[Marxism] Lesser-evilism and the Democrats

Jose G. Perez elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net
Thu Mar 18 14:17:33 MST 2004


>>The left flourished under under JFK and
LBJ; it withered under Nixon; it became virtually
extinct under Reagan. It took a long time under
Clinton, but the left did start to come to life in the
late 1990s. The anti-globalization movement would not
have taken off without the protective umbrella of
Democratic Party power.<<

This is actually an entirely inaccurate portrayal. The radicalization of
"the 1960's" actually began in the late 1950's, with the Montgomery Bus
Boycott.

Nixon's election did not bring the radicalization to a stop; it
continued. The Oct. 15, 1969, moratorium,  the Nov. 15, 1969, march on
Washington, the May 1970 student strike and the April 24, 1971, march on
Washington were among the expressions of this radicalism during the
Nixon years. There were also other advanced political phenomenon, such
as the gay movement, the women's movement and Chicano movement, all of
which came into their own under Nixon.

The reason for the decline of radical movements, however, had a great
deal to do with the Democrats. Many people were sucked into working for
McGovern. This coupled with the U.S. agreement to withdraw all ground
troops, and the major concession on abortion by the ruling class, led to
a very palpable decline in visible, radical political activity in early
1973.

Another very important factor was the wave of repression against the
Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement and other groups (I
mention those two because it was especially murderous against them).

The early 70's also marked a change in the economic situation, with the
end of the long post-WWII boom. 

Finally, Nixon's impeachment and the resulting Watergate "reforms" had
the contradictory effect of convincing some people that the system could
be "fixed," and indeed quite a few radical figures went into the
Democratic Party at that time.

Similarly, the protests of the end of the Clinton years marked a
significant beginning of a revival for the left, but nothing on the
scale of what came later, with the antiwar marches in late 2002 and
early 2003.

I think something else that needs to be taken into account in judging
the state of the left are the actions of the leftists. Instead of trying
to look for ways to unite, the big majority of organized revolutionaries
were engaged in internecine warfare, between and often within their own
organizations. There's a lesson in there somewhere for today.

José



-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of Derek Seidman
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 9:19 AM
To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
Subject: [Marxism] Lesser-evilism and the Democrats


On the Left Hook discussion list the most heated,
reoccuring theme is lesser-evilism and support for the Democrats. Below
is a short message sent to our list. I'd be interested in hearing
anyone's comments. 

Derek
---------

The only way to break out of lesser-evilism is to vote
in Democrats. The left flourished under under JFK and
LBJ; it withered under Nixon; it became virtually
extinct under Reagan. It took a long time under
Clinton, but the left did start to come to life in the
late 1990s. The anti-globalization movement would not
have taken off without the protective umbrella of
Democratic Party power. One of the reasons this
happens is because Democrats have a better history of delivering
economic growth. When people feel more secure about their jobs and their
economic prospects, they are more likely to support things like single
payer, etc. and to tell their boss to stuff it. A strong labor market
acts as a kind of de facto labor union, allowing workers to make an end
run around the repressive labor laws. It also makes people less fearful,
and encourages non-conformist behavior. When times are bad, people lash
out at the poor and immigrants and cling to their jobs in terror. Hard
times make people right wing; good times make people left wing. Much of
what I just said is counter-intuitive, but before blasting away at me,
think it over. 

Every intervention by a left party in a Presidential
election has resulted in either of two scenarios: 1)
the party's vote total, and its institutional residue,
are insignificant, or 2) the party's vote total throws
the election to the most conservative mainstream
candidate, resulting in left wing decline for the
subsequent four years (at least). 
There has never once been an exception to this in the
history of the United States of America. 
This is why "minorities" don't vote en masse for third
party candidates. It's political suicide.



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