[Marxism] Eric Mann and "progressive Democrats"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 3 09:05:50 MDT 2005

Eric Mann is a long-time activist in the LA area who has written a pamphlet 
titled "Letter in Support of the Movement in New Orleans and the Gulf 
Coast: Notes on Strategy & Tactics" that can be read at: 
http://www.frontlinespress.com/Letter_in_Support_web.pdf. It is filled with 
grandiloquent statements about the need for a 3rd Reconstruction and 
sweeping proposals for a new movement that will presumably dance to the 
tune of Mann's kazoo. Of some interest, however, is the section on the 
Democratic Party that refers to Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as 
"progressive Democrats"! What planet is Mann living on? Yesterday's NY 
Times Magazine section has an article on Clinton that states, among other 

"Clinton, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with ideological crusades, 
and she has thus far resisted the pull of rising antiestablishment forces - 
bloggers, donors and activists - who are fast becoming today's equivalent 
of the 60's left. Instead, Hillary (as she is universally known) has 
navigated with extreme caution through the party's fast-changing landscape, 
and if she has evolved as a public figure, it is in a way that has 
distanced her from the party's more liberal base. She has never renounced 
her initial support for the invasion of Iraq, and has in fact lobbied for 
recruiting an additional 80,000 Army troops. She has recently taken the 
opportunity, in much publicized speeches, to denounce unwanted pregnancies 
and violent video games. And at a time when the new activists brand any 
bipartisan cooperation as treachery, Clinton seems to pop up every week 
next to some conservative who has joined her on an issue like health-care 
modernization or soldiers' benefits."

It is truly amazing to see an SDS veteran like Mann calling Clinton and 
Booker T. Washington wannabe Barack Obama "progressive Democrats". In fact, 
it was the sclerotic attachment to the Democrat Party by the CPUSA and the 
SP that motivated young radicals like him to launch SDS in the 1960s. How 
the mighty have fallen.


Unity and Struggle with the Democratic Party

There is the grave danger that the majority of those in the Democratic 
Party will play their usual opportunistic game. The Democrats may hope that 
Bush falls flat on his face on the Iraq issue, the privatization of social 
security, and the racism and criminal negligence of his New Orleans 
response—without their Party raising any substantial demands to help Black 
people, challenge the corporate raiders, or in any way antagonize the white 
Southern, suburban, and racist voter.

And yet there are rays of hope for a progressive alliance. The 
Congressional Black Caucus and Jesse Jackson have provided the most 
militant and clear antiracist critique of the existing situation. 
Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean made some decent statements 
to the virtually all Black National Baptist Convention. He said, “We have 
to come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age, and economics 
played a role in who survived and who did not. And this question, 40 and 50 
years after Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, is: ‘How could this 
still be happening in America?’”

Dean also challenged the Republican plan to make permanent the elimination 
of federal inheritance taxes, and asked, “If there’s an extra $750 million 
in the budget, let’s ask the American people, ‘Shall we give that to 3,000 
of the wealthiest people in America, or shall we rebuild New Orleans and 
rebuild Mississippi and rebuild the school system in Chicago, New York, 
Indianapolis, and Los Angeles?” He also questioned the use of funds for the 
war in Iraq, challenging “Two hundred billion dollars—could that have saved 
lives in New Orleans by rebuilding the levees that everybody told us needed 
to be done? We need to make moral choices in America.”

Dean’s progressive statements, which he is aware will be used by the 
Republicans in the 2008 Presidential election, take place at a time when 
progressive Democrats, led by Ted Kennedy, Hilary Clinton, and Barack 
Obama, are challenging the record of John Roberts, Bush’s evasive 
Right-wing nominee for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Kennedy has 
tried to get on the record Robert’s opinions on the legal issues of 
affirmative action, voting rights protections for Blacks, and a woman’s 
right to an abortion. Hilary Clinton recently announced she would vote 
against Robert’s confirmation because he refused to take a strong stand on 
“civil rights, voting rights, and women’s rights.”

At this point, there is a need for a united front between movement people 
on the ground and what is left of the progressive tendencies within the 
Democratic Party. We are not strong enough to go it alone; they are not 
strong enough to fundamentally challenge the Republicans and the Right. Our 
job is to build our own independence politically, to enter into united 
fronts with forces to confront Bush and the far right, and to come out of 
every alliance and coalition with a stronger independent political base.



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