On Clinton and the Communist Party

NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk
Sat Aug 10 02:55:39 MDT 1996


> >> 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).

The idea that the Democrats are in any way an ally to the working class
seems to me to be bizarre. The left in the UK is appalled when the Labour
Party leadership talk of Clintonisation (by which they mean copying the
elctoral tactics and, eventually, style of the Democrats, distancing
themselves from the unions, and running Tony Blair for president instead of
having general elections) precisely because we see the development of Labour
into a straightforward bourgeois formation like that to be a massive defeat
for the class. And now I learn that 'communists' in the USA are supporting
the Democrats. Comrades, why? How?

> I don't think anyone is. I haven't spoken to one person who thinks
> supporting Clinton is a great idea. Everybody hates him. No one wants to
> support him, especially now. But the question is--what is realistic now?
Is
> Nader a worthwhile choice? And isn't it too late to run a CP candidate?
The
> LP would be a great choice, but they're not running candidates. Neither is
> the New Party. And I must say that endorsing the SWP or WWP candidates
would
> be quite unprecedented. If we were going to do that, the WWP is a better
> choice. But it's generally a bad idea. For the CPUSA to be a leadership
> party, it can't endorse other small socialist group candidates. Mass
parties
> like the Greens would be fine, of course.

Why? Does the CP make its political judgements by working out who it OK to
be seen supporting? I cannot believe that thinking communists operate in
this fashion. What ever happened to the political independence of the class?
"In Germany the communists fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a
revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squireachy, and
the petty bourgeoisie. But they never cease, for a single instant, to instil
into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile
antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the workers
may straightaway use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the social
and political conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce
along with its supremacy."

In other words, Marx & Engels would have accepted support for Clinton in a
feudal society, where the democrats were 'revolutionary', but now? I think
not. The manifesto did not say, "the communists fight with the bourgeoisie
whenever it acts in a vaguely progressive way, or makes a few half-hearted
promises".

>
> The CP is trying to develop a practical Marxist analysis. No one's ever
been
> enthusiastic about Clinton, and yes, everyone knew what was likely. We
> thought however, that left pressure might stop him. In 1994, we put out a
Huh? Left pressure might stop him from what? Being bourgeois?
Being a defender of boureois property relations? Being president?

> pamphlet, "As Illusions about Clinton turn to anger...Class Struggle Heats
> Up" by Gus Hall. We denounced Clinton repeatedly after the racist
"memorial"
> speech for Martin Luther King, Jr. And we said that neither party was
worth
> supporting. It was the reality off the 1994 elections that put us on this
> course--and I think what the Party needs to do is perhaps--support liberal
> Democrats in recapturing Congress and not focus on the Presidency at all.
Why? What will they do? Concretely, the task of revolutionaries, of
communists has to be to build a political consciousness among the working
class that gives the class a sense of political independence. You should be
fighting for clarity among the workers against tailling the capitalist
parties (and, incidentally, against the kind of infantile ultra-leftism
comrade Malecki appears to represent), not doing the bloody tailling
yourselves, and calling on the class to follow you.

> True, it is a compromise. But I'd sure as hell rather see John Conyers,
Jr.
> fdeaturing prominently in Congress than Newt Gingrich. That's just
realistic.

It's also utopian. Under pressure from capitalism's inevitable collapses the
Democrats will be just as aggressive towards the workers as the Republicans.
You're facing the situation that workers in the UK faced 100 years ago. The
only solution for our movement was to build political structures out of the
union movement. This was made easier in the UK because the bourgeoisie chose
that epoch to attck the very nature of trade unionism (because they were in
a squeeze, and needed a completely quiescent workforce), and so the
interests of the class and the interests of the TU bureacracy coincided, but
regardless of how easy or difficult it is, that is your task, don't you
think?

> I do think that in 2000 we'll be seeing an independent Communist
candidate.
> Unless, of course, something develops with the LP , but that is unlikely,
at
> least as far as a presidential bid.

Why? What's the problem with the LP? From here, it looks like a big step
forward. Tell me more, please.

NickH



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