[Marxism] The criticism ofreligion[was:RE:Vnzla:reasonstobeoptimistic]

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Wed Aug 29 12:47:02 MDT 2007

> Haines Brown wrote that the Democratic Party is "ultimately
> subservient to capitalist interests," comparing it to the NAACP and
> other "progressive" groups.
> That's an apples and oranges comparison if ever I've seen one.
> Money's important to the NAACP, but it actually has membership
> meetings.  Every month, when we get to that "new business" part,
> anybody can get up and raise anything.  And the better a chapter is,
> the more it encourages this.  The same could be said for union.

The best way for me to respond to this is to describe the situation
with the Greater Hartford Branch of the NAACP. It's principle source
of income by far is its annual "Freedom Fund Dinner" which will be
held on the 21st of this month. At least half the tickets are sold to
businesses and corporations, who give them to their employees as
perks. While there's no formal agreement between the corporations and
the branch, everyone is fully aware that the money is given on the
condition the branch "behaves itself". You can be sure that if the
branch were to challenged the system that it would immediately loose
most of its funding. This economic fact imposes sharp constraints on
what the branch can do, even though it is quite democratic in its

> The Democratic Party is set up to be unaccountable to those who
> think of themselves as "Democrats."  It is not an organization but a
> political party.  It doesn't want members but voters, consumers of
> the particular campaign message.

You ignore significant differences between the national Party and
local politics. Locally, you can have a say, and even have some
influence. Nationally, to get people's vote, the Party has to say what
it thinks voters want to hear, and so it can't be really insensitive
to what they want. I may personally feel the national party won't heed
my screwball ideas, but that does not mean it can be indifferent to
the expectations of the majority of voters in the country, and that
means that people in the aggregate do have some influence. While
things are certainly more complicated than this and I don't mean to
exaggerate, the point is that even at the national level, there may be
good reason to involve oneself in Democratic Party politics unless
there is a viable alternative.

> Haines also wrote that the Democratic Party "is not really 'top
> down' except in electoral campaigns."
> Since the DP is a political party that only exists to run election
> campaigns, this is about like saying that the Ku Klux Klan isn't
> racist except when it comes to race.

I took the issue of whether we participate in Democratic politics
rather more broadly than showing up at the voting booth every couple
of years. I took it to mean participating in caucusus and to testify,
to participate in candidate selection and campaigns, to interact with
incumbents and to try to hold them accountable. The issue is whether
our vote or our participation is at all meaningful. I'm as ready as
anyone to admit the limitations of our input, but if it were
completely meaningless, then we would have no influence at all,
whether it be be as Democrats or as Greens.

You are making a case, I suspect, that involvement in the political
system is pointless because the parties control what happens for one
purpose only, and that is to win elections. While there is some truth
in this, it strikes me as simplistic and extreme. In fact, a good
percentage of people do find participation meaningful, and so
presumably they do not find it entirely pointless. The thing is to
understand the limits and possibilities for various courses of action
open to us, not to choose actions solely on whether they conform to
some abstract ideal.

       Haines Brown, KB1GRM


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