****From The American Left History Blog Archives (2008) - On American Political Discourse - A MODEST PROPOSAL-RECRUIT, RUN INDEPENDENT LABOR MILITANTS FOR THE 2016 ELECTIONS (Updated)
Part of my “alternative” offering then of the same old, same of the electoral cycle was a proposition that the labor movement and its supporters rather than spent another dime on what even a child can now see is a waste of good dues money on supporting this or that bourgeois candidate instead run our own independent candidates for appropriate offices in what for now would be exemplary campaigns. To that end I motivated my pitch with a few reasons and the outline of a program. Today as the non-watershed 2016 elections loom in our faces even before we have devoured the fact of the 2014 elections I offer an updated version of that program and the urgency to get out independent labors candidates.
It is a ‘no-brainer’ that no individual, much less families, can live on the minimum wage of $7/hr. (or proposed $10/hr). What planet do these politicians live on? We need an immediate fight for a living wage, full employment and decent working conditions. A step in the right direction and a fight that should be supported and funded is the recent “Fight for $15.” We need universal free health care for all. End of story. (Although Obamacare is inadequate and filled with pitfalls it must be defended against those who wish to dismantle the whole thing and leave millions without insurance again.) The organized labor movement must get off its knees and fight to organize Wal-Mart and the South. A boycott of Wal-Mart is not enough. A successful organizing drive will, like in the 1930’s, go a long way to turning the conditions of labor and unionization around.
We need our own form of government. In the old days the bourgeois republic was a progressive form of government. Not so any more. That form of government ran out of steam about one hundred years ago and has been choking human process since then. We need a Workers Republic. We need a government based on workers councils with a ministry (I do not dare say commissariat in case any stray anarchists are reading this) responsible to it. Let us face it if we really want to get any of the good and necessary things listed above accomplished we are not going to get it with the current form of government.
Obviously any campaign based on this program will be an exemplary propaganda campaign for the foreseeable future. But we have to start now. Continuing to support or not challenging the bourgeois parties does us no good now. That is for sure. While bourgeois electoral laws do not favor independent candidacies and make things difficult write-in campaigns are possible.
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points
ROLL UP YOUR SHEEVES! GET THOSE ELECTION BALLOT PETITIONS SIGNED! PRINT OUT THE LEAFLETS! PAINT THOSE BANNERS! GET READY TO SHAKE HANDS AND KISS BABIES
A.F. Markin commentary on the American Politics Today website expanding on his decision not to run (originally posted on the American Left History blog on June 6, 2015):
“I know that the long suffering readers of this blog have been waiting breathlessly for me to announce my intentions for the presidential campaign of 2016. Wait a minute! What kind of madness is this on my part to impose on readers who I am sure are still recovering from the shell-shock of that seemingly endless and mendacious 2012 presidential campaign. Well… Okay, as usual I want to, for good or ill, make a little point about running for the executive offices of the bourgeois state now that I have gotten ‘religion’ about the necessary of radicals and revolutionaries, even garden variety socialists like me, NOT to do so. I think this point can really be driven home today now that we have a ‘progressive’ Democratic president, one Barack Obama, as a foil.
I have detailed elsewhere the controversy and checkered history in the international workers movement, and especially in the Communist International in its heroic days in the early 1920's, surrounding the question of whether radicals and revolutionaries, on principle, should run for these executive offices of the bourgeois state. I need not repeat that argument here. (See June 2008 Archives, "If Drafted I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve-Revolutionaries and Running For Executive Offices," American Left History blog, dated June 15, 2008). I have also noted there the trajectory of my own conversion to the position of opposition to such runs.
In any case, I admit to a previously rather cavalier attitude toward the whole question, even as I began to see the wisdom of opposition. But having gone through the recent presidential campaign and, more importantly, the inauguration and installation of a ‘progressive’ black man to the highest office attainable under the imperium I have begun to wipe that smirk off my face.
Why? I have hardly been unaware throughout my leftist political career that Social Democratic and Communist (Stalinist/Maoist varieties especially) Party politicians have, individually or in popular front alliances with capitalist parties, wreaked havoc on working people while administrating the bourgeois state. I have, in particular, spent a good part of my political career fighting against the notion of popular front strategies as they have been forged in the past, disastrously in places like Spain during the Civil War in the 1930’s and Chile in 1973 or less disastrously in France in the 1980’s. However this question of the realities of running the imperial state in America really hit home with the coming into office of Barack Obama.
Certainly, Obama did not have, and in the course of such things could not have any qualms about administering the bourgeois state, even if such toilsome work contradicted his most basic principles. Assuming, for the sake of argument here, that Obama is not the worst bourgeois politician, progressive or not, that has come down the pike. Already, in a few short weeks in office, he has escalated the troop levels in Afghanistan. He is most earnestly committed to bailing out the financial heart of the imperial system, at the long term expense of working people. Where is the room for that vaunted ‘progressive’ designation in all of this? Oh yes he has is against torture and illegal torture centers. That, dear readers might have passed for progressive action- in the 17th century. Jesus, is there no end to this madness in taking grandstanding kudos for stuff that Voltaire would have dismissed out of hand. So the next time someone asks you to run for President of the United States (or governor of a state or mayor of a city) take the Markin pledge - Just say NO!