Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 11, 2010

A left establishment member reacts to the open letter

Filed under: antiwar,Obama — louisproyect @ 6:05 pm

John

So I started reading this letter which sounded pretty good and it looked like I signed it, so I read further and discovered that it was to as a member of a group I didn’t know I belonged to called the “Left Establishment.” As I kept reading, it was a vile, toxic diatribe ending with a demand that I, along with the rest of the “Left Establishment”, endorse a demonstration this week in Washington featuring civil disobedience at the White House fence.

To whomever sent the letter, I have to say I’m sorry that I just don’t respond positively to nasty invitations. I hope you can understand. Calm down and tell me who you are before the conspiracy theories mushroom.

Actually, I thought the Dec. 16 action seemed somewhat justifiable in light of current events – the WikiLeaks releases and erupting divisions within the Democratic Party. And I love the people who plan to get arrested. Maybe a big crowd will show up, but not because it was a smart idea to begin with. Mid-December is not the best time to turn out masses of people. But stuff happens, and now many people are boiling.

My personal best to those who are being arrested. They include a former Pentagon official, former CIA agent, a former New York Times reporter, and a mother who lost a son to war and was radicalized as a result. The lesson for me is that people can change from hawks to doves, from spies to whistleblowers, if organizers organize and events reshape their perceptions. That’s the lesson of WikiLeaks, that folk on the inside sometimes come find their situation intolerable and break away from old thinking.

Civil disobedience is a moral expression, and can be a personal healing. Sometimes it ignites a larger movement, or inspires other individuals to step up. We need more of it.

But I also think we need an outside/inside strategy that shifts public opinion more and more against the war. We need to persuade the undecided, not simply to create images of dissent. The peace movement will grow steadily in the months ahead, on its own, but also in its relation to other compelling causes, among them: Wall Street regulation, clean energy/green jobs, and the steady shift towards an unfettered market philosophy over our lives. Civil disobedience can light a flame, but the case for thoroughgoing radical reform must be made on our streets, our workplaces, our religious institutions, and yes, within the Democratic Party – whose overwhelming majority support progressive objectives. Members of the Progressive Democrats of America, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are vital elements of our movement.

I would like every person who signed this letter to read it again, and be kind enough to retract their signatures or explain why.

This is not the time to inflict internal damage on a community which is already weak enough. It’s important to get a grip.

The peace and justice community is a fragile form of social ecology, with diversity being an essential quality. Everyone is entitled to a different approach, but there also is an essential unity that can be achieved, unless a malign force is introduced.

I have been working every day since 2002 to end these wars. I will never stop. I supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and am glad I did so. At the time I also said progressives should disagree with him on Afghanistan, NAFTA, global warming and Wall Street, and I have pursued progressive alternatives every day. I have been so busy on the WikiLeaks crisis since August that I just haven’t had time to drop by the White House and pick up my marching orders.

TOM HAYDEN
Director
Peace and Justice Resource Center

* * * *

Dear Mr. Hayden,

You refer to our letter urging you to strongly support militant protest against the Obama administration as “vile” and “toxic”.

These words are misapplied.

Rather these are adjectives appropriately directed at the policies of the Obama administration, those which we mentioned, and provide documenting links to, along with others which we don’t. (For many of us, the omission the Obama administration’s disgraceful policies with respect to Israel and Palestine was regrettable.)

We note that you do not attempt to defend any of these noting merely that you remain “glad . . . that you supported Barack Obama for President.”

Rather, the main focus of your response is protest directed against Obama’s expansion of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular, the civil disobedience action on Dec. 16 which you refer to as “somewhat justified.”

This action, and other protests to come, are not “somewhat” but absolutely justified on any reasonable moral, practical and political grounds.  They need strong unqualified support, from you and the others who claim to speak for the left,  not the provisional, weak endorsement you provide here.

You then accuse us of undermining the “fragile social ecology” required for growth of the peace movement.

Again, this is a charge which is not appropriately directed at us but at you.

For citizens do not protest only when they feel their protests are “somewhat” justifiable.  They do so when they are aware of the fact of the matter: that protest against this and numerous other Obama administration policies is now, and has been for some time, an urgent necessity.

