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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  • I have to admit that it took me a little time to decide writing this. After reading your "a way out of the deepening crisis" report, I told to myself here is a lost cause! But, then there are the others, for whom your confusing tactics and defeatists murky strategies are not only suffocating their genuine invested energies but also mystifying with your contorted use of dialectical methodology and a magical ability to cut out quotes from the Marxists classics to support your perplexing arguments. I hope you do not take this personally, because I do believe you are well intentioned, but if Lenin had your leadership skills we would have been spared of enduring the Gorbachev experience.

    I do not which to sound arrogant, although I am aware that it does sound so. I also confess that I do not possess, at least think shouldn't possess, the same political and philosophical maturity that a secretary general of a Communist Party should have, and for that I feel almost embarrassed to present such a strong criticism of your leadership of this country's Communist Party. Thus, nothing personal is compelling me to present this criticism. It is also one of my strongest wish that a true class conscientious Marxist-Leninlist Communist Party flourishes in this country. A Communist Party that links theory with practice, that articulates coherently the fragmented phraseology that you consistently use, that promotes class consciousness and links the numerous examples of injustice, oppression and exploitation to enhance the class struggle process. A communist Party that doesn't hide its weaknesses nor uses them to justify catastrophic strategies that have been repeated without success for decades. There are no good alliances with those that represent Capital, and the Obama administration is just that: the obedient servants of Capital!

    I do agree that every energy has to be channel to build a working class conscientious movement - if that is what you mean by working class based - but those alliances have to be based on bounds of affinity. It is fundamental that those alliances be clearly defined as Anti-Capitalism and Anti-Imperialims in principle to cement that movement together. Any attempt to use the right wing scare crow argument - and I realize that right wing danger does exist - to stimulate the citizenry into a vote for Obama is reductive, confusing and demobilizing.
    Reductive because in its analysis of the actual political and economical situation it hides the daily, Jose and Maria, painful observations caused by this administration to the overall population. That of course if we reduce the scope - erroneously - to the US only.
    Confusing because it pretends to give a justification where there is none. It tries to present the Democrats as a bridge towards justice, democracy and who knows Socialism itself. When in fact every one is aware that the "Chimaera" has three heads. The Social-Democrates - in this case grossly simplified as the Democrats - The good republicans - Patriotic and fiscally responsible, etc. - and the nut-heads, the Terminators or Capital's last resource - the Fascists.
    Demobilizing because bound for failure, and history has proven that after a Carter there was a Ronald and after a Clinton there was a Bush. There is nothing that this administration is willing to offer that will stimulate the process of workers emancipation. Not only because they, the administration, doesn't share that view of society, made up of act of solidarity versus charity, but because the ultimate owners of our societies, the corporations and all their instruments of oppression, wouldn't allow it to happen.

    It is interesting to quote from your "a way out of the deepening crisis" report: "For now we are in a transitional stage. We aren't fighting from a defensive position, but the right and the sections of capital that support still have to be slam dunked "Lebron James style."
    Although confusing as it may seem, the association is clearly stated: "Sections of Capital."
    In did very confusing but does sound like a debonaire call for collective hara kiri!

    Posted by , 07/08/2010 9:57pm (5 years ago)

  • Usually the Democratic establishment rallies around conservative Democratic incumbents who face progressive challengers. Lieberman got endorsements from major party figures when he faced Ned Lamont, and Obama supported Specter against Sestak and Lincoln against Halter.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 06/29/2010 1:26pm (5 years ago)

  • It isn't ultra leftist to call for more then just electing more Democrats. The Democrats had a 60 vote supermajority in the Senate after the last election and that didn't result in the defeat of the ultra right. Some Democrats are nearly or as bad as the Republicans.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 06/29/2010 1:21pm (5 years ago)

  • Of course the right must be decisively defeated in order for the country to move in a socialist direction. That's axiomatic and no one is disputing it. And it's about as empty as saying "in order to move toward socialism, we must defeat the forces that are preventing us from moving toward socialism." That's indisputable too, but totally vacuous and unhelpful.

    The question that needs to be dealt with is: What constitutes a defeat of the right? Is it putting a Democrat in the White House and winning large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate? I don't think so, becuase the Democrats are also part of the right. Defeating the far right is important to slow or prevent our country's drift toward fascism. Defeating the moderate right is necessary to create political space for socialism. And defeating the moderate right includes defeating the Democrats.

    You see no other way towards socialism than putting Democrats in power? The way towards socialism is for a mass movement of the working class to get behind a genuine socialist party and put it in power. But this requires freeing the American people from the two party system. That mass-based socialist party must be in place before any move toward socialism can be contemplated. Under the present two-party system, the power vacuum created by the defeat of the ultra right can only be filled by the moderate right. And the absolute best that can come from that is an imperialist welfare state--and I hope that's not what the CPUSA means by socialism.

