Mark Lause lause at
Thu Apr 4 04:36:36 MST 2002

"Alternative" says little objectionable on this point, once we get beyond
the truisms, and the rhetoric.  That a "democratic demand" becomes
"transitional" is a truism, but I've never found it as easy as others to
hallucinate lawsuits into democratic demands brandished by social movements.

To take one such example, when the SWP leadership sought to demobilize the
broader women's liberation circles to focus on abortion rights, it labeled
the latter a transitional demand.  They argued up to the brink that it would
emancipate women from the family, that capitalism could never grant it, that
defenders of a broader women's movement were closet sexists, etc. Without
ever really assumed the proportions of a "movement," abortion rights
advocates won the day through the "revolutionary" vehicle of the U.S.
Supreme Court.  The granting of this "transitional" "demand" never quite
emancipated women or pulled America to socialism, but let's not discuss
realities when rheotorical formulae sounds so good..

Almost as an afterthought, Alternative wrote:

> Of course, a debate with the demagogues and minimalists who would reduce
> the issue of reparations to the creation of a new, smallish privileged
> layer as a token gesture should occur, but isn't that something that
> would happen around any other issue as well?

In terms of those who are actually defining what this means in the real
world (as opposed to those cheering from the sidelines), I see nothing but
demaogues and minimalists.  I look forward to your demonstration of how we
might start that public debate with the "leaders" (ie., the lawyers) of this
"movement" (ie., the lawsuit).

At core, I repeat, this issue is built upon a comic book understand of
history that whitewashes the racism of the capitalist order.  It ascribes
the problems of racism not to the current economic system but to some
lingering affects of slavery.

And, if history matters a damn in all this (and I don't delude myself that
it does to most people), the generation that ended slavery for four million
African Americans, black and white lost over a million people killed and
maimed for life to do so.  By the end of that process, they saw the
bloodletting of civil war as the national atonement for slavery...and,
corrently, what would come after as a different matter.  After this
investment, they made a serious effort to assure constitutional equality,
etc. for the freed people.  If the real estate barons of the Deep South and
Northern investors found it unprofitable to live up to this, the blame
should be not be misascribed to the generation that fought and bled to
achieve a Second American Revolution..

...but then again, when have revolutionaries not crapped all over their
historic accomplishments?

Mark Lause

"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be
charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad."
     ---- James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798

The Civil War's Last Campaign: James B. Weaver, the Greenback-Labor Party,
and the Politics of Race and Section

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