We hope that you reconsider your continuing failure to come to terms with not only with the catastrophe which is the Obama administration but also for the damage which your insufficiently critical support has inflicted on the only force which has the capacity oppose it:  mass, organized, and militant expressions of popular protest.

We therefore thank you for this response which demonstrates far better than we could why you are a deserving recipient of our letter.

Best Regards,

John Halle

 

38 Comments »

  1. “We therefore thank you for this response which demonstrates far better than we could why you are a deserving recipient of our letter.”

    Huh? His response demonstrates the complete opposite IMHO.

    Read this again :”I supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and am glad I did so” which demonstrates conclusively his craven lesser evil politics.

    Comment by meltr — December 11, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  2. Hayden’s come a long way since the Chicago 8… In the wrong direction.

    Comment by Greg — December 11, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

  3. Oh, really, Tom, just piss off: between your support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 (didn’t want to alienate those Brentwood voters, though I have no doubt the support was also heartfelt), and your crappy cultural autobiography, IRISH ON THE INSIDE (why is it we have to read about your crying every ten pages after this or that maudlin epiphany), you should probably just remember that shutting the fuck up is always a living option. Use it.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — December 11, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  4. Hayden’s strangest line is this: “The peace movement will grow steadily in the months ahead, on its own…”

    On its own. The movement will grow on its own. Interesting. Kind of like a petri dish, and not a social organization, which takes human agency.

    Comment by Michael — December 11, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  5. Hello,

    The good book says faith without deeds is death.

    If you are anti war and take no action then we will indeed get death!

    It is time to act!!

    Love,

    John Kaniecki

    Comment by John Kaniecki — December 11, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

  6. Two things:

    In fact, there was not salutation at the beginning of the letter (Hayden didn’t address me in any way-no “John”, “Dear John”, nothing.) That’s because he clearly thinks I’m much too unimportant for him to deserve mention.

    Also, here’s Louis’s old friend Bill Fletcher chiming in. The guys give intellectual vacuity a bad name.

    Tom: thanks for writing this. Two people sent me the letter yesterday and, because of the way that it was written and because i was in a rush, i assumed that it was something that i had signed.

    What is striking about the letter is that it fails to acknowledge any criticisms that people like you and i and others have offered of the administration, not to mention criticisms offered prior to the election.

    Thanks for composing the letter. I did not know that i was part of a Left Establishment, by the way, whatever that is.

    I do not respond well to games either.

    Bill Fletcher, Jr.

    Comment by John Halle — December 12, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  7. So you want mass mobilizations vs the wars and austerity? Very good. Some of us have been organizing in the streets and elsewhere nonstop since the day Obama was elected and before. Do you want to see more organizing, more action? Good, look in the mirror. Turn yourself into organizers instead of ‘activists’ and get to work. It’s not crowded. If you don’t have a group of your own, organize one. If you don’t want to organize your own, join my two, PDA and CCDS. But in any case, get organized.

    But otherwise this is cafe chatter. It really seems like an effort by the sectarian wing of the Greens, with an assist by Glenn Ford and Paul Street, to drive a wedge between the left on one hand, and it allies the Black Caucus, Congressional Caucus and the labor movement, on the other.

    Moreover, they apparently can’t stand groups like PDA, which has grown to about 75,000 as a result of independent and critical efforts in the elections, but remain clearly antiwar and in the streets. But if you want some third party victories, go out and organize them. Go door to door and talk to people, of all kinds. If you allow yourself to be educated as well, you’ll have better politics for the effort.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 12, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

  8. If you don’t have a group of your own, organize one. If you don’t want to organize your own, join my two, PDA and CCDS.

