Green debate

Mark Lause MLause at
Sun Nov 16 07:34:51 MST 2003

We're now seeing the essence of Tony's critique of the Greens.  He
writes: "No one will take the Green Party seriously if it engages in a
campaign only in states where the Democratic Party candidates can't win.
But the opposite side is right, too. Nobody will like the Greens if they
become seen only as spoilers that help put Republicans into office."
Apparently, beneath the surface of his strident denunciations of
reformism is the concern that a Green connection makes radicals appear
complicit in the election of Republicans.  He calls this "the spot
between a rock and a hard place that the US two party system puts
political opposition into."

He is absolutely right, of course.

If we engage in activities like electoral politics because the power
structure will try to misrepresent it, we won't do much.  If wish to
avoid passing through a "spot between a rock and a hard place," we are
left to stand pat.  If we can't stand the heat, we should stay out of
the electoral kitchen.

The idea of running only in "safe states" or adopting fusion tickets
with the weaker of the two major parties have shimmered as short-cuts to
power that have lured more than one old third party to its doom...and it
hasn't really mattered what their platform or other activities have
been.  If you enter the electoral arena, you are playing a game where
the rules are entirely unfair and totally out of your hands.

Tony will rightly protest that he is complaining only about third
parties of the non-revolutionary stripe which might run Al Sharpton,
talk to Democrats, win elections--do all sorts of things we might not be
able to control!  He says he doesn't want the Greens but a real Labor
party, but everything said about the shortcomings and possible
shortcomings of the Greens could also be said of a reformist Labor
party.  He really wants a socialist party, but socialist parties have
also done these sorts of things. So let's just discard the fiction that
he is just about the present Greens.

Tony also suggests that the kind of party we all say that we'd want to
see will come from purely nonelectoral activism.  Where has that
happened?   If a series of mass demonstrations creates mass organization
tight enough to enter electoral politics, doesn't it have to have the
same pitfalls and pass between the same rock and a hard place that any
third party would have to do?   What's being suggested is that we'd be
purer and better at electoral politics by not participating.

Sometime back--way before I heard anything about what Solidarity was
thinking on the subject--I joined a number of alleged green listservers
to argue for a united Left slate in 2004.  Most of these lists seemed to
be simple shills for Kucinich or this or that Democrat that essentially
sent out Democratic spam with announcements that important Greens (that
I'd never heard of) were calling for Democratic victory in the next
election--and didn't take kindly to any attempt to get a serious
discussion of the spam going.  I suspect they were about as Green as the
Democratic National Committee cared to let them appear.  Still, I don't
see any more reasonable course than pushing for a unified Left of the
Greens, the Socialists, and anybody else.

Mark L.

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