Discussion:
Obama is not a Wimp
(too old to reply)
michael perelman
2010-01-26 17:22:07 UTC
Permalink
Barack Obama gave the appearance of meekly appealing for bipartisanship,
only to get kicked in his private parts. Yet, look how courageously he
is willing to take on the liberals and his party. Along with Larry
Summers and Rahm Emanuel, he can really kick butt. Locale he has taken
on the teachers union by ramping up Bush's No Child Left Behind. Watch
him cut back entitlements for those people without enough initiative to
run their own hedge funds.

He may down to the Israelis, but look how decisive he is in Afghanistan,
willing to fight an unwinnable war. Not even Joe Lieberman can top him.

And what about his decisive actions against the fat cats? He didn't
kick them when they were down. A would not real hero to behave that
way. No, he gave them billions of dollars, but now he's decided to take
them on, by creating regulations so tough that the fat cats will have to
spend thousands of dollars to figure out how to circumvent them.

Barack Obama, change you can believe in.
--
Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Chico, CA 95929
530-898-5321
fax 530-898-5901
www.michaelperelman.wordpress.com
Marv Gandall
2010-01-26 20:52:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by michael perelman
Barack Obama gave the appearance of meekly appealing for bipartisanship,
only to get kicked in his private parts. Yet, look how courageously he
is willing to take on the liberals and his party. Along with Larry
Summers and Rahm Emanuel, he can really kick butt...
Barack Obama, change you can believe in.
=============================
Judging by the widespread disillusionment and anger on the liberal left, it seems to me that the political conditions, if not the organization, already exist for the emergence of a small mass party to the left of the DP, moreso than when a largely middle class movement formed around than the Nader campaign in 2004. Alas, the same process inside the Republican party which could lead to the emergence of a small fourth party to it's right seems to be even more advanced. Economic discontent led to a hemmoraging of support from the two major parties in Canada during the 30's - the CCF, forerunner of today's NDP, emerging to the left of the Liberals and the Social Credit party forming to the right of the Conservatives. I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar development(s) in the US leading up to the 2012 election.

Rather than simply echoing liberals and independents in fulminating against the Obama administration, I'd be more interested in knowing whether my American friends share my opinion, and, if so, their thoughts about how they can help organize the growing dissatisfaction with both parties so that it doesn't primarily flow to the right or dissipate and disappear as cynicism about the administration and political action deepens.
Louis Proyect
2010-01-26 21:09:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marv Gandall
Rather than simply echoing liberals and independents in
fulminating against the Obama administration, I'd be more
interested in knowing whether my American friends share my
opinion, and, if so, their thoughts about how they can help
organize the growing dissatisfaction with both parties so that
it doesn't primarily flow to the right or dissipate and
disappear as cynicism about the administration and political
action deepens.
I not only fully believe that such a development is possible, but
that it is crucial for the left to rise to the occasion. As I said
the other day, an open letter signed by some high-profile Obama
supporters inviting people to a convention in the Midwest to
launch a new progressive party would be a huge step forward. I
hope all the ISO lurkers, all 57 of you, are paying close
attention to this.
Mark Lause
2010-01-26 21:53:19 UTC
Permalink
The main problem is how to do this without setting up just another rival
organizaiton to the GPUS, the SPUSA, the PFP, the Reconstructionists, the
WWP, the PSL, the SLP, the SWP, and the Communist Vegetarian Party, etc.,,
etc., etc.

A new party should be nonexclusive but based on the idea of promoting the
largest possible effort that can be principally supported. It must also
take care to be a genuinely representative body.

As soon as there's an endorsers list and a URL for this project, please pass
it on.

ML

PS: Happy birthday to the Moderator.
Thomas Bias
2010-01-26 22:03:28 UTC
Permalink
I have been sounding people out about the idea of a united socialist
ticket in 2012, with Cindy Sheehan as the candidate. She is open to
the idea (I talked to her first). No one in the central leadership of
any organization has expressed much interest, however, though there
have been individuals who would support it. How do people on this
list feel about it? And, yes, I know that sometimes Cindy talks
before thinking?

Tom
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The main problem is how to do this without setting up just another rival
organizaiton to the GPUS, the SPUSA, the PFP, the
Reconstructionists, the
WWP, the PSL, the SLP, the SWP, and the Communist Vegetarian Party, etc.,,
etc., etc.
A new party should be nonexclusive but based on the idea of
promoting the
largest possible effort that can be principally supported. It must also
take care to be a genuinely representative body.
Louis Proyect
2010-01-26 23:04:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thomas Bias
I have been sounding people out about the idea of a united socialist
ticket in 2012, with Cindy Sheehan as the candidate. She is open to
the idea (I talked to her first). No one in the central leadership of
any organization has expressed much interest, however, though there
have been individuals who would support it. How do people on this
list feel about it? And, yes, I know that sometimes Cindy talks
before thinking?
A united socialist ticket is a very, very, very, very bad idea. We need
something much more like the Greens before they got subverted by Medea
Benjamin and company.
Mark Lause
2010-01-26 23:28:08 UTC
Permalink
I agree. The "s" word creates an artificial obstacle for people who would
otherwise vote for our ideas.

On the Demogreens and all, any interest from opportunists is to be welcomed
because it's an indication that we're strong enough to attract their
attention. The problem is not letting them structure a new formation in
such a way as to monopolist the power entire. This is what happened in the
GPUS.

As inclusive as we can...as broad as we can...without contravening the
elementary principles.

ML
S. Artesian
2010-01-27 01:15:53 UTC
Permalink
I don't think it's a bad idea at all. For 60 years, the word "socialism"
has been abandoned to either foaming attacks by the right, or the outright
stupidity of the left.

