Strategic Errors

August 16, 2016

Articles

I have written 2 papers on Strategy and Tactics for the left. Generally, my criticisms focus on The Green Party but apply to the left in general.

 

The Green Party and the left have followed strategic mandates that have failed and failed miserably. Following an analysis that is faulty at best, many leftist groups abandon the electoral arena because it is dominated by two bourgeois parties. That creates a blind cynicism that is used as a tool by the ruling class.

The Green Party follows a strategy of building an “independent” party basically by articulating criticisms of The Democratic Party and progressive unions and workers loyal to The Democratic Party. Never once in 20 years has The Green Party articulated an analysis of The Republican Party. By focusing its attacks solely on The Democratic Party, The Green Party necessarily joins The Republican Party in defeating The Democratic Party. Instead of a progressive agenda, The Green Party unites with The Republican Party either intentionally or unintentionally.

 

In order to set a strategy in any situation, the first step is to analyze the goals and the obstacles. Hopefully, I will not alienate a large group of people by the example I use. I urge the readers to follow the logic, not judge the person.

 

I have been a hunter my entire life. I obtained my first one shot bolt action 22 rifle when I was 6 years old. I paid for it out of my paper route money.  Macho culture claimed that I was to be able to shoot a jack rabbit on the run. It represented a senseless strategy. A hunter cognizant of the alternatives waits until the jack rabbit runs his course and stops to rest or to check dangers. That is the only time a reasonable shot is possible.

 

In war, a general must have complete and accurate intelligence. Using a shorthand version, the general assesses the lay of the land, the strength of his or her allies, strength of his or her forces and of course obtains as much information as possible so that an analysis of the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses can be made. While far more complex and difficult, class war demands the same objective, studied investigation. Without exaggeration, most of the time on the left, a strategy is determined by ideology absent data, exhaustive study or gathering of evidence.

 

There are many ideological premises and a short list helps to reveal the ideological landscape: 1) Capitalism creates a revolutionary proletariats; or 2) capitalism unfairly concentrates wealth and the oppression and exploitation causes or creates revolutionary consciousness; or 3) as the working class progressively suffers increased oppression, it will spontaneously rebel against the oppression; or 4) the capitalist greed and sole focus on immediate maximum profit will set the basis of revolutionary fight back; or 5) as technology creates a new class without employment, the oppression by itself will establish revolutionary consciousness.

 

It is these “assumptions” that guide the strategic thinking of most left groups. There is no evidence that the working class will spontaneously rise and revolt. On the contrary, opposition occurs in fights for specific reform such as $15 minimum wage, or the Verizon strike or the battles against police murders. The Black Lives Matter is a good example. While the focus is on the murder of young black men, the movement necessarily expands the question of police conduct and the murders of working people by the police.

 

We have not had a movement to link the concentration of wealth because of capitalist development until Bernie ran in The Democratic primary. It was Bernie’s strategic decision that propelled a spontaneous movement for a progressive agenda onto the national scene. Bernie Democrats prove the inadequacy of left ideological assumptions.

 

These ideological assumptions relied on to support left group actions are frozen in the past. However, these assumptions set the basis for their facile conclusions. But these assumptions have been attacked and debunked individually and collectively. More importantly, even if one accepts the assumptions, they do not provide a strategic or tactical map for action.

 

The ideological assumption to which I adhere is that capitalism inevitably concentrates wealth and leads to fascism. A small group of people cannot control large masses without dictatorial control. But even that assumption provides no guidance for strategic direction. For instance, fascism is a general term and the governing structure can take many forms. That is why we hear oligarchy or dictatorship or according to Naomi Klein, free market disaster capitalism. In other words, the fact of the concentration of wealth provides no strategic guidance whatsoever for actions that must be taken. The fact of the concentration of wealth and the move towards the elimination of democracy does not set any strategic position as to how progressives must fight against this political reality. Jane Mayer in Dark Money outlines the actions of inherited wealth to distort and destroy the democratic process. If one were to conclude that the fact of the concentration of wealth provides a strategic and tactical map for opposition, it would have to be categorized as ideological. In other words, understanding the fact of capitalism’s move towards oppression and dictatorial power does not set any strategic basis for action.

