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Why Elections Still Matter, Except When They Don't

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    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Martin Luther King once talked about how a black person in the south was unable to vote, while one in the north had nothing to vote for.  50 years later, the south as become the north too.  The two capitalist parties have gamed and subverted the electoral process to exclude real opposition and to make it meaningless, except for bestowing legitimacy upon their stooges.  So why and when to elections still matter for the left, and when not?

    Why Elections Still Matter, Except When They Don't

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Two years ago, I wrote a piece called “How to Waste Your Vote in 2012” in which I said

    Your vote really is your voice, and in the modern era, every government on earth claims to rule with the consent of the people. This bestows upon the vote a unique kind of legal and symbolic power. The gap, however, between this legal, this symbolic power of the vote and any real ability to change things for the better is a vast one. The authorities rightly fear the people's voice, and so have contrived law and custom to ensure that we are seldom heard and almost never heeded.

    They would never dream of allowing us to vote on the price of gas, food, housing, credit or college tuition. But they don't mind at all letting us choose between corporate-funded Republicans and corporate-funded Democrats. The powers that rule our economy, our media and our politics won't let us vote on whether to bring the troops home from 140 countries and the seven seas, or whether to continue spending more on weapons of death and destruction than the other 95% of humanity combined. But they will let us choose between an ignorant, crazy or racist Republican who promises to give banksters, polluters and corporate criminals a free pass, and a sane, smart, level-headed free market liberal Democrat who does exactly the same thing, no matter what he promised.

    The authorities won't let us vote on whether the broadcast spectrum should be privatized, whether we should have the right to start and join unions, whether to create millions of good-paying green jobs. They won't allow voters to decide whether corporations deserve more rights than flesh and blood people, or whether the president should be able to kidnap, torture, imprison and murder people without trials or even charges. But they will let us choose between a white guy and a black guy. As long as it's their white guy, and their black one as well.

    All that is still true, and much, much more. The terrain of electoral politics is nothing like a level playing field. It's more like a briar patch, inside a labyrinth, built over a minefield.

    Democrats and Republicans Have Created Ballot Access Hurdles

    In states like Georgia where I live, third party candidates face incredible obstacles to even getting a candidate on the ballot. A Green congressional candidate for example, has to get 20-25,000 signatures on a nominating petition to appear on the ballot, and a statewide candidate needs more than 60,000, distributed in a complicated formula among several score counties, while Republicans and Democrats simply pay a nominal fee. These are laws passed on the state level by Democrats and Republicans working together.

    Access to media is limited by private owners of print, broadcast, cable networks.

    Cable networks are laid and maintained beneath public streets and roads, with massive public subsidies and gobs of corporate welfare, but privately owned by a handful of greedy corporations. Broadcast spectrum wasn't invented by any clever engineer working for a corporation, it's a property of the physical universe, like sunlight. But the same handful of greedy telecoms own that too, along with most of the print newspapers.

    The private owners of these public resources have decreed that the only candidates and causes who can afford campaign commercials are those bankrolled by wealthy individuals and greedy corporations, often with legally anonymous cash. With no interest in an informed public, the billionaires who own print, cable and broadcast outlets have been firing reporters and spending less every year on journalism for several decades. Reporters refuse to cover third party candidates in partisan elections, lest their careers end prematurely. In nominally “nonpartisan” races like mayor in most medium and large cities, the owners of media all but refuse to cover the existence of candidacies not endorsed by local elites.

    Legal obstacles to registration and the vote.

    Since 1992, when I was one of three field organizers in an Illinois voter registration drive that signed up 133,000 in the 4 months preceding the November election, rules in many jurisdictions across the country have been tweaked to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. Florida is one of several states that made clerical and procedural errors on the part of registration organizers into felony vote fraud, thus causing outfits like the League of Women Voters to stop doing registration drives.

    More recently many states have adopted voter ID laws specifically crafted to lower the number of eligible voters among the populations they'd rather not see at the polls, and felony disenfranchisement has always been a potent tool for declaring hundreds of thousands outside the electorate.

    Without a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote, registration and eligibility and how candidates are placed on the ballot and the votes counted are in the hands of 2,000 counties and hundreds of cities, each with the authority to make its own rules.

    And there's black box voting, caging, and official manipulation of turnouts and results

    And if you do organize a grassroots campaign, register your voters, perform a canvass that counts and identifies them before election day, and chase them out to those effectively, the last 25 years have seen the advent of unaccountable, faith-based computerized voting systems without paper trails which make the outright falsification of election results trivially easy.

    So why bother?

    So why bother with a an electoral process that's compromised from top to bottom, a maze full of dead ends, trap doors, toll booths, and rules that change at the whim of your well-entrenched opponents?

    The answer is that a politics of transformation has to transform people and their understandings. It has to bring people together to understand that what neoliberalism, what capitalism want us to see as individual problems, like the inability of families to secure decent incomes, jobs, education, health care or housing, like the ruin inflicted by savage policing and the prison state, like the availability of more funds for war but none to make life better for ordinary people, that all these are collective problems with collective solutions, solutions that we must begin to construct from the bottom up.

    Electoral campaigns are seasons in which people expect to be engaged on what problems really are collective ones, and how these will be addressed. Democrats and Republicans want desperately for the left to stay the hell out of those public conversations, and no, the terms “left” and “right” are neither meaningless nor obsolete, and no, Democrats are certainly NOT on the left, though they sometimes pretend to be.

    Campaigns are times to raise the questions neither Dems nor Repubs can answer

    Repubs and Dems need to exclude Green and left parties from the public conversation in campaign seasons because they fear the questions we, our campaigns and candidates ask, questions for which they have no answers.

    • Why are stadiums and gentrification the only models for urban economic development? Why are we closing thousands of public schools and privatizing public education?

    • Why are we paying water bills in a world that's two-thirds water?

    • Why does the failed 40 years war on drugs still continue, and why can't we roll back the prison state that eats the heart of our families and communities?

    • Why can't we join unions, raise wages, shorten the work week, and run corporations from the bottom up instead of the top down?

    • Why can't we stop climate change by getting off fossil fuels?

    • Why can't we deliver health care, not just health insurance for everybody?

    • Why isn't college tuition and day care free, and why can't everybody who wants a job get one?

    • Why are US troops in 140 countries and why do we spend more on arms and war than the other 95% of humanity put together?

