- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Om Mani Padme Lenin...

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on February 22, 19100 at 17:04:51:

In Reply to: If you want legitimize bourgeois democracy, be my guest posted by Barry Stoller on February 22, 19100 at 10:35:29:

: Again: to compare the Russia of 1917, where Tsarist autocracy had been supplanted by bourgeois democracy for less than one year, to America today where bourgeois democracy has demonstrated, for decades, that America is the 'model country of the democratic swindle' Marx said it was 150 years ago, is ludicrous.

SDF: Again, to repeat arguments over and over again as a response to calls for EVIDENCE supporting them is ludicrous, it's at least as ludicrous as thinking that the politics of 1917 Russia has any relevance today. Learning debate tactics from Gee, eh Stoller? Basically, to repeat myself endlessly, I called for EVIDENCE connecting the idea that "there are nonvoters" to the idea that "nonvoters think X," as blandly asserted by YOU here:

: And what are the working people saying, Sam? We want the Greens to inaugurate an era of energy austerity? No. They're saying the system is shit, it doesn't matter who gets elected. And considering that the economy is 'great,' that is amazing. Wait until the economy gets real nasty, then the talk will get louder. And that talk needs to be led by a non-collaborationist, non-centrist, non-reformist, honest, proletarian party that intends to use both legal and extra-legal means to accomplish the aim of overthrowing capital.

SDF: I'll offer, then, a contrary explanation for the nonvoting behavior of the public, one supported by plenty of evidence. It goes like this: the prevalence of attack advertising in political campaigns turns the public off, and thus the knee-jerk reaction of the public is to ignore electoral politics. At any rate, this is the conclusion that is most highly correlated with the statistical evidence that has been gathered so far in studies of attack advertising.. Nobody at all has to say that "the system is shit," for this to be true, and what they're "saying," at least as it's portrayed in the social-scientific record, is that watching attack ads on TV makes them not want to vote. "It doesn't matter who gets elected"? People could have Stuart Gort's attitude, "I'm happy either way," and they wouldn't care either. I doubt this is true, but at any rate I've distinguished between what makes for real revolutionary mobilization, and mere reformist "complaint," before.

See, for instnace, Karen S. Johnson-Cartee and Gary Copeland's "Southern Voters' Reaction to Negative Political Ads in 1986 Election," JOURNALISM QUARTERLY (1986, sorry no volume #) pp. 888-893, "Negative Political Advertising: Some Empirical Findings," JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING (13:3, 1984) pp. 27-38, Gina M. Garramone et al., "Effects of Negative Political Advertising on the Political Process," JOURNAL OF BROADCASTING AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA (34:3, 1990) pp. 299-311, "The Impact of Televised Political Ads: Evoking Viewer Responses in the 1988 Presidential Campaign," THE SOUTHERN COMMUNICATION JOURNAL (57:4, 1992) pp. 285-295), Kitchens and Powell's "A Critical Analysis of NCPAC's Strategies in Key 1980 Races: A Third Party Negative Campaign," THE SOUTHERN SPEECH COMMUNICATION JOURNAL (31, 1986), pp. 208-228, Pfau and Burgoon's "The Efficiacy of Issue and Character Attack Message Strategies in Political Campaign Communication," COMMUNICATION REPORTS (2:2, 1989) pp. 54-61, Gina M. Garramone's "Effects of Negative Political Advertising: The Role of Sponsor and Rebuttal," JOURNAL OF BROADCASTING AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA (29:2, 1985) pp. 147-159, Garramone's "Voter Responses to Negative Political Ads," JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING (61, 1984) pp. 250-259, Surlin and Gordon's "How Values Affect Attitudes Toward Direct Reference Political Advertising," JOURNALISM QUARTERLY (1977), 90-98, Roddy and Garramone's "Appeals and Strategies of Negative Political Advertising," JOURNAL OF BROADCASTING AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA (32:4, 1988) pp. 415-427, Kaid and Boydston's "An Experimental Study of the Effectiveness of Negative Political Advertisements," COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY (35:2, 1987) pp. 193-201, and of course there's Pfau and Kenski's (1990) book ATTACK POLITICS.

Have you a better explanation?

: : And education of the type that merely broadcasts communiques while disparaging their nonbelievers is education of the type that teaches people not to learn.

