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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 3:46 am 
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btw, I'm familiar with your reasoning of conforming to the real practice of the class movement etc. There's no need to begin that discussion on this specific topic on electoral participation. It would be nice if comrades now leave some space for Zanthorus to reply to my initial remarks, he's a big boy, so don't worry.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 6:03 pm 
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What I took from SA's responses is that the practical implications-- taking positions to their conclusions-- matters. In the case of your characterizations of voter suppression, in whatever paradigm those characterizations exist (whether they're what you think or not), I don't think that's been adequately fleshed out.

That's exactly why it wasn't a red herring.

Quote:
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.


Sure. So the question is (and this includes staying within the parameters of the thread's op or not): do your characterizations of voter suppression in this thread matter? I think they do. It's a public forum. If this were a verbal disagreement in a restaurant, probably not.

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


That's probably better suited for another thread, but, at the very least, it demonstrates that immediate material gains can be won or defended in, at the very least, particular situations.

You called this all 'parochial' (as opposed to what?). Aside from a pitifully small check list of extraordinary (historic) situations, the class struggle is overwhelmingly limited, immediate, direct, local, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 3:02 am 
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Quote:
So the question is (and this includes staying within the parameters of the thread's op or not): do your characterizations of voter suppression in this thread matter? I think they do. It's a public forum. If this were a verbal disagreement in a restaurant, probably not.


The argument of the OP was:
Quote:
It doesn't actually matter what stance we take with regards to electoral politics, it matters whether or not the stance we take matters.


I welcome that at least one other person here acknowledges disagreement with the OP's thesis, though you expressed it only about my stance on voter suppression. The actual subject is about our stance on electoral participation (or on the parties in particular). And here Artesian cares enough about it to enter into an argument, which he wouldn't bother with if he agreed with the OP's thesis.

Namely Artesian brought up voter suppression to try to show the necessary practical implications of my (electoral abstentionist) paradigm, and I responded that it's irrelevant sophistry (or as you would put it, it's just a tactical question). Similarly, I tried to argue that for Marx/Engels the issue of electoral participation was a matter of tactics (eg the benefit of parliamentarians then was that they enjoined freedom of speech), not a proof for their principled endorsement of electoral participation. However, iirc in a letter Engels apropos Liebknecht once dismissed such side-benefits as proper reasons for electoral participation (and insisted that the sole real purpose of it is to be able to block the budget).

Your mention of the Ohio example is thankfully an attempt to stay on the subject of electoral participation. I pointed out that it wasn't an independent political intervention (rather it seems a switch from endorsement of Democratic to Republican candidates). As regards defense of the earlier PLA (which said 75 percent of workers on projects of $100,000 or more must be city or county residents - patently parochial interests), we don't hear whether it has been restored. The only thing mentioned is that higher "minority-hiring targets" were won, and their effect is doubtful (as their own candidate previously said). So no material gains won.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 5:20 am 
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That's not the actual history of this discussion. When I return to the USA I'll try and correct Noa's numerous errors.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 7:42 am 
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When libcom posted an article on why supporting Corbyn or electoral participation is bad, Artesian then (correctly) attacked libcom's weak argument, which was that a person's time is scarce so it would detract from workplace organizing. Similarly on Broletariat's thread on WSWS's electoral participation in the USA, I rejected the possible argument against running in elections that it is waste of resources, by suggesting that perhaps an election campaign was just a chance to even raise money (for the party's other activities). Don't know what Artesian's deal is now. I hope Zanthorus in the meantime tries to make some more arguments.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 3:53 am 
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OK, let's start at the beginning:

Z says this:
Quote:
Ultimately it doesn't matter, because 'we' are a handful of individuals. A minority of a minority of a minority. Elections aren't decided by the votes of individuals, they're decided by large voting blocks. Convincing Marxists to vote one way or another is meaningless, because as a group we're so tiny that our actions mean nothing either way.

With regards to the outcome of elections, it's completely out our control. Of course we can't pretend the election isn't happening, we can analyse it, criticise the tendencies involved, but our actions one way or the other won't change the outcome.

Our aim should be for it to matter. It doesn't actually matter what stance we take with regards to electoral politics, it matters whether or not the stance we take matters. And right now it doesn't matter. We shouldn't be focused on what we're going to do in the next four weeks, or four years, at the ballot box, but how we can build a movement that will be effective in transforming society, whether inside or outside the confines of the electoral process.


