Howie appeared on a MarxMail panel on “Socialists and the 2024 Elections” on September 24. Watch the discussion and hear Howie’s case for why it’s important for independent socialists to run campaigns outside the Democratic Party.
Ted Zuur: [00:00:06] Okay, so good morning. And good afternoon. And good evening. I’m not sure how many time zones we have here, but I’m pretty sure all across North America and in Western Europe and maybe in Eastern Europe, too. And I’m in South America, at least two people in South America. So this is the first ever online forum sponsored by the Marxism List. My name is Ted Zuur. I’m going to moderate. If you participate in the list, you know me as Anthony Boynton, which is a pen name. I adopted it when I moved to Colombia, where I now live, many years ago. But you can call me Ted if you want. For those of you who are not participants in the Marxism list, it’s been around in one form or another for about 30 years. Its current form was the brainchild and project of Louis Proyect. I always called him “Project” but have been corrected.
Unfortunately, Louis passed away a couple of years ago, and he left the list in the hands of Les Schaefer, who you can see in the third. Well, I don’t know where he is. He’s raising his hand. So Les Schaefer is the godfather of the moderators group, which now includes me and Mark Baugher and David Walters. The moderators group is the group of people behind this forum. The list is a conversation about Marxism and everything related to Marxism. And it’s focused on attracting activists and scholars. We try to have a civil and comradely conversation, which we’re going to do here today, which is why Mark will throw out trolls and people who throw chairs.
The topic today is socialism and the 2024 elections in the USA.
We have four speakers. We’re going to choose the order of these speakers by a little device, a random name chooser. But let me give you a brief introduction of the four speakers.
Howie Hawkins, would you raise your hand? Howie. So, Howie is a retired Teamster. He’s in New York, Syracuse, New York. He’s been active in the civil rights, peace, labor, and environmental movements and in independent Left politics since the 1960s, like a bunch of other people here. He was the Green Party nominee for president in 2020.
Nancy, I hope I’m going to pronounce your name correctly. Nancy Reiko Kato. Okay. Nancy is the organizer for the Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party. She’s an activist in AFSCME Council 57, a leader in the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice and a defender of LGBTQ Plus and people of color.
Then we have David Walters, who is also one of our moderators. Raise your hand, David. So David has been in the revolutionary movement since the early 70s. He was in the Young Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Workers Party. I think some other people here were, too. He has worked in shipyards and power plants, including an organizing drive in a nonunion shipyard. He was a member of the San Francisco Labor Council, and he is one of the editors of the Selected Works of Eugene Debs.
And then John Reimann, would you please raise your hand? John Reimann is the former recording secretary of Carpenters Union Local 713. He was expelled for leading a wildcat strike. In 2022, he ran as a working class socialist candidate for mayor of Oakland.
Oh, I’m sorry, Nancy. Would you raise your hand, Nancy? That’s Nancy. I didn’t ask her to raise her hand. Forgive me, Nancy.
We don’t have a lot of rules. You can’t throw chairs. Debate and discussion is going to be comradely. Each speaker has ten minutes. They can ask for two minutes more. Mark will keep the time. Speakers from the floor have three minutes. Once we’ve finished the speakers and the discussion, we’ll open things up for closing remarks by the speakers. And at that time we’ll try to suggest some time limits if we need them. And that’s it. So if anybody has any procedural questions, ask them now.
No questions. So I’m going to share my screen with you. Okay, this is our random name chooser. We have four names and here we go. It’s like. It’s like being in a casino. Okay. Nancy is going to go first. Howie is going to go second. And David will go third and John will be the fourth speaker.
Ted Zuur: [00:07:02] So, Nancy, are you ready?
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:07:05] I am so thankful to the marxmail.world list for inviting the Freedom Socialist Party to participate in today’s forum. I was hoping not to be first because then I could hear what the other people had to say. But somebody had to be first and why not me? So with Capitalist capitalism’s continued downward slide, next year’s presidential election weighs on the minds as we are faced with either a Biden or a Trump second term. Regardless of who wins, we’re seeing increased poverty and hardship. Our office in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, where Houselessness and drug addiction continue to grow in spite of money being thrown at the problem. Prices go up, but our incomes don’t. Social Security tells us that. That tells us that 33% of our retirement income comes from a paycheck. The ability to get an abortion and the time you’re able to get one is in shambles. The police murders of black and brown people continue. And violence against women and trans folks is happening daily. And this is just a snippet of what working people are facing. The attacks on us as workers of color, women, queers, feminists are intensifying and elected leaders stand by with lip service at best. I live in California, the fifth largest economy of the world and with a super Democratic Party majority. So why don’t we have state paid health care for everyone and a home for all? It’s because we have different class interests. Both the Democrats and Republicans represent the interests of the bosses.
John Reimann: [00:08:46] At this point, there was an unintentional interruption. That part has been edited out.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:08:53] So as I said, California’s the fifth largest economy in the world. We still got problems. There’s a supermajority, Democrats in California. And yet, you know, we still have the same social problems as everywhere else. They represent the Democrats and Republicans represent the interests of the bosses, which means they are propping up the system and profit off our misery. So we need to break with the twin parties of capitalism. I think it’s also important to put elections into a context. While President presidential elections consume months of our lives. Elections in and of themselves are not the road to basic change. We see that change is made through working people standing up and demanding voting rights and an end to Jim Crow. Like what happened during the civil rights movements when students demonstrated and demanded the creation of ethnic gender, queer and labor studies. That’s when change happened. , as socialists, we have an important role in analyzing what’s going on in the world and advocating for action based on our analysis. Trump does pose a threat to the rights we still have. But is that reason to tell the working class to vote for Biden, who will easily adopt far right bigotry and repression? If the bosses need to move towards fascism. Advocating for workers to cross the class line is unprincipled and we end up discrediting the left. Yes, times are bad, but voting for Biden is not going to stop the fascist connected Republicans.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:10:29] Why? Because Biden and the Democrats are also part of the problem and certainly not a part of the solution. This lesser evil rationale is the argument of the reformists and social Democrats in Fsp’s election recommendations. We only support publicly anti-capitalist and open socialist candidates. We supported John John’s campaign for mayor last year because he ran as an open socialist and had an anti profit system platform. Capitalist candidates are not an option we consider. We don’t have to hold our noses as or as a famous socialist said, and vote for something we don’t want and get it. So how do we stop this growing fascist threat? Well, first, let’s understand what it is. We know that global capitalism is in a crisis, and the profit system is looking for ways to prolong its ability to strive for the unreachable goal of ever expanding profit. Currently we are governed through bourgeois parliamentary democracy. This form allows the capitalist to exercise their political power. Think Alec and the Koch brothers and it can grant certain reforms when workers start to rebel. This capitalist democracy works as long as they can maintain the tricky balance of keeping a highly unstable system together. And if they can’t, then they have to move towards a violent centralization of power. Fascism needs a mass movement in order to be. To be considered. We have a growing fascist movement, the Moms for Liberty. There’s 100,000 of them, and they’re taking over local school boards and passing horrible legislation about outing trans kids.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:12:12] The proud boys are growing in spite of the jailings and prison sentences for the ones involved in the January 6th takeover or attempt to take over. But the workers movement needs to be defeated in order for the fascists to come to power, and we are far from that. One of the key takeaways that Leon Trotsky pointed out is that the left and workers have opportunities to defeat fascism before it can take power. I’ll take those odds any day. Working people are on the move, which is preparing them for battling the fascists. Massive strike waves and militant fights for wages and sustainable workloads have been on the rise in the last few years. Low wage workers are seeing that unionization will help their working conditions and are organizing with women and people of color being some of the lowest paid workers. They are leading the charge. Workers are fed up and not taking it anymore. So how can you tell railroad workers to vote for the president who who imposed a contract that they had rejected? How can you tell climate change activists to mark their ballots For someone who has opened up 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas leasing for immigrants and people of color? Biden’s restrictive border control forces refugees to apply for legal status in their home countries where they are trying to escape from and criminalizes them.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:13:43] Biden has no credibility amongst the working class. One good story is Lionel Messi is a hero for workers. When his team honored the strike line at the hotels in LA and they switched hotels when they were down there and the soccer players union issued a statement of solidarity for Unite here Local 11. So workers are far from being defeated. I think we are on an upward trajectory and we are fighting back. The Writers Guild strike has been going on for almost five months with Sag-aftra following at two and a half months, and they refused to back down until they win. I was down in Los Angeles last month collaborating with our branch there and participating in the strikes and the solidarity between the different strikes was inspiring. It was reading signs like Writers Guild supports Unite Here and Union Barista Stand with WGA and Sag-aftra is to me, having been involved in the labor movement, a first where you have union paid for signs. We’ve seen those signs by individuals, you know, carrying them, but not officially printed union signs. When management tried to intimidate hotel hotel workers by sending their security goons to accost the strikers, they proved to management that they are fierce and resolute and showed other workers how to stand up to the modern day Pinkerton thugs. Their union call for community defense, which was important. They got a lot of support. Uh, as I’m involved in the national Mobilization for Reproductive justice and we’re in the midst of a campaign to get Afl-cio President Liz Shuler to call an emergency conference on reproductive justice so that the labor movement can formulate a plan on how to defend the rights and win rights for all of its members and all working people.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:15:39] My union, ASCME Council 57, donated 1000 bucks and endorsed the case or not the case, but the campaign. So we’ve already had a meeting with Afl-cio reps to discuss how to make this conference happen. Last weekend, FSP organized a protest against the Women’s Declaration International, a transphobic separatist group who have aligned themselves with the far right. We even got the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Club to endorse, and the chair of the San Francisco Democratic Club spoke. We work with Democrats, but we don’t endorse them. We’ve built relations in the community and we can agree to disagree and work together. So what do we need to do? Well, we need to join together on the left to build united fronts to defeat the fascists. Workers are already fighting. So let’s share our Marxist analysis of capitalism and why it represses wage earners, women, people of color, Lgbtq+, and those with disability. When we learn of a fascist threat, we should be contacting unions, inviting their participation, especially on security. The left needs to jointly fight back against anti-communist legislation.
