped for any political eventuality

Luxemburg’s worries were obviously well-grounded as the evidence of socialist parliamentarians voting for war credits in 1914 demonstrates. Lenin eventually broke with the Second International and launched a new international based on class struggle principles. Whatever their differences, both internationals ran their own candidates and refused to back bourgeois politicians. In the early 1920s, some German social democrat parliamentarians were even ready to make an alliance with the Communists and co-organized the unsuccessful insurrection of 1923 with them. Later on the two parties grew asunder as the Social Democrats began to support bourgeois politicians as a “lesser evil”, while the Communists went on an ultraleft binge to the point of co-sponsoring a referendum with Nazis to unseat a Social Democratic politician.

This led to such a disaster that the Communists reversed themselves completely and adopted the Popular Front strategy at the 1934 Comintern conference. In Europe this took the form of coalition governments between bourgeois parties and the CP and SP, which had perfected class-collaboration in the electoral arena. In other countries, where the CP was too weak to engineer such a coalition was possible, it frequently supported capitalist politicians like FDR or Batista in Cuba. (During the 1930s, Batista was reaching out to the trade unions in a demagogic fashion. As was frequently the case in Latin America, the party allowed itself to be suckered into a losing game.)

Against the Popular Front, Leon Trotsky advocated a United Front which would consist of joint action between the Socialists and the Communists around specific issues of that mattered to working people. Although this had more to do with demonstrations, strikes, etc., there is little doubt that it could have been extended to backing SP candidates even if their program fell short of the Communist program.

Although the idea of Communists backing SP candidates seems relatively uncontroversial, keep in mind that this was not the case in the early 1920s when the Comintern was attracting millions of workers to its banner, many of whom had bitter memories of social democratic support for WWI and its role in the murder of Rosa Luxemburg. In Great Britain where ultraleft Communists refused to vote for the Labour Party, Lenin urged them to get over their prejudices:

At present, British Communists very often find it hard even to approach the masses, and even to get a hearing from them. If I come out as a Communist and call upon them to vote for Henderson and against Lloyd George, they will certainly give me a hearing. And I shall be able to explain in a popular manner, not only why the Soviets are better than a parliament and why the dictatorship of the proletariat is better than the dictatorship of Churchill (disguised with the signboard of bourgeois “democracy”), but also that, with my vote, I want to support Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man–that the impending establishment of a government of the Hendersons will prove that I am right, will bring the masses over to my side, and will hasten the political death of the Hendersons and the Snowdens just as was the case with their kindred spirits in Russia and Germany.

It is important to keep in mind that this tactic applied to social democratic parties, not to bourgeois parties. Furthermore, Lenin did not intend that workers vote for social democrats in perpetuity. Once a party like Labour was in power and had demonstrated its true colors, it would be possible to win workers to a Communist perspective. To repeat, this was simply a tactic, not a permanent strategy.

When the CP launched the Popular Front turn, the revolutionary left was more isolated than ever. The vast majority of working people, who belonged to either SP’s or CP’s, simply assumed that voting for bourgeois politicians or forming coalition governments with them was acceptable if not wise. When workers began to grumble about not being able to vote on a class basis, their leaders were adroit enough to provide various kinds of substitutes for the real thing. Here’s how veteran CP’er Steven Nelson described Earl Browder’s campaign in his memoir:

The fact that the Party [CP] continued to run its own candidates during the early New Deal may give the wrong impression of our attitude toward the Democratic Party. We supported pro-New Deal candidates and ran our own people largely for propaganda purposes… Earl Browder’s campaign that same year [1936] demonstrates how we ran our own candidates but still supported the New Deal. His motto and the whole tone of his campaign was ‘Defeat Landon [the Republican] at All Costs.’ In this way he sought to give critical support to FDR. We wanted to work with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and to achieve a certain amount of legitimacy as a party of the Left

For the past seventy years, this sort of electoral double-dealing has been widely understood by the vast majority of the left as consistent with Lenin’s advice in “Ultraleft Communism, an Infantile Disorder” despite the fact that Lenin never once suggested that workers vote for bourgeois parties. The CP’s adapted Lenin’s advice for use in the swamp of bourgeois electoral politics. In every election since the 1930s, paragraphs were wrenched out of context from Lenin’s essay in order to justify voting for Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter and all the rest.

