"'I want to bring back the aloha spirit,' she told reporters. 'That means when you're out on the ocean and you're paddling for a wave and you see someone else is already up riding it, you know what you do? You pull out.
"'You step back and you let him go. You let people be themselves. It's called sharing, it's called caring, it's called working together for the common good.'"(1)
--Donna Frye, the apparent winner of the San Diego mayor's contest via write-in vote
The media is approximately treating an important question by talking about the cultural divide between the South and Rocky Mountain "red states" on the one hand that voted for Bu$h and the two coasts of "blue states" that voted for Kerry. We need to push into that deeper, because the key is understanding that issues do not divide the public, and that is a major reason why progressives always seem to be overly intellectual to the voting public.
One of the questions that the bourgeois political consultants pose over and over again in Amerikan politics is whether Democrats should get religion.(2) This serves as a rationale for why they lost in 2004 and why Gore picked Lieberman in 2000. The surface truth to this is that evangelical Protestants voted 3 to 1 for Bu$h and the largest single bloc of voters (21%) said "moral values" is their number one issue, with Iraq falling to fourth place.
Within bourgeois logic, the Democrats should split themselves into two parties, with the new party taking up religion and based in churches, but able to work with Democrats on non-social issues. Within a two-party system, attacking Republicans would require replacing the Republicans with a different party to contend with. Yet, most Democrats are so much in love with Republicans and wedded to "lesser evil" thinking that they would not think of splitting into two parties; even though they have nothing to lose at this point from doing so.
The whole question of theocratic politics should be a clue that electoral politics is a dead-end. When we work within the confines of the electoral system, it's only rational that we get stuck on such questions and that the reactionaries feed them to us non-stop. That has to be taken into account when people like Howard Dean draw activists into their system.
The religion "issue" is another example of how Amerikans are in their vast majority, pre-political. 2400 Catholic priests are now in a database for sexual abuse of children accusations, but donations to the Catholic Church increased, while Clinton had oral sex with an adult and Congress impeached him. So it's important to rational and progressive Democrats to look at this and not take "moral values" literally. When we hear "moral values" we should hear more along these lines: "I like the people I know who go to church every week and I like my friends who go to the same church and are married and stay married. We're all Republicans and like each other, the people we are familiar with."
That's why, if you go to those people with a Democrat who says s/he is also Baptist, it's not going to work. It worked for Carter, because those of a born-again lifestyle decided their lifestyle was more similar to Carter's than Michigan Republican Gerald Ford's. Had Carter run against another southern rural white Christian, the outcome would have been different as we see in Bush vs. Gore, where Gore lost his home state. Bu$h moved around brush on his ranch while Gore sat in Washington DC.
It's not really the issues, but the lifestyle. The pre-political voter has to decide that the candidate is one of the people from his/her lifestyle. It's such a joke that Amerika has made itself that Kerry's windsurfing off Nantucket counted against him in the heartland. Increasingly, Republicans realize that Democrats are single wimmin living in cities while they themselves are married church-goers of the rural areas. When they do meet Democrats in the rural areas, the Republicans do not get along with them. The issues do not matter.
To think of this from a reverse angle, the true outlet for the pre-political should be in church dissension and splitting. They should be getting up and going over to Clinton's church to denounce whoever raised him to stain Monica Lewinsky's dress. They should be fighting their neighbors whose lifestyles they don't like, but instead, they take that to the government. A Kennedy recently took up city politics because he got a ticket for his hedges. It's all lifestyle clutter filling in where politics should be.
Now in the first place, for all the social-democrats taking bourgeois democracy at face-value, those exit poll numbers on the moral values voting bloc are important. The entire economy came behind the "moral values" question as an issue, and even "moral values" is a small plurality. That's not to mention that when people say "economy," they are talking about a variety of different things that may not be what social-democrats have in mind.
