Slouching Towards Shutdown: Left Reflections on the Tea Party, Then & Now

by Tim Horras on October 8, 2013

“What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
— W.B. Yeats

The most recent displays of irresponsibility from those in our government charged with promoting the general welfare have come as a shock to many Americans. Congress’s shenanigans leading up to and during the current federal shutdown seem to confirm the poet Yeats:the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

A few years ago, in a rarely-visited corner of the internet, I had an extended argument with Chris Maisano, Bhaskar Sunkara, and Seth Ackerman. These are all excellent writers who went on to justifiable success when they later founded Jacobin magazine.

The content of this argument had to do with “reading the tea (party) leaves,” i.e. what the prospects of the ultra-right Tea Party movement would be in the near future and in the longer arc of history.

For some context: at the time of these writings, the Tea Party victories in the 2010 primaries and the later Republican storming of the House had yet to occur. On the Left, Wall Street had yet to be Occupied. There was also no Philly Socialists (the group I would later participate in founding), only a couple of isolated revolutionaries who had just moved to Philadelphia, and were in the process of rethinking a lot of things after a low ebb in movement activity.

I’ve reflected a lot on my exchanges with the Jacobin comrades recently, as the government shutdown has crashed its way through people’s lives and into the headlines. Adding the benefit of hindsight. I regret that my interlocutors and I got caught up in a semantic debates, and thus wasted a lot of energy debating, rather than sketching out potential political scenarios and strategies for Left renewal. I wonder if our discussions might have been more fruitful in generating useful ideas if I had approached it in a different manner.

In the spirit of auto-critique, I’m going to briefly lay out my main arguments from that period, and see how correct I was in retrospect. At the time, I wrote:

Both mainstream Republicans and Democrats in the US have been up to now cavalier toward the Tea Partiers, though the Republican Party is now scrambling to try to put down this uprising of the grassroots.

Without fail, the Tea Party movement is rebuffed with perfunctory charges such as:

— The Tea Party is an “astroturf” operation, with only minimal grassroots support.
— The agenda of the Tea Party is in essence no different than the Republican Party.
— Fascists in the United States could never gain power because the bourgeoisie and the State would never “allow them” to do so.
— Economic recovery will take the steam out of rightwing extremism.
— An endemic tradition of civil liberty would never allow the emergence of totalitarianism in the U.S.

Such pacifying blandishments have no basis in fact.

I generally got right the ideas that:

1) the Tea Party was not an astroturf operation, but rather a legitimate social movement with a large mass base of support, 2) the mainstream Republican Party agenda was actually very different from the Tea Party agenda, 3) the capitalist class wouldn’t necessarily be in control of the Tea Party, like the sorcerer conjuring up forces they are incapable of controlling, 4) economic recovery was not going to happen, therefore extremism would continue to rise, and, (not mentioned in the passage quoted above), 5) key political conflicts would be centered around debt and default.

I was generally wrong in thinking that:

1) the Tea Party would rely more on the threat of armed militia violence, and, 2) Tea Party policy would shift more decisively away from libertarianism in policy and toward more protectionist economic measures. Of course, the jury’s still out on many of the above questions.

There are other assertions I made or suggested which we still have yet to see play out. For instance: 1) Can the center hold within the Republican Party? Or will the split lead to new political forms? 2) Will the bourgeoisie continue to back the Tea Party,and if not, what might this mean? 3) Is constitutional government in the United States a sure bet? Or might some set of crises lead to a some new political configuration4) What will be the role of the military-security-industrial complex in this period of generalized and increasing political instability? Many of these questions hang in the air, unanswered, like a comma at the end of an unfinished manuscript.

At this point in my life, I’ve learned to a bit of humility; I’m more interested in asking probing questions than coming up with grand theories. Experience and the practice of politics has a way of grounding you; I would recommend to all my fellow socialists the salutary effects of community organizing as an antidote to grand theory.

That said, my general prognosis remains “bearish” or pessimistic in terms of the health of the U.S. political and economic system. This was my analysis when I wrote about the prospects for the U.S. economy back in 2009, although this went again popular ideas about “green shoots” of economic growth prevalent among liberals at the time. I stand by what I wrote and feel that this perspective has been vindicated.

I expect the coming years to be stormy ones; a time of troubles. The situation may not be catastrophic, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’d advise my friends and allies in the American working classes to get down to brass tacks. Start organizing in earnest: in your workplace, in your neighborhood, at your school, or in whatever institutions touch your life. Don’t wait. Find others and do work.

As radicals operating in an atmosphere of governmental dysfunction and political instability, we should avoid getting tied up too much in defending the status quo, instead maintaining a level of critical distance. It makes sense to affirm that saving Obamacare isn’t a political priority for those of us on the far left. Building up our forces, and embedding the living practice ofsocialist politics more deeply in the everyday experience of broad masses of peoplethis is our central task today.

If the Left can successfully organize a genuine pole of attraction in the coming years, I remain convinced that poor and working class Americans will have the wherewithal to beat back the “rough beast” of reaction, press on towards social democracy, and finally arrive at a more fair and just society: the cooperative commonwealth.

Tim Horras is Chair of the Philly Socialists.

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Ish October 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I find it odd that the word “racism” doesn’t appear anywhere in this critique.


Ira October 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Yes, and I find it odd that the word :supercalifragilistikexpialodocous” also does not appear in this critique.


Ish October 8, 2013 at 11:26 pm

It is disturbing to me that in this deeply racist society, there could be an analysis of the tea party that does not touch on its absolute core of white supremacy. This failure to even acknowledge this crucial aspect of the growing far-right movement in the U.S. is telling. One might expect such a failure, indeed it has been delivered in full, from the bourgeois media. That you, and your North Star editor uptickers, could make light of a suggestion that this article fails to dig very deep, or address a key, and actionable point of unity for revolutionaries, says volumes about the sterile whites-only left this blog has in mind. Shame on you.


C Derick Varn October 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

One editor was an upticker. I find that such talk of racism as an actionable part of left wing unity is problematic–even when we agree on the problems at hand. The “whites only left” being a normal accusation, but then again, not all of the editors are white, even provisionally.

But yes, the Tea Party has deeply rooted racist core because the working class of the US has a deeply problematic racist history to deal with. It is a glaring oversight in the article, but then again to pretend that this is unique to the Tea Party is to miss the point as well.

But if even running something on that view complete on the point of the debate gets someone denounced with the easy hand-wave of “sterile whites only left,” then I would drop the pretext to talking about left-wing unity. I think people should drop that pretext anyway because there is no class unity right now so left wing unity seems even more problematic, but definitely if that is the first canard one can turn to.


Saturn Concentric October 9, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Sounds kind of like the Platypus method — to dismiss what exists. I think we should embrace the Left that exists, in its imperfect form, as the building blocks to something better. It means actually engaging.

Given that class unity is typically even made possible by radicals — the American labor movement was really established by anarchists and communists — I think we often get it backwards. We hope that movements will save us from our incompetence. Really it’s the reverse. We Leftists have to get our shit together ourselves, with no spontaneity-salvation, and then lead.


C Derick Varn October 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

“I think we should embrace the Left that exists, in its imperfect form, as the building blocks to something better. It means actually engaging.”

I suspect that I have actually engaged it for a decade or so longer than you seem to think, which is why I do not have the optimism you seem to. The left focus is on the left strikes me as wrong headed and all this talk about the beginnings of the labor movement miss that those beginnings where put down by state and private interests jointly when they tried to extend into the South, and were coopted in the North East. I am aware of the history of the IWW, the CIO, and the SPA and DeLeonists.

But I never said we need a new left–which is more 1968 than Platypus Affliatated Society. I said that the left that exists is in a sad wasteland state. Focusing on the left is myoptic. Focus on labor problems and see what left emerges or does not.


sartesian October 11, 2013 at 12:47 am

Except the Tea Party is NOT a working class organization. Median income of its supporters and “active delegates” is above $80,000 per year and the whole thing is a financed front of by and for the Koch Bros, whose corporations have been convicted of numerous criminal and civil offenses.

Geez– let’s not make this more involved then it is. Follow the money. This is a front operation, using the cover of “anti-government” go attack the surrogates for race in the US–“welfare” “government spending” “subsidies” “socialized health care.

Sure the left is “sterile”– and ain’t you the living proof.


Jeff K. October 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Well, of course the Tea Party is racist. It’s also misogynist,
homophobic, and (most likely) transphobic, not to mention xenophobic and Christian-supremacist. You know, just like any far-right organization in the US. This really should go without saying.

But neither of these things relate directly to the topic of the article, which is an analysis of how the Tea Party fits into the current US political situation and how this relates to the current tasks of the left.

If you want to write an exposé of racism in the Tea Party, I’m sure the site would publish it.


Pavel Dubrovsky October 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I upticked the comment mocking your cracker liberal indignation, because your complaint had nothing to do with what the article was about and because it should come as no surprise to anyone that the american right is racist (as well as homophobic, as well as sexist, as well as xenophobic, as well as anti-labour, as well as imperialist and so on).

If you think that any of that is news then I suggest you go back to listening to Democracy Now and reading Salon and Joe My God.


Ish October 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Fuck you too.


Saturn Concentric October 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm

The core of the Tea Party is not racism, but acting as a popular support movement for austerity. And it’s good that Tim is looking at the overall Left vs Right strategic picture, which will do more for race in America than anything.

