Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 19, 2013

From my archives on Ray Markey

Filed under: Islamophobia,parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 1:44 am

This guy is a former member of the SWP who just wrote a stupid baiting comment on my long piece on Syria. Ordinarily I don’t pay much attention to Islamophobes but a word or two might be useful. Markey was on the NYC Central Labor Council for years as the President of the Librarian’s Union. At some point he joined the Committees of Correspondence and turned into a typical Ed Schultz Democratic Party pwogwessive labor leader fulminating about how the evil Republicans were destroying the country. Ten years ago, long before I began blogging, I sent him an open letter about his crappy reformist politics. What’s interesting, now that I’ve had a look at it for the first time in years, is how his buddy Carl Davidson had the hots for Colin Powell who was taking the fight to al-Qaeda. Disgusting.

Letter to Ray Markey on stopping Bush

 posted to www.marxmail.org on September 25, 2003

 (Ray Markey is President of the New York Public Library Guild, Local 1930, in New York City)

Dear Ray,

I can’t say that I am totally surprised by your signature on “Bush Can Be Stopped: A Letter to the Left”.


The letter seems to be a project of the Committees of Correspondence, which I joined on your recommendation over a decade ago. I dropped out after attending my one and only convention, where much time and energy was wasted–in my opinion–on how to boost the fortunes of Democratic Party candidates.

Camejo was in the C of C at the time and although I stopped communicating with him after he screwed up my portfolio, I suspect that he switched to the Greens after drawing conclusions similar to my own. I remember when the three of us would discuss the problem of the Democratic Party back in 1981 when we were all involved with the North Star Network and before the C of C had been formed. Memory can play tricks on you, but I think that we said that we could belong to a radical group that endorsed Democrats on a local level and that we did not want to make that a split question. I am much less sanguine about that nowadays after seeing the steady degradation of the Democratic Party. When an NPR interviewer asked Camejo how he felt about the Nader campaign helping Bush to win (www.votecamejo.org/debate_links.php), he replied that the Democrats had ensured their own defeat by failing to challenge the Republican Party. What kind of opposition party stands up to cheer George W. Bush’s State of the Union speeches, he asked quite pointedly.

I think to an extent the furor over George W. Bush reflects a kind of failure to fully appreciate how awful the Clinton administration was. In the latest Village Voice, there’s an article by Richard Goldstein on how progressives like Leslie Cagan (your co-signer) and NOW leader Rita Haley are all “are willing to break bread with the Democratic mainstream”, even going so far as to stop “focusing on Clinton’s perfidy these days”.

C of C leader Carl Davidson, who initiated “Bush Can Be Stopped: A Letter to the Left”, might understandably be in a position to look more fondly on Clinton than on Bush, despite the war on Yugoslavia serving as a model for the current war on Iraq since–after all–Davidson was an outspoken supporter of US goals in the Balkans.

More recently, he has found himself seduced by the war on terror. He called for “all necessary forces–police, civil authority, national guard, intelligence and military, here and abroad” to defeat al-Qaeda and projected a tactical alliance with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has “maintained a ‘narrow the target’ focus on al-Quaida and has worked to build a broad coalition of support.” (www.isreview.org/issues/21/anti_imperialism.shtml)

I must say that the older I get the more adamantly I am opposed to supporting the Democratic Party even in a backhanded “Part of the Way with LBJ” fashion. Perhaps it is my Trotskyist indoctrination. Or perhaps it is an identification with Eugene V. Debs who said that “I’d rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don’t want and get it.” Or Malcolm X who said about the supposed differences between the two major parties: “One is the wolf, the other is a fox. No matter what, they’ll both eat you.”

My hostility to the two-party system was only deepened by research I have done recently on slavery, the civil war and reconstruction–aided in no small part by Camejo’s book on the topic. What I discovered is that the modern two party system really grows out of agreements made in the 1870s to basically run the country as a kind of joint stock company run by the two capitalist parties. Whatever principled differences they had up to and including the Civil War were papered over in the Gilded Age.

In Goldstein’s Voice article, he quotes the Nation Magazine’s Katrina vanden Heuvel who says the left is less obsessed with the Democratic Leadership Council these days because “it has lost its sway on the party.” This is a remarkable statement in light of the Democratic Party’s willingness to vote for war in Iraq, Bush’s tax cuts, prison spending, etc. If, as blackcommentator.com’s Glen Ford put it, the issue is “Anybody but Lieberman”, then I suppose we deserve what we get. Just as Ronald Reagan’s rightwing revolution permanently changed the character of the Republican Party, so had the DLC’s policies changed their opponents. Both, of course, were driven by the same class forces: the need to maximize corporate profits and expand US imperialist hegemony.


  1. I knew that Carl Davidson was an Obama apologist but I didn’t realize he was looking to form a “progressive bloc” with Colin Powell a decade ago. Jesus.

    Comment by GD — June 19, 2013 @ 2:30 am

  2. Poor old Camejo joined the C of C with the honest intent of being a revolutionary voice (who can blame him?) but ultimately got hoodwinked by the weight of the CP reformism it was so thoroughly imbued with that he wound up joining their unanimous cry 1n 1991 for “sanctions” against Iraq in order (they naively imagined) to avert war which instead split the anti-war movement significantly for the worse.

    Turned out they not only got War but their called for “sanctions” to boot which lasted 10 years and, according to the UN’s World Health Orginization, very efficiently snuffed the lives of over 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children & elderly, arguably the most disasterous political line to be embraced by erstwhile progressives in modern memory — so beckoning was its siren call that even Chomsky embraced it.

    The only silver lining is that since then not a single credible progressive has dared uttered the words “let’s give sanctions a chance” because, of course, what’s true today was true back then — sanctions are imperialist war by other means and it would probably have been more humane to just bomb those half million vulnerable Iraqis to death than to let them waste away slowly & miserably through malnutrition & lack of medicine for perfectly preventable disease.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 19, 2013 @ 5:41 am

  3. actually it was a million iraqis killed by the bush/clinton sanctions, about half being children. congratulations, c of c.

    Comment by jp — June 19, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  4. As I recall back in 1991, even Alex Cockburn supported sanctions against Iraq.

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — June 20, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  5. Then Cockburn too must have been embarassed about the terrible political position he embraced insofar as those very sanctions met the UN’s definition of genocide.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 21, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

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