[Marxism] The criticism of religion[was:RE:Vnzla:reasonstobeoptimistic]
brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Mon Aug 27 15:30:48 MDT 2007
> Haines Brown wrote:
> > How can you presume to speak for everyone on the left? Most "leftists"
> > I know are registered democrats and generally vote democratic. I
> > believe your broad generalization really stands in the way of
> > understanding the issue.
> I believe that the leftists you know are registered Democrats.
> > This usually means supporting the least objectionable democratic
> > candidate.
> Well, it didn't mean this before the "popular front" turn. Eugene V.
> Debs and the pioneers of American communism never supported DP
> candidates, no matter how "progressive" they seemed. Of course, back
> then they were almost as disgusting as they are today. It was only the
> emergence of the New Deal that gave the impression that the DP was
> somehow a suitable platform for working class goals. After Hiroshima and
> Nagasaki, that illusion should have been buried forever.
My point was not to draw lines in the sand but to suggest two things:
a) we must start from an agreed upon definition of "left" so that
discussion becomes possible, and b) we must understand people's
political posture in relation to their actual circumstances. To put it
in very simple terms, what is "left" or "progressive" today is not
what it was yesterday or what it will be tomorrow.
The leftists to which I referred are indeed registered
Democrats. There's generally no other party with which they might
register, and in any case to some extent to register in a mainstream
party is the only practical way to have political effect within the
existing system. It may be that their time and energy would be better
spent building a revolutionary movement, but the wisdom of that choice
depends on existing circumstances. It is not a foregone conclusion
unless one is a sectarian. I believe it very unwise to suggest that
the struggle for reform and for revolution are contradictory
objectives -- or at least that contradiction does not exist in Marxian
The question is, why can't these registered Democrats also be
"leftists"? I tried to show why labels only make things
unintelligible and why we need to relate people's political activity
with their actual situation, particularly the depth of capitalist
contradictions in a particular time and place. The label "left" does
not create reality, but only offers a convention in terms of which we
I have no objection in principle to your historical comments, for you
address a different time and circumstance. I might differ with your
assessment in its specifics, but that would be beside the point.
Haines Brown, KB1GRM
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