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Why I Won’t Vote for Obama,

category north america / mexico | the left | feature author Thursday March 06, 2008 00:20author by Wayne Price - NEFAC--personal opinionauthor email drwdprice at aol dot com Report this post to the editors

Or for Hillary, And Certainly Not for McCain, And Not Even For Ralph

An Anarchist View of the U.S. Elections

In the United States, there has developed an enthusiastic movement of support for the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama. Besides the large forces he appeals to, especially among young adults, he is overwhelmingly supported by the left: liberals, social democrats, and Stalinists. I appreciate the movement-like aspect of his popular support, yet I personally will not vote for him.

[ Italiano]


Why I Won’t Vote for Obama...

...Or for Hillary, And Certainly Not for McCain, And Not Even For Ralph


In the United States, there has developed an enthusiastic movement of support for the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama. Besides the large forces he appeals to, especially among young adults, he is overwhelmingly supported by the left: liberals, social democrats, and Stalinists. I appreciate the movement-like aspect of his popular support, yet I personally will not vote for him. I do not try to persuade individual friends, family members, and co-workers not to vote for him, but I would like to change their attitudes. It is typical of liberals, etc. that they start elections by declaring the Democratic candidate to be the “lesser evil” (which admits that he or she is an evil). But as the election gets closer, they become convinced of the great goodness of the candidate. (In psychology, this is called the operation of cognitive dissonance. After all, who wants to believe of oneself that we are supporting someone evil? So we persuade ourselves that the evil politician is actually good.)

Let me give some anecdotes about the real Obama. In the left-liberal journal, The Nation (2/18/08), Christopher Hayes wrote a pro-Obama article, “The Choice.” He recalled, “For the Chicago left, his primary campaign and his subsequent election to the Senate was a collective rallying cry….Young Chicago progressives felt…He is one of us and now he is in the Senate (p. 20).”

And yet…. “That’s not, alas, how things turned out,” writes this supporter of Obama. “Almost immediately, Obama…shaded himself toward the center….His record places him squarely in the middle of Democratic senators (same).” This is a typical story of a young idealist becoming corrupted by playing the game of bourgeois electoral politics.

Hayes suspects that this was due to Obama having “an eye on national office.” But there were other corrupting forces. For example, Obama has boasted to campaign crowds in Iowa that he had passed a law to increase regulation of nuclear power plants. Specifically this was a response to the Exelon Corp. which had failed to inform the public about radioactive leaks at one of its plants. Senator Obama scolded both Exelon and federal regulators. He presented a bill to force nuclear power companies to disclose even small leaks. On the stump, Obama stated that this was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed. I did it just last year (New York Times, 2/3/08, p. A1).”

However, this was a lie. Obama had introduced such a bill, but it was repeatedly weakened until it no longer imposed any demands on the nuclear power industry…and then it was dropped. Obama never got any law regulating the nuclear power industry passed. Why did he cave in? The New York Times reports that Exelon was “one of Mr. Obama’s largest sources of campaign money (same, p. A17).” Since 2003, Obama has gotten more than $227,000 from officials and employees of Exelon. Two of the top executives are among his biggest donors. Obama’s chief political strategist has been an advisor to Exelon.

In short, good intentions (I assume Obama had good intentions and that it was not a fraud from the start) were overwhelmed by the influence of big business. Of course Obama is a supporter of the capitalist economy. He hopes to be the top administrator of the capitalist economy. In no way is he anti-business, no matter how many unions endorse him. No doubt he would deny that there are necessary conflicts between labor and business. The bringing together of clashing forces is one of his central ideas. For example, rather than fight for a single payer health insurance plan —which would alienate the insurance industry— he proposes a health program which would include the insurance companies, providing them with lots of cash. But like his nuclear regulation bill, the insurance companies will do all they can to water down his original plan and then to kill it if they can.

Perhaps to most people, Barack Obama’s biggest appeal is his opposition to the Iraq war. Unlike Senator Hillary Clinton (let alone John McCain), he opposed the war in the beginning. But this does not make him an anti-war candidate. He proposes that most U.S. troops withdraw, but that a significant number (precise amount unspecified) will remain to guard U.S. personnel, to train forces of the puppet Iraqi government, and to “strike at Al Qaeda.” What he would actually do in the face of a collapse of the Iraqi government is anyone’s guess.

But whether or not Obama will continue this particular war, he remains a supporter of the U.S. empire. This empire has military bases in approximately 150 countries and military alliances around the world. Despite its decline, it still dominates the international economy and drains wealth from every continent. Obama is for this empire , which he discusses in terms of the “national interest,” meaning the interest of the U.S. ruling class (including the executives of Exelon). Because he supports this empire, he is most likely to remain in this war and to get into other wars. In interviews, he has already said that he might bomb Pakistan and that he would consider military action against Iran.

Another major appeal is his race. Just by being himself, an African-American, he makes the point that it is possible for People of Color to rise in our society, even to be president. However, this distracts us from the real problems of U.S. racism. Most African-Americans will remain at the bottom of society, impoverished, last hired and first fired, and subject to police violence. This will not change by having a cool Black man as president. True racial change will require a social upheaval, not just the election of one person.

When pressed, many liberals and social democrats will admit that Obama, like Hillary Clinton, is a candidate of capitalism, militarism, and imperialism. But, they argue, he is far less of an evil than Senator John McCain. In McCain the Republicans have put their best foot forward. Unlike the inept Bush, he is intelligent and witty, a war hero, and he sometimes shows some humanity (as in opposing torture, before he caved). He is still hated by the far right, which does him credit. Yet for all that, he is pledged to carry on the Iraq war, if necessary for a “hundred years..” In general he will continue the programs of the vile Bush regime. It is important to oppose him. Since the U.S. population is far from ready to support a socialist (or anarchist) alternative, it is argued, we must support Barack Obama as the lesser evil.

In response, I accept that the Democrats, however evil, are indeed the lesser evil. I only doubt that the greater evil can really be defeated by supporting the lesser evil. After all, liberals, unionists, the African-American community, the women’s movement, the environmental movement, the GLBT community, etc., etc., have been supporting the Democrats for decades, generations. And yet the Republicans have moved more to the right, and the Democrats have also moved to the right (but remain just a little bit to the left of the Republicans). Lesser-evilism has not worked very well.

Instead of comparing the Democrats to the Republicans, I propose a different standard: What is necessary to save the country and the world from disaster. Does the candidate have a program which will prevent the economic crisis we are sliding into? Will he solve the danger of ecological/ environmental/ energy catastrophe? Will he reverse the spread of nuclear weapons before there is a nuclear war? To claim that Obama (or even Ralph Nader, the independent) reaches this standard is absurd.

