"Who to reach?" vs "What is our program?"

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Wed Jun 10 14:42:01 PDT 1998

Carrol wrote:
>Religion, militia, white male workers, etc.
>The debates or academic musings over militia, white male workers,
>christians, christian left, anti-abortion working-class people, etc. come
>very close to being a version of how many angels would dance on the point
>of a needle
>The first question the left must ask itself is *never* "who should we try
>to reach?" or "how should we reach X?" (And the question remains absurd
>even if for X one substitutes "The Working Class.")
>The first question is, always has been, always will be, What is Our
>But that is only question 1, and presupposes question 0: "Who is 'we'?"
>And that at any given time and place is a dull empirical question. In the
>present case "we" consists of subscribers to lbo-talk. So the question has
>to be something like, "When a left comes into some minimum sort of
>coherent reality in the United States, what should the core elements of
>its program be?"
>Answers to that question will more or less mechanically and irrefutably
>answer the question of "Who do we try to reach?"
>A second preliminary point. "The Left" as I will use that term here has
>programs but no platforms. A platform is a nonentity which an anti-working
>class candidate ignores while she/he attempts to sway how individuals will
>spend 45 seconds of their life every two or four years (those seconds in
>the voting booth). A program, on the other hand, operates primarily
>outside the electoral arena and enters into the daily lives of those
>supporting it. Within capitalist society the way elements of such a
>program get embodied in legislation is not a result of electing
>politicians favoring the reform. It is the result of politicians deciding
>that the price of peace in the streets or in the factories is such a
>reform -- all of these politicians, with only minor exceptions, will of
>course oppose bitterly the substance of the reform but recognize that
>legislation PARTIALLY embodying it (with as much obstructive clutter as
>possible). The Wagner Act and the Social Security Systems flowed not from
>the love of Franklin Roosevelt and/or democratic congressmen for the
>people (or for workers or for the elderly) but were aimed at blunting EPIC
>and the CIO.
>Obvious elements of such a left program include:
>*Real affirmative action. [See end note]
>*Free abortion on demand for all women of any age.
>*Repeal of the ban on secondary boycotts (which will require the
>organization of workers to defy that ban, not the election of politicians
>who wish to repeal it).
>*A living wage ("welfare" or "social security") for the unemployed, the
>old, the lazy, the disabled, the criminal.
>*Free bond for non-violent offenders of the criminal code (violence to be
>defined as serious assault on the bodies of other people)
>*Elimination of Prisons
>Continual harassment of all concerns paying less than $10 per hour (1990
>Total withdrawal of all state support to private educational institutions.
>And so on
>Then who do we reach? Who do we talk to? How do we talk to them. In terms
>of an ongoing program, these questions will answer themselves. [See also
>End Note 2]
>Obviously first we talk to each other. We have to become we before we can
>talk to anyone. (The sneers at the left talking to itself are the ultimate
>in parliamentary cretinism.)
>Beyond that we talk to anyone who will listen to us talk about *how to
>implement the program?* (Not, repeat NOT, to those who do not already
>accept the program. It is by the practice of the supporters of the program
>that more and more will come to listen, on their own initiative, to those
>explaining the program. Up to and beyond the revolution "the left" will
>always talk only to itself, but the content of that "itself" will
>continually expand as the program of the left *demonstrates in action*
>what it stands for.

I entirely agree with your post here, Carrol. I only add that those who have been talking of 'how we reach militia, white male workers, christians, christian left, anti-abortion working-class people, etc.' are in effect spelling out what is _not_ to be included in _public discourse_ of leftists, even though the only person on this list who are _consciously_ + _explicitly_ doing so is Max Sawicky (whose honesty and candidness in this regard I would like to see others of his persuasion emulate).


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