    Campaigns and elections are our chance to bring these and similar questions which the two capitalist parties are utterly unable to answer before audiences. This is vitally important because the neoliberal order under which we live trains people not to even think such things, or if they do, to censor themselves.

    Campaigns and elections ONLY make a difference when we use them to raise the questions that capitalism will not and cannot answer, but which absolutely must be asked for people to begin to think outside the matrix, to visualize the world that we have to build.

    Can electoral campaigns morph into social movements?

    The short answer is no. We have to avoid and actively argue against the delusion that electoral campaigns build social movements. They don't. I used to believe that under some circumstances they could. But I've seen twenty or more campaigns close up, in many of which some or the key participants hoped to morph into permanent bottom-up organizations capable of running themselves and holding candidates accountable. For reasons that require a book chapter to explain, it almost never works. I think I've seen it happen, sort of, once in my entire political life.

    Electoral campaigns have been the graveyard of social movements, not once, but many, many times.

    Wisconsin's state capital was on the verge of a general strike over the machinations of the state's governor and legislators, but instead they were directed into an electoral campaign to recall the governor and defeat a handful of state senators, in which huge sums of money were raised, countless volunteer hours expended, organizers deployed, and they lost, leaving few or no new permanent organized formations behind not beholden to the folks that sent them down the electoral road in the first place.

    What if just a fraction of the money spent on Wisconsin's futile recall effort had gone to pay organizers' salaries and support for two years, and for ten or twenty photocopiers, with two year service agreements, available to grassroots organizations across the state? The movement in Wisconsin would be a lot broader, deeper, more diverse and more established. After electoral campaigns, win or lose, everyone pretty much goes home.

    When campaigns are a good idea, when they're not.

    At the very least, your social movements should already be well constituted and in conscious motion before and outside of electoral politics before you enter into a campaign, or else the campaign will swallow them. The campaigns and candidates have to persistently pose the kinds of questions Democrats and Republicans dare not ask, let alone answer. Crucially they must raise up candidates from their own ranks who are loyal enough to the organization and its principles to resist the institutional pull of elected office and the elevated status our political tradition accords even to candidates for office. When you get a candidate on the ballot, that person becomes your spokesperson. If she is NOT with the program, won't ask the questions that challenge capitalism, you've been a party to your own carjacking.

    If you can do all those things, AND run a competent campaign, which is no small chore, it's worth it. If you can't, it's not. Supporting Democrats and so-called “fusion” efforts are never worthwhile. Your volunteers ultimately become theirs, or disillusioned, and your efforts lend unearned credibility to the same old folks, who really need your new bottom-up enthusiasm every two years a lot more than you need them.

    Campaigns that don't ask the questions Repubs and Democrats shy away from aren't worth mounting and their candidates not worth voting for. If you're only demanding what the consultants say might actually get through the legislature in this or the next session, you're not demanding enough, and if you do get it, your establishment allies will get the credit, not you. But if you demand five times above and beyond what they're willing to give, asking the questions they dare not, any victory you win is yours.

    Only fools dream that the establishment will allow us to vote them out of power. That will never happen. But until they're willing to break down our doors, put bags over our heads and frog march us off to solitary somewhere our obligation is to make the most of open work with all the tools available. Completely eschewing campaigns and elections makes no sense.

    Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

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    Typos in introductory paragraph

    1.  In first paragraph second sentence of article states:  

                   50 years the later, the south AS become the north too.

    Should say .  .  . south HAS become the north too.

    2.  Last sentence of first paragraph states:  

                 So why and when TO elections still matter for the left, and when not

    Should say .  .  .  and when DO elections still matter  .  .  .

     

    elections

    I've done my time in electoral poltics and have concluded i wasted my time - except that i had to waste it to find that out.

    for those that have not yet made that journey and need to express themselves electorally:  in states where it's too difficult to get third party status, the idea that's been floated to run left/socialist/etc candidates in Democratic primaries makes some sense - but it would be necessary to create and maintain a clear identity as not-Democrats, like calling yourself the Socialist [or whatever] Caucus and promoting yourself that way to the communites you target.

    ...since it costs nothing to be a D [except your soul] but you'd have to watch for court challenges to your status [that's why 'caucus' is good in a title].

    anyway i'm not recommending electoral work - all peoples have a right to free themselves from oppression regardless of whether they constitute an effective voting block in a system designed to maintain its core 'democratic' values [subjugation of targeted groups, maintainence of empire, and general wage/debt bondage].

    Rejecting Right Opportunism and Ultra-Leftism

    As Bruce commented earlier, I think we are all talking past each other. The naysayers are dogmatically fixated on the boycott tactic and they accuse the rest of us of fixating on elections. What Bruce and I, and others, are saying is simply that we refuse to swear that we will never, ever, participate in elections. IF there are munipalities where paper ballots are counted and verifiable, and there is a strong mass, populist organization present, then we MIGHT consider running coalition candidates in such elections in order to acheive a number of possible short-term goals. Actually getting a candidate elected need not be the primary or even most desirable goal. If there is a strong, independent media presence then the goal might be to raise awareness and help in movement-building. The Left / Mass / Populist organization must be realistic about what can be accomplished and communicate this to the people.

    An important goal of running in a local election might be to show (not tell) the people that the system is corrupt and rigged. Sufficient resources should be allocated to running an independent, scientific poll. If that poll shows majority or a significant minority support for the populist organization's candidate, and then the actual results of the election show a much lower turnout for our candidate then that can be used to, once again, SHOW (not tell) the corruption of the system. Then rallies and demonstrations can take place to protest the fraudulent election.

    The first thing we need is a massive coalition of leftists of all stripes, even left-liberals and anti-imperialist, populist, right-wing libertarians. We need a true movement of the 99% and that means bringing into the coalition libertarian types who decry so-called "crony capitalism" and not capitalism per se. If in the short-term we can just take some small pockets of space and power for "regular folks" then that will be very helpful toward our final end goal of completely transforming society. Local and (possibly) state elections MIGHT, depending on a variety of factors including our strengths, weaknesses, resources (money, human, etc.) and those of the enemy arrayed against us in that particluar space or arena, be helpful in growing a populist movement.

    It is important to remember that limited and strategic participation in elections have been a part of successful revolutions in the past. The Bolsheviks did participate in elections in Russia as one part of a massive campaign involving other tactics such as propaganda, agitation, mass demonstrations and many others.

