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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:30 pm 
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To answer the question directly, whether or not workers should be in parliament. Would we want Trump in our Party? Would it be disastrous for our Party if someone like Trump had a leading position in our Party?


Could you clarify that? I'm not sure I understand how that is possible, unless through digging up historic examples like Mussolini or Pilsudski (which is still much different than a Trump in or leading a workers' party).


This was done in my typical hasty manner.

Simply put, the party of the working class wouldn't admit, or if it did it would be disastrous, representatives of the bourgeoisie into their ranks. Similarly, the capitalist State will not admit representatives of the proletariat into their ranks, or if they do it would be disastrous for them.

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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:28 pm 
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Nuclear safety is a vital proletarian interest, much more so than an abstract vote in a circus game. That some capitalists too might suffer from radiation (like some capitalists too might lose their vote due to corruption at the voting station) doesn't mean nuclear safety is not a proletarian interest.

It's true that the nuclear industry neglects safety measures for the sake of profit, and not for the sake of directly attacking/endangering a particular group (its workers and surrounding majority of workers). But so does vote disenfranchisement happen for the sake of holding/winning office, not for the sake of directly attacking a particular group.


It's one specific vector in the perpetual degradation of oppressed racial minorities of the proletariat (i.e. brown and black labor), so it is about more than 'holding/winning office' that adds to other specific vectors and layered on top of still other specific vectors that affect the entire working-class.

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My comparison was to principled rejection of nuclear energy. Nuclear safety measures benefit everyone, but so would better electoral procedures (eg to small bourgeois opposition parties like the Greens, Libertarians, etc.). Or can you defend electoral participation only of marginalized groups in bourgeois elections, without affirming the right to vote of everyone (including capitalists)?


The onus is on those who take positions under the category of principle. I don't have an "electoral position", beyond opposition to elevating tactical questions to the level of principles. Again, this is an excellent case in point. By portraying the issue of voter suppression as a kind of partisan knifefight among the bourgeoisie (which is exactly how the Republican Party frames it in those instances where they've defended against lawsuits or had to sign consent decrees from the Justice Dept. for their gerrymandering), but with revolutionary phrases, it's an obstacle to seeing the class and racial components which are inherent (inseparable) from the issue.

In other words, the politics doesn't correspond to the actual experience of the class.

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If I were to opt to support resistance to voter suppression, it doesn't necessarily mean that I think a victory will advance the class interests of the proletariat. I could support it for various reasons (or pseudo-justifications): our forces are too small to install the soviet system so we have to start small, "building the movement" (recruiting forces), etc.


If you don't have a position, or even an opinion, it's fine to say so. But I don't think that's the case.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:47 pm 
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This was done in my typical hasty manner.

Simply put, the party of the working class wouldn't admit, or if it did it would be disastrous, representatives of the bourgeoisie into their ranks. Similarly, the capitalist State will not admit representatives of the proletariat into their ranks, or if they do it would be disastrous for them.


Someone's individual background wouldn't be important, no?

What workers have done on their own (this is from 3 years ago in Ohio):

http://labornotes.org/blogs/2014/11/lor ... dependence


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 9:22 pm 
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mhou wrote:
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This was done in my typical hasty manner.

Simply put, the party of the working class wouldn't admit, or if it did it would be disastrous, representatives of the bourgeoisie into their ranks. Similarly, the capitalist State will not admit representatives of the proletariat into their ranks, or if they do it would be disastrous for them.


Someone's individual background wouldn't be important, no?

What workers have done on their own (this is from 3 years ago in Ohio):

http://labornotes.org/blogs/2014/11/lor ... dependence


I'm not sure I follow. I'm trying to move away from individuals (odd considering I opened with reference to an individual no?) and to class-interests. The question about electoral politics implies that we can (or cannot) get the proletarian class interests represented. We have a somewhat tactical advantage on this front where the bourgeoisie are hamstrung by democratic ideology. To outright ban pro-working class politics is too obvious (though it can, will, and has been done before). Whereas we have the liberty of outright prohibiting the representation of bourgeois interests in our organizations.

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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:50 am 
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The charge that it is inconsistent to reject electoral participation yet opt to fight voter suppression - is false. I can reject nuclear energy on principle yet opt to fight specific neglect of nuclear safety (eg blocking trains with nuclear waste running through cities) - there would be no contortion/inconsistency in this position.

