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


Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


Jerry Monaco
 

I understand the sentiment. 

But let's make a small point. The ruling class and its clientela are always already organized and is always organizing. They are always already a class-for-themselves. The problem for the working class and all subaltern classes in all historical societies is that they always start out disorganized and their organization is always disrupted, distorted, and corrupted by the surrounding society. In our society, continuous organization and continuous expansion of organization is required just to reach the base level where the ruling class starts. 

That's the problem. The working class and all the oppressed need full-time, face-to-face organizers every minute of the day at every work site and in every neighborhood where the working class and the oppressed live, eat, and work. Here and everywhere we need to build solidarity every day. We need small education groups and mass media. We need organizations by workplace and organizations by neighborhood. We need those organizations to be integrated on all levels and led by those who are specially oppressed by the color-line caste and by other systems of marginalization. And we need to be armed with the best and most effective program.

We are nowhere near this level of organization and institution building. 

But that is what we need. 

JM




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Bobby MacVeety
 

How about a new constitution?


On Jun 25, 2022, at 4:06 AM, Jerry Monaco <monacojerry@...> wrote:


I understand the sentiment. 

But let's make a small point. The ruling class and its clientela are always already organized and is always organizing. They are always already a class-for-themselves. The problem for the working class and all subaltern classes in all historical societies is that they always start out disorganized and their organization is always disrupted, distorted, and corrupted by the surrounding society. In our society, continuous organization and continuous expansion of organization is required just to reach the base level where the ruling class starts. 

That's the problem. The working class and all the oppressed need full-time, face-to-face organizers every minute of the day at every work site and in every neighborhood where the working class and the oppressed live, eat, and work. Here and everywhere we need to build solidarity every day. We need small education groups and mass media. We need organizations by workplace and organizations by neighborhood. We need those organizations to be integrated on all levels and led by those who are specially oppressed by the color-line caste and by other systems of marginalization. And we need to be armed with the best and most effective program.

We are nowhere near this level of organization and institution building. 

But that is what we need. 

JM




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Jerry Monaco
 

How about a new constitution?

First of all you have to organize for a new constitution.  You either need a super-majority for it or it is a result of a civil war. 

And a constitution is only a potential set point not a guarantee of anything. 

The the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were essentially ushered in a new constitutional order. That order was the result of a Civil War and a revolution in social relations.  But by 1877 the revolutionary aspects of the 14th Amendment were used by the ruling class to guarantee corporate property rights and not for the purpose of guaranteeing political equality.  The 15th Amendment became a dead letter until the voting rights act was past almost a century later.

Why? Because the ruling class is always organized to take advantage of new conditions and the working people have to organize and reorganize every half-generation or so. 


Andrew Stewart
 

The Right has been building the coalition necessary for a new Constitutional Convention for the past 30 years. If we were to ford that stream we would be looking at the likelihood of a balanced budget amendment, a Constitutional codification of vice laws, and a plethora of other calamities.


gilschaeffer82@...
 

Organize around what? The lesson of the reversal of the advances made during Reconstruction is that the fight for democracy has not been won. Of course, words on paper don't guarantee anything. Only organized political power can make words a reality, but the words are important as a statement of the goal of organization. Fight to win and enforce a democratic constitution.


Jerry Monaco
 


Organize around what? 

Well that's the point of having a program, as I said in my first post.

But the program has to go with something old fashion... working class power fighting with and for all of the oppressed.  But in order to get there you have to have a class that looks at itself as a class and has a program for change.

It is quite simple to understand and very difficult to achieve.  

Read my my first post on this thread please. 


David Walters
 

If the right were to win the majority of a Constitutional Convention:

 

--Shifting and strengthening the most reactionary aspects of the Bill of Rights: The 10th Amendment, that is the "States Rights" clause that would reduce the U.S. to the structural political organization of the old defeated "Confederate States of America".

--A Constitutional ban on abortion and it's ugly sibling: the states rights to ban contraception (it wouldn't be a national ban because few support it, so again, referring the 10th Amendment).

--Rewriting the 2nd Amendment to drop "A well regulated militia" and using the "individual" right to own any weapon one chooses (against all regulations thereof, sans "special public places", again, determined by the States in each case.