What was Clinton said in 92 vs. Bush? "It's the economy, stupid"? Right,
it's the capitalist economy. That's the issue. Who controls the means of
production, whether production is for need, and what the quality of those
needs is, or for profit.. Why would we shrink from stating clearly what
needs to be done to resolve those issues?

I am not arguing for a simple, and simple-minded ideological "positions,"
but rather a concrete activity that makes transitions, and makes the
transitions, that will pose the struggle as a struggle for power over the
social organization of labor and production.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: "David Schanoes" <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 6:04 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Obama is not a Wimp
Mark Lause
2010-01-27 01:31:56 UTC
Permalink
Look, we understand what the "proletariat," the "bourgeois," and a
"communist" is in the Marxist lexicon. If the terms create an obstacle for
understanding the basic concept, they're inessential. The point is to build
the biggest battering ram we can to use at the two-party structure and do it
some damage.

There's no reason, of course, why we can't educate about Marxism within a
broader movement.

ML
Thomas Bias
2010-01-27 02:06:58 UTC
Permalink
Cindy Sheehan has become a conscious socialist and has a new and fresh
socialist message. I don't believe she would consider a presidential
campaign if she were not to run as a socialist, nor would I recommend it.

Cindy would be an energetic, well-spoken candidate. Her explanation of
socialism would not be in the least bit academic, but would speak directly
to every bill-paying worker who's pissed off about how things are going. Her
credentials as a leader in the struggle for peace cannot be called into
question. And she is uncompromisingly opposed to Obama.

That doesn't mean that such a campaign can be organized successfully.
Sheehan has a lot of friends and supporters, but at this time they are not
organized in any coherent fashion. The support of the organized socialist
groups would be a great advantage.

Louis has registered his opinion against such a campaign. Duly noted, and
thank you, Louis. Frankly, my opinion is that a united socialist campaign
would depend on a candidate with as much to bring to the table as Cindy
Sheehan, if not Sheehan herself. A strong and energetic candidate, able to
communicate clearly and forthrightly, with credentials earned in the
struggle, would go a long way toward overcoming any problems with the "s"
word. Without such a candidate, such a campaign would be worthy of support,
but would not accomplish very much.

If such a campaign is going to happen, we have to begin planning now. And
those, like Louis, who think it's a crummy idea should do the best they can
to talk us out of it. I promise I'll listen, and I won't be afraid to change
my mind.

Tom

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces+biastg=embarqmail.com at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces+biastg=embarqmail.com at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf
Of Mark Lause
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 8:32 PM
To: Thomas Bias
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Obama is not a Wimp

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Look, we understand what the "proletariat," the "bourgeois," and a
"communist" is in the Marxist lexicon. If the terms create an obstacle for
understanding the basic concept, they're inessential. The point is to build
the biggest battering ram we can to use at the two-party structure and do it
some damage.

There's no reason, of course, why we can't educate about Marxism within a
broader movement.

ML
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Louis Proyect
2010-01-27 02:15:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thomas Bias
That doesn't mean that such a campaign can be organized successfully.
Sheehan has a lot of friends and supporters, but at this time they are not
organized in any coherent fashion. The support of the organized socialist
groups would be a great advantage.
By running a campaign with a socialist message and organized by
socialist groups and individuals, you are basically running a propaganda
campaign of the sort that Fred Halstead or Peter Camejo ran. There's
nothing wrong with that sort of thing, but I think that the goal should
be to destroy the fucking Democratic Party--drive a stake through its
heart, so to speak. For that you need something much more like the
campaigns that Henry Wallace and Ralph Nader ran, plus the
infrastructure to keep the momentum going in local races which would be
run with the goal of actually winning office.
S. Artesian
2010-01-27 02:52:04 UTC
Permalink
Look, why should socialism create an obstace for understanding the basic,
and essential concept, since socialism is itself the basic concept? The
biggest battering ram is not just a question of size, of mass, but of
energy-- the dynamic.

Sure, size matters, but it's what you do with what you got that makes the
difference. If we're reluctant to use the word socialism because it-- what?
turns some people off? makes others think of Gulags?-- then exactly what are
we going to talk about? Freedom of speech? Bridge repairs? More money for
schools?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Lause" <markalause at gmail.com>
Mark Lause
2010-01-27 03:46:09 UTC
Permalink
I'm utterly shocked that anyone sees using the "s" word as being so much
more important than encouraging mass class politics. We ran our first
independent socialist campaign in 1892 and somebody's been doing it in every
election since. It can be useful educational work, but it isn't going to be
any more than that right now.

Second, there will be no united socialist ticket. None. Not if Louis
agreed that it was a great idea. Not if I did. Not if everyone here said
it was a great idea. I talked noisily about in 2008 and in 2004, and it
brought down nothing but scorn from the various socialist organizations
(with very few exceptions, notably the ISO). The SPUS views itself as the
heirs of Debs and won't dissolve its club into some coalition. The high
orfices of the SWP (the few left) will twitch in outrage at the Pabloite
suggestion of such a liquidation. The SLP will run if only out of habit to
say what it's always said. I can't imagine WWP or PSL dissolving into a
united coalition in 2012, since they simply scorned the idea of doing so.
In the end, what you're suggesting is yet another in a list of clubs.

Third, there's nothing that such a ticket can do to promote socialism
effectively that can't be done just as well from within a broader coalition.

Finally, it's not up to us what words are obstacles to our message. If
we're thinking about getting it out on as large a scale as possible, we can
work around it.

ML
Dan Russell
2010-01-26 22:49:51 UTC
Permalink
I am not sure how closely any of my ISO comrades watch Marxmail, but I think
I can speak for all of us in assuring that we are not only watching but
helping to build the foundations for such a formation.

