Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Jun 2 23:21:32 MDT 2000

It seems to me this discussion is heading off on a really bizarre axis.

There is, quite simply, NO RELATION between the stances bourgeois
politicians stake out in elections and what they do in office. There's NO
POINT to trying to influence Gore's campaign "to move to the left" either by
supporting him or opposing him.

The American bourgeoisie does not rule through two different parties: it
rules through one two-party system, one animal with two heads that feed from
the same trough, as Corky Gonzalez put it so well to the Chicano Youth
Liberation Conferences so many decades ago.

Elections *can* provide a useful opportunity for the socialist movement to
spread its message and link up with the actual struggles of working people.
But the truth is "the left" is so disorganized, fragmented and atomized that
we're in NO SHAPE to take advantage of these opportunities.

Instead of getting sucked into the hopeless game of trying to influence the
lies Bore or Gush will be telling on the campaign trail, we should follow
the example of tens of millions of working Americans in the primaries and
just ignore the elections. We should remember that, when all is said and
done, this is a purely DECORATIVE element of bourgeois rule. Elections are
NOT about which class should rule. They are about which one of THEM can best
fool us. They are NOT about policy choices, they are about who gets to play
the role of president on TV for the next four years.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Brady" <chris_brady at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 1:57 AM

I almost swallowed my tongue when I read that uncharacteristically [for
Solidarity] ambivalent message. Winona LaDuke, Nader’s running mate, is
pretty radical, and personally I find her much more attractive
–POLITICALLY!—than Ralph.  But Ralph is no socialist, and Solidarity is.

So is McReynolds.  So why advocate two people for the one spot? Damn
Got me thinking:

Through the plastic window on the Christian Science Monitor paper box
next to the post office I read on front page of today’s issue that Ralph
Nader is threatening Al Gore in the Western states of the USA.
Apparently, Nader is already polling around ten percent in California.
Experts say Nader is taking votes away from the Democratic contender,
thus holding the door open for Republican George W. Bush.  This should
sound familiar to all who support alternative parties: go for the lesser
evil or the worst will happen.  The greatest danger is that you will
just give victory to the evil ones if you split the opposition to evil
by throwing your vote away on the lesser lesser evil.

Actually, there is some truth to this warning.  But when do we draw the
line to compromises with evil?
If we keep granting concessions to the enemy, what is to stop the enemy
from going for the best deal –like an expert haggler in the souk-- and
start the bargaining high?  From already accepting compromise by even
entering into a contest with an evil that holds power, the middle ground
is right away in the zone of evil, and far away from any true center.

So why not try to influence the major lessor evil?  --especially if that
lessor evil believes our votes rightfully belong within its sphere of
influence.  We can only hope to influence that lessor evil.  The greater
evil has counted us out.  In fact, the greater evil would prefer to
eliminate us rather than negotiate with us.  We are their greater evil.

How do we influence the lesser evil?  By showing we are serious about
our standards.  And if not now, when?  The Democrats have now gone way
too far in compromise with the right in their own party and in trying to
steal votes from the Republicans.   We can only force the Democrats to
compromise with us by abandoning them to set up and support candidates
that actually stand for policies that we prefer.  The Democrats in
jeopardy will face the fact that they finally must look to the left and
to labor again if they want to stay in the locus of power.

That is one reason.  The other is that we have to actually begin
building a real socialist party, not so much to win power in a
capitalist state, which would be contradictory anyway, but to further
propagandize the necessity of socialism via a vehicle such as a

But there is one great, historical shadow that hangs over such
deliberations: Germany 1933.  The Nazi Party under Adolph Hitler took
power when the opposition could have stood in the way.  The Communists
and Socialists fought each other rather than the greater evil.

Another pall was cast by Henry A. Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign
of 1948.  I see Presidential campaigner Ralph Nader as the Henry Wallace
of our day.  He shares an uneasy relationship with a party apparatus
that was actually casting at straws.  Strom Thurmond, the perennial
equivalent of Pat Buchanan in 1948, got more votes than Wallace.  Leo
Huberman co-founded Monthly Review with Paul Sweezy the year after
Wallace’s humiliating defeat.  Marxists Huberman and Sweezy both sat on
the Progressive Party’s platform committee in 1948. Huberman asserted
that the biggest failing in Wallace’s platform was that it did not
distinguish itself clearly enough from the economics of Harry Truman’s
Democrats.  Truman’s savvy campaign had stolen a lot of the
Progressive’s thunder all the while red-baiting them.  Ironically,
Wallace failed to clearly articulate any basic socialist inclinations
despite the crowd of leftists, including Communists, in his party.
Ultimately, even The Progressive magazine came out for Norman Thomas

Like Wallace, Nader has “brand-name” recognition, and healthy respect
for his moral critique.  But like Wallace, Nader offers no comprehensive
alternative to capitalism.  He simply denounces big corporations.  This
is historically a Progressive Party denunciation.

I know why Big Labor is mad at the Democrats.  And I know why they
threaten to throw in with Nader: to discipline the Democrats.  And I
know how hard it must be for activists fighting alongside the
rank-and-file in the trenches to finally dislodge some of that
traditional Democratic partisanship in a local and then have to tell
fellow workers they’re wrong again when they go with who they think
offers the best (if losing) chance against the Democrats (in this case
Nader).  You risk losing them forever now.  You have to go with them on
this big break.  But you have to keep up the critique and reinforce the
socialist alternative.  It is a heuristic moment.  That is why I have
come around to sympathizing with SOLIDARITY.  Above all, it is better to
compromise with labor than with capital!

Those of us who have no such needs must transcend the progressive
promise.  It can only be broken. We must opt for increasing the
consideration of the socialist principle by promoting the Socialist
candidate.  It is a decisive moment.  Even Leninists (what else have we
got?  as you proceed, you can introduce some history of the NDP in
Canada to illustrate why just any leftish third party is not the be-all
and end-all of our quest for a new party of the people.)  For the time
being, McReynolds is the one.

Chris Brady

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