Once more on you know what...

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Fri Dec 15 18:56:35 MST 2000

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:

> En relación a Re: Once more on you know what...,
> el 15 Dec 00, a las 8:38, Lou Paulsen dijo:
> >
> > This relates to Nestor's question, too.
> [...]
> >
> > I think the feeling among most left forces has been that it will probably
> > take less work to organize a mass socialist party than to organize a mass
> > movement to abolish the electoral college or otherwise significantly alter
> > the constitutional framework.
> Well, THAT is an answer. A matter of convenience, should we say?

There's an important principle here, actually, that goes beyond
convenience (and holds in general whether relevant to the present
question or not) -- a principle that I learned years ago from the
editors of *Monthly Review* who placed considerable emphasis
on it.

Many proposed reforms are in fact so difficult of achieving
that one may say, *if* the working class were so strong,
objectively and subjectively, as to make that achievement
possible, it would be strong enough to overthrow the capitalist
system and wouldn't need the reform in question.

I quote here from a post I recently wrote on another list,
responding to calls for a constitutional convention to
"reform" the undemocratic features of our present constitution:

It's funny. People who refuse to consider revolution unless
someone with a crystal ball can write a scenario for them
have the unmitigated gall to talk about calling a constitutional
convention. A more realistic hope is that maybe X-Files is
a documentary and the aliens will come to our rescue.

A constitutional convention at this time would be dominated by
conservatives, even rather kookish conservatives. Even an amendment
would almost certainly, under the present balance of forces, probably
be worse than what we have. And if the working class had the power
to force a desirable amendment through the process -- it would
probably have the power to smash the state and not need to mess
around with an amendment.

Such reforms, which can only be achieved with power too great
to need a reform, is my own concept of utopianism. The liberal
left press is full of such schemes.

It is an empirical judgment, which may be correct or
incorrect, that electoral reform is simply not an issue that
will inflame the masses, or even serve to recruit more
activists. I think it is an accurate judgment. And it think
the work it would require, if seriously undertaken, would
be wasted. Nothing would be achieved, while similar
effort put elsewhere (say in the living wage campaign
Michael Hoover speaks of) would at least have educational


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