Personally...I was too young and politically unaware to have a feeling for
what the Green-Nader atmosphere in 2000 felt like, but I can't imagine that
the environment was more favorable to such a formation than the current one.
The biggest challenge, other than actually expecting any "high-profile Obama
supporters" to break with the Democrats AND dedicate themselves to building
an alternative, would be making sure that alternative was much more firmly
rooted in social movements and unions, seeing elections (which it would
probably play a *gasp* spoiler role in) as part of a larger strategy for
social change. From my perspective this - not the "Demogreen"
fifth-columnists - was the biggest problem with the Green Party in aftermath
of 2000.

Dan
Waistline2
2010-01-26 21:54:34 UTC
Permalink
In a message dated 1/26/2010 1:00:56 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
marvgandall at videotron.ca writes:

Rather than simply echoing liberals and independents in fulminating
against the Obama administration, I'd be more interested in knowing whether my
American friends share my opinion, and, if so, their thoughts about how they
can help organize the growing dissatisfaction with both parties so that it
doesn't primarily flow to the right or dissipate and disappear as cynicism
about the administration and political action deepens.


Comment

Building the Labor Party locally where possible is one option. I remain
skeptical of old style third party formations, although conditions have
changed qualitatively for a working class party. Such a party would engage the
electoral arena up to and including fighting to win office. Such a party
would support and field communists and non-communist candidates. Those Marxist
of a boycottist temperament, feeling there is something ungodly and immoral
about communists winning public office, are in an excellent position to
work amongst the majority of the working class which does not vote in the
first place.

In Detroit we are grappling with some new forms of organization and
struggle of a non-electoral character. It would be interesting to hear how the
boycottist approach their work and face the spontaneous drift of the worker to
the right.

WL.
Waistline2
2010-01-27 02:16:38 UTC
Permalink
In a message dated 1/26/2010 1:00:56 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
marvgandall at videotron.ca writes:

I'd be more interested in knowing whether my American friends share my
opinion, and, if so, their thoughts about how they can help organize the
growing dissatisfaction with both parties so that it doesn't primarily flow to
the right or dissipate and disappear as cynicism about the administration and
political action deepens.


Comment

You raise an excellent issue I have never heard discussed outside the
communists I have always chosen to associate with. Why do workers flow to the
right? We first experienced this flow during the cyclical crisis of the
1970's and by the early 1990's understood we were dealing with a hidden law of
the social process, we were powerless to halt. Thus, we had to learn how to
accommodate it and adjust our activity accordingly, for those comrades
experiencing the affect of this law.

Below is taken from an article written for a different audience.

II.

"Sections of our working class spontaneously assert themselves as class,
but pushing in different directions. As proletariat the working class is
uniform, colorless and without gender. As working class the proletariat is
split on the basis of competition for wages and wage differentials, gender and
any other difference that can be used by capital. Wage differentials may
express themselves through the color factor, religion, gender and language,
although not exclusively or primarily.

The changing form of the working class movement is an intimate aspect of
the dialectic of the evolutionary leap. Fighting on the old basis of the
trade union movement and ?at the point of production? as a strategy - line of
march, is a losing proposition. The spontaneous tendency of the of the
working class is to drift to the right, as it is detached from production and
face lower wages. Sam Webb sees this motion and demand that everyone fight
the ?far right? or ?ultra right,? as the strategic approach to capturing
and winning the vanguard of the proletariat to the cause of self
emancipation or communism.

The spontaneous drift to the right is a law of motion under capitalism
cannot be destroyed of render inoperable. The impulse to recover, recreate
and/or restore the old social contract by demanding of government and
corporations ?my good paying jobs,? marks the initial awakening of the proletariat
and the stirring of its social consciousness.

?Give me back my job and stability boss. We need to bring back our jobs
from China and create good paying green jobs.? Here is the right wing drift
in real time.

***


I. Capital detached from surplus value production writes the international
political agenda for capital backed by the aggressive military might of
America. Growing sections of the world proletariat live hand to mouth outside
capitals historic social contract. The economic basis of the social
contract of capital is selling and buying and buying and selling of labor ability
(power) as the driving force behind circulation of commodities. ?You work
for me and I will pay you and society will grow and prosper is capital?s
social contract.?

Further concessions and reform to the economic basis of the social
contract, like social security and unemployment insurance, arose during a previous
boundary of capital and served to deepen the market and hold the worker
and their skills in local markets during short period of crisis.

There are no new markets to conquer.

Under capitalism ?the market? is not a specific area where buying and
selling takes place, but all the society transactions where exchange of labor
for money for commodities; and investment of money for more money drives
economic activity. What holds the market together is the economic basis of
the social contract. The state - police and military organizations, enforce
the legal system holding the politics of the social contract in place. Along
comes a revolution in the productive forces that disrupts the productive
relations driving layer after layer of workers out of active production,
while reducing wages across the board. Step by step and stage by stage capital
renders the wage form of labor, ?work for me and I will pay you wages,?
superfluous to commodity production, under new conditions of the post
industrial revolution. The social contract begins its revolutionary collapse.

This defines a revolutionary period.



WL.
Eli Stephens
2010-01-27 04:15:46 UTC
Permalink
Mark L. writes:

"Second, there will be no united socialist ticket...The SPUS..won't dissolve its club into some coalition. ... I can't imagine WWP or PSL dissolving into a united coalition in 2012, since they simply scorned the idea of doing so."

I'm not a member of any of these groups, and if I were I wouldn't be speaking for them, but I'm at a complete loss to understand why Mark thinks that multiple socialist parties running on a united ticket involves the individual groups "dissolving" themselves. Running a united campaign involves...running a united campaign, and not necessarily anything more.