Now, if there is no basis in classical Marxism for voting for bourgeois parties, what explains the strong magnetic pull upon not only the Communists, but on the radical movement in general? For example, the French Trotskyists decided to vote for the conservative politician Chirac in 2002 on more or less the same basis that the CP backed Roosevelt. Their slogan “Beat Le Pen on the streets and in the ballot box” was just a circumlocution to vote for a capitalist party.

All their classical Marxist erudition came to naught when the pressure was applied to “Stop Le Pen”, Chirac’s neo-fascist opponent. If you truly want to understand why Marxists wilt at times like this, it is necessary to recall the differences between the early 1920s and today. In the early 1920s, Communists had massive support throughout Europe. For example, there were 62 elected Communist delegates to the German parliament in 1924, around the same time that Lenin was warning them not to cut themselves off from the SP. By contrast, the revolutionary left has never had a single elected official in European parliaments, while in the USA votes for its candidates rarely exceed a tenth of one percent. This sense of isolation and weakness tends to swamp class politics, especially during periods when the choice between bourgeois candidates appears extreme. This was the case in 1964 and it is surely the case today.

The emphasis is on being practical rather than “ideologically pure,” a reference to the stubborn tendency of some Trotskyists or unreconstructed 1960s New Leftists to take the words attributed to Eugene V. Debs’s words to heart: “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”

Turning now to Bill Fletcher’s article, we are presented with a kind of class analysis of the two major parties framed around the Civil War and Reconstruction. As most people know, the Democrats were pro-slavery and the Republicans, and especially their Radical wing, were bent on eradicating slavery. There was an historic compromise in 1876 between the Northern industrial bourgeoisie and the Southern ex-planters that permanently marked the end of the Republican Party as an anti-racist formation. However, when it came to the brunt of the attack on Southern Blacks, it was left to the Dixiecrats to supply the shock troops. Fletcher sums things up this way:

Therefore, while the Democrats of the 19th century were certainly the party of counter-revolution, and later the party of Jim Crow segregation, the Republican Party after 1877 abandoned all pretense of being a party in favor of the objectives of Reconstruction. In fact, their pro-Reconstruction wing–the so-called “Radical Republicans”–collapsed as a political force. Though African Americans were an important constituency of the Republican Party (and specifically, African American men were the voters given that the suffrage was limited to men at the time), the Republicans were quite prepared to permit the counter-revolution in the South to succeed and to witness, with barely a comment, the rise of Jim Crow and the virtual, if not formal, elimination of the franchise for African Americans.

There was a marked change, however, under FDR. The Northern Democrats shifted to the left while the Dixiecrats resisted any change. Turning the clock forward, the growing resentment of the racist wing of the party finally resulted in the wholesale defection to the Republican Party as a consequence of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968. The net result is a new alignment of the two party system that left Blacks with no place to go except the DP. The favor has not been returned, however, with the DLC wing of the party adapting to the racist initiatives of the Republican Party. Against the DLC, you have had counter-forces such as Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition that have attempted to make the party more responsive to Black demands for full equality. Fletcher’s strategy consists of the left putting its shoulder behind all forces within the Democratic Party that have the same dynamic as Jackson’s campaign:

This must be a project that is both urban and Southern. In other words, we need to look to identify areas that are logically sympathetic to the politics suggested here. I will give you an example of two different approaches in what I believe to be a key area: South Carolina. The Labor Party (of which, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a member) has just gotten on the ballot in South Carolina. I applaud them for this work, but among progressives in South Carolina this is not the strategy that I would have suggested. Instead, within the Democratic Party in South Carolina there is a base, largely African American, which is seeking an alternative. Why not build the sort of neo-Rainbow/independent organization I am describing here and challenge the current leadership of the South Carolina Democrats?

There is something quite depressing about this unabashed appeal for piecemeal reform since both Fletcher and Goff have reputations as revolutionary socialists. What in the world can Marxists contribute to reforming the Democratic Party that ordinary liberals can’t do without our help? Stan Goff writes:

No one has convinced me that the Revolution is around the corner to nullify the whole fixed electoral system, so it looks for all the world that the only option is to face the fact of this election — as it is — and vote a straight Democratic ticket. Fletcher’s article, referenced above, makes some interesting pints about these parties being blocs, as opposed to coherent political formations.. which supports my own belief that — in this election, and not as some general rule — it is imperative that people turn out, and turn out massively, to dis-elect the Republican Party.