 

--The dropping of Separation of Church and state altogether around something specific like there can be no "official denominational establishment of A religion". [I don't believe there would there would necessarily being "The U.S.A. is a Christian nation" inserted but that is not out of the question so long as one denomination isn't specified]

--Banning of economic coercion of enterprises; reduction of unions to criminal syndicalist organizations; banning of strikes; etc.

 

--Writing the ideology of capitalism/free enterprise into the Constitution.

--Bans on all forms of anti-racist legislation Federally; bans of affirmative action, etc

 

A Constitutional Convention short of a radicalized and mobilized working class *as a class* (not just "made up of individual workers") would be a disaster.


gilschaeffer82@...
 

You're right. We need a program. But for the last 100 years the left has been happy to grant, in one form or another, that the US is some kind of democracy. Only since Daniel Lazare's Frozen Republic (1996) has the left in this country begun to discuss seriously the undemocratic structure of the Constitution. It's no use calling for working class organization without specifying the goal the organization is for. The parties of the Second International, including the American Socialist Party, had as their primary programmatic political goal the establishment of a democratic republic of one person, one equal vote. We still do not have that. As far as I know, only the Marxist Unity Group has proposed that the demand for a democratic constitution and republic should be the primary political demand of the US left. That's what Bobby proposed.
 


gilschaeffer82@...
 

We fight the right by organizing for a democratic constitution just as classical Marxism did.


gilschaeffer82@...
 

You beg the question of what it means to organize the working class "as a class." Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Luxemburg argued that the demand for a democratic republic was the highest form of class political consciousness. The demand for democracy is the political form of the class struggle.


Bobby MacVeety
 

The constitutional convention in Chile has resulted in workers progress 


On Jun 25, 2022, at 3:56 PM, gilschaeffer82@... wrote:

You beg the question of what it means to organize the working class "as a class." Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Luxemburg argued that the demand for a democratic republic was the highest form of class political consciousness. The demand for democracy is the political form of the class struggle.


Andrew Stewart
 

Chile has a significantly different socio-political reality from ours. Their Constitutional Convention was essentially part of a much longer process seeking to undo the tremendous harms of the Pinochet era, which is rightfully and correctly construed as an instance of Yankee imperialism negating their national sovereignty and imposing upon them a Monroe Doctrine regime of terror. By contrast the forces that are responsible for the 50+ years of efforts to reverse the gains of the Warren-Burger Courts are deeply rooted and indigenous social phenomena within our settler-colonial society. The largest (nominal) socialist organization in the USA is DSA and they have only really grown to this size over the past five years (and furthermore are utterly marginal within the larger US polity in contrast with what the Right has built). Chile by contrast has a long-standing multi-party inter generational Left that has been building this momentum for 50 years. If any parallels are to be drawn, it would be a contrast between how the Chilean Left REBUILT itself after Allende died while the US Left wilted away while the Right rebuilt itself after the implosion of Nixon and Watergate. Only part of this would be truly attributable to the fact that the US has a Federalist system that is at once hyper-centralized AND simultaneously de-centralized whilst Chile has a Westminster-style parliamentary system.


Bobby MacVeety
 

Thanks for your cogent and insightful analysis, of course, the US and Chile are not equivalent. I am noting that the process of SCOTUS, interpreting the intentions of white bourgeois slaveholders 250 years ago, is a dead end for democracy and specifically right now, for the rights and personhood of over half the population. Clearly, reform under the current document worship regime has failed.


On Jun 25, 2022, at 9:05 PM, Andrew Stewart <hasc.warrior.stew@...> wrote:

Chile has a significantly different socio-political reality from ours. Their Constitutional Convention was essentially part of a much longer process seeking to undo the tremendous harms of the Pinochet era, which is rightfully and correctly construed as an instance of Yankee imperialism negating their national sovereignty and imposing upon them a Monroe Doctrine regime of terror. By contrast the forces that are responsible for the 50+ years of efforts to reverse the gains of the Warren-Burger Courts are deeply rooted and indigenous social phenomena within our settler-colonial society. The largest (nominal) socialist organization in the USA is DSA and they have only really grown to this size over the past five years (and furthermore are utterly marginal within the larger US polity in contrast with what the Right has built). Chile by contrast has a long-standing multi-party inter generational Left that has been building this momentum for 50 years. If any parallels are to be drawn, it would be a contrast between how the Chilean Left REBUILT itself after Allende died while the US Left wilted away while the Right rebuilt itself after the implosion of Nixon and Watergate. Only part of this would be truly attributable to the fact that the US has a Federalist system that is at once hyper-centralized AND simultaneously de-centralized whilst Chile has a Westminster-style parliamentary system.


sartesian@...
 