John Reimann: [00:16:57] One minute warning, Nancy.
Mark Baugher: [00:16:58] We gave you an additional minute because of the interruption. So this is your nine minute warning at ten minutes.
John Reimann: [00:17:03] Thank you very much.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:17:05] The left needs to jointly fight back against anti-communist legislation such as the recent House legislation, legislation denouncing the, quote, horrors of socialism. We also need to work together to stop the attacks on other left organizations. Let’s promote socialism as a cure for capitalism’s inhumane disregard for people’s life. This is especially urgent today since so many young people are in favor of socialism. And actually most of the people we’re seeing coming around FSP are young people. We need to build a mass organization that fights for the rights and needs of working people and the oppressed. The organization could support and run candidates, and we’d argue that it needs to be anti-capitalist. Unions who stop supporting Democrats. Could could also belong and would be welcome. The Freedom Socialist Party has confidence in the working class as a class where multiracial, multi gendered, multi sexuality, multi generation and we are not defeated. Defeated. Can workers rise to the challenge of defeating capitalism and replacing it with socialism? I say yes. So let’s get to it. Thank you.
John Reimann: [00:18:22] Thank you, Nancy.
Ted Zuur: [00:18:24] Okay. So next up, we have Howie. Are you ready, Howie? You’re muted, Howie. You want to unmute yourself, or do you want me to do it?
Howie Hawkins: [00:18:39] Well, thank you, Ted. I got five points, and we’ll try to do them in ten minutes. My first one is that I would argue that the most effective way to politically isolate and defeat neofascist Republicans is with independent left candidates, including a candidate for president in 2024. Because what that will do is amplify progressive movements and demands, move the debate to the left, force the Democrats to deal with our demands and isolate and defeat the far right. If the left silences itself by not running our own candidates, the whole election moves to the right. Now, unfortunately, for a long time, the dominant position on the broad progressive side of politics. As well as much of the ideologically socialist left has been to support the Democrats as the lesser evil. And that approach has been dominant for 88 years since the Communists led much of the left into the Democratic Party with their cross-class Popular Front against Fascism in 1936. The Socialist Party followed them in the 1950s with their realignment strategy to reform the Democrats into kind of a social democratic party. And what’s the result been? Socialism as a distinct alternative in the mainstream of American politics has disappeared, or largely. And the result has been the whole political spectrum has moved to the right. You know, the New Deal. Democrats have been replaced by the corporate New Democrats. And I think that’s because the Democrats feel they can take progressive voters for granted in the absence of a progressive challenge from the left that competes for those votes.
Howie Hawkins: [00:20:27] My second point. Independent left candidates don’t spoil the elections. They improve them. The dynamic is not that they split the center left vote and elect Republicans. The most common political dynamic is that by raising our demands. Left candidates forced the Democrats to respond, and the Democrats end up running better campaigns with more popular progressive platforms. And they win elections by exposing and isolating the Republicans as right wing extremists. Of course, we want left candidates to win, but that’s the dynamic. You can observe. And the left candidates also tend to expand the electorate. We get more votes in elections where there are left candidates. And let me give you a few examples. 1948 Henry Wallace’s progressive campaign. Truman was getting clobbered by Dewey in the polls. While Wallace was polling at 7%. And then Truman adopted basically Wallace’s progressive domestic program, and he started catching up. The Gallup poll had him at 17 points behind in late September. And it was down to nine points by mid-October and just five points at the end of the month, which was within the margin, the poll’s margin of error or a little bit above the poll’s margin of error. So he caught up and beat Dewey.
Howie Hawkins: [00:21:49] And I would argue that Wallace being in the campaign and forcing Truman to be better changed the dynamic. Same thing with Ralph Nader’s campaign in 2000. He’s often called a spoiler. But look, Gore was behind Bush consistently by ten or more points while Nader was polling in the 4 to 6% range until Gore decided he had to respond and he adopted his for the people, not the powerful slogan started putting forward more progressive kind of populist demands. And in September, he very quickly caught up to Bush, and then it was close to October. Nader ended up with 3%, while Bush and Gore ended up basically tied. Although we do know that Gore won Florida when the, you know, mainstream media consortium went back and counted all the ballots. But the point is, I think Nader changed the dynamic in that race and forced Gore to run a more progressive, you know, theme. And that drew more voters to him. And the other thing you can note about that election was Nader expanded the electorate. A lot of people wouldn’t have voted for him or wouldn’t have voted if he wasn’t on the ballot. And in Michigan, with Debbie Stabenow and Maria Cantwell in Washington, the the extra vote that Nader pulled out was probably their margin of victory to get elected to the Senate in 2016. Everybody says Jill Stein was a spoiler.
Howie Hawkins: [00:23:14] It’s true that the margin of difference between Trump and Clinton was covered by Stein’s votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But the exit poll taken that year showed that 61% of Stein’s voters would have stayed home if she was not on the ballot. And you plug that percentage into those three states. And Trump still would have won handily if Stein was not on the ballot. A majority of Green voters or independent left voters are new voters. They’re people that not likely to come out if it’s just the Democrats and Republicans. So I’ll give you one more example. My own congressional district, in the 70 years since it became a single district around Syracuse, New York, the only two times a Democrat has won and they’re usually close elections is when there was a green in the race. We didn’t split the vote. We changed. The whole dynamic of the election, forced the Democrat to respond to our demands. They sounded better than when they were just running against the Republican and we’re moving to the right. And so in 2008 and 2012, a Democrat won. The other thing about those races is with the Greens in the race one race, it was 70,000, another about 100,000 more voters came out because we made the race more interesting. We brought real issues to the fore and force. The Democrat responded and the Republican got isolated as an extremist.
Howie Hawkins: [00:24:36] So, you know, my point here is that independent left candidates don’t split the progressive vote. They expand it and they change the political dynamics. They move the debate to the left and help to isolate and defeat right wing Republicans. Third point, The Democrats are not fighting the Republican fascist. They’re compromising with them and normalizing them. You know, we just can’t rely on neo liberal Democrats to fight neo fascist Republicans. If they were fighting the fascists, they would have gotten rid of the the filibuster in order to pass voting rights and election protection bills that were nominally their top priority in the previous Congress, where they had a majority of both houses, they would have expanded the Supreme Court in response to the court’s approval of racist and partizan gerrymandering, its approval of state abortion bans in as many other reactionary decisions. Instead, Biden normalized these neo fascist Republicans by calling for bipartisanship with the goddamn party that tried to overthrow his election. But without a progressive challenge that Biden feels at this point, he’s been moving to the right to try to get votes in the center right. His immigration policies, his policies are as inhumane as Trump’s. They just don’t have the racist scapegoating attached to it. He’s approved more oil and gas drilling projects than Trump did over their first three years in office.
Howie Hawkins: [00:25:59] His policy on crime is 100,000 more cops instead of anti-poverty and drug policy reforms. His debt ceiling deal caved in to Republican cuts to social spending while keeping military spending untouched. The Democrats have failed. They’ve repeatedly voted to continue the Bush and then the Trump tax cuts on the rich. I mean, I could go on and ask yourself, what popular progressive reform is Biden campaigning on to mobilize the progressive base of the Democratic Party? I can’t think of one. So this is the old centrist corporate Democratic playbook which has lost them so many state congressional and presidential elections since Reagan. So my third point here is it’s foolish to rely on the neoliberal Democrats to defeat the neofascist Republicans. Now, some people are some socialists are saying, well, we can’t support, you know, broad progressive parties like the Greens because they’re not explicitly socialist. But I would argue the most important thing is the class independence of the Greens or whatever independent left party we’re talking about from the capitalist Democrats and Republicans. This was Engels advice to American Marxists during the Henry George United Labor campaign for mayor in New York in 1886. He said The most important thing here is they’ve broken with the capitalist parties. They’re speaking independently. And he said the movement would develop a better program of socialist approach through debate and experience. And, you know, most socialists have actually advocated this.
Howie Hawkins: [00:27:32] You know, they’ve called for a mass Labor Party, which isn’t necessarily ideologically socialist at the beginning, but within which socialists can advocate for socialist perspectives. And I’ve found that to be the case with the Green Party. I mean, from the 1980s till the early 20 tens, it was basically a progressive populist platform. But since 2016, the Greens, you know, are explicitly in their platform eco socialist. So my fourth point is that the most important thing is the class independence of independent progressive parties from the two capitalist parties. And my last point is, one, I hope we can all agree on, because I think the left should prioritize electoral reforms that eliminate the spoiler problem, which is entrenched in our single member district, winner take all election system. And that’s what makes so many progressives feel compelled to vote for the lesser evil Democrats to stop the worst Republicans. And these would argue, are reforms whose time has come. We went from two jurisdictions in 2000 that had ranked choice voting to 20 by 2020 to 51. Today, I mean 31 more just in the last few years. It’s on the ballot in many states and localities across the country this year and next year. And in particular, I would say we need to advocate for ranked choic or proportional ranked choice voting for legislative bodies so we get proportional representation.
Mark Baugher: [00:28:58] That’s ten minutes. Howie, do you need two more?
Howie Hawkins: I need about 30s more.
Mark Baugher: Okay.
