[Marxism] Reply to Carl Davidson

Julio Huato juliohuato at gmail.com
Tue Mar 15 21:31:21 MST 2005

"ameritech acoount" <stansmith44 at ameritech.net> wrote:

> In response to Julio Huato: Whatever Carl Davidson might say to rationalize his support to the Democratic party,the fact is that he wholeheartedly supports Democrats. 

Well, you may know him better than me.  But based on the texts
published on this list, I cannot draw that conclusion.

> There is no evidence that hereaches out to the anti- DP/RP anti-imperialist movement here in Chicago in order tobuild a new independent political force. He does not orient towards building an independentmovement, but only of pressuring the Democrats, and for settling for a winnable candidate.He is no different than Kucinich, but with a lot less influence and a lot more hot air.

I don't know.  I may or may not agree with your method of building an
independent movement.  I don't think that political independence means
mechanical separation from other political formations, lack of
cooperation with another party, or zero alliances.  In fact, I believe
such a sectarian approach leads to exactly the worst type of political
submission, the one that results from your absolute inability to
effect social change.  I simply cannot judge Carl Davidson on the
basis of what you tell me.

> We do, after all, have to look at what a person does more than what he says.Davidson is as wedded to the Democratic party as the CP is. 

Well, you see.  I don't know enough about the CP in the U.S. to make a judgment.

> If anything, Louis Proyect isa little mild on his criticisms of Davidson. Being here in Chicago, Davidson's role is not to build a broad anti-right wing movement, but rather he self-proclaimed role is to pullthe rug from under the independent anti-war, anti-imperialist movement whenever possible. 

Well, that may not be a bad role.  Remember Hegel's remarks about "the
role of the negative."  The main point here is that I fail to view a
"anti-imperialist movement" led by a handful of sectarian
organizations as necessarily independent.  Political independence is
not a premise predicated on the adjectives chosen by a small group of
activists to characterize themselves.  Political independence is the
resultant of the way the movement conducts itself, the extent to which
it unites the working class, enhances its education, organization, and
militant activity, and induces social change.

> Julio is a little silly about talking about "cooperating" with the Democratic Party.Is there some kind of "cooperation agreement" you think we anti-imperialists have not signed on to for some ultra-left or sectarian reason? 

Cooperation is the right term.  When people have common goals, they do
better by coordinating their actions.  But the coordination can be
formal or informal, as long as there is some.  It doesn't escape me
that at the moment the DP is big and influential and Marxists are not.
 I understand that whenever the big and powerful negotiate with the
small and weak, whatever the method of negotiation, the initial
asymmetry of power vitiates the outcome.  That is why I use the term
"cooperation" more than, say, "alliance," which is also correct, but
that may convey the idea of a formal negotiation and agreement.

But which term we use is less relevant than the principle.  At first,
because we're small, the DP will not even take us into account and the
cooperation will be merely tacit and punctual. But to the extent we
gain more than the DP does with our cooperation, we will get ahead. 
And that's all that matters.  We focus on our own growth and let those
other things fall into place.

> Why doesn't Julio post here whatthis "cooperation agreement" that was reached with the Democratic party? The DP does notneed to or want to "cooperate" with you or Davidson. 

I don't care whether the DP wants or needs to cooperate with me.  What
I care about is the movement advancing.  For example, defending Social
Security or demanding the withdrawal from Iraq.  For that, I'm willing
to cooperate with anyone.  In my case, most of that cooperation will
be tacit and informal, because I'm just an individual involved (only
as a "volunteer," not even as a full-time organizer) in small local
organizations with very limited scopes. All it takes is for us in the
context of that struggle is to assert our views frankly and try to
reach out and expand the influence of our local organizations.

> The only cooperation they know is yoursurrender of your political agenda.  

How do you know?  Have you ever cooperated with the Democrats?

Look, think of it this way.  No serious social revolution in the U.S.
will ever happen without masses of workers taking part in it, leading
the process.  And those workers are who they are.  For historical
reasons, they have invested themselves in the DP.

Historical investments are like personal investments.  Think of your
computer when it doesn't do what you want it to do or when it crashes
for no particular reason, and you don't have the means to immediately
replace it or you just like your old computer otherwise.  What do you
do?  You troubleshoot.

Perhaps the problem is that you haven't learned well some ways to use
an application, and you can just check the manual and make it work. 
Maybe it's the software version and you need an upgrade.  Maybe it's
the OS and you have to switch to Linux (or MS Win).  Or maybe it's the
hardware.  You may need to upgrade the RAM memory or the hard disk. 
Only after you give up on your whole personal investment on the
equipment, you get psychologically disposed to get rid of the computer
altogether.  If you are not affluent or are too worried about the
risks and cost of learning about a new equipment, it may take you not
months but years to decide to dump your old computer.

If I come to you and say, dump your damn old computer already and buy
one from me, what will your reaction be?

Mutatis mutandis, that's the case in a large historical investment of
the partisan sort by large masses of people.  The grievances have to
be big and recurrent.  Historical troubleshooting at this scale takes
years, decades even.  That's another reason why belonging to a
particular political formation of the DP type cannot be a
pre-condition for workers to unite.  That is my main point.  This has
nothing to do with "supporting" the DP as such, but it doesn't exclude
helping the DP in particular struggles.

And I push this further, given the choice between a second term for
Bush and a first term for Kerry, with such high domestic and
international stakes, I contend that supporting Kerry was the right
thing to do.  Read my response to Jim Farmelant for more on this.

> People like Julio put Marxists in the position of having to attack the Democratic Party,and it makes us seem like we attack Democrats and not Republicans. 

Oh poor you.

> There are some in bothparties who do progressive and courageous things, like our old Illinois Republican governor George Ryan, like Robert Byrd too. But both parties carry out the dictates of US big business,

That's precisely my point.  So, would you help Robert Byrd in opposing
the occupation of Iraq?



PS: Check your e-mail settings.  Your message is hard to read.

More information about the Marxism mailing list