- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Elections (con't)

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 11, 19100 at 00:52:15:

In Reply to: Snort. posted by MDG on February 10, 19100 at 16:09:12:

: Jeez Barry, grow a funny bone.

References to firing squads are funny?

Stoller: The lower the level, the less impact.

: I simply disagree with you on that; we may as well quit arguing about it.

You know, I live in an exceptionally 'liberal' area---lots of colleges, human service non-profits, needle exchanges, recycling-as-a-religion, etc., etc. The local politicians are a combination of realty interests keeping their property values high and idealists hoping to 'change the system from within.' Let me tell you, a Coke bottler comes to town and its like Valentines Day. You cannot tell the realty people from the idealists after a year or two. In other words, I will argue about the point 'til doomsday. Small is not beautiful; small is small.

: There is no alternative but complete surrender, and that does not seem to be part of the human spirit.

I disagree. Think about the Jamesian principle of hitting rock bottom. Ask the AA folks if 'surrendering' is quantitative or qualitative. I feel that it is the same with revolutions: the first step is admitting that the present system does not work.

Stoller: Meanwhile, 51% of the country said to hell with ALL these choices.

: We don't know why they didn't vote. People like you were making a statement. Other people couldn't spare the time off work or were too stressed out by life to make it to the polls, and other people simply don't give a damn.

That says the same thing, MDG.

When people are 'too busy' or 'too stressed out' or 'don't give a damn,' they are saying that elections DON'T MATTER. My point is that IF elections had some actual impact upon working people's lives---even something as small as a 10 minute paid coffee break---then workers would flood the voting polls. People care very much about something even as small as a 10 minute break; where I work, workers can talk up a subject like that for endless hours...

MDG: The 40 hour workweek and overtime is definitely better than what came before...

Stoller: You make it sound like the 40-hour workweek and overtime was accomplished by legislation. It was codified by legislation AFTER labor struggled in the streets.

: I did not mean to suggest that, and you are right to point out the struggle which preceded the legislation. However, that legislation was never a sure thing, and it by definition took elected politicians to enact. Had there been more hard-line conservatives, the struggle (with its attendant human suffering) would have taken longer, and may never have succeeded.

And had the struggled continued instead of being pacified by the liberal bourgeoisie throwing table scraps to the workers, the gains may have been even more significant.


Faith in 'democracy' in general, as a universal panacea, and failure to understand that this democracy is bourgeois democracy, historically limited in its usefulness and its necessity, have for decades and centuries been particularly characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie of all countries.

The big bourgeois is case-hardened; he knows that under capitalism a democratic republic, like every other state, is nothing but a machine for the suppression of the proletariat. The big bourgeois knows this from his most intimte acquaintance with the real leaders and with the most profound (and therefore frequently the most concealed) springs of every bourgeois state machine.

The petty bourgeois, owing to his economic position and his conditions of life generally, is less able to appreciate this truth, and even cherishes the illusion that a democratic republic implies 'pure democracy,' 'a free people's state,' the non-class or supra-class rule of the people, a pure manifestation of the will of the people, and so on and so forth. The tenacity of these prejudices of the petty bourgeois democrat is inevitably due to the fact that he is farther removed from the acute class struggle, the stock exchange, and 'real'politics...(1)



1. Lenin, 'Valuable Admissions of Pitirim Sorokin,' Collected Works volume 28, Progress Publishers 1965, pp. 188-9.

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