Sanders: Our Alternative

Democratic Party Candidates Clinton and Sanders
By Sean O’Torain For the PWPW

We commented previously
about the failure of the Trade Union Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to make a break through in the last elections in Britain.

The TUSC was the initiative of the left group, the Committee For a Workers International (CWI); they saw it as replacing the Labor Party. When this did not happen, the CWI just plowed ahead regardless. As usual, its leadership acted as if it was right on everything and to hell with reality. Now we see the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, the left candidate for the leadership of the British Labor Party. Tens of thousands are surging to his rallies and joining the LP to vote for him. Whatever the result of the election for leadership of the Labor party, the CWI perspective that the LP was dead is being proven wrong.

Those of us in the Project For a Working People’s World (PWPW) had a different position on the British LP. We said that the future movement from below would be likely to express itself both inside and outside the mass traditional organizations. In some countries this would be more outside, for example in Greece, while in others more inside, as in Britain now, and in some cases, a bit of both.

We also had drawn and have drawn a more general conclusion about our work. In the past days of the old CWI, it was far too unconditional about political perspectives. I, like all the other members of that organization, was also guilty of this. This was going to happen, that was going happen and that was that. And of course, we were always right about everything. I am being sarcastic here but this was a major reason for the implosion of the CWI. It had the delusion that it was always right on everything, and it refused to admit its mistakes when these were made obvious by events.

This has now been shown not to be true. Either Corbyn will win the leadership, or a new movement of opposition will develop in the Labor party, or out of the movement around him will come a new semi mass or mass party, perhaps like Syriza in Greece. 
Jeremy Corbyn
In Britain, the CWI moved from the working class would join the LP to the working class would not join the LP. They set up the TUSC and declared  the Labor Party dead.

The main point here is that the CWI perspectives have been proven wrong. This would not be such a big deal if it were not for two things. One is the unconditional way in which the CWI looks at perspectives. The second is when they are proven wrong they refuse to admit their mistakes, and desperately seek to cover up these mistakes. That is what is going on in the CWI in Britain and internationally at present. They are desperately trying to get off the hook of their wrong unconditional perspective for the LP. But how are they to do this? If the leadership never makes any mistakes, there’s nothing to correct. This is a devastating weakness of this organization. 

What is necessary in the CWI now is what it cannot deliver with its present internal life. What is necessary is that from the most experienced member to the newest member there should be an open and honest declaration of their mistaken position on the LP and their mistaken unconditional approach to perspectives. From the most experienced member to the newest member, all should stand up and declare: “We made a mistake.” And in this way   open up the organization to an honest, public discussion on where it was wrong and what are the likely perspectives now. Instead, what we are seeing is desperate attempts by the leadership to find a form of words to hide their mistakes, to cover their tracks.

Dave Nellist, the CWI member and former Labor Party MP for Coventry South, is now talking about a “New Old Labor Party.” What does this mean? It is nonsense. It is a cover up for their mistakes until they can figure out a way to escape from them.

But the former Labor MP is at his most dishonest when he tells Britain’s Independent newspaper that he hasn’t seen or met Jeremy Corbyn in person for two years, “We nearly met up at the Durham Miners Gala earlier this month, but I live in Coventry – and that’s not London.”, Nellist says.

Are we expected to believe this is why he hasn’t had any contact with a Labor Party left winger like Corbyn?  Coventry is about two hours from London. Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh, the leading figures in the CWI are in London and the CWI’s headquarters are there. Has Nellist not seen Taaffe for some time? Of course he has. The reason Dave Nellist hasn’t seen Corbyn is he hasn’t wanted to see Corbyn. Corbyn is in the Labor Party and the Labor Party becoming a vehicle for a resurgence of working class political activity was ruled out by the CWI and Nellist. The Labor Party was written off and Corbyn wasn’t worth seeing. These dishonest methods are very damaging to the CWI as an organization and to its affiliates including the US section, Socialist Alternative and the workers and youth that they can influence.

Along with their swerve to ultra leftism in Britain when they set up the TUSC and declared unconditionally that it was the way of the future, we now have the swerve to opportunism in the US as they line up behind the Sanders campaign, openly campaigning for him and sharing the platform with him.

This is a very serious mistake. It mirrors the opportunist turn they took when they were in Tony Mazzochi’s Labor Party Activists (LPA) some years ago. Nobody in their right mind would deny that it is essential that we engage with the tens of thousands around the Sanders campaign. We in PWPW certainly do so. But the question is how do we do that? Unlike SA we diplomatically but firmly make clear we do not support Sanders. We explain the reasons. He is running as a Democrat one of the main parties of US imperialism. He supports capitalism. He is opposed to building a workers Party. He supports US imperialist wars. He supports Zionism. . He has not seriously fought racist oppression and police brutality, etc. For these reasons we will not support him. And we do not support him. But this does not prevent us from discussing with many Sanders supporters. There are many with worries about the future.

It is practically certain that Sanders will not win the nomination of the Democratic Party. If he does not he has said he will support whoever is its nominee. This is most likely to be the corporate Clinton. The only possible alternative is that he might actually win the nomination, then he would be Obama in a different form. But this is just about ruled out. By far the most likely perspective is he will lose the battle to Clinton and go on to support her. This will be a big disappointment to tens of thousands of his supporters.