All this is to point out how dogmatic social-democrats have to be to look at this and not learn a lesson: Bu$h was indeed the first president since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss of jobs during his term. The difference between the Clinton years and the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. years was incredibly stark to anyone who looks at facts. Moreover, Ohio lost 22% of its manufacturing jobs under Bu$h. That's all true, (but we would never emphasize it because it's not pointing to a road forward) and the population even heard it on major media to the tune of $320 million in radio and television ads. Media outlets on Wall Street such as Bloomberg also admitted the facts. The facts were everywhere. OK, social-democrats, so if we take democracy at face-value, it's time to learn a lesson. Your "issue" does not float many boats. In the last 60 years of u.$. history, it's never been put this clearly to you by the facts themselves; though, MIM has been telling you for a long time that your white-working class strategy is not going to bring progress. All this dreaming about the white working class rising up on economic issues and taxes is pure reformist dogma. If social-democrats cannot see that now, they are as stupid as the people who think they voted against Gore for Monica Lewinsky's stained dress.
Fundamentally, elections are not a rational process, but because they are a divisive and irrational process what ends up asserting itself is raw white nationalist interest. The lifestyles are so divisive and break people down into such small groups, that the only group interests that really can assert themselves are the big ones such as race/nationality--and choices that lead to that are all conscious. For example, one "issue" that elected Bu$h is gun ownership. It's another example where an "issue" has a guise, in this case the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The crackers who own guns have no idea about the revolutionary ideas of the founding fathers, else these same crackers would not be complaining so much about "liberalism" when all the founding fathers who wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights were Liberals and wanted gun ownership for Liberal reasons.
As H.W. Edwards proved, the white gun ownership issue is really a labor aristocracy thing completely detached from its original Liberal intellectual history around 1776. Historically, gun ownership is not for the creation of disorder to keep the government honest the way the founding fathers intended but to keep order among frightful settler-minded people--to kill First Nations people and now to keep out Blacks and others that the crackers are afraid of.
That's the underlying historical and statistical truth, but no one has to know. Hence, anyone who raises the 2nd Amendment or hunting taps into that. The reason for that again, is that only 10% of the public--more in some places and time, less in others-- taps into issues at all. If we've become very fortunate that figure gets up to 20%, and both Lenin with the "vanguard party" and W.E.B. DuBois with his "talented tenth" tapped into that approximately with "elitism."
If you really want to talk issues--and progressive Democrats are a large portion of that 10%--you have to limit yourself to 10% of the population. The trouble is, that in a close election, Democrats will feel compelled to talk with other issues-oriented people, because it will make some difference for those people. Many may not realize how few actually process issues and how few among issues-oriented people actually disagree with them. That's why it's important to look at the overall numbers and see what drawing people into the electoral system does--which is frustrate them with the prospects for change. If we are going to keep people motivated for change, we have to accurately downgrade people's hopes in the white working class while keeping them posted on the international situation.
We've already pointed out in another article that voters from 2000 broke 50 to 45 for Bu$h, so by most progressive Democrats' own standards, bringing people to the electoral system makes them even more reactionary. We cannot say it's just an advantage of incumbency, because 60% of first-time voters went the Democrats' way. What it means is that in fighting the status quo of Republican power, the Democrats are feeding people with intentions of change into the system and making them more reactionary.
When it comes to co-optation, the progressive Democrats share the greatest blame for starting a Deaniac in New Hampshire and leading him/her to Copley Square to hear Kerry concede and say we have to "succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror." Republicans can't do that. They only benefit when four years later, more Democrats convert to Republicans.
This is not a surprising result, because frustration leads to conservatism and it's "can't do it" attitude and Democrats have no way to tap into the power of progress that exists in this world. The underlying reason is that the people who are the source of progress cannot vote in the united $tates, so any strategy with nationalist blinders is going to fail to bring progress. It's only that Maoist road that is going to fully account for the power of the Third World.
The facts about only 10% dealing with issues is a pretty major disadvantage one might think and it is, but without getting used to that fact, frustration is the only result and that means carrying out wasteful patterns of action. In truth, this fact is also a great disadvantage to the imperialists. When they want to go in a particular direction, the settler nature of the economy with each persyn having his or her own lifestyle on his or her own piece of the economy (land) is a disadvantage. The labor aristocracy was for anti-communism, and even when a vast majority of elected imperialists and military intelligence officials knew from the beginning of the 1960s that there was no way to "win" the war in Vietnam, the imperialists had to stay in Vietnam and let the crackers die till they changed their minds. That whole process was bad for the imperialists too, so it's not just we at MIM and the international proletariat who have a disadvantage from the nature of the Amerikan population as pre-political.
