Do Marxists Oppose Strategic or Lesser-Evil Voting?

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Howie Hawkins’s bizarre diatribe “Bernie Sanders Is No Eugene Debs” buttressed the Green Party’s principled pro-spoiler stance with the following lines  from Marx:

“Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled. The progress which the proletarian party will make by operating independently in this way is infinitely more important than the disadvantages resulting from the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body.”

The problem for Hawkins is that:

1. The full quote shows how inappropriate it is to mechanically copy what Marx said was right to do in a time of revolution, civil war, and dual power in a situation like today that is utterly un-revolutionary. The parts in bold below are what Hawkins deliberately left out:
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Is the Democratic Party a Capitalist Party? Not Exactly


Mark Lause, in his denunciation of Democratic Socialists of America’s support of the leftmost Democrats, claims that every single Democrat is a “Wall Street flunky.” I must assume that this means that he thinks that every single Democrat is taking cash from finance capital, if not some other corporate source.

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Socialist Upton Sinclair — 1934 Democratic Gubenatorial Candidate and Wall Street Flunky?

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Comradely Greetings to the Independent Electoral Action Conference from Bernie Sanders

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Dear Friends in Chicago,

I’ve asked my fellow Vermonters Corey Decker and Jeremy Hansen to convey my very best wishes for a productive and successful conference this weekend. We need many more people like you, throughout our country, who are willing to challenge the stranglehold of big money on politics. Continue reading

When Principle Collides with Reality and Common Sense: Socialist Alternative’s Enthusiastic Non-Endorsement of Bernie Sanders

“We will be campaigning with Sanders supporters against the corporate politicians while politically arguing for Sanders to run all-out through the November 2016 election, as a step toward building an independent political alternative for working people.”

This is the conclusion of Socialist Alternative’s wide-ranging and enthusiastic article about Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run. Although it’s a welcome break from the vitriolic sectarian humbug about Sanders peddled by the likes of Black Agenda Report and Socialist Worker, the article doesn’t actually endorse him!

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How Fringe and Spoiler Campaigns Hurt Rather than Help Independent and Left Politics

A nasty debate is brewing on the American left over what to do about Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and most of the nastiness is on the anti-Sanders side. Now that Sanders is trending upwards in polls (tripling in Iowa from 5% to 15% and reaching 18% in New Hampshire, two key early primary states) liberals are starting to get hysterical. Articles like “Bernie Sanders Is Already Making It More Likely Republicans Win The White House In 2016” will soon become the norm from this crowd as the primary contest heats up and the Establishment front-runner Hillary Clinton has to defend her Iraq war vote and pro-free trade stance against Sanders’ anti-war, anti-free trade record in six live television debates. Continue reading

Sanders’ Campaign: Shell Game to Save the Two-Party System or Third Party Breeding Ground?

Arun Gupta’s “The Only Article You Need to Read About the 2016 Election” avoids the typical, weak ‘left’ objections to Bernie Sanders’ decision to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and bases itself instead on undisputable facts — namely, that “progressive challenges [to] the mainstream Democratic candidates” such as Dennis Kucinich in 2004 or Progressives for Obama of 2008 have not dragged the Democratic Party to the left politically but instead dragged progressives and socialists to the right. Gupta’s argument is that this is will be the social function and/or objective outcome of Sanders’ campaign, its socialist gloss and the genuinely oppositional intentions of its participants notwithstanding. Continue reading

Socialist Worker and Hillary Clinton Agree: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Doomed

“Doomed.”

“No chance of winning.”

These are the words Hillary Clinton’s camp Socialist Worker, newspaper of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), uses to describe Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party in response to a (rather lackluster) endorsement of Sanders by Jacobin which is published by members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The delicious irony of the ISO’s arguments is that they actually want Sanders to run a doomed, no-chance-of-winning presidential campaign, as they readily admit in the same editorial: Continue reading