    For folks not familiar with American politics, the PDA is Progressive Democrats of America. In other words, a key expression of the class collaborationism that we are suffering from here. The CCDS is the Committees of Correspondence for Socialism and Democracy, a Eurocommunist split from the CP that I was a member of for about 5 minutes in the early 80s until I figured out that they retained the CP’s affection for the bourgeois party of war and racism whose history goes back to the monstrous Andrew Jackson, murderer of the Cherokees and outspoken defender of slavery.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 12, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  9. OK, Louis, what groups would you have folks join that meet with your approval? Meanwhile, if folks want to see what my groups are really about, apart from Louis’s caricatures, they can go to http://pdamerica.org, or my local chapter that I work in, http://beavercountyblue.org or http://cc-ds.org or http://ccds-discussion.org or http://tinyurl.com/ccdslinks. But in any case, my point remains: get organized and hit the streets vs war and austerity, in a broad front vs finance capital, neoliberalism and the far right.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 12, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  10. What groups would meet with my approval? Well, most certainly the Green Party where it has not been corrupted by the Demogreens. For example, I was an enthusiastic supporter of Howie Hawkins’s candidacy. I also have a great deal of respect for the various groups springing up now in solidarity with the Palestinians, a people who the Democratic Party–including the liberal wing–generally piss on.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 12, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  11. Watch out, Louis, it’s a slippery slope. I also supported Howie Hawkins. And almost all the Palestinians I know who engaged the election worked for Obama. But I was a member of the Greens in Chicago for a spell, and may support a few around here, if they get it together on a decent platform. So go for it.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 12, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  12. Carl, I don’t care what you do as an individual. My main concern is drawing a clear class line on bourgeois parties. This is what classical Marxism has always been about. Until the popular front, bourgeois parties were never supported by Marxists. Here’s what the founder of our movement said:

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm
    Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 12, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  13. I agree that the working class needs its own independent political instrument. But we both still face the problem of tactics in getting from here to there, ie, how to develop organization that can break up the coalition at the heart of the Democratic party, while building an organization that can involve the mass of working-class voters who still relate to it.

    You have one approach, which hasn’t gotten any traction since US election laws changed in the 1920s. Mine hasn’t done much better. And I think the Greens will have to get rid of some baggage from an earlier day if they want to play a part. My view is that there’s probably several ways that will be needed to skin this rabbit.

    Finally, the usual communist tactics were written in the context of European parliamentary parties, where they had ideological based platforms, lists and a degree of party discipline. The American system is nothing like that; we might make it something like that someday, but that’s not the legalities and constraints we have here, which is the most backward in the industrial world. Whatever approach we come up with is likely to break the mold.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 12, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  14. Backing the DP is not a question of “tactics”. It is a question of principle. Obviously Carl does not think so and no amount of arguments from me will change that, so I will let this drop now.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 12, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  15. Carl,

    While we obviously disagree on this, you strike me as being a smart guy. So given this fact, aren’t you (and Fletcher) even a little bit embarrassed to associate yourself with Hayden’s ridiculous and condescending letter (civil disobedience as “healing”, the “fragile ecosystem” of the peace movement, give me a break).

    Also, I was elected as a Green to the New Haven Board of Alderman by landslide margins twice. Against the active opposition of-or at best complete lack of support from, folks a lot like yourself.

    So please stop with the lectures about “hitting the streets” insofar as the are directed to me personally, OK?

    Comment by John Halle — December 12, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

  16. Louis, I absolutely agree on the principles, but I think you are dealing with Carl in the wrong way.

    1) Carl as least agrees that “Mine hasn’t done much better”, i.e, that the “tactic” of capturing the DP is a failure. THAT’S A SIGNIFICANT CONCESSION, AND AN OPENING. That of course is because Carl doesn’t understand the DP as an organization, rather he think of it as a mere one dimensional electoral “form” to be assumed by any “content”. He further doesn’t see the DP as an organization integral to the capitalist class, as an organic extension of the class power of the capitalists into politics. Consequentially Carl and the PDA is learning this through bitter experience.

    2) Carl said “I agree that the working class needs its own independent political instrument” Another very important concession indicating some sympathy with this aim. But limited by the strategy of collaboration – the old Communist Party USA strategy dating from the 1930s (@Carl!) – he can’t join directly into this project. He is saying “YOU do it.” “You challenge my strategy in practice”.