Howie Hawkins: [00:29:06] So I would argue proportional ranked choice voting. Proportional representation is a reform that is really transformational With proportional representation, Independent left gets its fair and proportional share of representation in government that legitimates the left and gives us a space, a platform in which to argue for our perspectives, which I think in the long run we can win those arguments. So I would say, you know, let’s prioritize these reforms. There’s momentum with them now, and I hope that’s a reform we can all agree on. Whatever our position on what we should do in 2024. Thanks.
John Reimann: [00:29:43] Okay.
Ted Zuur: [00:29:46] Oops, I’m not muted. Okay. Thank you, Howie And David, you’re up.
David Walters: [00:29:52] Hi. I’m sort of glad I got this position on the list. I will say, though, I’m not going to debate. I’m not here to debate. It really is a discussion. I will agree with his last point, since we have that in San Francisco, we have ranked choice voting for nonpartisan elections. So it’s not done by party, even though almost all candidates are Democrats. In San Francisco, the city where Peter Camejo beat the Republicans for governor in one of the elections against Deukmejian, I guess it was, you know, back in the 2000. But, you know, so San Francisco is not a good example in some ways for that. But ranked choice voting is certainly a reform that’s definitely worthy of support. , so I come from a history that’s much in many ways very close to Nancy. Nancy gave a textbook class example of what a united front is, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. In terms of how to function within the workers movement in broad movements for social change. And I think that’s a very good one. And personally, I’ve always worked when I was in socialist Organizer and other groups, I’ve always worked well with the Freedom Socialist Party because primarily because of that. And FSP members are exceedingly polite people, which is something that a lot for what I consider to be important in politics. . But I’ve always had the tradition as how he described the mass Labor Party.
David Walters: [00:31:25] I was in the Labor Party. I was chair of the San Francisco Golden Gate chapter of the Labor Party for a number of years, along with other trade unionists who held that position in the 1990s when Tony Mazzocchi formed the sort of stillborn Labor Party that existed. For me and I emphasize this to almost like how he did, is that this is about the working class defeat moving to the left. I don’t very rarely use the term progressive. The term has been completely ruined by the Democrats now, and I hardly ever use the term left because who knows what that means In the eyes of most workers, left means the Democrats or Biden or whoever other more less right candidate exists in the bourgeois elections. So one of the things that my group, one of the things we emphasize, along with break a clean break, the Democrats were in the Labor Party, which had about 10,000 formal members and then an affiliations with about a million or so or half a million trade unionists through their unions, though it had no presence in those unions, was that that we have to have an electoral component and we have to also work in the class struggle itself. Regarding the actual struggle of building unions and fighting racism, getting independent and all covering single payer health care, socialized medicine and that sort of thing, the right to an education. And that was a good part of what the Labor Party did, but it failed to run candidates.
David Walters: [00:33:06] So as a revolutionary who wants to see the working class come to power and the elimination of the capitalist state for a workers’ democracy denying that you need an electoral component of that is something I would consider very ultra left, and no one certainly has expressed that here whatsoever, and I doubt they will. But it’s a tactical question on how you use that and which is what we’re talking about today. In many ways, one of the problems that I see us getting into, and this is something I’ve always had, is when I was in the WP was creeping electoralism. I don’t think our politics should be oriented around election campaigns to begin with. It should start at that base of organizing some of the things that Nancy described her party is involved in. That, to me, is far more important just generally than the elections, even though. The news media and the alternative news media left and right are focusing on elections. And so I don’t really choose to participate in the. Electioneering or electoral list aspect of socialist politics. In my position. Mark Baugher described me as having, like, this creative, muddled position, and I admit to that completely. I’ve changed a lot in the last three years, and I’m speaking very much as an individual now. The first thing that got me thinking was on today’s forum, Walter Daum’s 2015 article from his newspaper Socialist Voice, where his group ended up endorsing Biden reluctantly, but did so because of the threat posed by Trump.
David Walters: [00:34:57] And so one of my big differences with the participants so far and a lot of people on the left, is that while I come from I will never endorse a Democrat, and I’m not calling for people to endorse Democrats, but I can no longer say you shouldn’t vote for a Democrat because despite. Howie gives a very good list of crimes committed by the Democrats. And I can add to that, like failing to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which was enacted in 1997 with Democrats supporting it with the Hyde Amendment. This is a sub aspect of the anti-abortion movement which prevents the federal government from subsidizing abortions for poor women on Medicare and Medicaid and all that. And it’s a completely racist anti class amendment that was passed. At no point did the Democrats ever bring up a motion to overturn that. They did defeat. And this is something to consider in the 20th anniversary of that, Scott Walker, then chair of the House of the House. The Speaker of the House put forward a motion in this Republican Congress pro life Congress to make it an act, make it a permanent measure in American law. And it was defeated. It was defeated by whom? It was defeated by the Democrats. And there wasn’t a mass movement out there around this.
David Walters: [00:36:20] Not much of one. There were some picket lines and demonstrations, but they didn’t have an effect. The Democrats did that. And so in light of that, I see why, despite what many people here think and have articulated, there are a lot of working people who are working class people, including workers who understand their part of the working class that will hold their tongues and vote for Biden and vote for Democrats because of Trump. I don’t agree with the concept that Trump is. Not the same thing as Biden. Despite the truth in what Howie laid out, I think he did a very good job of doing this and a big condemnation of the Democrats. The fact of the matter is, if Trump wins an election, at least this election coming forward, you know, I’m not going to I don’t think I’m not one of these people who thinks he’s a fascist, but I think he’s one of the reasons the fascist movements have been growing, as Nancy pointed out. Is largely because of Trump and because of Trump giving the okay wait on the sidelines when we call you, metaphorically speaking analogously speaking directly to the far right. And it will be an amazing green light for the far right if Trump wins this election and wins Congress along with it. Now, if you take the position, there’s no difference. It doesn’t matter if the Republicans continue to dominate the Supreme Court.
David Walters: [00:37:44] And, you know, it doesn’t matter what Roe versus Wade happened because there was no big, big mass movement opposing it, though there was a the decision by the Supreme Court to ban abortion, which is what that was, you know, throwing it to the 10th Amendment, states rights and the national abortion ban will go into effect when the Republicans win that Congress, it will not go into effect, factually speaking, if the Democrats win. And I think if you’re honest, you know that. I think John will address this as the last speaker today and will probably articulate that in a more direct, passionate way. Having said that, all the problems that the speakers have laid out so far are completely accurate. I mean, you know, I’m not as optimistic as Nancy. I think that we’re living at the tail end of a defeat and slowly building up again through some of the organizing drives, the actual organizing drives. If you look at them right now for the last three years. I’m just throwing that time period arbitrarily. It’s about five years since the Amazon workers really started to organize, which is less than the organizing drives that existed in 1934, not even 1936. And so we have to support these because these are the future of organizing drives. It is this organization of the class for itself that is the most important. But most of those.
Mark Baugher: [00:39:06] David, one minute left.
David Walters: [00:39:09] I believe most of those workers are still going to vote for the for the Democrats in light of the fact that there could very well be no more organizing drives if the Republicans really take over the United States and eliminate elections. That’s it.
Ted Zuur: [00:39:26] Okay. Thank you. David and John, you’re up.
John Reimann: [00:39:31] Okay.
John Reimann: [00:39:31] Well, first of all, my apologies for having interrupted the meeting. It was. I’m going to be sharing a clip from a video that I did of from from. Part of my election campaign for mayor last year. And what this is. This is excerpts from comments that I made at a candidates night that included the three progressive Democrats and myself. And afterwards, I’m going to post the link to the full video later on. But anyway, here we go.
John Reimann: [00:40:19] So you want to talk.
John Reimann: [00:40:20] About youth and the youth are our future and all of that. Well, their future is being destroyed. Let’s be blunt about capitalism. And we know if you study history that the only way that we’re going to get any changes in this country or any place in the world, for that matter, is when working class and poor people organize and fight and demand those changes and make sure that the country that the system does not run until we get the changes we want. So they talk about the golden rule. That is, he who has the gold makes the rules and we have to answer with something else. Might makes right. And so the only rights that we have are the ones that we are well enough organized to fight for and to demand and to bring into existence. If you got a double freight train roaring down the track towards us, the first is the racist fascist connected Republican Party, which has already taken over the Supreme Court, which very likely will take over Congress. And in two years from now, by hook or by crook may take over the presidency. And every reform that we want to talk about and think about here in Oakland will be washed away like a sandcastle in front of the incoming tide. If we don’t have a movement to stop that. That’s number one. The other is the whole question of global warming. An example of why we need a working class party to oppose these two parties of big business and.
John Reimann: [00:42:00] So.
John Reimann: [00:42:02] So my purpose in sharing that is the following that many socialists fear that if you vote for a Democrat, that that will suck you into the Democratic Party politics. My campaign for mayor decisively proved that that is not true. And I think that that that short clip is a prime example of that. I voted for Biden in 2020 and I plan to vote for him again next year. But that in no way inhibited me from running as an open socialist and emphasizing that we have to build our own working class movement and a working class party. And if you watch the entire video, you’ll also see that, quite frankly, that I’m mercilessly, mercilessly attacked the so-called progressive Democrats that were up on that platform again and again. My second point is this. Over the last 75 years, it was correct, in my opinion, to refuse to support any Democrat. That was because in that period, the advantages of having a Democrat in office were relatively small, but there were some. But those advantages were overshadowed by the central demand that the unions must break from the capitalist Democratic Party and build a working class party.
