Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist Party

What did the revisionists conclude from their fiasco in the elections?

First Published:The Workers’ Advocate Vol. 15, No. 2, February 1, 1985.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In 1984 the revisionists shamed themselves. Even though Mondale ran his presidential campaign on the essential theme that he could do a better job of carrying out Reagan’s policies than Reagan, a series of pro-Soviet revisionist and Maoist groups endorsed Mondale and tried to dress up the Democratic Party as an alternative to Reaganite reaction.

Now the elections are past. Mondale suffered a humiliating defeat. And the big shots of the Democratic Party have concluded that they lost because their party has not done enough to get rid of its liberal image from the past. The Democrats want to shift to an even more openly Reaganite posture and there is little wonder in the fact that in Congress the Democrats have become the champions of such Reaganite causes as imposing a flat tax to shift more of the tax burden onto the working masses, of making further cuts in social welfare programs in the name of balancing the budget, and so forth.

The elections and their aftermath drives home the fact that the working class cannot fight Reaganite reaction through the Democratic Party. The Democrats are a big party of the capitalists just like the Republicans and Reaganite reaction is the bipartisan policy of the capitalist class. To fight Reaganite reaction, the working class must break free from the influence of the Democratic Party and organize its own independent political movement.

But the revisionists never learn. Frightened by reaction, whining about the weakness of the “left,” and dazzled by the union bureaucrats, the black misleaders, and other reformists, the revisionists can see no response to Reaganism but to work to tie the workers to the coattails of the Democrats. The revisionists claim to be Marxist-Leninist fighters for the working class. But they have become liquidators of the independent organization and action of the working class. For the working class to stand up in its own right these liquidators must be exposed.

Admissions That the Democrats Are No Alternative to Reaganism

A whole slew of revisionist groups actually endorsed and campaigned for Mondale in the presidential elections. These included such organizations as the official pro-Soviet revisionists of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), the pro-Soviet Line of March organization (LOM), the Maoists of the Communist Workers Party (CWP), the ultra-opportunists of the Guardian newspaper, and so forth.

Typical among them was the stand of the Maoist League of Revolutionary Struggle (LRS). The LRS first campaigned for Jesse Jackson and then, following his lead, endorsed Mondale. They even ran front page headlines like “Get Out the Vote November 6! Defeat Reagan, Vote Mondale/Ferraro.” (Unity, October 26-November 15, 1984) And repeatedly they promised that voting Democratic was the only real, practical way to fight Reaganism.

Following the elections, the LRS has sought to explain the reason for Mondale ’s embarrassing defeat and to chart a course for the future. Their views are quite useful to understanding the lackey mentality of the revisionist liquidators.

In the first place, the LRS explains that Mondale lost to Reagan because the Democrats offered no actual alternative. In a front page lead article the LRS asserts that, “In the final analysis, the defeat of Reagan would not have been possible without a coherent alternative that could inspire and motivate Afro- Americans, Latins and poor and working class whites. But such a program has been missing in the Democratic Party, the necessary vehicle for the fight against Reagan, given the weakness of the left and progressive movement. And it will be extremely difficult for the Democratic Party to develop one.” (Unity, “Reagan’s electoral landslide forces Democrats to regroup,” November 16-29,1984)

It is, of course, quite true that the Democrats offered no alternative to the reactionary policies of Reagan. But then one has to wonder why the LRS campaigned in support of the Democrats. One also has to wonder why, if the LRS is so concerned about the “weakness of the left and progressive movement,” they did not work to build up the independent movement of the workers instead of subordinating it to the Democrats. But let us leave these questions aside for the moment and go on to the LRS’s explanation of why the Democrats are no alternative to Reaganism.

In an editorial in the same issue of Unity, the LRS explains that, “The Democratic Party and the liberals in its leadership are fundamentally incapable of leading the forging of a progressive alternative to the Republican Party and the New Right. These liberals themselves are part of the ruling class consensus, which have moved to the right. Don’t forget that the Democratic Party platform passed in San Francisco this year was the most conservative in the party’s history in the past half century.”

This seems quite clear. Reaganism is the bipartisan policy of the capitalists. Obviously, then, if the working class is to fight Reaganism it must organize itself independently from and against the Democrats as well as the Republicans.

But the LRS does not draw this all too obvious conclusion. Remember that the LRS has already explained that they consider the Democratic Party to be “the necessary vehicle for the fight against Reagan.” Instead of opposing the Democrats the LRS sets itself the task of “redefining” the Democratic Party.

Fantasies About “Redefining” the Democratic Party

In the front page article cited above, under the heading “Redefining the Democratic Party,” the LRS argues that, “The Democrats now have to face the fact that their old winning coalition, forged by Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression, is over. This does not mean that the party is dead, but only that it most likely is entering a period of crisis to redefine its new identity and constituency. In this unsettled atmosphere, it may be possible for new strategies to come forward, such as Jesse Jackson’s call to win back the South with an economic platform around which black people and poor whites can unite.”

