Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Putin: Questions for Jill Stein and the Green Party Leadership

Jill Stein, Putin and Flynn at a Russian State Dinner Nov. 2016
Jill Stein, Putin and the Green Party's Internal Life. 

by Sean O'Torain.

Fellow members of the Green Party. I would like to raise some questions for the Green Party leaderhip and also make a few comments. I am speaking here with restraint in the hope that we can elicit a response from the leadership of our Party and have a reasonable discussion.

My main questions are these.  

What was Jill Stein doing at a dinner in Russia sitting at the same table with Putin and Trump's now disgraced ex National Security Advisor Flynn?

After the collapse of Stalinism a brutal Russian capitalist class rose out of the ruins and took over. Putin represents this class. He represents this  brutal Russian imperialism which represses its own working class and opposition and invades other countries. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the fossil fuel industry. He bases himself on nationalist propaganda and on the support of the extreme reactionary anti women Russian Orthodox Church. This is who Jill Stein was meeting with!! There was no way that Jill Stein did anything but harm to the environmental movement, to the women's movement and to working people in Russia and internationally by meeting with Putin. I hope Jill Stein and the Green Party leadership explain what they think they were doing. One thing they have done is make it much more difficult to defend and build the Green Party here in the US. Along with everything else we now have to defend Jill Stein sitting down with Putin. If the Green Party leadership were wanting to damage the Party's growth it could not do so much more effectively.  If the Green party does begin to grow significantly think how many times this photo with Jill Stein sitting with Putin and Flynn will be dragged out by its enemies.    

Now to another question.  I want to know who took this decision that Jill Stein would visit and have dinner with Putin and Flynn? At what meeting was this important decision taken? What body of the party decided this? I know I never heard of any such meeting which discussed this. I know that I never heard any discussion about this issue, that is would it be a good idea for Jill Stein to meet Putin or not? I look forward to an answer on this. The Party leadership has a duty to tell the Party membership what body took this decision, where and when it met, who was invited to attend, who was not invited to attend, and who spoke. I never got any invitation to such a meeting and I know of nobody else who got an invitation.  If the Party leadership does not provide this information it will prove that it is acting in an undemocratic way. 

I am not confident that I will get an answer to my reasonable questions. The reason I am not is I am becoming more familiar with the way the Green Party operates. There is a clique at the top that undemocratically runs the Party. I do not know the varied policies of this group. There appears to be different currents and backgrounds within this clique. But they seem to agree on some things including that the Green party should not be aggressively eco socialist or give a lead to the explosive new movement by aggressively advocating its policies and mass direct action.

The Green Party because of its conservative leadership is being left behind by this new wonderful movement. If the Green Party had been aggressive and radical on the issues it professes to stand for it could have been at the center of this new movement instead of being mainly ignored by this new movement. The Resistance Movement, The Indivisibles, and on and on; where is the Green party in relation to these movements and the many others. Why did the new movement not see the Green Party as the vehicle through which to fight. The Green party is being passed by. And it is being passed by because of the conservative politics of its leadership. Its refusal to fight for eco socialism in the 2016 elections. Its refusal to seek to put down roots in the rank and file of the trade union movement and in workplaces, working class communities and schools and colleges.  

And central to this is the undemocratic structure of the Party. The so called consensus method and along with this the refusal to have a dues paying membership. There are a few currents of thought in the Party that keep these false undemocratic organizational methods in place. First there is the genuine but profoundly misguided currents mainly in the rank and file who think that consensus and a non dues paying membership is the most democratic way to work. They refuse to see that in fact these combine to make up the most undemocratic method of internal life.

The consensus method lets minorities rule over majorities. This consensus method along with the non dues paying membership method create a culture in the party where everybody can do just about whatever they wish. The combination of these methods make it impossible to have a coherent cohesive disciplined party. Any member can say I am not doing this or I am doing that and claim to be covered by the consensus method. The non dues paying structure is part of the undemocratic method. It is not just a question of the Party having low funds it is also a democratic question. It is so because it is at the root of where the Party funds come from and so who calls the shots. 

If the membership are not funding the Party then the membership do not feel that they can impose their democratic will on the Party. They feel in reality that they have very little rights. Along with this is the related question. The Party needs funds. And these have to come from somewhere. If they do not come from the membership they come from somewhere else. And whoever or whatever that somewhere else is has great power over the Party. Consensus and non dues paying are undemocratic and both are related to this case of Jill Stein meeting with Putin. The Party membership had no say in this and because of the consensus based and non dues paying based culture do not even feel they have the right to raise their voices and demand an exclamation and demand accountability. Think about why there was no out cry in the Party at Jill Stein visiting with Putin.