John Reimann: [00:43:25] And in order to emphasize that demand, we called for no vote for any Democrat. But comrades, the situation has changed and we have to recognize that. And all the comparisons about the failures of Biden and so on, and in effect, comparing him to Trump simply are. They are. They are just burying our heads in the sand. The Republicans, what some call the Trump Dickens of today are not the same as yesterday. And we have to recognize that. And, you know, the election of 2016 should have been a wake up call. And for some of us, at least, it led us to start to question, well, what is going on underneath the surface that we were not fully aware of? And it’s for one thing, it’s pure idealism to think that the 75 year war on the best traditions of the labor movement, on the militancy, the militant struggles such as in the 1930 and also the socialist traditions, that those wars did not have any effect. And I have to add, every single wing of the union leadership, including the so-called progressive wing, was deeply committed to carrying out that war.
John Reimann: [00:44:51] Now.
John Reimann: [00:44:51] You combine that with the 50 years of the last 50 years of attacks on workers living standards, the austerity to a great extent, they were carried out through globalization. And that led to massive job losses, especially in heavy industry. And workers were told during the last 50 years, oh, we’re going to feel the benefits of globalization. They’re right around the corner. A rising tide lifts all boats and so on and so on. And maybe some workers believe that for a period. But after a while, their patience wore out and anger and frustration built up. But. That anger and frustration and the tendency for it to develop a working class movement was suppressed again by every single wing of the union bureaucracy, including the progressive wing and also by the non profiteers. And therefore, that anger and frustration burst out in another way towards what they call populism, towards reaction. And one aspect of that, by the way, is this conclusion that many people, including workers, formed, that the capitalist mainstream media, that it’s just fake news when they report anything that we don’t like to hear, that they tell outright lies about actual facts. Incidentally, many on the left have also fallen for that claim. And it means that the capitalist class, to an unprecedented degree, has lost its ability to influence tens of millions of people in the US, including workers. And that combined with the crisis and I do believe it’s a crisis in the US working class, led to an enormous void, a vacuum opening up.
John Reimann: [00:46:45] Now, some socialists might say good, because of that but because of the crisis of the working class, something even worse has filled that void. Ultranationalism, bigotry, anti-science mysticism, intentional self-delusion, violence and hysteria. This is part of what Donald Trump represents. And now the party that he has captured what they represent. An example of which is the widespread support that Trump has among the working class. Now, some deny that there’s a wide layer of the working class that supports Trump. It’s not time to go into all the statistics, but just take one example. The UAW estimates that one third of its members support Trump. And we should also keep in mind, yes, it’s true that a whole layer of workers voted for Republicans. Five, ten, 15 years ago. But again, we have to emphasize the Republicans of today are not the same as the Republicans of yesteryear. And so that represents a shift even further to the right. Now, if you look at Trump when he was a president, it has all the hallmarks of moving towards a one person dictatorship, also known as Bonapartism. On the one side, he broke with some of the most cherished important positions of the overwhelming majority of the US capitalist class. He ended the negotiations for the Trans Pacific trade deal. He attacked the single most important military alliance of US capitalism, that is to say, NATO. He sided with Putin against his very own security apparatus. Now, on the other side, he took major steps way beyond one.
Mark Baugher: [00:48:38] Minute, John. One minute.
John Reimann: [00:48:41] I’m sorry. I have one minute left.
Mark Baugher: [00:48:43] On your ten minutes. Yes. And you can get a two minute extension after that. Yeah.
John Reimann: [00:48:47] Would like to an extension, but I’m going to have to.
Mark Baugher: [00:48:50] All right, John, we’ll give John 2 minutes, and I’ll give you another minute warning, okay?
[00:48:56] Yeah. So, .
John Reimann: [00:49:01] I’m going to have to skip a lot of it, but. Voting for a Democrat is not identical with supporting Democratic Party politics. I think I proved that in my election campaign. And Trump will not end the QAnon influence. Republicans will not be stopped by the Democrats. That’s absolutely clearly true. What will stop them is a mass movement from below, a movement, a working class movement in the streets and the working class communities and schools, and also a rebellion of the rank and file against every single wing of the union bureaucracy. Yeah, but if we see the main task at the present is stopping the Republicans, then that has to be we have to we have to carry that out. Also in, in the, in the polling booth, polling booth. And I want to make a couple of comments about Cornel West and the Green Party, which is not and I believe never will develop into a working class party.
John Reimann: [00:50:05] And. It. .
John Reimann: [00:50:08] I think that the Cornel West campaign will be similar to the campaign of Jill Stein, who pictured Trump as the lesser evil as a so-called peace candidate and who is West. He charges 50 to $100,000 per speech. He co coauthored an op ed in the Wall Street Journal praising the, quote, education reforms of DeSantis. Listen to some of his rhetoric. Quote, The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak and unremitting concern for universal justice. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s Love Supreme. This sort of rhetoric will confirm every single prejudice that a whole layer of workers have against the left. And one minute.
Mark Baugher: [00:50:51] One minute, John.
John Reimann: [00:50:53] Okay. Also, he will be playing into the Putin apologist. So. I think that the most important thing is to try to recognize and channel the beginnings of a movement of the working class against the domination of capitalist politics. In other words, for a working class which can lead to a working class political party. But there’s no contradiction between that and voting for a Democrat, as I’ve proved in my election campaign. And also, I would just add, if you look at the example of Brazil when Lula ran, he was nothing but another neoliberal bourgeois. And in the runoff elections, almost the entire socialist movement united to campaign to support Lula against Bolsonaro.
Ted Zuur: [00:51:51] Thank you. Okay. Thank you, John. So who would like to join in here?
John Reimann: [00:52:00] . Use.
Ted Zuur: [00:52:02] You can raise your hand physically or you can use the raised hand function, which is better. So I see Amy and Steve. Amy and two others. Three others. A lot of people. So, Amy, I may not get you in the right order, but I’m going to try. Amy. Steve. Linda. And I think on the other screen I maybe have somebody else. Did I miss anybody?
John Reimann: [00:52:38] Oh, Walter.
Ted Zuur: [00:52:42] Okay. Amy, Steve, Linda and Walter.
John Reimann: [00:52:45] So thank you.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [00:52:48] Thank you. Yes. Okay.
Amy: [00:52:49] So thank you to the panel. I mean, this is the discussion that we need to be having. And I think getting to the, you know, down to brass tacks about where we agree and can work together, you know, in that united front concept is important as has been talked about, but also where we disagree and you know that that really comes out around elections. And I just want to say, you know, I’m an unabashed optimist, you know, and a feminist. And I work with the Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party. And I appreciated, you know, the chance to talk about what it is that elections mean, because to me, elections are one facet. They’re not the way we’re going to win our liberation, but they are one facet of the working class movement, the working classes, an opportunity to impact the political landscape. And I think that no matter what for us on the left, we need to be leading. And I think it really came through in a couple of the talks. And obviously I’m comrades with Nancy, and I want to underscore that the left needs to be leading in elections. People are going to vote how they vote. But our endorsements shouldn’t stop short of ever saying that capitalism is the problem. We have to combat capitalism and using the elections as a component of building a revolutionary movement.
Amy: [00:54:17] And I think it really just seems really clear to me that no matter who’s in power, it’s the economy that is going to determine whether fascism keeps marching forward or not. It’s not about whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican. So. Whoever we’ve got in there, we need to use the elections to be building a revolutionary movement. And for me, as a queer woman with, you know, with kids and, you know, with, you know, a kid who’s non-gender conforming, you know, when I see people out on strike lines, when I see people fighting, you know, to absolutely be everything that they are and putting their lives on the line, I think that’s the least that we can be doing in the left. And I think there’s a real opportunity to just in the elections as well as everywhere else, be open, outward, bold, socialist, feminist, anti-racist fighters, because that’s what’s going to build whoever’s in power. That’s what we have to be doing. And we should be using the elections to be building that too. So again, thank you to the speakers. And I just think I’m an optimist because I do see the working class moving and shaking and I want to be part of that and I want to be part of leading that and looking for that other great working class leadership.
Ted Zuur: [00:55:41] We? Unmuted. Next. Steve, you’re up.
John Reimann: [00:55:48] Okay. Thank you.
Steve: [00:55:49] And thank you to all the speakers. And Dave Walters: It’s great to see you. We go back several decades, more than several, like five decades. So it’s wonderful to see you with this. Well, I just want to briefly respond to a couple of things that I heard, , from more than one. Speaker one is about, you know, how we all understand that voting for Democrats will not stop the Republicans, especially the right wing Republicans and especially the right wing that is growing. But voting for Democrats will stop the workers movement. And that’s what we need to focus on, workers who vote for Democrats. Will be more likely to believe that there’s nothing more for them to do. They voted for their guy. And let’s just. We can sit back and wait for that person to accomplish. , . , uh, uh. Things in our interests. Just look at what happened when Obama got elected. There was an antiwar movement, and then he got elected and people thought he was an antiwar candidate, which he never was. And all of a sudden, the antiwar movement went to sleep because people thought that Obama was was an anti-war candidate. This issue about lesser evil, I would like to put forth the idea that, yes, there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans, but it is negligible and it’s negligible. Negligible because the bourgeois media in the United States only focuses on what their differences are.
Steve: [00:57:19] But if we think about the totality of the programs of the Republicans and Democrats, we need to think about what the media does not talk about. We need to think about what the Democrats and Republicans do not talk about, because that’s what they have in common. What do they never talk about? They never talk about the 900 military bases that both parties support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars around the world to pursue imperialist policies. And I’m not saying anything new to people to support dictatorships all around the world. The Democrats and Republicans are both responsible for the overwhelming misery that humanity lives under, where people know billions of people live on $2 a day. The Democrats are just as responsible for that. The Democrats are just as responsible for the plight of Palestinians. If we are internationalists and think about the most oppressed people in the world. Then Palestinians don’t cannot see the Democrats as a lesser evil. Poor people around the world who live on $2 a day don’t have a lesser evil with Republicans and Democrats. It’s a myth only to think that the difference is significant because that’s just falling for the bourgeois media in the United States who shines a light on those differences and never shines a light on what they have in common. That’s what I wanted to say. And thank you very much.
