[Marxism] Repentant Trot crawls to the Democrats - ABC of the fight against lesser-evilism

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Fri May 21 05:24:30 MDT 2004

The real problem is that Howard Ryan defeats his own argument. If a "lesser
evil" position is adopted, then "the movements" will never be "strong", and
consequently "third party projects" will never get anywhere. Because that
just means reinforcing lesser-evil politics. Lesser-evil politics is a
Faustian, negative politics, defined by the idea that "while the options are
bad, one option is "not as bad as another" and therefore one should choose
the least bad option. But this can never be a successful kind of politics,
because any successful politics is defined in terms of a positive,
constructive message of "what to do". Any successful political leader
doesn't just tell people "what not to do", or what to avoid, he tells people
"what they ought to do" in order to advance certain values, interests and

The existence of lesser-evil politics is predicated on the lack of political
alternatives. This lack of political alternatives means that the options are
limited to tweedle-dum and tweede-dee. But this doesn't justify limiting the
options to tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee ! Instead, it means the challenge is
to explain how come a lack of political alternatives exist, and to create
political alternatives, prove there are more political options, and to think
about how you go about creating those political options. That is a creative
politics in which you can have a personal input. As long as the political
options remain restricted to tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, no political
alternatives can emerge, or else those political alternatives are bought off
by tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.

Whether or not 10,000 Marxists in the USA vote for Kerry or for Nader
doesn't make a hoot of a difference to any political outcome. What might
make a difference, is whether they publicly advocate a vote for Kerry or for
Nader. Since what Nader does is to criticise the entire system on which
tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum politics are based, and presents an alternative,
casting a vote in the presidential elections for Nader (or another candidate
outside tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee politics) would be the most minimal
condition for an alternative politics. Such a vote would signify the
recognition that there is very little difference between Kerry and Bush from
the point of view of ordinary working folks, and that an alternative is

The bizarre defences by would-be radicals of lesser-evil politics just mean,
that those radicals themselves lack any political clout, and therefore can
think of nothing else than to adapt to tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum politics.
But that then suggests that there should be an honest inquiry into why they
don't have any political clout, and how they could get it. And it's clear
that they don't get it by getting involved in lesser-evil politics, and if
they do get involved in it, they lose their own political identity.
So the important political work for a radical is done not in casting a vote
for one of two lesser-evil candidates every three or four years, it is done
by promoting political alternatives all the time, regardless of 3-minute,
once-in-four-years democracy.

When Howard Ryan promotes a vote for the Democrats, he admits he believes
that there are no other answers. But in that case, he has already conceded
the political argument. The only defensible case for working within "lesser
evil politics" would be to "learn the political ropes", admitting you don't
know them, but then it must be proved there is no better way to learn
anything about political processes, and I think these days that would be
exceedingly difficult to prove.

"Lesser-evil" ideologues forfeit their political birthright, their right to
exist with an independent political stance and promote political
alternatives. They try to make a virtue of their own lack of political
influence. They would be better off reading Dale Carnegie on "how to win
friends and influence people."


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