The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

And Yet Another Reformist August 16, 2004 by RedStar2000

How dreary it was to see some "leftists" make a big fuss over Barack Obama at the Democratic Party's recent Kerry-fest. Obama's patriotic platitudes could have easily been delivered by Bill Clinton...or, for that matter, by George W. Bush.

Attacking this juvenile groupie-ism quickly exposed the real political content offered by these "leftists"...the stinking corpse of reformism.

The political "learning curve" is evidently a lot steeper for some than for others.



But no change can come unless we trust somebody.

Bob Avakian says the same thing. *laughs*

Actually I do trust capitalist always be faithful to those who sign their paychecks.

Every capitalist politician deserves the guillotine.

No exceptions.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 29, 2004


First of all, there are some major differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Yes...the main one being the speed with which their knees hit the floor and their lips pucker up when a corporate CEO drops his trousers.


Neither one is a great friend of the people, but one of them isn't its unrepentant enemy either.

Both are demonstrated enemies of the working class.


Second, what exactly are you guys doing to bring about a revolution? Clearly, that's what you want. Civil war, blood, destruction... turn the world to ashes and build it anew right?

It would not matter a bit if we were doing absolutely nothing except telling the truth.

The truth is that they are all bastards!

No exceptions.


Like it or not, Democratic policies are going to let more people see a doctor. They will save, literally, THOUSANDS of decent wage jobs.

Yes, you can "see a doctor"...too bad you can't afford to buy the medicine s/he prescribes.

And, gee, "thousands" of decent wage jobs. Woo hoo! That will be great consolation to the millions of workers at Wal-Mart, McDonald's, etc.


Are they going to fix things? Hell no. Are they going to become a party of the people? Hell no. But learn your history boys and girls. Who murdered the American labor movement?

It was murdered by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1948...passed by Republicans but also supported by many Democrats.

In the last 56 years, even during those periods when Democrats had majorities in both houses and a Democrat in the White House, there has never been even one serious attempt to repeal Taft-Hartley.

There never will be.


Who tells us that shipping jobs overseas to nations with NO right to organize is "healthy" for us?

Both parties are on record supporting the export of "high-wage" jobs abroad in the name of "global competitiveness".


The Dems aren't our savior. But they're the best we have. There are a lot of them who are our enemies. But there are a lot of them who would be our comrades.

Supporting Democrats is like attempting sexual congress with a boa constrictor.

All possible outcomes are bad.


Huey Long is my one example of a person who went against bourgeois, though he used not the most honest of means (bribery). His share-the-wealth society program was very admirable in my opinion, and it would have made a difference had he not been assassinated.

Nope. The late senator from Louisiana was certainly a colorful populist (reminds me a lot of Chavez) and was unusually progressive for a southern politician of his time -- he ran the Klan out of Louisiana and was the first politician to ever publicly apologize for using the word "nigger".

But, at best, he was a "left New Dealer" -- as he explained in his rather short books, his program was intended to save capitalism, not overthrow it.

Even had he succeeded in capturing the Democratic nomination in 1936 and then gone on to win the White House, there was zero chance that his "share-the-wealth" program would have been adopted by congress or ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After he was murdered, his "movement" splintered and fragmented. One of his closest associates -- Gerald L.K. Smith -- went on to become a vicious anti-semite and racist organizer for a number of quasi-fascist groups.


Clearly it is possible to mend our system through democratic means.

No, it was not even possible in the 1930s...much less now.

Capitalist "democracy" is fake!


But seriously. I fail to see why some of you cannot trust in a politician JUST because they are politicians.

Well, I don't trust pit bulls just because they are pit bulls. I know they're going to chow down on a human sometime...but I don't see why it should be me.

People who acquire or aspire to acquire positions of authority in class society by that very fact have demonstrated their untrustworthiness. They've proven that they are willing to ride on the backs of others.

The communist position? Fuck 'em all!


I even work for these "capitalist politicians". They aren't bad people.

Contemporary accounts suggested that Hitler was a "charming fellow" when "you got to know him". He also, it's said, was quite fond of dogs and small children.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 31, 2004


An excerpt of Huey Long's plan outlined in a Senate speech. It seems fairly socialistic to me, with a maximum wage and a very high minimum. It might not be hardcore communist reformation, but it was a giant leap.

It depends on what you mean by "socialistic".

Many people "measure" socialism by yardsticks calibrated in terms of social welfare.

A country with unemployment benefits is "more socialistic" than one without. Or a country that provides special benefits to women with children (welfare) is "more socialistic" than a country that doesn't do that.

