|· Portal||Help Search Members Calendar|
|Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )||Resend Validation Email|
|Welcome to Kasama Threads. We hope you enjoy your visit.|
You're currently viewing our forum as a guest. This means you are limited to certain areas of the board and there are some features you can't use. If you join our community, you'll be able to access member-only sections, and use many member-only features such as customizing your profile, sending personal messages, and voting in polls. Registration is simple, fast, and completely free.
Join our community!
If you're already a member please log in to your account to access all of our features:
Posted: Aug 30 2011, 07:05 PM
Member No.: 71
Joined: 9-October 08
these notes I originally posted on my blog
citation links, et cetera, can be found in that version of the piece. Pagination did not copy over very well.
An anvil for a parachute: CPUSA prepares quadrennial rationalizations for supporting Democrats in 2012
by Jay Rothermel
The working class in imperialist centers still inhabits a period best summed up as neoliberal, the era of austerity and retreat.
Vanguard militants do develop within the US working class today, drawing sustenance from our class's historic militancy and longtime support of struggles against gender and national oppression. But every four years, these militants confront the wilful obscurantism and pragmatic rationalization always ranged against class Independence: the tremendous reformist lesser-evil weight of the capitalist Democratic Party. On the left and within the radical trade union milieu, one of the main transmission belts for worship and acquiescence before the Democrats is the CPUSA.
After a summer in which a Democratic president offered a "grand bargain" to his electoral opponents to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, and oversaw Washington's brutal intervention in the Libyan civil war, defending the Democratic Party and its president on behalf of the middle class radical left looks to be a hard sell. [Of course communists always think this as every electoral season kicks-off: They won't be able to pull the wool over our eyes this time. Alas.]
In a recent article, CPUSA national leader Sam Webb details all the reasons the US working class is too weak to form its own independent socialist movement. We must compromise again, bowing down before the accomplished electoral fact. The CPUSA has pursued this same line in 18 of the last 19 national elections. [In 1948 they supported New Dealer Henry Wallace's Progressive Party bid].
....we have to factor in the impact of three decades of right-wing ideological onslaught.
We have to consider the structural changes in the U.S. economy that have economically devastated, socially atomized and politically weakened traditional centers of working class and people's power.
We have to take into account the unprecedented attack against African Americans and other communities of color, dating back to the election of Reagan.
Webb glides over the fact that the three-decade assault [actually four decades now, if we leave in the Clinton and Obama years, as Webb seems loathe to do] was met with surrender if not outright capitulation by working class and oppressed people's institutions in this country.
During all those decades, organizations and leaders within the labor, womens', and Black liberation mass movement presented themselves as in a partnership with the US ruling class, and were committed to class peace, to demonstrating how responsible they were by delivering their followers and partisans into the merciless context of the "Washington consensus" - austerity, union busting, and war against our social wage.
A rightward shift in bourgeois politics into this consensus was not the brain child of Ronald Reagen or the Heritage Foundation or Newt Gingrich, any more than today's impending attack on Social Security was dreamed up by Freedomworks, the Koch brothers, and the Tea Party Express. After the 1974-75 world recession, the US capitalist ruling class realized the post-World War Two period of reform and maneuver had to end if their profit rates were to survive. [Fellow workers and farmers throughout Europe have been waging increasingly militant struggles in defense of their social wage and against ruling class austerity for just as long, and much more effectively].
"Tradition centers of working class and people's power" were transformed into centers of betrayal, where tops in the ALF-CIO officialdom at every turn deepened an already dog-like tailing of their own members' exploiters, in periods of both Republican and Democratic rule. In fact, it could be argued that after 1975, periods of Democratic Party control in Washington DC saw the greatest set-backs to our class at home and abroad. Certainly the Republicans and Democrats had no primary [and no secondary or tertiary] differences on austerity and war.
We have to acknowledge the reality of a smaller labor movement, in large measure the result of economic downsizing, production relocation and a fierce right- wing anti-labor offensive.
This statement is a truly priceless example of reformist double-dealing. There can be no mass independent working class political movement in the US because the labor movement has grown so small and feeble. What is left unstated is the fact that at every turning point in Washington and Wall Street's anti-labor offensive, workers and their oppressed allies were told an independent movement was a utopian dead end. Better to marshall our power and vote for candidates today who could rescue our fortunes. That was being realistic. This has been the pereniall CPUSA line justifying and rationalizing unprincipled class collaboration to defeat capitalist [Republican] austerity and downsizing.
Austerity and downsizing came nevertheless. They came from both right wing parties of the ruling class electoral machine, and it has not stopped yet. Why should it, if organizations like the CPUSA, which promote themselves as tribunes of the people, keep promoting and rationalizing a vote for our enemies?
We have to factor in the impact of the ideological intensification of racism, male supremacy, immigrant-bashing and homophobia in recent years on popular consciousness.
All of which intensified as the Obama administration, leading Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, increased the round-up and deportation of immigrant workers sans papiers.
We have to weigh in the force of habit and inertia.