I abstained from the last election because the Democratic Party took the issue of the war off the table; and because I believed the world would be better off after the Bush administration spent a bit more time exposing the true character of today’s mono-imperialism. I still stand by that.

This year, however, I will work a polling site for the Democrats.

How sad to hear Stan Goff speaking in terms of the Revolution not being around the corner. This is the excuse I used to hear throughout the 1960s and early 70s from CP’ers for backing Humphrey or whoever. It really sidesteps the main issue, which is how to move the class struggle forward. Who knows when conditions will ripen to such an extent, as to produce a prerevolutionary situation? Nobody has a crystal ball.

However, as James P. Cannon, the leader of the American Trotskyist movement, once put it, the art of politics is knowing what to do next. The central imperative in American politics since that historical compromise alluded to in Fletcher’s article is to break the stranglehold that the two-party system has on American society. That stranglehold affects everything we do outside of the electoral arena, from protesting the war in Iraq to building the trade union movement.

By now everybody has gotten pretty well-accustomed to UFPJ’s disappearing act during an election year. What if we began to elect Green Party candidates to Congress who used their offices to publicize demonstrations and provide transportation? In NYC, the TWU has backed Spitzer for Governor. His reputation as a “friend of labor” seems to rest on the fact that he supported jailing Roger Toussaint for only a week rather than a month.

Of course, this is based on the assumption that the Green Party’s self-destructive instincts can be curbed. And if they can’t, some other party will come along to challenge the Democrats. For the past 58 years, since the Truman cold war turn in the DP, there have been repeated left challenges to the two-party system from Henry Wallace to Ralph Nader. These challenges are simply expressions of social and economic contradictions arising over the ruling class drive toward war and austerity and the inability of the electoral system to resolve them.

At some point, these contradictions will reach such an unbearable state that millions of ordinary working people will be thrust into the political arena in the same way that they were earlier in history. When that time comes, there will be massive support for independent class action, both in the streets and at the ballot box.

To follow up on my first reply to Stan Goff, that time is a long way off. I objected to his warnings about the fascist threat because it overprojected the tempo of the class struggle. We are in a preparatory period in which the embryo of a revolutionary socialist movement is being built before our very eyes. If the Greens pass away into oblivion, it will not lead to a catastrophe. The main use of such an electoral initiative is that it can inspire broader sections of the population to begin to move away from business as usual.

If revolutionaries have any purpose in countries like the U.S. today, it is to begin to inspire working people to think in class terms. As long as they see their interests as intertwined with a party whose funding comes mostly from real estate developers, Wall Street investment firms, retail megacorporations and white-shoe law firms, it seems unlikely that class consciousness can develop fully.

Our main danger in the U.S. as revolutionaries is not the hobnailed boot of fascism. It is instead succumbing to the massive pressure exercised by the ideological hegemony of the ruling class. With the vast array of media at their disposal and their unlimited billions, they have enormous power to put their critics at the margin. To stand up to their rule requires as much nerve in some ways as standing up to Stormtroopers in the streets of Germany in the 1920s.

7 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the historical review. But in the anti-Ecclesiastes, it says, “there is nothing NOT new under the sun.”

    I suppose my question is how do we “break the stranglehold of the two-party system has on American society” in the next ten days.

    In my reference to Bill’s speech, I only called for tactical and highly critical support of Democrats for this election. I did not call for it in order to perpetuate that system, but to break up the momentum of the ruling faction that exercises one-party rule at this moment. I also noted that the overwhelming majority of those who are in any oppositonal mood at all are looking to Democrats, and so long as Democrats are sidelined as a three-part minority, they can continue to escape accountability by sitting on the sidelines. This will serve to lengthen, not shorten, the the lifespan of the two-party illusion.

    It is idealism to contend that some tiny electoral party (now… in the US) will raise the flag of socialism to which all will eventually rush, or to suggest that abstentionism will somehow cause the scales to fall from the eyes of a throroughly mystified, spatially and ideologicaly atomized, metropolitan working class, and serve as the eventual basis for class consciousness and solidarity.

