On Clinton and the Communist Party

Jeffrey Booth booth2 at husc.harvard.edu
Fri Aug 9 07:37:50 MDT 1996

A few questions and comments interspersed below... .

On Thu, 8 Aug 1996, Louis R Godena wrote:

[snipped the opening paragraph]
> 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)?

	Interesting to see that you seem to be implying here that the
Dems. are *not* a mass organization.  I agree.  But I would further argue
that the Dems. are *not* and are not even *seen* as an ally to the Labor
movement by the majority of rank and file union members and even a
significant minority of union leaders (see the LP).

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,

	I don't think it's tenable given the changed mood of working
people in this country toward the two party system.  Also, there are so
many examples of the Dems., especially at the state level, attacking all
of the above liberal positons (and more) either rhetorically or with
legislation.  After the welfare debacle, y'all are still talking lesser

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.

	I would argue that your leadership is pragmatist in its method,
not marxist.  It didn't take a crystal ball to forsee the most likely
development of the Clinton administration.  It just took somewhat of a
materialist analysis:  where the economy was going, what the Dem.s have
done historically and what Clinton did in Arkansas for a start.

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.

	Which trend?  Neo-liberalism or capitalist crisis?  Get ready for
a few "New Deal" type crumbs being on offer as the economy worsens and
the movement heats up.  A close example is the current Keynsian policies
of the Japanese bourgeois (which hasn't done shit for the economy there).
Your party will, unfortunately, jump back on the liberal bandwagon at even
the tiniest hint of a return to "traditional" liberal policies.

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
> workers?
> 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,

	What others?  From the mid-30's on:  class collaboration on the
political front from the CPUSA.

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.

	Why no mention of the Labor Party?

			-- Jeff Booth

Surely this is preferable to continuing down a path that  can only lead,
> finally,  to betrayal and defeat.
> Louis (G)
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