[Marxism] Of victory and victories
Shacht at aol.com
Shacht at aol.com
Tue Dec 16 10:57:10 MST 2008
It seems that I can't even spell "Jesus" - as in Jeeezzus Christ!
That said, I can't recall what the post was about, most probably the Chicago
action and hearing that (per Labor Notes) the workers had asked for the
congressman's assistance - in which case it was an interjection not of disgust,
but disappointment, of resignation, not approval. Facts are unfortunate
realities. The Democratic Party exists. If labor does not have its own party, what
is labor to do in the midst of a struggle such as that at Chicago? Create one
overnight? A democratic politician becomes the necessary ally. That is
unavoidable. Nor is it necessarily undesirable. The Civil Rights Movement and the
anti-war movement in the sixties had their democratic allies - but neither of
them had their origins in the Democratic Party.
In the class war, the Democratic Party is a pillar of capitalism, an
obstacle to ovethrow of that system. In any individual battle elements of it can
play a necessary and progressive role. But the war between capital and labor is
a war and not a battle. Seeking to officer the army's ranks with politicians
who in their acts cannot go beyond the boundary of bourgeois thought and the
needs of preserving capitalism as a system is the root of the left's
intellectual bankruptcy, the source of its impotency.
Marxists refer to the state as the executive committe of the ruling class.
This is a misnomer and an inapt characterization. The state is the executive
committee for the ruling class and does not need to be composed of members of
the ruling class at all. Of course, those second gerations of extreme wealth
can do penance for their ancestors' ill gotten gains with "public service"
rather than drunkeness and debauchery. So we get Henry Cabot Lodge, Nelson
Rockefeller and FDR. But the state can function for the capitalist class staffed
by former actors such as Reagan or Schwartzenager or Al Franken. Adventurers
like Adam Clayton Powell whose first elenction to congress was the result of
Democrats pressuring A. Philip Randolph out of the race for the empty Harlem
seat, when Randolph would have had a chance.
And the state as executive committee for the ruling class can put through
programs necessary for its preservation against the wishes of the majority of
that class. The New Deal is an example of this. Roosevelt did not sit around
the White House conferring on ways to "save capitalism" but to make the system
work, addressing immediate problems with whatever worked to alleviate them -
just as long as one thing didn't change no matter how many concessions were
made, no matter how better tended the playing field. And that one thing is all
that matters - Capital, not a fistfull of dollars but a social
relationship. The relation between those who own but do not produce and those who produce
but do not own except their labor power.
So, to return to the point, I'm always disappointed when a movement that
generates spontaneously has only the hand of a bourgeois Democrat to reach out
to rather than a labor party. And every election reinforces this sense of
frustration with the unions now pouring hundreds of millions into the coffers of
that same capitalist perpetuating machine, when it could build its own
organization - but then that presupposes that labor gets back to being a labor
movement rather than what it long ago became, the fund raising arm of the
On another note. Only the SLP calls the two parties "Tweedledum and
Tweedledee." There is a difference between these parties and everyone feels that if
they are not willing to acknowledge it. We do a disservice to our audience
when we contend that there is no difference or render it of no consequence. If
finance capital and extractive industries want to support Republicans and
retail and developers want to support Democrats (which I think is the way it has
worked out historically), that's because they have different interests, and
those different interests - social security, labor unions, occasionally
protection as opposed to free trade. And those different interests have different
effects on the working class and the citizenry in general - I say "citizenry"
because as socialists we urge and work for the liberation of all classes -
working class, petty-bourgeois (in the old sense), small farmers and, yes, the
lumpen proletariat as well - not just the working class.
However, that still does not mean that we don't acknowledge that of course,
in general the public may be better off with a democrat in office than a
republican. But acknowledging that does not make it an endorsement.
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