    It may very likely be true that participating in any elections at the current time in the U.S. is counterproductive, but let's not be so stubborn as to forswear them forever. We must beware of opportunistic leaders who, once elected, might use their position to cozy up to the establishment and sell out the movement, but we also must beware of ultra-leftists who will "stand on principle" and in their mad passion to achieve a revolution overnight will refuse to compromise and consider any and every tactic that might be employed in the long, hard struggle of revolution.

    The Value of Voting

    I think we are all agreed that there are times and places when voting can be useful and that there are times and places when it is not. Where we differ is when and where such places may be and how to determine which is which.

    I'm often accused of being opposed to voting and this is my usual response:

    A democratic system of government is one in which power is vested in the hands of the people. That's the dictionary definition and most people will agree to it.
     
    An undemocratic system of government is one in which power is vested in the hands of the government. That government could be a dictatorship, a monarchy, a plutocracy, an oligarchy, or even a pseudo-democracy, but if power is vested in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, the system does not meet the definition of a democratic form of government.
     
    In a democratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the people, voting is the most precious right of all, as it is the way that the people exercise the power vested in them, either directly by voting on issues, budgets, and policies, or indirectly by voting for representatives who are obligated to represent their constituents and can be directly recalled by the people at any time that they fail to represent the people who elected them.
     
    In an undemocratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, voting is totally worthless and a waste of time, as the people do not have power and the government doesn't have to count their votes, can miscount and/or ignore their votes, can overrule the popular vote, and elected representatives are not obligated to represent their constituents but can represent their personal beliefs or philosophies, their big donors, or whatever they wish, and cannot be held accountable as long as they continue in office, which is the only time that people need them to represent the interests of the people.
     
    In an undemocratic form of government, voters can hope that their votes might be counted, can hope that their elected officials might represent them, but have no power to ensure that their votes are counted or that their elected officials actually represent them.
     
    The system makes all the difference. As an analogy, breathing is a good thing and we humans couldn't survive without being able to breathe. But underwater or in a toxic environment filled with lethal gas, breathing can bring about death more quickly than holding one's breath and trying to escape. Breathing isn't always a good thing, it is only a good thing in an environment with oxygen suitable for human life.
     
    The same is true of voting. In a democratic system, voting is precious and essential. In an undemocratic system, it can be fatal, as it can allow the destruction of the economy, military adventurism, obstacles to basic human rights such as jobs, education, food, clothing, shelter, and health care, and other tragic consequences of allowing government to exercise uncontrolled power rather than vesting power in the hands of the people.
     
    Most people in the US today are opposed to our government's ongoing wars of aggression. Even those who are uninformed and uneducated, who aren't aware that historically, the way that most empires fell was because they became militarily overextended, sense that there is something wrong with spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars while basic domestic needs go unmet. But because we do not have a democratic system of government, we have no power to end the wars. The best we can do is vote for candidates we hope might end the wars, but if, like Obama, they expand the wars instead of ending them, there is nothing we can do about it because our government has the power to start or end wars and we do not. If wars were on the ballot, it could only be as a nonbinding referendum, as there is no Constitutional way to force the government to obey the will of the people. The Constitution vested power in the government rather than in the hands of the people.
     
    I do not oppose voting any more than I oppose breathing. I oppose voting only when it occurs within an undemocratic form of government, thus legitimizing an undemocratic form of government and consenting to be governed undemocratically, just as I oppose breathing only when in a toxic or anaerobic environment where breathing can be fatal. Just as I would want to try to help anyone trapped in a toxic or anaerobic environment hold their breath until they could escape, I want to try to help people trapped in an undemocratic form of government withhold their votes until they can escape. If I tell a drowning person to hold their breath until they can get their head above water, I am not condemning breathing. If I tell people not to vote until they have a democratic form of government, I am not condemning voting.

    So while Bruce and Prole say that the way to decide if voting is useful or not is to determine whether or not it can accomplish short term goals, my thesis is that the way to decide if voting is useful or not is to determine whether or not it is taking place within a democratic form of government where the votes are the voice of the people and are the final say in deciding policy. If the votes are not the final say, they are no say at all, just a trick and a trap to get people to relinquish their power and vote for their own oppression.

    (Full disclosure: Most of the above is lifted wholesale from my essay, "The Value of Voting," which I wrote back in December, 2011.)

    Listen to yourself, Bruce!

    That's a great article, but your conclusion contradicts the facts you laid out.

    You wrote:

    "Your vote really is your voice, and in the modern era, every government on earth claims to rule with the consent of the people. This bestows upon the vote a unique kind of legal and symbolic power. The gap, however, between this legal, this symbolic power of the vote and any real ability to change things for the better is a vast one."

    But is an uncounted vote, or a vote that the computer has flipped to another candidate, really your voice? If you shout, "YES!" at the top of your lungs, but I have the power to mute your voice so that it goes unheard, or to alter it so that what people hear you say is, "NO!" then it isn't your voice, Bruce.

    Using elections to raise issues and raise consciousness could be useful if we had sufficient access to the mass media to counter the voices of the corporate parties, which we don't. One of the reasons that corporations spend billions of dollars funding election campaigns, is so that their voices will drown out ours.

    Suppose you want to make yourself heard to a crowd. You bring along a bullhorn. Would you wait until the band is playing loudly to attempt to speak, or would you look for a moment when the band is silent?

    Election time is the worst time to attempt to raise issues and be heard, because the "politics as usual" electoral band is playing rousing get-out-the-vote marches at maximum amplification. Election time is when we won't be heard, no matter what issues we raise.

    I know you wrote them and have read them many times, but please read your own words again, Bruce:

    "...every government on earth claims to rule with the consent of the people."

    How do so-called democratic governments make that claim? By holding elections. If people vote in the government's elections, the government claims it has the consent of the people to rule. What you're voting for isn't a candidate or issue--if you vote, no matter how, who, or what you vote for, you are granting your consent of the governed to the government holding the election. Even if you cast a protest vote, your vote is your consent, particularly in our winner-take-all elections where the winner claims the mandate indicated by the entire turnout, not just the mandate of those who voted for that candidate.

    To vote is to consent to government, which is not a good idea if the government in question happens to be a racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, genocidal capitalist imperialist government that allows the people to vote their consent, but has no procedure for a "vote of no confidence" that could vote the government out in a legal, nonviolent way. You can vote your consent, but when you try to cast a dissenting vote, they count that too as consent.