: Being honest, I believe, is something that working people DEMAND. They've had all the ass-kissing, disingenuous, strategically vague, campaign promises they can tolerate. Politicians talk to working people like they were children. Would you have me do the same?

SDF: I don't give a shit WHAT you do, Stoller. Go visit Guyana and drink their Kool-Aid for all I care. The fact that you predicate the idea of revolution on some doctrinaire version of what happened in Russia in 1917-1937 (as if it has ANY relevance to today's politics), that people who don't ALREADY believe in the "worker's state" are mere petit-bourgeois liberals, is enough of a turn-off in itself. People are brainwashed with obscure history for the tenure of their forced march through the public schools. Why should they want to read more?

: All the talk in the world about 'freedom for everybody' and 'liberty in the workplace' and '5-minute revolutions' is just more bullshit. I want it out in the open: proletarian revolution, capital will be crushed, everyone's expected to work, special 'exceptions' for anarchists and other shirkers will be rewarded with empty stomachs.

SDF: And how do the people know this, too, isn't just another pack of lies? The Leninists lied, the Stalinists lied, any lie to support the revolution. I've been trying to convey all sorts of truths to YOU about the public and about Marx, and you just ignore them because they don't fit your catechism of the Religion About Marx.

This reminds me of Slavoj Zizek's article in the most recent NEW LEFT REVIEW about Bukharin's show trial. Bukharin, says Zizek, was willing to go along with the show trial, with the confession and with his own execution, for the sake of the Party, but what tortured him the most about the whole ordeal was the thought that Stalin might REALLY THINK he was guilty, that Stalin might actually believe the lies were being promoted for the sake of the Revolution in the "show trials." Any lies for the revolution, even if they kill me!

Oh yeah, the "worker's state." One wonders what sort of superhero Stalin really was, to face down the ENTIRE WORKING CLASS (whom Stoller supposes were really in power in Revolutionary Russia) to gain power! Did he wear a cape and tights after emerging from phonebooths?

: : Similarly, one can bludgeon fencesitters such as Lark enough with Trotskyist dogma, and sure enough their politics will move to the right.

: If Lark's me-first politics were any further to the right, Sam, he'd fall off the map.

SDF: Doubtless a knee-jerk response to YOUR prodding. Lark's politics are CONFUSED, unlike for instance George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair, who know damn well what they're doing.

If you want to mastermind a "conservative revolution," OTOH, be a sectist.

: While we’re at it: Can I say I'm a member of the Green Party while talking about turning the rain forest into Disneyworld---or would the Green Party act like a 'vanguard' and throw me out?

SDF: Ah, but the Green Party contains differences of opinion as to what's Green. Is there any difference of opinion YOU can bear to respect?

: : The Spartacists aren't even close to starting a revolution -- I think it has something to do with their tactics.

: And I repeat: I'm not a member of the Spartacists, I only agree with some of their program.

SDF: You nevertheless conform to the caricature of Marxism that they unwittingly promulgate, as portrayed by Farinata. Speaking of Farinata, he HAS pointed out the main impetus to revolution of the 21st Century. Your response? "I believe that humankind is able to dig its way out of its problems". Even Gee offered EVIDENCE, maybe if he came back we could have a real debate about this. The civilization on Easter Island had a technical need. Was it worth more than ten universities?

: Nonetheless: It is a Marxist-Leninist axiom that the masses must have their own political experience, that strikes and street actions against the capitalist regime are essential for the growth of mass movements. Bourgeois elections are an institutionalized annulment of this essential experience. Voting itself is a refutation of the first task of the day: mass political experience. You say that capitalist democracy is better than nothing. I say you should be ashamed of yourself.

SDF: Bullshit. Voting in itself has nothing to do with the charade of "bourgeois democracy" -- in fact, this is a guarantee that YOUR version of "the revolution" will NOT be democratic, since "voting" according to YOU will count as prima facie evidence of "bourgeois democracy."

: Ralph Nader announced his presidential campaign today. The New York Times devoted more than three pages to the presidential campaign---NOT ONE WORD for Nader. Won't you wise up?

SDF: Did I say I cared whether Nader got press in the NY Times? Go ahead, what other falsehood do you wish to ascribe to me?

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