Ordinary Proletarian(cameo role)
Ordinary Proletarian(cameo role)

November 7th, 2012, 10:18 pm #11

Back to childish games with names, eh OP? What is it that's irritating you? Dermatitis? And as always, you are missing the point. I doubt if many contributors to this forum would disagree to a large extent with the political characterisation of Obama in the statement of the communist parties. But the point is: faced with a choice between Romney and Obama, should US voters have abstained? Or voted for Obama? Your post suggests that they should have abstained, and that the same is true in the UK: faced with a choice between the tories, the libdems and labour, those on the left should not vote. How happy that would make the tories!

There are long-standing issues about strategies for dealing with such situations, and they need to be discussed and rediscussed in the light of experience, of course. But if we are talking about revisionism, then it's time for you to brush up on your Leninism. Try "Left-wing communism: an infantile disorder". That's as clear a position against such abstentianist electoral politics as you can get. And I resent someone who supports a state that has replaced the leading role of the working class with rule by the army, the hereditary principle, and the use of religious imagery to describe leaders, calling other people revisionists. But you don't get it, do you? (Time for a joke about my name or the fact that I was a professor - your normal way out of a corner.)

Of course you may be more familiar with the system in the DPRK, which allowed foreigners to learn about who the next ruler of the state would be before those DPRK citizens who would later be told who they had democratically elected.
Neither actually. Merely to point that your point about the DPRK is totally irrelevant to a discussion on the nature of Obama and whether to support such a person. Also you are quite wrong to say that people outside the DPRK knew who the successor was before the people of the DPRK. It is actually the reverse . In fact the song "Footsteps"(about comrade Kim Jong Un) was being sung in 2008. Instead of making up throwaway remarks maybe you should visit the DPRK and ask Korean people their views.
My use of the word "Professor" has always been intended as mock civility a bit like
old fashioned coppers calling suspects "sir " ( the classic line is "had our foot on the accelerator did we sir"). Shame people on the Left do not appear to have much of a sense of humour.
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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

November 8th, 2012, 9:35 am #12

"The KKE should be congratulated on the service they provide with this site which is in several languages and includes news, documents, an archive and so on."

Their English language website is excellent.
THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG (from Aesop)

A Fox, swimming across a river, was barely able to reach the bank, where he lay bruised and exhausted from his struggle with the swift current. Soon a swarm of blood-sucking flies settled on him; but he lay quietly, still too weak to run away from them.
A Hedgehog happened by. "Let me drive the flies away," he said kindly.
"No, no!" exclaimed the Fox, "do not disturb them! They have taken all they can hold. If you drive them away, another greedy swarm will come and take the little blood I have left."
Better to bear a lesser evil than to risk a greater in removing it.

True or False?

http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/milowinter/106.htm
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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

November 9th, 2012, 10:49 am #13

The idea that it doesn't matter which one of two bourgeois candidate wins is classic ultra-leftism. It's basically what the Comintern argued in the early 1930s, with disastrous results.

This declaration reminds me of the Maoist chant one sometimes heard on demonstrations in the late 1960s:

"Labour, tory, both the same
Both playing the imperialist game".

Regrettably, there is no serious left candidate in the US election, and so I can see no option for communists other than urging a vote for Obama. Not because we expect Obama to introduce socialism, or even social-democracy, but because he will not be as disastrous for American workers, or for the rest of the world, as Romney would be. In particular, Romney is much more likely to launch a military attack on Iran.
This question of the lesser evil poses a difficult dilemma.I can understand why comrades fear that
not to vote for the lesser evil is to take an ultra-leftist stand. But is this really the case? Does it merit close examination?
In the recent American elections, some British comrades saw the differences between Romney and Obama as being significant enough to convince them that an Obama win would be worth fighting for. The KKE response pours cold water on this view claiming that in practice this is not the case. But what about the view from within America? Here is what American comrades of Workers World Party have to say:

A difficult dilemma

Sara Flounders, Secretariat member of Workers World Party, speaks on the capitalist elections of 2012 in USA. Her remarks were made at a Workers World Party forum in September of 2012, in New York City, and relate to a class approach of dilemma of how to avoid the trap of the lesser evil.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBWygons1zw

Fred Goldstein, Secretariat member of Workers World Party member speaks on the first Obama/Romney debate. His remarks were made at a meeting of Workers World Party in October of 2012.
Raises interesting points about how to respond to peoples concerns on the doorstep, especially in relation to Obama supporters, class identity, the fact that 50% of people in USA are on or below poverty line, mass incarceration in USA, deportations, and other questions
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBRggr2jhsY

Obama wins, the struggle begins:
http://www.workers.org/2012/11/07/obama ... le-begins/
Where does the struggle go now?
See also:http://www.workers.org
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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

November 14th, 2012, 12:19 pm #14

The idea that it doesn't matter which one of two bourgeois candidate wins is classic ultra-leftism. It's basically what the Comintern argued in the early 1930s, with disastrous results.