    I recommend my own article, "You've Got to Stop Voting," along with the comments following it, which explains this and much more, :

    http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1172

    Yes, you can hop on the bandwagon, but you already know that they'll kick you off long before you get to your destination. As Danny Haiphong explains, what that does is cause you to waste your time and energy going in the wrong direction.

    In a democratic form of government the vote is the most precious right there is, as it is the way that the people express their voice in government. Here, the vote is nothing but consent to tyranny, an attempt to change the system by supporting, strengthening, and fortifying it with your consent.

    In countries with proportional representation, where the Green Party or other third parties have gained seats in government, they found themselves unable to carry a vote alone, so they became swing votes for the major parties, and then compromised and corrupted shadows of what they'd hoped to be.

    To participate in a corrupt system is to consent to corruption. As long as people are willing to vote in dishonest elections where the people really have no voice, there is no incentive for the powers that be to allow honest elections. But what would happen if the people didn't grant their consent of the governed? What would happen if the people didn't vote? How can a government that doesn't represent the people, claim the consent of the people if the people don't vote?

    This is a capitalist system, Bruce. Boycotts are our most effective tool. If we don't like something, we don't buy it, and they can't sell it. It would indeed be foolish not to use the most effective tool at our disposal. Boycott the vote!

     

    It's only a boycott if you COULD have delivered the votes...

    and chose not to....  I'll say that again:  

    It's only a boycott if you could have delivered the votes and deliberately withheld them.  

    Low turnouts due to causes almost entirely in the hands of the authorities are not a "boycott", and calling them that is pretty much wishful thinking, claiming a victory you did not acheive.

    In fact, low turnouts frequently suit the authorities just fine, especially in primary elections and in local races.

    I'm not sure I understand that, Bruce.

    Obviously I'm not boycotting yachts because I couldn't afford to buy a yacht if I wanted to. But I am boycotting WalMart, Starbucks, Bank of America, Coca Cola, Monsanto, and many other industries I don't approve of but have the ability to patronize if I so wished.

    But does that mean that in order to boycott yachts, I should struggle for capitalist success, no matter who I hurt in the process, so that I can afford a yacht and then not buy one? Rob a bank, perhaps?

    I think I'm boycotting yachts, blood diamonds, fur coats, and many other things I can't afford, but wouldn't buy if I could.

    Do the people who sell luxury items care? Not at all, because I'm not their target market anyway. So to them, it isn't a boycott. But to me, my friends, and other people who have similar feelings, it is.

    From the point of view of a political party operative, unless you could deliver the votes and then deliberately withhold them, it isn't a boycott. But from the point of view of the corporations that spend billions of dollars getting out the vote, and still only achieve about 55% at best in a presidential race and a lot less in midterms, it is a boycott when people don't vote, no matter why they don't vote.

    How can you claim that you, the big multinational corporations who fund elections and then get appointed to government policy-making positions and write legislation, are not ruling the country with the power of your money, unless you can set up a bureaucracy to pretend to be ruling the country? Of course very few in that bureaucracy can get there or stay there without your support, both major parties are dependent for their survival on your support, and you do therefore control the government and rule the country, but you need people to vote for your puppets so that you can keep pretending that you are not the true power behind the throne, so to speak.

    When corporations spend a few billions of dollars funding both major political parties and their candidates, they are making an investment that ensures that no matter who wins, the corporations will have their own people appointed, will write legislation, and will see a return on their investment of trillions of dollars in government contracts, subsidies, tax cuts, deregulation, etc.--the best return on investment in the entire capitalist market.

    But what if the corporations spend a few billions on elections and people don't vote? Will their boards of directors allow them to do it again? Of course not. The very first thing an election boycott would accomplish would be a de facto nullification of the Citizens United decision. Corporations aren't charities. If they invest and don't get the return they expect (in this case, the consent of the people to continued corporate rule), they cut their losses and look for better investments. Even the prison- and genocide-for-profit industries are in it to make money. If they don't make money, they go out of business. But to make money, they have to promote candidates people will vote for, who can pass legislation to allow the industries to do whatever will make them more money, even at the expense of people and the planet.

    Recently, a local race for Mayor where I live featured a candidate who had a Congressional history of helping veterans, and who pledged to solve our city's homeless veteran problem. I'm concerned about homeless veterans, but I didn't vote. No matter what he did, I knew that as long as the federal government keeps churning out homeless veterans faster than they can be housed by local government, the problem will remain.

    The corporations don't really care about primaries, as they fund both major parties, so whoever wins, the corporations win and the people lose. And they don't care about local elections because this is a top-down system, so the corporations control where taxpayer money is spent, and it will be spent to further corporate interests rather than to enable local politicians to accomplish much. Besides, politicians who are too disruptive can be discredited or assassinated. A bureaucratic system is designed to protect the bureaucratic hierarchy and maintain the status quo.

    As long as we have a top-down hierarchical system, the authorities couldn't care less about primaries and local elections, because the big corporations will continue to control the people at the top, and therefore continue to rule.

    Try to understand what you said when you wrote:

    "But they don't mind at all letting us choose between corporate-funded Republicans and corporate-funded Democrats. The powers that rule our economy..."

    The "powers" are NOT the political parties, but the corporations that fund them. They do rule our economy. That's how a capitalist system works--whoever has the most money, rules. When you vote for a Green Party candidate, you are voting for a system of corporate rule where that candidate will be in a minority and will not be able to bring about change. To seek power within a corrupt system is to support corruption.

    I'll continue to boycott things that I could afford to buy if I wasn't boycotting, but also things that I couldn't afford if I wanted them. My personal struggle against capitalism requires that I do not support the corporate powers that control our government, and they do control our government no matter which party is in power, and they will continue to do so even if a handful of Greens get elected. Remember 2000, when we had many token Blacks in the House of Representatives, which is our House of Commons, where they can't do any harm to the corporations, but not one in the Senate? And any Black who gets to the Senate or the Supreme Court or the Presidency (or any woman, for that matter) WILL be pro-corporate because it takes billions of dollars to get poor people to vote for billionaires.

    Here's a recent article of mine:

    <a href="http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1609"target="_blank">Voting Against the Boogeymen</a>

    Sure the Greens are less evil than the Democrats and Republicans. But if they want to be part of a capitalist system of corporate rule, they are still evil. Admittedly a lesser evil, but only until they get into power. Once you are in power within a corporate dominated hierarchy, you obey or you get chucked out. The system is designed to protect the system, and to attempt to be part of the system, even if you claim that you are only doing it in the hopey of changey, is to consent to the system.

