On Clinton and the Communist Party

Louis R Godena louisgodena at ids.net
Thu Aug 8 15:55:45 MDT 1996

Of all the issues confronting the left in 1996, some on the list have chosen
to emphasize the question of supporting Clinton and the Democrats,  or, more
specifically, whether the Communist Party is correct in doing so. The
question itself is of little practical importance; at the start of this
silly season it appears that the support of the left generally will figure
not at all, other than perhaps as a talisman of Congressional strength at
the grassroots, and in only a few races at that.

But, in a larger sense, the debate within the left,  including the Communist
Party, on what tack to take with the election of sympathetic Democrats, IS
important if only as a benchmark in determining what kind of future the left
is going to enjoy in America at a time when, according to one unflattering
self-assessment, the left, politically,  is at its lowest point in a
century.    Just what should our relationship be to mass organizations (like
unions) and their allies (like the Democrats)?     Many in our Party's
leadership feel with some justification that a second Clinton term would
mean better federal court appointments,  a less belligerent policy toward
Cuba,  less sweeping cuts in Social Security,  a friendlier climate for
labor,  less retrenchment on civil rights, and so on and so forth.    They
point to a Republican Congress untrammeled by a Democratic Executive, and
thus free to bring the country lurching even further to the right.    It is
a tenable position,  and one that has been adopted by the Communist
leadership with very little discussion among the rank and file.    Most of
the leadership is clearly not enthused by this turn of events.    Many in
the rank and file are going along.     Many are not.    I am not.

There are two immediate reasons why I find support for Clinton and the
Democrats--as a whole--objectionable.    First, of course, there is the
class position that no communist of whatever odor must abandon, regardless
of circumstances.    We as Communists stand for the working class, that is
ABC.    We must not be caught out collaborating with forces hostile to the
working class.    This has been the focus of some passion on the list by
Neil C and others who rage furiously together on this issue.    I accept
most of their premises without fastening myself to their conclusions;
Clinton and the Democrats--again, as a whole--are a hostile class force,  a
vehicle for the capitalist bourgeoisie.    They are, for the left,  simply
outside the pale in the current political climate.    No good can come of
having truck with them.    As Communists,  we say "a victory for either
Clinton or Dole will be an unmitigated disaster for working America, for the
poor, for people of color,  for immigrants,  in much the same way that the
capitalist system itself is a permanent disaster for the American people."

I believe that the Communist Party leadership is mistaken from a tactical
perspective as well.    Neo-liberalism is going from strength to strength at
this juncture.    It is proceeding apace together with--indeed, inseparable
from--the dismantling of the welfare state.     Almost no one expects this
trend to reverse itself by 2000 or even 2010.    Most long-range forecasts
are for higher unemployment,  greater homelessness,  higher rates of
illiteracy, more hunger, more poverty.    The situation has far outgrown the
ministrations of this or that pressure group or party seeking to "influence"
or mitigate the worst effects of global capitalism.    If an earlier era saw
the inception of social security,  unemployment insurance,  health care for
the aged, and the beginnings of a welfare system for the poor--due
indirectly to the influence of the October Revolution and the undisguised
terror that event suggested in the bosoms of capitalists everywhere--our age
is witnessing an inexorable trend in the opposite direction.    Can a party
to the "left" of the Democrats,  bravely following in the new climate the
old policies of "amelioration" and compromise, arrayed against  forces far
more powerful than any previously,  expect to win anything of value for the

To ask the question is to answer it

To the Communist Party leadership I say:

Let us take our stated policy of unconditional defense of the working class,
jettison its Democratic Party trappings, and return to our principles as
laid down by William Foster and others, those of building the working class
movement as an independent, revolutionary force, beholden to no bourgeois
politician or interest, and answerable only to the workers we claim to
represent.    That such a movement should be as broad as possible without
compromising basic principles,  welcoming all who sympathise with the goal
of an emancipated working class,  goes without saying.     Let us continue
to build this great movement from shop floor, job site, community center.
Surely this is preferable to continuing down a path that  can only lead,
finally,  to betrayal and defeat.

Louis (G)

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