Voting, clinton/dole, the CPUSA
Louis R Godena
louisgodena at ids.net
Sun Aug 11 16:43:40 MDT 1996
Neil C (neil) writes:
>Louis G. makes a lot of assertions about tactics in advocating voting for
>capitalist election circuses, mostly downplaying the illusions, confusions,
>debasement and demoralisation that "marxist tactics ' of electoral scheming
>have brought to the class.
Neil realizes of course that we live in a capitalist society, and that much
of our work takes place in the context of institutions that in one way or
another serve it, i.e., unions, parliaments, judiciary, etc. Much of
the "illusions, confusions, debasement and demoralization" come from not
participating in public life, but in compromising our principles in doing so.
>Louis G. belittles those left outfits who at times have called for and carried
>campaigns of pro-active (not passive) abstention campaigns inside the election
>win workers to see clearer the electoral chloroforming game of the rich and
>But considering he is from the CPUSA, the un-official left-wing of the
I have criticized these groups because they have chosen the easy avenue of
the insouciant windbag; the promiscuous issuing of empty slogans and
impotent threats without bothering to undertake the vital work of sinking
deep roots among the mass of ordinary workers.
>Years ago, I worked with an out fit that wasone of those "ML" groups (the
MLP-USA)that did, inspite of its other >crank politics on some
fronts,carried out some effective work in the mass movements
>and in independent campaigns inside the lower motions of the class, major
>amongst these was
>pro-active Voter Abstention political campaigns against all the Capitalist
>state ruling parties. I can say that in this work , we were in fact able to get
>MORE workers ears, Phone#s, contacts,etc. than in some of our other work in
>other actions , anti-US imperialism in Latin America, Pro-choice clinic
>defense, Strike supports, etc.
Voter abstention programs, in and of themselves, I argue, simply do not
work, without a credible alternative. Raging furiously together against
the state, in and of itself, is not a serious alternative. Where is the
MLP-USA today? Yes, in the flush toilet of history. It had some
spectacular (and thoroughly superficial) "success" which was, in the end,
meaningless because they did not sink deep roots among the class. They,
like so many others, worked among the lumpen fringe of the workers'
movement, struggling in a fit of frenzied rage--and studiously ignored by
the mass of workers. The MLP was like bad sex; better than none at all,
perhaps, but leaving the participants tired, frustrated, angry, and with
nowhere else to go.
My quarrel with Neil is not that he is wrong on trade unions, the electoral
process, and other institutions of capitalist society. It is just that he
feels it is a touchstone of political wisdom to heap abuse upon those who
work within certain mass institutions of our age, and that this is an
adequate substitute (together with a ferocious "militancy") for years of
patient, arduous labor among the working class. His calls for militant
action ring hollow among a class jaded by years of exhortation and abuse.
Simply put, no one is listening. He may have his own P.O. Box or even,
in time (like Henwood) his own home page. Neil, however, will learn
nothing and forget nothing if he eschews the day to day dirty work among the
realities of capitalist society, including--like it or not--its
institutions of mass participation. I advocate a communist approach to
work in the trade unions and in the electoral field. Many will be the
mistakes and setbacks suffered. There is, however, simply no alternative.
Principled and prolonged work among the mass of toiling Americans--still the
vast majority--will yield results to a revolutionary anti-capitalist
movement rooted in the realities of American life.
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