Peter Camejo, the Greens, and Independent Politcal Action

Lueko Willms Lueko.Willms at
Tue Jul 22 06:28:14 MDT 2003

  prompted by this article and the whole debate on this theme

    * Subject: A Peter Camejo-Cynthia McKinney ticket?
    * From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at>
    * Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 13:27:16 -0400

> Peter Camejo-Cynthia McKinney
> A Green Presidential Ticket?
> by Gilles d'Aymery
> Swans, July 21, 2003

    Johannes Schneider has already pointed out some of the
experiences with the Greens in Germany, who today are a normal
bourgois party, acting in the capitalist government of the German
imperialist bourgeoisie for cutting wages and for waging wars. 

   Of course, the Green parties in the USA (I understand there are
several ones) are not identical with the Green party in Germany, or
France, but I think that a number of observations do apply. 

   Especially because the arguments raised by some participants on
this list are just replicas of those arguments of German "leftists"
who joined the Green party in its ealier years. 

   Like Gilles d'Aymery: 

>  But there is also a more radical wing within the Greens. 
> My impression (I emphasize it is just that, an impression) 
> is that this wing, due to its activism -- or knowledge thereof 
> -- has taken more responsibilities within the "movement."

  Well, the Green party in Germany had taken in a lot of "radical"
activists; actually it emerged out of a quite wide mass movement
against nuclear power plants which was marked by demonstrations with
100'000 participants. The Greens were prominent among the organizers
of the mass demonstrations against Cruise Missiles and Pershing
missiles in about 20 years ago. 

   Quite a number of leftists from Maoist parties joined the Greens,
nearly half of the German section of the Fourth International split
away to jump into building the Green party, all using the same
arguments as I hear here from many participants, about not staying on
the sectarian sidelines. 

   Most of these have been pushed aside, but you still find,
including in the very tops of the Greens, activists like Dany
Cohn-Bendit, one of the student leaders of the May 1968 revolt in
France, who is now MEP for the Greens in France, and pushing for
"humanitarian" wars; you have Joschka Fischer, the current foreign
minister of German imperialism, who became famous for his
street-fighting activism in Frankfurt, and who once was part of a
radical group colonizing the Opel (GM) factory in Rüsselsheim near

  So, don't tell me about "radical" wings, this doesn't mean nothing
in the end. 

  And what about the chance of a breakaway from the two-party system
in the US? Is this what Gilles d'Aymery has in mind, when he writes
in his article: 

---- quote -----------------
 The two catch-all parties offer practically no room for progressive
voices. It's a bankrupt system and the antinomy of political

Progressives like Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, and
others would make a much stronger contribution to the nation's future
by stepping away from the Democratic Party and joining a third party.
Meantime, in response to the defeatism of Mr. Dugger and other
utilitarians, the Green Party should field the strongest possible
slate (read again the title of this article). It would send a message
of hope to millions of Americans who genuinely want change.
------------- unquote --------

   The German Greens also posed as a fundamental alternative to the
"established" parties, and were hailed by many activists as the big
chance of such a breakway. 

   But the question of "independant political action", is independant
of whom, and dependant of whom, or more concretely, which class? 

   Since this is the decisive question -- political power is in the
hand of a social class, respective their political representatives,
and a party can only be the instrument of one or another class. Which
side are you on, this is the question. 

   The fundamental flaw with the Green party in Germany was, that it
always wanted to be "above all classes"; the "novel" idea was that
the crisis of the environment is not a class question, but does
affect everybody, and that the environment has to be protected by
each and everybody in the interests of each and everybody. 

   But you can't be independent of ALL classes. And by explicitly
rejecting to build a class party of the working people, the Greens
opted for being independent of the working class, and could not do
other than end as a party of the bourgeoisie, or of the "better off"
(Besserverdienende), as their main competitor, the liberal FDP once
proclaimed as their clientele. 

   Acting within the framework of the bourgeois state, and not
questioning bourgeois class rule as such, the Greens were bound to
end as a political tool of the capitalist class, certainly
representing a certain social layer within the petty bourgeoisie and
middle layers, like that "what is now called "Lohas," (Lifestyles of 
health and sustainability)" (Gilles d'Aymery). 

   Independent political action from a working class perspective in
the USA cannot mean just any Third party breakaway from the current
two-party sytem, but the self-organisation of the class, respective
the formation of the political instrument of class rule of the
working people, or of taking political power as the first strategic
step, with the formation of a workers and farmers government. 

   Karl Marx expressed the fundamentals very short and precisely in
his "Introduction to the program of the French workers party", which
you can find in German at , written May 1880 (I have
looked, but have not seen an English version at MIA; maybe Einde or David Walters can help out). 

  But does the Cuban experience not contradict these statements,
since the July 26 movement did not start as an explicit class
movement, and did even not voice opposition to imperialism? 

  I don't think so. For one, since the program as layed out in Fidel
Castro's defense before the judges ("History will absolve me") is a
social and political program which actually does encroach the
property rights of the propertied classes of half-colonial Cuba, but
especially because the movement started as a radical effort to take
power out of the hands of the powers-that-be by violent means,
organizing working people in the course of the struggle, and
destryoing the state apparatus as the main tool of the bourgois rule,
the "body of armed men, with material attachments like prisons etc",
as Friedrich Engels characterized the state as the instrument of
class rule. 

  I have learned from the Nicaraguan revolution that the transition
to the socialist stage has not necessarily to come immediately after
taking political power, but can be stretched over months and even
years, as long as the direction is clear and firm, and so I also
think that building a class party for taking power has not pass thru
sectarian noises, but the goal must be kept clear. 

   The Cuban revolutionists, who considered themselves (at least
Fidel Castro) as uptopian communists, had followed José Martí's
advice that some times one cannot reveal every motive and every
ultimate goal, but I very much doubt that the Green parties in the
USA are so different from the Green parties in Europe, and that they
only conceal for tactical reasons that in reality want to organize a
class party, but I think that they simply do not want it. 

   Unless somebody can prove the opposite. 

Lüko Willms 

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