Forwarded from Robert Touraine (Camejo)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Jul 12 05:58:45 MDT 2003

It has been claimed that Peter Camejo is no Lenin or Castro.

Yes. And he is no Guevara, Rosa Luxemburg, Debs, Dobbs or Cannon either. I
guess we have to take him as he is in this time and in this place.

It has also been asked what has Camejo been doing for the last 20 years.

In a general sense, what have many of us been doing for the last 20 years?
The number of active "old leftists", both in and outside his former party,
the SWP, has declined precipitously. The new youth, like those of the 60s
and 70s, has been created by the new onslaught of capitalism. Camejo may
have been more active than most. After his expulsion from the SWP, he tried
to form a "Northstar network."Later, he made a serious attempt to work with
ex-CPers and friends in the "Committee of Correspondence." (In my opinion,
this was doomed from the start, as these were people that even Dorothy
Healey condemned--see "Dorothy Healey remembers" by Healey and Isserman.)
During the past 20 years, he has also been very involved in other Bay Area
action. It has been this activity for the past 20 years that has given him
the legitimacy that he now has among the Green Party activists in the San
Francisco Bay Area.

Camejo has not been talking socialism.

Yes. This is very true. For many years, Camejo has claimed that to put
socialism at the forefront of left political activity would be a big error
in the United States. He believes that this would be a mistake in a country
whose leading politicians cringe even from advocating "socialized medicine."
Here I agree with his left-wing critics. You can't sneak a socialist program
in. However, I also believe (and cross my fingers) that when the
"red-baiting" begins he will be able to handle it in a way that links
socialism to a left-wing program.

The Green Party is very strange and questionable instrument for reform, let
alone an instrument for socialism!

Indeed it is. I started to join my local Green Party, but found that the
burning issue for the initiator of the local group was frogs. I have no
personal objection to working for frogs, but I couldn't see how I could
achieve the proper balance of this with issues that seemed more important to
me and others. There is a larger Green organization 20 miles away. I may
join a few months before electoral activity begins.

However, regarding Camejo, considering his talents as a speaker and
organizer and considering the opportunities available for building a Left in
the U.S. today, I believe that his overall strategy is sound. Indeed,
considering all the elements of the Left and of the present labor movement,
short of participation in a sizable socialist organization {which does not
exist, and would have to be built from scratch.), I think that this is what
an American Lenin or Castro would do. I don't overlook the fact that Peter
has always had a side to him that was overly optimistic, that failed to take
into account the political weakness of others.

I think that he has succeeded in passing the first test.  Apparently
unnoticed by writers on this list is the fact that Camejo's candidacy is
forcing the California Green Party to take a harder look at what
independence from the Democratic Party entails:

"The Green Party's ambivalence over the recall effort came to the forefront
in early May at its latest plenary session. ... Others ... argued that Green
support for ousting Davis could help a Republican get elected. ... [T]he
Alameda County outfit, [has] come out in formal opposition to the recall.
... [S]ome party activists say they want no part in a recall effort that
could oust Governor Davis in favor of a Governor Issa or Governor
Schwarzenegger. 'We certainly don't want to, in any way, aid their
election,' said [Berkeley Board of Education Director] John Selawsky."
--from Berkeley Daily Planet, 6-27-03

The second test, I believe, will be if his campaign continues to mobilize
the militant Latino community that supported his campaign for governor.

"[N]o one should consider it an act of disloyalty that a public discussion
occur in the Latino community regarding the recall of Governor Davis.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with openly posing the question ­ has
Davis performed for the Latino community with respect to the vexing social
problems, such as: the driver¹s license issue, quality public and bilingual
education, access to higher education, health insurance, and housing within
the reach of the average wage of the Latino worker and family, appointments
of Latinos to positions of social weight within the structure of state
government, particularly the judicial branch, and others?

"There is no reason why we should not enter into discussions with Republican
and Green political personalities, such as Richard Riordan, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Bill Simon, Jr., Darrell Issa, and Peter Camejo ­ from those
considered politically moderate to the conservative, and even the left.

"A Latino dialogue about the recall of Gray Davis should be open to
grassroots organizations of all constituencies and issues, the Mexican clubs
of origin, parish associations of all denominations, intellectuals, artists,
and social activists ­ all those that are not tied to a political party, but
also those that follow the party discipline. ... This old and NEW voter has
every right to pose the difficult questions and expect a clear answer based
on verifiable facts, not rhetoric or more promises.

"No one should take the Latino voters for granted and think that they are
stuck in the pockets of one or another political party. Electoral
competition for our vote suits us much better." --edited from

Same article with pro-Camejo comments at

Similar points has been made in other articles on the effect of the recall
movement on Latino political action.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

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