No other way to get there

More and more, people are looking at socialism as that "better world" that's possible and necessary. But there's no direct path, no express train, to get there. At every new stage of struggle, the question is asked: what is to be done?  Everybody has his or her opinion and, not surprisingly, I do too.

The main task in my view is to further build and unite the working class based, multi-racial coalition that came together to elect President Obama.

Only this coalition - this many-layered, multi-class and multi-racial people's coalition in which the labor movement plays a growing role - has the political strength to complete and consolidate the victory against right-wing extremism.

If another path exists to a consistently anti-corporate government and ultimately a socialist future, I have yet to hear it.

A defeat of the right - signified by larger Democratic majorities, the growth of the progressive wing in Congress, a higher degree of trade union organization and struggle, a decline in the influence of right-wing ideology, a higher degree of multi-racial unity and anti-racist consciousness, greater unity and vision of the all people's coalition - will profoundly alter the political landscape, including weakening the capitalist class as a whole, not simply its most reactionary sections.

Imagine what the past year would have looked like if the right had been fully dethroned from its positions of power in the last election! No, it wouldn't have meant fair skies and clear sailing for the people's coalition, but it is realistic to think that the health care bill would have been stronger, the stimulus bigger, unemployment lower, resistance to military spending and escalating the Afghanistan war greater, relations with Cuba and the rest of Latin America better, and financial reform tougher.

In other words, a decisive victory over the right will set the stage for a period of sustained, deep-going anti-corporate democratization and reform. Far from hiding the class struggle, the defeat of right-wing extremism will bring to the surface, clear the ground, and create a more favorable terrain for a more open struggle against finance capital, corporate power, neo-liberalism, and imperial rule.

We don't pick the ground of struggle on which we fight. It depends on the balance of class forces and the level of political consciousness, organization and unity of millions.

It is incumbent on us, therefore, to make a concrete and sober analysis of what the main obstacle to social progress is and what social groups have to be assembled in order to move to the next stage of struggle.

Subjective wishes, no matter how strongly felt and no matter how righteous, are a poor guide for political strategy.

I would argue that much of the confusion, impatience, finger-pointing, narrow tactics, and  insistence that the process of change be hurried along faster than conditions allow since Obama's victory stems from a lack of such an analysis.

Granted the injustices of everyday life are obvious and outrageous. Case in point: at this moment I am participating in the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit - a city that is not only the epicenter of a protracted economic crisis (the present crisis is on a crisis continuum that goes back to the early 1980s), but also filled with countless stories of human tragedy that cry out for immediate solution.

And yet, moral outrage and impatience, as necessary as they are, are no substitute for a sober and clear-headed analysis of where we are and what has to be done to move the democratic and class struggle forward at this moment.

Which brings me back to the further building of a broad popular labor-led multi-racial coalition against a weakened right. In completing that task the ground will be laid for a more far-reaching and radical struggle against corporate and military power. It may seem roundabout, but there is no other way to get there.



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  • No one is saying that Obama is the same as the Republicans, but the way Obama has coopted many of Bush's policies has made it harder for the left to organize against the right and Obama has sided with the Democratic establishment against progressive backed insurgents such as Bill Halter and Joe Sestak.

    Why the bashing of ACORN . From what I've read, they were and still are a fine progressive organization even if they had some problems. ACORN"s effectiveness is why the Right has pushed so hard to destroy it.

    The Democrats should be pushed to the Left to counteract the rightward trend among the Republicans. Sestak in Pennsylvania and Charlaine Marshall in North Caroli succeeded and their should be support for other progressive challengers or in some cases third party challengers. The progressive agenda for immigration is much different then the Corporate plan for immigration.