    If you don't like the system, stop trying to work within it and start opposing it. An effortless, legal, nonviolent way to oppose the system is to stop supporting it--to withhold your consent by not voting.

    You can't change a football game into a baseball game by sending in new players. You know very well, and explained in exquisite detail above, why this game is rigged. Why do you keep playing in a rigged game unless you want to lose?

    Don't sell people short. People really do know that we need food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, etc. We don't need political parties and candidates to tell us what we need. And almost half of us have already recognized that we can't get what we need within a corporate-ruled capitalist system, so we've stopped consenting to it.

    Join us, Bruce. You know this government is screwing you. Sometimes you can't avoid being raped, for example if you're in prison, you happen to be weak and defenseless, and the rapist is strong, has a weapon, and the authorities have turned their backs. But you do not have to consent. Your vote is your consent. Once you vote, it is no longer rape, it is consensual political intercourse, so don't come crying to me about what this system is doing to us. I didn't consent to it, but you did, and apparently you will again. If you insist on repeatedly engaging in risky behavior (participating in rigged elections), you already know what the consequences are likely to be.

    After I left the Democrats I was a Green for several years before I stopped voting. The Green Party's 10 Key Values are ideals every decent person can support. But to grow the Green Party means voting your consent to a genocidal capitalist imperialist system while you pretend that you're teaching people what they already know. We know we want food and don't want war. We also know, as you do, that we'll never change the system by voting. The only difference is that we've stopped voting and you haven't, which can only mean that you don't really want to change the system, you just want a bigger part in it.

    There are many ways to get out the vote for corporate rule, and for some reason most of them begin with "g," i.e., gays, grass, GMO-labels, guns, god, and Greens. Who cares if the US kills another few million innocent people if you can vote for marriage equality, legal pot, knowing what's in your food, the right to bear or to control arms, separation or merger of church and state, or the Green Party? Get out the vote with a capital "G." Help the billionaires and the big corporations get out the vote by supporting your selfish first world issue or your ambitious, opportunistic third party. You want peace? Then vote for war! OR....maybe if you want peace you should stop voting for a system based on a war economy. Voting won't change it, but boycotting might. Why not try the possible? It may be a long shot but it's still has better odds than the impossible.

    You don't need a vote to be your voice, Bruce. You already have a voice, it is called Black Agenda Report, and when it isn't consenting to corporate rule it has a lot to say.

     

    It's not a debate...

    if you will not answer questions posed in the article. 

    You're accusing me of supporting the system and whatnot, and I am defending the thesis of the article, which is that campaigns and elections are among the tools at our disposal in this time and place.

    Talk about what other tools we have, and how they will do the job these won't. 

    Otherwise we're just talking past each other. 

    If I understand you correctly, Bruce....

    ....you're saying that electoral politics can be a tool if you can get a candidate on the ballot who will raise questions that the major parties will not raise.

    The first definition of tool I found is:

    "a device or implement....used to carry out a particular function."

    What function does asking questions or making demands by means of election campaigns serve?

    Asking questions could raise consciousness if people weren't already aware of the issues being questioned. But we are aware. Even the most ignorant among us already knows that we need basic economic human rights that capitalism allows to some but denies to many. The questions are wholly unnecessary. Solutions are necessary. A tool must perform a function, that is, help solve a problem, not merely point out problems we already know exist.

    As for making demands, there is a big difference between a demand and a mere petition. Many people asked kings to stop killing them without due process, but when a group of nobels threatened to kill a king unless he agreed to their demand that he stop killing people without due process, the Magna Carta came into being, and was part of our common law for about 900 years until Obama unilaterally decided that due process was unnecessary and substituted his Kill List. He can be petitioned to grant due process, but he doesn't have to agree to petitions. In order to demand due process, there would have to be a way to penalize him if he didn't agree. There is no Supreme Court or Congressional majority who will penalize Obama unless he accedes to a demand for due process. The Magna Carta is dead, long live the Kill List?

    If the problems you enumerate are to be solved, and electoral politics can be a tool capable of carrying out that function, there would have to be a way not only for candidates to raise the questions we're all already asking (except for the major political parties, government, and the media, which are corporate owned and wouldn't dare), and not only to describe how those problems could be solved, but to actually do something. To solve the problems. To fix the problems. Getting people on the ballot so that they can ask questions cannot answer the questions. Getting them elected to a corporate-owned system where they will be in a minority, cannot accomplish anything.

    What getting people on the ballot who will raise the questions that everyone knows need to be asked can do, is bring people out to vote.

    But voting, unless you can elect a majority, cannot solve the problems. It can only maintain the status quo, and the more good people who run for office, the more well-intentioned people will vote their consent to the status quo, thinking that they are voting for hope and/or change, which is what they really want. Electoral politics in the US does not allow change, it only allows consent. As I and many others have pointed out, third party, dissenting votes, and protest votes end up being counted as consent in our winner-take-all electoral system. You cannot change something by consenting to it.

    Elections are the way that corporations can claim the consent of the governed for corporate rule. They fund political parties and candidates who will be beholden to them and do their bidding, and then spend billions of dollars getting out the vote so that they can claim that their puppets are a duly elected and therefore legitimate government.

    Elections are the tool that illegitimate governments use to claim legitimacy.

    Elections are not our tools, they are the masters' tools. As Audre Lorde said, "...For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change."

    You wrote, "At the very least, your social movements should already be well constituted and in conscious motion before and outside of electoral politics before you enter into a campaign, or else the campaign will swallow them."

    But you mentioned ObamaCare. There were many well-constituted social groups in conscious motion before and outside of electoral politics, and also within electoral politics, that wanted single-payer. The corporate bureaucracy had no problem with that. Obama held Town Hall meetings, supposedly to get public input, and I, along with the union representatives, nurses and health care givers, and various citizen groups who attended one such Town Hall, left with outrage and frustration. The meeting was so well planned, managed, handled, and controlled, that even though the majority of the audience came to speak about single-payer, we weren't allowed to even mention it once.

    You wrote, "But if you demand five times above and beyond what they're willing to give, asking the questions they dare not, any victory you win is yours."

    Is asking a question a victory? Not unless you're goal is to raise social consciousness, and that is not a worthy goal when the social consciousness you wish to raise already exists. It is not a question of numbers, it is a question of power. When everybody but those in power wants single-payer, but those in power do not, it doesn't happen.