It’s oppressive to insist that all Left discussion must center around one type of oppression or another. Someone should just be able to write on class alone — or on gender alone, or race alone — without further intersectionality.

Things don’t just matter as a part of a webwork — they also matter unto themselves. Sometimes you have to focus on the topic itself, and give it the full attention that each thing deserves.

It’s disgusting how the political correctness police try to silence any focused discussion of class alone, especially when it is the defining conflict of all societies.


C Derick Varn October 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm

“The core of the Tea Party is not racism, but acting as a popular support movement for austerity”

I would think you should better focus on class: The core of the tea party is rural, affluent (generally thus white for class reasons) who are acting in their self interest.

If anything, I would want some HARD analysis of the actual demographics of the Tea Party instead of speculation on what they are. I actually think Tim Horras is pretty on point here despite the lack of hard numbres, but the demographic and class trends do enable us to have better predictive measures.


michael098762001 October 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm

“If anything, I would want some HARD analysis of the actual demographics of the Tea Party instead of speculation on what they are.” For that, see, “The Rise of the Tea Party : Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama,”
by Anthony DiMaggio , published by Monthly Review Press.


michael098762001 October 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Additional data can be found in this paper by Vanessa Williamson, Theda Skocpol, and John Coggin,


Carl Davidson October 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I hope we can agree on one thing. Whenever there is a chance that we can aid in taking down Tea Party incumbents or candidates, and defend the right to vote and other matters of democratic rights in the process, that we do so. Prepare for 2014 now, if only by doing nothing more than registering every unregistered young working class woman of any nationality, the key progressive demographic, that you can. It will matter.


Harriet Logan October 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Carl, why don’t you just come out and say what you are doing here? You are calling for us to all massively commit to the dead end street of opting FOR corporate Right Winger Democratic Party candidates once again, in this charade of a not really a democracy the corporations call ‘the 2 party system’.

‘Prepare for 2014 now, … and blah blah blah.’

Why not instead, just tell people the plain truth? We do not have anything in place even close to being democracy in this Gulag Totalitarian America? We, ourselves, have to begin to build that democracy rather than just delude people about the current situation. And that does not mean to only try to build an exclusively ELECTORAL party like what the Green Party basically has made itself into being.


Carl Davidson October 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm

The plain truth is that if you cede whatever remaining democratic rights you have to the right, then it certainly will be the case that you’ll end up with a ‘Gulag Totalitarian America.’ You can sit it out if you like, but many of us will not. And as important as elections are, you’re not hearing any ‘exclusively electoral’ tactics from me. We need a wide range of arrows in our quivers. This is only one of them.


Harriet Logan October 8, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Refusing to vote for the corporate Democratic Party Right Wingers is not the same thing as ‘sitting it out’, Carl. In fact, your idea of voting for them is truly sitting it out.

In order to ever build a Movement to create Democracy, first you must tell people that that is exactly what is needed. Instead, you, Carl, are preferring to sit OUT that real effort to start a Movement for Democracy , simply instead by ‘voting’ for what you really don’t even want even if you actually get what you think is so damn necessary. You are lying to yourself (and the general public, too) when you think that ‘defeating’ Republicans can be gained by ‘winning’ with Democrats.

Your ‘victory’ in electing Democrats is so illusory and unreal a victory, that it is in reality worse than the defeat you fear so terrifiedly much. All you ever get is a DP that hugs and embraces the RP as allies together. You have spent your lifetime ‘gaining’ exactly that now, and that’s why you’re still so desperate as you are. The more you ‘win’, the more you lose, Carl, with your line towards the corporate selections.


Carl Davidson October 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm

The plain truth is that an important battle will be taking place on the terrain of the 2014 elections, one that no one on the left should be indifferent to. The Tea Party right is planning great pain for all of us, and needs to be taken down wherever possible. The ‘New Democrats’ in bed with finance capital need to be taken down, too, but there’s no law that says we have to fight them all equally and simultaneously. Strategy is one against 10, tactics are 10 against one. This is a tactical engagement in a far larger strategy. And we wage struggle with the tools and forces at hand, not the ones we wish we had, or we might have further down the road if things go well for is. Ignore the struggle if you wish; many of us will not.


Harriet Logan October 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Michael Moore and Norman Solomon could not make it here it seems, and you, Carl, are standing in for them and trying to make it sound like you are actually Sun Tzu discussing ‘The Art of War’ for us all. Kind of made me laugh, you did!

‘Strategy is one against 10, tactics are 10 against one. This is a tactical engagement in a far larger strategy. And we wage struggle with the tools and forces at hand, not the ones we wish we had, or we might have further down the road if things go well for is.’

However to simplify it some from Sun Tzu Thought, you are merely telling us, Carl, the same ol’ same ol’ that supposedly we comrades must all not ‘sit it out’, as you put it, but must instead ‘sit’ ourselves all on the same ol’ same ol’ see-saw Big Business run playboard, called Tweedle Dee-Tweedle Dum, in the corporate selections- 2014.

Let me cut to the chase and tell ALL that you’re urging urging all us Lefties who read TNS to vote the Democratic Party ticket URGENTLY!!!!! ….. but Wow! URGENTLY!!!!! Whooppeee! And no thanks. Carl Not no more. Sorry, but there is no urgency to do this vote for the DP Right Winger corporate hacks anymore.

‘Ignore the struggle if you wish; many of us will not.’

Carl, please allow me to give comrades your coming advice for 2016 as well. Can I PLEASE do so with your blessings now? *****You will want us to vote Democratic Party ticket, too, And in the year 2018, you and all the others like Michael and Norman and yourself alongside them, will call for us to vote Democratic Party ticket yet again.******

In 2018, once again you will be pressingly urging us out to the selection centers, to do just exactly what? Why it will be to vote DP once again! SURPRISE! —And I wonder if anybody at all now will be unable to predict the future here as I with my crystal ball just did?

Any comrades perhaps want to guess your advice, Carl, for the super important years of 2020, 2022, 2024, 2026, 2028, 2030? I’ll keep it a secret this time…. ( Hiss hint&&**^^%&%- VOTE DP! ..Comrades!!! These will be most important years!!!!!! )

Carl, I also believe it to be important to review some your past political advice to comrades who perhaps do not know the history of it all due to their youthfulness.

In 1943, you sprung from your mothers womb with a sign held out to the delivery doctor and the delivery team, and warned them that it was urgent that they vote for the DP ticket in the coming important important year of 1946! It stunned the whole hospital staff when they heard about this new baby!

Two years later, not plussed in the least by Truman nuking 2 Japanese cities, you as a 2 year old kid was seen urging American Communist Party members, and other liberal elements, that they must simply vote in mass for Truman and the entire DP ticket once again! 1948 was an important year, and only by voting Democratic Party could we avoid the McCarthy Era, you told all. People followed your advice, and immediately there followed the McCarthy Era.

I will not go into the lengthy amounts of advice that you have given between 1948 until 2013. I will summarize it though….

In 1950, you urged people to vote DP. In 1952 you urged people to defeat Eisenhower. In 1954, you said VOTE DP! In 1956, uh…just what was your advice again???? …uh… I believe that it was that we all just had to vote Democratic Party////

In 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980… we were told by you that we had to VOTE Democratic Party!!!!!

‘You comrades MUST! These are all important years!’

In 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, your politics matured and became even more ‘pragmatic’, Carl. What was that advice of yours once again? Oh yeah!!!!

‘Comrades, WE MUST not ‘sit it out’. Vote DP!’

In 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001 (OOPs just thru that one in to wake anybody up who might have fallen asleep yet!), 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012… Comrades! You must vote for Slick Willie! (uh in smaller letters now- you comrades must all go and vote DP… it is urgent this year is special<<<<<<<< though it is so nasty to have to vote for donkeys, but donkeys poop on us less than elephants will ever do….

Carl, please correct me if I summed up any of your future or previous political advice incorrectly? If so, I will gladly correct what I said if I was wrong in any way here?


Carl Davidson October 9, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I’m not asking you to vote, Harriet, but to organize working-class voters into their own organizations and get them to the polls. If it’s not your cup of tea, fine, do as you please, you need no permissions from me. But a good number of us think taking down Tea Party incumbents and candidates is a worthy cause this year, even if we replace them with others not quite sharing our PDA / Congressional Progressive Caucus platforms. We work with the instruments we have, building the road as we travel.


Harriet Logan October 10, 2013 at 2:00 am

What? You’re not asking me to vote for Right Winger Democratic Party hacks, Carl? You’re just asking me to be a bus driver for people who will then vote for DP Right Winger hacks?!!!!

‘I’m not asking you to vote, Harriet, but to organize working-class voters into their own organizations and get them to the polls.’

Gee whiz… I’m at a loss for words here.


Carl Davidson October 10, 2013 at 2:24 am

No, not a bus driver. An organizer of grassroots organization of working class voters, ie, expand the size and scope of the electorate to include more workers and the oppressed, especially aimed toward the younger demographics. But have them keep control of their own lists and resources, and have them adopt their own political planks and tactical approach to who they want to give their votes. Without that, you don’t have anything to do politics WITH.


sartesian October 11, 2013 at 4:52 am

The careful reader will notice that Mr. Davidson doesn’t even qualify as a small d democrat, much less a radical democrat.