    Its unfair to accuse the posters here of being armchair socialists for criticizing Obama and the Democratic Party.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 06/26/2010 7:49pm (5 years ago)

  • Comrades,

    Let's grant for the sake of argument that Obama and the Democrats are running a multi-race/class coalition to defeat the ultra-right. What is the CPUSA's relationship with this coalition? The only politically honest and realistic answer I can come up with is that there is no relationship. If there were, then Comrade Sam would be invited to regular beer summits at the Obama White House to discuss tactics in the fight against the right, and Obama would welcome invitations to speak at our conventions. Heck, he'd even pen an occasional editorial for PW or PA. Sounds ridiculous? You bet! Because we know darn well that Obama would have a beer with Gingrich or Palin before he'd have one with an open Communist, and he'd write for the WSJ or National Review before he'd ever let his name appear in PW. So if there is such a coalition, we are the unpopular kids on the block waiting and longing to be invited to the party.

    But there is no such Obama/Democrat-led coalition, so we aren't really missing out on anything. We inhabit the political wilderness. But there are many others who have been driven out here with us by our rotten 2-party system. These are the people and organizations we should work with to build a real coalition against the right. Who are these groups? They are other small parties, left trade unionists, some elements of the peace movement, faith-based organizations, community orgs, and numerous unorganized individuals particularly among the working poor of all races who are looking for a genuine left alternative. We can play an important role in building that alternative. And if there are some labor movement bureaucrats or Dems willing to give us the time of day, then they should be welcomed, but Barack won't be one of those who are looking to join us.

    The only coalition that Barack and the Dems are leading is the coalition between the Democratic Party and Wall Street to save capitalism from self-destruction. On the whole, this coalition is succeeding in delaying the death of the patient, so we will have to remain in the political wilderness for some time to come. Uncle Ho, Mao, Lenin, Fidel and all successful anti-capitalist fighters used their time in the wilderness to find their genuine allies and gradually build their forces. We must do the same or we will die as a Communist party.

    With respect...

    Posted by Mark , 06/26/2010 12:58pm (5 years ago)

  • This is an interesting discussion and we should find a way to keep such discussions on strategy and tactics going on a permanent basis. Now my two cents:

    1. I can't agree that the task of pushing the Democratic Party to the left has to wait until the ultra-right has shriveled up like the Wicked Witch of the West. That would be a long, long wait. Even under socialism, the ultra-right is likely to survive for a considerable time, and periodically flare up and do harm. Consider the case of Hungary: Recently the world was shocked by a big electoral advance for the JOBBIK party. This party has revived the demands of the old feudal nobility and its hangers on who are angry at the loss of their estates in Slovakia and Rumania AT THE END OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR! The tendency ran Hungary in the pre-war years, then went completely underground during FORTY YEARS of socialism, and now here it is again.

    2. I agree with Sam Webb that the crucial thing is the grassroots coalition, and also that it is advancing at the base, but I have to note that it is not only the ultra-right and the GOP who work to weaken that coalition, but right trending sections of the Democratic Party also.
    Not all Democratic politicians are crazy about the fact that their party's victory in 2008 was due to such an extent on millions of African-Americans, Latinos, poor workers and yough turning out to vote in unprecedented numbers. The Blue Dogs and others at one level were glad to get that vote, but also see in this a threat to themselves, i.e. to their control of the Democratic Party and the resources, power and patronage it controls.

    3. I was politically active in Chicago inner city communities from 1969 through November 2004. I never missed an election and was often involved as a poll watcher, canvasser or part of a candidate's team of advisors--never was a candidate though. During that time, one of the main dynamics was the effort of the more conservative Democrats, affiliated with the Cook County "Machine", to SUPPRESS VOTER TURNOUT by African Americans, Latinos and other sectors they thought might not support them massively. This was motivated partly by racism, but much more by the very reasonable fear that if African Americans and other oppressed sectors really became empowered, they would make demands which would interfere with the cozy relationships the leaders of the city had with various financial and industrial corporations; relationships that were so corrupt and anti-people that Chicago journalist Mike Royko said that the city's Latin motto should be changed from "Urbs in Horto" (City in a Garden) to "Ubi est Mea?" (Where's mine?). So the "machine" Democratic leadership (not the Republicans, who are as common in Chicago as wooly mammonths) would fiddle with voter registration, schedule elections for dates in which it is likely to snow or sleet, and sometimes simply harrass people to keep down the vote.