Ted Zuur: [00:58:44] Okay. Thank you. Steve I have added Eric and Steve Ongerth because there are two Steve’s I think. Steve Ongerth if I missed you the first time I put you on now. So the order now is Linda, Walter, Eric and Steve. Go ahead, Linda, please.
Linda: [00:59:03] Yeah, Hi. I want to speak in support of John’s position. Uh, both of us belong to the Ukrainian Socialist Solidarity campaign and many, many people in our group who include not only people supporting Ukraine, but people who supported Syria and other victims of sub imperialists like Russia and China. Uh, we see many of us see Putin and Trump as the immediate threat and do not I am not a lesser evil person. I’ve never believed in supporting the Democrats. . And for the first time in 2016, for the very first time supported a safe state strategy where people that lived in states that, you know, so-called swing states should vote for Hillary Clinton instead of allowing Trump to possibly take that state. There are many things at stake here, as there always are when you’re facing fascism. The right to vote is at risk. And we could all say, well, there’s not much to vote for. But if we don’t, if we lose the right to vote, , you know, for or have you know, if because of the gerrymandering and voter suppression. And we could actually lose the actual outright vote. Right. To vote to of these people because as a Republican they see their power diminishing and their numbers going down. They’ve shown themselves quite willing to resort to outright fascism, too, and, you know, to steal elections or even prevent elections. So there’s that, there’s that. And then the biggest the biggest argument against voting for Democrats in my in my view, has always been not only not only are they do they support the capitalist class, but they also suppress organizing.
Linda: [01:00:50] And it isn’t just a matter of people being lazy and deciding that they don’t have to do anything. If the Democrat wins, they have an actual suppressive effect on the on the left and on leftist groups. And organizing does go down if you know when they’re in power. But that doesn’t have to be that way. And we’re seeing now that women are, you know, responsible for a big surge in votes for Democrats and yet you still have way more organizing and and demonstrating against the anti-women laws that are being passed, you know, in these states. , but. But. But for me and many others, it’s the plight of Ukraine and other victims of both Russian and Chinese imperialism. And we can’t you know, we’re in we’re in a struggle for the soul of the left or whether or not, you know, we always take a stand against, you know, ruling classes, you know, imperialist and capitalist classes, consistent anti-imperialism and whether we always support the the oppressed. And turn our backs on them like so many have done with not only Ukrainians, but Uighurs and Syrians and Hong Kong, Taiwan and even people in Taiwan and other countries like that that are under threat. But that’s that’s that’s all I have to say. Thank you.
Ted Zuur: [01:02:12] Okay. So I have added Brad and Phil to the list. And Walter, you’re up. Go ahead, Walter.
John Reimann: [01:02:23] Thank you. Uh.
Walter Daum: [01:02:24] Since this is. This debate is sponsored by the Marxism list, I think we should bring in Marx and company. First of all, Howie, I think, misrepresented what Engels had said about the Henry George campaign in the late 19th century. Engels said the first great step of importance for every country entering into the movement is always for the independent organization of the workers into an independent party. No matter no matter how, so long as it is a distinct worker’s party that is not the Green Party. Unfortunately, Howie is an unrepresentative representative of that party. In General, Marx and Engels strategy, after the retreat of the 1848 revolutionary wave was to first of all, work toward building such independent working class parties. But also and this is less, less well known, but it’s certainly true when it came down to elections, if there was no viable workers party and if there was a distinction between the bourgeois parties where one of them supported democratic rights rights that enabled the working class to organize, they were for voting tactically for that bourgeois party. And the example that’s always thrown against such arguments of the German election between Hindenburg and Hitler was not such a case. Both of them were reactionaries. Neither of them was defending democratic rights. You don’t have to believe that the Democrats are reliable defenders against the far right, but there are differences and they are more than a dime’s worth. The Democrats are not for stopping black people from voting for their own electoral reasons. They want to win black voters to get into office. Not that they do very much for black people, but they don’t stop them from voting. The Democrats are not for smashing unions like Reagan was. They prefer to use the union leaders to get the union leaders to channel militancy into electoralism for them.
Walter Daum: [01:04:24] They are not for ending abortion rights, although they are pretty pathetic defenders of them. They are the Republican Party and I agree with John and David, I have for until recently, I would never have thought of voting for the Democrats. I took the general Trotskyist position that it was unprincipled to do so until the Trump campaign made us look back and investigate what the actual record and principles of the Marxist tradition were. And I put in the chat a link to the article that David referred to, where we actually explain that principle. It’s also important to say that at the same time we want to vote for the Democrats to keep the Republicans out and especially to keep Trump and Trumpism out. It’s dangerous to call for a vote for the Democrats without at the same time explaining that they are a capitalist party, an imperialist party, and an anti working class party. We have to actually denounce the Democrats as as no real alternative to emphasize that voting for them is tactical, to gain time for the working class and for oppressed people to organize. And there of course, I agree with all the speakers. What we do need is mass movements from below. And that’s the problem that should be occupying most of our time. The electoral thing is something that you do in the voting booth one day in the voting booth and in the campaign leading up to it. It’s not the main thing we do, but we have to take advantage of the opportunity when we get to choose between who rules us, Let’s make the choice that gives us more time to act and organize.
Ted Zuur: [01:06:05] Okay. Thank you, Walter. I have added Doug to the list and Helen. Would you like to speak? You made a comment in the chat. And if you want to speak, I’ll put you on the list. . So, Eric, you’re up next and then Steve. Go ahead, Eric.
Eric: [01:06:29] Uh, I liked what.
Eric: [01:06:31] David Walters said about avoiding Electoralism. I’d add a couple of words to that. Here’s what I keep saying on social media. We won’t get as many votes as we’d like, but the election is an opportunity to organize and to spread ideas, and that doesn’t preclude cooperation between the different left parties. Their candidates could even make appearances together. And that’s all I had to say.
Ted Zuur: [01:07:01] Okay, Steve. Steve, you’re muted.
Steve: [01:07:12] Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t speaking yet. I apologize. Well, first of all, I want to thank all the speakers. I think this is a great presentation. And I want to say that I really appreciate Walter’s comments. I mostly agree with him, although I wouldn’t be so harsh or critical of the Howie or the Green Party. I don’t always agree with him, but I really do not, as a leftist, really care for being too ideologically litmus, test prone. I do want to push back on something that John Raymond said. And this is a running argument and debate that we have. I really think that the white working class Trump voter trope is an overstated case and largely a unicorn and a myth. And I think we need to get away from that because I think if we continue to push that, our analysis is going to be faulty. A large number of the people that have been described as the white working class Trump voter are not working class due to their relationship to capital. They are largely petty bourgeois that have a working class, cultural, you know, identity, but they’re not actually working class in their relationship to capital. Most of the working class are not white males. They’re not you know, there are a lot of people of color, women and LGBT who are working class, but they’re often not counted as such because they’re easily dismissed as being into identity politics. And for the record, most of them vote Democrat, you know, mostly, begrudgingly so.
Steve: [01:08:44] There are some working class people who did vote for Trump White working class people mostly, but they have always been a bunch of or a subset of the working class that’s been reactionary. And usually it’s white males. And this has existed since the early part of the 1900s. I mean, one of the reasons why the IWW, which I’ve been a member of for 28 years, was formed was because the AFL would not organize unskilled workers who weren’t WASPs. I do think that what’s changed and I want to address the point that John raised, is that what’s going on with white supremacy culture, and I will point out that a lot of people I mean, the same number of union members that voted for Trump, the same percentage voted for Reagan in the 1980s. Yes, Reagan wasn’t as reactionary as Trump. But what’s changed is that white supremacy culture, which was pretty much mainstream in Reagan’s time, in spite of the civil rights movement and those pushing back against it is no longer viable there. And the racial capitalism is upon us because of all the movements that we, you know, that Nancy in particular spoke of are having some success in destroying it and dismantling it. That combined with the fact that climate change has made it so that fossil fuel extractivism is no longer sustainable, and even a lot of the capitalist class recognizes that it’s falling apart. And there’s been a lot of success on the left in organizing.
Steve: [01:10:10] To point this out. But what’s happening is that the subset of the white working class that does vote for Republicans or conservative candidates are now voting for reactionary candidates because they have hitherto enjoy the privileged place among the working class. Because the capitalist class has deliberately done so to split the working class so that it doesn’t unify. And. Whereas, in the past they could get away with voting for a conservative Republican or a Dixiecrat, which, you know, keep in mind that a good number of the Democrats up until the Southern strategy by Nixon were as conservative as as many of the Republicans are now socially because of the reconstruction period. And anyone in the South who had an after three minutes. That’s three minutes, Steve. All right. Well, I’m going to I’m going to wrap up and simply say that I think that that is a faulty analysis and we need to get away with it. And what’s these workers are not closet socialists. They are racists who are doubling down on their racism. That’s what it is.
Ted Zuur: [01:11:13] Okay. Thank you, Steve. Brad, you’re next. And then Phil. Brad, you’re muted.
Brad: [01:11:23] Yeah, right. Thank you.