    OTOH, @ Carl:

    1) PDA’s credentials sound impressive, but are they really willing to move against the Clinton/Obama policy, now exposed as bankrupt (in any progressive sense) and reactionary all along the line? In addition, I haven’t seen PDA much “in the streets”. What’s is the PDA position on Mexican migrant workers?

    2) Is wrong on Marx’s statement to the Communist League, in fact it now applies precisely and uniquely to the US situation, where democratic politics no longer has a basis in a mass of independent small farmers (19th century) or its “new basis” in a highly paid working class (20th century), now rapidly dissolving before our very eyes, while at the same time without that class ever having attained conscious class politics (different from, not the 19th, but the *20th* century European working class).

    This combination of a weak liberal bourgeoisie (in the present US situation actually non-existent)with a working class absent its own *class* organizations – and that includes US trade unions, which though are organizations of workers, are not working *class* organizations, they are “membership” organizations, as any US union official will tell you over and over. The US working class, both in itself and in realtion to the capitalist class, is a 19th century working class.

    This characterization of the present situation is true regardless of the formal differences between the American and European electoral systems – have you noticed that despite the differences, the policy results are the same in Europe? Form is important, but it is not everything. All it means is that a working class electoral strategy is primarily disruptive – make the system not work, destroy the Democratic, and with it, the Republican Parties – and is but the tip of an extra-electorally organized iceberg. This, BTW, recognizes another similarity between early 21st century America and mid-19th century Europe – the highly militarized and quasi-autocratic character of the state.

    But what does one expect in the 21st century from a state founded in the late 18th?

    Comment by Matt Russo — December 12, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

  17. Out of curiosity, I’d like to know where the two lists are kept, one of high principles, the other of lowly tactics, along with who gets to decide what goes on which list? I’ve studied Marxism for decades, read everything in English, including all Lenin’s 44 volumes, even the the collected works of Kim IL Sung (he’s actually not bad; the stuff about him is unreadable), and I’ve never seen such a listing.

    More seriously, I’m well aware of the nature of the Democratic party, including the leadership core of it owned by finance capital. I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to figure out the best strategy and tactics to break it up, and replace it with something better I don’t think its a neutral shell that can be filled with any content. But it does have a major fault line running through it, with workers and the oppressed on one side of it. My current effort is to build an independent ‘party within a party’ on one side of that fault line until it implodes or we get thrown out. It’s also important for us to maintain a working relationship with Greens and others, so that when we have to assemble something new, we have some building blocks to work with. Whether this will work, I’d don’t know for sure; I’ve been in the Citizens party, the Labor party, the Green party, the New Party, the Rainbow coalition, and the ‘no party. into the streets’ option. I know the strengths and weaknesses of all of them, and where all the bodies are buried. I’m having better luck with this one than any, except for the Rainbow Coalition we built around Harold Washington in Chicago. But still nothing to brag about.

    This is THE tough nut to crack for the American left, and I’m one to jump into the fray, working with real live workers as they are. I’m not one to sit in ‘principled’ isolation with a correct position with no followers. As a student of James and Dewey, I like to try things out to see what works. I love philosophy, even took a degree in it long ago, but I think the work of working-class organizer is a much higher calling.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 12, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

  18. I’m finding this a very interesting discussion. Thanks Louis & Carl, etc.

    Comment by ish — December 13, 2010 @ 1:28 am

  19. I haven’t expected much from Tom Hayden in recent years, but I did hope that he would at least stay out of the way of people who are actually trying to confront the mendacity of the Obama administration.

    Silly me.

    Hayden is still proud of his support for Obama in 2008. Not much more to be said.

    Comment by Richard Estes — December 13, 2010 @ 4:46 am

  20. In a new turn to the comedy, John Halle asks others whether it is embarrassing to be associated with Tom Hayden, when the appropriate question to ask anyone who signed this letter is whether they are embarrassed to be associated with John Halle.

    Merely glancing at some of the other signatures begs further questions. If I were Michael Moore or Tom Hayden, and I became the recipient of an attack letter signed by Louis Proyect and Doug Henwood, I would have the feeling that I’d been gummed by a newt.

