[Marxism] Democrats call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at comcast.net
Sat Apr 10 20:10:59 MDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Marvin Gandall" <marvgandall at rogers.com>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition"
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 7:49 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Democrats call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq
> Lou: "b) the Kerry organization is firmly in the hands of loyal servants
> imperialism, whereas the Nader organization has people who are more worth
> talking to
> Me: I think there are many more trade unionists, blacks, Latino(s), women,
> gays, solidarity, and other activists in the DP than in the Greens, whom
> neither of us would consider "loyal servants of imperialism" and would
> clearly consider "worth talking to", so I don't get your point.
> ------------------------------------------
> Lou: "c) the Nader organization is also more democratic and allows for
> local initiative."
> You know the DP better than I, but I don't find your plaintive expression
> powerlessness in this context convincing. I think you'd find a way to make
> your points to DP workers as I have in the NDP, despite a party political
> culture which is only slightly more conduicive to internal party debate.

Marvin, after reading what you have said, I now conclude that you vastly
understate the case when you say that I know the DP better than you.  I now
conclude that you don't know what the Democratic Party in the US is like AT
ALL.  It is as if I were arguing with you about the Toronto Blue Jays and
then you found out that I thought they were actually blue-and-white
insectivorous birds.  I'm not angry with you about this though.  I can
forgive ignorance, particularly when the U.S. media attempts to spread
ignorance precisely about what U.S. democracy is like.  Taking into account
the fact that you don't know what the Democratic Party here is like makes it
possible to understand how you write some of the things that you write.

Completely describing the Democratic Party in the U.S. would require an
article of several pages.  It would be worth writing.  But let me try to
make a few summary points.

(a) Most people in the United States are not 'registered' as members of any
party at all.  That means that they cannot vote in 'primary elections' and
have no say as to who the candidate will be.

(b) Of the people who are 'Registered Democrats', about 95% (the number may
be slightly different, I don't have hard data, this is a guesstimate) have
absolutely no involvement with the Democratic Party except that they have
voted in at least one primary election.

(c) In fact there is no such thing as the Democratic Party.  There are
Democratic Organizations on the national, state, city, and ward level.
Being a 'registered Democrat' gives you absolutely no voice in the
governance of any of these organizations, except in so far as you have the
ability to vote for officers at the time of the primary election.

(d) The local and state democratic organizations are entirely under the
control of more or less corrupt politicians, and are funded by large- and
small-businesspeople who want to grease their way in dealing with the
government.  To demonstrate that I am not merely being cynical about this,
let me tell you that my own ward organization in the Rogers Park
neighborhood is under the control of Alderman Joe Moore, who is as close to
a social-democrat as there is in the Chicago City Council.  Moore was one of
the leading sponsors of the anti-war resolution that passed last spring.
But he never votes against the Mayor's budget.  He supports the straight
Democratic Party ticket at election time.  He never takes any action to
challenge the Mayor's complete dominance of city government.  He can't,
because if he did, it would cost his neighborhood jobs and money and urban
development projects.

There are no 'public meetings' of these organizations at which anyone has a
voice or a vote.  When there are public meetings, they are entirely for the
purpose of officeholders talking to the voters and trying to fool them.
Candidates are slated before the primary elections at closed meetings of
party insiders.  There is not even any attempt to involve the masses of
people in the local organizations at all!  There would be nothing for them
to do, they would get in the way, and they are not wanted.

(e) During the period between elections, these local and state organizations
operate pretty much entirely with a paid staff, and/or with the staff of
elected officials and also with labor which city workers are illegally
required to perform as a condition of keeping their jobs.  There is no
volunteer 'party work' going on at all.

(f) At election time, there are volunteers.  Volunteers come to the party
office and take the literature that they are told to distribute and go out
and distribute it where they are told to.  There is not even any time to
talk politics with any other volunteers, since the other volunteers are
distributing the literature somewhere else.  If I want to talk politics to
campaign volunteers, it is silly of me to join the campaign because I will
have no opportunity to do it.  My better option is to stand on the street
corner and wait for them to walk by and then talk politics with them. The
literature is written by a corporate advertising agency somewhere.

(g) Thus the local and state organizations are in all ways a hundred times
less democratic and more hierarchical than the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union in its least democratic periods.

(h) The presidential campaign organization of a candidate like Kerry is ten
times less democratic and more hierarchical than THAT.  It is governed
entirely from Kerry's national headquarters.  Nobody in any of the state or
local organizations has any option to do anything except distribute the
literature they are given by Kerry, or the local literature which includes
'Vote for Kerry' on it.  In any case, the presidential campaign is now 90% a
campaign of television advertisements, duelling media pundits, production of
sound bites, etc.

All right, now, with this new information in hand, perhaps you can
understand why you are talking past me when I say that "the Kerry
organization" is undemocratic, and you start talking about trade-unionists
and gays and so on "in the Democratic Party".  Of course many of them
are -registered Democrats-.  But they are not generally even in the local
organizations, and they are certainly not in the Kerry presidential campaign
organization.  I can talk to them just as effectively by standing on the
street corner with a leaflet as any other way.

Lou Paulsen

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