[Marxism] RE: Electoral politics and communist tasks

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 18 11:26:17 MST 2004

Lou first throws in his usual gratuitous flame (that I am like a member of 
the Spartacists), better to provide a smokescreen in the discussion about 
how far he has distanced himself from the previous SWP positions he once 
held regarding electoral politics.    Then he goes into a lot of stuff about 
reading a lot during Nader's 2000 run.    And of course by now, everyone on 
the list knows Lou's love affair with Cochran and his suppporters, and how 
he discovered how evil Zinoviev was.    All factors in his reassessing and 
changing his previous views about what should be the electoral interventions 
of socialists today.    But changing his views Lou certainly has done since 
his SWP days of the past.    And as Walter says, some change is good.   But 
then again, some change might be quite wrong, and done for all the wrong 

In Lou's last post, here we also learn that Lou's current criterion is not 
the perceived anti-capitalism of the party he supports, since the Green 
Party is really not anticapitalist at all.     But rather, his principal 
criteria has become, is the political party running independently of the DP 
and RP, or not?     Lou thinks that the Green Party is "independent" of 
them, but sorry to say that not even that is an accurate assessment of the 
Greens at all.    For they are not truly all that independent of the DP, are 
they, Lou?     Most Green supporters are quite glued to voting the lesser of 
TWO evils, not three.

So what were the real views, the real strengths, and the real weaknesses of 
the SWP electoral interventions in times past?    We quickly find that 
electoral independence from the DP and RP was not the prime factor for SWP 
activists of the past, as it is today for those socialists that now advocate 
voting Green Party.

For those like David that don't understand how the SWP once would have 
viewed the Greens and the Canadian NDP in 2 entirely different lights, I 
offer this brief explanation of the old SWP's view of how the party gave out 
it's support to other parties come election time.    Simply put, the SWP 
"critically supported" those poltical parties that they felt had roots in 
the trade unions, or Black and Latino working class communities.    That 
would have included the Canadian NDP, but not the US or Canadian Green 

The key being, that those parties that were building structures beneficial 
to workers outside the mere electorialism that the DP only offers them, and 
had qualities that moved working class struggle ahead into workers not being 
trapped within a pro-capitalist electoral framework.    The "critical 
endorsement" of these parties was not even primarily an electoral 
endorsement, but one where the SWP was working alongside these other parties 
nonelectorally in issues of joint concern, too.    But these joint concerns 
were seen as being the building of movements of workers, not movements of 
ecologists, feminists, Gays, anti World Tradeites, and/or antiwar activists. 
    Really,are the Greens even those things so much altogether?    No, but 
the Canadian NDP is much more so, simply since it is rooted in the Canadian 
trade unions.

This is why the SWP supported the Raza Unida Party in Texas, because it was 
an effort to break from the DP and provide alternative structure to advance 
civil rights for the Latino community.     Similarly, an independent Louis 
Stokes also was given "critical support" as a Reverend Jackson running 
independent (and not affiliated with the DP) would have also most likely 
gotten that support, too.     The SWP was most rigid on this matter of 
"taking a class stand" as Lou earlier used that phrase when addressing 
Walter's position about the need to beat Bush by a DP hack.    And supported 
Stokes and the Raza Unida acticsts because they had firm roots in their 
respective working class communities, and not just were creatures in a 
capitalist party vote catching project.

Later, I would like to go into what were the strengths and weaknesses of the 
SWP's election policies as seen in the '70s when I participated in the 
group.    But I leave off here to just underline once more, that Lou and 
most other exSWPers have moved far astray into rejecting most of their 
previous views about elections taken while they were in the SWP.    Change 
can be a good or bad thing, and certainly the attitudes and policies of the 
old SWP should not be copied rigidly as if they were writ in stone for all 
time.    There were some serious defects in the way the SWP most often ran 
its own campaigns, most especially.    But discussion about why the current 
positions of these exSWPers has diverged widely from their previous 
positions is certainly in order.   And we should also examine if the changes 
are for the good, or for the worse?

Tony Abdo
from Lou's post...

TONY ABDO: In fact, a Green Party vote is about as anticapitalist as a
vote for Kucinich is, and most Green Party supporters were pushing both
Kucinich and GP at both and the same time. And many did the same in 2000
about Gore and Nader. Socialists should 'take a clear class stand', and
not go out and cheerlead the construction of the GP. It's doubtful that
a Malcolm X or a Eugene Debs would have done so, or be on the GP ticket
if alive today. One was too nationalist, and the other too antiwar.

REPLY: For me the criterion is not "anti-capitalism" but running
independently of the Democratic and Republican Parties. I should mention
that the SWP also backed Labor Party initiatives even when the word
capitalism was never mentioned. It also backed the Raza Unida Party,
which was organized around simple demands of Chicano control of the
Chicano community and never said a word about capitalism. When Louis
Stokes, a life-long Democrat, ran as an independent in Cleveland, the
SWP supported him because his campaign could strengthen independent
black political action. In none of these cases was opposition to
capitalism a litmus test. I think that Tony's understanding of electoral
politics has much more to do with the Spartacist League than anything I
ever encountered in the SWP, with all its sectarian faults.

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