His “Democracy” such that it is, is but a party affiliation. His “democracy” means supporting anti-Tea Party candidates, something that some Republicans find attractive, since they can’t get their loans, their export subsidies, etc. etc.

Regarding any real democratic issues– like mobilizing protests against all the state voter “ID” laws– haven’t heard Carl bring that up.

Regarding extending the right to vote to immigrants… haven’t heard that one from Carl.

Regarding mobilizing direct action opposition to all attempts at the disqualification of voters by officials of the current governments, regardless of their party– haven’t heard Carl bring that up.

Regarding abolition of the electoral college– haven’t heard that either.

And advocating the abolition of the Senate, a body designed to preserve the power of the slaveholders and their heirs from the heathen masses? Nope…. see all that stuff is just too democratic for our big D Democrat.


Saturn Concentric October 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I agree Carl. We should prepare for 2014 by building the foundations for a united socialist party.


Ira October 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I believe the Tea Party will form the basis for a 3rd party. They have money, tens or hundreds of thousands of supporters, propoganda outlets (talk radio, FOX news, etc.), organization (evangelical churches). Basically, they have everything they need to create a massive extreme right-wing 3rd party. This development seems inevitable. While they are not yet a Fascist organization, parts of them they will certainly move in that direction as the economy continues to worsen. Unfortunately, right-wing authoritarian movements in the US, have a much stronger tradition than the left (at least in the last 50 years). Unlike Europe, the trade unions here will mount no opposition. I’m afraid we’re doomed.


Carl Davidson October 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

First, I am not even ‘affiliated’ with the Democratic party. I have never even been to a meeting of that organization, save to protest in the street outside of one. I do ‘cherry pick’ certain Dem candidates (as well as certain third party or socialist candidate, such as Savant in Seattle) back them with a vote tactically over other, more backward or more reactionary candidates. In 2014, we would do well to help defeat every Republican running that we can)

I’m a supporter of Progressive Democrats of America, which is an independent PAC that operates as a faction within the Democratic orbit and independently outside of it in the social movements. It has its own platform and works closely wit the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Second, I’ve been intensely involved in the Voter ID battles in here in Western PA, sending several buses of union workers and civil rights activists to Harrisburg, to protest on the Capitol steps and briefly occupy offices within. Same at the headquarters of our local GOP state senator. If you want to see our local mass work, go to

As for abolition of the Senate and Electoral College, these require a
Constitutional Convention. Given the balance of forces today, watch what
you wish for. Once you call one, everything is open to everyone, including the far right. But in the longer strategic scope of things, a more
democratic government could certainly do without these legacies of our founders
that were designed to protect them from ‘mob rule.’ The first step would be to elect a government of a popular front vs finance capital, push it to its limits, and develop a socialist counter hegemonic bloc within it. You can go to the ‘Study Guides’ section of our Online University of the Left, and take my eight-part course on the US Constitution, Then and Now, in slide show form, as well as my slide show on ’11 Talking Points on 21st Century socialism


Harriet Logan October 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Carl, it is obvious that you have done a massive amount of work over at Online University of the Left which you very helpfully linked us to. Your life has been one of an exemplary organizer and activist and you deserve a huge amount of respect regarding your continuous dedication to the cause of workers rights. I personally will bookmark and explore its pages more in the days ahead.


Carl Davidson October 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Harriet, my work with PDA is aimed at heightening the class conflict within the Dems to the breaking point, until it implodes and goes the way of the Whigs, and then replace it with something far better that promotes the views and interests of a progressive majority. In certain cases where it makes sense, I also promote third party efforts, hence a true ‘inside/out’ approach. I find this is the best approach to actually organize hundreds of workers in base communities, especially the distressed and those of color, then move them leftwards from there, step-by-step, as they sum up lessons from their own experience, ie, practicing ‘the mass line,’ You can disagree with this tactic, but at least present it for what it is, with is to the left of both Gus Hall and Sam Web today, although the latter is better than the former. Unlike some, I am not one who thinks the Dems can become a US social-democratic party. I think those who currently own it would split it and wreck it before they allowed that to happen.


Harriet Logan October 13, 2013 at 1:45 am

‘Unlike some, I am not one who thinks the Dems can become a US social-democratic party. I think those who currently own it would split it and wreck it before they allowed that to happen.’

Carl, you are certainly right here. However, it is totally doubtful that you, by working inside the DP and telling the general public that is is supposedly so very important to vote DP, can have the least to do with the DP ever ‘imploding’.

So let’s take an extremely brief look at a like example of what might occur in the US, and how in Venezuela people in that country got fed up with both political parties in that’ 2 party system’ in that country. It certainly was not because people like Hugo Chavez worked inside one of the parties to have that party win elections against the more conservative party.

Here from wikipedia, is a summation of how the 2 parties there in Venezuela crumbled TOGETHER.

1958 – 1999

‘Background to the current political landscape is the development of democracy in Venezuela during the twentieth century, in which Democratic Action (founded in 1941) and its antecedents playing an important role in the early years. Democratic Action led the government during Venezuela’s first democratic period (1945–1948). After an intervening decade of dictatorship (1948–1958) saw AD excluded from power, four Venezuelan presidents came from Democratic Action from the 1960s to the 1990s. This period, known as the “Fourth Republic”, is marked by the development of the 1958 Punto Fijo Pact between the major parties (originally including the Democratic Republican Union, which later dwindled in significance), with the notable exclusion of the Communist Party of Venezuela.

By the end of the 1990s, however, the now two-party system’s credibility was almost nonexistent, mostly because of the corruption and poverty that Venezuelans experienced as oil wealth poured in during the 1970s and the debt crisis developed during the 1980s. Democratic Action’s last president (Carlos Andrés Pérez) was impeached for corruption in 1993, and spent several years in prison as a result. The other main traditional party Copei, provided two Venezuelan presidents (Rafael Caldera, 1969-1974, and Luis Herrera Campins, 1979-1983). Confidence in the traditional parties collapsed enough that the 1993 presidential elections were won by Rafael Caldera on around 30% of the vote, representing a new electoral coalition, National Convergence. By 1998, support for Democratic Action and COPEI had fallen still further, and the 1998 election was won by political outsider Hugo Chávez.’

Carl we can also look at the situation in Mexico, where the US government has moved the allied elites there to try to set up a ‘2 party system’, because they did not want to be seen supporting a one party dictatorship. Mexicans thought they had made an improvement when the PRI dictatorship was removed by the Mexican and American elites. However, most politically thinking Mexicans realize that both the PRI and PAN work hand in hand together today, and that both must fall for Mexico to ever have any real democracy in place.

American workers need to advance their thinking and remove both capitalist parties from power TOGETHER. That will not ever happen though with people like you, Carl, still telling people to vote for DP cons and to supposedly ‘cherry pick’.


Carl Davidson October 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Harriet, we’re not in Venezuela or Mexico. We’re deal with the working class and the oppressed here in the US, and the elections and their current rules are organized very differently, ie, ours are far more reactionary. You want to tell me how to win a baseball game when we’re playing football. Apples and oranges.


Harriet Logan October 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm

No, I have not compared apples to oranges with the examples I gave you, Carl. The structure of Big Business having 2 of their own parties in all countries follows essentially the exact same formula they put into place, whether we are talking about electoral structures in Venezuela, Mexico, the US, or in any other countries where the capitalist class has been able to set up such an ideal situation for themselves as ‘the 2 party system’ most definitely is.

The structure of the 2 party system is such, that always the capitalist class screams at us through their bought media (propaganda system), that we have to choose between only 1 of 2 ‘realistic’ ways to vote, and that we have only this ‘choice’ between the 2 before us. We are then told that the 2 parties are antagonistic opposites of each other. Fight over these 2 all you want we are then encouraged. However, these 2 parties rule by having an alliance with each other, to act TOGETHER on behalf of the corporate community. The public is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t at this point. We have a dictatorship pretending to be a democracy.

The voters either except this as their situation or they do not. You, Carl, want them to see this as being the reality for us, when it does not have to be so. We either work to dump these 2 parties and their alliance (dictatorship) together with each other, or we engage in accepting the delusional idea that ‘voting’ for one or the other of the 2 parties is meaningful and even totally essential, such as you want us to do, Carl, on behalf of the Democrats.

”the elections and their current rules are organized (in the US) very differently, ie, ours are far more reactionary.’

This is ridiculous! The idea that US election rules and organization is more reactionary than the arrangement continues to be in Mexico and was, too, before in Venezuela pre Chavez is absolutely absurd. In Mexico today in many areas of the country, one still risks their life in campaigning for a Left candidate outside of the PRI and PAN gang of corporate criminal politicians. I don’t think we in the US face something ‘far more reactionary than that’. We don’t.

In Mexico, today, somebody like yourself, Carl, would be laughed at if he called himself a Leftist and advocated voting for the PRI because the PAN was supposedly so much worse than the PRI is. In both the US and Mexico, what is politically necessary to advance forward, is for the population to dump both capitalist parties together and not favor one over the other. Mexicans seem to understand that much more than Americans do.