    But even when it does happen, even when there is a victory, it is a pyrrhic victory at best. You might get some Greens elected, get legal pot, get GMO labels, etc., but at the expense of working within, being counted as part of those consenting to, and voting for the genocides that form the basis of our economy. How many more millions of innocent people are you willing to sacrifice in order to get a few more Greens elected?

    There's another definition of tool. The Urban Dictionary definition is:

    "One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used."

    When you use candidates or issues to raise questions that will get out the vote, you are helping the corporations in their multi-billion dollar electoral campaigns to get out the vote that legitimizes continued corporate rule. You are consenting to tyranny. You are being used, or as some would say, played.

    You're better than that Bruce.

    We have another tool. It is our tool, not the masters' tool. We can withhold our consent. Unless we delegate our power, they have no legitimate claim to it. Their tool is to hold elections and spend billions of dollars to demonstrate the consent of the governed to their rule. Our tool is to refuse that consent. It is a tool that has been proven effective and for which they have no defense.

    Elections are the tool of the masters, election boycotts are the tool of the people. Election boycotts serve the function of denying legitimate power to the corporations and restoring that legitimate power to the people, where it rightfully belongs.

    Power to the people. Not to governments, political parties, corporations, and the rich. To us, to we the people. Only if we stop voting to delegate our power to a system that is designed to exploit and abuse us, will we be able to retain our power and accomplish what needs to be done.

    Let's use the tool that carries out the functions we wish to accomplish, instead of being the tool that is being used to serve the purpose of others.

    Here's what will happen when the first incorruptible Green is elected to Congress:

    The Fable of Lanova Messiah

    http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1319

    You might also enjoy the brief discussion following it. ;)

     

     

    A Multiplicity of Tactics

    We need a multiplicity of tactics. We can't just write off a particular tactic forever and we also can't rely on just one tactic exclusively. Depending on the circumstances, participation in electoral campaigns might be useful - mostly local and state at the current moment, in my opinion. We also need to think of forming populist coalitions at least in the short term that might even cross some aspects of the left-right divide.

    Mark, you are wrong to think that most of the population is class-conscious and understands the evil nature of capitalism. You are wrong in claiming that approximately half of the population is actively boycotting the vote. Also, you concede that using elections to raise consciousness might be effective if we had more access to mass media. Well, the internet and news organizations such as RT have begun to give alternative voices that very access. It is also well to keep in mind that our audience is international and not just domestic.

    Stop being so obstinate and divisive, Mark. You had to learn through experience, I'm sure, about the pitfalls of electoral politics; the working class must also learn through experience. Mr. Dixon raises some good points. As he points out, what we really need most is a solid working class organization independent of the two-party system and traditional politics that can work in and outside of the system and patiently guide the masses and explain what might and what might not be expected to come out of any given electoral campaign.

    For instance, I respect and admire what was accomplished by Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative and the 15 Now campaign - up until the point when they claimed a so-called "historic victory" in Seattle recently. It was no such thing and they did their constituents and the socialist movement a disservice by making such an outlandish claim. It was actually a small moral victory, but only the beginning of a very long and hard fight.

    We need a mass organization, unity, correct theory, an intelligent strategy and flexible tactics along with courageous and capable leadership to chart our course!

    It might help to understand what a tactic is, Prole Center

    It is similar to a tool. Here are a couple of dictionary definitions for tactic:

    "an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end."

    "an action or method that is planned and used to achieve a particular goal."

    Now suppose that our goal, the thing we wish to accomplish, is to fasten one piece of wood to another with a nail. Hammers are the tools designed to do that, so a good tactic would be to obtain a hammer and use it to drive in the nail.

    But supposed somebody comes along and says that we need a multiplicity of tools and a multiplicity of tactics. So they send people scurrying out to get whatever tools they can find. We end up with a sewing needle, an egg whisk, a ball point pen, and a plastic wristwatch. The tactic of sending people to obtain tools wasn't carefully planned so as to achieve the end of driving in a nail because it didn't specify that a hammer or something that would perform the same function as a hammer was needed. We have a multiplicity of tools and still we still can't drive in the nail. So we use another tactic--we send people out to ask other people to ask the government to provide us with a hammer. This is more likely to succeed, but it will probably take a few years, at a minimum, as government works very slowly. And there is no guarantee of success, as government may not wish to supply us with a hammer.

    If voting cannot achieve our goal or accomplish what we wish to do, it is not a useful tool or a useful tactic. It's like trying to drive a nail in with a sewing needle or a ball point pen. Even if the greatest theorist in the world says that we need a multiplicity of tactics, actions which will not and cannot achieve our goal or accomplish our ends, are not tactics, they're just a waste of time and energy.

    Of course the fact that voting hasn't accomplished our goals for a couple of hundred years doesn't mean that theoretically it might not do so in the future. Einstein is said to have defined insanity as repeating the same experiment again and again and expecting a different result.

    I do know that Communists crossed the left-right divide during the Spanish Civil War when they joined forces with Fascists to wipe out the anarchists, thus paving the way for a Franco victory. I'm sure that despite the fact that it accomplished the opposite of your stated goal when you tried it before, if a theoretician you respect said that it was a correct strategy or tactic, you'd be more than willing to do it again and again, expecting different results each time.

    The approximately half of the eligible electorate that doesn't vote may not fit your definition of "actively boycotting the vote," however they are still abstaining from voting. When people are killing Communists, would you say that a person who abstains from killing Communists due solely to personal cowardice or laziness, doesn't count as someone who is actively not killing Communists? Do you care why they don't kill you, or millions of other innocents, even if their reasons are reprehensible, when others are actively murdering you? Those who do not participate in or in any way support capitalist imperialism, for whatever reason, are helping to bring down capitalist imperialism. Those who participate in it and support it by casting third party or protest votes which are counted as the consent of the governed to capitalist imperialist rule, are not helping to bring it down--they are not using the appropriate tools or tactics to achieve the end or accomplish the goal.

    Maybe the working class in the US isn't familiar with words like proletariat, isn't class conscious, and doesn't understand the evil nature of capitalism, but they do know that they need a living wage, safe working conditions, food, clothing, shelter, health care, education for them and their children, etc. They know what the problems are and would like to solve those problems, to achieve those goals, and to accomplish those ends. But they don't have the appropriate tactics or tools--they are encouraged to vote by people who know that voting cannot and will not do what people want done.

    Delegating your power to others results only in your loss of power. It is not a useful tool or tactic to empower the people.