    Who on the list of signatories really wants their name to be associated with a confused statement that looks like the latest iteration of Louis Proyect’s crank “open letters” to entities like the Columbia University film department?

    I note Noam Chomsky on the list, but he long ago proved that he will put his name to just about anything, and reasonable people long ago stopped taking tactical and strategic direction from him (if they ever did, against his own advice). Chomsky’s strength is in producing prodigious usable material, including books, and in light of that he can be forgiven foibles like this. This is much more than can be said for Doug Henwood, who hasn’t produced a worthwhile book in years, and who appears to be putting into practice the theoretical principles first laid down by Paul Lafargue in “The Right To Be Lazy.” But the real-life Lafargue at least took action against himself — rather than lashing out at others — once it became obvious that he was no longer of use to the movement.

    Tom Hayden probably replied as he did in order to correct the misimpression — borne of Halle’s basic ineptitude with words — that he had actually signed the petulant statement that was addressed to himself. He’s not obligated to reply any further, and I can’t for the life of me understand why a nice old fellow like Carl Davidson is wasting his time engaging with these crackpots. In his more doctrinaire days, Davidson at least got much closer to the point, and more quickly, in assessing the onanistic anti-politics behind this “letter”: http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/critiques/guardian/index.htm

    Comment by FD — December 13, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  21. AN OPEN LETTER TO BARD COLLEGE, JACK BARNES, WOODY ALLEN AND KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL

    This letter is a call to active support of Louis Proyect from Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Fidel Castro, Jean-Luc Godard, Harold Pinter and Evo Morales. Whether or not any of these people actually signed this statement, it is still important to draw a clear class line.

    Bard College, Jack Barnes, Woody Allen and Katrina vanden Heuvel have clearly failed Louis Proyect. From his Catskills boyhood through his stewardship of the Marxism Mailing List, none of these people have seen fit to consult his collected papers online. Whether it be his critique of the SWP “turn to industry”; his harrowing accounts of walking out in the middle of schlocky Hollywood films that don’t meet his tastes; his work with Tecnica in spite of ANC/SWAPO class collaborationism; or his many astute and withering criticisms of the shortcomings of The Nation magazine, Louis Proyect is an international treasure. It is also false and reactionary to describe him as merely a national treasure, since the Marxism Mailing List is international in its scope and significance.

    Also, stop trying to revive the Stalin/Trotsky debates or I will kick you off this list. I mean we. And I mean this letter. Whatever, Democratic Party hacks.

    Comment by FD — December 13, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  22. FD is clearly someone obsessed with me and looking for attention. Too bad for him that I have better things to do with my time than answering a drooling imbecile. I might suggest, however, that he look into a strong psychotropic medicine. Thorazine perhaps.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 13, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  23. carl davidson’s worldview is, disregarding the endlessly garrulous exterior, putrid in its rotting interior. his ‘mastery’ of political ‘strategy’ has led him to declare that he would have supported obama over McCain ‘in a heart beat’ even if obama had pledged to slaughter the people of beaver county, PA, instead of those far away in Afghanistan, etc.: internationalist lesser-evilism at its most brainless.

    ad nauseum,and without a hint of irony, carl davidson brags about PDA achieving membership of 75,000 (by tying its can to obama). let’s see, that’s 75,000 more pledged to support what they claim to oppose.

    except for helping to elect a man who represents the negation of the civil rights movement, that may be carl davidson’s greatest triumph. despite the bluster, he’s far too modest regarding these glorious victories.

    Comment by jp — December 13, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  24. Gee, JP, coming from you, I’ll take these as compliments, even , as you mention, I’m more modest about my achievements that you dub as dubious at best.

    Comment by carldavidson — December 13, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

  25. So Davidson’s read all Lenin’s volumes and even the works of Kim IL Sung but apparently never got around to “Revolution Betrayed” because in his strange partly Maoist & partly Stalinist anti-Trotskyist diatribe linked above by FD he correctly quotes Trotsky as saying:

    “The dictatorship of the proletariat, which will inescapably place on the order of the day not only democratic but also socialist tasks, will at the same time provide a mighty impulse to the international socialist revolution. Only the victory of the proletariat in the West will shield Russia from bourgeois restoration and secure for her the possibility of bringing the socialist construction to its conclusion.”