As far as that "scorning," Mark might be interested to read this letter from the PSL to the Freedom Socialist Party, who endorsed the PSL candidate Frances Villar in the recent NYC mayoral election:

http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=13285


Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com


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S. Artesian
2010-01-27 05:01:13 UTC
Permalink
Have to agree with Eli here-- nobody's asking anybody to dissolve.

Is the real fear that if WWP or PSL or FSP all endorse a candidate, that
unified act will so alienate, frighten, etc. etc. the-- what? those
disappointed in Obama? -- that they won't vote for that candidate?

As if voting is the issue?

First off, aren't we supposed to name the system? I think somebody wrote
something about that-- so if we name the system of problems capitalism, why
can't we name its resolution?

We all want to break the two party system. What do both parties represent?
Capitalism. The class of capitalists. What should a 3rd party represent?
"Participatory democracy"? "Effective regulation"? "Mixed economy"?

Why would anyone work to build an explicitly non-socialist party in this
century-- when after 35 years of sustained assaults on workers and por, the
capitalists have run up, from the inside, the walls of the cage of their own
making?






----- Original Message -----
From: "Eli Stephens" <elishastephens at hotmail.com>
To: "David Schanoes" <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 11:15 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Obama is not a Wimp
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Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
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"Second, there will be no united socialist ticket...The SPUS..won't
dissolve its club into some coalition. ... I can't imagine WWP or PSL
dissolving into a united coalition in 2012, since they simply scorned the
idea of doing so."
I'm not a member of any of these groups, and if I were I wouldn't be
speaking for them, but I'm at a complete loss to understand why Mark
thinks that multiple socialist parties running on a united ticket involves
the individual groups "dissolving" themselves. Running a united campaign
involves...running a united campaign, and not necessarily anything more.
As far as that "scorning," Mark might be interested to read this letter
from the PSL to the Freedom Socialist Party, who endorsed the PSL
http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=13285
Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com
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Mark Lause
2010-01-27 05:38:19 UTC
Permalink
The subject here was--and remains--whether or not these groups will agree to
participate in a united socialist presidential campaign.

Based on past experience, I doubt they could even imagine overcoming their
clubbiness...

You guys are certainly free to say and think that they will.

But until you bring back agreements from these groups to participated in
such a thing campaign or something else concrete, a united socialist
campaign is simply an illusion.

We have to make the best of the circumstances with which we're confronted.

ML
S. Artesian
2010-01-27 15:42:45 UTC
Permalink
Perhaps I misunderstood Tom's suggestion. Is the idea that all existing
left parties agree on a common "slate"? That all existing left parties
agree on a "united front" political party? Or that a slate be adopted with
avowedly socialist candidates as a method for building a new party?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Lause" <markalause at gmail.com>
Marv Gandall
2010-01-27 05:56:05 UTC
Permalink
...an open letter signed by some high-profile Obama
supporters inviting people to a convention in the Midwest to
launch a new progressive party would be a huge step forward.
It would be. If a third party of any significance to the left of the Democrats were to emerge during this period it would necessarily be left-liberal, intitiated and composed mainly but not exclusively of activists drawn from the "netroots", trade unions, and social movements who threw themselves into the Obama campaign and are feeling his "betrayal" most keenly. They would not readily respond to a call issued from the outside by groups or individuals whom they perceive both as marginal and to have stood apart from and criticized their efforts to reform the party from the inside - even should they now concur with the criticism.
A united socialist ticket is a very, very, very, very bad idea. We need
something much more like the Greens before they got subverted by Medea
Benjamin and company.
Here you are apt to be disappointed. While there will always be those wanting to sharply differentiate the new party from the DP in order to displace it, the majority at this stage would likely view it as still to weak to do so and would seek instead to pressure the Democrats from the outside into enacting the kind of domestic and foreign policy reforms they are now wanting the administration to deliver. Unlike the members on this list, their contempt for Geithner, Summers, Emanuel and the DLC does not extend to the liberal wing of the DP, with which it still identifies and would first look to for alliances, including with it's high-profile congressional, media, and social movement leaders.

The Greens as well as the social democrats have always had a left and a right. The only way to avoid confronting the Medea Benjamins is to abstain from the organizations to which they belong. It's also worth reminding ourselves that while the far left has historically played an outsized role in social and political struggles and political education, the fate of mass organizations ultimately depends less on ideological confrontation, however necessary, than on the capacity of capitalism to recover from the crises which afflict it.
Mark Lause
2010-01-27 06:31:42 UTC
Permalink
As Peter Camejo used to say, if we parse ourselves down only to people who
agree with us, we will have successfully captured only ourselves.

Among the lessons I've learned from making a very deep study of third party
movements in US history is that, to be successful, a third party movement in
a two-party system has to have three general current. These are:

1) those who see political independence as a principle;

2) those who see it as a means to an end, particularly influencing and doing
deals with one or another of the major parties; and

3) those who keep the third party movement together by striving to keep it
broad enough to include both currents.

Put another way, if a movement's big enough to be important, there will be
people entering into it to try to negotiate deals and be power brokers.
There should be. These people have their place and their presence is
inseparable from the party's successes. Said yet another way, if you don't
have the sharks swimming around it's probably because you don't have enough
for them to prey upon.

The problem with the GPUS was that the counterculturalists and less
political folks just gave the control of the party to those would-be power
brokers.

ML
Waistline2
2010-01-27 15:14:15 UTC
Permalink
In a message dated 1/26/2010 9:38:38 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
markalause at gmail.com writes:

But until you bring back agreements from these groups to participated in
such a thing campaign or something else concrete, a united socialist
campaign is simply an illusion.