No one person can be an effective chief administrator of a unit as large as the United States. On the other side of the coin, any one person’s vote does not make a difference, considering the size of the country. This is just too big a social unit. We need vibrant local democracies, political, economic, and social, more than we need an imperial president.

People argue with me: But what if everyone (or if a lot of people) had your (my) negative attitude toward elections or for supporting pro-capitalist candidates? My response is: Great! Then there would be a mass movement.

The gains of the thirties labor movement were won mainly through sit-ins in the factories as part of mass strikes. The gains of African-Americans in the fifties and sixties were won through mass civil disobedience and urban uprisings (“riots”). The struggle against the Vietnam war was fought through massive demonstrations, student strikes, and a virtual mutiny in the army.

The gains of most social movements have been won through non-electoral means, not by electing lesser-evil politicians. Independent electoral actions, such as that of Ralph Nader or the Green Party, have never been very useful. If successful (as in some European countries), they will also be corrupted by the pressures of electoralism, money, and the need to administer a giant capitalist government.

My goal is not to persuade individuals to not vote. It is to raise the idea of independent mass struggle. A single general strike in a U.S. city would do more to advance the struggle for freedom than any number of Obamas.

It is exciting to see the popular response to Obama, especially by young people. This lays the basis for a new New Left, a new wave of radicalization. But that will be based on recognizing the truth and telling the truth, as best as we radicals can see it — not by capitulating to the illusions which others still have. A new radicalization will develop when people are disillusioned by Obama and the Democrats. And this will happen. Or we are all in big trouble.

author by a johnstone - socialist party of great britainpublication date Fri Mar 07, 2008 01:44author email ajsc21755 at blueyonder dot co dot ukauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want, and get it.
Eugene V. Debs

Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers' candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled.
Karl Marx

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
John Quincy Adams

Democracy under capitalism is reduced to people voting for competing groups of professional politicians, to giving the thumbs-up or the thumbs-down to the governing or opposition party (or parties).
Political analysts call this the "elite theory of democracy" since under it all that the people get to choose is which elite should exercise government power.
This contrasts with the original theory of democracy which envisages popular participation in the running of affairs and which political analysts call "participatory democracy".
This is the sort of democracy Socialists favour but we know it's never going to exist under capitalism. The most we will get under capitalism is the right to vote, under more-or-less fair conditions, for who shall control political power—a minimalist form of democracy but not to be dismissed for that since it at least provides a mechanism whereby a socialist majority could vote in socialist delegates instead of capitalist politicians.

The originally Marxist Social Democratic parties had in addition to the “maximum” programme of socialism what they called a “minimum programme” of immediate reforms to capitalism. What happened is that they attracted votes on the basis of their miniumum, not their maximum, programme, i.e. reformist votes, and so became the prisoners of these voters. In parliament, and later in office, they found themselves with no freedom of action other than to compromise with capitalism. Had they been the mandated delegates of those who voted for them (rather than leaders) this could be expressed by saying that they had no mandate for socialism, only to try to reform capitalism. It was not a case of being corrupted by the mere fact of going into national parliaments but was due to the basis on which they went there and how this restricted what they could do. In short, it is not power as such that corrupts. It is power obtained on the basis of followers voting for leaders to implement reforms that, if you want to put it that way, “corrupts”.

We advocate only socialism and nothing but (the so-called “maximum programme”)

Related Link: http://theworldsocialist.blogspot.com/2008/01/mass-deba....html
author by Waynepublication date Fri Mar 07, 2008 09:12Report this post to the editors

I do agree with Johnstone of the Socialist Party of GB that it is better for the workers to live under a bourgeois democracy than under a bourgeois police dictatorship. And this is worth fighting for.

But I reject his idea that the only problem with electoralism is that the Socialists called for reforms instead of sticking to the "maximum program," namely all-out socialism. First because it is good that socialists join in the workers' struggles for improving their lives in limited ways under capitalism. Otherwise the workers would have nothing to do with us. But with electoralism there is great pressure for this to become the whole program. Second, when a party runs for elections, there is a great pressure to try to get elected (especially if they run again and again) which creates a pressure to advocate popular reforms, which leads toward capitulating to the backward conscioiusness of many (nonrevolutionary) workers, which reflects bourgeois illusions.

But mainly because the state is the instrument of the ruling class. It cannot be taken over and weilded for socialist purposes. It is the attempt to do so, by elections or in any other way, which leads to opportunism, more than anything else..

author by Dave B - world socialist movementpublication date Sun Mar 09, 2008 00:29Report this post to the editors

Improving Wage Slavery In Limited Ways

The basic idea of reformism and ‘revolutionary reformism’ is that the capitalist or ruling class can be appealed to and/or forced to make ‘humane’ changes to improve the condition of the wage slaves or working class.

The degree to which you have faith that the ruling class has a philanthropic heart that can be appealed to or that concessions can be forced out of the ruling class is probably what differentiates a pure reformist and a ‘revolutionary reformist’.


However as the reformists and revolutionary reformists are always in bed together because they wish to be ‘where the workers are at’, it is not always straightforward for abolitionist revolutionary socialists or anarchists to tell them apart.

It is up to revolutionaries to persuade the workers to abolish wage slavery as a solution to all their problems. And not to ‘coax’ them, by participating in reformism, in the delusion of piecemeal change and an ‘Uncle Tom ‘ attitude that wage slavery is potentially benign.

Those of us that have not been tempted by the siren calls of reformism can understand that capitalism is quite capable in certain circumstances of reforming itself to suit its own ends, or `do the business better' than
before, in ways which only incidentally benefit the workers themselves.

An opportunity thus presents itself of disguising a benefit to the capitalist class as one motivated by a ‘humane’ concern for the wage slaves themselves acted upon. Discouraging the idea that capitalism is all bad and feeding the delusion that easy gradual change is the way forward and that a revolutionary solution is not necessary.

That is an idea that really does appeal to the capitalist class and all that is required is for eager ‘anarchist’ reformists to take up the challenge and perpetuate the delusion with a more convincing sincerity than the capitalist class could probably manage themselves.

So some of our reformist friends for instance will often point out to us the Scandinavian dreams of ‘patriarchal’ capitalist idylls as the path forward.


Sometimes it can help to look backwards as well as the realities of the past
can sometimes be seen more clearly than the delusions of the
present.