Overwhelming violence is the only thing that can steer a lifestyle-oriented country like Amerika, but Osama Bin Laden's strike had only a one-time effect. What we have now is a residual fear from that, but large groups of people are making a mistake in assessing the impact.
Over and over again we hear in Amerika the sense of wonder that Bu$h did not unite the country after 911. Even as the television commentators praised Bu$h, they raised this question and wondered. The one theory for that is that Bu$h is not the caliber of leader to be able to do that. That became the Democratic Party mantra. Republicans did not really have an answer for that, but they did not have to. The reason again is that the Democrats only tapped into underlying lifestyle divisions with their question. That is why to all bourgeois amazement, the red states and blue states stayed pretty much the same in 2004. The question of why there is no post-911 Amerikan unity or global unity is a big clue. The fact that 150,000 young Amerikans have their asses on the line in Iraq and the plurality of voters still felt they had the luxury to decide the elections based on gay marriage is another clue: it would take very steady and very serious violence to raise an "issue" to prominence in Amerika.
This hurts the many Amerikans who think they are "patriots" and that issues matter. It brings them right up to the edge of the truth--which is that there is no "free will" whereby each individual declares him/herself a part of "united we stand." Everyone can wave the flag, but that's as far as it goes in highly individualistic settler-petty-bourgeois-dominated societies. We can decide that hurts our feelings or we can recognize it as truth and work from there.
Osama Bin Laden need not fear the united $tates would ever truly unite. If it did unite, it would surely do it in such a self-destructive manner that it would be the end of the settler-oriented "way of life." In the process of that destruction, MIM would get its chance to take power. Short of that, as Osama Bin Laden said in his most recent video statement, he and Bu$h are working "as one." Bu$h wanted to send 150,000 people to Iraq to get an education, and Al-Qaeda along with other Iraqis are educating them steadily. That's how we got from 20% white opposition to the war to 42%, while Amerikans have hardly a peep to utter against the occupation of Haiti because of the lack of anti-U.$. violence there. Iraqis may even teach themselves Mao's art of People's War in the process. That's the real X-factor in Amerikan politics, not getting Democrats to take up religion.
It's very difficult to win a write-in candidacy in the united $tates, especially in larger places where people do not know each other already, but Donna Frye put up a very good showing in the seventh largest city in the united $tates, San Diego. By all rights, the mayor of San Diego should be a major imperialist, but Frye managed an effective appeal to the petty-bourgeoisie on lifestyle, something that is generally possible in the Amerikan economy. Hence, we should take the quote at the top of this article seriously. Every word is the word of an Amerikan winner, a concentrated expression of Amerikan ideology. The surfing appeal is obvious, but the metaphor will appeal to stodgy middle-class people who are too old to be be surfing, because underlying it is a middle-class sense of space and civility--not to worry, not some communist idea about "sharing." For the settler economies, the Frye metaphor works. Each individual should have his or her own wave.
There is very little that we can do as communists to win in Amerikan politics within its own terms. Those of us who are Trotskyists (who think the West has the most progressive culture) or anarchists (who believe in non-collective communism as if it were possible to touch any aspect of the u.$. economy without parasitic taint) have more to work with, but those of us following Lenin's theory of imperialism about the decadence of Amerikan society are not going to be latching onto lifestyle political waves. For us, the Buddhists, the vegetarians, the surfers--the various lifestyle advocates attempt to blunt the impact of the Amerikan mainstream, but they are in fact an expression of the same thing. These kinds of people should be organized and that's why we recently suggested to some other lifestyle individualists that they cease calling themselves Leninists and work full time on organizing these sorts of people in anti-war groups with a non-issues approach.
At this moment there are a number of people who see the Democratic Party as a tactical vehicle for progress and they are very frustrated. It's not just the losing in the Supreme Court, Congress and the presidency but the reasons people give for voting Republican that are frustrating Democrats. Those reasons are frustrating because they are taken too literally and because rational issue discussion is not the point.
MIM is here to say that rational progressive people have to give up the Democratic Party and work through why joining MIM is the right thing for thinking people. The underlying assumption of incremental progress through the Democratic Party is wrong. It's not religion or gun ownership "issues" that are going to break the impasse for progressives, but staying inside the electoral system inevitably leads to such conclusions.