We have to make the best of the circumstances with which we're confronted.

ML

Comment

I am not sure if the existing sectarian groups will survive the unfolding
social process, other than as a name of a tiny sect. Anyone that seeks to
run for office and conduct a campaign riveted to ideological pronouncements
waste the time of the actual voters, their campaign staff and foot
soldiers, especially if one does not come out of the event with a larger
organization and funds. Elections are a big thing for those who vote and as a
process, evolve - run, based on a law system of events. The first and most
important law is that elections are based on those who vote.

Those who vote can be grouped together based on economic strata. Every
single city in America has a voter corridor. One can go to the City Clerk and
get the data on who votes where and what precincts lodge the heaviest votes.
To win you must win the corridor or bring new forces into play, through
voter registration and get out the vote campaigns.

The poorest and most destitute of the proletarian masses tend not to vote
compared with the most economically stable sections of the working class.
Therefore, unless you are conducting a campaign to protest, your message has
to be tailored to the more economically stable voters and issues dear to
the heart of both strata. For instance in the Detroit election last year
property taxes was important to the majority of those who voted, but of no
importance to the majority of the city?s proletariat, who rent and are not
property holders. Water bills was more important to the poor, who do not vote,
but not as important to the more economically stable who vote. Thus, your
campaign literature will be tailored to the actual voters and might consists
of various kinds of literature for different audiences. Then your
communist press would be deployed different from your campaign literature.

If your objective is not to win then one need not wait for an election to
carry on ones business. One can use the excitement of an election to
distribute propaganda. We most certainly are not required to even mention the word
socialism in campaign literature if it does not serve the purpose of
winning. We - "my crew," of course speak of socially necessary means of life as
a birth right to be wrestled and won from government. In the last period
we splashed the hammer and sickle on literature and huge posters, but that
was how we did our thang, which is not mandatory. This was in the context of
running within the Democratic Party, before the laws prohibiting third
party's in Michigan was overturned.

We do advocate for public property in print, hardly ever using the word
communism. Actually, we hardly ever use the word democracy, liberty, republic
or libertarian. "Freedom," "Wage slave" and "equality" are pretty popular,
but one must know their audience.

II. Various sectarian groups could block behind a candidate or slate under
certain conditions, without diluting their ?ideological purity.? We have
worked before in unison with the SWP in Detroit/Michigan around issues
blocking third parties from attaining ballot status. Nether group was required
to dilute its sectarian message or orientation but found it in their mutual
self interest to work to overturn the law preventing third party ballot
status. No where in any of our literature did we campaign for the SWP
candidate for governor but it was understood by everyone the SWP candidate was
better than the bourgeois candidate.

Likewise, during the presidential election the group I identify with did
not endorse Obama and publicly endorse ?no candidate.? I voted for Obama
though, as did everyone in my family and everyone I know. Afterall, the
equality struggle is the only school of the proletariat as it passes through its
development.

WL.
Mark Lause
2010-01-27 15:45:47 UTC
Permalink
Whether the existing groups survive or not (it takes almost nothing but
habit to "survive"), we're agreed that they're mostly likely to be rendered
irrelevant by developments. As far as that goes, I would doubt the political
health of any small organization that did not hope for events that would
render them irrelevant and require transformations.

On the historical point, the Republicans displaced and absorbed the Whig
party in some states, notably New York, and bits of both parties elsewhere.
However, they were independent parties where it started in the Midwest, and
had to demonstrate some strength before they could absorb formerly Whig (and
Democratic) politicians. This is a likely scenario today for any third
party movement. Many will see it as a natural continuation of what they
perceive as the liberal and progressive tradition of the Democratic Party.
A successful third party movement will certainly pick up a Kucinich here or
there, as we have McKinney. This will be a good thing.

My point, though, is that radicals, particularly Marxists, should not not
shun alliances, so long as they're on a solid, principled footing--that is,
independent of the capitalist parties.

ML
farmelantj
2010-01-27 15:53:34 UTC
Permalink
If such a movement is serious about
creating a new viable electoral party,
it's going to confront the fact that
the current electoral system is structurally
rigged against third parties. The very
fact that US elections are generally
conducted on a winner-take-all basis
militates against third parties, since
most voters perceive voting for third
party candidates (as opposed to voting
for the lesser of the two major evils)
as throwing away their vote (BTW Engels
noted this aspect of the US electoral system
more than a century ago). Then there is
the fact that in most states, electoral
laws are quite consciously rigged against
smaller parties, making it very difficult
for them to gain ballot status, and often
making it difficult for them to maintain
ballot status, even after it has been
acquired.

Jim F.
http://independent.academia.edu/JimFarmelant

---------- Original Message ----------
From: Mark Lause <markalause at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Obama is not a Wimp
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 10:45:47 -0500


Whether the existing groups survive or not (it takes almost nothing but
habit to "survive"), we're agreed that they're mostly likely to be rendered
irrelevant by developments. As far as that goes, I would doubt the political
health of any small organization that did not hope for events that would
render them irrelevant and require transformations.

On the historical point, the Republicans displaced and absorbed the Whig
party in some states, notably New York, and bits of both parties elsewhere.
However, they were independent parties where it started in the Midwest, and
had to demonstrate some strength before they could absorb formerly Whig (and
Democratic) politicians. This is a likely scenario today for any third
party movement. Many will see it as a natural continuation of what they
perceive as the liberal and progressive tradition of the Democratic Party.
A successful third party movement will certainly pick up a Kucinich here or
there, as we have McKinney. This will be a good thing.

