**** A MODEST PROPOSAL-RECRUIT, RUN INDEPENDENT LABOR MILITANTS FOR THE 2016....2018....2020....2022.... ELECTIONS (Updated)
****From The American Left History Blog Archives (2008) - On American Political Discourse
Part of my “alternative” offering back then in 2008 to 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 could now see was a waste of good dues money on supporting this or that bourgeois candidate instead run our own independent labor 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 looms in our faces even before we have devoured the fact of the horrendous 2014 elections and subsequent plethora of Demo-Repub presidential candidates who can barely keep a straight face in public I offer an updated version of that program and the urgency to get out independent labor candidates.
But, one of those "talking heads, etc." might argue, that would split the ‘progressive’ forces. Grow up, please! That argument has grown stale since it was first put forth in the “popular front” days of the 1930’s. If you want to end the wars fight for this "no funding" position on the war budget. Otherwise the same people (yah, those progressive Democrats) who unanimously voted for the last war budget and are reliably foaming at the bit to vote for the next one (or in the same vein authorized millions for Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza bought and paid for with U.S. aid) get a free ride on the cheap. By rights this is our issue. Let us take it back.
2. FIGHT FOR A LIVING WAGE AND WORKING CONDITIONS-UNIVERSAL FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.
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” campaign spearheaded by organized labor and some leftist groups. 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, including fully-insured at public expense Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress and the Senate 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 1930s, go a long way to turning the conditions of labor and unionization around from its abysmal current status.
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 or red scare-born anti-communists 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
*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement going back to the 1930s Great Depression the last time that unemployment, under-employment, and those who have just plain quit looking for work was this high in the American labor force, although it is admittedly down from the Great Recession highs. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay is a formula to spread the available work around. This is no mere propaganda point but shows the way forward toward a more equitable distribution of available work.
Without the key capitalist necessity of keeping up the rate of profit the social surplus created by that work could be used to redistribute the available work at the same agreed upon rate rather than go into the capitalists’ pockets. The only catch, a big catch one must admit, is that no capitalist, and no capitalist system, is going to do any such thing as to implement “30 for 40” –with the no reduction in pay proviso, although many low –end employers are even now under the “cover” of the flawed Obamacare reducing hours WITH loss of pay-so that to establish this work system as a norm it will, in the end, be necessary to fight for and win a workers government to implement this demand.
This would be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The health and welfare of any society’s citizenry is the simple glue that holds that society together. It is no accident that one of the prime concerns of workers states like Cuba, whatever their other political problems, has been to place health care and education front and center and to provide to the best of their capacity for free, quality healthcare and education for all. Even the hide-bound social-democratic-run capitalist governments of Europe have, until recently anyway, placed the “welfare state” protections central to their programs. Be clear Obamacare is not our program and has been shown to be totally inadequate and wasteful however we will defend that program against those who wish to dismantle it and leave millions once again uninsured and denied basic health benefits.
Although the worst of the crunch has abated there are still plenty of problems and so this demand is still timely if not desperately timely like in the recent past. Hey, everybody, everywhere in the world not just in America should have a safe, clean roof over their heads. Hell, even a single family home that is part of the “American dream,” if that is what they want. We didn’t make the housing crisis in America (or elsewhere, like in Ireland, where the bubble has also burst). The banks did. Their predatory lending practices and slip-shot application processes were out of control. Let them take the “hit” here as well.
Karl Marx was right way back in the 19th century on his labor theory of value, the workers do produce the social surplus appropriated by the capitalists. Capitalism tends to beat down, beat down hard in all kinds of ways the mass of society for the benefit of the few. Most importantly capitalism, a system that at one time was historically progressive in the fight against feudalism and other ancient forms of production, has turned into its opposite and now is a fetter on production. The current multiple crises spawned by this system show there is no way forward, except that unless we push them out, push them out fast, they will muddle through, again.
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
Media Flash: A. F. Markin, long time anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist activist and the evil genius behind the blog American Left History, has announced today that under no conditions will he be a candidate for President of the United States in 2016. In prior election cycles he has run for the office as an Independent Social-Democrat (2004) and after nomination on the Green Wave Party ticket in 2008 (although he waged an opportunistic low-level campaign because according to one campaign worker he did not want to ruin then Senator Barack Obama’s chances at the White House expecting some kind of job offer for doing so. To once again prove that opportunism does not pay, especially for so-called principled socialists like him and Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, he was never offered any position in that administration). In 2012 he got “religion” and sat out the campaign not because of any thought of ruining the chances of that “miserable sell-out bastard Obama” (Markin’s words) but because he had read an obscure document based on the tenets of the Communist International (Vladimir Lenin’s old-time operation to create world revolution established in 1919 and which went out of business in 1943 on Stalin's orders) in a left-wing socialist newspaper which stated that socialists should not seek, not even run for, the executive offices (President, Governor, sheriff) of what they called the “bourgeois capitalist state.” Chastised, thoroughly chastised by that obscure odd-ball reference he is again sitting the 2016 election cycle out.
At the press conference held in New York City’s Best Eastern Hotel making the announcement Markin, paraphrasing the great 19th century Northern Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman (hero of “Billy’s bummers' traipsing through Georgia and its environs and scourge of the rebels) stated that “if drafted I will not run and if elected I will not serve” in that post. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of running for some legislative office like the United States Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. –Josh Breslin, Portland Free Press
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 1930s and Chile in 1973 or less disastrously in France in the 1980s. 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!