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It's one specific vector in the perpetual degradation of oppressed racial minorities of the proletariat (i.e. brown and black labor), so it is about more than 'holding/winning office' that adds to other specific vectors and layered on top of still other specific vectors that affect the entire working-class.


Neglecting nuclear safety is also more than ensuring a profit, it degrades the world in which the proletariat lives, on top of other environmental degradation that workers and poor layers in the third world suffer from.
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By portraying the issue of voter suppression as a kind of partisan knifefight among the bourgeoisie (which is exactly how the Republican Party frames it in those instances where they've defended against lawsuits or had to sign consent decrees from the Justice Dept. for their gerrymandering), but with revolutionary phrases, it's an obstacle to seeing the class and racial components which are inherent (inseparable) from the issue.


Do Republican lawyers really argue their case by portraying it as a "mere" partisan knifefight among bourgeoisie? It would be a kind of Brechtian honesty. It would be like the nuclear industry framing their neglect of nuclear-safety as a "mere" realistic part of the inter-capitalist competitive struggle (like: "the coal industry is unsafe too" your Honor).

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The onus is on those who take positions under the category of principle. I don't have an "electoral position", beyond opposition to elevating tactical questions to the level of principles.


My point wasn't really to ask you to prove how electoral participation of specific groups advances the proletarian interest. I was just defending myself from the charge that not to fight voter suppression is a failure to advance the proletariat's interest - this is false. I can reject nuclear energy on principle and opt not to engage in specific fights against nuclear unsafety - without failing to advance the proletariat's interest, namely if I hold that nuclear energy should be abolished totally, in the interest of the proletariat (and not just for some idealistic "principle").

Quote:
If you don't have a position, or even an opinion, it's fine to say so. But I don't think that's the case.


To hand you a dose of your own medicine: I don't have a position, beyond opposition to elevating tactical questions to the level of principles.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 6:50 pm 
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Bro--

Gotcha. Just a miscommunication. I thought you meant excluding people from membership solely on the basis of background-- not that anyone would expect a Walton family member to become a communist.

I think the Ohio example is interesting because it doesn't fit in the normal discussion parameters on parliamentarism: it's the old trade unionist political activity. They elected their own outside of the 2 party system (under a non-existent party: 'Independent Labor Party') to replace a scab from office and those who committed to cutting the local prevailing wage law-- so there was an immediate and direct material gain from participation and it wasn't part of a larger strategy. It just moved the class struggle onto the parliamentary terrain in that specific situation.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:29 am 
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I think the Ohio example is interesting because it doesn't fit in the normal discussion parameters on parliamentarism: it's the old trade unionist political activity. They elected their own outside of the 2 party system (under a non-existent party: 'Independent Labor Party') to replace a scab from office and those who committed to cutting the local prevailing wage law-- so there was an immediate and direct material gain from participation and it wasn't part of a larger strategy.


Your article just mentions 2 independent candidates:
Quote:
After these attacks, the CLC decided to support independent candidacies for city council in Lorain. It endorsed and helped elect teacher Joshua Thornsberry and local businessman Greg Argenti. They and two dozen Democratic candidates endorsed by labor in Lorain and surrounding areas won


And in fact it seems they actually endorsed Republican candidates not Democrats, as discussed by Jacobin::

Quote:
Yet despite the strenuous efforts of local Democrats, labor’s candidates won. In Josh Thornsberry’s ward, his union-backed campaign succeeded by getting Republicans and independents (a third of his ward’s voters, by Thornsberry’s estimation) to vote against the Democratic machine, and union households (estimated to be half the Democrats, or another third of the total) to vote for labor.


https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/a-union-county/

Jacobin's article elsewhere just neutrally speaks about "labor-endorsed candidates":
Quote:
Most leftists outside of the state first heard of Lorain after last year’s municipal elections, when, on the heels of the victories of Kshama Sawant in Seattle and Bill de Blasio in New York City, Labor Notes published a story about Lorain’s independent labor slate.

Although the article erroneously reported that twenty-two independent labor city councilors were elected in Lorain (in fact, twenty-two out of twenty-four labor-endorsed candidates won in the state of Ohio, thirteen of which were in Lorain County, three of whom ran as independents), what’s happening in Lorain does deserve attention.