My point, though, is that radicals, particularly Marxists, should not not
shun alliances, so long as they're on a solid, principled footing--that is,
independent of the capitalist parties.

ML


____________________________________________________________
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Mark Lause
2010-01-27 16:00:17 UTC
Permalink
Yes, it is difficult and what they've put on the books is stacked against
us.

Marxism in the US will remain an academic exercise unless we are willing to
take this on and find a way to win successes despite this.

I'm confident that there are good enough minds in places like this list to
where we can figure out a way to best do this.

ML
Waistline2
2010-01-27 16:33:41 UTC
Permalink
In a message dated 1/27/2010 7:46:16 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
markalause at gmail.com writes:

My point, though, is that radicals, particularly Marxists, should not not
shun alliances, so long as they're on a solid, principled footing--that is,
independent of the capitalist parties.

ML

Reply

Agreed. Those screaming for independence of the workers without a precise
description of their meaning and what they are talking about are not helpful
at this stage of the social process.

Further, at this stage of the social process, the proletariat cannot
express itself organizationally independent of capital, because those sections
of the proletariat in external collision with capital and the state are
decidedly outside the electoral process, and perhaps a decade away from
perfecting any kind of organization. I hope I am wrong and such organizations
began formation yesterday. We are on the right path.

We are at the front of a new development and transition in the form of the
working class movement.
And we are traveling a path that must be hewed out as we go. There is a
material spontaneous movement generating the impulse for a class party. In
Detroit and Ohio this process is material.

Let's back up a bit.

In 1996 when the Labor Party was formed it was a pretty good idea to speak
of basing it on the trade unions as a practical solution to the question of
growth and development. 14 years later - 2010, it seems the activity was
premature, but not wrong. 14 years later the trade union moment has further
decayed and is leaping - in transition. I have not the slightest clue as to
what will constitute phases, other than the abstraction about boundaries
and junctures. Let me try and make this as concrete as possible.

II.

There has always existed layers of the proletariat with a disconnect with
commodity production. Today's disconnect is different.

Retried workers are a case in point. We want to look at the retired workers
as part of the new proletariat formed in the wake of the technological
revolution, or what is the same the emerging new form of proletarian movement.

For instance the UAW has roughly 90,000 working members in the automotive
industry, in contradistinction to perhaps 800,000 plus retired workers, with
huge sections of these workers in Ohio and Michigan. These workers tend to
vote. Retired workers are outside the ?point of production? or the
process of bourgeoisie commodity production or production of surplus value. These
numbers express the new form and features of the working class movement in
real time. External collision of classes is not a clever conception
formulated to intellectually impress ones neighbor. Rather, we are fighting for
our life and I am told by a narrow section of these workers, "for life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I'm like "damn, I hope this does not mean I have to stand and say the
pledge of allegiance in our meetings because that is out of the question" At
least where I live.

The attempt is to try and describe what is in front of us without thick
ideology.

These retired workers are stirring into motion around the issue of health
care. Our premiums have jumped since VEBA was enacted 27 days ago. We lost
dental and eye coverage in 2008. Non company coverage of dental and eye care
has jumped at least 50% since July 2008. Another reason the government did
not allow Chrysler and GM to collapse is that pension obligations would
have collapsed the federal government retirement fund after 60 days, even
with 60% payments. There is a small core of retired workers between the age of
49 and 59, which is a new thing in American history. I am 57 and have been
retired since 2001 or since age 49. All of this is new to our history.

Now, these retired workers pay $2 a month in union dues, a minuscule
amount, yielding $1.6 million a month or over $19 million a year to a trade
union organization. I have been told that there are over 800,000 of us but
these figures are closely guarded.

90,000 active workers paying 2 hours a month in dues, say $50, = $4,500,000
or $54 million a year. Whose voice must inevitably dominant the working
class movement and trade unions as a new form of struggle? 90,000 or 800,000?

Retired workers have the economic basis for a radically different kind of
organization and the legacy of collectivity to carry out the task of
building such an organization.

We are outside the conflict between employer and employee. We are not about
to march on the company, which is bankrupt. Because some of us are former
union representatives we are deeply aware that Federal law does not require
the company - any company, to negotiate with retired workers or groups of
workers the company does not employ. The impulse is to leap outside of
the trade union form because there is no other path of struggle available. We
face a new form of struggle.

Here is the concrete motion and logic driving the need for a class party
rather than a third party grafted onto the two party system. I understand it
is not popular amongst Marxists to follow the utterances of a Newt Gingrich
but what is one to do where he calls for a struggle against the right wing
and advocates the possible formation of a Third party?

There is only one thing we can do. Dig into our own history using Marx
method rather than utterance of ideology.

Seems to me a concerted effort is needed to describe what we face as social
and economic reality, and not surrender to old concepts of a class
struggle that never existed in America in the first place. The wage struggle is
not the class struggle. The wage struggle is a reform movement seeking a
greater slice of the pie of exploitation or a greater share of the social
product. As such it is part of the equality movement or the fight of the workers
for equality of wages based on skill, trade, industry and classification.

Exciting times lie ahead.

Let us march on til victory is won/one.

WL.
Eli Stephens
2010-01-27 16:40:13 UTC
Permalink
Marv:

"If a third party of any significance to the left of the
Democrats were to emerge during this period it would necessarily be
left-liberal, intitiated and composed mainly but not exclusively of
activists drawn from the "netroots", trade unions, and social movements
who threw themselves into the Obama campaign and are feeling his
"betrayal" most keenly."

I agree and disagree.