    4. The tendency of the right wing elements in the Democratic Party to turn away from the core elements of the working class and its allies -- the unions, the minorities, the social movements etc -- is of long standing and is directly related to the links it has to international monopoly capital as well as major economic actors in our own cities, regions etc. They are not merely ideologically backward, they are working to undo what we are trying hardest to do. And it is very harmful to our current efforts, because if it is successful its result will be a tamping down of participation in November 2010 of precisely those voters who made the difference in 2008. When someone like Cong. Heath Schuler (D-NC) goes out of his way to be the main sponsor of viciously anti-immigrant legislation, or when Blanche Lincoln takes anti-labor positions, this can't be ignored or swept under the rug. These elements, we must recognize, are also present in the administration, though they are not the whole story. Some of these elements wouldn't be brokenhearted if the Democratic Party were to lose its majority in Congress; their frame of reference is their own local political and economic base and they are willing to cut deals with the GOP if necessary to keep that going.

    5. If the Democratic right succeeds, it breaks up the mass coalition which is the MAIN thing right now. If minorities, immigrants, youth, poor people, people harmed by the BP oil spill in the Gulf, etc etc. think that they are not only being attacked by Republicans, but also sandbagged by Democrats, the result will be demobilization, discouragement and disunity. And when right wing Democrats do these things, we absolutely can't cover up for them, or we harm our own prestige and ability to have influence. So when Blue Dogs bite, we HAVE TO HIT BACK with criticisms, agitation and if possible help for their opponents in the primaries etc. That has to go on AT THE SAME TIME as our fight against the ultra-right. That's the dialectical approach.

    6. As for socialism, remember that Lenin tells us that revolutionary change comes when two things happen: The subordinated class can no longer tolerate the way they have been ruled, and the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way. I don't think that time is upon us. But should it happen that the ruling class faces a crisis before such time that the working class is ready to move, the danger of fascism, an overt and violent seizure of power by the ultra right, arises. So we have to keep organizing, agitating and defending the class base of the movement.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 06/26/2010 2:14am (5 years ago)

  • There is a dialectical relationship between defeating both the right and right extremism(not the same thing)and growing unity and unity of action of the working people.
    As the working peoples' communities get more involved in the massive actions for peace,jobs and justice,through marching,calling,texting,blogging,picketing,protesting,phoning,running,sitting-in,tabling,fundraising,defending one another-"ing" and one hundred other "ings",that make for constructive,working class change and unity - right wing and right extremist perspectives and powers shrink,for they are neutralized,defeated,or even resoundingly sacked.
    These actions,which beat back the right and especially right extremism-and its most vitriolic form-fascism-depend on increasing numbers of working people involved in these struggles. If we can outflank these backward forces with numbers,the relationship of forces change and the quality of what we do can change,and outcomes of struggles can put us on the winning side.
    So the dialectical opposite of right wing extremism is all working class unity and allied class unity which recognizes the need to include the vital workers' essence in producing positive social advance,whether in peace,jobs or justice-
    like what is needed in the case of the recent Supreme Ct. ruling,which does threaten all human rights organizations-justice organizations,and political and civil rights organizations' freedoms.
    Carefully analyzed by brother Emile Schepers to show that the "creative" right wing extremists are once again(as they were in the infamous McCarthy era of anti-communist repression)in the business of imagining and speculating what people and organizations might do,rather than looking at the facts of what they do.
    In an era that needs the free hand and brain for creative human development,the right and extremist move to nullify,restrict,chain and annul our Bill of Rights freedoms. All democracy in the U.S. revolves around these,and all world democracy is profoundly affected by these freedoms. There will be no "Democratic" freedoms and no "democratic" freedoms if these BORs are gutted.
    The basis of how we materially fight right extremism in the concrete is obliterated without these. The foundation of what we say we need to build a bigger,bolder and more effective CPUSA is gone without these,along with our Party itself.
    Let us communicate with Party members and non-Party people about this danger,and show and tell how we shall never remove ourselves or our people from the mess of the current economic crises of capitalism without these human liberties.
    Also,we should be very concerned about the vaunted Obama adminstration's recognition that "terrorists" are somehow"protected" by Miranda rights and we would "fight" terrorism if we marginalize these-a good recent article on this is in PA,by Thomas Riggins.
    Truly,the"Democratic majorities" would be non-existent without democratic majorities.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 06/26/2010 12:56am (5 years ago)

