Peace & Freedom Party

Tom Condit tomcondit at
Wed Mar 8 11:41:53 MST 1995

Will Brown asks whether the Peace & Freedom Party is similar to
the group he works with in Bristol.  The answer is ... yes and
no, mostly no.

P&F's particular (some would say "peculiar") characteristics
derive largely from the fact that it is a ballot-qualified party
in California.  To qualify for permanent ballot status in
California, a party has to either (a) register voters equal to 1%
of the vote for governor in the election last past or (b) obtain
signatures on petitions from 10% of that number.  We achieved
this status in 1968 by registering 106,000 voters into our party
in the last six months of 1967. (We needed 66,000.)  We currently
have 67,000 registrants.  Being on the ballot means that our
affairs are somewhat regulated by the state, and our party
central committees are elected by registrants in the primary
elections every two years.  Since ballot access is so difficult,
almost every group or individual viewpoint interested in
independent socialist politics is perforce represented within the
Peace & Freedom Party (except those who are "fishing" in the
Green Party), including the Communist Party, its "eurocommunist"
split-off the Committees of Correspondence, the Socialist Party,
several Trotskyist groups, anarchists (U.S. anarchists aren't
necessarily very consistent), members of Democratic Socialist of
America, and former members of several now-defunct left groups,
as well as independents (the majority).  WE also have a number of
Greens who find the Green Party itself too difficult to work
with.  Many of these groups are divided internally on the
question of their relation to P&F, so their members tend to work
more as independents than as disciplined party members, although
they will sometimes fall into line at unexpected moments.  This
makes us sort of a cross between a united front and a zoo.

Because of this, and the fact that meetings on a statewide basis
are difficult to hold very frequently, our internal work focusses
less on "discussion" and more on "action"--probably one of the
reasons we haven't blown apart.  Because our registration and
primaries are open, we have periodic internal battles involving
real or perceived takeover bids, but the very process makes it
hard for any such attempts to succeed.

We put out a quarterly (soon to be bi-monthly) newspaper called
_The Partisan_, which is available electronically on the igc.apc
conference called gen.newsletter and also through a left bulletin
board in Oakland, California (and parts of which have been
reproduced on PNEWS).  The piece I posted for comment is in use
as a leaflet in Los Angeles, and is being considered for
statewide use.

There are groups similar to the Bristol one in both Los Angeles
(the Progressive Unity Council) and the San Francisco Bay Area
(unnamed), but both tend to be weighted much more toward the
reformist end of the scale than the Bristol Marxist Forum, which
is partly a function of the historic weakness of class politics
in the U.S.  I'd personally like to see something like the latter

Tom Condit

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