Pretty simple, no? It-- the stance we take on voting or not voting-- doesn't matter because of our numerical, logistical, and social insignificance.

I responded pointing out the trap that "principled rejection of voting" plays as a substitute for actual critique using the example of opposition to Syriza. Noa then says then I am already taking a position opposed to the principled rejection of electoral politics.

That is correct. I personally oppose the principled rejection of all electoral politics under all circumstance. And while that is correct, that is absolutely immaterial and irrelevant to the discussion, as I'm pointing out that given our insignificance in mass, or weight, to ignore the actual class content of what is being expressed in electoral campaigns in favor of "electoral politics is a trap" effectively reproduces that insignificance and makes it a fundamental tenet of left irrelevancy-- literally. Irrelevant; not relevant to the issues being manifested through the election contest.

Z agrees. Writing:
Quote:
Ok, full disclosure, I think that rejecting participation in elections completely on principle is, in the first place, misguided, and in the second place, definitely contrary to what Marx and Engels believed.

I also think, that focusing on, for example, the upcoming British election, or the recent French election in terms of what 'we' should or shouldn't have done is basically blowing hot air. Even if we accept the (false) premise that, for example, Macron, is the lesser evil, having a couple of Marxist true believers cast their votes for wouldn't have swung the election one way or another.


Noa then produces quotes from Engels and others discounting the importance of universal suffrage etc. as a solution to the antagonisms of capital reproduction. No one's arguing that universal suffrage is such a solution. Rather, I pointed out that such struggles are a) manifestly struggles for political equality and b) vital areas for intervention. We know and can show that such struggles cannot achieve such equality, other than a formal paper one, without the struggle for social equality, which requires the abolition of capital.

And we cannot afford to ignore, or dismiss such struggles simply because they are not "the revolution." Marxists are fundamentally committed to struggle for equality.

I asked Noa where "his" dismissal of struggles for universal suffrage takes him and leaves him given the legacy and the practice of voter suppression, and his smug answer was that it's the equivalent of not liking the wallpaper on the room where you are taken to be fired.

That's more than smug, worse than arrogant. That's ignorant, dismissing the class struggle that gets expressed in the political arena through campaigns against voting and campaigns for the ability to vote.

Noa then claims he can be against voter suppression and against electoral participation at the same time. No shit, Sherlock. Nobody said you couldn't, or you wouldn't...........except you, Noa. When given the opportunity to develop a tactic to further the strategy to establish the program....you come up with a completely dismissive, glib reply. That's your abstentionism hard at work...doing nothing.

Then we get the reference to the Libcom-Corbyn issue. Libcom indicated that the reason not to support Corbyn was because there wasn't enough time to do everything, and supporting Corbyn wouldn't leave enough time to do other more important things. That's very similar to Noa's remark that "building the movement" or making political commentary detracted from the really very important theoretical work that needs to be done. Bollocks to both. It's precisely about the politics; the politics of Corbyn, and the politics of building the movement.

The reason to oppose Corbyn is not because it's time consuming, and not because "elections are traps"-- but because of the history of "left governments," because of the fact that Corbyn supports the maintenance of capitalism.

What Noa offers is less than zero.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 1:22 pm 
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I understand your first point, could agree or disagree with aspects, but Z is pretty explicit that beside our general stance on electoralism, particular calls in election contests (such as you prefer) are blowing hot air too (given our numbers). That's his main thesis. I encountered this already in R. Wolfe who believes he to takes it from platypus1917 (tho Heidegger and Zeronowhere might be basically of the same mind). Perhaps you're just having difficulty imaging such absolute smugness in a person is even possible.

I didn't discount the importance of universal suffrage etc. "as a solution to the antagonisms of capital reproduction", but as a path to workers' power.

Quote:
When given the opportunity to develop a tactic to further the strategy to establish the program....you come up with a completely dismissive, glib reply. That's your abstentionism hard at work...doing nothing.


Your question, whether I oppose voter suppression etc., was not about hearing my particular political strategy on that issue. You just wanted to tar the abstentionist position with a callous disregard for voter suppression etc. But there's no reason why I would ignore or dismiss such struggles for equality, since, as you note, one "can be against voter suppression and against electoral participation at the same time." And were I to elaborate a strategy against voter suppression, that would probably just have raised the charge of inconsistency with an abstentionist position after all. But it's my right to be glib/"ignore" such struggles, just as Bordiga could be right to ignore the struggle for women's voting right in fascist Italy: not just because it would not be revolutionary, but because eg it is practically useless, simply other things take precedence, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Noa's position on struggles for suffrage is exactly parallel to a position that rejects or ignores a struggle for equal wages by parts of the working class-- i.e. African-Americans, women-- who have been discriminated against in the wage structure-- because "we" oppose the wage system in its entirety.