Carl Davidson October 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Harriet, the US electoral system is a ‘winner-take-all form of simple plurality, first-past-the-post voting to determine the electors appointed to the Electoral College.’ Under the typical system, the candidate that gains the highest vote total wins all of the state’s available electors.’ Add to that 50 different set of state regulations for getting on the ballot at all, many that are quite difficult, and you have a big difference between the US and other bourgeois democracies. When combined with ‘Durverger’s Law’ of how politics works under it, you get a good idea of why ours is the more reactionary, not in the sense of violence, although we have some of that too, but in creating barriers and obstacles of privilege to over come. These are the conditions we operate under, and until they change, we need an inside/outside set of tactics to do any significant electoral work that is not simply a campaign aimed at doing revolutionary education. (That, too, has some value, but its not the same as contending for office.)


sartesian October 14, 2013 at 12:43 am

Previous comment was hilarious; this one’s pathetic. A couple of minor points, that have everything to do with history and class:

1) re the Democrats “imploding” and “going the way of the Whigs”– the Whigs went the way they did because they were not an effective tool for the advancement of Northern capitalism– for the advancement of “free soil, free labor” against the merchant capital-slaveholder interest. It took a party willing to confront the possibility of, and mobilize for, civil war to become an effective tool for class struggle. Davidson has absolutely no intention of sorting things out along class lines– as evidenced by his stirring, ringing, patriotic, suicidal endorsement of “popular fronts.”

2) Davidson’s strategy involves absolutely no risk for the Democrats, or for the Democrats losing their effectiveness, in that the effectiveness of the Democrats amounts to nothing other canalizing dissatisfaction and rebellion into the sink-holes of “progressivism.”

3) If Democrats do “implode” it will be precisely because all notions of “progressive, democratic, popular fronts and alliances” will prove inadequate to the tasks and needs of this current capitalism. Calling for recall votes, a la Wisconsin, to drain away workers’ threats to state power won’t be good enough. So the Democrats, if they are going to be replaced, will not be replaced by some sort of “progressive” amalgam, but something regressive, reactionary. You want to facilitate that? Just keep hangin’ with CD. For my part, as Hooper said to the mayor of Amity, “I refuse to waste time arguing with a man lining up to be a hot lunch.”

4) Whatever CD claims, his merchandise is nothing but the old “bore from within” “strategy.” Most of us of CD’s age and era found out everything we needed to know about the Democratic Party, and “changing it” “boring from within” and the prospects for an “implosion” and “replacement” in 1964 when it, the progressives rejected the credentials of the delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

That’s more than a couple of points? Damn, you’re right. And they’re not minor, either. I got to get better with that number thing.


Carl Davidson October 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm

1, Class lines? That’s what we do here on the ground. We organize workers to fight for their interests. We pay attention to how they see their interests, and what they are willing to do, as a starting point, and move forward from their. And workers have allies in other classes and strata, so yes, we form common fronts as needed. That’s all ABC. Go to and check it out.

2, No risk to Dems? Ask our previous Congressman here, a Blue Dog. We helped bring him down even if it meant we now have a GOP guy. Another wanna-be Blue Dog challenged the GOP. He wouldn’t endorse any of our planks, so we didn’t endorse him. He lost. But we keep the main heat on the GOP and the right.

3. Wisconsin? Do you really think you had the makings of a general strike? And you think I’m deluded? Learn how to count, as in how many workers in that state vote GOP for starters. And how many are in unions. They took the mass rallies and marches to the max. Too bad too many on the left didn’t have the good sense to organize independently on the recall. They could have made organizational gains across the state even if it lost.

4. I agree that a ‘popular front against finance capital’ platform will polarize the Dems to the breaking point. That’s the idea. Do you have any better tactics to help the rather large numbers of workers, and almost 90% of Black voters, learn through their own experience that they need better options than the current Dems? If so, spell them out for us. Meanwhile, the folks who, at the base, make up the core of the engine for radical change in our country, are under the hegemony of neo-Keynesian corporate liberals under the Democratic tent. How do you propose to undermine it and break it up with something counter-hegemonic? Waving red flags, occupying public squares and yelling louder? Sorry, however well OWS did for starters, if you want to wage struggle more strategically, you’ll have to do better than that.


sartesian October 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Well, that certainly counts as a risk to the Democrats– not endorsing particular candidates. Hate to dwell on past history, but you see the MFDP represented a threat to the Democrats– to the STRUCTURE of the party— which is why their credentials were rejected. Now they were a threat. You and your beavers? Not even close.

What I think Wisconsin had the potential to become is not at issue. What is at issue was the drive, the designed effort to take the action out of the streets, out of the capital building, to contain it within the established structures. That’s called canalization. That’s what the recall campaign was all about.

The Democrats proved that the only useful contribution they could provide was to leave the state.

I love how you manipulate the term “workers” to justify whatever mood you’re in. Act outside the “recall” in Wisconsin? No way… “do you know how many voters in that state vote Republican.” Break with the Democrats? No way… “We need a popular front with the Dems because that’s the best way for the workers to learn that the Dems aren’t their friends.”

Bottom line, Carl is that you have nothing original to contribute. We’ve heard this all before. We’ve seen others go there and do exactly that. Here and everywhere. Worked out well you think? You offer nothing but the old and tired popular front-ism practiced for some 80 years now.

Sam Webb is “better” than Gus Hall? That summarizes the entire meaningless-ness of your “politics.” Yeah, that’s what we want, that’s what we need to do, find better slobs, better wannabee “Marxists” who in reality are nothing but gravediggers. Sure thing. And you know what? I’m sure there are people out there who think Carl Davidson is better than Sam Webb. Hell you probably believe that yourself.

You accuse others of being unrealistic, ideological — of offering only “waving red flags, occupying public squares, and yelling louder.” I’ve got nothing against that, believe me. Those are tactics. They have their place. But let’s not confuse tactics with program. Program is the driver of tactics and strategy; Your program is one of class collaboration, creating a mythological divide between “finance capital” and capital as a whole. Your program is one of on the one hand offering “Marxism” as an “online university”– as Tweeted Academia while ignoring the practical content of Marx’s critique which is quite clearly that capitalism is a whole, the capitalist class is a whole, and this notion of “progressive” vs. “regressive” has no meaning, and in fact hasn’t had any meaning since 1871.


Carl Davidson October 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Actually, the MFDP is a good model for what PDA is trying to do. Note that we are NOT part of the Dem structure, and as we grow, we challenge it, implicitly and explicitly. And our work vs Blue Dogs here in Beaver County was far more than not endorsing, as reading will demonstrate. There is nothing ‘mythological’ at all in making a distinction between finance capital and productive capital. Nor is there anything in Marx that requires you tactically to oppose all your adversaries at once, even though his critique is of capitalism as a who, a critique I share. But you’ve avoided my query. If my strategy and tactics are bad, then spell out what yours are–and how they haven’t been around for a long time, too. Show and tell time.


sartesian October 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I haven’t avoided anything– you put a switch and bait out there? “What do you propose– red flags, yelling louder” and I answered that pointing out the issue is program.

So since you’re the one plumping for electing “good candidates” and opposing “blue dog/ reactionary” candidates.. here some questions that we both can answer.

Do you support the Affordable Care Act?

Do you include the support of the ACA a positive element when deciding what candidates to endores?

My answer–no I do not support that act. It was formulated specifically to oppose and reject universal, free public health care.

Do you support the TARP program, designed to protect the US economy (and others) from financial collapse?
Do you consider support of such legislation, including Obama’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act a positive element when deciding what candidates to endorse or reject?

My answer–no I do not support such acts which only serve to transfer the cost of capital’s contraction to the poor and working classes while protecting the rich and the ruling class.

Short version: Not a penny for this government.

What do I support?– free universal health care;

Cancelling mortgage, consumer, municipal and state debt.

Prohibition of any and all foreclosures.

We can start with those. Let me know how many of your Democratic candidates will endorse that.

I could go on and on— and those demands above? Those are just radical democratic demands– wait until we get into the labor vs. capital ones.

The MFDP is a good example? Perhaps you forgot or missed that part where the MFDP walked out. They walked out, get it? Walking back in in search of some illusory popular front is taking steps more than backward.


Carl Davidson October 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

I haven’t avoided anything– you put a switch and bait out there? “What do you propose– red flags, yelling louder” and I answered that pointing out the issue is program. <

The issue is program? Very well, what is it? And how did you arrive at it? Do you discuss and gather ideas from among the workers in your base, then refine them, back and forth? Or do you just 'figure out' what you think it ought to be? Our PDA platform is 'Out Now' from the Wars; Healthcare, not Warfare, Medicare for All (HR 676); Windmills not Weapons. ie, the Green New Deal; The Conyers Jobs Bill (including the living wage, and hiring those in greatest need first) and the Back-to-Work Budget; the Robin Hood Tax Bill on Wall St; Debt relief for students and homeowners, pass EFCA and repeal Taft Hartley. Defend Planned Parenthood and all other Women's rights; Stop the racist attacks on Voting Right, defend immigrant rights. That's a platform for a popular front that can unite a progressive majority.

Do you support the Affordable Care Act? <

We support Medicare for All, as is evident from all the materials at and our entire history there. But we also defend ACA against the rightwing attacks, since it is already of some benefit to the poor and the elderly around here. We explain what it is and why it's flawed, and that we have to go beyond it. But there are too many now already getting some benefits from it for the first time simply to join the Tea Party opposition to it. (For instance, my wife can now get insurance for the first time in years because of ACA (pre-existing condition) and it saves me $50 a month on meds (which matters, since our only income is SS.) We're not about to give these few crumbs back, nor will many others who are getting them. But we'll keep working on HR 676.