The greatest force for habituation to our own class exploitation and surrender before the austerity drives of Robin-Hoods-in-reverse is the illusion of lesser evil politics promoted around the election of the least lesser-evil characters: Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama. Do we really fulfill as communists our internationalist responsibilities when all reality cries out against these Wall Street lictors?
We have to appreciate that the president operates in a complex of competing class and social forces, some of which (namely the extreme right) are determined to sabotage his presidency.
At the risk of over-simplifying what Webb tells us is a complicated and multi-faceted process, it does not matter to workers what environments of completing forces our particular bosses function in, or the national executive committee of the bosses in Washington, DC. To indeed state things in an over-simplified and thus thoroughly Marxist fashion: just because our bosses and their retinues enjoy a good dog fight, we are not obliged to back one of their dogs. Accepting that we live within the context of the 40 year Washington consensus of austerity, union-busting, poverty, and low wages is the most useful judgment we can make in determining a working class response to the crisis today.
Webb ends his article by throwing out this bone to the die-hard doubters of his course:
Indeed, I would argue that today's movement has the potential to eclipse the popular movements of 1930s and 1960s in size, social composition, political consciousness and social power.
This kind of cynical pandering only greases the skids for the next working class defeat. The recent debacle for labor in Wisconsin, where a growing militant mass movement was shunted into the dead-end of Democratic Party electoral politics, then disguised unconscionably by MSNBC-type liberal pundits as a victory, has completely disarmed workers in the US today about the extent and severity of the challenges ahead. Webb boils down all the half-truths and moral squalor to that old tune, "Prosperity is just around the corner."
In the meantime, our class is shown how to drop another boulder on its foot.
Posted By Blogger to Marxist Update at 8/29/2011 07:55:00 PM
Posted: Sep 10 2011, 03:34 PM
Member No.: 71
Joined: 9-October 08
"Nobody But Obama" hurricane gathers strength over Labor Day 2011
We have not reached the nadir of labor's obeisance before Washington and Wall Street's axis of capitalist evil, and at this point I cannot honestly say the tunnel is even in sight. So far we are green-lighted for opportunism all down the tracks. Struggles which will seem immense factors in the rebirth of a revolutionary socialist mass movement in the United States, like the February and March strikes and sit-ins in Madison, Wisconsin, were swallowed up in Democratic Party reformism before broader forces could be brought to bear and a rank and file leadership could develop. Future struggles will overcome these shortcomings, but from the bottom of the forty year hole labor has dug itself today, the sky seems very far away.
On Labor Day President Obama spoke to a labor rally in Detroit. For future generations living in a socialist order of global plenty, I should explain that Labor Day is to May Day what Velveeta is to cheese. If you don't know what Velveeta is, consider yourselves lucky.
John Rummel of peoplesworld.org will now give us the play-by-play:
President Obama, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka were joined by Detroit's own Aretha Franklin, who ended a four song set with her "Respect," fitting for the tens of thousands marching that day and demanding respect for the work they do, day-in and day-out.
Franklin, the "Queen of Soul," received a rousing ovation after her call for respect for "the man in the Oval Office."
The president, who came on stage to chants of "four more years," linked recovery and prosperity to the labor movement "I want everyone to know that as long as I am in the White House I am going to stand up for collective bargaining," Obama declared.
Would it be kvetching here point out that President Obama is not in favor of collective bargaining? Is actually opposed to it? That Obama's pro-labor leanings or credentials are a folie a duex of various right and left wing bourgeois and ALF-CIO fundraisers?
"When working families are doing well, when they're getting a decent wage and they're getting decent benefits, that means they're good customers for businesses. That means they can buy the cars that you build. That means you can buy the food from the farmers. That means you can buy from Silicon Valley. You are creating prosperity when you share in prosperity.
"When I hear some of these folks trying to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so-called 'right to work' laws for private sector workers - that really mean the right to work for less and less and less - when I hear this talk I know it is not about economics but about politics."
Is Barack Obama seeing the light? I think the article's writer John Rummel may hope readers think so, otherwise why permit such long swaths of bloviation unchecked by reality to appear below his by-line? peoplesworld.org readers are pro-union stalwarts, and all Obama voters to a person. When Obama in a speech stands up for collective bargaining rights for "private sector workers" is is important to take note.
Underlining the administration's intention to signal strong support for unions, Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech the same day in Cincinnati, said the union movement is in a fight for its life and that the "other side" is determined to take away its right to exist. Biden said unions are the only non-governmental group that has the power and capacity to stop the onslaught against the middle class. "The middle class in under attack because labor is under the most direct assault in generations. The other side has declared war on labor's house and it's about time we stand up."
Were I in the audience, the first question I would ask the Vice President is, "What's all this 'we' stuff, Mr. Biden?" Denouncing the "other side" to the choir in church on Sunday is bravery of the first order. Not as brave as telling unionists it is up to them to defend the middle class his own administration is marauding-over, but close. What causes the most concern is Rummel's comment that Biden and Obama both spoke at public rallies on Labor Day to underline "the administration's intention to signal strong support for unions." While anyone intending to signal an intention is free to do it in the United States, I think Obama and Biden may have visited these rallies for higher reasons than those of 'administration.' They were there to tell the labor leaders that Obama/Biden 2012 will nail the coonskin to the wall in their all-our war to defend labor's house.
