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Take the Bait

By Marc Salomon

The matter of whether the Left Party is communist or socialist is a matter for religious rather than political debate. Check out their web site http://leftparty.org/ and decide for yourself.

As to the red herring of red baiting, let's remember that it is 2005 and not 1955.  The federal guvmint now fears those who resist its foreign and military policies that sustain a brutal regime of resource extraction more than it fears those seeking to establish a communist utopia, and has directed the attention of its oppressive apparatus accordingly. The ever-dwindling number of Marxists and Leninists are not being evicted, fired, blacklisted, imprisoned, or killed due to their radical politics today.

Thus, red baiting was a legitimate cause for concern in the 1920s or 1950s. As difficult as it was to make the U.S. look good in the 1950s, Stalinism was able to do just that. Even though there was malicious baiting, spies did operate here during that period in the service of Stalinism.

Today charges of baiting are used by leftists in order to shield their faulty ideology from critical analysis. This is interesting, because one of my favorite quotes from Karl Marx's earlier philosophical writings (The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte) was his call for "relentless critique of all things existing." What kind of Marxist Leninist would expect a pass on scientific socialism's greatest calling?

The most damning critique of Marxism and Leninism is the fact that it defines itself the vanguard for the working class in terms of its opponents the capitalist class and that means it fails before it even gets off the ground. The Leninist project has failed wherever it has been tried. No, the Cuban revolution was not instigated by Leninists, and Hugo Chavez is successfully rallying the Venezuelan masses to take control of their own destiny absent little red books.

It is interesting that the two main forces in the Green presidential discussion last year defined their projects in terms of our opponents the Democrats. Antagonistic protagonists Ralph Nader and Medea Benjamin both defined the Green presidential campaign not in terms of how to best put forth Green ideas, but how to best check Bush and aid Kerry, either to get elected or to move to "the left."

The electorate responded to this pathetic defeatism the same way that the public responded to calls for socialist revolution. We must look elsewhere for inspiration.

There are many local activists who consider themselves Marxists or Leninists who contribute substantially to progressive achievements and who work well with the Green Party. Nothing in my writings should be construed to dismiss the good work of these individuals or to lump them in with the pack of fools known as the Frontlines family. The problem I seek to identify and check comes when a corporate form is assumed by a group of individuals and that corporate form dishonestly involves itself within the Green Party.

Whether the corporate form presents itself as the democratic centralist Trotskyite Left Party or as the authoritarian corporate Global Exchange, grassroots democracy and consensus are not compatible with the corporate form under consensus's current construction. Individual active, volunteer Greens must not be forced to compete with a corpus organized on external principles of unity, often funded, that may or may not coincide with those of the Green Party.