Your article says that the unions themselves were divided about whether to endorse a Republican:
Quote:
the CLC endorsed pro-labor Democrat Matt Lundy, but Williamson and UAW Community Action Program President Jim Slone made open “personal endorsements” of Republican Williams. In November’s elections, Lundy was elected county commissioner, 50.8% with 49.2% for Williams.


But let's look into more detail what the attack concretely was about to which the unions responded "independently".
Quote:
[AFL-CIO president] Williamson clashed with Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer [D] in March when City Council members altered a Project Labor Agreement for city projects, saying it was increasing costs and unfair to nonunion companies.

The Lorain agreement guarantees 25 percent of workers on city projects of $2 million or more are city of Lorain or Lorain County residents. The previous agreement said 75 percent of workers on projects of $100,000 or more must be city or county residents.

http://www.chroniclet.com/news/2013/07/ ... ation.html

So parochial interests. And we don't actually learn what percentage of workers now must be locally hired in the new PLA deal. The Jacobin article just mentions higher "minority-hiring targets", with even their own candidate previously expressing skepticism of their effect:

Quote:
Carrion, the mayoral candidate, doesn’t come from the world of organized labor. Although he was a member of the Teamsters for a couple of years, he’s spent most of his adult life as an insurance agent and community activist.

Before the VALUs Council [a roundtable of veteran, black, Latino, and unions leaders], he was skeptical of the benefits of PLAs. These agreements generally didn’t help workers of color get jobs even when they had minority-hiring guidelines, because “good-faith effort” clauses allowed contractors to circumvent the guidelines with ease. However, as he worked more with labor leaders and learned how comprehensive the agreements could be, he changed his mind. “When the city is going to spend money on a project, it is important to hire local, union, and diverse workers to be effective and keep that money in the community,” he says.

After the candidates that they helped elect came to office, labor leaders played a key role in negotiating a replacement for the repealed PLA; the resulting deal included minority-hiring targets that weren’t merely higher than the original, but unprecedented for the state.


And how is this for union political independence:
Quote:
The United Steelworkers of America held a rally last May in Lorain to denounce South Korea and call for protectionist measures on tubular products from foreign competitors. The union was joined by company officials affiliated with the joint labor-management Alliance for American Manufacturing, as well as Democratic and Republican senators.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/0 ... e-j07.html


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:44 pm 
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Noa wrote:
The charge that it is inconsistent to reject electoral participation yet opt to fight voter suppression - is false. I can reject nuclear energy on principle yet opt to fight specific neglect of nuclear safety (eg blocking trains with nuclear waste running through cities) - there would be no contortion/inconsistency in this position.


Nominal revolutionaries who critically support the Assad regime or call for a vote for the Labour Party in every election can provide a basis for their political position-- which has an associated practice i.e. organizing a demonstration outside the Syrian embassy or registering people to vote before election day-- in consistency with their theoretical frameworks.

That has absolutely no bearing on whether or not those theoretical frameworks, derivative political positions and resulting concrete practice are valid. Your comparison is apples and oranges.

Quote:
Neglecting nuclear safety is also more than ensuring a profit, it degrades the world in which the proletariat lives, on top of other environmental degradation that workers and poor layers in the third world suffer from.


That's taking the comparison (which already doesn't fit) way too far. Do you have a political opposition to wearing clothes because they're likely to have been made in a Bangladeshi sweatshop, or drinking coffee because agricultural proletarians in Brazil and Vietnam are among the most ferociously exploited segments of the class?

If there's more than a couple degrees of separation between two phenomena, the comparison isn't going to work.

Quote:
Do Republican lawyers really argue their case by portraying it as a "mere" partisan knifefight among bourgeoisie? It would be a kind of Brechtian honesty. It would be like the nuclear industry framing their neglect of nuclear-safety as a "mere" realistic part of the inter-capitalist competitive struggle (like: "the coal industry is unsafe too" your Honor).


Industry standards are often invoked. What matters is usually that business practices are par for the course, not that the industry standard is fubar.