Here the LRS simply forgets about its own analysis that the Democratic Party is moving to the right. They hide from view the fact the liberals are citing the supposed death of the Rooseveltian liberal-labor coalition as proof of the need to become even more openly Reaganite. And they prettify Jackson’s southern “strategy” which is not a program for uniting the masses for a fight against racism or for the economic demands of the working people, but is instead a plan for bringing the black misleaders together with the racist Dixiecrats. (See “Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition,” page 3)

The LRS has departed from the reality of the class struggle in the U.S. and is dredging up the amazing illusion that “it may be possible” to reform the Democratic Party. This is nonsense, but it is, nevertheless, the goal LRS sets for the working class and the left.

In the editorial cited above, the LRS complains that the liberals can’t be trusted and therefore, “Instead, the alternative to the right must be led by the working class and the left. The development of independent politics is key to the future. The left must take the lead. There must be no respite for Ronald Reagan. We should try to forge coalitions, region by region, state by state, county by county, and city by city, to fight against Reaganism and everything it stands for. These coalitions must include all forces that oppose Reagan and the right, from moderate and liberal Democrats to environmentalists, peace activists, other progressives and the left.” (emphasis added)

Of course, the LRS blows a lot of hot air about the “development of independent politics.” But this is just the window dressing they try to use to hoodwink the workers. The essential task that they set forward is that of building “broad coalitions” with the “moderate and liberal Democrats.” These coalitions are to prepare for the 1986 and ’88 elections and “can eventually constitute a national electoral majority.”

In short, the LRS is simply calling on “the left to take the lead” in the illusionary work of reforming and revitalizing the Democratic Party.

It should be remembered that before the LRS told us that the liberals are “part of the ruling class consensus, which have moved to the right.” But now, only a paragraph later in their editorial, the LRS claims that not only the liberals but also the “moderate” Democrats are “forces that oppose Reagan and the right.” The LRS is obviously talking out of both sides of its mouth. The truth of the matter appears to be that not only are the Democrats moving to the right but so is the LRS.

Pulling Themselves Up On Jesse Jackson’s Bootstraps

As can be seen from the passages above, the LRS’s hopes for “redefining” the Democratic Party rest most of all with Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition. And not only the LRS but virtually all of the revisionist liquidators look upon Jackson’s entry into the electoral arena as the most important development since the invention of the wheel.

For example, the pro-Soviet revisionist Line of March organization sums up the 1984 elections this way: “The most overwhelmingly positive development of this year’s election campaign was the emergence of the Rainbow Coalition around Jesse Jackson’s independent candidacy for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.” (Frontline, November 19, 1984)

How running in the Democratic Party is acting ”independent” of the Democrats is anyone’s guess. But this is how the revisionists have all along tried to prettify Jackson and cover up his essential stands of trying to reconcile the black masses to the racist ruling class.

It comes as no surprise then that when Jackson takes a more open turn to the right the revisionists are johnny- on-the-spot to paint this up as an important new development of independent politics.

In December Jackson held a meeting of his Rainbow Coalition Inc. which decided to open up talks with the national and state leaders of the Republican Party. It was not enough for Jackson to stretch out his hand to the racist Dixiecrats, now he wants to wheel and deal directly in Reagan’s camp.

So what did the revisionists think of Jackson’s latest treachery? In the December 3 issue of Frontline the LOM praised the Rainbow meeting to the skies. And, while they did not say a word about Jackson’s new opening to the Republicans, they claim that Jackson moved the Rainbow Coalition to a more “independent” stand.

The LOM article triumphantly points out that, “At the meeting Jackson defined the Rainbow Coalition as ’an organization representing an independent, third political force in American politics,” the Republican and Democratic parties being the other two forces. This constitutes a change from an earlier characterization as the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

How’s that for a cover up? The LOM hides the fact that Jackson is opening up talks with Reagan’s party. And they make it appear that his redefinition of the Rainbow to this end is a step in building a political force independent of the Republicans and Democrats. It is hard to decide which is worse, Jackson’s treachery or the revisionists’ disgusting prettification of it.

As the Democrats move to more openly Reaganite positions, the betrayal of the revisionist liquidators becomes all the more obvious and obnoxious. Liquidationist politics is like a poisonous abscess on the body of the workers’ movement. This abscess must be removed for the workers’ movement to grow healthy, for it to stand up in its own class interest against the parties of the capitalists, the Democrats and Republicans alike. The fight against revisionist liquidationism and the building up of the genuine Marxist- Leninist Party continue to be essential tasks in the work to organize the working class into its own independent political movement.