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Communist Electoral Strategy?

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ajjohnstone
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Sep 5 2016 03:18
Quote:
I recall the SLP refusing to partake in demos, even just to hand out their leaflets. On the other hand the IWW did. They made an effort to reach out to a rebelling generation. The SLP became old, they became totally sectarian and couldn't reverse their demise.

I agree...you got to be there to get your voice heard.

My feeling is we have to find a way to say "we told you so..." that comes across in a positive manner that bestows confidence rather than spread a dispiriting message of hopelessness when people do decide to protest and resist.

I have no pat answer as yet that goes beyond some platitudes but we have to be able to say ---"We told you so...Now, are you going to heed our advice or repeat the same old mistakes as before..."

I'm not sure how to express that sentiment which doesn't sound sectarian, party-liner, and even elitist. We can't avoid making conflicting ideas a battle-ground...but what about the collateral damage that it results in?

Because of our weakness in conveying our ideas, every new generation of activists is being obliged to re-learn old lessons the hard way. But I'm not someone who will let a toddler put a hand into a fire as an object lesson in that experience teaches. Nor will i stay silent when some quack recommends a fake remedy as a cure.

Spikymike
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Sep 5 2016 10:19

Pennoid,
My earlier post No57 was a reflection on the nature of this discussion at that point and not aimed any more at you and Tampa than others who had contributed, but briefly on some, I thought fairly obvious, material changes how about in no particular order - the extension of globalisation, the downfall of soviet style state capitalism and shifts in the imperial balance of power, the incorporation of trade and industrial unions into the corporate management structure of capitalism, the de-industrialisation of large parts of the western economy and the financialisation of the economy, the growth of the digital economy, major restructuring of both the technical and political composition of the working class, the extension of a tightly controlled nominal democracy to formerly dictatorial regimes, the extension of society as a 'spectacle' etc. I would suggest also that theoretically some of this can be understood by an extended analysis of capitalism's evolution globally from the 'formal' to the 'real' subsumption of labour. All of these interconnected issues discussed extensively in other threads and texts on this site and others. I'm not arguing a case of all past failures at revolutionary change as inevitable, but a recognition that they did in the end fail to achieve communism whilst in the process impacting on and contributing materially towards the further globalisation and 'modernisation' of capitalism - creating new and changed conditions within which we and and our fellow workers must operate that are not replicas of the past.

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jondwhite
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Sep 5 2016 13:30

Here's what I wrote to Weekly Worker

Quote:
Airbrushed

Miah Simone writes praising the Communist Party of the USA, which formed with 20,000 militants and calling for a ‘party of the working class for socialism’ (Letters, May 5). Typical!

It is only by starting the clock in 1919 that the Socialist Party of America can be airbrushed from our history. The SPA reached 120,000 members and 6% of the national vote at its peak in 1912, beating even the CPUSA peak membership of 80,000 in 1944.

Miah’s “criminal destruction of a great opportunity” might be an apt description of what the CPUSA tried to do to the SPA, including CPers beating SPA members at the SPA’s 1934 Madison Square Garden rally (although the most damage to the SPA was done by World War I).

There’s more to be learned from the SPA presidential campaign than from the CPUSA, not least candidate (and Bernie Sanders’ avowed hero) Eugene Debs’ famous quote:

“I am not a labour leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else. If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the Promised Land if I could, because if I led you in, someone else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition; as it is now, the capitalists use your heads and your hands.”

Jon D White
Socialist Party of Great Britain

published in issue 1106
http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1106/letters/

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Pennoid
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Sep 6 2016 12:28

1. Jon, if you want to ply your trade, you'd be better suited to finding members of the non-monolithic clt, such as myself, who've taken inspiration from and an interest in the SPA and Debs. But 1914 was a betrayal; how it can be characterized as anything else sounds deluded to me. Whether or not it necessitated a split is perhaps up for discussion, if you're willing to suggest that socialists ought to remain in league with the political supporters of imperialist policy. In general, I'm supportive of the Debs and Haywood wing of the SPA, the extreme left-wing, which was a minority in terms of control of the organization, but seemed to approximate he political beliefs and concerns of the rank and file. I would not dismiss the history of the spa out of hand, especially concerning the question of elections.

2. Spikey, I appreciate the response, but the point remains that it is assertion. How do those changes affect how we deal with a particular problem, say, forming a mass socialist party? I'm sure they bear, but in what way? I don't demand a fully worked out answer, but that was the basis of my gripe.

Spikymike
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Sep 6 2016 15:24

Well just for now Pennoid those material conditions suggest that nationally based mass socialist party's internationally federated with other's of the same kind are neither possible or desirable today!

seahorse
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Sep 6 2016 19:43
Steven. wrote:

admin: inappropriate and anatomically inaccurate joke from another user unpublished

Come on now, you can't say that and then not tell us what it was. It's just too tempting.

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jondwhite
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Sep 7 2016 21:07
Pennoid wrote:
1. Jon, if you want to ply your trade, you'd be better suited to finding members of the non-monolithic clt, such as myself, who've taken inspiration from and an interest in the SPA and Debs. But 1914 was a betrayal; how it can be characterized as anything else sounds deluded to me. Whether or not it necessitated a split is perhaps up for discussion, if you're willing to suggest that socialists ought to remain in league with the political supporters of imperialist policy. In general, I'm supportive of the Debs and Haywood wing of the SPA, the extreme left-wing, which was a minority in terms of control of the organization, but seemed to approximate he political beliefs and concerns of the rank and file. I would not dismiss the history of the spa out of hand, especially concerning the question of elections.

Pennoid, you keep using that term; 'monolith' and 'monolithic'. What do you mean when you use it in terms of its application to the CLT? I ask as the SPGB has been pejoratively described as a 'monument' in a critique titled 'Movement or Monument'. And also because (and correct me if I am wrong here) you possibly may have your mind made up, or at least have firm opinions. Elsewhere you declared 'The only guide we have for future action is to study the past! ' Surely, we can use our imagination and the circumstances of the past must be selectively applied to the present circumstances.
I'm really convinced that the narrative of betrayal is especially unhelpful, not because socialists shouldn't be against all war, but because it personalises the political movement which ought to be about politically self-emancipating ourselves not relying to any degree on leading lights of the Second International to be trusted to do anything on our behalf.
If you're going to distinguish between some 'extreme left wing' and 'rank and file' then you are going to have to explain these labels as Jack Ross' work argues Ira Kipnis' work invented many of these distinctions or at least retrospectively applied them.

ajjohnstone
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Sep 8 2016 13:24
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Debs and Haywood wing of the SPA, the extreme left-wing, which was a minority in terms of control of the organization

Surprisingly, apart from being its presidential candidate a few times, Debs never ever was a member of its executive committee, declining that role.

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Alf
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Oct 15 2016 20:33

The article here is our contribution to this discussion, which I think is well worth pursuing.

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201610/14139/reply-communist-le...