If you follow Daily Kos, or read Norman Solomon, you'll know that the main portion, including the leadership, of such groups are committed to a different strategy, namely, "primarying" the most rightwing Democrats and replacing them with "progressive" Democrats (but to continue voting for the rightwing Democrat if the primary challenge fails). The chances of such groups (POSSIBLY not including a handful of trade unions, if one were being VERY optimistic) adopting a third-party strategy are slim (nil in the short term).

I do agree with the "drawn from" portion of that statement - a new third party, aside from people who didn't vote for Obama in the first place, would certainly "draw from" a portion of the groups described; the challenge is to make that portion larger and larger.


Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com


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Eli Stephens
2010-01-27 16:51:17 UTC
Permalink
I meant to add that among the liberals who are disillusioned with Obama, and who MIGHT be amenable to participating in a new party, both Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan are seen as "kooks", and Ralph Nader is, if anything, even more persona non grata since he singlehandedly (in their minds) is responsible for the defeat of Al Gore and as a result responsible for the war in Iraq, Guantanamo, and countless other things.

All this tells you something about the likelihood of involving such people in a new formation.



Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com


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Bill O'Connor
2010-01-27 17:13:08 UTC
Permalink
======================================================================
Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
======================================================================
I meant to add that among the liberals who are disillusioned with
Obama, and who MIGHT be amenable to participating in a new party, both
Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan are seen as "kooks", and Ralph
Nader is, if anything, even more persona non grata since he
singlehandedly (in their minds) is responsible for the defeat of Al
Gore and as a result responsible for the war in Iraq, Guantanamo, and
countless other things.
All this tells you something about the likelihood of involving such
people in a new formation.
These Bomber Libs that cry about Nader single-handedly causing the
Iraq war cheer the escalation in Afghanistan.

Who'd want them?
--
In Solidarity,
Billy O'Connor
Louis Proyect
2010-01-27 20:14:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli Stephens
I meant to add that among the liberals who are disillusioned
with Obama, and who MIGHT be amenable to participating in a new
party, both Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan are seen as
"kooks", and Ralph Nader is, if anything, even more persona non
grata since he singlehandedly (in their minds) is responsible
for the defeat of Al Gore and as a result responsible for the
war in Iraq, Guantanamo, and countless other things.
This guy would make a great candidate but I am not holding out any
hope:

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, remember, we were being led for eight
years by a president who barely was a C-minus student. OK, so when
you have stupid people in charge, sixty sounds like a majority of
a hundred. ?Yeah, I think that?s what we need, is sixty.? And they
just?they somehow were able to convince the American people that
sixty is fifty.

I think, all kidding aside, that this is another example of
the Democrats are essentially a bunch of wimps. They don?t have
the guts. They don?t have the courage of their own convictions.
They?re disgusting. I?m embarrassed. I want really nothing to do
with them. And if they don?t find their spine, well, they?re in
for a huge surprise in November.

full:
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/26/michael_moore_on_haiti_the_supreme
Eli Stephens
2010-01-27 17:25:05 UTC
Permalink
Billy O'C: "These Bomber Libs that cry about Nader single-handedly causing the Iraq war cheer the escalation in Afghanistan. Who'd want them?"

Be careful with generalizations. Some certainly do. Others (take Norman Solomon as a good example) most certainly don't.



Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com


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brad bauerly
2010-01-27 20:00:57 UTC
Permalink
For what it is worth I find myself in agreement with Tom on where a third
party would need to start- that is that its goal would be to create a pole
to pull dissatisfied DP progressives and left activists towards, not to be a
big broad progressive coalition attempting to suddenly take it all. The
main objection to his position I have is with Cindy Sheehan as the main
candidate. Like Eli, I think most people would look at her as kind of
damaged or from a prior moment of the struggle (and a particular one). Same
goes for Nader. But this is rather premature and any party that begins
with a candidate and then builds a party around that person is starting
backwards.

As for the requirement of it being a socialist party, I find myself in
agreement with S.Artesian. Why not a socialist party? Why not grab the
label they threw on O and claim what a real socialist party would do would
be all those things you hoped he would do but couldn't/didn't. Do we really
want the support of people who are offended by that word? That is a serious
question. There are socialist parties all over the world that have taken
power without it ending up as a gulag.

Brad
Thomas Bias
2010-01-27 20:15:52 UTC
Permalink
Click on the following hyperlink to get an idea of Cindy Sheehan's
message. I like it. She has been working hard at building the antiwar
movement and is leading a new coalition called Peace of the Action.
She's also been on speaking tour to promote her book "Myth
America" (intro is in the link below). I don't think she appears
damaged or from a prior moment of the struggle at all. She attended
and spoke at the National Assembly conference last summer and, as I
mentioned, spoke at the "Black is Back" demonstration in Washington
in November.

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/2009/03/intro-to-myth-
america-by-cindy-sheehan.html

Tom
======================================================================
Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
======================================================================
The
main objection to his position I have is with Cindy Sheehan as the main
candidate. Like Eli, I think most people would look at her as kind of
damaged or from a prior moment of the struggle (and a particular one).
sobuadhaigh
2010-01-27 20:07:52 UTC
Permalink
I don't think S. has captured the issue, because
the actual American political conditions differs
from that in Britain in every major particular.
Except that there is near universal dissatisfaction
among the revolutionary left in Britain as to:

1) their limited impact as individual groups

and

2)the need mount an electoral challenge independent of
New Labour

Sound familiar?

Creating an electoral challenge to the ruling class in
America will not be easy and the choices are starkly
before us. Forgive me if I enumerate them again:

A) A new populist party rallying the liberal disgust
with the Obama administration into an ongoing effort
to strip away some of the hitherto core constituencies
of the DP.