Brad Mayer: [01:11:25] My name is Brad Mayer. I’ve been working with the Ukraine social Solidarity campaign for the last basically shortly after the war started. Since then. Uh, I’m a writer, theorist and Marxist. I just recently started a column on substack.com, that’s its name to get everything into my head out on paper and fully worked out. However, I’m still working full time and that’s probably just how I’m going on that. But one of the reasons I’m doing that is due to the fact that in all the commentary here, I’ve not heard some basics laid out about the characterization of the US political regime. What kind of political regime is it? The assumption is that it’s a democratic political regime. , it’s a liberal democracy and so on and so forth. And I beg to differ. It’s not a dictatorship like Putin’s Russia, but it’s not as taken as a whole, taken in all of its levels, whether at the federal especially, but also state and local levels. As a whole. It is not a democratic political regime. And that’s very important when we consider interventions in electoral politics. Aristotle had a third alternative, which he called oligarchy, and therefore it’s not. Simply enough to say that a capitalist oligarchy dominates the US political regime which is otherwise democratic.
Brad Mayer: [01:13:12] . But in the US in particular, there is a political oligarchy. It’s a it is now, it has existed for the last 150 years. It is explains why the same two parties have continued existence over this tremendous length of time when the United States totally changed from being an agrarian economy to an industrial capitalist economy.
Brad Mayer: [01:13:39] , so. That has to be the starting point for any political perspective on how socialists, the left and workers should regard the electoral system. A That also, by the way, explains why third party ism never works. Okay. And why, you know, Howie and I should back up here and say I, I find I fail to say that I’m most in agreement with Nancy. Second, David. Third, Howie and fourth John. You know, so most aligned with Nancy’s point of view and this is the reason. A political reason. So. But that’s why Howie could only present. Uh, Green Party as a pressure tactic against the Democrats because. Whether anybody knows it or not, there’s no prospect for the Green Party or any other even a progressive left party from displacing these two parties without. And I’ll end this part here. Uh, without, in fact, conducting a real political revolution, as in a revolutionary political revolution, to topple this oligarchic and anti-democratic political regime, which does not mean we don’t involve ourselves in electoral spaces when they appear and when they’re productive for us.
Brad Mayer: [01:15:05] But. So that’s.
Mark Baugher: [01:15:06] Bradley.
Brad Mayer: [01:15:07] Three minutes.
Mark Baugher: [01:15:08] That was three minutes.
Brad Mayer: [01:15:09] Oh, okay. Well.
Brad Mayer: [01:15:11] Can I ask for, like, 30s? Okay. Yeah. Because what I was going to say is. What have been the results of 40 years of lesser evilism? You know, it’s not a new tactic. It’s one that has been followed for at least since Reagan was declared a fascist. On today. If Reagan was running against Trump, according to lesser Evilism had to vote for Reagan. But there’s been no balance sheet over the last 40 years taken of the real results of lesser evilism. We have greater evil now. I think we all agree. And I’ll end there.
Ted Zuur: [01:15:50] Okay. Thank you, Brad. So we have Phil and Doug, and I’m going to add myself to the list after Doug. Oh, no, sorry. Phil, Doug, Megan. And then I’ll add myself.
Phil: [01:16:08] Thank you. I Think this is a wonderful opportunity to get together to talk with leftists of all different stripes. And I really am glad the Marxism list organized it. But I’m going to be trying to be very short and not too sweet. First of all, I represent the Communist. Voice organization or I should say I’m a member of the Communist Voice organization and I’m putting our link on the chat here. You should look at this website to see just what we’re all about. And we represent an independent left organization which is entirely separate from the majority Trotskyist and social democratic strains that you see on the left today and include, of course, the members of this forum. Uh, what I see in this forum is that a lot of you come from the Trotskyist tradition and a lot of others come from a social democratic perspective or various perspectives that date themselves back to the early years of the 20th century. The Communist voice organization does not belong to that group. And I think that our perspective is entirely distinct from a lot of you and you should take a look at it. The second thing I’m going to say, and I think is important, is that very little attention has been paid to the theoretical crisis and orientation that the left is facing today. There we have entirely lost our way. We are entirely mired in the past in orientations that have long since lost their relevance in history, if they ever had any. And we should not be afraid of reexamining our entire theoretical baggage because a lot of it is junk. And we should be very clear on just how thorough we want a clean house because there’s a lot of house cleaning to do. And I think one of the things that Marx pointed out is that it is a nature of proletarian revolutions to thoroughly clean the house once in a while. And we should not fail to do this because it’s certainly needed. And I think the crisis in theoretical orientation is a very important fact we should face up to right now. Thank you.
Ted Zuur: [01:18:44] Okay. Thank you. Phil. We have Doug and then Megan, and I have added Charles to the list and then myself. Go ahead, please, and unmute yourself.
Doug Barnes: [01:19:01] Yeah, thanks. I’m Doug Barnes. With the Freedom Socialist Party. Excuse me. And I was listening to John arguing about why he was voting for the Democrats and it made me think of the Communist Party running during the Reagan election. And Communist Party, of course ran their own presidential candidate, but told everyone to vote for the Democrats. And to me, that’s the logical conclusion of what John is saying. And it doesn’t matter how radical your personal program is, but if you’re telling people to vote for the Democrats, it’s really, really sending people the wrong message. And it’s been happening more and more frequently as the economy gets worse. But I think we’ve got to look at what happens when socialists do get elected. We help to get Kshama Sawant elected in Seattle for city Council after working closely with them on a campaign to raise the minimum wage. Once she got into office, she turned totally into an electoral creature and refused to work with others on the left to launch major campaigns. So we’ve got to look at the nature of the candidates as well and try and ensure a way that they both are responsible to the larger left community and to their own party. And I think Sawant is finally stepping down now. But we tried and tried to get her to work on various campaigns with us that we’d been doing for many years in Seattle.
Doug Barnes: [01:20:43] And they just basically refused. It was their way or the highway. So I think this kind of sectarianism is a real problem and something that’s going to halt some of our abilities to build the united front that Nancy was talking about that’s so desperately needed. We’ve been very active in fighting the Nazis and the Klan in the Northwest and drove them out of the northwest several decades ago. But they are resurfacing. So I think we all have to really take a stand physically as well as organizationally around those issues. And the Green Party just had a question because Howie was saying it’s got an eco socialist platform. But I think it also has a libertarian socialist platform and the candidates never seem to have any feeling that they’re responsible for the program. They can decide who they are going to represent. So that makes me think that the Greens are not a serious party in terms of trying to build an actual movement that is socialist on its base. And just lastly, I wanted to ask, Nancy what you think the prospects are for building a stronger movement in your area and the Bay Area, for example, with other left groups to fight the rising right?
Ted Zuur: [01:22:12] Okay, Doug, thank you. And, Megan, you’re up.
Megan: [01:22:18] Thank you. I know I’m probably new here for most people. My background is working with Syrians and people who are part of the Syrian revolution since approximately 2016. And I also collaborate with, um, the Ukrainian Socialist Solidarity campaign. Uh, so it is my understanding that voting under capitalism is actually the means to determine the conditions of our organizing under capitalism. I also understand that black voters in the US who may or may not be explicitly socialist, understand that this is the assignment by voting for Democrats almost every single election. Um, I’ve been thinking about his points, which I largely agree with in theory in practice. I also wonder how is it that it’s okay to run candidates that are genocide denying? How is that a socialist position? Um, to me, that’s running people who are functionally taking the same position as Sandy Hook deniers, which are the far right. Um, I would argue it’s hard for us to get away. Get away with saying like, quote unquote, left candidates because the left does not mean one singular thing at this point in time. And my understanding and experience is that the left is broadly Stalinist and pro-Putin right now. And that’s not an internationalist position, which I also understand is like one of the core things of Marx, right? Workers of the world unite. So I agree with Howie absolutely that there is something to the effort to move the window left and especially like taking up space and pushing those talking points 1,000%. And we should be doing that and agree with everyone else who said stuff about organizing. Um. But to me, if we have candidates and if we’re endorsing parties that are anti working class Ukrainians, anti working class Syrians, gaslighting uygurs who are working class, I think we have to stop kidding ourselves regarding the damage that these so-called socialists are causing simultaneously.
Megan: [01:24:25] They’re enabling and they’re providing cover for authoritarianism. And to me, that undoes all other claims to moral high ground. I would also note that I would not consider those principled positions. I would officially consider those unprincipled positions. I also agree with David that this is the election that is like the deciding election, John, as well, right? Like regarding the collapse of access to voting neoliberal democracy. And so I would argue that this is a very specific landscape that we have to grapple with that is unprecedented. I think that we can absolutely vote Democrat, even though I don’t want to. I’m like the first person to condemn Biden and also like occasionally label him a fascist. Given the 700,000 people that have been murdered by Covid through absence of policies. Um, but I would also think we can vote Democrat and work to move all of the discourse very far left and drumbeat condemned capitalism as the problem while also pointing out the violence and harm that exists within our spaces when we have huge swaths of genocide denial on the American left. And so I think that the Green Party competing with Democrats on the actual November ballot, like I think prior to that, I’m kind of okay with but I think head to head with Biden is a tactical error. I think it’s one thing to change the discourse during the race, and I think it’s another thing for us to not put forward a popular front against the Republicans on the ballot. Uh, obviously, like Biden through his bipartisanship.
Mark Baugher: [01:25:58] Three minutes are up. Megan. Okay. Could you wrap up? Thank you. Yep.
Megan: [01:26:04] Um, okay, so I will just again, um, re underscore that I think we have to be really careful around how we’re framing the left at this moment in time, given the Stalinism within it, and also that voting is the means to determine the conditions of organizing against the capitalists. And I don’t want us to lose the ability to organize against them. That’s it. Thank you.
Ted Zuur: [01:26:34] Okay. Thank you. Megan. Charles, please.
