Labor Party

Fri May 17 11:30:25 MDT 1996

On Fri, 17 May 1996 11:43:03 -0400 (EDT) Louis N Proyect said:
>We should not be so schematic as to think that only victories and mass
>struggles will create openings such as the LPA affords. While there is
>quiescence in terms of strikes and other forms of class-based struggle,
>there certainly is deep discontent with the attack capital has been
>mounting for some decades now. Perceptive labor-skates like Mazzochi are
>worried and this is their motivation for starting LPA. They want to head
>off a more militant solution.
>However, this has been true of many openings in the class-struggle
>for the last hundred years or so. The CIO was initiated by people like
>John L. Lewis, no enemy of the capitalist system. The civil rights
>movement was to some degree fostered by ruling-class figures who wanted to
>clean up the American Jim Crow image during a period of decolonization.
>I'm afraid, however, that folks like Walter Daum have a much more
>stringent concept of what struggles and organizations get a kosher stamp.
>He, I'm sure, would have dubbed the entire antiwar movement--Mobe and
>Moratorium alike--as reformist. I am much more of an "opportunist", as
>defined in the sense of wanting to grab hold of every opportunity that
>comes along.

Louis, no way I would label a living mass *movement* reformist in order to
stay out of it. In the 50s and 60s I grew up
in the civil rights and anti-war movements, and that eventually convinced
me to be a revolutionary. There's obviously room for development and change
in a mass movement.

But there's a difference between a movement and one of its organizations
or leaderships, which might well be reformist. And revolutionaries can
join reformist organizations if the struggle is occurring through them (or
is likely to). But it would be disastrous to embrace a reformist
leadership on the grounds that it's at the head of a developing movement.

You're right about the deep discontent and about Mazzocchi's reasons for
starting LPA and now its labor party to head off a more militant response.
But you're simply assuming that the party will become massive, the CIO
of the 90's. That's clearly unproven and to me totally unlikely, because
of the no-holds-barred enthusiasm of the labor bureaucracy for Clinton --
and the LPA's unwillingness to challenge this support.

Go ahead and grab this "opportunity," but don't be surprised if the
struggles that break out sweep past it. And then please don't join in the
effort to trap real struggles in passive electoralism when they've found
a way to take action.

Walter Daum

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