[Marxism] The criticism of religion [was: RE: Vnzla:reasonstobeoptimistic]

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Thu Aug 30 13:28:06 MDT 2007

> Haines Brown wrote:
> > I don't think you quite got my point. To put it simply, why isn't
> > the Green party as much a capitalist party as the Democrats?
> If Goldman-Sachs started delivering cash payments to the Greens in
> wheelbarrows the way it does to the Democrats, I'd begin to call it
> a capitalist party--but not until then.

Again, I don't know that you got my point. What your example offers is
the observation that comes down to the old adage: "The Golden Rule is
that he who has the gold rules". In other words, the Democratic Party
is a capitalist party because it is beholden to capitalists for its
funding, while the Greens are not.

But wait. Don't the Greens have financial support? Of course, but it
is (let's assume) not from the capitalists, but from some other
class. What class? I suspect (but have no reason to be sure) that this
to a significant extent (just as not all Democratic Party money comes
from capitalists) the petite bourgeoisie. Oops! The petite bourgeoisie
is a contradictory class and can as well be capitalist as working
class in its outlook. I see no reason to presume that the Greens are
_not_ supportive of capitalism, and everything in its Five Points
suggests it offers no explicit or implicit challenge to the capitalist
system (just to remind you, I'm not suggesting for this reason that
for that reason folks shouldn't vote Green).

The problem with this whole line of argument is that it is empiricist
and therefore incorrigibly subjective. How much money does it take to
corrupt a person? Are the (presumably) petite bourgeois supporters of
the Green party going to fly working class or capitalist colors? Does
the flow of wealth to the population at large only reduce temporarily
the rate of exploitation?

The Green program there in California certainly would be welcome by
the working class, but that does not make it a working class
party. The Democrats passed the New Deal, but that does not make it a
working class party either. We need a objective explanation of the
capitalist system before we can decide whether a given party is
capitalist or not. I hinted at such a definition, but you apparently
are not convinced.

The other aspect is that the capitalist system defines what is
possible and what is very difficult or impossible in political life. I
won't belabor this, for the issues are well known. I believe there was
a discussion on this list not too long ago of Marx's "parliamentary
cretanism". This refers to the constraints on what our representatives
can do, but there are many other ways in which the system falls short
of direct economic democracy and encouraging the participant to
recognize and express his own real needs.

> > Do I understand you correctly that a single-payer health plan is
> > hostile to capitalism?
> I have no idea what kind of demand is "hostile to capitalism" unless
> it is something like "nationalize the Fortune 500". But short of
> such "maximalist" demands, there is nothing that is specifically
> "hostile to capitalism"--including "Peace, Bread, Land".

That's my point, exactly. Couldn't have said it better. So the Green
Party is a capitalist party that offers some capitalist reforms
beneficial to the population at large, but does not venture to
challenge the the exploitation of labor. The nationalization of the
Fortune 500 would, of course, have to be accompanied by some real
democracy lest it simply make the state a super capitalist.

> > New Deal safety nets? Roosevelt was a capitalist, obviously, and
> > his aim was to restore health to capitalism, obviously. He tried
> > to do that with safety nets, or with a WPA, or with Social
> > Security, etc. That Democrats these are dismantling New Deal
> > legislation does not make them any more or less capitalist than
> > those who wish to preserve those gains.
> No, but it does make them even less attractive as an option for
> working people. Going from LBJ to Bill Clinton is like going from
> the frying pan into the fire. I myself prefer a nice, cool glass of
> water.

Quite true, which is one reason why folks should vote Green there in
California. However, we need to recall the context of this discussion
which makes this point irrelevant.

> "To turn your back on the corrupt Republican Party and the still
> more corrupt Democratic Party—the gold-dust lackeys of the ruling
> class counts for still more after you have stepped out of those
> popular and corrupt capitalist parties to join a minority party that
> has an ideal, that stands for a principle, and fights for a
> cause...."

Yes, but what is Debs talking about? He is addressing a working-class
assembly (not the constituency represented by the Green Party), and
advocating socialism (which the Green Party does not do), and Debs
spoke at a time when the subjective factors favorable to revolution
were more highly developed than today.

Allow me to repeat my earlier suggestions. There are a host of reasons
why our ultimate aim must be to dispose of the capitalist system. Our
immediate action must be governed by a scientific understanding of the
capitalist system and an estimation of the depth of its
contradictions, particularly the extent to which objective and
subjective circumstances favor revolution. If the objective conditions
are not at all favorable, we should not give revolution a thought; if
they are favorable, there is a need to develop the subjective
conditions. But until the subjective conditions are close to ready,
then we have no choice but to work on developing them and/or working
within the capitalist framework and contribute to the ripening of
subjective and objective conditions by deepening the contradiction of
capitalism by demanding more of it. For example, one might vote for a
Green Party that offers capitalist reforms beneficial to the
population at large. While that is a good in itself, and it does
deepen capitalism's contradictions and so hastens the day of its
eventual overthrow, we do the working class a disservice to represent
the Green Party's useful reforms as anything more than a repair of the
capitalist system and what benefits might be won do not challenge the
exploitation of labor that is intrinsic to the capitalist system. That
is, support for a Green party should always be a critical support, and
in its absense of this criticism, support for the Green party
discourages the development of the subjective factors necessary for
revolution by leading the working class into a dead end.

       Haines Brown, KB1GRM


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