Charles: [01:26:38] Yes, comrades, as we all know, we’re. We’re watching or helping or giving our solidarity to the United Auto Workers. And this is very the actual issue of the campaign coming up as in the CNN interview last week, Brother Fein was asked, are you going to endorse Biden? And he said, well, he has to earn it. And then and then he threw him a softball and said, well, everybody come on down to the picket line. And Biden says, yeah, I’ll be there. I’ll be there Tuesday. And Trump’s going to be somewhere on Wednesday. So that kind of opens up from the bureaucracy at the top to say, well, we got one foot. We haven’t quite made our political independence. We could be coming back to the Democrats. He just has to earn it. Well, this is where we have to be fighting this. We can’t be fighting for a workers party and saying, yeah, we’re going to win by inviting the president down to the picket line. And Fein, of course, didn’t say we’re going to win, that we’re going to win it in the streets, but we’re only going to win it in the streets if we turn this into a class struggle across the board, fight industrywide, organize the unorganized, turn this into a class battle for political independence. The whole dialectic that was offered by Trotsky and the early 30s and it was it was to combine the actual class struggle with the fight for the political independence.
Charles: [01:28:13] And if we don’t do this in this present moment, we miss the opportunity because the UAW and large pieces of the leadership of the of the of the union movement have been tied to the State Department and the UAW pushed for the Buy American programs. And that chauvinism, the anti anti-Chinese chauvinism, has been replete inside our movement. And we have to break that. And the only way to break that is to consciously point out the decline of the US imperialism in the face of the rising Russian and Chinese imperialist bloc and the turning of the tide in the world situation, and that that the working class has no side in this interim imperialist war which is being developed as part of how the capitalist class responds to their decline. They have to fight over the goods in the Third world. And we have to explain how our working class here has had a certain level of benefits as a part of our working class labor aristocracy tied to the labor bureaucracy that ties us to the Democratic Party and stops us from fighting for working class independents around a program for jobs for all 30 hours, worked for 40 hours, pay for an escalating series of transitional demands that organize the self-defense that we need. We saw the racist.
Charles: [01:29:36] Jump out of the car and attack the picket line the other day, and there we had immediate working class, black and white, self-defense against the racists, but not organized from the top, organized in the moment in the streets. We need to make this part of our program that our fight is for political independence. It’s for the self-defense of the working class. It’s for spreading the strikes to unorganized the unorganized, and make this battle a class battle. That’s how we’re going to get our political independence. We’re not going to get it by saying, oh, leftists should have a third party option, and maybe it’ll be, you know, just a pressure point on the Democrats or it’s the way we’re going to be able to put a slowdown to Trump and get the higher, higher strategic position in the battle ground. No, if we’re not fighting for our political independence in every class battle, in every strike, in every battle on the streets, then then we’ve given it up. And that’s three minutes. Charles, thank you very much.
Ted Zuur: [01:30:38] Okay. I see that Norma has raised her hand. So, Norma, there’s nobody else on the list except you and me. Go ahead, Norma.
Norma: [01:30:48] All right. Good afternoon here in San Francisco, California. Um, you know, I’m hearing a lot of the discussion right now, and I, you know, I’m coming from the side of practicality. And obviously, having been on the front lines with my comrades in the Freedom Socialist Party more recently last Saturday. Um, you know, protesting against the trans exclusionary feminists. But even prior to that, many battles in the anti-fascist movement, I think is what keeps class struggle moving and going forward. And, you know, I am of that demographic of the most marginalized. I’m a queer, Chicano Bolshevik, if you will. Um, you know, and I just think that this talk about, you know, voting for the Democrats, I haven’t done it since I’ve joined the FSP many moons ago. Um, you know, and electoral politics. One of the, the speakers mentioned how it’s, it’s a it’s a it’s not something that we should be focusing on primarily in the left as a way in which to build our movement. Um, you know, but it’s tactical, it really is to say, you know, you’re going to vote for the the Democrats. But for us, we recognize and acknowledge that the Democrats aren’t going to give us what we need. So it’s a strategy when we want to vote and say and wholeheartedly vote for someone that says they’re anti-capitalist and they’re socialist. So my optimism has been from the streets and not just necessarily just, you know, going back and forth and, you know, going off of this fear, which is what I feel is coming off of folks that are saying they want to vote for Democrat because y’all aren’t on the streets enough to see what it is to be at the bottom of all of this.
Norma: [01:32:33] So this fear has to really be, um, you know, it’s irrational, in my opinion. Um, it’s fear that’s coming off and saying, oh, we just got to keep, you know, this is, this new era is so important for us to vote Democrat. But all I see is the same things that are happening here in San Francisco, the doom loop that everybody or the media puts on, on, on press a lot is just based off of what’s been cyclically happening. And capitalism was here in the 80s and it was worse then as it is now. So what we’re talking about is just really building each other up and really saying that we need socialism in our time, we need to be anti-capitalist. There’s so many youth that are coming to the side of this theory in it of itself because of what’s happening to all of the people at the very bottom. So I really wholeheartedly believe in a socialist program, a socialist feminist program, a revolutionary socialist feminist program that’s going to go beyond this. At this point in this discussion, we do not need the twin party parties of capitalism right now. We need to be voting socialism. And that’s where we’re coming from.
Ted Zuur: [01:33:49] Hey, thank you, Norma. And thank you, everybody who’s spoken.
Ted Zuur: [01:33:55] I want to say a few things. First of all, I’m also in the Ukraine socialist solidarity campaign, but I don’t agree with John’s perspective or Linda’s perspective of voting for the Democratic Party. And the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity campaign does not have a position on what to do in the elections. There are people who have different positions in the organization. What our point of unity is, is supporting Ukraine against the Russian imperialist invasion.
Ted Zuur: [01:34:31] I want to be brief, although I could speak for hours as some people know… so briefly.
I think we need a socialist revolution. And I think we need it not just in one country. I happen to live in Colombia, but I’m from the United States. Every country needs a socialist revolution. And because of the climate crisis that human society has created, we need a worldwide socialist system with a worldwide planned economy. Well, that’s a big thing to ask for, and we’re not going to get there in this conversation today. But building the movement in the United States where this conversation is centered is a key piece of that puzzle. The United States is the most powerful imperialist country in the world. And the United States is the biggest polluter in the world. Well, with the exception maybe of China.
Ted Zuur: [01:35:37] Without changing the United States, you really can’t change the world. So what you are doing in the United States is vital. I think the class struggle in the United States has been very uneven and complicated because we have won major, major victories. We partially destroyed Jim Crow. Women have won…partially against the patriarchy that some of us here have been privileged by. And those partial victories that we made have been balanced by some partial defeats, particularly the rollback of the unions. Nevertheless, we are on the verge of being able to create a working class movement that is united across racial, gender and other social divisions that in the past was impossible.
Ted Zuur: [01:36:41] How do we create that movement through uniting all the individual struggles? One of those struggles is on the front of elections. Voting for the Democratic Party has proven to be a success…. a success at co-opting the leaders of the working class into the Democratic Party and not advancing anything for the working class. And under every condition in history, it has done the same thing.
If you look at what happened to the movement of the 1960s. It wasn’t defeated…in the streets. It was co-opted into the Democratic Party. That was repression and that was co-option. That strategy leads nowhere. So I think we can critically support a party like the Green Party. The Green Party is not internally democratic. I don’t agree with every detail of the Green Party’s platform, but the Green Party is independent of the two imperialist parties, the two anti-working class parties. I will not support the Green Party’s presidential candidate if it’s Cornel West and if Cornel West sides with Russia against Ukraine which up until this point he mostly has, he talks out of two sides of his mouth, or 3 or 4, so you can’t pin him down. But so far, he has publicly been on the side of apologizing for Putin and the Russians. I would still support other Green Party candidates. So I’m done.
Anybody else? Would anybody else like to speak?
Ted Zuur: [01:38:35] Going twice. Going thrice…sold. Okay, So I think we’ve been going on for two for an hour and 42 minutes approximately. So if the speakers would like to make closing remarks of, shall we say, three minutes, or shall we say five minutes? Okay. I say three minutes. So, Nancy, you get to go last this time since you went first. And Howie and John, you get to go first this time. This is like the Bible. John, go ahead.
John Reimann: [01:39:16] So we have to start out as Marxists with perspectives. Not what we want to happen, not what we, um. Yeah. Not what our program is and so on. But start out with how we see the major forces in society developing, how they have developed, how they are developing and how they might combine in the future, that is to say, the objective situation and. Within that what we think is possible and necessary. And we all agree on the necessity for a mass working class party. So the question is how will that develop? I think that it will develop through a movement in the streets, as I’ve tried to explain. And we or it might develop in that direction. And we as socialists and Marxists have to nurture that and and try to find ways in which that movement can lead to political independence and a working class party and how socialists can operate and work within such a movement. In that respect, I’d have to say as far as the Green Party, it has never played a role. It has no interest in that movement in the streets. It’s purely electoral. And in that sense it is very little different from the Democratic Party. I also want to say that because of that, I think what Linda and also Meghan had to say about the centrality of the issue of the international issues in particular Syria and Ukraine are extremely important.
John Reimann: [01:40:59] And the Green Party in the main, and it’s not only a Cornel West, but in the main, the Green Party basically sides with Putin and Assad. So, um. And um, so now we hear over and over again these whiffs of, well, number one, there’s no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Again, that is, you have your head stuck in the past, if that’s what you think. You can’t see the difference, the enormous transformation that has occurred in the Republican Party. And it’s the same thing with this idea that that we never had democracy in this country that just simply fosters illusions in what capitalist democracy is. Look at Britain. Have they had democracy? Well, the feudal aristocracy actually has veto power over what the what the British parliament does. So it’s just it’s just as I said, it’s just. Foster Of course, democracy, democratic rights under any capitalist regime are are always extremely limited. Um, so. So I want to make some points as far as what Charles Ratcliffe said. And that was three minutes.