Do you include the support of the ACA a positive element when deciding what candidates to endorse?< No, we ask them about Medicare for All and Defense of Social Security, among other things

Do you support the TARP program, designed to protect the US economy (and others) from financial collapse?<

My line is 'Buy Out, not Bail Out,' and we criticized TARP for defending finance capital over productive capital, ie, bailing the Banksters over investment in infrastructure and public works.

Do you consider support of such legislation, including Obama's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act a positive element when deciding what candidates to endorse or reject?

That’s odd. Sounds like the Tea Party. We want more taxes on the super-rich, taxing what hurts us and subsidizing what helps us. We want government to tax financial transactions to create jobs in the clean energy and green manufacturing sectors.

What do I support?– free universal health care; <

Good, but nothing is 'free' save for aid to the destitute. We are for 'Medicare for all' paid for by tax revenues that people pay into according to their ability and situation

Canceling mortgage, consumer, municipal and state debt.<

In many cases, yes. But in some cases, no. What you really want to do is establish state banks, like the Bank of North Dakota, and lend money productively at low interest. Taking over student debt from young people, forgiving it, and then paying students a stipend to go to school is a good approach.

Prohibition of any and all foreclosures.<

Fine for working class families, but foolish otherwise. Some low-road capitalists you might want to foreclose on, to take them over and restart as worker coops.

We can start with those. Let me know how many of your Democratic candidates will endorse that. <

More important is how the workers at the base see them, ie, will they embrace them as their own, and in their majority? All the points I listed in our pop front platform can find majority support here in the stressed out Rust Belt. But workers know when something is just hot air made up to sound militant. And yes, CCDS can and has put forward radical structural reforms that can serve as a bridge to a new order if they would ever be done. In the auto bailout, we added the demands to buy out GM at penny stock status, and had it over to the UAW and local allies to own and operate as worker-owned factories.

The MFDP is a good example? Perhaps you forgot or missed that part where the MFDP walked out. They walked out, get it? Walking back in in search of some illusory popular front is taking steps more than backward.<

They walked out of the convention, yes. And they were right to do so, given the seating of the all-white state party. But they didn't leave the process or the arena, as in Chokwe Lumumba's recently becoming Mayor of Jackson running as MFDP on the Dem line. As Lenin was found of quoting from Goethe" 'Theory is grey, but life is green'.


sartesian October 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

First, I invite everyone, absolutely everyone to check out CD’s eager beaver county beavers’ website. Let me know if you find anything, any single thing there that can conceivably be identified as having the potential to lead to an “implosion” of the Democratic Party. If you do, you then you’re either the greatest detective ever, or hallucinating, or self-deluding, neither of the three being good qualifications for radical activity.

CD finds it odd, does he, that a Marxist would state “not a penny for this government”? Bemused is he, thinking it’s a tea party platform, except the tea party has no such platform– it doesn’t want the dismantling of the US military-defense contractor nexus; it doesn’t want the shuttering of every US military base; it doesn’t want an end to the Export-Import bank.

Funny for a Marxist to say “not a penny for this government”– a government that practices terrorism at home and abroad; that raids workplaces, rounding up supposedly undocumented workers; that utilizes cruise missiles for the entertainment value it provides?

Well, here’s a flash Carl; here’s just how Tea Party that slogan is.

from the Marxist Internet Archive: Marx and Engels to Bebel, Liebknecht, Bracke and others:

“And what is this Kayser case, this unforgivable crime which Hirsch is supposed to have committed? Kayser is the only one among the Social-Democratic deputies who spoke and voted in the Reichstag for protective tariffs. Hirsch accuses him of having committed a breach of Party discipline because Kayser:

(1) Voted for indirect taxation, the abolition of which is expressly demanded in the Party programme;

(2) Voted supplies to Bismarck, thus breaking the first fundamental rule of all our Party tactics: not a farthing to this government.

“On both points Hirsch is undeniably right. And after Kayser had trampled underfoot on the one hand the Party programme, to which the deputies are, so to speak, sworn by a Congress decision, and on the other hand the very first and most imperative fundamental rule of Party tactics, and voted money to Bismarck as thanks for the Socialist Law, Hirsch in
our opinion was absolutely right to let fly at him as roughly as he did.”

Yeah, I knew that before I used it, and I used it to set Carl up, knowing he’d put both feet in his mouth as he jumped at the chance to show how “sectarians” and “tea-partiers” “share” common ground.

So Carl, after advocating and supporting billions of dollars for this government, tell us again what a profound, deeper understanding you have of Marx, and how your online university and your beaver county progressives are so much more in tune with the real practical activity that Marx and Engels advocated for the “implosion” or overthrow of the bourgeois parties.

Your ability to pretend to be a socialist is simply an index to the poverty of socialism over the past 100 years; you’re in the grand tradition of all those socialists who voted war funds and credits in 1914; who maintained colonial exploitation under the cover of a popular front; and who will, when an independent workers’ movement does erupt, work against such a movement.

If there were a real socialist movement today, Carl, you wouldn’t be part of it; not just because you have nothing to do with socialism, but because such a movement would have nothing to do with you, someone -” thus breaking the first fundamental rule of all our Party tactics: not a farthing to this government.” .

Harriet Logan October 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

‘If my strategy and tactics are bad, then spell out what yours are–and how they haven’t been around for a long time, too. Show and tell time.’

I have to cede to Carl here at this point, SArtesian. HIs efforts to build up the Democratic Party have certainly way outclassed, in results, our efforts to tear the DP and RP down collectively and destroy them both, up to this point. He’s helped give us Barack Obama and a continuation of Clintonism into the next generations! Our efforts though, have merely a Black Agenda Report or a Counterpunch or two to really organizationally show for it, at this point.

I wonder if a Lenin and Trotsky would have had to answer to Carl Davidson…say… back in 1916, how that might have been?


Jason S. October 14, 2013 at 8:11 am

Carl, comrade, I’m in partial agreement with you, but you gotta drop this Dimitrov-and-Mao-as-fountains-of-wisdom shtick. Really. Please. And sooner is better than later.


sartesian October 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Hilarious. “I am not now, nor have I ever been, affiliated with the big D Democratic Party…”

BUT “I’m a supporter of Progressive Democrats of America, which is an
independent PAC that operates as a faction within the Democratic orbit
and independently outside of it in the social movements. It has its own
platform and works closely wit the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

That counts as non-affiliation in Davidson’s jabberwocky world, got it?

And then there’s this:

“As for abolition of the Senate and Electoral College, these require a
Constitutional Convention. Given the balance of forces today, watch what
you wish for. Once you call one, everything is open to everyone, including the far right.”

First off, I don’t wish for anything from the established structures of power in the US. Nor do I wish for anything that limits itself to the superficial notion of “democracy” that does not specify and require “workers'” as, not the condition, but the determinant.

Thirdly– Carl provides with the classic demonstration of the timidity and cowardice that so defines “democrats”– better to have the Senate, the Electoral College, and of course capitalism than challenge any of that and pain-of-pains, actually have to confront the reaction that the Senate, Electoral College, and capitalism promotes.

And then there’s this pip, or actually, the nail in/and the coffin: “The first step would be to elect a government of a popular front vs
finance capital, push it to its limits, and develop a socialist counter
hegemonic bloc within it.”– which is nothing but an oxymoron– you do not and cannot develop a “socialist counter hegemonic bloc” by supporting a “popular front government.” See all previous history, as opposed to online universities that are not affiliated with the Democratic Party– except when it comes to actually proposing any class alternative to the Democratic Party.

Harriet, you are much too kind to this guy…. who in reality does nothing but set up the poor, the workers, and the prospects for emancipation for an A number 1, 99% ass-kicking.


Carl Davidson October 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm

‘Sartesian,’ if you’ll bother to read, I noted PDA’s ‘Windmills Not
Weapons’ slogan in regard to military spending, I’ll even send you a
bumper sticker if you like. We also put up a booth at one of our county
fairs every year attacking militarism in the budget. we have a huge
banner over the table, ‘War Is Making You Poor.’ go to for a picture. As for our platform and the Dem
DNC/DLC platform, you’ll find them opposed on nearly every point, in
practice if not in theory.

Finally, WW1 is over some time now. If
you want to develop a program for today, I suggest rooting it in
today’s conditions, problems, and the views of the current working

As for socialism, I take it quite seriously, and I’m very
much part of it. I’ve spoken in about 15-20 cities on the topic just in
the last year or so, and I’m open for invitations. I do study sessions
on it, including with workers here. In addition to the Communist
Manifesto, we use David Schweickart’s ‘After Capitalism’ as a text.
Along with my ’11 Talking Points on 21st Century Socialism,’ you can
find our slideshows and multimedia presentations in the study guides
section of the Check them out, if you like. While our
socialist tasks and or democratic tasks are linked and overlap, I’m wise
enough to know they are not the same.


sartesian October 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

See previous comments, including the one that, apparently, that didn’t get by the censors.

“Not a farthing to this government” is, according to Marx and Engels, “the first fundamental rule of our party.”

Guess old Karl and Fred were just misguided Tea Partiers.


