[Marxism] More than a ballot line | International Socialist Review

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Sep 20 07:00:13 MDT 2018

His defeat by Hillary Clinton, in part as a result of the Democratic 
Party establishment repeatedly pressing its thumb on the scale in her 
favor, did not settle the question for the left. Much the reverse: 
following the election of Trump, many Sanders supporters assumed that 
“Bernie could have won” and drew the lesson that more, rather than less, 
involvement in the Democratic Party was called for. For them, engaging 
in Democratic politics is frequently reduced to the question of whether 
or not the party’s electoral ballot line may be used as a platform to 
express socialist ideas. In their view, the left’s relationship to the 
Democrats becomes merely a tactical or organizational issue.

In contrast, this article argues that the left’s relationship to the 
Democratic Party is an overarching political question whose answer not 
only decides the line of march for socialists in the United States, but 
has roots in the fundamental, historical division among socialists 
between social democracy and revolutionary Marxism. While other US 
socialists, among them most notably Kim Moody1 and Howie Hawkins2, have 
updated the classic arguments against socialist participation in the 
Democratic Party, I will focus my critique against the more limited case 
for use of its ballot line.

It is important to note at the outset that what I call the “ballot-line 
perspective” is held by various kinds of people on the left. It has been 
used by activists firmly committed to a social-democratic strategy 
inside the Democrats. Others hope to exploit the supposed contradictions 
between the “progressive Democrats” and the party establishment to 
cohere a political current to the party’s left. And perhaps the majority 
attracted to this perspective are new to the debate about the Democrats 
and are, for now, willing to entertain the use of Democratic races as a 
“bullhorn” for a progressive agenda.

full: https://isreview.org/issue/110/more-ballot-line

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