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

Jason jasonh99 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 21 11:14:03 MDT 2018


Leaving aside the rest, I want to stress this:

"I would only say that if the DSA concluded blocs with the Democratic Party
that stood by the same exacting standards, I might ring doorbells alongside
them myself."

The standards being  “election agreements must not involve the adoption of
a platform, nor must the agreements bind the Social-Democratic candidates
by any political obligations whatsoever, or prevent the Social-Democracy
from resolutely criticising the counter-revolutionary nature of the
Liberals and the half-heartedness and inconsistency of the bourgeois
democrats.”

Two points:
1) I think advocating such standards as a precondition is infinitely
different and better than simply saying "never-vote"/"it's a 'class line'".
2) While I want to strengthen the DSA's standards in this regard, its
electoral work already substantially meets these requirements: there is no
joint platform, there are no binding agreements and it is not prevented
from criticizing the Democratic Party. The NYC DSA for instance, even when
it has supported its own members' elections, has maintained full
independence over messaging and electoral work.

-Jason Hicks

On Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 5:58 PM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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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.”
>
> full: https://louisproyect.org/2018/07/16/the-excuses-some-marxist
> s-make-for-voting-democratic-part-one/
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