Abstraction that is capitulates to the world of the concrete.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 4:23 pm 
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sartesian wrote:
Noa's position on struggles for suffrage is exactly parallel to a position that rejects or ignores a struggle for equal wages by parts of the working class-- i.e. African-Americans, women-- who have been discriminated against in the wage structure-- because "we" oppose the wage system in its entirety.


Non-support for struggle for suffrage would not be "because of" opposition to electoralism. I thought we were clear on that: there's no necessity in an abstentionist position to ignore the struggle for suffrage. But in case I do select non-support (which is not rejection or even ignoring the issue), it is for tactical reasons (as mhou calls his stance), ie to support it or not depends. Is it a "principled obligation" to support ? I'd say that would be just as abstract and meaningless as the banner above a liberal thought-piece.


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 Post subject: Re: The Trap of Electoral Politics
PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 3:17 pm 
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Marx in 1868:
Quote:
With Buchez' state aid for associations he [ie Lassalle] combined the Chartist cry of universal suffrage. He overlooked the fact that conditions in Germany and England were different. He overlooked the lessons of the Second Empire with regard to universal suffrage.


https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/w ... 13-abs.htm

Marx in 1855 on England:

Quote:
After the experiments which undermined universal suffrage in France in 1848, the continentals are prone to underrate the importance and meaning of the English Charter. They overlook the fact that two-thirds of the population of France are peasants and over one-third townspeople, whereas in England more than two-thirds live in towns and less than one-third in the countryside. Hence the results of universal suffrage in England must likewise be in inverse proportion to the results in France, just as town and country are in the two states. This explains the diametrically opposite character which the demand for universal suffrage has assumed in France and England. In France the political ideologists put forward this demand, which every "educated" person could support to a greater or lesser extent, depending on his convictions. In England it is a distinguishing feature roughly separating the aristocracy and bourgeoisie on the one hand, and the people, on the other. There it is regarded as a political question and here, as a social one. In England agitation for universal suffrage had gone through a period of historical development before it became the slogan of the masses. In France, it was first introduced and then started on its historical path. In France it was the practice of universal suffrage that failed, whereas in England it was its ideology. In the early decades of this century, universal suffrage as propounded by Sir Francis Burdett, Major Cartwright and Cobbett was still a very vague and idealistic concept, so that it could become the pious wish of all sections of the population that did not belong directly to the ruling classes. For the bourgeoisie, it was in fact simply an eccentric, generalised expression of what it had attained through the parliamentary reform of 1831. In England the demand for universal suffrage did not assume its concrete, specific character even after 1838. Proof: Hume and O'Connell were among those who signed the Charter. The last illusions disappeared in 1842. At that time Lovett made a last but futile attempt to formulate universal suffrage as a common demand of what are known as Radicals and the masses of the people[see footnote]. Since that day there has no longer been any doubt about the meaning of universal suffrage. Nor about its name. It is the Charter of the people and implies the assumption of political power as a means of satisfying their social needs. Universal suffrage, which was regarded as the motto of universal brotherhood in the France of 1848, has become a battle cry in England. There universal suffrage was the direct content of the revolution; here, revolution is the direct content of universal suffrage. An examination of the history of universal suffrage in England will show that it casts off its idealistic features, at the same rate as modern society with its immense contradictions develops in this country, contradictions that are produced by industrial progress.

footnote by MECW editor:
In 1842 the radical and liberal Free-Trade circles made several attempts to enlist the working-class movement in the campaign for the repeal of the Corn Laws and for moderate reforms. To distract the workers from the struggle for the implementation of the Chartists' social- and political programme, they put forward the vague demand for "full suffrage". With the aid of some conciliatory Chartist leaders (Lovett, Vincent and others) the radicals succeeded in convening in Birmingham two conferences of representatives of the bourgeoisie and Chartists (in April and December 1842) which discussed joint campaigns for electoral reform. However, on December 27 the Chartist majority at the conferences rejected the proposal to replace the People's Charter with a new "Bill of Rights" and the demand for "full suffrage". From then onwards the Charter was the exclusive demand of the proletarian masses.


http://marxengels.public-archive.net/en/ME0904en.html


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