This is the source of the occasional claims that the Scandinavian countries are all "socialist"...because they have the most elaborate "social safety nets" of all the capitalist countries.

But that's the key -- if a country remains capitalist, then "social welfare" is simply a temporary concession to the working class.

What can be given can also be taken away.

Which is another way of saying that any meaningful definition of socialism is always reduced to the question of which class has the real power.

All of the experience of the working class since the mid-19th century has pretty conclusively shown that the working class is never permitted to acquire any real political power in capitalist "democracies".

Thus, as difficult as it may seem to be, revolution still remains the only feasible option.

There's a difference between difficult and impossible.
First posted at Che-Lives on August 1, 2004


Now, when can I expect some more Marx 101?

It would be wasted on you. You still believe that the bourgeois electoral system is "really democratic" and that bourgeois parties can be "forced" to act in our interests in order to gain "our votes".

Historically, the only times when bourgeois politicians act in our interests are when there are millions of people in the streets "raising hell". The original Wagner Act (1938) was not passed because congress and the president "wanted our votes" was because workers were already organizing themselves in massive numbers and in complete defiance of existing laws.

Richard Nixon and congress did not withdraw American troops from Vietnam and abolish military conscription because they "wanted our votes"...they took those actions because American troops were refusing to fight and enormous numbers of kids were refusing to show up for induction.

The way to repeal Taft-Hartley is to defy it. The way to defeat the next conscription law is to refuse to obey it.

But, you reply, people aren't willing to do those things now.

Then they're fucked, that's all! There are too many "leftists" who "want to help people"...and far too few who really want and expect people to liberate themselves!

Those who tell people that their interests can be served by voting for this or that individual or party are either naive or they are liars.

Communists should tell people the truth: if you want your freedom, rise and take it!

That's the only way it will ever happen.
First posted at Che-Lives on August 5, 2004


Even the movements that you talked about (Vietnam, the war waged in the 30's against Capital) had leadership. It's not as simple as the people "liberating" themselves. They did it, but had to be coaxed and organized. Not to the level that they would have to be today, but still, leadership, direction, and organization was there. I'll supply you with specifics if want.

In the case of the CIO, there were certainly "leaders"...including many members of the old Communist Party USA. There were also many ordinary workers who emerged in the course of struggle to play "leadership" roles.

But if you're implying that "it wouldn't have happened" unless "certain people" were present, I don't think that's justified.

In the case of the anti-war movement, your argument is much weaker. No one "led" American GIs to refuse to engage in combat...this was something they did on their own as a consequence of their own experiences. Likewise, no one "led" working class and minority youth to simply stop showing up for induction (at the giant Oakland, Calif. induction center, the "no-shows" hit 50% shortly before the end of the draft). People spontaneously concluded that there was nothing to gain and everything to lose by submitting to the draft.

Even the "official" anti-war movement was a very disorganized and even chaotic affair. Attempts to organize "top-down" coalitions that would be "respectable" repeatedly foundered over people's blunt unwillingness to accept self-appointed (and media-appointed) "leaders".

If all the "famous names" from the 1960s that you may have heard of had never been born, the anti-war movement would have nevertheless been just as raucous and ungovernable...and successful as it was.


So what do we do tomorrow? Let another day slip by?

Why are you asking me? If you are, as you claim, a member of the IWW, then you know what you're supposed to be doing! You are supposed to be organizing your workplace into an IWW local.

Is that too hard? Is it "easier" to tell people to vote for Democrats?

I guess it's always easier to lie than to tell the truth.

It just doesn't help much, though.
First posted at Che-Lives on August 6, 2004


My real aim was to point out the irony of the legion of teenage wannabe revolutionaries here who call themselves Marxists, who attach divinity to every word Marx ever wrote and yet still fail to grasp a very simple Marxist concept, instead subscribing to a "guerrilla war, kill 'em all, everything at once" sort of conception of revolution.

I think it's perfectly understandable that "teenage wannabe revolutionaries" may have a less-than-sophisticated understanding of the revolutionary process.

They are young; they can learn; they will learn.

Much less excusable, in my view, are the "grown-ups" who can turn a consistently blind eye towards history itself...and yet frequently claim to be "mature realists".

When a small socialist or communist group becomes involved in bourgeois electoral politics -- either by supporting a "left" bourgeois candidate or by running one of their own -- what message is being sent?

Clearly, the message is that bourgeois "democracy" actually means's a "legitimate" political mechanism.

