Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 8, 2004

Reply to Eric Mann and Ted Glick on supporting Kerry

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 2:47 pm

posted to www.marxmail.org on September 8, 2004

On http://www.dissidentvoice.org you can find a couple of articles that reflect the bankruptcy of the ABB crowd. One is by Eric Mann, a long-time activist in Los Angeles who basically recycles Dmitrov’s Popular Front ideas and rhetoric on behalf of the warmonger billionaire Kerry. Poor Dmitrov, who was courageous and principled even if wrong on the question of class alliances, must be turning over in his grave. Offering his qualified support for Mann is leading Demogreen Ted Glick.

Mann starts off by echoing Tariq Ali’s claim that the masses of the 3rd world are yearning for a Kerry victory. I really have to wonder how Mann and Tariq Ali are so sure about this. Only this morning, I received a note from a colleague who had just returned from a summer in Turkey. He says, “The disposition of the Turkish and Kurdish left in Turkey towards the US elections, if I have observed correctly during the summer months, can be summarized as pity and frustration. Pity for the US antiwar movement that appears to have been entirely coopted (though I heard a lot of comments that wish the movement could continue to be built if Kerry is elected), frustration for Kerry’s equally disturbing plans for the Middle East.”

For Mann, the need for a “united front” against Bush means that we have to make a temporary alliance with Kerry and Edwards. This terminology requires a bit of elucidation. This kind of alliance between socialists and bourgeois parties was an innovation of Joseph Stalin’s Comintern, but was generally called the “Popular Front”. It was tried and failed in Spain and elsewhere. That being said, at least the Popular Front had the merit of involving roughly equal social forces. The Communist Party and the Socialist Party had millions of workers in their ranks. When they sat down to hammer out a common plan for governing with bourgeois parties, they could extract serious concessions.

By contrast, the left in the USA has neither the social or political weight to play this game. To illustrate: when Medea Benjamin held up a peace banner at the Democratic Party convention, she was given the hook as if she were an amateur performing poorly on the stage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. This is not quite what Dmitrov had in mind. It is more like the kind of relationship that a flea has to an elephant.

Mann proposes that a new organization be set up to spearhead this united front:

“The new anti-imperialist force I am proposing—Progressives and Independents to Defeat Bush (PIDB)—will carry out the struggle against reaction, racism, and imperialism within this broad electoral united front. This tactical plan will rise or fall on the creation of a network of anti-imperialist groups inside the U.S., political organizations independent of the Democratic Party and the trade union bureaucracy, rooted in major oppressed nationality communities—Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and immigrant—in key urban and rural centers, beginning with Los Angeles where a group of us, functioning independent of any other organizational forms are trying to get this experiment off the ground.”

I don’t see why Mann would bother. The Cobb-Lamarche campaign has pretty much the same agenda, but without the overheated rhetoric.

Turning now to the Cobb-Lamarche camp, one must start by saying that Ted Glick still seems blissfully unaware of the lethal impact that ABB is having on his own party. He agrees with Mann that voters should pull the lever for the prowar billionaire Kerry where it might make a difference in defeating the prowar millionaire George W. Bush. But in “safe states”, they can allow themselves the indulgence of voting for Cobb and Lachance–like a recovering alcoholic rewarding himself or herself with an occasional glass of wine. Glick opines:

“At one point Mann says that the only vote that we should encourage, anywhere and everywhere, is a vote for Kerry. I’m in fundamental disagreement here. How is a vote for Kerry by progressives in Texas, or Georgia, or South Carolina, or Massachusetts or New York, all states where either Kerry or Bush will win by a large margin, of any political value at all? In states where past voting history and current polling makes it clear who will win, progressives should vote for David Cobb.”

This sort of “inside and outside the Democratic Party” approach seems like a win-win situation for Glick. Unfortunately, the only party that will win is the Democratic Party, which has already begun to absorb the Green defectors like a vacuum cleaner sucking up dust. In the Boulder Green Party, the ABB outlook has already taken its toll. One can predict by the time that the Cobb-Lamarche campaign has climaxed, the Greens will be able to fit their entire membership into a Starbucks.

Boulder Green Party torn apart by ‘defections’ Chapter languishes in face of ‘anybody-but-Bush’ election push
By Elizabeth Mattern Clark, Camera Staff Writer September 5, 2004

David Axtell turned Green just before the 2000 election.

He voted for Ralph Nader for president.

Now, Axtell is a registered Democrat again and planning to vote for John Kerry in November.

“I’m an anyone-but-Bush supporter,” the 48-year Boulder resident said.

A philosophical difference over whether Greens should vote Democratic in November is at least partly to blame for a split among Greens in the traditional stronghold of Boulder, putting an end to local monthly meetings and leaving the chapter’s Web site inactive.

Another result is that no Green Party member from Boulder County is running for a political office this fall, although Bob Kinsey of Fort Collins is running for Congress in the district that includes Longmont. He is one of six Greens in Colorado running for public office this year, according to the state party.

Some members say they won’t compromise their political views by voting for anyone in whom they don’t believe. But in a “defection,” as state party spokeswoman Sunny Maynard calls it, many left-wing voters have left the Green Party to join Democrats in an “anybody-but-Bush” push to oust the sitting president.

Of 930 residents who were registered as Green Party members in 2000 and still live in Boulder County, 38 percent are now registered with some other party or are unaffiliated, according to recent county voter data. Some say they changed their affiliation simply to vote in the primary election, open only to Republicans and Democrats.

As of Thursday, there were 760 “active” Green Party members in the county, meaning they voted in the last election. That’s down from about 1,200 in the 2000 general election.

“They’re diminishing, or defecting,” said Nancy Wurl, chief deputy county clerk. “We’re noticing it in the registration figures, certainly. But all parties ebb and flow, and the presidential election makes people shift perhaps more than they would otherwise.”

full: http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/dc_election/article/0,1713,BDC_11917_3162676,00.html

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