    Sure enough the Bolshevik Revolution did provide Revolutionary impetus in the West, albeit not enough for a proletarian takeover, and sure enough the bourgeois restoration in Russia is now complete.

    Seems to me that predictive success is the hallmark of scientific thinking, whereas repeating failed attempts to build a progressive party “within” the Democratic Party is the definition of insanity, particularly since they’re the party responsible for prosecutiong virtually every major war over the last 100 years.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 13, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  26. whereas repeating failed attempts to build a progressive party “within” the Democratic Party is the definition of insanity

    Karl isn’t that rather a shaky argument given the history of the organized American left in at least the last seventy years?

    Comment by ish — December 13, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  27. Another ‘just so’ Trotsky story. You’ll have to do better than that, KF. For every one of those, we can find a bunch that didn’t come true. In any case, if we want to argue that way, Bukharin had the better of both Stalin and Trotsky, especially if you look at Deng as neo-Bukharinist.

    But to the main point: If you want to organize workers for independent politics, you don’t get very far if you don’t start among the most progressive-minded of them, who largely self-identify as Democratic voters. The task is to work with them in building base organizations they control, while asserting their interests and demands. Either PDA or the Greens could fit the bill, depending on your situation. My practice on the matter is spelled out on http://beavercountyblue.org Now let’s see yours.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 13, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  28. Marx taught that a nation that can never be free if it’s responsible for exploiting & emiserating other nations. Imperialist war is diametrically opposed to the objective interests of the workers & oppressed everywhere. Foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. Thus the anti-worker foreign policy of Obama & the Democratic Party reflects his anti-worker domestic policy. (The unemployment extension bundled into a reactionary tax scheme was merely riot insurance for the bosses, bankers, landords & militarists who’ve been looting the treasury for 30 years).

    You cannot build progressive political parties “within” a party that’s actively prosecuting two imperialist wars simultaneously. It couldn’t be done during the Vietnam era, when there was copious radicalism, and it cannot be done today. Not in 70 years or even 700 years has democracy ever prevented war.

    That’s why I’d rather work in coalition with people like Ramsey Clark. As former Attorney General under another democratic administration prosecuting another democratic imperialist war he knows better than anybody the futility of stopping war as a progressive trying to build something “within” the D.P.

    So we’ll put our internationalist work up with your local ward heeling as being as important as anybody’s as we’re busy organizing diverse movements, both local and across borders for the coming struggle, rather than shoring up what’s left of the left wing of the Obama administration: http://www.iacenter.org/actions/rc120510/

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 14, 2010 @ 1:07 am

  29. KF, PDA is an independent PAC; it’s not part of Dem structure, finances or discipline, even though we operate among working class people who self-identify as Democrats in their orbit. We make our own platform, which includes ‘Out Now’ from the wars as well as several working-class economic demands. We pick local Dem candidates, usually from the trade unions to back who are in tune with our platform, and ignore or oppose the others. Our materials reflect our views, not those of the national party.

    This may sound odd in a European context, but its allowed in a US context. Its why the GOP has a Tea Party operating inside and outside of its right wing. The Tea Party is a ‘party within a party’ on the right.

    There’s no real ‘inside’ to the Democrats. It’s not like a trade union were you become a member and follow a little discipline. It’s a cluster of grassroots organizations, lawyers and media consultants, trade unions, churches and small business groupings, gangsters and whatever. It also varies from place to place. At the top, its structures are controlled by big capitalists.

    My guess is that if we grow large enough, it will cause a crisis; or vice versa, if there’s a deeper crisis, we will grow larger. Most likely both. The party can implode, or try to purge us, or the big money will force a split.

    That’s fine. When that happens, we can take large numbers with us, and hook up with others ‘outside,’ so to speak. But we’re not there yet, meaning most of the workers are not ready to take that step. Some will never take it, but we’re not so concerned about them. But we are with the most progressive-minded and most active.