Pavel Dubrovsky October 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

sorry we’re not on this site 24×7, monitoring the moderation queues. your post was automatically put into moderation because it contained a link.


sartesian October 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Thanks for the explanation.


sartesian October 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm

I read a lot Carl. As I said, not a penny to this government, that’s the first rule of OUR party… our party being the party of the working class, as opposed to the parties of that counterrevolution in “democratic” clothing, the popular front.


Carl Davidson October 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm

So you’re a party of tax resistors? Abolish all taxes? The first
question you’ll get from teachers and other public workers is, ‘Are you
saying I should be fired? Work for nothing? How do you expect us to get
paid.’ There’s a road crew fixing a dangerous stop on the highway about
two miles from my house. Send them all home? Lots of luck with that


sartesian October 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Other iterations of CD’s “what trees are you going to plant” schtick:

“Oh you’re not going to bail out the auto industry? Are you saying all those auto workers should lose their jobs? Or should they just work for nothing? Who’s going to pay them?”

–Answer: Look at the results of the bailout, and how it works to lower the living standards of the working class as a whole.

Here’s the basic format of these iterations:

“You mean you don’t support the (funding, expansion, growth, construction) of this (project, plan, factory, dam, power plant), which is going to bring X number of (jobs, revenue, income, taxes, ancillary [projects, plans, factories, dams, jobs, revenue, income, taxes]) to this (city, state, neighborhood, country, province, desert, swamp)? How are people
going to live?”

“Oh, you mean you don’t support capitalism?”

Exactly. We’re not tax resisters. We’re……..communists. We opposed the expansion, accumulation, preservation, extension of……capitalism, which in case Carl hasn’t noticed, is exactly what this government does. Carl may like to call it progressive, but there is no such thing as progressive apart from the class basis of any economy. So Carl would like you to think there’s “progressive” that exists somehow separate and apart from………”capitalism,” when in reality he’s advocating nothing but PRESERVING capitalism.

What our Carl doesn’t understand is that capitalism will preserve itself; is quite capable of preserving itself, including fixing roads, planting trees, deploying cruise missiles. That’s not our responsibility.

Carl might want to keep in mind that the German government of Bismark built a lot of railroads. And the German government after 1933 built the autobahn.

Was wollen Sie damit sagen? Wir sollten nicht unterstützt Festsetzung der Straßen, nur weil wir nicht mögen, diese Regierung?

As those old tax resisters Marx and Engels said– not a farthing for this government, or any government of the bourgeoisie (that would include the walking disaster called a popular front) of capitalism. That’s the first rule. .

So Carl go right ahead; keep doctoring the spin for your support for capitalism.

Capital sends in its clowns at the same time as it does its thugs, and calls them professors, progressives, democrats, “socialists.”

How’s that big red nose and those floppy feet feel? Good fit, are they? I’ll bet.


Carl Davidson October 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Sartisan, you’re being silly. The workers, especially the poor, need work. The fight for jobs is on all of our agendas, or should be, as immediate demands and structural reforms. I know of no way to expand employment in any immediate way without expanding existing businesses or launching new ones. Even if the government hires the unemployed, as with the old WPA/CCC, they still contract with local firms to put the men and women to work. I suppose you could call for militarizing the unemployed and having the army do the work, but I wouldn’t go there. If you think the fights for jobs are all wrong, then you’ve rediscovered the camp of the Daniel DeLeon ultimatists of the old SLP. I wouldn’t want to go there, either.


sartesian October 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm

The deeper we go, the more revealing become your responses.

“The workers and the poor need work.”

No, the workers and poor need good lives; with education, healthcare, sanitation, transportation. CAPITAL needs “work,” that is to say wage labor so it can go on accumulating capital and reproducing… the poor as the poor; workers as under constant pressure, and both periodic and structural decay in education, sanitation, healthcare, transportation.

You say “I know of no way to expand employment in any immediate way without expanding existing businesses or launching new ones.”

At least now you’ve dropped your socialist cover. “God bless our brave industrialists, and our intrepid bankers who finance their expansion and start-ups.”

As my British cousin would put it “Do us a favor…..” Actually she, being quite adept at rhyming slang would say something with a bit more profane, obscene, meaning than that. But this is a family audiience…

Really? Without expanding business or launching new ones? Really? And how does that differ from George Gilder, Alan Greenspan and the rest of that ilks’ homage to the “heroic entrepreneurs”?

Have you paid attention at all to what the “expansion of existing businesses or the launching of new ones” has brought to the working class since 1973?

Given you “knowing no other way” amounts to arguing that there is no need for social revolution…. that somehow the production and accumulation of value is capable of providing for the emancipation of labor if only “we can get rid of the nasty bits.”


Carl Davidson October 16, 2013 at 10:33 pm

As I suggested, Sartersian, you’ve discovered Daniel Deleon’s ultimatism, but walking backwards, so to speak. Wealth must first be created for it to be shared, and at this stage of the development of productive forces, that requires an employed working class, for starters, and for the unemployed, new work is to be preferred over welfare, save for those unable to work at all. Simply demanding ‘Income Now!’ or ‘Unlock the stores, smash the cash registers and abolish money’ may do for an anarchist acid trip, but to organize workers, for immediate needs, reforms AND a transition to socialism, which in turn is an even longer transition to a classless society, you’ll need sterner stuff. But we have certainly clarified our differences here. Keep us posted on your progress with the implementation of this outlook. I’d love to see it.


Harriet Logan October 16, 2013 at 10:55 pm

What is this ‘a transition to socialism’ stuff, Carl? It sounds like you are a Social Democrat ‘liberal’ in where your head is presently at, and certainly you are not into being a revolutionary socialist of any kind. Hence you talk of ‘transitions’ (read reforms) instead of revolutions.

‘Simply demanding ‘Income Now!’ or ‘Unlock the stores, smash the cash registers and abolish money’ may do for an anarchist acid trip, but to organize workers, for immediate needs, reforms AND a transition to socialism, which in turn is an even longer transition to a classless society, you’ll need sterner stuff.’

The type of incrementalist reformism that Carl thinks is pragmatic generally leads backwards, and not much forwards. This type of reformism has only been marginally successful in certain privileged by imperialism countries, such as we find in Scandinavia and Switzerland, but never has led to having any sort of post capitalist society actually being gained by workers.


Carl Davidson October 17, 2013 at 1:20 am

Goodness, Harriet, how do you think we get to socialism? All at once, like when Cinderella’s fairy godmother waves her wand and says, ‘bibblety, bobbelty, boo!’ and the pumpkin turns into a carriage?

Or do we wage a long series of struggles, some quick and furious, others painstakingly slow, the war of movement and the war of position, until the time when dual power is in the streets, hegemony is ours, and we can go over to the strategic offensive, break up the old apparatus and create the new?

I think it’ll be something like the latter, but who knows? The only thing I’m fairly certain of is that it will be something different, since every successful revolution thus far has broken the mold of those that went before.

No, I don’t think we’ll reform our current state into a socialist one, as the social-democrats do. But that doesn’t mean we don’t wage struggle on the terrain of both the state and civil society for radical structural reform along the way, building our strength, step by step, as we go along. That’s why Marx and Marxists supported Lincoln in the Civil War along with the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, and why the socialists of Debs day supported the 19th as well,

I think you’re probably smarter than Sartesian on matters of reforms and revolution, but watch out! He may drag you into the DeLeonist bog as well.


sartesian October 17, 2013 at 2:09 am

One thing we know for sure……she’s smarter than you.

Harriet Logan October 17, 2013 at 3:10 am

I had hoped that as a lifetime marxist that you understood something about the dialectics of change, Carl. However…. you are a gradual incrementalist now and believe that one increment builds on another and another and another (like stairs) until the revolutionary goal line eventually, way into the future, gets reached and then crossed.

‘Goodness, Harriet, how do you think we get to socialism? All at once, like when Cinderella’s fairy godmother waves her wand and says, ‘bibblety, bobbelty, boo!’ and the pumpkin turns into a carriage?’

Though I do not share much of the politics of ‘Socialist Worker’, D’Amato’s comments about dialectics and how change occurs are as good as any other marxist’s explanation, so check it out and see how dialectics contrasts with your incrementalist liberal’s approach to reforms…

-from ‘Marxism and the dialectic of change’ by Paul D’Amato

‘Dialectics rejects this approach, seeing things as in a constant process of coming into being and passing away. Moreover, it sees change not simply as a series of quantitative shifts that leaves the essence of the thing intact, but that quantitative changes can give way to qualitative leaps.

Finally, dialectics views fundamental change emerging from the fact that movement comes through contradictory forces acting against each other, creating an unstable unity. Dialectics allows for temporary states of stability or equilibrium, and also for qualitative leaps or breaks in which the equilibrium is broken and reforms on a new level….

…To the extent that bourgeois social scientists accept change, it is only gradual. History as a process of more than gradual change, where contradictory forces bring about revolutionary leaps from one social state to another, cannot, of course, be admitted. To accept a dialectical approach to history is to admit that capitalism, like previous social forms, came into being, but will also pass away.’

For an explanation of ‘incrementalism see

sartesian October 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm

“and at this stage of the development of productive forces, that requires an employed working class,”

Oh [email protected]@t Carl. “At this stage of the development of the productive forces” a “working class” is required?

Bulls##t. At this stage of the development of the productive forces the ABOLITION of CAPITAL is required, which entails the abolition of the working class as a working class which means supporting an section, faction, or alliance with any section faction of capital. .

