[Marxism] Reply to Carl Davidson

Julio Huato juliohuato at gmail.com
Mon Mar 14 20:25:37 MST 2005

Mark Lause wrote:

> Even putting the most pragmatic and non-ideological spin possible on
> dealings with the Democrats, any support accorded them as they are
> galloping full speed to the right will always be interpreted as support
> for that dynamic.


It depends on *which* policies you "support" and *how* you "support"
them.  In principle, we should NEVER "support" the Democrats in
general.  That certainly would be the same as renouncing to all
political independence.  (I had never before read anything written by
Carl Davidson, but what I can read from him on these exchanges cannot
be construed as "supporting" the DP in general.  Only if we start with
a prejudice against his views, we can interpret his statements that

We should fight the fights that need to be fought in the interest of
the working people, the fights that will increase their unity,
self-education, organization, and militancy.  And, in so doing, we
should cooperate (at least not clash) with *anybody* whose actions
intersect with ours -- regardless of intentions.  And particularly so
when the actions of that *anybody* can have some real impact.  And
that *includes the DP*.

For example, we must defend Social Security from Bush's assault.  What
is the largest political force leading or at least most outspoken in
the public defense of Social Security?  The DP.  Or some members of
the DP.  Or some people who tend to support the DP.  Or people who,
although not trusting the DP, take for granted the need to act in
unity with the DP in defense of Social Security.

In the face of this, should we focus our activity on widening and
strengthening the defense of Social Security, or should we rather
focus it on exposing how the positions of a particular prominent
member of the DP (or, worse, a minor member of the DP or, worst,
somebody *on the left* who might be suspect of "supporting" the DP)
are too hedged, weak, or inconsistent?

I'd say that our focus should be on adding, not on subtracting.  And
that we should use that concrete struggle to leverage our independent
organizational and educational effort, defeat those who want to
dismantle Social Security, and gain more than those who defend Social
Security for reasons other than the interests of workers.

> More broadly, there can be no real question that the Democratic Party is
> not only an asset of corporate capitalism but the primary generator of
> illusions among progressives.  Those who know it for what it is are
> under some obligation to apply the label clearly in a way that it will
> stick.

Illusions don't just float on the air.  Illusions are rooted on social
conditions.  If the focus of our struggle is on fighting against
illusions that are deeply rooted in the social conditions, then we're
wasting our time.  As Lenin used to say, we have to look for the link
that, if pulled, can drag the whole chain.

The main problem nowadays is not *the illusion* of a "liberal"
capitalist America.  The main problem is *the reality* of a
militaristic, aggressive, decadent America able to lash out lethally
against the rest of the world and to turn itself into a vicious quasi-
or proto-fascist society under the guise of Christian religiosity.

The illusion of a "decent, liberal America," whether it'll prove to be
such or not, cannot be our main target.  Any U.S. person who lives off
her work and, under the illusion of a decent, liberal U.S. society,
struggles to defend Social Security and opposes the occupation of Iraq
is my sister or brother for the time being.  And anybody who fosters
enmity between us is not helping.

> Those who don't know what it is--or don't care because they think the
> Republicans are worse--are part of the problem, not the solution.

What the DP is and will be hasn't been decided once and for all.  Like
any social structure, the DP is no solid crystal.  So I happen to
think the exact opposite as Mark's: that those who don't see the
differences between the Democrats and the Republicans are part of the
problem.  I have given detailed arguments in defense of this view --
arguments that have not been refuted.

> Nor should we forget that most qualified voters don't vote and most who
> do vote have the good sense to hold their noses when they do.  The same
> can't be said for DP apologists.

It is a cheap shot to accuse people in the left who advocate for
punctual cooperation with the DP as "DP apologists" or epithets of the
sort.  The only "argument" I've always been given in reply to my views
is that the DP is bad, that it's been bad historically, and that will
be bad in the future.  As I said, I take all that for granted.  The
fact that people believe that such argument is *sufficient* to reject
any cooperation with the DP only shows that most of the opposition to
cooperating with the DP among leftists is pre-rational.


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