[lbo-talk] Election 2004

Grant Lee grantlee at iinet.net.au
Wed Mar 10 19:53:17 PST 2004

Jon said:

> Those are actually my words, not Wojtek's. I don't know what you mean
> by the "projection" comment

I meant that I find it hard to agree with that kind of comment ("I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light"), based on what Carrol actually said.

> as for starting with the here and now,
> I agree that that's what the third-party enthusiasts are doing. I just
> take the view that, given that the U.S. political system (on the
> national level especially) imposes almost impenetrable obstacles to the
> success of a third party, the only end results of their efforts are
> "spoiling" or getting some policy ideas adopted by one of the major
> parties. At this point, I haven't seen any such ideas being put
> forward, so I think spoiling will be the only likely result.

Can we be so sure that Nader, or the other left candidates, will spoil Kerry? From this long distance it looks to me like Kerry will win by a landslide and Nader will not do as well as he did last time.

> > Really? Marx recognised that N.America might offer greater potential
> > than
> > Europe for revolution, because of its superior communications
> > technology.
> Where did he say that? I'm aware of his well-known 1872 Amsterdam
> speech in which he said that the U.S., England, and maybe Holland were
> countries in which workers could achieve their aims by peaceful means.

I can't find the exact quote at the moment, but I've seen it cited in a few places, including Richard N. Hunt (1984) _Classical Marxism 1850 - 1895: The Political Ideas of Marx and Engels, Vol. 2_, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

> Is there a class consciousness in the UK?

I think _some_ kind of class consciousness is a given. Based on my experience of living and working in London for two years, in the early 90s, it may not be the consciousness of a class-for-itself, but it's qualitatively different from class consciousness that one finds here in Australia, which --- it seems to me -- has some similarities to the US in these respects. (Although there are important differences too.) e.g. The cultures of the different classes are not as distinct as in Europe.

> Is the Labour Party going to
> turn into a real labor (using the Yankee spelling) party? Or will it be
> supplanted by one? It doesn't look like it from this distance.

I don't know. European capital is in an expansionary mode, for the moment anyway, something which does not bode well for the left in W.Europe in the short/medium term.

> That of course is a crucial question for socialists to answer at this
> point, if we are to get any non-socialists interested in the whole
> subject of socialism. I confess I don't know what my answer is, but I'm
> working on it. Do you have any suggestions?

I think the late 19th/early 20th C. statist, intra-national insitutional models are finished. They emerged as a compromise in the face of strong organised labour, and they faded as that faded in the 1980s. I think we can do better, although if there is another major rupture in the global system (as in 1929), capital may once again adopt Keynesian solutions (i.e. forgoing some accumulation in the interests of stabilising the system).

> I agree that Weimar Germany is about as far as you can get from a
> realistic model of the U.S. in the early 21st century, but what are you
> going to do? The whole Weimar-Nazi melodrama is so irresistible to the
> imagination that everyone seems to come back to it again and again.

The danger here is that we concentrate on strategies for situations which will probably never arise. No-one really knows what the results of a continuing decline (relative e.g. to Asia) for the US will be, but it's important to keep an open mind on this.

> > This is where dialectical thought is most useful; if the class
> > struggle in
> > the US is dull at the moment, there may be good material, historical
> > reasons
> > for that. And is there any better recipe for class consciousness than
> > the
> > economic decline of a society with the most fully-developed capitalist
> > relations of production in world history?
> But will it go into economic decline -- not an occasional blip, but
> sustained, obvious decline? I am not at all convinced that it will.

Kissinger was already saying 30 years ago, that the US had been in long-term _relative_ decline since the 1950s (with his own agenda, of course). There are different/shifting kinds of economic decline; but it seems to me that the pattern/direction of US capital _at the moment_ is similar to Britain in the late 19th/early 20th C. --- e.g. finance capital is preserving itself by increasingly investing in "colonies" and "competitors" (e.g. China), where the rate of return is higher. This is similar to the kind of intra-capitalist struggle which played out in Britain, where "the City" survived at the expense of Manchester, Birmingham and the other industrial centres and subordinate strata of capital.


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