On Sat, Jun 25, 2022 at 02:05 PM, <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
The lesson of the reversal of the advances made during Reconstruction is that the fight for democracy has not been won. Of course, words on paper don't guarantee anything. Only organized political power can make words a reality, but the words are important as a statement of the goal of organization. Fight to win and enforce a democratic constitution.
I think the lesson of the defeat of Congressional Reconstruction is that without specifically, explicitly, targeting and breaking up the property of the old regime, restoration, albeit modified, will be achieved through the use of terror.  I think the other lesson of Reconstruction, pre-reversal is that progress follows the use of force.

The history of the Russian Revolution indicates that calls for a constituent assembly are quickly eclipsed by actual events, and are dropped as soon as practical, and by necessity.


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.  


gilschaeffer82@...
 

What's the cart and what's the horse? For more than thirty years, the ideological and political goal of the Russian Social-Democrats was to establish a democratic republic, the same goal as that of all the parties of the Second International. Then in 1918 the Bolsheviks shut down the Constituent Assembly. Whether that action was right or wrong given their conditions, it was the agitation for a Constituent Assembly over the previous thirty years that formed the ideological core of the revolution. Your formulation implies that since we now know that terror will be necessary, we can dispense with the demand for democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said in her criticism of Lenin and Trotsky in "The Russian Revolution," we shouldn't make a virtue out of necessity. Our conditions are different than the Russian conditions of famine and war. I think your appeal to terror is a dead end and we should still demand democracy.


Farans Kalosar
 

On Sun, Jun 26, 2022 at 03:17 PM, <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
What's the cart and what's the horse? For more than thirty years, the ideological and political goal of the Russian Social-Democrats was to establish a democratic republic, the same goal as that of all the parties of the Second International. Then in 1918 the Bolsheviks shut down the Constituent Assembly. Whether that action was right or wrong given their conditions, it was the agitation for a Constituent Assembly over the previous thirty years that formed the ideological core of the revolution. Your formulation implies that since we now know that terror will be necessary, we can dispense with the demand for democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said in her criticism of Lenin and Trotsky in "The Russian Revolution," we shouldn't make a virtue out of necessity. Our conditions are different than the Russian conditions of famine and war. I think your appeal to terror is a dead end and we should still demand democracy.
Going straight to a constitutional convention--if that were possible--might unleash all sorts of gimmick-crazed all-American Gee Whiz bullshit that would hand a victory to the forces of the right.

Some reforms that might be passed short of that: abolition of the Electoral College, federal supervision and authentication of the vote in all states, abolition of large political donations by wealthy individuals and corporate entities.  

There is no need for the so-called states to be anything but administrative divisions of the federal government with a degree of regional autonomy.  States' rights is a nonsense.

Much could be accomplished if agreement could be achieved on a few simple points like the above.

None of this is achievable, unfortunately, without the country's having to go through the probable neofascist triumph in the upcoming midterm elections.  If that is bad enough, the constitution (as a body of practice)  will fail completely, if hit hasn't done so already,  and we may be de facto in a state of civil war.  In any case, Clarence Thomas and his fellow Nazis on the Supine Court have announced their program, which they will carry out unless physically prevented from doing so.

Some have suggested a general strike, or series of general strikes.  This would be good. More so-called "mobilizations (i.e. big demonstrations) can't hurt, but they have to go beyond what we saw around the George Floyd murders and avoid the anarchist bs about occupations creating a revolution. The big demos of living memory all appealed to a constitutional body of practice that the current Supreme Court has now utterly destroyed.

