US elections/Nader

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Sun Nov 5 15:10:58 MST 2000

Mike Pearn writes:
>It is certainly true that the roots of such bourgeois workers parties in the
>working class have been eroded by their failure to deliver any reforms to
>their core constituency in the shape of the trades unions which puts the one
>side of their nature as "workers parties" at risk given the desire of the
>likes of Blair to destroy the union link. But they still retain the
>institutional loyalty of the mass of the Unions and command the votes of the
>majority of politically active workers. Therefore they may still be seen as
>bourgeois workers parties and it is legitamate for Marxists to call upon
>workers to vote for these parties at elections.

Mike, what you say actually reveals the hopeless confusion of the 'deformed
workers parties' analysis you hold of Labour.

The Democrats in the US "still retain the institutional loyalty of the mass
of the unions and command the votes of the majority of politically active
workers."  This doesn't make them a workers' party, and nor does it make
the British Labour Party a workers' party.

Indeed, the British Labour Party these days models itself on Clinton's
Democrats.  That is what Blair is all about.

It's actually no more progressive to call for a vote for Labour in Britain
or New Zealand, than it is to back the Democrats in the USA.  The
Trotskyists who call for such votes, and the Trots who are deeply embedded
in Blair's party, are just like the CPUSA in its attitude and orientation
to the Democrats.

>The DSP position of rejecting this concept has the reactionary  result of
>allowing this group to call for a vote to any radical force regardless of
>its class base.

Actually, the Australian and NZ Labour parties have far closer links to the
capitalist class in each country than to the working class.

In NZ, most of the funding for Labour comes from the ruling class and the
state.  The social composition of the LP here (in NZ) is overwhelmingly
middle class.  The current and former president of the LP are millionaires.
The leader of the party is a jolly hockey-sticks daughter of wealthy Tory
farmers and she was an academic before becoming an MP.  (The leader of the
Tory party here comes from quite modest background in comparisn - she is an
ex-primary school teacher.)

It is unlikely there are more than a few hundred industrial workers in the
LP here these days.  Even the union affiliation is miniscule, and it would
be a *retrograde* step to fight for unions to affiliate to this bosses

The most severe and extreme attack on the working class in NZ since the
Depression was carried out by the fourth Labour government (1984-90), which
made Margaret Thatcher look pinkish in comparison.

The Australian Labour Party, which was in ower for about 12 or 13 years
from the mid-80s until a year or two ago, was totally bound up with the
Aussie ruling class.  Australia's richest individuals were often LP

The DSP analysis of the Aussie LP is right on!

>Thus the DSP called for a vote for the Nuclear Disarmament
>Party againt the ALP. Thus Alan believes voting for Nader is permisable. But
>for Marxists it is not. The various Green parties in the USA have at best
>utopian and at worst reactionary programs. For every 'progressive' feature
>that can be found in their program a reactionary one can be found.

I wouldn't vote for Nader in the USA or for the NDP in Australia, but your
argument about the Greens doesn't make sense given you vote Labour.
Everything you say about the US Greens could be said about the british
Labour Party - and doubly!

>None the
>less it is clear that they are generally more liberal than the vast majority
>of Democrats. However they have no link what so ever to the workers movement
>and do not desire one.

The Greens adopted wholesale the programme of the US Labor Party.  I would
imagine this is somewhat to the left of the British Labour Party.

Lenin once wrote that there are people who rote learn slogans without ever
understanding the criteria for the slogans and how changes in reality lead
to changes in political positions.  Rote-learned slogans about Labour being
a 'bourgeois workers party' (ie a deformed workers party) fail to get to
grip with the changes that have taken place over the last 75 years since
Lenin gave some passing advice to British commies to 'suport the Labour
Party like a rope supports a hanged man'.  In fact British commies, both
Stalinists and Trotskyists, have been supporting the LP more like
scaffolding supports a shakey structure.

>They are a bourgeois reformist force and a tiny one.
>For Marxists to call for a vote for this force is an irrelavance and

Now this would be right on the money if you were talking about the Labour
Party in Britain, Australia or New Zealand.

Philip Ferguson

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