I have said that there are different forces within the Party that support consensus and non dues paying who genuinely but mistakenly believe that these methods are the most democratic way to run the Party. I absolutely disagree with these members but I respect that they consider they are acting in a democratic way and in the best interest of the party.  But there is another current of thought in the Party who support the consensus method and non dues paying method but who do it for a very different reason. For them I have no respect and am committed to oppose them.

 This current of thought, this clique which dominates the leadership of the party recognize that if the internal life of the Party were run on a majority rule basis with the rights of all minorities to be heard and run on the basis of a dues paying membership where only dues payers could make decisions then the Party would become a whole different body. It would become democratic. And, and it is here where these forces are different from those who support the consensus method and the non dues paying membership who believe these make the party more democratic.

These forces at the top of the party support the consensus method and the non dues paying membership because they know that these methods make the Party undemocratic and most important of all allow them to keep control of the Party.  Think about this. In the last election great emphasis was given to who funded the Republicans and the Democrats. This hurt both of them. But we could not effectively join in the attack on them for this. Because who was funding the Green Party? Whoever pays the piper calls the tune. In the case of the Green Party whoever is funding it is calling the tune. And the clique who runs it does not want the membership to democratically call the tune so they support the consensus method which allows them to do what they like and they support the non dues paying membership which in reality disarms the membership.  

If members of the Green party think I am being too hard consider this. The Party last year passed the eco socialist plank. But this never appeared in the campaigning of the Party in the elections. The Party leadership just ignored it. They just ignored the decision of the Party. Then Jill Stein visits with Putin. This was never discussed or decided by the Party and I very much doubt if it had there would have been agreement that she should do so.  The leadership of the Party could act in these undemocratic ways because of the culture in the Party which flows from the consensus method and non dues paying approach. This culture basically allows anybody to do just about whatever they like. And in most cases, because they control the apparatus and the money in just about every case it is the clique at the top of the Party who do whatever they like and who dictate to the Party. 

If the Green Party is to have a future it has to fight for its eco socialist policies, it has to seek to move to build as a workers party and it has to change its undemocratic internal life. Politics means fighting on many fronts. In the case of the Green Party today it means fighting against the corporations and their apparatus which are destroying life on earth. For members of the Green party it also means fighting within the Green Party for eco socialist policies, to make it a workers party and to end the undemocratic internal life.    


Scott McLarty said...

It was Jill Stein's own decision to sit at the table with President Putin. The Green Party doesn't decree where party members, including Green candidates, may sit.

Dr. Stein has already responded adequately to questions about why she decided to sit at the table and what transpired: http://www.jill2016.com/jill_stein_russian_environmentalists

See also http://www.jill2016.com/stein_in_russia_calls_for_principled_collaboration

Many of those who accuse Dr. Stein of collaborating with Putin have had no complaints about Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's favors for Russia:

"There are so many levels of irony to the Democrats’ reliance on this ugly tactic. To begin with, one presidential candidate who actually has significant, questionable ties to Russia is named . . . Hillary Clinton. As The New York Times detailed in 2015, Hillary and her husband Bill were at the center of a deal that 'gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.' Those responsible for engineering that deal gave millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, which 'were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.' Hillary herself approved the deal as Secretary of State, while Bill personally 'received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.'" (Glenn Greenwald, Aug. 8, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/08/08/dems-tactic-of-accusing-adversaries-of-kremlin-ties-and-russia-sympathies-has-long-history-in-us/)

Sean O'Torain's remarks about the Green National Committee's decision-making process are misinformed. From the Green Party's bylaws:

"The National Committee shall strive for consensus in decision making. If consensus is not possible, decision shall be passed by majority vote with the required presens quorum and the required consens quorum... In order for a decision on rules, by-laws, and platform issues to pass, a two-thirds (2/3) majority of all votes cast is required. For all other decision, a simple majority (more than 50%) of all votes cast is required. A majority can be reached in a run-off vote or by the use of instant-run-off procedures." (http://gpus.org/bylaws/#05)

Mr. O'Torain's comments about "cliques" running the national Green Party are too vague to merit a response. Contrary to his claim, many party leaders favor switching over to a due-paying membership structure.

Some Green candidates campaign explicitly as eco-socialists, others choose not to. Green candidates decide how they run their campaigns and what Green messages will resonate with voters.

Scott McLarty
Media Coordinator
Green Party of the United States

Sean said...

Scott McLarty one of the top leaders of the Green Party. He pretends to answer my comments by the typical smear and evasion. He goes off in a rant about the Clintons. I do not and have never supported the Clintons of the Democratic Party and Uranium. Why bring this in? To confuse people and smear myself. How dishonest.

