[lbo-talk] Politics vs the DP

Bhaskar Sunkara bhaskar.sunkara at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 15:54:28 PDT 2011

This is utter bullshit. There seems to be some obfuscation about what the Democratic Party is and a tendency to portray them as being more powerful and more coherent than they really are. It's only even a party in the broadest sense. What old Trots would call "independent class representation" for workers is as necessary today, as ever. But let's not lose sight of the fact that to the degree that the working class is politically active, it's often as DP activists. And you could call this "false consciousness," or label it as collusion with the "main enemy"... but it makes sense given the conditions on the ground in America and the posture leftists adopt towards the DP needs to take this into account and also recognize the diversity within the party.

I'll echo Jason Schulman writing in the letters section of a recent Weekly Worker (cpgb.org.uk):

[...] note the organisational looseness of the Democrats (and Republicans). In fact, today they are both quasi-state institutions - no longer political parties in the European parliamentary sense; they are legally regulated structures with fixed times and places, where anyone can register. Open to all, they have no ideological requirements for membership. To become a Republican or Democrat, you just register as such. In fact, these are not really parties at all, but coalitions of more or less compatible social forces, in which various groups contest for influence under a common banner. Of course, it is still difficult for any individual or group to succeed in this process without lots of money. But organised groups with clear programmatic ideas and a long-term commitment can become forces within either party. The mainstream of the DSA thinks that labour and the left should do precisely that within the Democrats - to become ‘a party within a party’. The DSA supports left Democrats like Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers to that end.

Is this popular frontist? It’s not intended as such. It has nothing to do with old CPUSA arguments for supporting ‘representatives of the progressive wing of the bourgeoisie’ or what have you. *The argument is that Democrats such as Kucinich and Conyers are not representatives of the capitalist class; that they are traditional social democratic-type workers’ reps, because the Democratic Party is in fact basically a structureless line on the ballot which is open for (class) contestation.* ***

I eagerly await the opportunity to break with the Dems electorally. I think the work can start immediately towards uniting the anti-capitalist left into a democratically organized party that allows for free and open debate and from that basis and through the strength of social movements down the road a real party of the working class can emerge. I've made it clear many times that I think that this could be a catalyst for renewal on the left. But the whole reflexive "blame the Democratic boogey-man" doesn't strike me as thoughtful analysis.

*Men make their own history, but ...*

On Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM, Michael Smith <mjs at smithbowen.net> wrote:

> > [The DP] has no ideological dog in the fight.
> What an extraordinary thing to say. The DP is a highly
> ideological organization. It's intensely Zionist,
> interventionist, anti-communist, militarist, and police-mad,
> among many other things.

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