So taking a modified extract from the novel of another abolitionist, Harriet Beecher Stowe and presenting it in a contemporary form on different ‘systems’ of ‘doing business’, we have;


The slaver continues;


"It don't look well, now, for a feller to be praisin' himself; but I
say it jest because it's the truth. I believe I'm reckoned to bring
in about the finest droves of workers that is brought in, - at
least, I've been told so; if I have once, I reckon I have a hundred
times, - all in good case, - fat and likely, and I lose as few as
any man in the business. And I lays it all to my management, sir;
and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great pillar of my management."


"Now, I've been laughed at for my notions, sir, and I've been talked
to. They an't pop'lar, and they an't common; but I stuck to 'em,
sir; I've stuck to 'em, and realized well on 'em; yes, sir, they
have paid their passage, I may say," and the trader laughed at his
joke.

There was something so piquant and original in these elucidations of
humanity, that Mr. Shelby could not help laughing in company.

Perhaps you laugh too, dear reader; but you know humanity comes out
in a variety of strange forms now-a-days, and there is no end to the
odd things that humane people will say and do.

Mr. Shelby's laugh encouraged the trader to proceed.

"It's strange, now, but I never could beat this into people's heads.
Now, there was Tom Loker, my old partner, down in Natchez; he was a
clever fellow, Tom was, only the very devil with the workers, - on
principle 't was, you see, for a better hearted feller never broke
bread; 't was his system, sir. I used to talk to Tom. 'Why, Tom,' I
used to say, 'when your gals takes on and cry, what's the use o'
crackin on' em over the head, and knockin' on 'em round? It's
ridiculous,' says I, 'and don't do no sort o' good. Why, I don't see
no harm in their cryin',' says I; 'it's natur,' says I, 'and if
natur can't blow off one way, it will another.

Besides, Tom,' says I, 'it jest spiles your gals; they get sickly,
and down in the mouth; and sometimes they gets ugly, - particular
yallow gals do, - and it's the devil and all gettin' on 'em broke
in. Now,' says I, 'why can't you kinder coax 'em up, and speak 'em
fair? Depend on it, Tom, a little humanity, thrown in along, goes a
heap further than all your jawin' and crackin'; and it pays better,'
says I, 'depend on 't.' But Tom couldn't get the hang on 't; and he
spiled so many for me, that I had to break off with him, though he
was a good-hearted fellow, and as fair a business hand as is goin'"

"And do you find your ways of managing do the business better than
Tom's?" said Mr. Shelby.

"Why, yes, sir, I may say so. You see, when I any ways can, I takes
a leetle care about the onpleasant parts, like selling young uns and
that, - get the gals out of the way - out of sight, out of mind, you
know, - and when it's clean done, and can't be helped, they
naturally gets used to it. 'Tan't, you know, as if it was us
capitalists, that's brought,up in the way of 'spectin' to keep their
children and wives, and all that. The workers, you know, that's
fetched up properly, ha'n't no kind of 'spectations of no kind; so
all these things comes easier."


Perhaps the mildest form of the system of slavery is to be seen in
Scandinavia. The general prevalence of employment of a quiet and
gradual nature, not requiring those periodic seasons of hurry and
pressure that are called for in the business's of the third world,
makes the task of the worker a more healthful and reasonable one;
while the master, content with a more gradual style of acquisition,
has not those temptations to hardheartedness which always overcome
frail human nature when the prospect of sudden and rapid gain is
weighed in the balance, with no heavier counterpoise than the
interests of the helpless and unprotected.

Whoever visits Scandinavia , and witnesses the good-humored
indulgence of some masters and mistresses, and the affectionate
loyalty of some workers, might be tempted to dream the oft-fabled
poetic legend of a patriarchal capitalism, and all that; but over
and above the scene there broods a portentous shadow - the shadow of
the law of the average rate of profit .

So long as the law of capitalism considers all these human beings,
with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things
belonging to a master, - so long as the failure, or misfortune, or
imprudence, or bankruptcy of the kindest owner, may cause them any
day to exchange a life of decent wages for one of unemployment, - so
long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the
best regulated administration of wage slavery."


Original text is available at

http://www.online-literature.com/stowe/uncletom/1/


Revolutionary socialists oppose these false notions and ambitions of
the reformists for well regulated capitalism, for reasons that go
beyond an understanding that they are convenient to the slavers and
that they are dependent on dark economic forces outside the control
of even the capitalists themselves.

When we put forward and alternative abolitionist system, we are
called utopian and wrong with bad ideas, and long boney fingers
point us to utopian idylls of wage slavery.

As in the past;


`In response to Uncle Tom's Cabin, writers in the Southern United
States produced a number of books to rebut Stowe's novel. This so-
called Anti-Tom literature generally took a pro-slavery viewpoint,
arguing that the issues of slavery as depicted in Stowe's book were
overblown and incorrect.

The novels in this genre tended to feature a benign white
patriarchal master and a pure wife, both of whom presided over child-
like slaves in a benevolent extended-family-style plantation. The
novels either implied or directly stated that African Americans were
a child-like people unable to live their lives without being
directly overseen by white people.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Tom%27s_Cabin


Reformists deflect attention away from an understanding of how
the capitalist system works and the route causes of the problems it
creates. They stand in opposition to the solution and the abolition
of the system of wage slavery itself.

They are as much a part of the problem as the capitalists themselves
who as ever gratefully accommodate the reformists as part of the
political system, the acceptable face of wage slavery and capitalism.

The ruling class, like the slavers in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, can disagree amongst themselves about what is best for capitalism.

When reforming ‘socialists or anarchists’ take sides in these kinds of arguments because they hope one kind of capitalism is better for the workers than another they are in the greatest danger of entering a political swamp.

Who would want to share too closely and advocate `the notions of humanity' of Beecher Stowe's reformed slaver?

If you insist on supping with the devil you need to use a very long spoon.

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/index.php
author by Waynepublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 01:20Report this post to the editors

Dave says,
"The basic idea of reformism and ‘revolutionary reformism’ is that the capitalist or ruling class can be appealed to and/or forced to make ‘humane’ changes to improve the condition of the wage slaves or working class."

This seems to say that the effort of workers to force the bosses to make changes (higher wages or better conditions) is unable to succeed and should not be done. He seems to think that victories by the workers over the bosses are bad things, to be avoided, until it is possible to go immediately and directly to socialism. The demand of the workers for a better life should not be supported unless they are ready to go directly to socialism.

Meanwhile, I assume that he agrees with Johnstone that it is alright to run eocialists in elections, giving the workers the idea that the state can be taken over and used for soscialism. Running in elections also gives the idea that workers do not need to engage in mass action but can rely on political representatives to be political FOR them.