(Parenthetically, we men of 1988 expect a little higher grade of pro-labor rhetoric from Vice President Biden. Or should I say, pro-Labour rhetoric.)
Saundra Williams, chair of the Detroit rally and president of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO Labor Council, led the crowd in a "Good Jobs Now" chant. Michigan is suffering double digit unemployment and a new report, citing 235,000 state residents out of work six months or longer, added urgency to their cry.
United Auto Workers (UAW) union Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams put it bluntly: "We don't care about the debt ceiling, raise it. We have 13 million out of work. Put their asses back to work."
During his remarks President Obama said that next Thursday he will address the nation on jobs and, in a hint about the speech, said, "We've got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding."
U.S. Congressman Sander Levin blasted Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's contempt for the UAW and the jobs of autoworkers. In 2008, with GM and Chrysler facing bankruptcy, Levin reminded everyone of Romney's comments: "If auto companies get a bailout, you can kiss the auto industry goodbye."
President Obama was a singular voice standing by the industry and today, it is "roaring back," said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Teamsters International President James Hoffa [my Hoffa link, not John Rummel's--JR] said to the president, "This is your army, we are ready to march."
Michigan Congressman John Conyers said, "When we go back to Washington next week, our message to Congress and the president is, 'jobs now,' not just for Detroit but everyone in the nation."
Labor officialdom in the United States has no perspective other than supporting employers and bourgeois politicians. They, not the Tea Party or the Republicans or the Rick Perry Dominion, put the torch to labor's house decades ago. Winning it back will not come via voting against our interests and in favor of another Wall Street darling, or even voting for the same Wall Street darling a second time.
As a revolutionary socialist myself, I have some very definite ideas about what workers should be doing instead of voting for Obama or Perry or whoever ends up running for office a year from now. My ideas come from a very few basic propositions about the world we live in today, and the period we are going through as a class internationally:
1. The Tea Party is a vote-catching machine to snare disaffected and immiserated middle class and proletarian voters fed up with electing officials who act against their class interests. It is not the NAZI party or a bunch of 'fuhrers' or Christian fascists. Oddball conspiracism and contrarian pragmatism are part of middle class politics in the US, and have been since the defeat of Radical Reconstruction. Andrew Cuomo and Scott Walker and Barack Obama are bigger and more effective enemies of labor than any Tea Party outfit.
2. The Democratic Party and its allies [acknowledged or unacknowledged] among liberals and the left [MSNBC, peoplesworld.org, The Nation, World Can't Wait] will increase the drumbeat over the next 12 months that a defeat of Obama will spell the end of civilization. We cannot be sanguine about the polarization that will take place around the election, and the way normally sensible fellow-activists, unionists, and many socialists will be effected. Those of us who remember the 1964 and 1984 elections should not be too arrogant on this question, either. By this time next year the drumbeat will be deafening to "defeat the Right at all costs" regardless of the fact that, as the debt ceiling debate clearly demonstrated, Obama was to the right of everyone else in either party.
3. Follow the lines of actual resistance: support and reinforce them, spread the word about them. Make them count.
4. When discussing the 2012 election, be civil and patient and listen. If co-workers or fellow activists ask you to vote for Obama, allow them to present their case. Then present the case for revolutionary socialism as you understand it.
5. Two days after the election, many will awaken from their months-long public-relations-induced blackout, and we will need to work with them again. So don't go around calling them "A sell-out Chicken Little in an Orange Jumpsuit" before the election, please.
6. In the furious hurricane of Nobody But Obama that is coming, remain calm: you are not in this alone: talk, share, and discuss with comrades.
Posted: Oct 4 2011, 11:44 PM
Member No.: 71
Joined: 9-October 08
When reading the article <http://marxistupdate.blogspot.com/2011/10/lesser-evilism-is-on-march-take-back.html>
I think we may be forgiven for throwing up out hands at the prospect of Van Jones and a phalanx of petty bourgeois liberals proclaiming themselves defenders of the American Dream. It would never occur to such a grouping that the American Dream is a nightmare for the world, and deserves a proper and fitting burial.
But the Dream actually being taken back at the conference is the prospect for the re-election of Barack Obama. The "new Franklin Roosevelt moment" they refer to is the 1936 landslide.
Look at the participants:
United States Student Association, Jobs with Justice, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, New Bottom Line, Center for Community Change, Opportunity Agenda, New Organizing Institute, Energy Action Coalition, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, American Federation of Government Employees, Sierra Club, Campus Progress, Progressive Majority, People for the American Way, Hip Hop Caucus, AFL-CIO, Change to Win, Democracy for America, Progress Now, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Working Families Party, Rebuild the Dream, SEIU, Peace Action, Move On, and the Campaign for America's Future.
This is the grassroots Nobody But Obama movement in-becoming. To know these groups are psyching themselves up to flank and thwart mobilizations like OWS and try to lever them over into vote catchers for the Democrats means the lesser-evilists are on the march again....