RE: [OPE] Political strategies of the American Left

Date: Thu Aug 21 2008 - 17:43:42 EDT

> My question is, why do so many on the Left still believe in the > Democratic Party? Are there any major trade unions that are discussing a > different electoral strategy? I.e. a labour candidate or setting up a > workers' party of some sort?
Hi Dave:
Actually, there's less discussion within the US labor movement about
the possibility of forming a Labor Party than there was in the 1980's.
The reason why there was an initiative at that time is because of the
recurrent experience that unions had with the DP whereby the DP
politicians relied on unions to get them elected but once elected showed
the rather unpleasant pattern of stabbing those same unions in the back.
The labor movement in the US  is certainly weaker and more divided now
than it has been at any point in my life. There are precious little signs
that this is going to turn around anytime soon.
> I must say that the prospect of progressive political change in the > United States by its own citizens looks quite gloomy. Rather long-term > change seems more likely to come from the mass of Central and South > American immigrant workers.
It is certainly the case that the demographics within the US have
been changing and that undocumented immigrant workers potentially 
represent a major social-political force for change. We saw that a couple
of years ago on May Day when - literally - millions of workers took to
the streets to protest the government's plan to change immigration 
policy. But, this is a very vulnerable and 'at risk' group and this has
tended historically to mitigate against their activism (for obvious reasons). 
This is a phenomena seen in many other countries as well with workers
in the informal (petty commodity) sector whereby the precariousness
of their existence and their vulnerability to selective enforcement by the 
state tends to inhibit radical activism.
History should teach us, though, that pre-revolutionary situations can 
emerge in social formations rather quickly. How many thought that
there was a realistic prospect for revolutionary action in Russia in 
1900?  Yet, five years later .... It's also the case, historically, that 
radicalization and revolutionary movements tend to spread internationally - 
especially after  a success. So, who knows what effect successful
revolutionary experiences in Latin America or elsewhere would have 
on workers in the US?  It could lead to a radicalization here ... or a 
new heightened period of reaction. 
Making predictions about such matters is hazardous. I saw on 
'youtube' a video today which had an excerpt from the end of Part I
of "The Civil War" by Ken Burns.  The documentary noted that 
when General Sherman said that it would take 200,000 troops to
defeat the Confederacy in the West, he was judged to be insane 
and was basically relieved of command!   That's what happens
sometimes when you tell people what they don't want to hear 
(at the time it was widely believed in the North that the war
would be quickly ended - within a matter of months).
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, though, I think
it's fair to say that the international workers' struggle will 
ultimately depend critically on what happens in "the belly of the 
beast". Whatever revolutionary developments happen elsewhere 
will be threatened so long as US imperialism persists. 
In solidarity, Jerry

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