The Real AntiWar Movement

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Dec 17 16:06:01 MST 1999

Michael Pugliese wrote:

>>     2)Non-voters, do not determine electoral outcomes, and thus do not
to determine which wing of the two-party duopoly will rule.
For those times in which the "choice" between
really reactionary pro-capitalist pols GOP elephants) and ever so slightly
less reactionary pols (almost all Democratic donkeys) will make a difference
on the margins on state policy, the electoral abstentionists make a bad
decision. Just how hard is it to register and vote anyway, esp. with
Motor-Voter that the scholars on welfare, Piven and Cloward pushed for and
got enacted?<<

I would dispute that ANY outcome in ANY NUMBER of U.S. 2-party-system races
can make the SLIGHTEST bit of PREDICTABLE difference to public policy. It
may be that you get a benighted idiot like Reagan that sees the way cool ray
beam and light sabers in Star Wars and wants to build himself some, pouring
tens of millions of dollars down a rathole. His predecessor, Mr.Jimmy was a
nuclear engineer and had the Pentagon build weapons that actually worked,
like the F-117 (stealth fighter-bomber) and cruise missiles. Obviously,
between the two, on this point Reagan was the better outcome, but who would
have guessed?

Why did people vote for Kennedy? Nixon had a strong record as a solid
red-baiter and anti-communist but people wanted a change. We got instead the
Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Crisis, precisely the
three moments of the Cold War when imperialism came closest to blowing the
whole world up. Working people voted FOR johnson and AGAINST Goldwater
because Goldwater was going to drag us into a bunch of wars with the
Communists. Johnson's message was -- in perhaps the most famous commercial
of American political history -- "We must love one another or die."

To the extent they voted for Nixon, working people did so because he had a
secret plan to end the war but was otherwise a strong anticommunist. He
spent his entire first term playing footsie with the Russians and Chinese
while he broadened the war. But he won his landslide re-election in 1972
three of four days after Kissinger announced that he had cut a deal to end
the war.

People voted for Reagan who was promising fiscal responsibility and got the
biggest budget deficits in the history of the human race. George Bush
promised a "kinder, gentler" government, by which he meant, as it turned
out, the Gulf War.  They voted for Bill Clinton who never promised a
balanced budget and suggested MORE government spending and got the opposite
instead. And that's just in my lifetime.

It's not just that what they promise is pretty raunchy in most cases. There
is as far as I can tell no correlation whatsoever between the promises and
the policies. It's the political version of Heisenberg's uncertainty
you can't know both what a politician claims to stand for and what he'll do
office at the same time.

And why should there be any relationship?  On the campaign trail, the
important question is which one of them can best fool us. In the White
House the question is how to nest promote the interests of the American
bourgeoisie. Different questions that call for different positions.

You might say, but in a 50-50 or 51-49 vote in the Senate it might make a
difference. Not So. With very rare exceptions, it is the Congressional
leaderships and the White House which by consensus determine which bills get
passed and which don't, and by what margins. A very large number of votes on
especially unpopular measures wind up being very close ON PURPOSE. The
leadership demands only the number of votes it needs, others are let off.
example, the two Cuban Miami Republican congressthings are pretty typical
liberal democrats on most domestic issues. So, say you want them to vote for
some ultrareactionary anti-immigrant legislation. What to do? Well, how
about this. Bacaradí has been trying to steal the Havana Club brand from
Cuba for decades. Let's put THAT in the same bill, and now Díaz Baleart and
Ross Lehtinen can "justify" their anti-immigrant vote by pointing to that

    But let's suppose the Gang of Two just can't afford to, politically,
with a voter base that's about 100% Hispanic immigrant or their children,
vote for the anti-immigrant measure involved. They go to the Republican
leadership and
raise a stink. "Why do we have to do the heavy lifting on this bill?" "Heavy
lifting" being of course when congressturkeys have to vote in ways that make
them unpopular with their voters. So the Republicans chiefs  go find some
"moderate" Democrat and bribe him, either with that new bridge or navy base
(it can even be named for the person being bribed, something which in
civilized countries, like Cuba, would be illegal), or by advancing some pet
peeve law or regulation of one of the Congresspeople's big contributors.
is really white of the Republicans because they know that they have to do it
anyways, spread the "pork" and special-interest tax breaks liberally on the
democratic side. Because otherwise the Democrats are going to get in a high
dander and expose the raid on the public till. So it is very important that
EVERYONE be in on the looting.

    This is called "the normal legislative process" and is one reason why
reporters who cover Congress and statehouses for a living (as opposed to
those who appear on TV for a living) are to a person the most deliciously
cynical people you can ever hope to have the pleasure to meet.