Altogether a fine mix of sectarianism and reformism.

author by Dave Bpublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 08:23author address Manchester, UKReport this post to the editors

I would consider trade unionism and reformism to be different things. We support trade unions in their struggle for higher wages or better conditions and participate in them and being a factory worker myself I am a member of one.The GMB

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMB_Union



We do not support the idea of representative democracy, but in socialism;

" will arrange its revolutionary organisation from the bottom up and from the periphery to the centre, in keeping with the principle of liberty"

And;

“delegate deputies to an agreed place of assembly (all of these deputies invested with binding mandates and accountable and subject to recall), “


Bakunin in Program and Object of the Secret Revolutionary Organisation of the International Brotherhood (1868) as published in God and the State, No Gods, No Masters Vol 1, p 155-156

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/index.php
author by ajohnstone - socialist party of great britainpublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 03:01author email ajsc21755 at blueyonder dot co dot ukauthor address edinburgh scotlandauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

Wayne , can i just clarify something , or at least , place a different emphasis on it .

You say , "I assume that he agrees with Johnstone that it is alright to run socialists in elections, giving the workers the idea that the state can be taken over and used for socialism."

No i am not advoating that the State be used to create socialism , but that the State is used to abolish capitalism and used to abolish itself .To prevent the use of the State in the suppression of socialism by capturing it and emasculating it .

As for reformism to fight for present existing life , to resist capital's encroachment and to improve our economic condition does not delay the overthrow of the present social system.
When the worker acquires revolutionary consciousness he is still compelled to make the non-revolutionary struggle of every-day life . It is the propagating of the idea that THROUGH a policy or programme of reforms that the workers' situation can somehow be intrinsically improved or that it can progress towards the establishment of a socialist society that the SPGB adamantly refuses to recognise .

The conditions of existence of the wage-workers depends upon their wages. It is not determined by the legal law, but by the economic law of supply and demand.
The condition of existence of the wage-workers is determined by the progress of the development of machinery, the concentration of capital, the proportion of the unemployed industrial reserve army.

Social realities are outside of parliaments.

Although the bettering of the conditions of existence by way of political reform is impossible, it is not the same as regards the conditions of fighting. To distinguish between the conditions of fighting and the conditions of existence is not to split hairs. The difference is real. Some reforms would render the attacks of the proletariat more powerful, those of capitalism weaker- the right to strike , the right to picket , for instance . The class struggle is, therefore, both industrial and political but the SPGB consider the latter as being its ultimate form and its revolutionary form .

I believe i read someplace of your admiration of William Morris and i would quote his observations -

"The palliatives over which many worthy people are busying themselves now are useless because they are but unorganised partial revolts against a vast, wide-spreading, grasping organisation which will, with the unconscious instinct of a plant, meet every attempt at bettering the conditions of the people with an attack on a fresh side. "

"I believe that the Socialists will certainly send members to Parliament when they are strong enough to do so; in itself I see no harm in that, so long as it is understood that they go there as rebels, and not as members of the governing body prepared to pass palliative measures to keep Society alive."

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/archive/america%2819...9.pdf
author by Waynepublication date Wed Mar 19, 2008 02:04Report this post to the editors

Johnstone writes, "No i am not advoating that the State be used to create socialism , but that the State is used to abolish capitalism and used to abolish itself .To prevent the use of the State in the suppression of socialism by capturing it and emasculating it ."

I reject the notion that this state, this capitalist, bureaucratic, military-police, socially alienated machine, will let itself be capitured and emasculated--by elections--is indeed the naivest of reformisms. The very idea is absurd on its face.

author by ajohnstone - socialist party of great britainpublication date Thu Mar 20, 2008 06:41author email ajsc21755 at blueyonder dot co dot ukauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

The SPGB reject ALL forms of minority action to attempt to establish socialism, which can only be established by the working class when the immense majority have come to want and understand it. Without a socialist working class, there can be no socialism. The establishment of socialism can only be the conscious majority, and therefore democratic, act of a socialist-minded working class.
Whereas you can make people do what they do not wish to do, you cannot make them adopt a set of social relations which
require their voluntary co-operation if they do not voluntarily co-operate .

In these circumstances the easiest and surest way for such a socialist majority to gain control of political power in order to establish socialism is to use the existing electoral machinery to send a majority of mandated socialist delegates to the various parliaments of the world. This is why we advocate using Parliament .Not to try to reform capitalism (the only way Parliaments have been used up till now ), but for the single revolutionary purpose of abolishing capitalism and establishing socialism by converting the means of production and distribution into the common property of the whole of society.

No doubt, at the same time, the working class will also have organised itself, at the various places of work, in order to keep production going, but nothing can be done here until the machinery of coercion which is the state has been taken out of the hands of the capitalist class by political action.

Naive reformism , if you wish to claim that , but can you offer alternative strategies that is not flawed .

The vote is not a gift to the masses from the Government out of the beneficence of its heart . We don't advocate de facto disenfranchisement of the worker by promoting political abstention . The right to vote can become a powerful instrument to end our servitude and to achieve genuine democracy and freedom. Working people with an understanding of socialism can utilise their vote to signify that the overwhelming majority demand change and to bring about social revolution.

The first object of a socialist organisation is the development of the desire for Socialism among the working class and the preparation of the political party to give expression to that desire. What our capitalist opponents consequently do when the majority wish to prevail will determine our subsequent actions . If they accept defeat , well and good . If they choose not to accept the verdict of the majority which is given through the medium of their own institutions and contest that verdict by physical force, then the workers will respond in kind , with the legitimacy and the authority of a democratic mandate .
The important thing is for the workers to gain control of the political machinery, because the political machine is the real centre of social control - not made so by capitalist rulers but developed and evolved over centuries and through struggles .

The power over the means of life which the capitalist class has, is vested in its control of the political machinery. Ownership of the world's economic resources is certainly an economic factor, but that ownership, if challenged, will find its means of enforcement by and through the State political machine, which, as everybody should know, includes the armed forces.
Of course, an elaborate legal machinery exists whereby claims on private property are settled among the capitalists themselves, but behind the Judicature and the Legislature stands the means of enforcing the decrees. The political arm of capitalism rules the economic body of the system in the final analysis: which reveals the chief reason why the capitalist class concern themselves so much about political action; they realise that in this field their economic interest finds its ultimate, if not immediate, protection. Thus, the political organisation of the workers for Socialist purposes is thrust upon us as a primary and imperative necessity. The SPGB, in aiming for the control of the State, is a political party in the immediate sense.

The workers' political organisation must precede the economic, since, apart from the essential need of the conquest of the powers of government, it is on the political field that the widest and most comprehensive propaganda can be deliberately maintained. It is here that the workers can be deliberately and independently organised on the basis of Socialist thought and action. In other words, Socialist organisation can proceed untrammelled by ideas other than those connected with its revolutionary objective.