I am astounded by most of the posts in reply to my points. As far as I can see none of them take up the question of the democratic rights of the party membership and the responsibility of the Party leadership. Jill Stein as leader of the Party has no right to attend a meeting with Putin as Green Party leader unless the Party decides she should do so. Scott McLarty poses this as just sitting at a Table. This is dishonest. It is one thing to sit at a table in somebody's kitchen it is another to sit at a table along with Putin and the now disgraced Flynn at an official function. Not much mention here from Scott McLarty about Flynn. How did his presence help the profile of the Green Party. Was this a good idea to sit and dine with Flynn. This is more of that old do whatever you wish damaging nonsense which flows from the undemocratic internal life of the Green Party. Why do people like Scott McLarty not deal with who these people are, who Putin is? His class base. His world view. Would Jill Stein meet with Trump. If she did would Scott McLarty say well the Green Party cannot tell people who they can meet with. If she met with the KKK would Scott McLarty say the Green Party cannot tell any of its members including its leader who they can meet with. This is dishonest evasion. It is the way the leadership gets doing what it likes and disregarding the decisions of the membership. I return again to how the party decided in favor of the eco socialist plank and the Party leadership, including I assume Scott McLarty, just decided to ignore it completely in the election. Who made this decision. At what meeting was this decision made? Not only utterly undemocratic but politically stupid seeing the support that was going to Sanders. The best opportunity yet for the Green party was missed by that behind closed doors decision to nor fight for the eco socialist policy of the party. The reply from Scott Mclarty about eco socialism just proves my point. There was a discussion in the party about adopting this plank in the platform and it was decided to do so. Then the Party leadership, Jill Stein certainly and I assume the clique who runs the Party, including Scott McLarty decided to ignore this decision. Just decided to ignore this decision!!!!! As I say the consensus method of internal life is just a way for the best organized clique to get their way. And why not answer my points about whoever pays the piper calls the tune. Who finances the Green Party. And finally. None of these points I raise are smears. It is Scott McLarty calling them smears that is the smear. And finally and again let me ask this question. I posed it before after the election results. How come that with the two most unpopular candidates ever for President that the Green Party got less than 2% of the vote.It was abysmal. It was just shocking. I suggested that this had to be the first thing on the Party's post election agenda. To discuss this terrible failure, the reasons for it and draw conclusions from it. But there was not a word about it from the Party leadership. I understand why. They made a major blunder. By their refusal to fight the election on an anti capitalist pro eco socialist basis the Party leadership squandered the best opportunity the Party has ever had. The Party leadership should recognize their mistake and open up an honest and comradely discussion on this and work out what has to be done in the Party, politically and organizationally to see this does not happen again. If they do not the future of the Party can be put in doubt. Sean O'Torain.

Afdal said...

I think the reason most people didn't make a big stink about the Stein-Putin photograph is because it was so easy to look up and dismiss. It's definitely some great propaganda material on its face though.

I do agree that the Green Party needs to become more democratic. The representation by states in particular needs some serious reforming because it isn't proportional at all. From what I can hazily remember, Wyoming got the same number of delegates as Hawaii at the last convention when it has less than half of Hawaii's population.

People like Howie Hawkins and Bruce Dixon have been arguing for a dues-paying system for some time now and I think it's gaining more traction all the time.

I was somewhat disappointed with Stein's rather minimal support for socialism during the election (she made some brief mentions of support for worker cooperatives from what I can recall), but I did at least see Ajamu Baraka defend it in more depth at times. The biggest failure of the Stein-Baraka campaign was frankly not using working-class rhetoric enough. I suspect that Jill's socialist theory was too uninformed to make these sorts of arguments with confidence. I like Jill and I think she was a nice face for the party, but I think we are going to need a more explicit socialist or labor advocate to lead the party ticket in 2020. The material conditions of another recession addressed by more right-wing garbage in the interim are going to demand it.

Groups like Democratic Socialists of America are exploding right now and we can't afford for them to funnel people into more flaccid Democratic Party entryism. The more explicit anti-capitalist third parties like SA and SEP are too small and localized. The current stage of capitalism and the crisis of global warming won't afford either of these the time needed to grow or reform them into what is necessary. The Green Party simply has to be the one that socialists get behind, no other party has the level of ballot access and common knowledge among the public that it has. I hope you won't give up on it, Sean.

Gadfly said...

Scott's answered the issue already. And, Sean, the smear is from you.

I'm a Green voter, but have no GP position. Nonetheless, I suspect you'll consider me to also be part of the Manchurian Party or whatever.

Sean said...