 

With the fall of the Soviet Union and China’s move to capitalist development, the dominant political ideology is that articulated by Milton Friedman found in Capitalism and Freedom. The “Chicago Boys” take the position that the free market requires rejection of democratic principles. From Pinochet in Chile and Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, to Goni in Bolivia to Yeltsin in Russian, to Dang in China, the definition of freedom has become unrestricted markets with the elimination of democratic restrictions including the elimination of collective social protections. Naomi Klein’s book is a must read to determine the extent and philosophical coup d’état by the “Chicago Boys”.

 

The essence of the “Chicago Boys” position is that all social programs must be eliminated to free the market to perform its miracles. While the last 30 years has proven that there is no free market miracle, only Bernie’s movement has successfully pulled together millions of people to fight against the concentration of wealth and the denial of social support for working people.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot quote Naomi Klein’s entire book but this analysis from p. 304 is helpful

 

STARTING THE QUOTATION OF NAOMI KLEIN

“Nor were these catastrophic results unique to Russian; the entire thirty-year history of the Chicago School experiment has been one of mass corruption and corporatist collusion between security states and large corporations, from Chile’s piranhas, to Argentina’s crony privatizations, to Russia’s oligarchs, to Enron’s energy shell game, to Iraq’s “free fraud zone.” The point of shock therapy is to open up a window for enormous profits to be made very quickly – not despite the lawlessness but precisely because of it. “Russia Has Become a Klondike for International Fund Speculators,” ran a headline in a Russian newspaper in 1997, while Forbes described Russia and Central Europe as “the new frontier.”  The colonial-era terms were entirely appropriate. (Emphasis added)

END OF QUOTATION OF NAOMI KLEIN

When I first heard of Naomi Klein’s book Disaster Capitalism, I did not appreciate its importance. My first assumptions was: “capitalism is capitalism”. But that clearly is an example of being frozen in a past ideological analysis. On page 301 she states:

 

STARTING THE QUOTATION OF NAOMI KLEIN

“What have our motherland and her people gotten out of the last 15 criminal years?” Vladimir Gusev, a Moscow academic, asked at a 2006 democracy demonstration. “the years of criminal capitalism have killed off 10 percent of our population.” Russia’s population is indeed in dramatic decline – the country is losing roughly 700,000 people a year. Between 1992, and the first full year of shock therapy, and 2006, Russia’s population shrank by 6.6 million.  Three decades ago, Andre Gunder Frank, the dissident Chicago economist, wrote a letter to Milton Friedman accusing him of “economic genocide.” Many Russians describe the slow disappearance of their fellow citizens in similar terms today.

END OF QUOTATION OF NAOMI KLEIN

 

There is tremendous intellectual work being done. Yet, left groups, especially The Green Party, remain frozen in the past ideologically and strategically.

 

All of this discussion is to set the ground work for assessing the ideological assumption relied on by left groups.

 

There are groups that adhere to an ideological blindness on the question of electoral politics. The assumption on which these groups rely leads to strategic errors. Those assumptions are that there are two bourgeois parties. One is considered essentially the same as the other. There are multitude of analytical errors contained in these broad positions.

 

As a general proposition, the statement that there are two bourgeois parties has a kernel of truth. But to rely on that assumption to set strategic goals is comparable to a general required to traverse ground and concludes that it is immaterial whether the rough ground is muddy or rock filled.

 

The two parties are bourgeois parties but are very different in class composition and consciousness. One could conclude that the existence of 2 bourgeois parties controlled by the ruling class requires the conclusion that electoral politics is a dead end. That is an invalid conclusion. Or, the Green Party, concludes that they will build a party independent of the ruling class.

 

Both conclusions are invalid. Electoral politics infuses ideological perspective into the working class. In many ways working class consciousness is corrupted by electoral politics. But to leave the electoral process to the ruling class is simply blind cynicism. That blind cynicism breeds the logic of hopelessness and abandons the battlefield to the opportunist, operators, and schemers.

