[Marxism] Reply to Carl Davidson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 18 08:45:09 MST 2005


>The Democrat party was never a labor party. The book by Art Preis, 
>_Labor's Giant Step_,
>  is very, very clear on this. Preis details the measures taken by 
> Democrats from Frances
>Perkins, the Roosevelt Secretary of Labor, on down, against the Flint 
>sit-down strikers.
>And certainly the prowar Democrat party today, the party of the 
>near-billionaire militarist
>Kerry and of so many other plutocrats, is not a labor party.
>
>M.N. Ryutin

While I agree with this, it is almost guaranteed that some elements of a 
new, historically progressive party will emerge from older ruling class 
parties. That certainly is the story of the Republican Party of the Civil 
War era, which included many long-time Democrats opposed to slavery.

I think that James Zarichny (and Genora Dollinger) were correct to stress 
the importance of trade unionists running as Democrats in the 1930s and 
40s. The role of the Marxist movement toward such a development has to be 
nuanced. Another important such development was Upton Sinclair's EPIC (End 
Poverty in California Campaign) of the 1930s. Although he ran as a 
Democrat, this campaign was fiercely opposed by big business.

In 1948, Henry Wallace--a life-long Democrat--ran on the Progressive Party 
ticket. This was an auspicious bid to oppose the Cold War and back civil 
rights and the labor movement. It was crushed by reaction.

When Jesse Jackson ran as a "rainbow coalition" candidate in Presidential 
primaries, it had a completely different dynamic than other primary bids. 
Many radicals, including myself, had hopes that Jackson might eventually 
break with the Democrats and form a Rainbow Party.

So what is the point? I guess it is that when you see incipient challenges 
to the 2-party system arising from within the bowels of the 2-party system, 
you have to develop a more friendly approach than you would with 
conventional candidates. You have to be diplomatic and encourage the 
independent tendencies that are already present.

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