    If anyone has a better scenario, fine. Spell it out. Better yet, work on it and show us the results. There’s probably more than one way to get to where we want to be, but right now, I’m working on this one, and getting decent results.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 14, 2010 @ 1:30 am

  30. No, ISH, I respect your opinions more often than not but don’t think it’s a “shakey” argument insofar as I don’t see the New Deal as anything but “temporary riot insurance” that was bought at the expense of workers selling their soul, so to speak, to the Democrats who managed not only to lead them into the slaughter of WWII, Korea & Vietnam while simultaneously purging the labor movement & its culture of revolutionaries through Mccarthyism & labor aristocracy collaboration that’s wound up in the virtual demise of unionism in America.

    Yes the Left of the 30’s was revolutionary & dynamic and their self-sacrifice we owe homage to but it was only their leadership’s (thank’s in no small part to the Stalinist C.P.) tail-ending of the wretched D.P. that contained it from breaking through to its true revolutionary potential and for that we should be bitterly dissapointed.

    The Democratic Party facilitated the ruling class agenda thereafter WWII against the workers at every step by undermining, like class enemies, virtually all of their previous gains, starting domestically with Taft-Hartley, which in 1948 corresponded not coincidentally with the resumption of the Cold War against the Soviets, leading up to today, where the working class has been virtually murdered by a thousand cuts, 90% of those cuts made possible only by the relentlessly reactionary activity of D.P., historically the party of War, Slavery, Treachery & Betrayal, the party that first unleashed the fascism of police riots at their own convention, techniques of devastation & destruction toward resistance to power honed during innumerable strikes broken violently in the past from as far as Steinbeck’s West to Deb’s East.

    The Democratic Party USA is dominated by an indominable & undeniable history of countless war crimes, perverted deception and monstrous lies on some of the grandest scales in human history, genocide against Black & Indians in particular & Brown people in general, sabotage & police frame ups of labor unions and their leaders, and unbridled militarism at the expense of working class aspirations of peace & prosperity.

    The fact is when Davidson, whom on a pesonal level I genuinely respect as a grisled old soldier, speaks of the fault line in the D.P., he omits the bigger fault line of at least 80 million who WON’T vote, those so disenfranchised that even in the reptilian portion of their brain stems instinctively know that democracy never prevented a single war, that this 2 party kleptocracy bickers ultimately only over how to best fuck over poor & working people who they view as “peasants”, and why should they give them a vote of confidence?

    Instead of worrying about saving that ever disillusioned coalition of 75,000 progressive dems Davidson ought to be worrying about those 80 million who WON’T vote. The myth is that they’re so lumpen and apathetic the just don’t vote but the reality is they WON’T vote, and for all the right reasons, because they sense that the 2 party facade of democracy in America represents the rule of one class, the ruling class, the class of bosses, bankers, landlords & cops that make their lives miserable by taxing their labor to conduct perpetual wars on the other side of the globe for alleged crimes that don’t withstand scrutiny.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 14, 2010 @ 2:20 am

  31. KF, you’re way off on non-voters. Every study ever done of them, shows that they span the entire political spectrum, left to right, Dem, Indy and GOP, and are skewered to the left only slightly, about five points at most. You Trotskyists would do well to dump this dreamy notion that there’s a revolutionary-minded mass of workers. at least a large minority, that are straining at the leash to revolt, if only some corrupt layer of leaders stopped holding them back. Goodness, I wish it were true. My life would be so much easier and more exciting. I may set to see it someday, but today, it’s NOT.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — December 14, 2010 @ 2:57 am

  32. We have no such dream, Carl, but that skewering to the left you mention is inexorable as the objective conditions of the workers worsens and their previous alternative hope, the Democrats, mirrors the policies of the last 2 Bush terms.