The leaders of the Green Party are very adept at refusing to discuss what they do not want to discuss. The most important issue to discuss in the Green Party right now is why at the last election when we had the two most unpopular candidates ever the Green Party only got less than 2% of the vote. This is a catastrophic result for the Party. The leadership will not discuss it because it would show their huge blunder in not fighting for eco socialism, orientating to the working class and showing to voters and potential members that the internal life of the party was being changed away from the undemocratic consensus and non dues paying method. If this is not discussed then lessons will not be drawn and the mistake will be repeated. Jill Stein sitting at the table dining with Putin and Flynn is bad enough. But refusing to discuss the reasons for the terrible result in November is worse. It is up to the leadership to admit to their mistakes and initiate such a discussion. It would be more in their while and in their supporters while to do this than to slander and smear me on this Blog and on FB for being some sort of Clinto and Democratic Party supporter. I am a revolutionary socialist and have been all my adult political life. Sean.

Richard Mellor said...

Look at the time of the election the struggle to find a VP. First there was the liberal academic Cornel West. He campaigned for the Democratic Party and its candidate Sanders. Had his preferred candidate Sanders won, he wouldn't have been at the Green Party convention and he wouldn't be supporting Jill Stein , he would have been campaigning against her. Also, in the interview on Democracy Now which was awful and that's being generous, he called Hillary Clinton a neo liberal disaster and when Goodman asked what he meant he replies: "A neoliberal disaster is one who generates a mass incarceration regime, who deregulates banks and markets, who promotes chaos of regime change in Libya, supports military coups in Honduras, undermines some of the magnificent efforts in Haiti of working people, and so forth. That's the record of Hillary Clinton"

So he basically calls her a warmonger which she is, then says of Sanders: “….when my dear brother, who I love very deeply, Bernie Sanders said she will make an outstanding president, I said, "Oh, I disagree with my brother. I think she'll—I don't think she'll make an outstanding president at all." She's a militarist. She's a hawk. She could take us into war with Russia. She could take us into war with Iran. So, I mean, I think she's—she's dangerous in terms of her neoliberal ideology—not as a woman, because I'm supporting, of course, my dear sister Jill Stein.”

West does not in any way shape or form touch on how he came to make such a disastrous political error supporting Sanders and the Democrats. How prior to jumping over to the Stein camp he spent his entire time telling people to support the Democratic and Sanders. Not only that, he doesn’t condemn Sanders for his betrayal, for his treachery. West just moves on never admitting his mistake and praising sanders as a brother despite Sanders backing a warmonger and mass killer really. What does that say about West's judgement when it comes to friends. The warmonger is no friend but the supporter of the warmonger is. Rhetoric and fiery speeches do not a revolution make.

Then they get Ajuma Baraka, an open supporter of Assad from what I understand and another academic. Is this color reductionism? No, it's actually academic reductionism. They could have picked that black woman from Flint that was on the TV about the water. No, she has no qualifications, too working class. Even had Stein won, the party has no structure, no dues and no means of collecting it. It is not a party in that sense. It would have been a disaster had she won. The party is in no shape to take power. And, as Sean says, the party is undemocratic, has no discipline, anyone can do what they want, and there are those in the party happy with that, they've found a nice home. There has to be a struggle against the middle class ideology and grouping that is so prominent in the Green party and a shift of orientation more to working class people from all backgrounds.

Sean said...

Gasfly writes: "I'm a Green voter, but have no GP position. Nonetheless, I suspect you'll (that is me Sean) consider me to also be part of the Manchurian Party or whatever. You have to think about this. I never mentioned anything about any "Manchurian Party. " But this Gadfly clearly infers that i did. Just like Scott McLarty infers that i have some affinity with the Clintons. This is just a sneaky way of smearing. I have also been accused in discussion about the policies of the Green party of being McCarthyite. Gadfly and others. Point out these smears that you say i make. You cannot. I do not smear. I discuss. And what i want to discuss now and what is in the interest of the Green Party to discuss now is why at the last election with the two most unpopular candidates ever for President the Green Party, we, did not even manage to get 2% of the vote. These was and is something wrong. This is what i want to discuss. And draw the lessons from this so the Party does not make the same mistake again. The Party leaders and people like Gadfly do not want to discuss this. So they try to say i am smearing people, they try to link me with the Democrats and Clintons. This is damaging to the Green Party. And those who support this method of discussion and those who keep quiet while it goes on will be responsible for more serious missed opportunities for the Green party. Sean O'Torain.

Sean said...

Thinking more about the last election. I have and do maintain that the top priority for the Green Party is to discuss why with the two most unpopular candidates for President ever the Green Party could not even get 2% of the votes. As I have been thinking about this I realized I was forgetting something else. The Green Party could not even get more votes that the moron Johnson of the Libertarian Party. And this after his Aleppo and other shows of ignorance. Even his own vice President just about abandoned him. How can the leadership of the Green Party refuse to discuss the reasons we did so bad in the last election and draw lessons. Their refusal to do so amounts in reality to a sabotaging of the Party. Sean O'Torain.