This declaration reminds me of the Maoist chant one sometimes heard on demonstrations in the late 1960s:

"Labour, tory, both the same
Both playing the imperialist game".

Regrettably, there is no serious left candidate in the US election, and so I can see no option for communists other than urging a vote for Obama. Not because we expect Obama to introduce socialism, or even social-democracy, but because he will not be as disastrous for American workers, or for the rest of the world, as Romney would be. In particular, Romney is much more likely to launch a military attack on Iran.
I have a problem when comrades use the phrase 'ultra-leftism' as some form of accusation since the phrase is not always used in a helpful way.
In other words, it is not always used to help develop debate but to stop it in its tracks. Obviously, comrades do not want to waste their time replaying debates about the past, but when dealing with a new political situation, surely it is best to look at the situation from all sides, rather than for example, applying a set formula or by seeking to find heresy in views that challenge orthodoxy. In the best discussions, looking at situations from all sides is exactly what occurs (the CPB Special Congress, for example, concerning the question of an alliance with the Respect Party did exactly that). A less positive way of using the phrase is to rubbish someones point of view by appeals to orthodoxy. Thus the demand that Britain should withdraw from Afghanistan IMMEDIATELY (as opposed to a demand for a phased withdrawal) is thought by some comrades (admittedly not on this forum) to be 'ultra-left'. But so what? In such a case, what does it mean to be ultra-left? Does that that mean that the demand should not be put? Why not?
The phrase 'classic ultraleftism' is even more problematic as it implies that the person who uses it has 'spotted' some formal resemblance of arguments, or some political phenomenon that they recognise. But how do we know that these resemblances are not superficial? Is what the Comintern argues in the early 1930s really the same as what the KKE argue today? How do you know this?
Thus I would like to ask Paul Fauvet when you use the phrase 'ultraleft' what do you mean? Do we all mean the same thing by this phrase? By what criteria should we label something (or even someone) 'ultraleft'? Is it really a useful thing to do?

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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

February 12th, 2013, 12:14 pm #15

THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG (from Aesop)

A Fox, swimming across a river, was barely able to reach the bank, where he lay bruised and exhausted from his struggle with the swift current. Soon a swarm of blood-sucking flies settled on him; but he lay quietly, still too weak to run away from them.
A Hedgehog happened by. "Let me drive the flies away," he said kindly.
"No, no!" exclaimed the Fox, "do not disturb them! They have taken all they can hold. If you drive them away, another greedy swarm will come and take the little blood I have left."
Better to bear a lesser evil than to risk a greater in removing it.

True or False?

http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/milowinter/106.htm
The problem of "The Least Worse Option" crops up again in a recent feature article by Enrico Tortolano in the Morning Star (Wednesday 06 February 2013) entitled
Economics and the powerful. See:
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news ... ull/129166


This article accuses the trade union movement of a failure of imagination and calls upon trade unionists to start to think outside the box. There is not much detail here and doubtless many on the left will have many doubts about working with those outside those outside traditional structures. The Euros' emphasis on "social forces" and Bertinotti's attempts to embed the Refoundation Communists in the Italian social movement are examples of political cul-de-sacs which might be cited as warnings.

Nevertheless, how groups such as Occupy, UK Uncut etc are developing new tactics and new approaches to organising and campaigning surely merits at least as much attention on this site as the seemingly endless spats about NK?


To give a brief flavour of the article:

"We must abandon the neoliberal economic and political logic of endlessly tweaking this failed system.
Unfortunately, most mainstream politicians are trapped in the erroneous belief that sooner or later recovery will somehow occur and that the neoliberal capitalist system - underpinned by profit maximisation - will be restored in full.
However the neoliberal agenda is so dominant and so creative that it can instil damaging habits of thought among trade unionists.
Trade unionists negotiate under such difficult conditions that it is easy to forget that we should not be here in the first place. It is often easiest to simply accept the least worst option.
A commonly heard expression of this mentality is the idea that we must vote Labour because they are not as bad as the Tories.
To get out of this current dilemma a new attitude must blossom, one of critically questioning all the options available and seeing beyond them all to a new and different future.
We should be more confident. An alternative world really is possible. It simply doesn't have to be like this. It's time to reject the second best."


These comments on the least worse option reflect similar arguments against Syriza in the recent Greek elections. Whereas I recognize that there is much sense in voting for the least worse option (when you are about to be hit by a truck, you dont start arguing with the driver about transport policy) I resent the moral blackmail that such a position entails.

Worth discussing?

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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

November 11th, 2016, 1:40 pm #16

The idea that it doesn't matter which one of two bourgeois candidate wins is classic ultra-leftism. It's basically what the Comintern argued in the early 1930s, with disastrous results.

