James Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Sep 7 13:38:34 PDT 1998

On Mon, 07 Sep 1998 08:33:57 -0400 Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> writes:
>Chris Burford:
>>What looks like a personal issue is actually indirectly a class
>>My assumptions are that the two-party bourgeois electoral system has
>to be
>>reformed with pressure basically from *outside* those two parties,
>but it
>>is worth looking at the contradictions within them.
>You still don't understand it, do you. There are contradictions within
>capitalist class such as those represented by agribusiness and the
>industry, which are actually quite serious. In Clinton's home state,
>Poultry has become wealthy at the expense of the state's rivers and
>which have become chicken cesspools. The purpose of the state is to
>these sorts of contradictions. The state is the executive committee of
>ruling class.

I am sure that Lou is well aware of Marx's analysis in *Capital* of how legislation for a ten hour work day was won in Britain. Marx pointed out that the working class achieved this victory both by directly pressuring the ruling class and by cleverly exploiting contradictions within the ruling class which in the end ensured that important sections of the bourgeoisie would support this legislation. I think that was probably the point Burford was trying to make. Likewise, the contradictions between agribusiness and the tourist industry in Arkansas that Lou describes can be seen as creating an opening that could be exploited by a militant and well organized environmental movement for its own ends. Lou cites Marx's description in the Manifesto of the state as the executive committee of the ruling class but Marx's analysis of the state especially as presented in his later writings is more subtle than that. Marx also recognized that the state cannot serve the collective long-term interests of the bourgeoisie without a considerable degree of autonomy. To do so it cannot be a perpetual prisoner of the short-term interests of specific sections of the capitalist class. This fact too can be exploited by progressives for their own benefit.
>Your problem is that you interpret books and speeches of ruling class
>politicians as meaningful. This is anti-Marxist. The whole purpose of
>books and speeches is to bamboozle the public. If anything, the
>approach is to read the books and speeches of Gore as a clue to figure
>what they stand for by reversing everything that is stated.

In the end the way to predict what Gore or any other politician will do in office is to analyze what forces are backing them and what forces are opposing them. Lou's point about Gore and tobacco interests is well taken since Gore back in his senatorial days freely accepted tobacco money despite his professed opposition to tobacco. Right now the balance of forces lopsidedly favors the interests of capital thereby ensuring that any politician who wins higher office will go out of his way to placate the interests of capital no matter how progressive sounding his rhetoric might be. (While a Wellstone might be preferable to a Gore under our political system he cannot hope to win his party's nomination and the presidency itself without bowing before the god, capital). Likewise, it is interesting to keep in mind that the Nixon Administration was in public policy terms more progressive than any of the succeeding administrations including the two Democratic ones. That was the case not because Nixon was some sort of "closet progressive" but because the great social movements of the '60s (i.e. the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the feminists and the student movement) were still quite strong so that even an instinctive reactionary like Nixon found it expedient to try to coopt elements of these movements.

Even if we had an instinctive progressive in the White House his/her policies would probably not be too radically different from Clinton's given the same balance of political forces as currently exist. To change the direction of public policy the balance of political forces must be changed. And that cannot occur without a revitalization of the labor movement and the formation of broad based alliances between labor and other progressive social movements

Jim Farmelant
>For example, if Gore says that tobacco causes cancer, then it is a
>idea to buy tobacco stocks on margin if he looks like he is going to
>elected. If Gore pledges an an end to nuclear weapons, then I'd dig a
>fallout shelter in my backyard and stock up on food and water. Get it?
>Buford, your problem is that you are a liberal who has read enormous
>quantities of Karl Marx. Your best bet is to read less Karl Marx and
>develop more of a class analysis of bourgeois society.
>Louis Proyect

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