I had in mind the NC Republican official who (relatively) recently, in a public statement concerning the successful lawsuit to overturn their voter suppression bill, promised that their policy was not meant to disenfranchise on the basis of race, but party affiliation (his actual statement was along the lines of 'We promise these bills were written with the intent to secure a partisan advantage and were not racially motivated')

Quote:
My point wasn't really to ask you to prove how electoral participation of specific groups advances the proletarian interest. I was just defending myself from the charge that not to fight voter suppression is a failure to advance the proletariat's interest - this is false. I can reject nuclear energy on principle and opt not to engage in specific fights against nuclear unsafety - without failing to advance the proletariat's interest, namely if I hold that nuclear energy should be abolished totally, in the interest of the proletariat (and not just for some idealistic "principle").


No, the charge was that you're ignoring the class nature of voter suppression. Opposing voter suppression is less important than on what basis it is opposed.

Edit: For example, if a nominally revolutionary organization which 'critically supports' the Assad regime revokes that support, it doesn't mean that their new found non-support to the Assad regime is as valid of another organization whose practice was based on a political position derived from a completely different framework that did work in fidelity with the class interests of the proletariat. It doesn't matter that both groups are not supporting Assad. Same with a group that always gives 'critical support' to the Labour Party deciding to withhold that support for one particular election.

Does nuclear power serve a class function? Again, the degrees of separation make this a hollow point.

There's more about principles, I'll come back to that.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:22 pm 
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The Ohio example is typical of what trade union politics looked like in the US before the New Deal. Sure, there are pockets of it here and there still (the building trades), but what makes this example more unique is the running of independent, de facto third party candidates-- not on the basis of platform, but on very specific, tangible issues directly linked to the class struggle.

I mention that example because participation in parliamentarism is not exclusively concerned with the 'big picture' which for revolutionaries means using elected office in the capitalist state to advance communism directly from within. Noa your example earlier about the additional democratic rights afforded elected representatives is a great (historical) example of this kind of circumstance. There are others from the Bolsheviks that are equally important. Can't forget what the KPD parliamentarians did either:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of ... ranz_Lenck

It isn't about advancing an electoral policy, but whether or not 1) the class struggle can migrate onto the parliamentary terrain and 2) whether there is a material gain for the class and party from orienting as such.

PLA's are a big part of protecting prevailing wage laws. Despite the dramatic restructuring of the construction industry in the US which included a major and successful offensive against the building trades' unions, prevailing wage remains basically the union scale-- and PLA's keep that (formal and informal) prevailing wage derived from the union scale higher than it would be otherwise. Lorain still has their PLA's as far as I can tell.

Did the workers gain anything from that episode? Yes. That doesn't have to mean it advanced the revolutionary movement in the least.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 3:24 am 
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Nominal revolutionaries who critically support the Assad regime or call for a vote for the Labour Party in every election can provide a basis for their political position-- which has an associated practice i.e. organizing a demonstration outside the Syrian embassy or registering people to vote before election day-- in consistency with their theoretical frameworks.

That has absolutely no bearing on whether or not those theoretical frameworks, derivative political positions and resulting concrete practice are valid. Your comparison is apples and oranges.


Exactly. My point is that a stance on voter suppression is a red herring wrt the question of electoral participation.

Quote:
Edit: For example, if a nominally revolutionary organization which 'critically supports' the Assad regime revokes that support, it doesn't mean that their new found non-support to the Assad regime is as valid of another organization whose practice was based on a political position derived from a completely different framework that did work in fidelity with the class interests of the proletariat. It doesn't matter that both groups are not supporting Assad. Same with a group that always gives 'critical support' to the Labour Party deciding to withhold that support for one particular election.


Yes, which is why asking about my stance on voter suppression (like Artesian did) is a red herring wrt to the question of a fundamental position on electoral participation.

Quote:
That's taking the comparison (which already doesn't fit) way too far. Do you have a political opposition to wearing clothes because they're likely to have been made in a Bangladeshi sweatshop, or drinking coffee because agricultural proletarians in Brazil and Vietnam are among the most ferociously exploited segments of the class?

If there's more than a couple degrees of separation between two phenomena, the comparison isn't going to work.


To stay in the comparison, you should be asking me whether I oppose all use of energy, since I oppose nuclear energy. Such a question would be foolish.

Quote:
No, the charge was that you're ignoring the class nature of voter suppression. Opposing voter suppression is less important than on what basis it is opposed.


Artesian's question to me was about my stance on voter suppression. In case I opt not to support the struggle against voter suppression, I indeed agree with you that my non-support in itself is less important than on what basis I offer my non-support.

As for the Ohio example, it doesn't show anything about benefits of electoral participation.


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