The SPGB claims to be Marxist .

"The irony of history turns everything topsy-turvy. We, the ‘revolutionists’, thrive better by the use of constitutional means than by unconstitutional and revolutionary methods. The parties of law and order, as they term themselves, are being destroyed by the constitutional implements which they themselves have fashioned.” - Engels .
To paraphrase , our "reformist" [as you accuse] parliamentarianism transforms elections from a means of deceit into a means of emancipation

"...the more the proletariat matures towards its self-emancipation, the more does it constitute itself as a separate class and elect its own representatives in place of the capitalists. Universal suffrage is the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It can and never will be that in the modern State. But that is sufficient. On the day when the thermometer of universal suffrage reaches its boiling point among the labourers, they as well as the capitalists will know what to do.” - Engels again .

The SPGB position is consistent with Marx's presuppositions to recognise parliament as an institution geared to the needs of capitalism, and therefore inappropriate as
the vehicle for a fundamental transformation of society , but yet to regard its connected electoral practices as coinciding with the principles involved in that transformation that adds the possibility of a peaceful transition to a new society .

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/articles/government_or_de...y.php
author by Wayne Pricepublication date Sat Mar 22, 2008 04:40Report this post to the editors

I too am for socialism being established only if it is supported by the big majority. The big majority includes the working class and its allies among oppressed people. However I do not regard elections as a good way to determine who has the majority. This is an astonishingly naive view of how capitalist democracy works. I live in a country (the US) in which democratic representation is particularly distorted, but this is true in every capitalist democracy.

A. Johnstone believes that " the machinery of coercion which is the state [will be] taken out of the hands of the capitalist class by political action," that is by votes. Perhaps he is making a joke? After the experience of Italy and Germany in relation to fascism and to Chile in 1973, to Haiti under Aristide, not to mention many other examples, to think that the bourgeoise will permit the military and police forces of the state to be peacefully and legally voted away from them is a strange fantasy for a revolutionary to have.

An alternate strategy? I would recommend general strikes and other forms of mass actions, the arming of the working people and their allies, the winning over of the ranks of the military by appropriate policies, etc. The sort of thing which the bourgeoisie did in their revolutions.

May I suggest that Johnstone read my book, The Abolition of the State, Anarchist and Markist Perspectives, and perhaps write a review in his group's journal. This would give him a chance to refute my understanding of the nature of the state--including my criticism of Engels' views on electoralism.

author by dave B - world socialist movementpublication date Sun Mar 23, 2008 04:11author address manchester ukReport this post to the editors

Hi Wayne

I really think it would be helpful if to everybody if you desisted from deliberately and disingenuously putting up these fake anecdotes. And you are far too intelligent and well informed I think to be unaware that they are inappropriate to us.

However I will still deal with it.

We do not believe in the concept of socialism in one country let alone in Chile in the 1970’s. The fact that the ‘Marxist’ Allende was merely attempting to introduce state capitalism in one country as opposed to socialism is another topic of discussion and we would clearly not support that idea either.

One reason, and only one of several others, why we would not support the idea of ‘socialism’ in one country or even state capitalism in one country is that you are liable to piss of some other section of the capitalist class and are likely to be invaded bombed or whatever.

Chile, like the rest of South and Central America in the !970’s, and before, being in USA’s backyard was under the Munro Doctrine’s ‘big stick’.

The US policy at the time was to fund the military in these various countries so should the populace step out of line or the indigenous capitalist take a somewhat more independent coarse to serve their own interests. The military would obey their paymaster and take any appropriate measures to remedy the situation.

What a hypothetical genuine socialist majority would have done in Chile for example in 1970, is just that a hypothetical question but having said that a testing question.

It is the kind of question the working class has had to face before in trade union struggles, about the likelihood of having your heads caved in and being defeated in the process of resistance and whether it is worth it.

What pockets socialist majorities would do in nation states in a sea of hostile and more powerful capitalist states is not easy to answer I think and getting sucked into administering capitalism or state capitalism for that matter in any way would be a nightmare.

As we are on your ground of anecdotes, however irrelevant they are to our position, we now have a new ‘Allende’ in the form of Chavez in another South American country called Venezuela. He is democratically elected and still incumbent as well as a serious nuisance to some serious sections of the capitalist class.

He has so far managed to resist a military coup no doubt as significant sections of the military come from the working class which is Chavez’s support base and thus identify with him.

It is our position that the military or its foot soldiers come from the working class itself and are quite capable of identifying with there brothers and sisters who are just as likely to be members of the industrial proletariat.

In modern capitalism the military are less likely to be made up the reactionary peasantry as in the past and thus have separate interests.

On Mea Culpa as far as ‘Anarchism’ goes.

Perhaps if the anti-Majoritarian Anarchists, like Berkman in the Russian Revolution, had resisted military coup d’etats and fought for democracy when they had the chance instead of acting as friends to the ‘libertarian’ potential of the Bolshevik ‘revolution’ they would not have fallen foul of their fair weather friends later.

Related Link: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Forum/
author by ajohnstone - socialist party of great britainpublication date Sun Mar 23, 2008 13:52author email ajsc21755 at blueyonder dot co dot ukauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

Wayne , every time I read your latest comment , I have difficulty picking myself up from the floor from rolling about in laughter . Me , naïve , and your alternate strategies are serious proposals !! Methinks you have seen Les Miserables once too often .

Having agreed that the socialist revolution requires the endorsement of the majority , the most obvious reposte is that you present no way of how , without counting individuals’ preferences as in a ballot , a majority is determined .

Firstly , I would like to take issue with your historic examples that the general will of the majority are always thwarted by the capitalist class .

There has been much analysis of the Nazi’s and the one thing that is clear is that Hitler rejected putschism after 1923 and concentrated on the constitutional methods of achieving political power and became the largest party within the Reichstag , albeit not a party with a overall majority , although he did achieve the necessary two-thirds majority vote required to suspend the German constitution and pass the “Enabling Act “ that supposedly was meant to delegate just temporary power to him . It was through the capture of political power by the vote that the Nazi’s could impose and exercise their dictatorship and regardless of any attempt to re-write history , “…The overwhelming majority of Germans did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away…The Nazi terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans…On the contrary , they supported it with genuine enthusiasm…” [The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer] . Many other citations can be offered to demonstrate that the Nazis held power because that did have the support ( granted perhaps in cases passive support ) of the majority .

