Passive Support or Intervention

Sun Aug 11 16:40:49 MDT 1996


I'll try to restrict myself to comments. My mailer objected to the length of
the last thing I posted!

It's taking me a while to get a fix on people's perspectives, I'm afraid.
Equally, I think one or two people seem to be struggling to get hold of
mine. It has been implied that Richard and I agree about our approach to the
Labour Party. This is wildly off the mark.

If I were cruel, I would say, he is cheerleading for the Labour Party, while
I'm trying to get control of it.
But I'm not like that. So I won't.

What I will say is....

> The fact is; although we would like it to be different, the only choice
> that the American people have is between Clinton and Dole. The CPUSA is
> obviosly not in a position either financially or numerically to put up
> its own candidates with any chance of making a real impact. So they have
> to make the best of a bad job. At least Clinton has a better position on
> abortion than Dole, and is not in the pocket of the tobbacco industry. So
> maybe a few girls will not have their lives ruined by unwanted pregnancy,
> or a few less people will die of cancer.

I think there is a real problem here about how we. as Marxists, measure the
*impact* of our efforts.

It sounds from the above as though you are saying that impact means votes,
and since the CPUSA cannot hope to get many votes, a presidential campaign
would have little impact.

But that is not how you judge elections, surely?

Impact means whether or not our actions take the class forward in its
prosecution of the class struggle.
Hence advocating the correct line has impact, because it helps to educate
the cadre, develop their intervention into the class around them and ensure
that the politically conscious workers that you come into contact with
develop their thinking, and add their wieght to yours.

> We all face the dilema when we come across charity collections for the
> homeless or starving. Even though I always make the point that
> Governments should do more, and it should not be for charity to cover
> basic need, I still give money. What do you do? Keep your rigid
> "principles" and let people starve while telling them it is for their own
> good tomorrow? Or do what you can to alieviate their plight now while
> fighting twice as hard to change it tomorrow?

That is silly. I give homeless people money at tube stations because I want
them to have enough money to buy food. I fight for my class, because I want
everyone to have enough food. They are not contradictory.
But advocating support for the lesser evil in electoral politics, while
denouncing the system that generates the elections is contradictory.

It is not against my principles to give succour to the homeless. To give it
to the bourgeoisie, on the other hand....

> In election campaigns we have found it a good opportunity to meet Labour
> Party members and show them that we do not have two heads and eat babies.
> We sell them a few papers, get some individuals to work with us in joint
> campaigns, we even occassionaly recruit a new member.

But jou say to them both, "continue to work for Labour's electoral success"
and "leave the Labour Party and join the NCP".
Doesn't that fry their heads? I know it does mine.

> I do not know enough about the situation in the US, so I am sure someone
> will tell me that I have got it all wrong. In Britain I think it is still
> too soon to write off people like Tony Benn, Robin Corbett, and others,
> who I would still call Comrades. As I have said before, our position on
> our relations with the Labour Party may change, but I think our friends
> on the Labour Left still need our help.

We sure do. Tell me again why you will not join the Labour Party and give it
to us.

> I think it is a good thing to stand by your friends, and show your enemy
> no mercy!

Your enemy in this case not including the leadership of the Labour Party,
who you work to get elected, but do nothing to dislodge from their position
of leadership.

Comradely regards,


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