When you do that, you have demonstrated to people by your act that you "accept the rules of the game" and intend to "play by them".

No matter how much verbiage you dispense to the effect that "it's fake democracy", your action tells people that you think "it's real".

And people notice that!

In our era, wide sections of the working class accept bourgeois "democracy" as "legitimate" real and meaningful. On the other hand, participation drops rapidly with income levels...the less prosperous sections of the working class routinely boycott bourgeois "elections" as a matter of course (even without a vanguard party leading them). The people at the bottom of the food chain know that there's nothing in bourgeois "elections" for them!

Now, if you wish to "appeal to" (tail) the more prosperous sections of the working class, you can participate in bourgeois "elections"...presenting your version of socialism/communism as just another commodity in the "market-place of ideas" and inviting voters to "Choose Brand Red" rather than "Brand Pink" or "Brand Blue".

This is a historically respectable strategy that has been implemented in scores of countries in a vast variety of circumstances.

Its only drawback is total failure to ever accomplish anything of substance...regardless of the outcome of the vote.

I conclude that people who still advocate this strategy are simply not serious about working class power. They may pay "lip-service" to the idea...but that's it. Their "socialism" or "communism" is a Platonic ideal that lives up in the sky somewhere, uncontaminated with earthly realities.

Real communists deny the legitimacy of bourgeois "elections"...and prove that they mean it by not only refusing to participate in them but also by attacking their legitimacy at every opportunity.

What communists do, as much as they can, is encourage resistance to the despotism of capital in all its forms and manifestations...always reminding working people that partial resistance must someday become total resistance -- that is, proletarian revolution.

One need not fall prey to juvenile fantasies of guerrilla warfare as a consequence of rejecting servile reformism. The crucial thing to grasp is the act of defiance, no matter how momentarily "trivial".

I think the best way to do this is to address our class with questions -- and not "come across" as bearers of "revealed truth".

When an act of resistance or defiance of capital takes place, we should say: "You have done this, why not also that?" By constantly "raising the bar" of rebellion, proletarian revolution will, at some point, be "the logical next step". It will "make sense".

Meanwhile, by constantly attacking and discrediting all bourgeois institutions and ideologies, we will have laid a solid foundation for the rise of proletarian, revolutionary institutions and ideologies.

I know, this is a "hard road" to travel.

But I don't see any other.
First posted at Che-Lives on August 9, 2004


Concessions are better than nothing.

No doubt...if that's all you want.


So you'd rather that the workers suffered without a unemployment benefits, working regulations, a minimum wage and health and safety legislation for the last century because it not good enough for you?

It's not good enough for anyone...even if they don't realize that at this point.


I recommend him to read Marx's "Political Indifferentism", an interesting text written as a critique of the anarchists of his time...

Invoking the ghost of Marx (who was invoking the ghost of Proudhon in that article) does not serve to advance this discussion.

The question is not an abstract one -- should there be reforms? -- but rather has to do with the communist attitude towards reforms.

That is, should communists tell people "hey, let's fight for this reform and things will really be a lot better"?

Or should we tell them the truth: "This reform is being offered to you because the capitalist class is afraid that if they don't give you this reform, you will demand a lot more. They recognize your strength and potential power much more than you do yourselves. Those who demand the most, get the most!"


...concessions are much better than nothing at all and that they also act in way which makes the proletariat more revolutionary, although intended to make it more placid.

That's definitely misleading, to say the least.

A reform that is "granted" from the "goodness of ruling class hearts" (that is, a "pre-emptive strike" against the possibility of future militance) does tend to make the working class more placid.

A reform that is "torn" from the ruling class as a consequence of mass struggle may serve to build up even further militance with even more far-reaching demands.

But it's not guaranteed.

Thus I think our attitude should be carefully crafted to fit the historical situation in which we find ourselves.

When the masses are rebellious and demanding a particular reform "or else", then I think communists should support and participate in that struggle...while at the same time, trying to encourage the masses to "raise the bar" even higher.

On the other hand, I think we should have nothing to do with the "professional reformists" or their "acceptable reforms"...indeed, I think we should go even further and attack their schemes and intrigues with the ruling class.

With regard to the "big picture", it's my opinion (and that of quite a few others) that the "era of great reforms" in advanced capitalist societies is, in any event, over.

It's going to be "downhill all the way" for the working class from now on.

Which makes reformism even more historically irrelevant, Marx to the contrary notwithstanding.

What was true in his time is not necessarily true in ours.
First posted at Che-Lives on August 10, 2004
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