    If we had "a mass organization, unity, correct theory, an intelligent strategy and flexible tactics along with courageous and capable leadership to chart our course," they wouldn't be using the wrong tools and tactics to try to accomplish their goals. They would ask whether each individual tool or tactic available was useful or not, and they would discard those tools and tactics, like elections, which are not useful, and search for tools and tactics that were.

    Among the many reasons that elections are not a useful tool or tactic, is that the votes in the US don't even have to be counted. Yes, at a local level you might elect a few good people, but even you wouldn't call that a victory or claim that it accomplishes our goals.

    Socialists achieved a great victory (one still embattled and being challenged, but a victory nonetheless) in Venezuela about 15 years ago, and it has accomplished many goals. It has eliminated the worst poverty in that country and decreased general poverty greatly. It has provided food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education to people who weren't served by a capitalist system. But they were only able to do it because Venezuelan elections were and are an anomaly, and not at all similar to US elections. In Venezuela the votes MUST be counted, and CAN be verified. Venezuelans can vote directly for any elected office, can vote directly to recall any elected official who fails to represent them, and can even vote directly on their Constitution.

    In Venezuela voting was a useful tool. But here it is not. To continue to use a tool that is useless for the task at hand is foolish and a waste of time and energy. Better one useful tool or tactic than a million that are useless and cannot do what we want done.

    Suppose that I do try to drive in a nail with a ball point pen. I break the pen, the nail doesn't penetrate, and I fail. Should I then go out and look for a multiplicity of different pens, such as a fountain pen, a gel pen, a marker pen, etc., or should I look for a tool that will do what I want to do, like a hammer?

    So now I've wasted a lot of time and energy trying to get a dogmatic statist to reason and think, when I know that dogmatic statists are incapable of rational thought. They can follow leaders, repeat slogans, and even fight, but they cannot think for themselves. If they were capable of critical thought they wouldn't be dogmatic statists.

    Tools, Tactics, and Goals.

    Good question, Brian.

    I think the original article and the discussion here demonstrate clearly that people attempt to use an inappropriate tool or tactic because they don't have a clear goal. A tool or tactic has to be chosen with a specific goal in mind, for the purpose of achieving or carrying out that goal.

    The goal of political parties, by definition, is to seek power within the system where they are competing for power. That's why political parties are formed.

    But there can be exceptions. Petra Kelly, the founder of the Green Party, "...held to the notion of a Greens anti-party that made no tactical alliances with Germany's traditional political parties," but, "...most Greens wanted to become a mature political party that could share in power." http://articles.latimes.com/1994-11-08/news/wr-60090_1_founder-petra-kelly

    In other words, Kelly founded the Greens with the goal of pursuing idealistic goals, however participation in the political process corrupted most Greens so that they focused on growing their party and seeking power within corrupt systems, a process which has proven to invariably corrupt them wherever they have achieved even a modicum of success.

    The goal of governments is to govern the people, whereas the goal of the people should be to serve the people. It isn't the same thing, the crucial difference being that I can serve you without governing you and I can govern you without serving you.

    Without having and understanding a clear goal, it is impossible to select or create a tool or tactic with which to achieve that goal.

    Many political activists and operatives believe that they have a clear goal, to serve the people, but they mistakenly think that they have to govern the people in order to serve the people, so their primary goal, to serve the people, becomes a secondary goal, subordinate to the goal of seeking power to govern. Of course the process of seeking and maintaining power within a corrupt system is so rife with conflict that the now secondary goal of serving the people gets indefinitely postponed in the interests of the new primary goal, that of seeking and maintaining the power to govern.

    The long list of things that we need in Prole Center's comment ("a mass organization, unity, correct theory, an intelligent strategy and flexible tactics along with courageous and capable leadership to chart our course") is telling, because millions of people have been attempting to get those things for centuries. It's quite a bit to ask for, and would obviously take many more centuries to achieve. But those are all tools or tactics, to be used to achieve goals, while the goals themselves, without which there can be no appropriate tools or tactics, have been forgotten or indefinitely postponed.

    People consent to tyranny and genocide because the political process drives them to be more concerned in the short term with achieving power, or with keeping others from achieving power, than with achieving their goals. The political process itself functions to keep delaying and therefore denying the achievement of those goals, because the struggle to achieve and maintain power within the system becomes the end itself rather than a tool or tactic towards an end.

    I'm reminded of the first time I tried to paddle a canoe. It was in a little bay on the north coast of Honduras. I was alone on the water in the canoe and there was only one obstruction in sight, a stump that stuck out of the water. I tried to keep my eye on the stump so that I wouldn't bump into it, but, to my shamefaced embarrassment and the hilarity of those watching from shore, I bumped my canoe into that stump over and over, many times.

    Finally somebody took pity on me and instructed me to choose a destination and to keep my eyes on where I wanted to go (i.e. to stop looking at where I didn't want to go). I tried it, and it worked! The way that I paddled or attempted to steer didn't much matter because the canoe would go in whatever direction I was looking. As long as I kept my eyes glued to my destination, that's where I went. There was no need to plot a course or to avoid obstacles, all I had to do was keep my eyes on the prize and not let myself be distracted by the obstacles.

    It seems to me that accomplishing goals is mighty like paddling a canoe. Just look where you're going and don't worry about how you're going to get there. If you keep your eyes on your goal and keep moving, you'll get there. If you take your eyes off the goal to focus on process, you'll keep bumping into obstacles and never get anywhere.

    People consent to tyranny, Brian, because they've never learned to paddle their own canoes.  ;)

     

     

     

    My Goal is Communism

    To be clear, I have short, medium and long-term goals. My end goal is communism, a stateless, classless society, but that is a long way off. In the interim, my short-term goal is the following that you, Mark, confused for a tactic: "a mass organization, unity, correct theory, an intelligent strategy and flexible tactics along with courageous and capable leadership to chart our course."

    That short-term goal amounts to formulating a basic strategy and organizational plan. The medium-term goal is to awaken and rally the working class majority and begin to win some relief and progressive reforms so long as they lead to further strengthening class-consciousness, organization and fighting ability; this will eventually require a type of state-security apparatus, the much praised and defamed "dictatorship of the proletariat" to supress the bourgeois and reactionary counterrevolution and to defend and enhance the gains of the working class on the road to communism.

    A multiplicity of goals.

