Friday, August 28, 2009

*Listen Reds, So You Want Run For President- Read This -The Fight Against Bourgeois Electoral Cretinism- “Marxist Principles and Electoral Tactics"

Click On Title To Link To “ Marxist Principles And Electoral Tactics” , An Article From “Spartacist” Spring 2009 The International Communist League’s English Language Theoretical Journal.

Markin Commentary

Although the latest bourgeois election cycle is now, mercifully over, and we probably have a few days left in the year 2009 before the major capitalist parties once again start full-bore (or is it full-boring?) on the next electoral cycle leading up to the 2012 presidential elections it is not a bad time for radicals and revolutionaries to reflect, once gain, on our relationship to the norms of the bourgeois electoral cycle. Although it may not seem to be apparent as a pressing issue for radicals and revolutionaries, given our other propaganda and agitational tasks around opposition to various American-led imperial wars, the fight against further atomization of the working class and the struggle for a workers party now is the time to be clear about where we have to head strategically. With that in mind I have linked to an interesting article put out by the International Communist League from “Spartacist” Spring 2009, their English language theoretical journal “Marxist Principles and Electoral Tactics”.

I will state upfront that I am a recent convert to the view that radical and revolutionaries should not run for the executive offices of the bourgeois state. I wrote an entry in this space in 2008 during the last electoral cycle describing that “conversion”, the reasoning behind it and why it made sense to do so at the time. (PUT IN HERE ENTRY If elected …..) I, nevertheless, had some lingering questions and, frankly, leftover attitudes from my previous adherence to the old time orthodox left communist position of running for executive office with the explicit proviso that one, of course, if elected would refuse to serve. This article goes a long way toward answering at least some of those questions and providing an exhaustive background look at the history of the controversy in the international workers movement.

The most pressing question resolved, and I shutter to think that I was so cavalier about it, is the strategic communist attitude toward elections as a piece of the puzzle in putting together a revolutionary strategy. If nothing else this article should make those who think that we can just summarily throw up candidates helter-skelter for any office in order to serve our immediate propaganda purposes. As the article details many a socialist and communist has lost their way in incorrectly assuming that “controlling” the administrative offices of the bourgeois state or having a huge parliamentary fraction in some national assembly gave one a leg up on the revolutionary process. The most important sentence in the whole argument is the one where, while dismissing running for elective executive offices out of hand, it was stated that communist could serve in national assemblies, as oppositionists. That is the forgotten quality that had been missing in the movement and in my own take on this question. It is not a matter of how many or how big parliamentary political organization revolutionaries can build but how they can use the bourgeois institutions to overthrow them. If you undertake the task of administering the bourgeois state you will, one way or another, “pay the piper”.

Aside from honing in on that political perspective the other virtue of the article is that it gives a very detailed historical description of various attitudes and policies that evolved since the time of the revolutions of 1848 in the international movement. Clearly, if it were merely a matter of the weight of history then the ICL position as posed would be a minority one. Interestingly, even the great revolutionary organization, the Communist International, in its revolutionary days and the great Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky (and his American followers originally, during his lifetime, coalesced in the Socialist Workers Party has, at best equivocal positions, on this question. As I mentioned in that previous entry the power of precedent is not confined to the law. A powerful argument has to be made in order to justify a change of positions. While I still have some practical tactical questions around the implementation of this policy, for example, the effect that it has on the issue of critical support to other workers organizations that DO run for executive office and support to parliamentary fractions of workers organizations that attempt form coalition governments with bourgeois forced in order, in effect, to administer the bourgeois state this is an important contribution to Marxist theory of the state. As important as Lenin’s “State And Revolution”? No. But an important supplement to that work. Read, and re-read this article. Down With The Executive Offices Of The Capitalist State!

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