[Marxism] RE: Voting by the U.S. Left--and the main stategic goal of2004

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Sun Feb 22 05:23:13 MST 2004

In a letter to Friedrich Sorge, dated December 2, 1893,
Friedrich Engels provided his own diagnosis of
the obstacles to the formation of a large socialist
workers party in the United States.  Engels wrote:
First, the Constitution, based as in England upon party
government, which causes every vote for any candidate
not put up by one of the two governing parties to
appear to be lost.  And the American, like the Englishman,
wants to influence his state; he does not throw his
vote away.

Then, and more especially, immigration, which divides
the workers into two groups: the native-born and the
foreigners, and the latter into (1) Irish, (2) the Germans,
(3) the many small groups, each of which understands
only itself: the Czechs, Poles, Italians, Scandinavians,
etc.  And then the Negroes.  To form a single party
out of these requires quite unusually powerful
incentives.  Often there is a sudden violent elan,
but the bourgeoisie need only wait passively and
the dissimilar elements of the working class fall
apart again.

Third, through the protective tariff system and the
steadily growing domestic market the workers
have been exposed to a prosperity no trace which
has been seen in Europe for years now (except
in Russia, where, however, the bourgeois profit
by it and not the workers). 

What is most striking about Engels' diagnosis,
is how applicable it still remains after more than
a century.  I would have to agree with Tony Abdo
that voting statistics from US presidential elections
are virtually meaningless for gauging leftist
sentiment in the American populace.  Most
left-leaning voters in the US either hold their
noses, then go to the polls, cast their
ballots for the Democrats, and then return
home to take a hot shower, or they simply
stay home out of disgust over the process.
Given the winner-take-all electoral system,
the existence of the two-party system, where
both major parties serve the interests of
big capital, is firmly locked in place.  No
third party is ever going to be able to challenge
the two major parties, unless one of the two
collapses the way the Whigs did in the
1850s, thereby opening the door to the
GOP.  Just like back then, such an event is
not likely to occur without a very major 
systemic crisis in which the ruling class,
itself, finds its control under serious

Jim F.

On Sun, 22 Feb 2004 00:27:25 -0600 "Tony Abdo" <gojack10 at hotmail.com>
> Mark, you do some meaningless juggling of past vote totals around, 
> and then 
> inform us that the "most striking problem the Left has" is lack of 
> unity.    
>   Then you tell us that the Green Party is the key to gaining this 
> ephemeral 
> Left unity you find lacking at the polls.     But you are wrong 
> about this, 
> since the lack of Left unity is not the most striking problem the 
> Left has 
> at the polls, contrary to what you say.
> The most striking problem for the Left at the polls, if problem it 
> be???, is 
> that the majority of the US population sees the whole process as 
> rigged and 
> therefore they feel that their participation is quite meaningless.   
>   And 
> they are right.    The elections are rigged.    And trying to 
> convince 
> people that their vote will count by voting a Left candidate for 
> president 
> is an exercise in futility.   Quite frankly, most people know that 
> even if 
> some sort of a Bernie Sanders gets in as a self avowed socialist, 
> thru their 
> vote, that nothing basic still will change.    Many know that the 
> Brits 
> voted "Labor" and got taken.   Why should US voters think that a 
> watered 
> down Green version (not based on any real labor support) of US 
> social 
> democracy be worth even the trip to the polls?
> However the knowledge of all this, leads most people to just greater 
> apathy 
> and cynicism, since the Left has not been able to give the masses 
> any real 
> alternantive vision (to elections) of how to bring about change.   
> The main 
> strategic goal of the Left should be in 2004, 2005, 2006, and so on, 
> to find 
> a way to convince the masses to move forward with non-electoral 
> organizational building that could produce results that a rigged 
> electoral 
> process cannot.    The Green Party has not been a real leader in 
> this 
> orientation, but has fed itself into the electorialist illusions of 
> middle 
> class liberalism.
> As to that stated (by you) idea that the Greens have produced a 
> higher level 
> of unity.    Jesus!    That's bizarre nonsense.     The Green Party 
> just 
> lost the participation in it, of its year 2000 presidential 
> candidate, 
> Nader.     And the split had as its motivation from both sides, a 
> dispute on 
> how best to turn out the vote for the Democratic Party!   Nader says 
> run 
> serious to do it, and the other side says run weak is the real 
> method to 
> ensure that Bush gets defeated by the DP candidate.    There's not 
> even 
> unity via the Greens on how to support the other guy!
> Lou has constantly pointed out that there are some very good people 
> pushing 
> for the Greens.    Point taken.    But just as there were some very 
> good 
> people pushing for the SWP at one time, nice intentions are not 
> always that 
> important if the politics and strategy are wrong.   In that case, 
> nice 
> intentions can often just prolong the agony of illusions and 
> frustrations, 
> and ultimately the cynicism and apathy of the masses will remain the 
> chief 
> obstacle to Left work as a whole.
> Better that socialists try to build up their own organizations and 
> the mass 
> movements as a whole, than to go out and votehustle Green thinking 
> that that 
> will somehow weaken the two party system.    Socialists should NOW 
> be making 
> demands that the Green Pary and Nader people be building a movement 
> to get 
> the US out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Colombia.    That should have 
> been "the 
> main strategic goal of 2004 for the US Left.    But so far it hasn't 
> been.   
>   Instead, many soicialists have been concentrating on getting 
> people to 
> vote Green Party.   Defeating Bush by voting DP has been the nemesis 
> that 
> these socialists struggle against.     But the real political 
> problem of 
> 2004 is that, whether voting Green Party, Nader, or lesser of two 
> evil DP, 
> there is not much ACTIVE street action against the US occupation of 
> Iraq.    
> The elections, once again, have demobilized protest.
> The  idea that getting more liberals to vote Green Party will make a 
> difference in US politics for the Left is just off the mark.    
> Simply 
> because it is impossible to convince people that their voting can 
> create a 
> three party sysem out of a controlled and managed two party one.    
> You 
> cannot convince large numbers of DP liberals of that, nor large 
> numbers of 
> disenchanted non-voters from the working class, neither.    They 
> know 
> better.    Hence, the future of the Green Party in the US will 
> continue to 
> be as sort of a Leftie pressure group that floats around the DP come 
> election time.     And this Green electioneering has become almost 
> as bad as 
> the DP lesser evilism routine at demobilizing protest during 
> election years. 
>      Socailists trying to mine gold out of lead in the Green Party 
> are no 
> real help, nor have they any change of success.
> Tony Abdo
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Mark Lause...
> The single most striking problem the Left has at the polls is that 
> it
> fails to enter the campaign united.  The Greens have provided an
> independent force that has come as near as any other current in 
> modern
> times to allowing us to enter national campaigns united.  It is the
> decisive consideration, I think...how to bring as much of those
> otherwise disparate and alienated ballots together to make a common
> statement.
> The Greens face some serious obstacles, not the least of which would 
> be
> the diversion into a strategy of minimizing Green votes in states 
> that
> might be winnable by Democrats.  Every such scheme--from the
> Greenbackers in the 1870s, the Populists in the 1890s, and the later
> Progressives--marks the first unraveling of the kind of independent
> unity we need to express at the polls
> _________________________________________________________________
> Stay informed on Election 2004 and the race to Super Tuesday. 
> http://special.msn.com/msn/election2004.armx
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