>>  3) No fan of the British Labour party esp. it's
Blairite "New Labour" Third Way DLC'ish direction but, at least there, there
was a "socialist" history to appeal to. Until Clause Four was thrown away
(nationalization of the major industries) that is. I'd say I'd rather
struggle in a political context where such exists, than in the U.S. where
what socialists do exist, like DSA, who do spin their wheels in the
Democrats managerie like birds before a cat.<<

To  the working class in an imperialist country, it is a matter of complete
and utter indifference whether the capitalists own an enterprise
individually, through a joint stock company, or collectively through the
state. It's all the same. Clause 4 was there a sucker-bait, put their
consciously and on purpose by people who did not have the slightest
intention of challenging bourgeois rule. Now, the working class MIGHT have
an interest in specific nationalizations and privatizations. You can be
almost certain that whenever "public opinion" starts demanding a change in
status, the reason for this is to screw the workers, either directly as
employees or indirectly as taxpayers. But in an imperialist country a
"nationalized" enterprise is just like any other capitalist enterprise.

  4) on Jose's last point: Survey data like the University of Michigan's
National Opinion Research which talks to voters and non-voters alike, and
has for decades, show that non-voters
(yes, mostly working class and poor, mostly people/communities of color) and
voters political opinions are similiar.

    I'm unfamiliar with the survey you cite. However, it would have to be a
survey with a monster sample of many, many, many thousands to provide the
kind of statistical accuracy needed to make that kind of statement across
multiple demographic groups. For example, to gauge the opinion of any 10%
strata of the population with a 3% margin of error, you'd need a sample of
12,000 at least. The ONLY public opinion polls done with that large a sample
size that I'm aware of are the election exit polls.

    Countless surveys have confirmed sharp differences of opinion between
lower income groups, Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants and more relatively
privileged groups on everything from war and peace to presidential
blow jobs.  To the degree these groups are underrepresented among voters
(and they are, very clearly and significantly so), to that degree the
opinion of "voters" and "non voters" will be different.

>>5) Back to a previous point of Jose's, re: shift from Dems to Reps being
overshadowed by bigger shift to non-voting. The 70's and 80's saw masses of
white working class voters shifting to Republicans, at least on the
Presidential level. The 90's are seeing these voters shift to independent
parties. Hope they don't get shnookered by a Buchanan-Fulani ticket!<<

    Well if for Republicans to get elected nationwide against the New Deal
coalition it is necessary to have had this "shift," then it began at the
very least with Eisenhower, i.e., before the radicalization which these
voters were supposedly reacting against had begun. And, lest we forget,
Truman beat Dewey by a hair, so the "shift" was evident even then, and has
been ongoing for the last 50 years, before virtually anyone who will be
voting in 2000 had gotten the right to vote. That's one problem even with
these 20-year analysis of electoral trends. A big percentage of the "white
workers" you were talking about in, say, 1980 are now dead, and an even
percentage of the "white worker" voters of the current year were children in

        All this talk of shifts in voter preferences between the
tweedle-dum, tweedle dee political whores of the Democritan and Republicrat
parties is 100% certified bullshit. ALL of it. It has been largely invented
by political consultants who then turn around, and for a big hefty fee, tell
candidates what shirts to wear and which babies to kiss.

    Some people object that, say a Ron Dellums or a Bernie Sanders or a Tom
Hayden is really and truly and sincerely a good guy and is HONESTLY for
reforms that would benefit working people, isn't bribed by coprorate
donations, you know, Mr. Smith goes to Washington and all that., etc. etc.
etc. Let us grant us that. They STILL make no difference to anything because
the whole two party system is owned lock, stock and barrel by big business.
Moreover, for all their purity of heart and good intentions, they play an
absolutely negative political role by channeling people back into the two
party trap.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jose G. Perez <jgperez at>
To: Marxism List <marxism at>
Sent: Monday, November 29, 1999 10:22 AM
Subject: Re: The Real AntiWar Movement

> Michael Pugliese writes:
> >>However my understanding
> of the move of some ethnic working class Democrats (not just upper class
> academic neo-con policy wonks) to Republican columns during the Nixon and
> Reagan era was due to reaction against the "acid, amnesty, and
bortion"( to
> use
> PJB's phrase, jeez think of Buchanan on acid?)
> McGovernite New Politics which shifted the balance of forces in the
> Democratic party away from the old party regulars of the Meanyite AFL-CIO
> towards neo-liberals like Gary Hart and the DLC(Democrats for the Leisure
> Class in Jesse Jacksons phrase) (Before anyone says I'm full of illusions
> about the Dems, yes I've read Mike Davis'es first book on the Am. Working
> Class and this former believing in Schactmanite/Harrin- gtonian
> "realignment" couldn't agree more with Davis on the Democrats
> pro-capitalist nature.)<<

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