Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Sun Oct 4 09:08:55 PDT 1998

Carrol Cox wrote:

> The most surprising people are sometimes quite
> flexible in their responses to the world -- if
> someone gives them a chance. Those who plug
> away for the Democrats don't give them a chance.)

I'd like very much to give YOU a chance to be flexible, Carrol. But the second sentence here says "don't bother!" doesn't it? I'm a registered Green, but I was very happy to see California State Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaragosa at the Progrssive LA conference I attended yesterday.

I first met Tony when he was a representative from the local teacher's union, UTLA, to Coalition '88, a coalition of progressive groups who did electoral work in 1988 and helped pass a number of progressive initiatives. It was a great vehicle, which I agitated to try and have significantly expanded. I had in mind a kind of Christian Coalition of the Left--even though the Christian Coalition didn't exist yet. There was a profound inability of the groups involved to see the opportunity (even, one might argue, necessity) of developing proactively in such a direction.

Now the Carrol Cox's of the world counsel us that wisdom lies in being flexible toward just about everyone--except, of course, the Democratic Party. A much more self-indulgent perscription than taking a hard look at why, for example, Coalition '88 was NOT developed into a Left counterpart of the Christian Coalition. It's ALWAYS so much more satisfying to blame someone else. And feel SUPREMELY holier-than-thou in the process.

BTW, the historical anchor of the conference was Upton Sinclair's EPIC campaign.

Carrol writes:

> I don't blame the CPUSA for supporting Roosevelt in 1936 --
> though it was probably even then advisable to maintain (visibly,
> in the public eye) positions, programs, and activities which
> would also have maintained a sharp line between them and Roosevelt.

But, of course, the CPUSA DIDN'T support Sinclair--a far more progressive candidate than Roosevelt, with a far more progressive platform--in 1934. Even with the first mass-media smear campaign against him, Sinclair's Republican opponent failed to get 50% of the vote. The Socialist and Communist Party candidates took the margin of victory that COULD have been Sinclair's -- plus a whole lot more which they could have turned out if they'd been focused on working together, rather than hysterically attacking Sinclair for "abandoning the left" for the Democratic Party.

What this reveals is the bottom line mentality which says electoral victory is ideologically unacceptable. Only a compromise candidate who can then serve as a punching bag is acceptable.

I don't buy it. All the socialist revolutions have failed. But which one looks more promising for building Version 2.0 -- Chile or Russia? Oh, I forgot! Chile wasn't a revolution. Wasn't really socialist. Well, neither was Russia for my money.

I know one thing -- in the end, Chile was FAR more threatening than Russia was. Chile HAD to be wiped out immediately, the USSR could have been tolerated indefinitely. Chile contradicted the equation of capitalism and democracy, which was the trump card in the Cold War. If we're going to build a working Version 2.0, the Chilean model is the one to build on.

And WE should be the "surprising people" who "quite flexible in their responses to the world". We should even be able to work with Democrats.

That doesn't mean I'd even DREAM of voting for Gray Davis for Governor.

There IS a difference between flexible and flaccid.

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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