[Marxism] Irritable Dan

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at comcast.net
Sun May 30 22:59:26 MDT 2004

I think it might be worth analyzing the logical structure of Dan
"SuperIrritable" Elliot's first two paragraphs:

"I'd just like to weigh in & say that I agree with Brian 110% about the
failure of all these "vanguards" to realize they need to participate in the
Nader campaign. To me it isn't Nader himself so much as it is that his
campaign is the only one with a chance to create a network of people able to
work together, with the expertise you can only develop through experience.

"We need to start building a left electoral vehicle that is broad,
inclusive, participatory/democratic, with a lot of transparency. The
opposite of a "democratic centralist" Vanguard Formation."

OK, without quibbling with the question of whether Dan understands what
democratic centralism is or what a vanguard formation is, here is what
strikes me.  Dan despises us "vanguardists".  And yet, he is upset with us
for not pitching in with the Nader campaign.  Why does he care what we do,
if we are so useless and irrelevant?  He says that "we need to start
building ... a broad .. left electoral vehicle."  Who's stopping him?  Go
build a broad left electoral vehicle, Dan!

I have been reading posts about how "we need to build a left electoral
vehicle" ever since there were posts.  People have been saying this for
decades!  Generations!  And yet, you never do it!!  Are there perhaps
systemic obstacles?  The weakness of socialist consciousness among the
workers and oppressed?  The divisions in the working class?  The reactionary
period?  The undemocratic electoral system?

Here you have the Green Party, which is the closest thing to a "broad left
electoral vehicle" that we have seen for a long time, and what are they
going to do?  They shy away from Nader and are afraid to do anything that
looks like they are going to ask people to vote against Kerry!  In fact,
even Nader does that!  And why?  I argue that the undogmatic, open,
transparent, vague, politically heterogeneous, non-class-conscious,
ultraliberal-but-not-socialist, "leftness" of the Green Party is just not
sturdy enough to withstand the stresses of the period!

I honestly think that the implicit message of Dan's complaint is that he is
frustrated that "broad left" politics aren't doing well, and is looking for
someone to blame, and he says we "vanguardists" should get busy and build
Dan's "broad electoral vehicle" for him, because he can't think of enough
non-vanguardists who are single-minded enough, reliable enough, to actually
do it.

Dan continues,

"It's particularly sad that the Workers World Party insists on going its own
control-freak way," - why does the fact that we are running our own
candidates make us control freaks? - "since the ANSWER coalition they
largely control (with input from the Habash fans) is just about the only
game in town if you are into mass street protests, which I definitely am."
We have been through this "WWP controls ANSWER" charge a hundred times; it
is still not true, and "Habash fans" is a snide and dismissive and hostile
way to refer to the Free Palestine Alliance at this point in time, isn't it?
They have played an indispensible role in the movement.

Anyway, how does Dan square his belief that there is enough leftist activity
and consciousness out there for a "broad left electoral vehicle" with his
belief that a small party of "vanguardists" controls "the only game in town"
with regard to street protests?    "All these new people, if interested in
the election, could be doing something in the electoral arena that would
build for the future."  So what is Dan saying?  Is WWP supposed to use its
supposed control of ANSWER protests and turn them into Nader rallies by
fiat??  I have no idea what he is recommending here actually.  What stops
the Nader campaign, or Dan himself, from leafleting at and attempting to
recruit from ANSWER rallies?

We are supporting ANSWER's activities wherever we can because they are
anti-war, anti-occupation, anti-imperialist, and have a clear "troops out"
line.   They are what the Iraqi and Palestinian and Afghan and Haitian
people need.  We are working very hard trying to get people to the June 5
rallies.  Think of everything that has happened since March 20; isn't a
united anti-war protest in DC now timely and necessary?

Dan says, "before we can hope to see anything like a qualitative change in
social conditions, we will have to master two arenas: that of the Mass
Media, and that of US-style elections."  That is, we have to beat Capital on
its own home ground, with its own weapons.  Suppose someone in 1908 had
said, "before we see a qualitative change in Russia, we will have to master
two arenas: Romanov court politics, and elections to the Duma..."

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago

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