  • Here is a brain puzzler: are there two distinctive paths? As Bolivian President Evo Morales said, "We have two paths: to save capitalism, or to save life and Mother Earth.”

    Posted by Terrie, 06/26/2010 12:10am (5 years ago)

  • Pancho Valdez referred to ACORN as a "vital people's organization." It may once have been accurately described that way, but it clearly devolved into a poorly governed, poorly managed, corrupt organization as demonstrated not only in malfeasance on the board of directors, but also in the wholesale sellout of the community of Brooklyn when the leader Bertha Lewis agreed to support the monstrous over-development of the Atlantic Yards area for a few low-wage, nonunion jobs and a paltry few low income housing units that will probably never be built. These are not the actions of a "vital people's organization."

    Posted by pinkjohn, 06/25/2010 11:01pm (5 years ago)

  • My last sentence should read, "That's not dialectics or Marzist."

    Posted by David Bell, 06/25/2010 10:31pm (5 years ago)

  • You state that, "Right now, I think, the secondary task is to push Democrats "to the left," but that can't really be done to any great extent until the primary task, that of destroying the extremist right-wing, is much more greatly won."

    Please explain how one measures destroying the extremist right-wing so we can get on with raising working class consciousness as Trumpka has in his speech on immigration. You make it sound as though everything happens in a series. That's dialectics or Marxist.

    Posted by David Bell, 06/25/2010 10:29pm (5 years ago)

  • I think that American workers have been reduced to a token role in your politics. It seems that you spend most of your time beating the drums for gay marriage and open borders -- both of which are fully compatible with the neoliberal agenda, and neither of which leads to socialism, or anywhere near there.

    What American workers actually WANT ought to matter to you more than it does.

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 06/25/2010 8:35pm (5 years ago)

  • Brother Webb;
    With all due respect I have to concur with Mark Leonard. What "coalition" are you talking about? Right now the Obama administration has successfully pissed off labor, civil rights organizations, environmentalists, youth, and others.

    How can you build a coalition against the extreme right wing when the Democrats are just as willing to serve the interests of the corporate elite as are the Republicans? It's like flipping a coin with "tails they win, heads we lose!"

    Granted the extreme right must be held in check, but that won't happen if so-called liberals and other "progressives" don't have the cojones to stand up to them. eg. the case against ACORN. Obama, the DP, the so-called liberals all tucked their tails between their legs and abandoned a very vital people's organization when the right wing made slanderous accustations that were later proven false! Is this the kind of people that are going to stand up to the right? I think not!

    At this time with the economy showing NO indications of getting better, with the Democratic majority in Congress unable or unwilling to pass legislation to put American workers back to work, with two unjustifiable wars sucking our financial resources dry, it is very clear to me that a third party is sorely needed! To depend on the democrats is futile. Labor, civil libertarians, environmentalists, women, gays & lesbians, must set aside petty differences and come to the realization that it is time to do something radically different! How much more betrayal from the democrats do people need? It's up to us to save ourselves, because the DP could care less so long as they continue receiving corporate bribes!

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 06/25/2010 1:59pm (5 years ago)

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