This declaration reminds me of the Maoist chant one sometimes heard on demonstrations in the late 1960s:

"Labour, tory, both the same
Both playing the imperialist game".

Regrettably, there is no serious left candidate in the US election, and so I can see no option for communists other than urging a vote for Obama. Not because we expect Obama to introduce socialism, or even social-democracy, but because he will not be as disastrous for American workers, or for the rest of the world, as Romney would be. In particular, Romney is much more likely to launch a military attack on Iran.
"Most importantly, a deliberate war is being waged by the rich against the rest that has seen the share of GDP swallowed up in corporate profit rise for four decades while the share of wages shrinks and the cost of living rises.
All the solutions being pushed by our rulers, from unprovoked attacks on the trade union movement to anti-democratic trade treaties, are making things worse.
A left which presses workers to join hands with big business in the cause of some fictional “national interest,” which refuses to challenge the sacred cows of liberalism, is doomed.
We must avoid the temptation to plump for “lesser evils,” which, as much of the left’s grudging support for Clinton demonstrated, has a tendency to backfire."

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-84 ... CXGvNSLTbQ

I wonder if those on this site who plumped for Obama as the "lesser evil" in the previous US election, took the same line in this last one.

Perhaps they have a new view?
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White man in the Hammersmith Palais.
White man in the Hammersmith Palais.

November 12th, 2016, 12:50 pm #17

I'm not a reformist, I'm a revolutionary, so at one level it's easy; you can't achieve communism through the ballot box, you can't reform your way to socialism. It doesn't matter who wins the election, you haven't won the state.

Standing in bourgeois elections is what they want us to do, so that we legitimise their pantomime. The number of times I've been told by tories and even members of the labour party that the NCP should be standing candidates!

But elections do matter - they make a difference, you can even win small reforms to capitalism, which is why there are reformist parties and why lots of people go on voting for them.

So it's right to make a distinction (for example) between the war mongering imperialist Clinton and the racist, misogynist, free market, anti LGBT, anti abortion imperialist Trump. Trump's version of free market, religious, right wing capitalism is not going to make American workers any more left wing or revolutionary when it fails, it's a form of fascism and we all know where that ends.

So, to recap - support Bernie in the primaries even though President Bernie wasn't ever going to achieve the kind of limited socialism he stood for. When Clinton won, bite the bullet and vote for her - anyone but Trump.

And in the mean time get your message out, build a revolutionary working class party that's really going to shake the tree.
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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

November 12th, 2016, 6:56 pm #18

Thank you for this. But let me clear. You see (or rather would have seen) a Hilary Clinton presidency as 'the lesser evil' then?

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White man in the Hammersmith Palais
White man in the Hammersmith Palais

November 13th, 2016, 5:23 pm #19

To be brutally frank about it, yes. All the Americans I know are minorities and under Trump they are facing a return to the 1960's or earlier. The KKK are marching in North Carolina, something that would have been unlikely before Trump - and I should add that his father was KKK, both Trump and his father were prosecuted for failing to let apartments to minorities and the Grand Wizard endorsed Trump for president.

Women are facing an end to abortion and birth control rights they fought hard to win. You can forget about LGBT rights which can be life and death in America. The supreme court is likely to be republican right for the next 10 years and for working people in America that matters.

More generally, I'd hope that while I was working to make a revolution, I would have been able to get some improvement for working people. That's why we work in Unions, Co-Ops, whatever, even though those are organisations which only exist to reform capitalism. All our experience is that making things worse for working people doesn't make them more inclined to be revolutionaries, it just leads to higher profits for the bosses which prolongs the survival of the system.

None of which is to say that Clinton was a communist, a socialist, a social democrat or even a liberal. Just least bad.

As a postscript it would be ironic if Putin actually did help bring down Clinton - if he did it was because the state department brought down the government in Ukraine and was cranking itself up to do the same to Putin in the forthcoming Russian elections.
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Joined: January 6th, 2010, 9:32 am

November 17th, 2016, 10:38 am #20


However, the assumption between the worst (Trump) and the lesser evil (Clinton) model was that there was no alternative electable candidate.
This was manifestly not true. A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in May found Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in a "dead heat", but the same poll found that if Sanders were the Democratic nominee, 53% of voters would support him to 39% for Trump. Sanders was however dumped by the democrats in favour of an apparently more ‘electable’ candidate. That HC was more electable turned out to be not the case however.
A clearer example of the problem can be seen in the Greek elections where the election of 'lesser evil' SYRIZA has resulted in the continuation of the anti-people measures. These have not helped the people put one foot forward, and as in Italy, under the technocrat Renzi, a similar approach has resulted in widespread political disillusion and apathy.
No doubt it would be possible for the supporters of Owen Smith to have argued that he should be supported as a lesser evil compared to the Tories. Luckily, he was roundly defeated in favour of someone with greater integrity.
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