This will lead to a break in the situation. It is to this that anti capitalist activists and revolutionaries have to look. We have to ask ourselves, “What do we say to the tens of thousands of young and not so young people who will then be either looking for an alternative or considering, as they did after Obama was elected, walking away from political struggle?

We have to have a place for them to go. Where we have the resources we in PWPW are active in all the various movements that are springing up throughout the country. These include the Black Lives Matter movement,  the anti -fracking movement, opposition to the war against women, opposition to cuts on education and public services, opposition to the wars and occupations abroad, opposition to the mass incarceration policy,  opposition to climate change and support for the Moral Monday movement and the campaign to increase the minimum wage and for the right to organize.  These are very good and important movements and all activists should be part of these.

However there are elections coming up in 2016 and there are tens of thousands of youth and workers surging to Sanders as an alternative to the capitalist parties the Republicans and Democrats. When as is practically certain Sanders, who has been campaigning in the capitalist Democratic Party throws his support behind Clinton or whoever is the Democratic Party nominee, there has to be a political alternative, the PWPW has to have a political alternative. Involvement in the direct action movements in the various single-issue struggles will not be enough. It is necessary, to have something to say about where the Sanders supporters should do and where they should go.

Any alternative we would put forward at that time would have no credibility if up until that time we would have been supporting Sanders. This is what the SA/CWI is actually doing. Their plaintive statements that yes we have differences, that he should be running independent, etc., these are just foot notes to cover their opportunism, and they will not be noticed by the thousands and tens of thousands who will be looking for an alternative or walking away from political struggle when Sanders comes out for Clinton. It will be too late then for SA to start pointing to these footnotes, to this fine print and saying look, look we always said we had differences with him. The SA/CWI are taking an opportunist position.

We in PWPW have taken a different road. While orientating to, that is discussing with and being friendly with and interacting with Sanders supporters, we explicitly say we do not support him. We give the reasons above. We then go on to say what will happen when he comes out for Clinton. We are discussing regularly with Sanders supporters. We explain our position. Overwhelmingly these mainly young people say that there is no way they will support Clinton. They agree that the big issue when Sanders comes out for Clinton will be what do we say to the tens of thousands who will be seeking an alternative. This is when the break in the present situation will come. Here is our alternative, here is our answer to the opportunist position now being put forward by the SA.

We of course offer the PWPW. And this is well received. But offering the PWPW is not enough. We are a tiny, tiny group of individuals. We have no effect on the millions who are seeking a way to fight politically and seeking an alternative for whom they can work and to whom they can give their vote. We in the PWPW offer the idea of an Alliance, a non-socialist united front against the offensive of the 1%. We offer the PWPW itself which is a revolutionary socialist nucleus that is trying to learn the lessons from the past and is not a centralized sectarian group. But all of these are not enough. We have to have something that appears viable in terms of somebody, some party, to vote for in the 2016 elections.

There is no workers or labor party nor will there be by then. There will be numerous small left sects running candidates but they will be irrelevant. The PWPW believes that there has to be an alternative which has credibility and resources and to which we can guide the tens of thousands who will be looking for an alternative when Sanders comes out for the corporate war mongering Clinton. As a result of what we see as these realities we have joined the Green Party and advocate that activists should join the Green party. This is the alternative we offer for when Sanders shows his true colors.

We are under no illusions. We will come under assault from the ultra left and sectarian fringes which drool in their bibs and think they are important to the working class. We have long ago stopped being influenced by these tiny sects who have no influence in or orientation to the working class. We determine our policies, strategy and tactics based on what forces exist and what forces we have.

The Green Party is not a workers Party. Nor is it a bourgeois party. Its class character is not yet defined. Whether it has a long-term mass future is also not yet determined. But at this point in time it has the most serious national structure and most serious alternative presence to the two main bourgeois parties. Its program has a lot of emphasis on climate change. This is correct and is likely to see this party grow as this issue becomes more and more acute. But it also takes up economic issues and problems of special oppression. It is also prepared at times to take direct action.
Jill Stein
Jill Stein its Presidential candidate in 2012 was arrested for trying to force her way into the Presidential debates. So while we are orientating to the mass of supporters who are looking to Sanders we are explaining why we do not support him we are also explaining why we are in the Green party and saying that people should join the Green party and be there when the break comes, when Sanders comes out for Clinton, we would then be in a position to open the door for at least some of the former Sanders supporters to come into and struggle through and within the Green Party.

But we do not leave it there. We are also seeking within the Green party to influence that Party to become an openly socialist party. We explain that climate change, the environment, all the issues that the Green Party fights on, they cannot be solved on the basis of capitalism. Therefore it is necessary that the party comes out in favor of and campaigns for democratic socialism. We are in favor of and we work to develop a revolutionary socialist current in the Green Party and to convince the Green Party to become an openly socialist party.

But we do not leave it there either. Only the working class can end capitalism and bring about democratic socialism. For this, the working class needs its own party. So as well as working within the Green Party to convince it to become a democratic socialist party we also campaign within that party for it to orient to the working class and for it to become a party of the working class, a workers party. To this end we seek to build it in the trade unions, the workplaces, the communities and to win official formal roots within the trade unions and break the unions from the Democrats and affiliate them to the Green Party if they are not prepared to build their own party.

This is the position of the PWPW as it has evolved so far. Comrades, we would be very interested in discussing these ideas with you further. In getting your input to help us see if we are making a mistake or mistakes in our approach. Please pass this on to any body you think would be interested.

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