[Marxism] The excuses some Marxists make for voting Democratic (part one) | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Chris Slee chris_w_slee at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 16 16:34:37 MDT 2018

The following sentence in Louis Proyect's article is confusing:

"In a 1906 article titled “Cadets, Trudoviks and the Workers’ Party”, Lenin dismissed the Cadets as bourgeois democrats who “are compelled to become revolutionary, whereas the liberals, the Cadets and so forth, represent the bourgeoisie, whose conditions of existence compel it to seek a deal with the old authorities".

I think Louis means to say: "....Lenin dismissed the Trudoviks as bourgeois democrats...."

Chris Slee

From: Marxism <marxism-bounces at lists.csbs.utah.edu> on behalf of Louis Proyect via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, 17 July 2018 7:58:50 AM
To: Chris Slee
Subject: [Marxism] The excuses some Marxists make for voting Democratic (part one) | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

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On June 30th, Nick, a member of the Socialist Alliance in Australia,
posed the question on the Marxism list whether Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez’s “emphasizing a class position” as part of “hostile
takeover” type campaigns by the DSA in the Democratic Party had more of
a potential for promoting socialist politics than intervening in the
Australian Labour Party, a party that makes Tony Blair’s “New Labour”
look radical by comparison. Since I was somewhat surprised to see a
member of a group that emerged out of the Trotskyist movement warming up
to the DSA’s Democratic Party orientation, I defended what I considered
to be a Marxist position: “The key difference between a reformist Labor
Party and the Democratic Party is based on class. For example,
socialists have had a tactical orientation to the NDP in Canada for
decades now but none have oriented to the Liberal Party. Unless we can
distinguish between a bourgeois party and a reformist social democratic
or labor party, we are missing the all-important class criterion.”

This prompted a DSA member on Marxmail named Jason to correct me on
Marxist theory. Referring to Lenin’s “Ultraleftism, an Infantile
Disorder”, he stated: “There is a shibboleth in the Trotskyist movement
that this is from Lenin, but it’s not actually what Lenin argued. He
said ‘the Labour Party is a thoroughly bourgeois party’”.

Showing a familiarity with Lenin probably not typical of DSA members, he
backed up his claim the next day by referring to Lenin’s support for the
Cadets in Czarist Russia:

        Of course I didn’t meant to imply he ignored or we should ignore the
relationships of various parties to various class forces, but even
there, Lenin did not use the “clear class line” to refuse any electoral
support or relationship, as one can see from the 1912 conference
resolution he worked on and supported, which called for “exposing the
counter-revolutionary views of the bourgeois liberals (headed by the
Cadet Party)” while still saying in specific circumstances an “agreement
must be concluded to share the seats” with them.

Although British Labour being a “bourgeois party” was a new excuse to me
for voting Democratic, the business about Lenin approving a bloc with
the Cadets is something I’ve heard before. In 2010, when I referred to
Lenin never supporting the Cadets—Russia’s liberal opposition to the
Czar—on the now defunct Kasama Project, its leader Mike Ely referred me
to a book by a Bolshevik Duma elector named A.E. Badaev that stated:
“But in order to safeguard against the possible victory of reactionary
candidates, the Bolsheviks permitted agreements respectively with the
bourgeois democrats (Trudoviks, etc.) against the Liberals, and with the
Liberals against the government parties during the second ballot for the
election of electors in the city curias.”

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