Mark Baugher: [01:42:24] John.
John Reimann: [01:42:26] And I have an extra minute or what? Thank you.
Ted Zuur: [01:42:28] Thank you, John. Let’s see when everybody else is finished if people want to continue. Okay. So, David, you’re up.
Mark Baugher: [01:42:38] Oh, David, by the way, lost Internet connection again. So I don’t think he’s here.
Ted Zuur: [01:42:45] Howie, you are up.
Mark Baugher: [01:42:54] Unmute. Howie.
Howie Hawkins: [01:42:56] Yeah. Let me say a few words about the Green Party, which I’ve been involved in from the beginning. It’s just not true that we’re purely electoral. You know, all our local groups are involved in all kinds of movement activities, issue campaigns. So that’s just not true. And I would say it’s the most working class formation on the left side of the political spectrum. I know most of the ideological left groups are based in academia. That survey did itself. As you know, these people are professionals with high salaries. Look around the Green Party. They’re regular working people now. They don’t identify culturally so much as workers, but as environmentalists, peace activists, and members of oppressed groups. But they have working class jobs for the most part. It’s not as marginal as people seem to think. We have 138 elected people around the country, which could be massively expanded by the left if it would get engaged in independent political action, because there’s lots of opportunities. We have over half a million elected officers in this country. Now, it’s true. It’s not a democratically accountable membership party. Its member lists are like the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s more like a movement. But it doesn’t have rich folks, you know, paying for the tops who control the party. It’s more a tyranny of structurelessness where older, more affluent people who have time to participate dominate the formal committees, but they really don’t have much to say on what, you know, various members or locals or candidates do. The majority, you know, as best we can tell through our process, is ecosocialist. It’s on the platform. I was elected as a socialist candidate.
Howie Hawkins: [01:44:42] Besides, despite being red-baited by my opponents, it does have liberals, it has Libertarians, it does have camps. Although it’s divided on Ukraine. It’s not all, you know, with Putin pretty much like DSA. Um, and I would just say for myself, I think one of the biggest issues we face on the left is challenging this authoritarian campism with real internationalism. But within the Green Party, that debate is ongoing. Now, Cornel West, you know, he’s a Christian socialist. He believes in redemption. He goes on right wing programs and does things with conservatives hoping to persuade them. But in terms of his position on Ukraine, he’s trying to be an internationalist. You know, he calls Putin a gangster and Russia empire. And because of that, I think that’s why PSL, which I got, I heard was originally going to endorse him and put him on a Peace and Freedom Party line is now running. Claudia de la Cruz from the PSL, who’s a hard core campus. And it’s interesting that she got added to this October 3rd event that Cornel West is invited to, that Medea Benjamin put on. And I know Cornel was kind of fretting how he was going to handle that. I think his position on Ukraine is evolving. He’s learning. He’s not a pacifist, you know, in principle. But I think he’s just got a naive position about Ukraine that somehow he said, if I’m president, I’ll get Zelensky to the table and I’ll get Z or Z to get Putin to the table, which, you know, I think is kind of a fantasy. Um.
Mark Baugher: [01:46:23] That’s three minutes, Howie.
Howie Hawkins: [01:46:25] Okay, I got more to say, but if I get another chance, I’ll say it then.
Ted Zuur: [01:46:35] Nancy, you’re up.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [01:46:37] All right. Well, thank you, everybody, for a really thought provoking discussion. My mind hasn’t changed, but that’s okay. But it’s good to hear what other people are saying. Um, Doug asked a question about how do we strengthen a movement? What are the prospects and possibilities? I’ve been a revolutionary now for like 45 years, and I have never been more optimistic than now to, you know, the potential of people coming to the conclusion that the system doesn’t work. And the system is the problem and the willingness to explore socialist ideas, the willingness to explore alternative ideas. And I think we have this opportunity to really take advantage of it. I mean, it’s almost like I retired, but I don’t have enough time because there’s so many different people coming around and so many different events that are happening and the ones that we are organizing. I think it comes down to we need to build a working class movement in order to stop the fascists. You know, Trump or, you know, Biden said earlier, they don’t make that big of a difference. Yes, they’re made. We can nitpick over some of the differences, but the fact they both belong to the same party, that’s all I need, to be perfectly honest. And I think that’s all that most people know. What people are looking for is leadership. It’s our job as socialists, as leftists, to provide that and explain the explanation of why we need to get rid of capitalism and then also to provide leadership on how to do it. What I’m finding is you look at who the right wing, the far right is attacking and those are the people you go after and you say, hey, we’re standing up against, you know, these transphobic so-called feminists. We’re standing up against, you know, the far right. We’re standing up against people who are taking away reproductive justice or abortion rights. You get a lot of people who are passionate about. The issue and are so happy that people are organizing. We have a wide open field because the nonprofits want to go the legislative route. The unions are, you know, being pushed from below to to take on more of a stand to to really actually defend their members. So the field is wide open again, and we need to take advantage of it, because if we don’t, then all the fears about Trump will come true. We have a responsibility, and I know that we’re all up for that responsibility. And I agree with Ted 100% in terms of we are in the belly of the beast. The US working class is undefeated. It’s showing right now that it’s willing to stand up and take, you know, take a stand and fight. So again, I couldn’t think of a better moment in time, as bad as it is, because we’re all going to see a turnaround if we’re able to mobilize those masses of people and towards socialism and towards radicalism.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [01:49:36] If I have a few more seconds, I’ll say a few more things.
Mark Baugher: [01:49:39] You have a few more seconds.
Nancy Reiko Kato: [01:49:41] Okay. And I also want to say, too, just what we’ve done in the Freedom Socialist Party for the last, you know, almost 60 years is look to the people who are most oppressed. It’s women, it’s people of color, it’s LGBTQ folks, it’s disabled folks. We’re orienting toward them. We’ve been orienting and we’re seeing that they’re stepping up because their lives are at stake. So, again, that’s another important part of what we do.
Ted Zuur: [01:50:11] Okay. So thank you, Nancy. So we’re officially done. Does anybody else want to speak?
John Reimann: [01:50:21] Um.
Ted Zuur: [01:50:21] Should we have another round of speakers? The Housekeeper has to go. The timekeeper has to go. Holy moly.
Mark Baugher: [01:50:32] Somebody else will have to take over as timekeeper.
Ted Zuur: [01:50:36] I think we can give Howie and John one minute each to finish their remarks, and then we’ll close the meeting. So go ahead, John. Good. One minute.
John Reimann: [01:50:49] So first of all, I’ve never seen the Green Party here in Oakland play the role that Howard describes it as far as I mean, sure, they will try to opportunistically jump onto the bandwagon when a movement develops, but as far as actually encouraging and organizing it, I’ve never seen it. Second of all, I’ve been hearing a lot of whiffs of the old theory of social fascism. Hear that and think we have to, in other words, that the liberals lead to fascism or something akin to it, and therefore they’re no different from them. Or in this case, the Democrats are no different from the Republicans. Um, and finally, I want to emphasize, there’s no there’s no evidence whatsoever that Cornel West is evolving. He’s just simply a huckster who charges 50 to $100,000 a pop for his speeches, and he’s running for president in order to boost his brand, just like Trump did originally in 2016. And I think that the issue of internationalism is absolutely central. Um, so those are the final points also. Anybody that’s serious about building a movement, they also have to be directly involved in helping working class, helping rank and file members organize against their leadership, including the so-called progressive leaders, and fight against the the team concept that the entire union leadership believes in and promotes.
John Reimann: [01:52:40] Okay. Thank you.
Ted Zuur: [01:52:40] John. Howie you get a minute.
Howie Hawkins: [01:52:45] Okay. The safe states question came up, and I would just say that the minute any candidate says that they lose their leverage and become irrelevant because what they’re saying is, I don’t want your vote when the election is competitive. And so you’re just going to be ignored and you’re just pointless to keep running. Now, I agree that there are elements on the left calling the Democrats the greater evil. It’s reminiscent of the social fascist position of the communists in the third period. It’s dumb as hell. But on the other hand, I think we have to recognize that the neoliberal Democrats have sown the seeds of the field in which the neo fascist Republicans have been able to scapegoat working immigrants, women, gay people, people of color because of the growing economic inequality and also the social inequality where there’s, you know, some equality at the professional managerial level, but not for working class people. And that has created the environment in which candidates and tendencies like, you know, Trump and Trumpism are able to mobilize people around those resentments. And that’s why we can’t rely on the Democrats, the socialists. We need to have our own voice in these elections and present our own position and win people over. You know, I don’t agree with John that there were many working class people, that it’s not as big a demographic as I think he thinks. But there were Obama to Trump voters and Sanders to Trump voters. And I think those people can be won with a progressive program. Biden’s, you know, neoliberalism, they’ve been alienated by that. So we need to have our own voice in these elections.
Ted Zuur: [01:54:37] Okay. Thank you, Howie. Let me just make a few brief closing remarks. First of all, I put the URL of the Marxism list email in the chat. So if any of you have comments you want to make on this forum or suggestions for future forums and speakers, please post them on Marxmail or you can send them to our emails. I don’t think this is the last forum on the 2024 elections we’re going to have. I’m pretty sure that next year we will have another one.
Ted Zuur: [01:55:19] I want to thank everybody who came, everybody who spoke, the four speakers, including David, who’s not here now. And, we look forward to seeing you again soon, although we don’t have another forum scheduled yet. We will. Thank you very much. Hasta la vista.