Letters, February 2016

Unfair treatment of Workers World; Marxism & Native Americans

Unfair treatment of WWP presidential campaign

The article on red-party.com expressing support for Soltysik is ambiguous on a very good many points. The only substantive reason why socialists should support Soltysik and the SPUSA candidate is that the SPUSA is not a ‘Stalinist’ or “bureaucratic” organization. Nothing is said about the history of right-wing positions taken by the SPUSA and its social-democratic faults, not to mention its blatant denunciation of democratic centralism, a principle that I understood to be the bedrock of Red Party.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that there is any major organization on the left that isn’t run on lines of bureaucratic centralism or a bureaucratic, decentralized “invisible dictatorship.” A presidential election isn’t going to change any of that, so I don’t see how it is relevant. I would even argue that in their nature, US presidential election campaigns have to be bureaucratic to win, so if anything, strong bureaucracy would be an ironic plus for an organization seeking the position of Commander in Chief of the United States.

Red Party dismisses the campaigns of PSL and WWP as being limited to “bread and butter issues” and saying almost nothing about democratic demands. I will not go into my differences with Red Party on the role of democratic demands in leading to a workers’ socialist revolution. However, I will say that this is really too dismissive, since from what I could pick up, the Soltysik campaign website has nothing in terms of a program or platform. All that is said is a few nice things about workers democratically running economic enterprises and participatory democracy, which are all very important but hardly amount to a program or a plan of action. PSL has their ten point program, which I would agree does omit a lot of important political demands, but at least seems to be a bit more concrete than is being offered by the Soltysik campaign.

The WWP and Mooorehead’s campaign, in my opinion, goes leaps and bounds over anything that the SPUSA and most other socialist organizations by advancing the slogan “elections will matter when Black Lives Matter.” Whatever criticisms one may have of WWP, they have been much more involved with the Black Lives Matter movement than most other left organizations, and I find this to be a much more relevant issue to a presidential campaign right now over whether or not this or that sect allows tendencies within itself, etc. I don’t think “Black Lives Matter” can be reduced to being a “bread and butter issue.”

In short, the article does not say much in terms of substance why the SPUSA candidate should be supported over the WWP or PSL candidates, other than that the WWP and PSl are bureaucratic organizations who only put forward bread and butter issues and ignore democracy. In terms of WWP, this is a gross distortion since the issue of Black Lives Matter, a pressing democratic demand, is strongly integrated into their campaign platform. The article is also lacking any criticism whatsoever of the SPUSA, of which many criticisms could be made.

- Levi Rafael


Re: Marxism and Native Americans

The years I’ve lived vastly outnumber the years I likely have left, yet I am a relatively young socialist, committed, only since 2010, though running as a Green Party candidate for state house that year.  In articles and podcast segments, I have largely concerned myself with the issues and actions of people of color, myself being white privileged and male. Why? In short, it is only because people of color have always been the movement against capitalism and imperialism. I’m not being generous or ingenious.

People of color are caught in the racist tentacles of white men’s borders, suffering genocidal intrusions on indigenous and tribal lands , intrusions tearing families and cultures to shreds, and people of color, such as blacks and Native Americans in the United States, daily murdered by cops, cops being ready servants of capital, people of color are the most advanced elements of the oppressed ,the troops of anti-capitalism, much more so than most white labor union members, those union members I’ve encountered being  comfortably unconscious of any oppression under capitalism.

A commitment to internationalism, open borders, and freedom of migration, a cornerstone of socialism does appear to clash with support for protection of the autonomy of tribal peoples’ lands and cultures.  The experience of tribal peoples in the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru seem to show that socialist states were or are as ruthless as the capitalist and white United States, Canada and Australia.  But, I am optimistic that Marxists have much to learn from tribal peoples and their nationality yearnings. The same must be said relative to Marxists and African Americans, whether in the Black Lives Matter or more nationalist black movements.

This is the discord between the liberationism of Marx and the supposed non-alienation of tribal spiritualism  that is continually reflected in the selections edited by former professor at the University of Colorado, Ward Churchill, who some might remember as a victim of right wing savaging after his reflection about the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center collapse in 2001, being capitalist financiers, were, in Churchill’s words, little Eichmanns, “persons participating in society whose actions, while on an individual scale may seem relatively harmless even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit. ” (Wikipedia)

Of course, in much of Churchill’s public discourse then and since, the comparisons between prisoners in Nazi German concentration camps and the fate of Native Americans in the United States and Canada reflect poorly on that fate. Particularly, the very survival rates of prisoners at non- death camps in Hitler’s Germany were better that of youths separated from their parents and culture at militarist residential schools in North America.

Particularly repugnant is the “Searching for a Second Harvest” response by the Revolutionary Communist Party to the somewhat misguided Libertarian tainted spiritualism of the late Russell Means, a Lakota leader of the 1970s American Indian Movement, in his essay, “The Same Old Song” . The regrettable charge that Indians ate shit makes no more sense than the notion that a Marxist world should not accommodate and learn from the rich traditions of tribal peoples.

Moreover, just as Marxists in the 21st Century are not the same as in the 20th, neither, are tribal peoples. Marxists must be humble and learn.  Humility comes before wisdom. I remain a humble 63 year old white man, a new socialist.

- David Smithers


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