Is that is the difference between you and me?? No– it is the difference between YOU and Marxism; YOU and historical materialism.

No, at this stage of development of the productive forces the emancipation of labor FROM THE CLASS STRUCTURE OF CAPITAL is required.

Short version: You’re nothing but a shill for capitalism, in that grand tradition of popular frontist shills, who use “Marxism” as an argument against revolution.

Short version: You don’t know what the f**k you’re talking about when it comes to Marx’s critique of capital.

Shortest version: You support capitalism.


Carl Davidson October 17, 2013 at 2:31 am

For the working class, and all classes, to wither away and/or be abolished, in addition to the working class in power, we need the amount of labor-time in any given commodity to shrink close to zero, and the working day to shrink close to zero, and on a global scale. We can see that eventuality on the distant horizon, and implicit in the unfolding of capital, as Marx did. But to assert that it’s here and now collapses the future and the present, and stretches a point, to say the least. Short version: Your notion of historical materialism leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a long period of transition between the current order and communism. It’s a class society called socialism, containing both workers and capital, but with capital the instrument of labor, and labor as sovereign, rather than the reverse. The sooner we get there, the better. Then we can engage in the more serious and unfettered development of the productive forces that can accompany our emancipation from toil. Until then, we work for a living, and are paid, more or less, according to our work. ‘According to our needs’ comes thereafter–but also, the sooner, the better, even though ‘not just as we choose.’


sartesian October 17, 2013 at 5:58 am

“For the working class, and all classes, to wither away and/or be
abolished, in addition to the working class in power, we need the amount of labor-time in any given commodity to shrink close to zero, and the working day to shrink close to zero, and on a global scale.”

That sound so deep, and profound and Marxist… until you realize that its simply word play designed to obscure what actually occurs with capitalism, and why revolutionary struggle to overthrow, abolish capitalism is a necessity.

First and foremost the issue is not the immediate withering away of the proletariat– it is the struggle for power.

Secondly, It is not a question of reducing the labor-time in any commodity, or all commodities, to zero, but it is the issue of the conflict between the means of production– the conflict between development of the material use values– and the relations of production, the need for profit that determines this struggle for power. .

This conflict takes the appearance as a decline in profitability which at core is the conflict between the labor process and the valuation process– that is to say that accumulated, past labor embodied in the processes of production become an overproduction of the means of production AS capital, beyond the market relations, beyond the ability of capital to exploit living labor at a sufficient intensity to maintain profitability. Then comes the attack on labor, the contraction of the economy, the intensification of class struggle.

So….so after the capital investment expansion of the 1990s, after the tremendous expansion in productivity of labor brought about by application of digital technologies; after the transition to 300mm wafer semiconductor fabrication; the increased tonnage hauled by rail with dramatically lower levels of employment due to containerization, distributed power, remote control of locomotives; after the decline in labor power required in auto production (UAW has 1/4 the members it had 35 years ago); in coal production; in oil and gas production; in telecommunications, the reduction in living labor required in every sector of production (a decline that includes declining industrial employment in China, Brazil, South Africa as well as the advanced countries)– Carl tells us “Oh– the means of production are not developed enough to reduce labor time to zero.”

No shit, Sherlock. But here’s the thing– the labor time required in commodity production has been reduced to the point that capital can only enhance its profit, can only realize itself, by either/or/and both a)attacking the value of labor, driving the wage of labor below its cost of reproduction b)devaluing and destroying the means of production.

For Carl, and those like him, the productive forces are NEVER advanced enough to dispense with the need for an alliance with some aspect of capital. He calls it socialism. Anybody who’s ever read Marx knows 1) that Marx used socialism and communism interchangeably 2) that in his critique of the Gotha program, Marx doesn’t criticize that program because ” we need the amount of labor-time in any given commodity to shrink close to zero, and the working day to shrink close to zero”– he criticizes the program for obscuring the lines that must be drawn between rule of capital and the steps that must be taken that LEAD to the emancipation of labor.

In Marx’s discussion of what some want to call a “transition period” — there’s absolutely none of this baloney about a long time when there is “a class society called socialism, containing both workers and capital but with capital the instrument of labor, and labor as sovereign, rather
than the reverse.” Why is that? Because Marx knows that capital is a social relation of production, a class relation for organizing labor as a commodity and even at its earliest, the taking of power must abolish that social relation or the revolution will either collapse, or simply become one more appendage of capital, a historical analogue, a mimic.

In the lower stage, according to Marx, there’s no capital. The bourgeoisie are overthrown and labor is not bought nor sold, and not organized as an exchange value for the means of its reproduction. This is more than a mere technicality. This is no abstraction, but the fundamental, “first rule” of the proletariat’s power.

What Marx does describe is an initial period where everyone is compensated equally for labor– not on the basis of intensity or even hours –but on the basis of participation. This rough equality veils a deeper inequality in that every individual’s labor is different, but as SOCIAL LABOR what counts is the “average”– the fact of participation; and the individual’s need.

Beyond that “lower stage” we move to the condition of labor where labor is or has become its own compensation, when the productivity of labor has been so enhanced as to remove the very issue of compensation from the “equation.” That’s when alienated labor has been erased. Capital however is erased long before that– in fact at the very beginning of this process with the elimination of the wage form.

For Carl, capital is going to be with us for a long, long time after the proletariat takes power because the means of production aren’t going to be developed enough. What Carl does not recognize is that the whole point to Marx’s critique of capital– the immanent critique of capital where the obstacle to accumulation is capitalist accumulation itself– is that such development of the means of production cannot be accomplished apart from the emancipation of labor from the form of wage-labor.

Once again Carl demonstrates that he thinks that capital is a “thing” as opposed to a specific organization of labor. Once again he demonstrates that to him there’s “good” capital and “bad” capital, demonstrating only what he doesn’t know

But then, what Carl doesn’t know about capital would fill 6 volumes at the very least.

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Carl Davidson October 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Harriet, I understand and embrace the dialectic as much as anyone. And one feature of it I’ve learned is that social movements. like everything else in the universe, move in waves, ie, they ebb and flow, driven by the internal tensions and dynamics of their motion.

So one of the first questions you have to answer is about concrete conditions today and their motion. Are we is a revolutionary or non-revolutionary situation? Or a cusp between the two? It matters a great deal in how you develop strategy and tactics.

I think our current situation is primarily non-revolutionary, and we are in a situation of the strategic defensive. There are occasional counter-currents and tactical upsurges–Occupy, Wisconsin–and when they occur, we should make the most of them. But we’d be foolish to ignore the current context. The Chicago teacher’s strike was a powerful upsurge. But now its turned to its next necessity, bringing down its present nemesis, Rahm Emanuel. Broad grassroots organization is preparing the instruments to elect a new mayor, and the masses will settle on a candidate at some point, and it won’t be a Republican. You may not like the idea of engaging in such an effort, but if you’re both wise and dialectical in your thinking, you will, even if Rahm’s opponent is a Democrat, which is quite likely. Rahm is a Democrat too, and there is an internal contradiction at work in his party, ie, the dialectic works there too.

When we reach the cusp of change, when our situation becomes revolutionary (and we have the instruments we need), I’m more than prepared to shift to another set of strategy and tactics. In fact I’d love to do so. And I work today to prepare for the future in the context of the present.

We are now waging what Gramsci called a ‘war of position’ in a period of strategic defensive. Our forays into the ‘war of movement’ are largely tactical. And our strength as a left is primitive in the extreme. This will change, both due to objective factors changing, and the changes we can bring about by our own processes of gathering strength. That’s my approach to dialectics. It has nothing to do with ‘incrementalism,’ nor does it try, through an act of pure will, to act as if we were in a revolutionary situation when we are not there yet. Situations do change; and, as a veteran of 1968, I know how they can and do change rapidly. I’m more than ready for it to emerge, believe me, but I’ve learned enough over the years to know that we’re not there yet, however much we want to be.


Harriet Logan October 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I disagree with your assessment… …and the reason for doing so is that I do not share your incrementalist reformist and almost completely US nationalist limit to your political outlook, Carl.

‘I think our current situation is primarily non-revolutionary, and we are in a situation of the strategic defensive. There are occasional counter-currents and tactical upsurges–Occupy, Wisconsin–and when they occur, we should make the most of them. But we’d be foolish to ignore the current context.’

I think that ‘our current situation’ and ‘current context’ involve a rather rapid swing towards the revolutionary and that we should not simply try to trench down and go completely defensive, which is what you are advocating doing here.

So why do I think that we are swinging rapidly into a revolutionary era? It has to do with the rapid state of the capitalist assault on Nature. I am not just going to sit down and think that all politics in the US (and in the entire Universe!) revolves around the silliness of the Great DP-RP divide, which is what you do, Carl. The big picture is not what you think it is, but is the destruction of everybody’s (and all creatures) environment. That is heating up the class conflicts in a way the unimaginative among us cannot even seem to …well…imagine.

Capitalism is no longer merely a ‘justice for the lower classes’ issue anymore. It is a direct survival issue for All, and that makes this era an increasingly very revolutionary one. The next 70 years will be far far different than the ones of your own lifetime so far, Carl.

