Letters, November 2015

Letters, November 2015 - NDP is what?!; campaign finance reform

The NDP is what?!

Considering the Canadian elections and the tight race it happens to be, I had been anticipating the response from various leftist groups on the New Democratic Party (NDP), and by extension, what the NDP was. Unsurprisingly, none of them are of particular worth. We have the views of the entryists in Fightback and the NDP Socialist Caucus, which are decent enough, minus the idiocy of pretending a bourgeois worker’s party can become a serious communist party (or whatever exactly they think they’re doing).

Then we have the views of other Trotskyist groups like Socialist Alternative who are bumbling all over themselves saying nothing of particular worth,1 going into detail about how Harper is, believe it or not, bad. Even going as far as to say that strategic voting is a bad idea, and that the NDP is disappointing! Scathing analysis, indeed, comrades. Then we have the lovely Maoists of the Revolutionary Communist Party (no affiliation to Bob Avakian, or so I’m told) who are calling for a boycott of the election2 because… Well, why not, I suppose? I can appreciate their dedication to doing nothing, must take a lot of effort.

Given the pathetic state of the left in Canada (and most elsewhere), it wasn’t surprising to me to see the Red Party being the first organization (at least to my knowledge) showing the capacity to make a basic Marxist analysis! Someone understands that the NDP is a bourgeois worker’s party and that we need a serious communist party! Well done. Of course, it’s quite clear to any good reader of the Weekly Worker that it’s a position very much in line with the Communist Party of Great Britain, so I can’t particularly praise them for originality, however I can absolutely praise them for sanity (something very much needed on the left).
So, all in all, good job comrades, always nice (and rare) to see an analysis worth reading. I look forward to reading more of the Red Vine.

Solidarity.

1.  http://socialistalternative.ca/posts/1449

2.  http://www.pcr-rcp.ca/en/archives/1690

– Liam Fletcher

 

In defense of campaign finance reform

This is in response to Gabriel Pierre’s “Beyond Money in Politics” (http://red-party.com/beyond-money-in-politics/). First I want you to read this:

“I’m not saying campaign finance or lobbying reform is bad or that it wouldn’t help us at all, but the transformative effects touted by organizations like Move to Amend and Represent.Us is totally unfounded. It starts from a false premise – that if we restrict big corporations’ ability to buy elections or legally bribe elected officials, we’ll open up space for politicians to be more representative to their voters. But the people who would be doing the regulating are the very same people who serve the ruling class of this country – the capitalist class, the 1%. This is why the Federal Elections Commission is such a toothless body. Our national politics were dominated by corporate interests before the 2010 Citizens United ruling. With strict financing and lobbying laws, these interests would turn their attention to court challenges, watering down enforcement or simply flouting the law altogether. Then there are the other, more traditional mechanisms of ruling class control.

They would still have their parties, the Democrats and Republicans. They would still have control over the economy, able to threaten capital flight in the face of any reforms that threaten their interests. Entire countries have been brought to their knees this way.

And of course we would still have a situation where ninety percent of American media is owned by just six companies – GE, Disney, News Corp of Fox News fame, Viacom, Time-Warner (think CNN) and CBS. With or without clean election reform, that’s a powerful arsenal. And then there is the most entrenched obstacle of all: the U.S. Constitution.”

In effect what the author is saying here is correct, the power of the media, CEO’s and the rest of the powerful bourgeoisie is immense and that getting campaign finance reform won’t do a whole lot. Not on its own. The article then launches into a myriad of fixes that would fix this situation or at least do so in part, which is really good and I encourage you to read the rest of the article as it does have some quite good points. However these are all things that today need to pass the political process. One part I want to focus in on is this:

“There is no silver bullet here. Single-issue campaigns aren’t fit for purpose. They limit themselves to one core reform in the name of being broad enough to attract as many people as possible in the short term, but this robs them of the perspective needed to actually develop and sustain a mass movement. We need a holistic approach – anything less is lying to ourselves, lying to those we say we want to empower. In the Marxist tradition we call this a democratic-republican program.”

But recalling back to the previous quote about the power of the media, we know that the power of the media is strong. It is in fact to the level of brain washing, it can drown out a message to the point that creating that holistic approach is impossible.

But let’s assume for a minute that it is not. Let us assume for a minute that roughly half of the largest demographic of americans are socialists (this is actually roughly true) and Americans are ready to accept socialism…. Now what? Well Marxism is an economic system but the people lack the first tool at the negotiation table, capital and money, to buy out their masters. We’ve long relied on government to regulate business capital but as we’ve already established that’s near impossible. So what then? I have already spoken on the nature of leverage once before but for those that have not read it I will briefly quote the relevant parts.

“It is easy to understand why the democrats haven been unable to affect change, they are the reserve army of the upper class. What is less easy to understand, however, is the inability of the people and their champions to affect any change. To understand this one must first understand the nature of people and change. To get someone to do something requires leverage. This can be societal pressure, threat of force, money, position, or any number of things. The important part is that the party you wish to persuade either has something to gain by obeying you, or lose in not.

The inability of the people to affect change, stems from the loss of their leverage. They have lost their first form of leverage in the vote, due in part to the wealthy using their monetary leverage to influence the process. The proletariat simply cannot keep up with the bourgeoisie in disposable income per capita and therefore the bourgeoisie win. Now, I know you know this and it’s been said a hundred times before. The real question is why do we continue to play these games, to fight on an uneven playing field against a team that uses dirty tricks on their home field? Remember gaining votes with money is the bread and butter of CEO’s and board members, it’s what they do everyday. We aren’t just fighting an opponent that has more resources but more experience using those resources. So why play their game? Why do we submit to playing the game on their terms?”

You see in order to change anything, we are going to need leverage. We don’t have money, we have the vote and force. So we start by getting the vote to mean something again. I’m not saying it is the end all be all but that it is the first step and an very high hurdle to clear in a battle that will last a long, long time. It is a crack in the foundations of the system that lets future victories happen. We get this passed and someday we will be able to pass laws that clean up campaign oversight, and maybe someday end the electoral college after that. Starting with small things and using a workers movement to keep people engaged in the political process and informed. But you start that by making them feel their vote counts again. People are not going to be inclined to give a shit if they think it won’t matter, but give them a reason to believe that and you get them involved again, which starts a snowball effect.

But without this, without this critical cornerstone, everything we can possibly do will be blackballed and shutdown by the media, the government and economic power the bourgeoisie hold. “but wait” I hear you say “the bourgeoisie will use the other powers to block any change even after this is done!”

Yes, yes they will, or they will try. But the American people woken from their hopelessness won’t give two shits. First of all with campaign finance reform they cannot stop the influx of non approved ideas. They have no legal way of doing so, if the money is good, and being from the government, it will be. So they will HAVE to let Stewart Alexander and Alan Moore onto the ballot box, they will HAVE to let them on the air at least in commercials, and given equal screen time and budgets, who wins the guy lying through his teeth or the guy who’s in it for the people? The guy who’s for the people. Sure they can refuse to interview them but even Bernie is getting press time because he’s no longer ignorable because he has the fame and money to challenge them.

“But this process is fragile and will take many many years” I hear you say. Yes. Yes it will. The alternative is what? I’ve searched for one but all I can find is picking up a rifle and sticking it to the bourgeoisie, which frankly doesn’t win you a lot of friends. But hey, force has been used to great effect before in history, just keep in mind it’s been used to great detriment on behalf of the instigators as well.

– Anonymous

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