Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Campaign from the left - Govern from the right!


“...The masses must have time and opportunity to develop, and they can only have the opportunity when they have their own movement...”  Frederick Engels to the American socialists when the labor movement in New York City nominated the non-socialist reformer Henry George for mayor in 1886


If you are always complaining about the number of socialist, anti-capitalist and otherwise radical-left parties in the United States and keep wondering why when America is already well provided with a multiplicity of left-wing parties, why the World Socialist Party of the United States (WSPUS) is added to this profusion of the confusion? The answer is there is no way of challenging and refuting the spurious programs of the parties which promise to reform capitalism except by building up from the ground an organization of socialists working only for socialism.

Joe Biden believes that capitalism can work if it is properly tethered and reined in. And we have a plethora of political commentators urging us that Biden is the best choice when the other option is Trump.

It is well worth offering the analysis of Eugene Debs when it comes to the US electoral circus.

...Parties but express in political terms the economic interests of those who compose them. This is the rule. The Republican party represents the capitalist class, the Democratic party the middle class and the Socialist party the working class. There is no fundamental difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. Their principles are identical. They are both capitalist parties and both stand for the capitalist system, and such differences as there are between them involve no principle but are the outgrowth of the conflicting interests of large and small capitalists...”

...To the workers of the country these two parties in name are one in fact. They, or rather., it, stands for capitalism, for the private ownership of the means of subsistence, for the exploitation ol the workers, and for wage-slavery...”

In contrast to the capitalist parties he argues that:

...Unlike the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties, the Socialist Party platform is a plain and simple declaration of principles and policies which all may understand. It was not framed merely with a view to winning votes. Its utterances are straightforward and to the point. There is no ambiguity; no evasion of vital issues; no possibility of double construction. There is no attempt to compromise with capitalism; no effort to throw a sop to the enemies of labor; no adherence to the miserable fiction that the interests of labor and capital are identical. The Socialist Party, in short, proposes to place the workers in possession of all the wealth they produce and to insure to every individual full and free opportunity to labor. The elector who casts his vote for its candidates may do so with the positive assurance that whenever the opportunity arises every pledge of the party platform will be carried out to the letter. The Socialist Party does not disguise the fact that its ultimate aim is the entire abolition of rent, interest, and profit...”

Radical activists do a disservice to Debs’ legacy and his commitment to working-class political independence. By trying to get Joe Biden to say and do what leftist want him to say and do, is to engage in a pathetic and puerile political ventriloquism. It is dependent politics, powerless politics. It is readily admitted by many in the liberal progressive movement that both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are controlled by moneyed interests. And we know that the Democratic Party represents corporate interests. So no matter what the candidates say or do, they are still being controlled by the two-party system which is disempowering.

  Regardless that Biden may seem a genuine and honorable man to the electorate, once such a sincere person is elected to office in any government anywhere, they become the captive of capitalism, compelled by the system to represent the interests of the ruling class of the nation state, which ever nation state it happens to be. Some voters will respond, “surely, a little is better than nothing?” Except it will always result in nothing, because capitalism can never serve the exploited.

  The WSPUS espouse the theory that poverty, unemployment, racial oppression and environmental destruction are not simply side-effects of capitalism but are vital part of it. This is something that Eugene Debs understood only too very well. The membership of the WSPUS is minuscule, it is true, but there is no alternative to world socialism if the planet is to have a future.


Boris said...

The SP needs to ease up with admiration for Debs. Not only did he ditch De Leon at crucial IWW conventions in 1906-07-08 leaving De Leon and the SLP delegates to fight the anarchists but you need to take a look at your 'hero's' activities in the election of 1920 on the Socialist Party ticket. Deb's Debs was enamored with a large audience.

Bernard Bortnick

ajohnstone said...

The Socialist Party at the time was very critical of both Eugene Debs and of Daniel De Leon, considering the former a reformist and the latter an anarchist.

This blogger has to take the personal blame for the blog's "admiration" of Debs. It may well not be reflected by all members of the Socialist Party.

A former member wrote a wonderful biography of De Leon.


Reviewed here


I too see much worthy in the American SLP. But of course De Leon himself tried to throw James Connolly under the bus.