    My question remains, what do we do in the next ten days?

    I know the contradictions of the system will eventually cause that system to break down. But right now, American hegemony is — while weakening — still stable. Only the most miniscule minority in the US are willing to risk instability. Most are still articulated inextricably into the system. And using third-party challenges without the requisite base-building on more than ideological affinity or abstract programs is tilting at some very big windmills… ballot access is the least of them. This is no parliamentary system like Germany before the war. It is far harder to crack.

    National-level. third-party electoral symbolism is a strategy predestined for demoralization… the demoralization of all who require (oh gasp!) some reformist remedy right now.

    Cuba’s initiaives at relocalization offer better lessons for today than pre-war Germany; and Hezbollah’s community support efforts have a lot more to teach us about how to do base-building than any Green Party.

    We are NOT in a preparatory period in which the embryo of a revolutionary socialist movement is being built before our very eyes. There is not one shred of evidence to support such a grandiose contention. Built by whom? The Green Party? They are a seed in an exhausted, drought-striken soil; and therefore for any practical purpose, a pebble.

    Elections are an arena where we can make tactical forays, but in marital terms, they are an array of vast conventional power against us, and the worst possible choice as a focus for what resources the left has right now. We need to quit dreaming about the next Lenin and the next Bolshevik revolution, and start rehabilitating that sterile soil.

    Dessalines fought for months alongside his enemies, subjected himself and his troops to them as French mercenaries, spilled the blood of their comrades… in order to stay alive until Dessalines reinforcement came — yellow fever, that decimated the French, and allowed the Haitians to turn and crush the true enemy. That’s the history I’ll review.

    I have had several comradely disagreements with Bill Fletcher, but Bill understands both the South and African America (95% working class) better than anyone who suggests we sumarily detach from the Democratic Party as some kind of trotskyist categorical imperative, when the DP is the sole institutional vehicle for the only Black political power that exists here.

    Down here, we don’t need any reminders from colder climes about the DP leadership, its opportunism, or what class it ultimately serves. Folks down here know that on their skins. But there are times down here, too, when third party windmill wars are exercises of pure white privilege.

    We have been savaged in this region by the Republicans, as a result of their war with Democrats, and through voting rights violaitons and redistricting, that tenous Black political power is now facing the practical equivalent of Jim Crow’s rebirth.

    Perhaps we can be forgiven if we are not willing to sit on our hands while we wait for “these contradictions [to] reach such an unbearable state that millions of [us, and our children] will be thrust into the political arena,” so we can flock to the banner of the Green Party for our salvation.

    When it does become unbearable, I’ll be damned if I’ll follow anyone who let it get that way without a fight every step of the way, and one that was afraid to crawl through the mud when it was necessary.

