[Marxism] Greens to be on Ohio State Ballot

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Sun Jul 2 15:15:12 MDT 2006

Louis writes:

> Marvin wrote:
>>This is especially the case because, like the European social democratic
>>parties (which it resembles),
>>the DP is a pro-imperialist party like the Republicans, and the US left is
>>mainly concentrated in solidarity work.
> The Democratic Party in the USA does not resemble European social
> democratic parties. It resembles outfits like the Christian Democrats in
> Germany or the Gaullists or the Liberal Democrats in Japan, etc. Backing a
> social democratic party is more a tactical rather than a class question,
> like it would be for voting for a capitalist party. In 3rd world
> countries, there are often compelling reasons to back a social democrat
> like Allende. In contemporary Germany, much less so.
> I am not sure that Marvin is familiar with the theoretical distinctions
> between a social democratic party that has a social base in the trade
> unions and a bourgeois party like the Democrats, etc. but they are real
> and important even if they aren't so for him.
Oh, but  I am familiar with the theoretical distinctions, Louis. We share a
common background. I used to use those arguments myself.

At one time, you could make the case that there was a difference between the
party of Debs and the party of Wilson, the party of Keir Hardie and the
party of Lloyd George, etc. These parties were founded by the unions and
organizationally tied to them and were were pledged to public ownership -
that which mainly seperated them from the bourgeois parties, which were tied
to the corporations and committed to private ownership.

Today, you can't make the same distinction between the party of Blair and
the party of Clinton. If you do, you are, IMO, making a fetish of the
"labour party" formula which was conceived in a different period. These
parties no longer  retain the same connection to the trade unions or have
even the most modest programmatic commitment to socialism.

The social democrats and the DP have the same social base (you think not?),
the same liberal politics, the same support from the unions and social
movements, the same relationship to their conservative opponents on the
right (Republicans, Christian Democrats, Gaullists, etc.), and, when in
power, administer the system and subordinate the aspirations of the base to
the needs of their corporations in much the same way.

So what do you see as the "real and important differences" between the
Democrats and the Labour Party/ continental social democrats? You may be
influenced, IMO, by the fact that the DP presides over the US's murderous
imperialist foreign policy. But this is not a function of it having a
different leadership or program or social base, so much as the national
context in which it finds itself. Do you believe for a moment that the
British Labour Party or German and French social democrats would pursue a
different course if they catapulted into forming a government in the US? Not
for a moment do you believe that, so what then are the differences which you

The orientation to any of these parties - or, more precisely, to the union
and social activists within them - is a tactical matter, largely
corresponding to what opportunities there are for the left to gain
influence. My own experience unfortunately was there were not that many
opportunities when I was in the NDP - some, but not very many. I'm at a
distance, but my sense is that the mood in the DP since the invasion of Iraq
is angrier than I have ever seen it in the Labour and social democratic
parties and is not only directed at Bush, but increasingly at its own
leadership. I think you tend to pay too much attention to the treachery of
the party leaders, and to those leftist intellectuals who have illusions of
one sort or another in them. Why not just accept these facts as a given, and
focus instead on the state of consciousness of the base? Isn't that how
tactical decisions are made?

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