    So, Prole, your end goal is to create paradise on earth, a stateless, classless society? You do not believe that this can be created by eliminating the state and thereby eliminating the classist societies created and enforced by both capitalist and Communist states, so you have short, medium, and long-term goals to achieve before you believe that your end goal might be possible.

    So you start by aiming at your short-term goal, which is to unify everyone into one mass organization, which will adhere to what you deem to be the correct theory, by means of intelligent strategy and flexible tactics to be determined by a courageous and capable leadership as they chart the course. In other words you want everyone to support a basic strategy and organizational plan that has yet to be formulated. That, you say, is your short-term goal.

    Your medium-term goal is to awaken and rally the working class. Isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Don't you have to awaken and rally the working class BEFORE you can unify them into one mass organization prepared to adhere to your "correct" theory? Can you, as a short-term goal, organize the masses BEFORE your medium-term goal has awakened and rallied them? Yes, you could, but only by violent means. This has been done before and did not end well.

    Of course you would need a strong state security apparatus to organize unconscious and unawakened people by violent means.

    Here, you explain that part of your medium-term goal is to strengthen the proletariat or working class by seeking relief and reforms. In other words, you believe that you can work towards your end goal of transforming society, by re-forming society. An example of relief and reforms might be the better wages and conditions that were enjoyed by the working class in the US during the post-WWII economic boom. You believe that sometimes such relief and reform can be achieved through elections, so you wish to retain the right to participate in elections. You ignore the fact that it was genocide on a global scale that made that economic boom possible, and that due to the fact that it benefitted them, the working class supported and voted for our genocidal government. If capitalism brings them more benefits than Communism, the working class will support capitalism. If opposing Communism pays more than supporting Communism, the working class, your proletariat, will oppose Communism so that they can reap the relief and benefits capitalism brings them. They may not be class-conscious, but they know which side their bread is buttered on.

    And, apparently your end is identical to your long-term goal, which is to organize those who are self-seeking, disciplined, well-rewarded capitalist workers, into Communists.

    Forgive me, but I really don't think that's going to work.

    Workers seeking relief and reform through the electoral process, such as those now seeking a higher minimum wage, cannot be awakened and rallied to support a stateless, classless society, because they have achieved their relief and reforms through the state, which elevated them above the classless, the lumpenproletariat, to whom they feel superior. This was the Black Panther Party's critique of Marx--Marx sought a classless state by dismissing the relevance of people who were already classless, and calling only on the working class which benefits from classist capitalism too much to oppose it. Reliefs and reforms that give them even further reason to believe that the present system works and serves their needs, will not awaken or rally them to any need to radically transform the system.

    But then, you don't really want to radically transform the system, you just want to retain the national security state under a Communist government instead of a capitalist government. But it is not the bourgeois and counterrevolutionary that your security state will repress and kill. History tells us that the security state apparatus itself is always bourgeois and counterrevolutionary (because it has power over others, it becomes a class unto itself), and exists to suppress those who are radical and revolutionary so that it can retain its own power. Or perhaps you believe that YOUR security state will not be corrupted by power and will relinquish power voluntarily?

    Had Marx lived to see the end results of his theories, I think he might have become a follower of Malcolm X.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Anarchism is Madness

    Mark, you are nitpicking at my comments and not understanding, or choosing to misunderstand my position. You want to play semantic games and dance about the surface of my remarks and not fully absorb the substance of what I am trying to get across. Obviously, the rallying of the working class will also have to take place in the organizational phase within my short-term goal as well as during the other phases/goals.

    You arrogantly presume to accuse me of not really wanting to transform society after all, as if you can read my mind. Well, I will not accuse you of such cynical maneuverings, but I might also cautiously suspect that as an obviously quite dogmatic anarchist you do not really desire to transform society either, but rather to continue to fulfill your role as a detached, holier-than-thou opposition to the status quo. Like the student rioters during the May 1968 uprisings in France, you would likely approach the gates of power and then when invited in by the state police, cry out in righteous indignation: "No, we don't want power!"

    What the hell would you do with power if you actually got it? You would throw it away and let the enemy overwhelm and destroy the working class, that's what. It's what anarchists do. It's just what they did in Spain in the 30's. They would much rather "stand on principle" and continue to lose in style rather than actually win. You think, foolishly, that any sane person wants power just for power's sake. Power is no good for its own sake; it is only good for one thing and one thing alone - to DO something with it!

    You can use that power to enrich yourself and your small circle of friends as the capitalists do, OR you can use that power to liberate the vast majority of the population to escape oppression and exploitation.

    The leaders of the Soviet Union were far from perfect in either a pragmatic or moral sense, but for many decades they were able to build and maintain a society where the working class really was in control at least indirectly and absolutely benefitted from the rule (yes, rule!) of the communist party. That's why many, even most people, in the former Soviet and communist states want communism back. They want security and a decent standard of living back. Under communism (in actual fact it was really socialism) there was no homelessness and there was no poverty. Food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education, healthcare, even leisure time and cultural activities were considered to be human rights! You dare to challenge and slander (or libel) that legacy! You should apply for a position with the CIA because you are definitely doing their work for free otherwise. They also worked hard to undermine the communists and communist countries.

    And Malcolm X seems to have been much closer to the socialist rather than the anarchist camp to me; and the lumpenproletariat are a class, and they are the ones, more so than the bona fide proletariat, that nibble at the crumbs of the capitalist system.

    Let me paraphrase, Joseph.

    The words in quotes are yours, with the exception of the substituted words in brackets which are mine:

    "The leaders of the [United States of America] were far from perfect in either a pragmatic or moral sense, but for many decades they were able to build and maintain a society where the working class really was in control at least indirectly and absolutely benefitted from the rule (yes, rule!) of the [capitalist] part[ies]. That's why many, even most people, in the former[ly prosperous USA and capitalist states] want [cold war anti-Communist capitalism] back. They want security and a decent standard of living back."

    Yes, the working class, whether capitalist or communist, wants power in order to secure its bourgeois counterrevolutionary lifestyle. Only the lumpenproletariat, those locked out of the system with nothing to lose and everything to gain, want to eliminate hierarchy and establish a society with equality, dignity, and respect for all. If there is to be any transformation, it can only come from "los de abajo," as the Zapatistas say, who seek no privilege or power and are satisfied with a simple life.

    Among the Zapatista juntas of good government, votes are not to delegate power to a political class, but a tool the people use to decide amongst themselves how they wish to govern themselves. This is not possible with hierarchical systems like capitalism and communism.

     

     

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