 

The building of a third party has a romantic attraction. But, at some point, one must be slapped in the face with reality. A third party can be a goal but the strategy and tactics are not accomplished by declaring a party. The Green Party has had the same line of march, moving with the same ideological perspective, relied on the same strategic position for over 20 years. It is a record of utter failure. At some point, the history of failure would cause the necessary conclusion that the strategic perspective must be abandoned.

 

But the ideological blindness on the left and The Green Party is far more corrupt. The Green Party is the clear expression of the corruption but all left groups express the same or similar perspectives. In order to adhere to failed strategy, the Green Party and most left groups at least those who address electoral questions attack The Democratic Party. In the last 20 years, the cacophony of Green Party attacks on The Democratic Party has never once addressed the presence or importance of The Republican Party. The Republican Party is powerful and affects the consciousness of millions of people. In other words, The Green Party and all left groups have a blind spot so massive that it is destructive and corrupt. In essence, they end up supporting The Republican agenda of focusing its attacks on The Democratic Party and all workers that support the party.

 

The Republican Party contains the most backward sections of the working class and agents of the 1%. Financed by the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party has taken over many sections of The Republican Party. Their operatives influence all decisions of The Republican Party and thereby affect the tactical maneuvers of The Democratic Party. Yet, all left groups especially the Green Party continue to ignore The Republican Party and its influence on the political consciousness of the American working class.

 

A Green Party operative recently posted a statement that he is more worried about what Hillary has done than what Trump says. It perfectly reveals The Green Party agenda which is to defeat The Democratic Party and support The Republican Party. This strategy isolates The Green Party from millions of progressives, unions and workers in general. The arrogance is such that The Green Party cares nothing of the suffering by the working class when Republicans win. It reveals that the intent of Nader’s run in 2000 was to defeat Al Gore and put Bush II in power. Then, as a matter of political dishonesty, the Green Party denies that it had any effect on the defeat of Al Gore in 2000. It is not because they did not try to defeat Gore. That was their strategy and sadly that remains their strategy in the present election.

 

As I have said, strategy defines program. The strategy of The Green Party is not progressive. It is designed to inflict enormous suffering on working people including endless wars, denial of healthcare, undermine union strength, promote racial discrimination and on and on.  Other left groups promote blind cynicism declaring that the struggle for power is useless in the electoral arena. They propose no viable alternative. Hope for betterment is the only basis for revolutionary struggle. Cynicism is an enemy of working people.

 

By contrast, Bernie has shattered the wall protecting the 1 %. By not attacking The Democratic Party and instead fighting within The Democratic Party, Bernie has focused the revolutionary movement on the 1% and The Republican Party that supports the 1%. He has mobilized 13 million Bernie Democrats. He has inspired young people to fight for democratic change. His strategy has been a massive success. Instead of uniting with that strategy The Green Party and all left groups adhere to the failed strategy of either refusing to participate in the electoral politics or doing nothing but attacking the Democratic Party and becoming allies of The Republican Party as The Green Party does to this day.

 

Strategy defines program and therefore for all the profession of progressive ideology, those who support blind cynicism or attack solely all those in The Democratic Party do not have a progressive strategy. In fact, by uniting with The Republican Party, they are actually taking reactionary positions and hiding those positions behind a program that is allegedly progressive.

 

Yours in Struggle,

Ron

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One Response to “Strategic Errors”

  1. Judy Says:

    My daughter had found your post and I am surprised and amazed that it has not had comments.
    Your analysis is amazing and well thought out. I believe every person on the left who purports to care for the 99% should read this. I have long known that the way forward is through the Democratic party though I could not have expressed the reasons except to say that the Democrats are the party that any organizations for workers like the unions have coalesced around and that the far left has never before Bernie reached out to them. I have knowledge of several Bernie supporters though who in supporting Bernie convinced themselves of the falsehood that Hillary is evil and may now vote Green party. In spite of everything, I remain optomistic that she will win.
    Thank you for your insight.

    Reply

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