    Hard to imagine how humiliating it must be to work “within” the war party that elected Obama, especially after 2 years of odiousness that winds up with $150 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% while never uttering a word about reigning in the biggest Pentagon spending spree in history.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 14, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  33. Not humiliating at all if the platform of your local PDA group is ‘Out Now!’, Healthcare Not Warfare, HR 676, Green Jobs for All, EFCA and Debt Relief for Students and homeowners. We are on the streets with it every week, and make a point of contrasting it with the top DLC leadership. That way, it draws the better progressive-minded workers to us. Those we campaign FOR share most or all of this; and in some cases, like Obama, we simply stress he’s a lesser evil vs McCain-Palin, and you’ll have to push hard to get anything under him nonetheless. Some, like Blue Dogs to the right of Obama, we don’t support in any way.

    Comment by carldavidson — December 14, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

  34. Is anybody there going to Washington on 12/16/10?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 14, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  35. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well.

    The revolutionary spirit is definitely out there!! Everybody realizes they are getting screwed by the government and that our leaders have sold their souls to the devil.

    The major problem is those who want change do not now how to proceed and some lack vision of where they want to go. Poor people don’t want to remain in neighborhoods where cops act like a police state, violence and drugs infest the schools and neighborhoods, opportunity is denied, services are second rate, (ever shop in a grocery store in a poor neighborhood, the food is of terrible quality)and perhaps most importantly the feeling that nobody cares about them. These people want and deserve better.

    There is another group of better off individuals. These people want their flat screen televisions, their houses with yards, vacations and so forth. They care not what the United States does and what evils it perpetrates in imperialistic oppression. These people are willfully ignorant and have no desire to seek Truth. All these selfish people are concerned with is that they got theirs. These are the morons who say “Let’s nuke the whole middle east and make it a parking lot, or bomb them back to the stone age.” From these statements, I have heard made, the hatred of these people are manifest and sickening. Yet soon these people also will likewise be crushed in the economic oppression as the elite seeks to devour and control all.

    The upcoming cataclysm will shake the world off it’s foundations. From the ashes a new society will rise. At that juncture we must install a permanent solution. Certainly the elimination of all capitalistic states is essential. Capitalism is a system which not only allows greed to run rampant but encourages such selfish pursuits. In Earth’s New Dynasty or the E.N.D. we cannot tolerat capitalism nor it’s uglier and more hideous brother imperialism.

    Love,

    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — December 14, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  36. As much as I disagree with Carl Davidson’s posts, I find most of them interesting because the questions he raises, even the ones he raises rhetorically and, in my opinion, answers wrongly, are some of the most essential questions facing marxism. For lack of time, I’ll just raise a point about one of Carl D.’s assertions: that Trotskyists say, (I’m paraphrasing), that there are significant sections of the workers ready to revolt and only a corrupt leadership holds them back. (Well, I think “Trotskyist” is to reductive a term but I don’t mind being labelled a Trotskyist). I wonder how any marxists can look at the recent movements in France and Greece and say the question of the dialectic between the movement and its leadership was not the most crucial process to consider in trying to figure out why the movements, hopefully temporarily, died down? And as to Trotskyists ascribing to a “corrupt leadership” formula… I think reading Trotsky and many other Trotskyist inspired studies of revolutionary movements and you’d find that corruption of leaders is not at all the central problem but instead the description of a whole process leading up the lack of revolutionary vision, tactics, methodology etc… i.e. applying dialectical materialism to the role of individuals, parties, movements to try and understand why they act the way they do within concrete historical contexts. One small example, what process during what historical time would create a Bernie Sanders and the trajectory he’s followed, has more to do with the lack of any sort of indep. politics/workers party, the lack of a mass movement since the late 60’s, the weakness of the unions, relative de-industrialization, etc… than the personal corruptions of being a U.S. senator or prior offices he held. [more later, maybe]. — Jeff B., for the moment, hijacking Tina’s account.

    Comment by tinar25 — December 16, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  37. LOL LOL LOL

    Comment by Dominictom — February 6, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  38. […] the anti-war movement went to sleep with the election of Obama (with some in the anti-war camp seemingly unhappy about the prospect of reviving protest), a great deal of anti-war sentiment exists in the country.  If this demand were aligned with the […]

    Pingback by For a New Left Bloc | Left Eye On Books — February 21, 2011 @ 1:54 am


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