Bernie Sanders Info Wanted
XTROT666 at aol.com
XTROT666 at aol.com
Fri Mar 3 11:47:04 MST 1995
>Does this mean we wait for lefty labor leaders, fuzzy populists, and sexy
Hollywood actors (read Winpisinger, Jackson and Asner) to organize a
national labor party? If you feel like waiting for the millenium, go right
The sad, pathetic, undesireable fact is that a third party in the US will
inevitably contain people like Winpisinger, Jackson and Asner, AND the great
proletarian activists in Milwaukee.
(prolonged tumultuous applause)
And whatever I may think of Sanders (and its not much), he would be the
perfect guy to run on a social democratic ticket in the US.
>Given the particularity of hegemony in the United States, left discourse can
be ridiculed and marginalized until we prove that our project has meaning to
a significant sector of the population. And the only way to prove that is
to win elections. <
What you're describing is basically a social democratic enterprise (and I
won't criticize it on that basis. At this late date none of us have the
perfect strategy). So why all the talk of activists (that sacred cow of the
left), and of a mass-based labor party? Given the particular hegemony of the
US, the desire to break (or really, shake up) the two-party system is a noble
one. Wouldn't this mythical party have to contain the aforementioned celebs,
the exalted activists and the workers?
Could such a party make some gains for workers? Could it widen political
discourse? Provide a base for more radical activists and workers (perhaps
even in opposition to the party leadership)?
I haven't the slightest idea.
But a strictly LABOR party (or FEMINIST or GREEEN) party making
significant electoral gains in the US of A is not just naive, its downright
silly. We are in a position to ask for NADA and to demand even less. I'm not
saying we should sneer at strikes (wildcat or otherwise) or other struggles.
We should support them. But I think a more sobor assessment of this hegemony
and the forces unorganized to oppose it are in order.
Again, if you want to win some elections you have to form a social
democratic party, hold conventions, get your constituant groups together,
raise some cash, put out a program to the left of the Dems (the easiest
part), and join that twisted process of selling out your supporters. I am not
suggesting that this, if successful, would necessarilly be a bad thing. You
can burrow yourself in the left wing of such a party and DO THE RIGHT THING.
If that's your thing.
>Right now, in the United States, people are engaged in the dirty work of
day-to-day organizing, establishing an electoral base on which they can
build, and developing their agenda as they go along. <
I was one of these people (practically full time) for ten years and you
make it sound a lot more noble and selfless than it really is. Since I
graduated from highschool in 1980 (the year reality set in) there have been
about 1001 attempts at turning what you describe in Milwaukee into a
mass-based labor party, all of which cannot even claim the miniscule
successes of the Canadian NDP (which I agree is a disaster).
In fact, about 50 percent of what the activist does is to glorify the
activist (or the group), to show off his program or his zeal for the
struggle. The percentage moves drastically upwards as we move onto the
There is little evidence that the workers are ready to throw off their
shackles (even long enough to support a LABOR party) and any attempt to form
a third party should keep that key fact in mind. You will have to compete in
the arena provided by the ruling class if you want to play the game of
The question of whether or not a third party is desirable (or a reasonable
use of time and resources) is one thing. The nature of, and possibilities
for, such a party is quite another.
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