- AFSCME Local 444 negotiations assesment 1997
- Preparing for Revolution: A discussion document
- The Internal lives of Revolutionary Organizations
- Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers
- Sanders: Our Alternative
- The Nature of the New European Left
- University of California workers and Unions
- An Invitation to Our Readers
- Facts For Working People Weekly Phone Conferences and Discussions
- Help open The AFL-CIO AIFLD Archives
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
How do we relate to the Bernie Sanders Campaign?
Comrades, what was said in the previous blog is correct. It's correct not only because we admit our mistakes but because we can't correct them if we don't.
We have to fine tune our position on Sanders. There is no question of supporting him, unless he by some miracle, and I do not believe in miracles, got such a burst of support and it carried him out of the Democratic Party and soared him up to run on his own. And even then his support for US imperialism and Zionism would rule out support.
So we have a complex problem. There are tens and tens of thousands of young and not necessarily young people who will support and do support him because of his rhetoric against the inequality of the system and how big money rules politics. How do we relate to those, people? How do we explain why we do not support Sanders while at the same time not alienating ourselves from those who do? It is important that we do not unnecessarily alienate them but keep in contact with them for when the inevitable and eventual disillusionment with him will come. Then we will be in a position to get their ear and win them to our position and draw to the PWPW, (Project For a Working People's World ) some new forces from these.
In my opinion when we approach the young people who have been drawn in to activity around Sanders, I think we have to be unqualified in making the first and main point, and in making sure this is reflected in our slant and tone, that it is great that these young people and not so young people are getting involved in political struggle and in doing so seeking to confront the inequality in society and the rule of the 1% over society. This is how to a greater or lesser degree they see their activity in relation to supporting sanders. This is my opinion anyway.
If we were to approach these young people starting with how Sanders is no good, wrong etc I do not think we would get to first base. I think as I say, we have to start from and have as the main emphasis that the inequality in society, the rule of the 1% has to be challenged and ended. And we are very excited and inspired by these young people taking the stand they are taking on these ills. Older activists have to be diplomatic and respectful however when we discuss with young people supporting Sanders in relation to the way that these ills can be ended.
Unfortunately in spite of the huge crowds and support Sanders is getting we do not think he will be able to end these ills. First he is inside the Democratic Party one of the main parties of the 1% and running as one of its candidates for president. He has if I am not wrong, said he would support the Democratic nominee. So he will end up supporting the candidate of one of the two parties of the 1%. He is extremely careful in not opposing US imperialism's and Zionism's savage wars in the Middle East. I do not see him stepping back from this in any way. Even Obama opposed the war in Iraq. And look where he has ended up. Sanders policies both at home and abroad, his support for and involvement in the Democratic party and its nominee, will lead to the movement that is around him being led up a dead end. It will lead to a demoralization and a change in consciousness. But, and this is the key for us: It will also lead to some very good people concluding that they need a more serious alternative. We have to be sure that in our opposition to supporting Sanders, we do not put ourselves in a position where we lose the attention and willingness to listen of these people.
I believe that our intervention has to be around our work with PWPW. We maintain our position for an alliance of all forces that oppose the offensive of the 1%. We maintain and discuss the program, that is non socialist that we put forward for this. We maintain the position of mass direct action that we propose for that. We propose that we stand clearly for the demands in this program, the tactics in this program and the make the 1% pay. (Download flier with program and details here.)
What do we say in relation to Sanders' supporters and this? I feel our position should be that we are for an alliance on the above program and tactics and to make the 1% pay and whoever supports this should jointly advocate it and be part of it. Whether they are part of the Sanders campaign, or the Democratic Party or the Republican Party or whatever. They don't have to support any party as long as they support the demands of the alliance and mass direct action they should be part of what we are doing and we want to work with them. The mass direct action is a particularly important and crucial part of what we advocate. This is so because it guards the movement against being sucked into the Democratic party and lobbying approach of the bourgeois political system. We have to put emphasis on this and ask the Sanders supporters to be part of not only fighting for these demands of the alliance but also doing so through mass direct action.
I believe that after all that, we will still have the ears of the most thoughtful of the forces around Sanders that we can meet. They may still support Sanders but we will have their ear as the best people learn through struggle not wanting to repeat the same failed strategies time and time again as the top union leadership does. They will experience big shocks in their support for Sanders, most likely him coming out for Clinton. This will then open up cracks in the Sanders forces and lead to the most serious people being open to an alternative. What happened? Did they do wrong in supporting him etc? This is when I feel we can get more of an echo for our alliance and mass direct action. This is where we can get more echo for our PWPW material and a willingness to discuss but also through a real drive to get it out and wider on the Internet.
At the same time we discuss these issues and differences with the proper tone and slant. We will be meeting some very serious people, both individually as we work, and in the different groupings we are directly involved in and also through the Internet. And as we increase our periphery and draw in more human resources we can build on our intervention's through the Internet.
I feel that this approach will leave us in a position where we can have access to new forces that will be moving forward in their consciousness in the big events ahead. I feel that we have to be orientated to the new spontaneous groupings that develop and this includes the sanders forces. I feel, and this is something I have to struggle with myself, that we should not pay much attention to the people we know who have been many decades in the left movement. I feel the criteria there is we insist that if we are to put any resources into them they have to start by accepting the very serious failures of the self styled revolutionary left and very importantly us as well when we were part of that. Perhaps if we insist on this we can get some very good individuals here and there who can help in the PWPW but short of that we could spend a lot of time just talking to people who like to hear them selves talking.