[Marxism] Greens, Dems and Building Working Class Independence,

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Mar 26 20:16:46 MST 2005


>Marxist are closer, in term of political culture to Lincolnian 
>Republicanism than to Clintonian New Democraticism, and the Greens are 
>essentially a bunch of Democrats who felt that Clinton backstabbed them in 
>1992-1996, not a movement commited for the long term struggle required to 
>build a real party that challenges both republicans and democrats from the 
>left.
>
>Sure, there are individuals in the Green Party who are not like that, but 
>even Nader ran out to run *his* campaing and not the Party's when the time 
>came.
>
>sks

Carlos, for somebody who writes with such venom about the Green Party, you 
seem singularly uninformed. It may be the case that you know more than you 
let on, but you have seemed to picked up a nasty habit somewhere along the 
line of characterizing groups and political currents without bothering to 
quote them.

As it turns out, we have a number of Green Party leaders on this list who 
tend to lurk but occasionally have a thing or two to say--as Howie Hawkins 
did the other day. If you do a google search on "Howie Hawkins", you can 
find many articles that have little connection to the grotesque caricature 
you have sucked out of your thumb.

I would strongly urge you to get into the habit of quoting people in the 
future since generally speaking you strike me as somebody who might lack 
the commitment to serious Marxist polemics despite your tendency to quarrel 
with people here at the drop of a hat. If you go look at Lenin's articles 
on MIA, you will rarely find him characterizing people without quoting 
them. For example, in the first section of "The Proletarian Revolution and 
the Renegade Kautsky" titled "How Kautsky Turned Marx Into A Common 
Liberal," there is practically a Talmudic exegesis on what Kautsky said. 
Here is what Howie Hawkins has written. Let's see you turn this into 
militant liberalism.

There Never Were Any "Good Old Days" In The Democratic Party
by Howie Hawkins

March 1, 2004

"A liberation movement for the Democratic Party" is one of the goals Ralph 
Nader stated for his campaign in the question and answer period of his 
February 23 press conference announcing his 2004 independent presidential 
candidacy. He went on to a lament that progressives had let their 
Democratic Party slip away to corporate interests since about 1980.

While Nader is certainly correct to say that the Democrats are more 
thoroughly corporatized than ever, perpetuating the myth that the Democrats 
were ever a progressive party undermines the cause of independent 
progressive politics and his own campaign.

Indeed, whatever his intentions, Nader implicitly gave wavering voters 
permission to vote for Gore in 2000 with such statements as the Democrats 
could take back Green votes by going back to their progressive roots, and 
that one positive result of his campaign would be to create a spillover 
vote down the ticket to help elect Democrats to Congress.

In 2000 and now again in 2004, Nader seems to be underselling his own 
prospects by giving the Democrats more credit and import than they deserve. 
Nader had far more support and sympathy than the final 3% vote on Election 
Day in 2000 indicated. A Zogby poll found that 18 percent of the population 
seriously considered voting for Nader. An analysis of the National Election 
Study data by Harvard political scientist Barry Burden shows that only 9% 
of the people who thought Nader was the best candidate actually voted for 
him. If people had not voted strategically for the lesser evil, Nader would 
have had over 30 million votes instead of 3 million and might have won the 
election, especially if he had been allowed in the debates.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, a substantial proportion of Nader 
supporters thought Bush was the lesser evil. While 54% of the people who 
thought Nader was the best candidate voted for Gore in order to defeat 
Bush, 37% of the people who preferred Nader voted for Bush in order to 
defeat Gore. Nader's populist anti-corporate, clean politics, 
environmentalist issues clearly appealed to substantial sections of the 
bases of both major parties as well as independents.

Burden also shows that Nader would have won the election using the 
Condorcet system of preference voting in which voters rank each candidate 
against each other candidate, the system which most voting system experts 
consider the fairest and most accurate way to reflect voters' preferences. 
In a Condorcet preference vote, Nader would have won the 2000 election. 
This is the only presidential election for which there is data to conduct a 
Condorcet election retrospectively, in which the Condorcet winner was not 
the actual winner. (See 
http://psweb.sbs.ohio-state.edu/faculty/hweisberg/conference/burdosu.pdf)

Nader would do better to simply state that the Democratic Party is beyond 
reform, completely captured by corporate interests, and that progressives 
need their own party independent of corporate influence. Ironically, it is 
the same "liberal intelligentsia" that Nader now scolds for a failure of 
nerve that perpetuates the myth that the Democratic Party is potentially 
progressive. This myth, to which Nader also contributes by some of his 
statements, encourages activists to try to reform the Democratic Party from 
within.

But what progressive roots of the Democratic Party are there?

Surely they don't mean the slaveholders and Indian exterminators of the 
pre-Civil War Democratic Party. In the 1800s, the only post-Civil War 
Democratic administrations, those of Grover Cleveland, were not much 
different from the Republicans in their hard money economic policies that 
were killing the agrarian economy. While Cleveland did clean up some of the 
corruption that had become so endemic after some 25 years of Republican 
rule, Cleveland was no friend of the working people as evidenced by his use 
of federal troops against the march on Washington by Coxey's Army of the 
unemployed seeking public works for jobs and against the Pullman railroad 
strike.

The idea that the Democrats are a progressive party is a 20th century idea. 
And progressives entering the Democratic Party to reform it is an old and 
failed approach. Since 1936, when the labor movement and the Communists, 
then the largest and most influential current on the Left, dropped all 
serious pretenses of independent labor or socialist politics and joined the 
Democratic Party coalition, reforming the Democratic Party has been the 
dominant strategy on the progressive side of American politics. The new 
left social movements emerging in the 1960s -- the civil rights, peace, 
women's, community organizing, and environmental movements -- oriented to 
the Democratic Party. There were the McCarthy and McGovern campaigns, a New 
Democratic Coalition and a Rainbow Coalition, a Jerry Brown campaign in 
1992, all aimed at reform.

full: http://www.swans.com/library/art10/hhawk01.html


Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 





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