I really feel that some form of armed resistance--as unlike the antifa/BlackBloc nonsense as possible--may be called for.  A fat lot anyone my age could contribute to that, alas--even with the assistance of Comrade Mossberg and his friends, supposing that one could actually fire the shotgun without breaking something. Still, there is no reason why this has to be an either/or.  A movement can defend itself against unofficial terrorism and state violence and still advance democratic demands, QED.  in effect, it appears that "we" now have little choice in the matter, as the die appears to have been cast and some form--probably a very weak form, but nonetheless immensely dangerous and destructive of neofascism appears to be all but unavoidable.


gilschaeffer82@...
 

My point is primarily about our ideology and publicly stated goal, not particular tactics or the current state of political affairs. Everything we can say about how bad things are in this country right now or how bad they are likely to get could have been said about Russia in 1900 times ten or a hundred. Still, the first plank of the Program of the RSDLP was for a democratic constitution, a program that was not changed before the revolution.  Demanding a democratic constitution has nothing to do with following the procedures of the existing Constitution for amendments. The purpose is to explain that the Democratic Party's appeals to "defend our democracy" are hollow and disingenuous. That is the beginning of creating a truly independent ideology and organization capable of challenging the universal falsehood of our political system.


sartesian@...
 

On Sun, Jun 26, 2022 at 03:17 PM, <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
What's the cart and what's the horse? For more than thirty years, the ideological and political goal of the Russian Social-Democrats was to establish a democratic republic, the same goal as that of all the parties of the Second International. Then in 1918 the Bolsheviks shut down the Constituent Assembly. Whether that action was right or wrong given their conditions, it was the agitation for a Constituent Assembly over the previous thirty years that formed the ideological core of the revolution. Your formulation implies that since we now know that terror will be necessary, we can dispense with the demand for democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said in her criticism of Lenin and Trotsky in "The Russian Revolution," we shouldn't make a virtue out of necessity. Our conditions are different than the Russian conditions of famine and war. I think your appeal to terror is a dead end and we should still demand democracy.
1. I'm not "appealing" to terror.  I'm pointing out unless your constituent assembly has the force behind it to break up the dominant economic relations, the property forms, the ancien regime will retake state power by use of terror. So, advocating for democracy, or a constitutional convention absent those organizations of class militancy is the dead end.  

2. The question has a couple subsets: can an appeal or "demand" or "program" for democracy that is abstracted from a class organization for power become a successful intermediary moment for the triumph of that class power?  does an appeal to democracy that does not identify the conditions of labor that require new organs of a new class power to "actualize" that democracy, while at the same time identifying the class relation supporting, upholding, requiring the existing, historical, and persistent institutions that suppress democracy, actually have any chance of even pushing through a reform?  In short can you advocate a constitutional convention without attacking the wage relation,  private  ownership of the MOP, and the current economy's need to drive down the cost of labor?  I think any effort that ignores those issues is going to wind up in the dead end.

3. Let's be a little bit clear about the Russian Revolution: the demand for a constituent assembly was attached to the reality that Russian empire was not a bourgeois constitutional order.  Thus the nature of the "telescoped" revolution brought that issue forward, and ever so briefly.  Trotsky always, and Lenin after the February revolution advocate, agitate, for "All Power to the Soviets."  That answers the question about horse and cart.  To represent the organizing principle of the Russian Revolution as the demand for the constituent assembly ignores what actually occurred.  There was no CA.  The organization of soviets posed the issue of class-based power; a constituent assembly tries to obscure that with the trappings of a formal democracy which leaves everything as it is.  The CA was an impossibility. Impossible for the Provisional Govt to organize because of the class struggle.  Impossible for the revolution to allow as the organ of state power, the soviets, had already made the CA obsolete before birth.

4. Now if we want to agitate around the USSC decision, then we have to link it to the conditions of labor, the need of the bourgeoisie to facilitate, bring into being, and ultimately rely on, the convergence of reactionary forces-- religious, police, military, anti-immigrant, voter suppressing, anti-labor legislating to maintain the domination of its order.  If you don't link the abortion issue to 1) women entering the labor force after WW2  2) the growth off single parent wome headed households  3) the higher poverty rates of those households 4) the benefit capitalism can obtain by driving women into lower paid jobs and even out of the labor force and into either a reserve army or back into domestic servitude where their labor is barely compensated.