Spain and Franco is often offered up as a evidence of the might of the military in the pay of the capitalist class but the first blood spilled was the summary execution of 200 senior officers who would not go against the Republic . ( as an aside , I wonder just how many of Franco’s Moorish troops would have obeyed Franco’s orders if the Spanish Republic had promised Moroccan independence ) .

Also contrary to what many now think that Spain was a hot bed of anarchists .
"Not only did the CNT lack the support of a majority of the Spanish people, they argued, but it lacked the support of the majority of the Spanish working class. Anarchosyndicalists were a minority within a minority. Even within the CNT membership, a large number of workers and peasants shared only a nominal allegiance to libertarian ideals. They were members of the CNT because the union was strong in their localities and work places. If these people, and the Spaniards generally, were not educated in Anarchist principles, warned the moderates, the revolution would simply degenerate into an abhorrent dictatorship of ideologues"[The Spanish Anarchists. The Heroic years - Murray Bookchin ]

Not the big majority of support we have agreed is pre -requisite for socialism .

According to Wiki “… Mussolini thus legally reached power, in accordance with the Statuto Albertino , the Italian Constitution. The March on Rome was not the conquest of power which Fascism celebrated but rather a transfer of power within the framework of the constitution…”
But , of course , it is argued that it was a “ …a transfer made possible by the surrender of public authorities in the face of fascist intimidation and the complicity of the bourgeoisie, who thought it would be possible to manipulate Mussolini…”

In Chile’s case and Allende , if you deny Hitler the right as the majority party with minority vote then Allende must be denied his right to power too since his was 36.2 percent of the vote to 34.9 percent for Alessandri and with 27.8 percent going to a Tomic .

I am reluctant to use the situation of Haiti as any type of comparison because I will readily concede that an undeveloped democracy will be vulnerable to the seizure of power by death squads , particularly when they have the support of more than one super-power for the overthrow .

For every coup , we can easily counter tenfold where the military stood passive or even actually provided support to the popular will .


But enough of my nit-picking .

As for your alternate strategies general strikes and massed actions and “ARMING “ of the masses - Yet you accuse me of naivism !!!
I am minded of James Connolly who believed that street fighting was the best tactic because the capitalist class would not destroy its own buildings being private property , their own bricks and mortar , and was then confronted by the British State which subsequently subjected him to artillery and cannon fire . I am also minded of what Bookchin wrote along the lines that you can only stay on the barricades for so long , after all , even revolutionaries need to eat . [ At a personal level , I re-evaluated my politics when a friend developed diabetes and his concern became the supply of insulin during any revolutionary situation , that the pharmaceutical industries still functioned , that the distribution of medicines still continued . Hence , I sought the most peaceable means , the least disruptive method of change there could be towards socialism , an approach which became reinforced when my mother went into an old peoples home , raising the question of who will care and feed for the vulnerable during an insurrection . If we can't convince the workers to lift up a pencil and exercise their vote for us , we can hardly expect them to rise up and place their lives on the line - that appears to me to be naivity at its best ]

And what you he mean when you suggest "winning over the military by appropriate policies " ?
I have no idea what appropriate policies you refer to , but it has an underlying assumption that those in the military are more immune to socialist propaganda , that they are divorced from civilian society , that they do not possess family and friends outside the military and therefore will be suffering from some type of ideological uneven development and that the social ideas of the general population will not be adopted by those in the armed forces . Surely , that is all up for debate .

But to repeat once more the SPGB case , the institution of parliament is not at fault . It is just that people's ideas have not yet developed beyond belief in leaders and dependence on a political elite
Control of parliament by representatives of a conscious revolutionary movement will enable the bureaucratic-military apparatus to be dismantled and the oppressive forces of the state to be neutralised , so that Socialism may be introduced with the least possible violence and disruption. Parliament and local councils , to the extent that their functions are administrative and not governmental , can and will be used to co-ordinate the emergency immediate measures to transform society when Socialism is established .

If Bookchin can favour a political a party, operating at local level, organising itself on democratic, non-hierarchical lines to participate in local elections why can't a party contesting national elections do so? Why can’t local "libertarian municipalist" parties form a federation based on the principles of delegated democracy to win control of central state power without becoming a statist party?
And if they could , why not do it? Surely this would be a better strategy than working to win control of local councils in the hope that when a majority of them had been won "the nation-state's power would be sufficiently diminished that people would withdraw their support from it, and it would collapse like a house of cards"?
Far better , is it not , if only to minimise the risk of violence, to also organise to win a majority in parliament too, not to form a government , but to end capitalism and dismantle the state. Political democracy is not just, a trick whereby the capitalist class get the working class to endorse their rule; it is a potential instrument that the working class can turn into a weapon to use in ending capitalism and class rule. Bookchin’s mistake was in being inconsistent in not realising that the principles of democratic organisation he recommends for his local municipalist organisations could equally applied on the broader political field, to the workers self-organised politically for socialism, i. e. to a workers' socialist party in the fullest sense.
I have previously qualified my endorsement of parliamentarianism , criticising bourgeois democacy as the best we can hope for under capitalism but not the ideal model possible for the revolutionary . Capitalist democracy is not a participatory democracy, which a genuine democracy has to be. In practice the people generally elect to central legislative assemblies and local councils professional politicians who they merely vote for and then let them get on with the job. In other words, the electors abdicate their responsibility to keep any eye on their representatives, giving them a free hand to do what the operation of capitalism demands. But that’s as much the fault of the electors as of their representatives, or rather it is a reflection of their low level of democratic consciousness.
It can’t be blamed on the principle of representation as such. There is no reason in principle why, with a heightened democratic consciousness (such as would accompany the spread of socialist ideas), even representatives sent to state bodies could not be subject – while the state lasts – to democratic control by those who sent them there. The argument that anarchists usually put against this is that “power corrupts” . But if power inevitability corrupts why does this not apply also in non-parliamentary elected bodies such as syndicalist union committees or workers councils?

Wayne , those alternate strategies you countered with such as the General Strike are ones we also could employ in certain specific particular scenarios and therefore do not necessarily exclude them as tactics . What we do not do , but what you apparently do , is raise them to a point of political principle.