    Comment by Stan Goff — October 28, 2006 @ 2:34 am

  2. I’m completely unqualified to take on Stan Goff on his intellectual plane. But even from my comparatively ignorant state, I think it is possible to poke holes in his argument. -Doug
    Stan: I suppose my question is how do we “break the stranglehold of the two-party system has on American society” in the next ten days.
    Me: You meant, how do we start to break the stranglehold, right? You don’t seriously believe this can be done in 10 days?
    Stan: In my reference to Bill’s speech, I only called for tactical and highly critical support of Democrats for this election. I did not call for it in order to perpetuate that system, but to break up the momentum of the ruling faction that exercises one-party rule at this moment.
    Me: What motivated you to call for support for the Democrats is not the issue. The issue is what will be the practical effect of supporting the Democrats. Your use of the term “tactical” makes me think you seriously think you can issue a call for supporting the Democrats for 10 days only.
    Stan: I also noted that the overwhelming majority of those who are in any oppositonal mood at all are looking to Democrats, and so long as Democrats are sidelined as a three-part minority, they can continue to escape accountability by sitting on the sidelines. This will serve to lengthen, not shorten, the the lifespan of the two-party illusion.
    Me: The Democrats have not been sitting on the sidelines. You are helping them escape accountability by saying they have been. You are reinforcing this illusion that causes oppositional forces to look to the Democrats.
    Stan: It is idealism to contend that some tiny electoral party (now… in the US) will raise the flag of socialism to which all will eventually rush, or to suggest that abstentionism will somehow cause the scales to fall from the eyes of a throroughly mystified, spatially and ideologicaly atomized, metropolitan working class, and serve as the eventual basis for class consciousness and solidarity.
    Me: You put a lot of churn in your verbaige here. What you seem to be saying is that the Green Party, as currently constructed, is the only possible opposition party capable of emerging in the current period –or are we still talking about the next 10 days.
    Me: Why is supporting the Green Party abstentionism but supporting the Democratic Party is not? Abstentionism from what?
    Stan: My question remains, what do we do in the next ten days?
    Me My question is, what do you do after the next ten days when you are standing there looking stupid for having supported the Democrats?
    Stan: I know the contradictions of the system will eventually cause that system to break down. But right now, American hegemony is — while weakening — still stable. Only the most miniscule minority in the US are willing to risk instability. Most are still articulated inextricably into the system. And using third-party challenges without the requisite base-building on more than ideological affinity or abstract programs is tilting at some very big windmills… ballot access is the least of them. This is no parliamentary system like Germany before the war. It is far harder to crack.
    Me: The base is not being built inside the Democratic party. The Dem party is where the base is demobalized and dismantled, and the system stabilized
    Me: The Democratic Party is going to give us ballot access? Two words: Nader 2004.
    Stan: National-level. third-party electoral symbolism is a strategy predestined for demoralization… the demoralization of all who require (oh gasp!) some reformist remedy right now.
    Me: You didn’t notice any Kerry supporters getting demoralized after 2004? You didn’t notice any Nader supporters resisting the demoralization? The Dems are not going to give us a reformist remedy, especially if we knuckle under to them?
    Stan: Cuba’s initiaives at relocalization offer better lessons for today than pre-war Germany; and Hezbollah’s community support efforts have a lot more to teach us about how to do base-building than any Green Party.
    Me: You seem to be saying that Cuba and Lebanon have something to do with the question of the Democratic Party. Huh? I am getting that you don’t like the Green Party.
    Stan: We are NOT in a preparatory period in which the embryo of a revolutionary socialist movement is being built before our very eyes. There is not one shred of evidence to support such a grandiose contention. Built by whom? The Green Party? They are a seed in an exhausted, drought-striken soil; and therefore for any practical purpose, a pebble.
    Me: The term “embryo” is too grandiose an analogy for you. You prefer something smaller and less active, “a seed. on drought stricken soil”. You are proposing to carry the seed into the presumably fertile womb of the Democratic Party. Please keep us posted on how that works out.
    Stan: Elections are an arena where we can make tactical forays, but in marital [Me: you mean “martial”, right?] terms, they are an array of vast conventional power against us, and the worst possible choice as a focus for what resources the left has right now.
    Me: OK, so it’s a really bad choice but you are only going to do it for 10 days, which somehow magically turns it into a good choice.
    Stan: We need to quit dreaming about the next Lenin and the next Bolshevik revolution, and start rehabilitating that sterile soil.
    Me: My apologies! I now see that you are not expecting to find a fertile womb inside the Democratic Party You are only expecting to find some sterile soil inside the Dem.Party that is somehow better than the sterile soil outside the Dem Party. Your reality is reversed.
    Stan: Dessalines fought for months alongside his enemies, subjected himself and his troops to them as French mercenaries, spilled the blood of their comrades… in order to stay alive until Dessalines reinforcement came — yellow fever, that decimated the French, and allowed the Haitians to turn and crush the true enemy. That’s the history I’ll review.
    Me: You prefer historical comparisons to military as opposed to electoral campaigns. Who’s out of touch?
    Stan: I have had several comradely disagreements with Bill Fletcher, but Bill understands both the South and African America (95% working class) better than anyone who suggests we sumarily detach from the Democratic Party as some kind of trotskyist categorical imperative, when the DP is the sole institutional vehicle for the only Black political power that exists here.
    Me: I think you might be stretching it a bit. What about Malik Rahim? He seems to be having as much effect as anybody, and he’s not in the Democratic Party.
    Stan:: Down here, we don’t need any reminders from colder climes about the DP leadership, its opportunism, or what class it ultimately serves. Folks down here know that on their skins. But there are times down here, too, when third party windmill wars are exercises of pure white privilege.
    Me: Resorting to southern chauvinism is stooping pretty low. OK, the white prvilege argument might be lower. Are you saying political acumen can be measured by skin tone? If so, what makes you so smart?
    Stan: We have been savaged in this region by the Republicans, as a result of their war with Democrats, and through voting rights violations and redistricting, that tenous Black political power is now facing the practical equivalent of Jim Crow’s rebirth.
    Perhaps we can be forgiven if we are not willing to sit on our hands while we wait for “these contradictions [to] reach such an unbearable state that millions of [us, and our children] will be thrust into the political arena,” so we can flock to the banner of the Green Party for our salvation.
    Me: Who said anything about salvation? Where did you get this Green Party fixation anyway?
    Stan: When it does become unbearable, I’ll be damned if I’ll follow anyone who let it get that way without a fight every step of the way, and one that was afraid to crawl through the mud when it was necessary.
    Me: I am sure you will agree that when crawling in the mud you want to be careful not to get it in your mouth. -Doug

