[Marxism] Nader, ISO, American left

stansmith44 stansmith44 at ameritech.net
Sun May 30 12:50:49 MDT 2004

One email to the list wrote, "I dont understand why what is called the left seems to just endlessly fragment."  Another, "I've just been reading Jose's informative piece on the
decision of the ISO not to back Nader in the Presidential race. As an outsider, this strikes me as a remarkably foolish decision and one that in its own small way reflects the self-imposed element of the weakness of the American socialist left."

    Having just read "Reminiscences of Lenin," one thing I noticed was the extent to which the Russian Social Democratic Party fragmented and fragmented and fragmented. Both before, on the eve of, and after the revolution.  It was a constant part of the history of the socialist movement in Russia, and it was not the final victory of working class ideological unity that put an end to the constant splits, but the consolidation of Stalinist rule that ended splits. 

  On the other hand, the continual growing of a united mass working class party, everybody uniting in one organization, is best illustrated by the German Social Democratic Party headed by Kautsky.

   Two good examples of united mass parties: Kautsky's and Stalin's. Which of those two do you prefer? 
Or would you stick with a continually fracturing party headed by a Lenin?

    The only mass working class party nowadays is the Cuban Communist Party. But then those who complain about not enough left unity among the US "left" complain that the problem in Cuba is there is too much unity. There we have a socialist state with only one mass working class party.  Now we call this "A one-party state." Now the problem is not "unity" but "dictatorship." When such a united party is built, that is called "lack of workers democracy."

    When working class or left fragmentation is condemned, and working class or left unity is also condemned, obviously we should start suspecting the origin of these views. 

    Complaining about lack of unity  ( and also  too much unity) in the movement is right-wing propaganda that many of us pick up and import into the movement. The gist of the propaganda is this: "why bother with the US left, with being a leftist, with being a radical, with being a political activist; they are all divided and fight among themselves. Just go mainstream, and effect real change." Mainstream meaning the Democratic Party of course. 

    I leave aside the false definition of the American socialist left as being limited to members of parties. Is it an exaggeration to state for every socialist revolutionary in a party there are 1000 not belonging to a party? 

     And let us not forget the great power those of us in the socialist movement here have. Who organized all the anti-war demonstrations against Bush over the last few years? It is not only the Bush administration's imperialist incompetence that has put him in the jam he is in now. American socialist leftists (redundant?) have been a powerful and indispensible force in isolating Bush's and US imperialist maneouvers on the world stage. Without us, without our power and unity, the US war in Iraq would not be in the jam it is now. Maybe some of us think we are not significant, but the White House and Ashcroft certainly don't  think so.    Stan Smith

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