I, too, have seen the results of radicals being way too positive when the situation did not merit it. Now I can begin to see the errors of radicals that are way too negative and narrow in their DEFENSIVE assessments, when the present situation has actually begun to explode.


sartesian October 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

This: “I think our current situation is primarily non-revolutionary, and we are in a situation of the strategic defensive”– is pretty much meaningless. The issue is not if the current situation is revolutionary or non-revolutionary, offensive or defensive, but rather the process by which we reverse the offensive undertaken by the bourgeoisie, nullify the attacks on the workers, poor, working poor, and integrate and transform those “defensive” measures into a strategy for taking power.

Whether the situation itself is revolutionary or not is much different than how we get to the conditions where the workers have developed their own organizations for, not just, the overthrow of the ruling class, but fro the reorganization of the whole society.

Carl thinks that a “popular front” is a revolutionary type organization– arising as it does in the instances of heightened class struggle and revolutionary opposition to the bourgeoisie. The popular front itself is, as has been demonstrated in incident after incident, an organization to suppress the revolutionary struggle. The front, with all the anti-reasons Carl uses here– the level of development of the productive forces, the need for workers to have employment, to be employed by capital, the “essential role” of business, the persistence of capital, the “need for capital” even when “labor is sovereign”– function to, and only to preserve capitalist property relations and defeat the overthrow of those relations by the workers.

That is the history of the popular front in Spain, France, Vietnam, Portugal, Chile.

Despite, or rather through the references to such icons of popular frontism like Gramsci; despite the references to Marx, “progressivism” is simply the “advance man” for pre-emptive counterrevolution.

“We’re not there yet,” offers Carl? The real content of what he offers is– “we’re never going to get there.”


Carl Davidson October 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Well, we’ll see soon enough who has the better assessment. In one way, I hope you win the argument and we see a ‘rapid swing toward the revolutionary.’ My only worry is whether we’ll be prepared enough organizationally to make the most of it.


Carl Davidson October 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

We’re getting close to our main difference, Sartesian. I think assessing our current situation as to whether we all in a revolutionary upsurge or not, matters a great deal when it come to strategy and tactics. You do not.

Also, I never claimed ‘revolutionary’ as a term of a popular front vs finance capital, war and the right. It can serve to bring us to the point of revolutionary crisis, but once we’re there, we need to shift gears, to say the least. The pop front I describe is mainly for the period of strategic defensive. Afterward, it may change a good deal.

Finally, yes, we’re certainly ‘going to get there.’ I have little doubt about that. My concern is once we’re there, are we prepared to see it through? That’s another matter that requires some serious thought, especially today.


sartesian October 17, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Our “main difference” is that you endorse, support, organize for class collaboration with a section of the bourgeoisie, and I do not.

A secondary difference to that main difference is that you think there’s a need to “support” or maintain capital up to, including, and after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, thereby ignoring the fundamental determination of Marx’s critique– that capital is a social relation of production, a relation between classes.

Nope– no to “once we’re there”– there being the popular front– “we need to shift gears.” Uhh……no, if we get there– to the popular front, we need to recognize it as a counterrevolutionary formation and overthrow it, a recognition and overthrow that unfortunately was not accomplished in Spain 1936 or Chile 1973. One that was accomplished BTW in October 1917, when the PG– a popular front of liberal bourgeoisie, socialists, social revolutionaries, and social democrats was in fact overthrown.

The class struggle is not about “changing” the popular front, but destroying it; abolishing it as the popular front is the instrument of capitalism.

Had the PG, that popular front, not been overthrown, the revolutionary garrisons would have been moved out of Petrograd and Kornilov would have resurfaced to destroy the soviets.

But that’s only for those of us who actually pay attention to what happens when a popular front is formed.


Carl Davidson October 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm

We do indeed disagree. Socialism is a society with classes, a transitional society on the path to a classless society of communism. But its nature, it is a mixed economy with public, cooperative and private ownership interacting with each other in a socialist market economy, There is class struggle, but the working class is hegemonic, and remains so until all classes can ‘wither away’ with the advanced and unfettered development of the productive forces. Multiclass alliances, ie, popular fronts, have failed in some cases and succeeded in others, ie, China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia. But there is no socialism anywhere on the planet that did not include multiple forms of ownership.


sartesian October 18, 2013 at 12:11 am

Short version: More Maoist/Stalinist drivel from someone intent on class collaboration.

Marx never referred or considered socialism to be, “by its nature” a “mixed economy” with “public, cooperative, and private ownership (sic!) interacting with each other (sicer() in a socialist market economy (sic-est).

Here’s Carl at one and the same time talking about how the means of production aren’t developed enough to support what Marx called socialism, (but what Carl would like to segment out as communism), while at the same time arguing that Vietnam, China, and Yugoslavia with really bad levels of agricultural productivity and pretty meager levels of industrial productivity were still developed enough to be “socialist” (sic-est to the nth degree) with the working class “hegemonic.” Just how that’s possible, absent a global revolution– don’t ask, because Carl can’t tell you, but he will give you the old roger, dodger and “How’s your father” in order to distract from this minor minor minor problem– you know where you have an hegemonic working class but capitalism triumphs.

Back in the day, the GI’s prayer used to be “Dear Lord, just save us from our officers and we’ll take care of the rest ourselves.”

Today we need to change that “Dear Lord, just save us from our professional, and professorial Marxists, and we’ll take care of the bourgeoisie ourselves.”

It’s enough to gag a maggot.


Jason S. October 18, 2013 at 7:55 am

Carl certainly disagrees with Marx & Engels. For M&E, “socialism” and “communism” were synonyms. The “transitional society on the path to a classless society” was known as “the dictatorship of the proletariat,” AKA a workers’ state.

It’s certainly true that attempting to abolish all markets for goods & services immediately would be insane. But despite what Carl and David Schweickart would like to think, “market socialism” is still Fried Ice. Either the workers’ states constantly push towards ever more comprehensive planning and decommodification or they end up falling back into capitalism.

And if Pop Fronts were “successful” in China, Vietnam and Yugoslavia, I’d hate to see failure. They “succeeded” in setting up deeply authoritarian party-states that ultimately evolved towards flat-out capitalism.

But at least part of Carl’s last sentence is correct: “there is no socialism anywhere on the planet.”


Carl Davidson October 18, 2013 at 12:39 am

Marx never said much at all about the new socialist order, save for a few phrases about its ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ phase. He did talk about the Commune and its short life, but if you examine it in any detail, you’ll find that many classes were involved in it, with the working class leading. You can here him discussing cooperatives both ways, positively and negatively, including how they can serve as a bridge to socialism. (I include the passages in my book, ‘New Paths to Socialism.’ ) And we hear Lenin talk about hegemony for workers in Russian with a vast majority of peasants, and exercising leadership of the ‘NEPmen’ in the NEP period as well.

In any case, we don’t need to quote monger the classics. For a modern look, I recommend David Schweickart’s ‘After Capitalism’ as an excellent starting point. You can get a chapter-by-chapter slide show to go along with it at the Study Guides section of the Online University of the Left,


sartesian October 18, 2013 at 3:26 am

Sure thing, yeah, that’s what we need, a study guide so we can learn how to tail after the bourgeoisie.

Dear Lord…… us from our Marxists……


Harriet Logan October 18, 2013 at 7:09 am

Carl refers us to David Schweickart’s theories in support of ‘market socialism’, which as a former Mao apologist Carl apparently likes, since this was the model that the Chinese Communist Party used to reestablish capitalism in that country.

In the Monthly Review Press, the book review titled,
‘China and Socialism- Market Reforms and Class Struggle’
by Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett examines this counter-revolution in China briefly, since it is a book review for their 160 page book published in 2010 and sold by MRP online.

‘Hart-Landsberg and Burkett’s ‘China and Socialism’ argues that market reforms in China are leading inexorably toward a capitalist and foreign-dominated development path, with enormous social and political costs, both domestically and internationally. The rapid economic growth that accompanied these market reforms have not been due to efficiency gains, but rather to deliberate erosion of the infrastructure that made possible a remarkable degree of equality. The transition to the market has been based on rising unemployment, intensified exploitation, declining health and education services, exploding government debt, and unstable prices.’

Perhaps, Carl, this might be a much more informative book than the ‘After Capitalism’ book by David Schweickart you recommend? Have you or anybody else read this book by Hart-Landsberg and Burkett? What is your opinion of it?

(Though, in my opinion, China has already completely reestablished capitalism. It’s a done deal already.)


Jason S. October 18, 2013 at 7:59 am

BTW, in case it hasn’t been made clear in this conversation, a Pop Front is a type of GOVERNMENT made up of an alliance of workers’ parties and bourgeois parties. OUTSIDE of government, socialists might cooperate with whatever force we deem necessary — say, with Libertarian Party types in the defense of civil liberties (to the extent that LP types are serious in their civil libertarianism) or in defending abortion clinics or queer rights or what have you. But calling that type of alliance a Pop Front just isn’t accurate.


Jason S. October 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Afraid Sartesian’s got you there, Carl. He strikes me as a bit of a Left Communist and, hence, too ultra-left for my taste, but he understands Marx’s concept of socialism better than you seem to do.

Now, one is allowed to disagree with Marx, of course. But one should do so openly and not drape oneself in Marxist orthodoxy when one does so. This is my problem with you and David Schweickart — you want to believe that Marx was a “market socialist.” He wasn’t.


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