    Comment by Doug Nielson — October 28, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  3. It’s my recommendation, Louis, not to listen to a bunch of perennial fuckups like the Trots in TWU (who openly collaborated with Republicans and the IWP/Independence Party cultists against Toussaint) for anything like a rational or materialist analysis of the political affairs of the union. Those folks allowed for the right-wing to make any number of absurd, bullshit claims against the contract (i.e., that a meager 1.5% contribution to healthcare would compound) without uttering a peep — mostly because they suffer from the “After Hitler, Us” delusion.

    Speaking of anti-war demobilization in election years, it’s odd that you bring that line of disagreement with UFPJ, since that was exactly the line of argument put up against the Mobe and SWP back in the day.

    Comment by Some guy — October 28, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

  4. “Speaking of anti-war demobilization in election years, it’s odd that you bring that line of disagreement with UFPJ, since that was exactly the line of argument put up against the Mobe and SWP back in the day.”

    I have never such an argument myself. If this were the case, there never would have been such bitter splits in the antiwar movement between the CPUSA and the SWP. I remember sitting at branch meetings hearing reports from our antiwar “fraction” leaders about the importance of demonstrating during an election year, even if they were smaller. We had to keep the momentum going. I don’t have much use for my SWP experience, but this part of it I always look back fondly upon.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 28, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

  5. It’s not an either- or question, Stan. Third party efforts such as those of the Labor Party make it quite clear to their supporters that if they feel it neccessary to vote for a democrat, go ahead. But the main part of work needs to go into building a base for an independent labor presence in politics. As a labor party supporter, I too often vote for democrats who seem somewhat reliable. Here in Washington State, we have Jim McDermott, who is a relatively safe bet, and I have voted for him on a number of occasions. But the point is the emergence of an independent political force that seeks to speak for labor. It makes no sense to give total support, or commitment, to the democratic party, particularly since its national leadership has already promised it won’t prosecute the current national hup ho for war crimes. What that tells me is that all the rhetoric about ending u.s. involvment in the war is just that. The democrats are still seeking to consolidate their hold on the ruling class military establishment and its more reactionary supporters, otherwise, why let the Bush dynasty take a walk?

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — October 31, 2006 @ 3:26 am

  6. Beyond that, all talk by leading democrats on the war has less to do with withdrawal from Iraq then it does the correct pursuit of the effort. That’s what they mean when they call for a new direction in Iraq. Not an end to the war, not withdrawal, but more efficient pursuit of the effort. Now, if Stan is really suggesting we should vote to help imperialism fight a war that is more palatable to the U.S. public, fine and good. But I ain’t a’gonna help them.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — October 31, 2006 @ 3:31 am

  7. But Michael Hureaux did help them, the imperialists, since he freely admits that in 11/08 he voted for Obama, even after Obama pledged to send another 19,000 troops to Afghanistan.

    Perhaps M. Hureaux surmized, well, as a revolutionary anti-imperialist, if I cast yet another vote for a bourgeois politician who pledges to expand US Imperialism in Afghanistan (while simultaneously reversing his already dubious pledge to withdraw completely from Iraq!) then maybe, just maybe, Afghanistan will live up to its reputation of being “the burial ground of empires.”

    Such is the state of the political morass the left finds itself in the outset of the 21st Century.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 22, 2009 @ 4:38 pm


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