Think of this as the ?driving the stake ? option as
championedby Louis. This will not be a socialist party
nor will it have a socialist platform. Mazzochi?s attempt
to craft a Labor party was the latest incarnation of this
approach although I believe that noble attempt is moribund.

B)A United Front campaign for 2012 involving whatever
existing left groups sign on as an expression that
individual organizational identities don?t have to be
dissolved in order to achieve programmatic unity.

For all those organizations praising the idea of
?regroupment? and ?refoundation? this would be the
chance to actually take the first steps toward a
(more) united revolutionary left.

C)Launch an aggressive presidential bid for 2012
(along with other races) to contest the DP vote from
a dynamic new socialist coalition along the lines of the
Anti-capitalist party in France or Die Link in Germany.

We will call this the ?leap of faith? option based
on the premise that the very idea has the ability
to recruit and energize a critical mass of militants
to make this a credible first strike against the
three branches of the US Government, i.e money, TV, and bullshit.

All of these approaches have their promise and
limitations. Were the AFL, and/or Solidarity
(the union federation) along with the NAACP and
other civil rights organizations to take part in that
call for a Midwest conference than the populist
rebellion would rise again and the two party system as
we have known it would be over. If only one of these
organizations were to sign to that call to arms then
you would be able to smell the fear all the way from
the DNC. As it is the best you can hope for now is
that some prominent liberals will yell ?J'accuse?
and enough socialists and communists will show up
to actually begin local organizing work.

As to the United Front, I am afraid the negotiations
will make the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks look
easy by comparison. I would foresee bitter protracted
struggle over doctrinal points and suspicion over turf
issues like money and staff appointments even if everyone
went in already committed to a candidate.

The ?leap of faith? has the advantage of a dramatic
break with the past and the momentum of a new presence
with a commitment to life after 2012. The hurdle here
is that to claim the big mo you would new at least
several groups dissolving themselves into this new
entity at the onset as well as a charismatic standard
bearer with at least some name recognition. Even if
Cindy Sheehan could express herself in a more disciplined
and coherent way there is still the problem of dramatically
launching the organization in time to begin the campaign.

Pick one.
Marv Gandall
2010-01-27 21:06:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli Stephens
"If a third party of any significance to the left of the
Democrats were to emerge during this period it would necessarily be
left-liberal, intitiated and composed mainly but not exclusively of
activists drawn from the "netroots", trade unions, and social movements
who threw themselves into the Obama campaign and are feeling his
"betrayal" most keenly."
I agree and disagree.
If you follow Daily Kos, or read Norman Solomon, you'll know that the main portion, including the leadership, of such groups are committed to a different strategy, namely, "primarying" the most rightwing Democrats and replacing them with "progressive" Democrats (but to continue voting for the rightwing Democrat if the primary challenge fails). The chances of such groups (POSSIBLY not including a handful of trade unions, if one were being VERY optimistic) adopting a third-party strategy are slim (nil in the short term).
I do agree with the "drawn from" portion of that statement - a new third party, aside from people who didn't vote for Obama in the first place, would certainly "draw from" a portion of the groups described; the challenge is to make that portion larger and larger.
================================
1. I doubt that a third party which doesn't issue organically out a struggle within the Democratic party can be "of any significance", ie. become an alternative pole of attraction capable of making the kind of further inroads into the Democratic base which you describe. The Nader campaign in 2000 which regrouped many activists from outside the DP represented this kind of of independent effort and sent hopes soaring on this list and other parts of the US far left. But it didn't result in a third party, much less an enduring one with modest roots in the unions and the other constituencies which still stubbornly look to the DP to fight for new reforms and defend existing ones.

2. I concur that the chances of such a third party development "are slim" and "nil in the short term", though I can't recall this much dissatisfaction within the Democratic Party since the Vietnam War. Michael Moore is reportedly the latest to register his "disgust" with the party and to declare that he now wants "really nothing to do with them". The Vietnam-era revolt did not, however, progress beyond the McCarthy primary challenge to the leadership. So you're quite right that the latest one will also most likely lead to similar primary efforts aimed at replacing leadership favourites with "progressive" candidates. This is how the process begins, and I suggested earlier that if it ever were to progress to a split, a new party would initially see itself (as did the GPUS) as a ginger group pressuring the Democrats from the left to implement reforms and seeking electoral alliances with it. Weak oppositions have been characteristic of all parties in stable liberal democracies which have been supported by the unions and allied social movements, and we can expect this historical state of affairs to persist for so long as capitalism continues to display the unexpected resilience it has demonstrated in the century and half since the Communist Manifesto.
Michael Perelman
2010-01-27 21:18:49 UTC
Permalink
I am surprised this thread morphed into a question about a political party.
Before a political party can launch successfully, it probably needs a
strong movement.

You can field a party based on a personality (e.g. Nader), but without an
organizational structure, it will fade away -- like Jessie Jackson's
earlier efforts.

You or I could create a party as easily as we could declare ourselves to be
the vanguard of a revolution, but aren't such gestures empty without a
coherent message that resonates with a large strata and a track record of
successfully organizing for something that people identify with.
--
Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
michaelperelman.wordpress.com
Louis Proyect
2010-01-27 21:22:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Perelman
You or I could create a party as easily as we could declare ourselves to be
the vanguard of a revolution, but aren't such gestures empty without a
coherent message that resonates with a large strata and a track record of
successfully organizing for something that people identify with.
Reminds me of the old story of the guy who said he planned to
become an entrepreneur as soon as he was able to put together a
million dollars.
Mark Lause
2010-01-27 22:07:01 UTC
Permalink
Point taken. However, we can't pick where the movement starts and around
which issues. It seems reasonable to expect that it might well start around
the failures of the political process to represent them. Stranger things
have happened.

ML

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