Marxists dont support Nader

Dayne Goodwin dayneg at
Mon Oct 30 11:44:04 MST 2000

On Sun, 29 Oct 2000, mike pearn wrote:

> The starting point for any discussion as to the viablity of socialists
> supporting electoral candidates in elections is the question does this
> campaign further our aim of building a workers party. This is as true for
> the USA as it is for Britain. The tasks of socialists in elections is
> firstly to advance the independence of the working class from the boss
> class.
> The difference between the two countries is hat we in Britain have a Labour
> Party to deal with. That is a party that although programatically committed
> to a defence of capitalism and at best minor reforms remains based on the
> Trades U nions. Therefore it is a what Lenin referred to as a bourgeois
> workers party. Socialists may then call for a vote for such a party or even
> operate within it depending on the circumstances. It is certainly the case
> that few would choose to operate within it today and where there are
> credible alternatives such as the Scottish Socialist Party or the Socialist
> Alliances in England and Wales would be unlikely to vote for the candidates
> of Blairs corrupt cabal.
> In the USA your Labour Party is marginal and refuses to raise its banner in
> the electoral arena. Electoral candidates offered by the small socialist
> propaganda groups, that foolishly proclaim themselves to be parties all too
> often, are no more an alternative for most people than the moon is made of
> cheese. Although they do no harm playing their childish and self deceiving
> games.

DG:  I agree with your first paragraph Mike.  That is also my starting
point.  However by your third paragraph you seem to have written a
prescription for inaction and consigned us to permanent electoral
impotence by excluding any of the options available to U.S. workers.
Which workers party in the U.S. do you support, Mike?
        Your observations on the situation in Britain are interesting but
I don't think they're tremendously helpful in providing tactical guidance
for our situation in the U.S.

> American Socialists are then tempted to vote for Third Party candidates such
> as Nader in despair at their isolation. Yet for a european their arguments
> for so doing sound curiously old fashioned and reminisent of the early
> Fabians. The Fabians were a group of bourgeois intellectuals who sought to
> attain their own version of socialism although in point of fact their vision
> sounds more like a state dominated society with a welfare system tacked on,
> which explains the atteraction of them in later years to the Stalinist sytem
> in Russia.

DG:     Our Fabians here are the Democratic Party loyalists who are
hysterically trying to frighten Nader supporters into supporting Gore.

[continuing Mike's paragraph]
> Like the Fabians we are told that Nader has a progressive
> program, indeed one contributer to this debate believes it to be
> revolutionary!

DG:     If you are referring to me, you must not have read my post very
carefully.  Here's what I said:
On Sat, 28 Oct 2000, Dayne Goodwin wrote:
>  Nader is running on an admirably radical working class reform program
> but we all know there is plenty of evidence that neither Nader nor
> large elements of the Labor Party milieu have definitively broken with
> the Democrats and the capitalist two-party system.  The Green Party
> program, at least the Greens/Green Party U.S.A. segment's platform, is
> revolutionary but it fosters illusions that "Economic Democracy" can
> be achieved without removing the capitalist class from political and
> economic power.
        Note that I said Nader "is running on an admirably radical working
class reform program."  I just posted Nader's Labor Day statement as a
        It is the GPUSA program which I called "revolutionary."  I'll
stand by that.  Refer to my "Greens Economic Program" post from earlier

[continuing Mike's paragraph]
>But Marxists support political forces on the basis of their
> class and not their program.

DG:  As Anthony has already pointed out, you are mistaken here.
Both class composition and political program are important factors in
evaluating political forces.

[concluding Mike's paragraph]
> I would note that Blairs program and that of
> the Nazi Jorg Haider are not too far apart yet we only vote for Blairs party
> as it is rooted in the class. It should also be clear that Naders program is
> in any case utopian in nature and were socialists to back him on this basis
> it would encourage illusions in the ability of voters to change society
> through legislative means. Allende and his Socialist Party, who had a
> reformist program far to the left of Naders, were chrushed because they
> believed this pernicious nonsense.

DG:  It's a little premature to start comparing the Nader/Green Party
campaign's hope for 5% of the U.S. presidential vote with the
Allende/Unidad Popular election victory.  If we in the U.S. are able to
approach doing as well as Allende's coalition, hopefully you and I, as
well as Chileans and many others, will be reviewing and spreading the
lessons learned from that experience.

[snip: no comment on Mike's two interesting paragraph's on the record and
the dangers of third parties.  So on to Mike's concluding paragraph:]
> Yet Naders campaign has attracted the support of a handfull of unions, more
> precisely their active leaderships, aa well as a layer of radical youth.
> This would seem to be the case from the various reports I have seen,
> although it is clearly the case that many of the more radical elements
> disdain Naders electoralism and prefer direct action tactics, with but few
> choosing to join his 'party'. None the less these young people who are
> beginning to think must be addressed by Marxists as they can provide the new
> blood our movement so badly needs. But joining Naders campaign will not
> convince anyone serious of the superiority of the socialist case and will
> hardly win the election for Nader as our numbers are so small. Rather
> Socialists should reorient themselves to our class as only then will we be
> able to show who really has the potential power in this society. This does
> not mean that we should wait until we have X number of workers in our
> organisations, and I mean white collar workers not just those in smokestack
> industries or such as construction, there is no room for that kind of
> 'workerism today, before we address youth or any other layer in struggle but
> simply that our prime concern is with our own class. This is our strength
> which we should realise has a great attractive power for rebellious youth.
> Parroting Naders utopian balderdash merely exposes American Socialists as
> politically impotent.
> Mike Pearn

DG:  Your epithet of "utopian" does not fit Nader very well.  One of
Nader's greatest political strengths is the personal credibility he has
gained from thirty-five or more years of hard-earned success as a
pragmatic reformer.  Bourgeois journalists and politicians have to
acknowledge that Nader probably knows more about the detailed,
down-to-earth workings of the (capitalist) government than they do.  The
powers-that-be were damn sure not anxious to let Nader debate Al Gore and
George Bush.

[And again; might as well rub it in.]
> Parroting Naders utopian balderdash merely exposes American Socialists
> as politically impotent.
> Mike Pearn

DG:  Ouch!  I'll use your harsh words to motivate all the Marxists who are
supporting Nader/LaDuke to work harder!  Maybe we will surprise you and
actually convince someone serious of the superiority of the socialist
case.  From your message, i'm not sure which side of your arguments about
workerism you ended up on but I'm on the anti-workerist side.  Members of
the middle class are welcome.
        see ya', Dayne

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