Re: Abortion rights: Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize! – Communist Party USA

Andrew Stewart

Yes but the Russian Revolution of 1917 was borne of several unique matters that are absent our moment. First, the 1917 Revolution picked up from where the 1905 revolution left off by recreating the Soviets from 12 years before. Second, Tsarism was imploding in real time due to the combination of the autocracy reaching its pinnacle of calcification combined with a destructive war that had decimated the population. Third, the level of organization by the Russian Left within the military was substantial (by contrast, the American military has been substantially infiltrated for decades by the Evangelical Right, incubating a proto-fascist officers corps with tremendous power and influence over our national conversation). Finally, there were other motivations for the Revolution besides Marxism. Many Russians were looking to see Russia finally experience what America and France had with their 18th century revolutions, ushering in not so much a proletarian revolution as a liberal democratic Russified expansion of the Enlightenment. Many peasants were looking to see the final vestiges of serfdom to be sloughed away. And many minorities (Jews, Tartars, Ukrainians, et al) wished for the end of their oppression and the opportunity for self determination. In fact, it becomes quite clear in the second of Isaac Deutscher’s trilogy about Trotsky that these inclinations rapidly were deemed “counterrevolutionary” once the Civil War was over and, sad to say, even Trotsky was a willing participant in that business.

As for the strategy of using the courts, yes, this is true, though it bears mentioning why exactly this failed. The problem was specifically that liberals and a significant section of the Left fundamentally misunderstood that the Warren and Burger Courts were the exception rather than the rule for the Supreme Court. It was quite understandable that our side came to think that the Progressive narrative of historical advance applied to American institutions. In other words, the narrative line advanced by our mass media and the broad consensus of historians was that the US is moving forward towards a more perfect union and that the Judicial branch was going to maintain a centrist orientation that would prevent the Executive and Legislative branches from going too far to the left (case and point the SCOTUS decisions that invalidated portions of the New Deal) or the right (obviously the attempt to end the protection of abortion care). That has been manifestly disproved in the past few days and we need to understand why. One reason is that the Right successfully coopted organizing strategies of the New Left, using things like direct action and entryism to take over the entirety of the Republican Party, which at one point in recent memory had a sizable liberal wing that had been pro choice and Keynesian. Another is the absence of the Soviet Union, which influenced geopolitics in a progressive direction, something that is hinted at clearly in the Brown v Board decision and declassified documents showing concern by the federal government over the way that Jim Crow apartheid was providing a powerful propaganda tool to the Socialist Camp. Finally, the evisceration of the trade union movement and other progressive sources of countervailing power has allowed the Right to push the envelope so far beyond the previously respected boundaries of acceptable behavior. 

My ultimate argument is that trying to pinpoint the problem on a singular matter or strategy simply avoids the hard conversation about how this is the culmination of multiple failed tactics in a multitude of arenas.  

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