Having earlier criticised James Connolly , I would like to agree now with this what he had to say :
"...I am inclined to ask all and sundry amongst our comrades if there is any necessity for this presumption of antagonism between the industrialist and the political advocate of socialism. I cannot see any. I believe that such supposed necessity only exists in the minds of the mere theorists or doctrinaires. The practical fighter in the work-a-day world makes no such distinction. He fights, and he votes; he votes and he fights. He may not always, he does not always, vote right; nor yet does he always fight when and as he should. But I do not see that his failure to vote right is to be construed into a reason for advising him not to vote at all; nor yet why a failure to strike properly should be used as a gibe at the strike weapon, and a reason for advising him to place his whole reliance upon votes..."

http://www.marxists.org:80/archive/connolly/1914/05/changes.htm

P.S. You can mail a free review copy of your book to the SPGB and i can almost nearly guarantee that it will receive a review in our magazine ;-)

author by Waynepublication date Thu Mar 27, 2008 09:54Report this post to the editors

I do not think that my last two comments have been responded to in any meaningful way.

author by Julianpublication date Fri May 09, 2008 02:29author email shadowprince at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

I have a question. I hope nobody minds my asking.

I'm new at this, I have studied a bit about Anarchy, and so far I have rather liked what I've seen. I'm sorry I can't yet be more specific about my likes, and I know I need to study more. I'd be glad to do so.

But...

I seem to be having the same trouble here as I had years ago with the Libertarian Party, of which I was a card-carrying member for about two years.

You see, all the Libertarians did was talk.
They talked and talked endlessly about how much better their way of governing would be,
how ideologically perfect their philosophy was, how very closely Libertarianism adhered to the intent of the writers of the Constitution (and yes, it *did* seem to do so, otherwise I wouldn't have been a member) and how good it would be for everyone once the Republicans and Democrats had been removed.

Well, there are ONE, maybe TWO Libertarians
in the U.S. Congress.

They talk and talk to this day, on the EXACT SAME SUBJECTS, and virtually none of them are elected.

Please tell me how the Anarchist movement is different.

Where is the ACTION occurring?
Where are the publicity campaigns to win hearts and minds -- ON A LARGE SCALE?

Where is the great effort made to engage the mass media? I don't see it.

Besause from where I am observing right now, the Anarchists will have gained position and influence, and conferred the benefits of their mode of, er, governance...by the time the Sun has burnt out.....as a result of sticking only to the information-dissemination techniques of "handing out pamphlets" and
"publishing on the Net."

Where are the Anarchists who have an understanding of the (television broadcast) Mass Media--which has been proven repeatedly as the most powerful form of political influence this planet has ever witnessed?

I don't mean that as a slap in your faces, and I apologize if it comes across that way.

author by Waynepublication date Fri May 09, 2008 06:14Report this post to the editors

Julian is raising questions about strategy and tactics, what revolutionary anarchists are doing besides talking. A look through Anarkismo will show him that we have been reporting about our activities, and proposed activities, throughout the world, for some time now. In particular, I have been discussing strategic possibilities. I will not go over all this now. Let him look it up. However, two points:

Julian asks, " Where is the great effort made to engage the mass media?: I do not know what this means. The mass media is not neutral. It is owned by the capitalist class, our enemy in all its forms (liberal, conservative, right-wind Libertarian, etc.). It will not "engage" with us, for its own good reasons. This does not stop us from trying to impact it, and from trying to build an alternate media, but we cannot expect any positive "engagement" from the capitalist media.

Finally, we need to develop our ideas and spread them, but if society stays stable and superficially prosperous, we will never change it. Unfortunately, our world system is going into a period of great instability and misery for many people, which will discredit capitalism and hopefully open the minds of many to the need for some sort of change. This will make it possible for us to influence a great number of folks with our anarchist politics--well before the sun dies out.

author by José Antonio Gutiérrezpublication date Sat May 24, 2008 18:42Report this post to the editors

It is remarkable to hear, among many Latin Americans, that they have a lot of hope in Obama, believing that he will start a new era of respectful dialogue with Latin America...

Imperialism is not something that each president of the US decides: it is well engrained in the State, in the social forces that shape the life of the country and there is a single force which can change that: the people's mobilisation from the grassroots. All that a US president can do is to decide what type of imperialism they will use (whether the "Roosevelt-Bush-Neanderthal" type of imperialism, or a "Wilson-Kennedy-Smarter" type of imperialism).

In relation to Latin America I started to get worried with the pro-Zionist and anti-Palestinian remarks of Obama a while ago. He basically said that he was going to support Israel no matter what atrocities they carry, and that the main problem in the region was Palestinian "terrorism": no oppression, no occupation, no State terror on Palestinians. (A good analysis of his speech was published from Electronic Intifada in this website http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=8482)

I knew that if so were his views on the Middle East, his views on Latin America could not be any better. And I was right. Yesterday in Miami, talking to the Cuban community there, he stated his approach to Latin America quitre clearly:

-A new direct diplomacy with Cuba
-He wil have as a main priority to isolate Venezuela and its allies from the rest of the region (under the excuse that they support the FARC-EP)
-Complete support from Plan Colombia and the fascist government of Uribe (although he opposes the FTA with that country, mostly because his own base of support does not approve it)
-To increase the funds of Merida plan, which behind the talk of "struggle against drugs" is nothing but a new instrument of social control over Latin America and he promised to extend it further southwards of its current areas of operation (Mexico and Central America)

(http://espanol.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/080523/eeuu/amn_pol_obama_latinoamerica)

Basically, he said that the US needed a "new" approach to its "backyard", which has been neglected by the focus of the Bush administration in the Middle East -which was quite natural given the weight of the Oil Barons in his (Bush's) circle.

So there are talks of increasing "aid" and plans of intervention in the region, including the use of the FARC-EP as the "Latin American Al-Qaida" and counter-balancing the weight of independent projects such as that of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador or any other countries which have departed from the Washington consensus.

Obama realizes the US is losing ground in its "backyard": the EU is now the main source of Foreign Direct Investment in the region and is advancing with its "association agreements" (which are nothing but FTAs in disguise) with Central America and the Andean Community, while China is taking by storm Latin American markets, and already has a FTA with Chile and is preparing a new one with Perú. Also, the emergence of regional powers (mainly, Brazil and Venezuela) are disputing its traditional hegemony as they are centred in building up a strong economic block that can be in an independent position in relation to its traditional northern "master". Obviously, from the interests of the US establishment, this is all quite worrying... and any proposal to increase the "attention" and "engagement" with Latin America should send shivers all over our region...

If you think Obama will be any better than the rest on its policies towards Latin America (or the resto of the world), read what he has to say and think again.

author by Oroborospublication date Sun May 25, 2008 09:31Report this post to the editors

Usually, since I dont live in a swing state, I vote third party....not because I believe voting will change the system, but just because I like to rob the victor of the "moral legitimacy" of having over 50% of the popular support. Usually I vote for people who I know have no chance of winning.

author by Karl Blythepublication date Thu Jun 05, 2008 06:51Report this post to the editors

I agree entirely with the author's statement at the end of this article:

"It is exciting to see the popular response to Obama, especially by young people. This lays the basis for a new New Left, a new wave of radicalization. But that will be based on recognizing the truth and telling the truth, as best as we radicals can see it — not by capitulating to the illusions which others still have. A new radicalization will develop when people are disillusioned by Obama and the Democrats. And this will happen. Or we are all in big trouble."