    So we have to work with liberals in a way that leads to defeat of the ultra right, and of course this will mean working with Democrats, but we also have to work with them in a way that brings them over to socialism, and at the same time we have to attempt to break down the two party system. The time to start is now. If we don't have a socialist mass party ready to step in when the right is defeated, we will get nothing but more capitalism for many generations.

    Too many CPUSA members say they get all this, but they only "get it' whjen you press them on the point. They lack the ideological clarity to realize that in actual practice the have merged with the Democrats whom they live and work among, lost sight of the struggle for socialsim, and become objectively part of the political right, i.e., the social democrats who would gladly accept an imperialistic welfare state and call it socialism. And if you think this would be socialism then you may be suffering from this syndrome. And if all you can do is dismiss this as ultra-left BS then you are probably suffering from it, too.

    Posted by Marcus, 06/29/2010 11:48am (5 years ago)

  • Trailer Trash said: "I also find that "immigrant" is not a "race". "

    This is a comment that seems to reveal a deep misunderstanding about this issue.

    As we all know, attacks on immigrants in this country are not aimed at white people but at Latinos. Calls for militarization and walls are not aimed at Canada. These attacks are shrouded in the worst racist rhetoric and policies extremists have invented -- from calling for mass round-ups and deportations to discriminatory hiring and wage policies to discriminatory exclusions from health care and education and so on. Simply put, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are racism pure and simple.

    So, the struggle for equality, inclusion, legalization, fair wages, equal rights in the workplace and the like are part of the general struggle for a shift in power from the financial elite to working families.

    Posted by Joel, 06/28/2010 8:04pm (5 years ago)

  • re pinkjohn

    An article about how the right attacked Acorn with a new mccarthyism.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 06/28/2010 6:38pm (5 years ago)

  • Sam - Great article! It really hits home at what is needed - broad-based unity to decisively defeat the ultra-right.

    Without broad-based coalitions - including labor, community, religious, small business, youth, people of color, and women - the Republicans will continue to block, derail and obstruct progress. They are the main obstacle to change!

    Jobs and the mid-term elections are the key struggles at this moment. Every body should be up to their eye-brows in these struggle right now. That's where the coalitions are. That's where the people are. That's where we're going to grow. That's where we are going to win substantive change for working people. And that is where the people's coalition can be built that will decisively defeat the ultra-right, and lay the ground-work for more progressive change.

    Will it happen over night? No. Will it have false starts? Yes. Will it fracture? In some places. Will unity be difficult to maintain? Of course. Will we get everything we want? No. To think otherwise is naive and a dis-service to honest, hard-working, ordinary Americans.

    Just because we (the broad people's coalition) are at the table doesn't mean we can set the agenda. It doesn't mean we will get everything we want. It doesn't mean we have the power (yes, power!) to demand! This is a negotiated process. The bigger and broader the movement the bigger and broader the possibility for change. This is the dialectic at work.

    Additionally, to look for answers in pure-forms, in ideologically left currents, in revolutionary sounding small groupings who have no base of support among ordinary working people, is a recipe for defeat, a recipe for marginalization, a recipe for disaster.

    Great article Sam! It cuts through the BS and tells it like it is. I'm sending it to all of our trade union and community allies.

    Posted by Tonypec, 06/28/2010 2:40pm (5 years ago)

  • Progressives should support progressives such as Halter and Sestak. Halter had a better chance of defeating the Republican candidate this November. Regina Thomas is running against Congressional Blue Dog John Barrow in the 12th district in Georgia. Barrow voted against the health care bill and has lost many of his supporters among union members and the black community.

    The Democrats need to capture some of the populist anger to defeat the teabaggers. Some third party progressives should be supported in particular races.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 06/28/2010 1:18am (5 years ago)

  • Joel said: "Frankly, I find pitting immigrants and LGBT people against our broader fight for a truly democratic society more than a little homophobic and racist."

    Oh, really? Frankly, I find pushing the pet causes of social liberalism, in the context of an unfolding economic disaster and general social breakdown, to be more than a little reckless. I also find the refusal to take into account what working-class America thinks about these issues, and why, to be more than a little arrogant.

    I also find that "immigrant" is not a "race".

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 06/27/2010 5:39pm (5 years ago)

  • Re: Trailer Trash

    The struggle for full equality for LGBT people and for immigrant rights (workers rights) are essential ingredients of our democratic struggle, and thus essential ingredients of the big united effort needed to win a new model of governance. Frankly, I find pitting immigrants and LGBT people against our broader fight for a truly democratic society more than a little homophobic and racist.

    Posted by Joel, 06/27/2010 12:45pm (5 years ago)

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