I also think the author makes some excellent observations about the really quite limited substance of Obama's campaign, as opposed to the rhetoric. It is worth taking a closer look though at this very subjective aspect of that campaign. Though it is commonly argued that personality is just a distraction, that people should "vote by issue," etc., it really should not come as a surprise that personal appeal in presidential campaigning plays as big a part as "issues," given that it is not "issues" being put on the ballot but an individual, a personal character that simply cannot be understood by checking off a list of "issues." In that understanding, below are a few thoughts and impressions on that "issue," admittedly without the kind of thorough references and notes that might comfort some "researchers."

Barack Obama was catapulted onto the national stage at an almost perfect moment for a man of his character and background. In 2004 the Democratic Party suffered a defeat that, despite its being in fact quite controversial (voting irregularities in Ohio... etc.) and very close at that, profoundly disrupted the internal party order. An election campaign that had been built on almost the sole basis of opposition to Bush, came tumbling down over its own ridiculousness almost wihout a fight from the central "unifying" figure of John Kerry. The unity sought was on the basis of the candidate's energetic typicality -- i.e., his charisma and intelligence on behalf of a transparantly conventional campaign. In the aftermath of that candiate's defeat (or more exactly, surrender before the fight was over!), it became evident that it had been the last straw for the radical "fringe" wing of the Democratic Party. The surprisingly decent electoral performance of the party in 2006 did nothing fundamentally to repair the party's internal strength, and the utterly unastounding record of that year's congressional line-up only reinforced the sense that the party could not continue its current path without fragmenting at some level. The division and intense competition that has taken place between the two rival Democrat's and their respectiive supporters may be seen as evidence, perhaps as a consequence of that fragmentation.

As for the good senator, he happened to show up on the scene at just the opportune moment for an upstart party champion of his type. Distinguished in national politics almost solely by the fact of his being the first black senator since Reconstruction (an irony by which it was, for once, a great fortune to be a relatively young black male), his record in the months following was almost shockingly unimpressive, and as Mr. Price stresses (quoting "The Nation"), he "almost immediately ... shaded himself toward the center." His public record in the months between his senatorial election and the start of his presidential campaign was, shall we say, unassuming. If not for his above-mentioned sole distinguisher, it is even likely that he would not have been capable of carrying on such a powerful political campaign.

That said, it should not be thought for a moment that Barack is an incapable politician. On the contrary, he has proven himself to be an extraordinarily talented statesman -- rhetorically gifted, strikingly "genuine" (a sincere politician!...?), an astute organizer and campaigner. Not particularly outstanding in terms of his policy proposals, his great talent has been to create an aura of radical "change" and to fuel and capitalize upon a popular mass movement that has grown up around his campaign. What stands out about Obama is not his political program, but his personality, and his appeal has more to do with the enthusiasm of his base than with any particular "change" he is proposing.

What radical or far-reaching prospects does this present for us? Wayne is quite right in saying it "the basis for a new New Left, a new wave of radicalization." Whenever a radical upeaval or mass movement takes root, it becomes dangerous even for the politicians who lead and, all too often, manipulate it. The danger, the profound possibility today, is that this mass movement for "change" will not stop short and content itself with half-hearted, half-decent legislation or policy-making in Washington. At the same time, Obama's political power, his talent and his unfortunate capacity is not merely to create a grassroots movement. His personal ability, the task he has set himself with all too much success, is to reinvigorate and reunify the Democratic Party in a way that a conventional "liberal" candidate like John Kerry could not. Obama has already, at an early stage and in spite of the bickering and party in-fighting that has occurred, infused a spirit of unity and a high degree of enthusiasm into what had been, less than a year ago, a decadent Democratic Party. Against the hopes of Republicans who thought the party's internal strife would destroy Democratic unity come November, I believe the struggle for the candidacy, now that Obama is almost certain to be nominated, may well have strengthened the party by forging a newly energetic and devoted popular base that is beginning to rebuild the party.

Pending election day in November, Obama's new task is to create convert the divided party into a unified political force -- and he his very well equipped and well positioned to do so. Our own task, therefore, is at once very daunting and also is set at a critical moment for action, so it will require of us an enormous degree of clarity, discipline and commitment in consistent, organized way to seize on the enthusiasm and energy of the moment to make way for more radical upheavals than a naively idealistic "upstart" politician like Obama is ready to take on board.

author by redvine - Progressive Labor Partypublication date Tue Sep 02, 2008 17:38Report this post to the editors

The U.S. empire is in trouble in Iraq, but a new government headed by Obama
will not take advantage of that fact to effect a withdrawal. Obama urges troop
reductions there, not withdrawal, with the goal of freeing up more troops for
other imperialist actions, as in Afghanistan. The 5 permanent bases and huge
new base in Baghdad will remain if Obama has his way.

Related Link: http://www.plp.org/pamphlets/election_pamphlet_2008.pdf
author by kuhing - CAampublication date Fri Sep 05, 2008 23:50Report this post to the editors

Bien sur en tant qu'anarchiste il est hors de question de participer aux élections truquées organisées par le système en place.
On peut se demander cependant si un Obama ne serait pas "moins pire" qu'un Mac Cain.
En l'absence d'une force anarchiste puissante aux états unis qui proposerait une alternative , c'est une question difficile à répondre.
En tous cas pour moi.

Salut et fraternité

kuhing - France

Related Link: http://forum.anarchiste.free.fr/
author by Waynepublication date Wed Sep 10, 2008 05:31Report this post to the editors

Redvine of the Progressive Labor Party (an authoritatarian socialist party in the US) denies that Obama is the "lesser evil." Redvine points out that Obama would still keep some troops in Iraq (which I had pointed out too). Since I wrote the article, Obama has declared that he would decrease the number of troops in Iraq in order to expand the number of troops in Afghanistan. In this he agrees with McCain.

Nevertheless, I think we revolutionaries would look foolish if we denied that there were differences between Obama and McCain (differences which reflect a real dispute among sections of the ruling class). This difference is least obvious in international policies, as is typical, but is more pronounced in domestic areas. It is too easy for liberals and reformists to refute any claim that there is no distinction between McCain and Obama. There is a difference but within a narrow range. In any case, as I argued, we cannot defeat the greater evil by supporting the lesser evil. As I pointed out, this method has been tried by the mainstream left for generations and has not worked.

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