Time for a Real Labor Party

Fool me once shame on you.
You fool me you can’t get fooled again.
— GWB

Spoken like the true idiot that he is.

So we expect a whole lot more out of the Obama administration. One bumper sticker even said, “Elect Intellect”. Kind of turns around the old Adlai Stevenson quip when one supporter said to him, “…All thinking people are for you.” His response was, “That’s not enough. I need a majority.”

The question to be raised is how does having someone new who’s smarter than a fifth grader make a difference in solving the problems we’re facing? Eight years has been a long time for our collective brain to atrophy. Can Obama restore that? Will it make a difference? When has the American public ever truly grappled with real solutions? We complain about the problems all the time. We’ve always expected our elected leaders to surround themselves with the ‘best and the brightest.’ That often gives the public the excuse to be the acquiescent sheep they are so carefully trained to be.

We see the Obama economic team made up of the very types of people who brought us to the brink of Depression. Being smart just isn’t enough. Missing from the team, and even his cabinet, are the very people who most truly represent those most hurt by this economic crisis: Labor and Consumers. Conspicuously absent? Not a word is mentioned of them, even by organized Labor itself. But that should be no surprise.

The leadership of the CIO sold out the UAW and the labor movement in 1936 when UAW wanted to start their own political party for labor and farmers. It was either support Roosevelt and the New Deal or funds for organizing auto workers would be withheld.1 Since then, Labor has been under the thumb of the Democratic Party for so long now that they think they’re part of the hand. It is no wonder there hasn’t been a peep out of organized labor over the exclusion of Labor in Obama’s economic powerhouse team.

The Obama administration’s exclusion of Labor clearly shows that the Democratic Party sees Labor’s leaders as their loyal lieutenants. They see Labor’s role as having no value, except to call out their armies during election time. They also know that if they were to have a real independent labor voice on their team their entire economic plan to revitalize Wall Street and the banking houses could crash.

Will the rank and file union members ever wake up to the stranglehold the Democrats have over them?

What’s truly needed now are real alternative political parties. The Greens are out. In states like Maryland they can’t even organize a sock drawer, let alone a political party. Other state Green Parties are stronger but overall very weak and getting weaker. If one just goes by raw numbers, their recent showing in Louisiana had been the margin that helped to defeat the corrupt Congressman Jefferson. Too often, though, the GP is reluctant to crow about how it can make an electoral difference or even try to. If only the Party could have had some bragging rights in 2000, then 2004 might not have been so disastrous for them!

Libertarians have a very specific message, but with little money and no good organizers they might just as well duke it out with disenfranchised voters who might argue for staying home, still leaving the field wide open for the two main rivals.

Shouldn’t this be the time that Labor finally breaks from under the yoke of the Democrats, who are so hell-bent on being Wall Street’s electoral arm?

It is still inconceivable that rank and file union members don’t do to their union bosses what Terry Malone did to Johnny Friendly2 and throw them all in the water.

The support the Labor movement gives to the Democratic Party is contrary to the needs of labor. When, since 1947, has any serious Democratic candidate, let alone the party’s platform, ever called for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, one of the most anti-labor pieces of legislation? It was the Reform Party candidate, Ross Perot, that Texan Ferengi, who in 1992 railed against NAFTA, our generation’s most anti-labor treaty. Bill Clinton and his Democratic Party pushed it through once elected with continuing backing from Democrats and Republicans alike. And, the one issue that often ties up all union contractual activities is not just outsourcing, bad working conditions or bad bosses, or even wages. It is health care and the need to keep what coverage they can. If health care was taken off the table, with a national health care plan along the lines of Single Payer in place, then unions could focus on real labor issues. Yet it is taking forever for the Democrats in Congress to sign on to any real health care plan independent of the health insurance industry.

A Labor Party would have very broad appeal. It would be a party for working families, regardless of their past political affiliations. And what difference does it make if it does hurt one party or another? If only it speaks for its members, why be apprehensive about whether or not its strength would hurt another’s whose interests are clearly not theirs to begin with? A Labor Party not afraid to stand up to the Democratic and Republican Parties would honor the labor heroes who struggled or died fighting for the basic rights of workers in America.

  1. Who made the New Deal?” Lance Selfa, 11/20/08, Dissident Voice. []
  2. On the Waterfront, 1954 []

Myles Hoenig is a teacher activist in Maryland. He can be reached at: myles.hoenig@gmail.com. Read other articles by Myles.

49 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 10th, 2008 at 9:31am #

    glad to see a journalist who promotes establishment of a labor party.
    the party shld be as apolitical as poossible. politics is just a small aspect of reality/life thus cannot be totally avoided.
    such party wld succeed in bringing together people on the Left and the Right if it adopts only the following:
    free higher education
    health care for all
    no more warfare based on truth or lies
    there is no truth; ie, there isn’t just one truth but an endless number of them
    change the structure of governance
    ask people tu use less.
    be free of religious (mis)teachings thnx

  2. Rev. José M. Tirado said on December 10th, 2008 at 10:56am #

    Myles,
    As I´m sure you probably know, Tony Mazzochi help start the Labor Party back in the 80s and they have one small group in, of all places, South Carolina! (http://www.thelaborparty.org/) I absolutely agree that the US desperately needs a Labor Party (I used to be a President of a UE Local in Los Angeles) and that is probably the only thing tha tall political groupings and the owners of the country agree is dangerous to capitalism (as it should be). But without electoral reform beforehand, they would only be marginalized. And just ask the readers here if any of them are in unions–the silence is instructive…
    But the US already has a party whose committment to labor is solid, the SP-USA. Personally I think helping them out, rather than starting from scratch (a tendency the US does every 20-40 years) would get better results.

  3. Don Hawkins said on December 10th, 2008 at 2:10pm #

    IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to ALTER or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    The laws of nature if they only knew then what that would mean. Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. I wondered how that worked. Altered is an interesting word don’t you think. Can be looked at in a few different way’s.

  4. Max Shields said on December 10th, 2008 at 2:27pm #

    Don, the South tested this out and a little something called the Civil War insued.

  5. lichen said on December 10th, 2008 at 2:44pm #

    A third party (hopefully not allied to the international “labor” party which, like the democrats, went neoliberal decades ago) will never succeed without wide-ranging ELECTORAL REFORMS! It is impossible to win anything without them; it will never happen, but keep on writing stupid articles acting as if the green party ever had a chance in the world when the electoral system and the money/unfairness-doctrine led media will crush any ‘new party’ that comes along.

  6. Don Hawkins said on December 10th, 2008 at 4:18pm #

    Like I said can be looked at in a few different way’s what the South tryed a few years back not my first choice.

  7. Danny Ray said on December 10th, 2008 at 4:35pm #

    Max, yes we in the south did once try to go our own way, And as the story goes we were not allowed to because you guys elected a tall skinny fellow from Illinois who pissed all over the constitution to stop us. Now you got the same thing only he thinks less of the constitution than ol Abe did. Plus even tho Abe was our enemy P.E.B.O. ain’t a pimple on Abe’s Ass.

  8. Danny Ray said on December 10th, 2008 at 4:37pm #

    P. President
    E. Elect
    B. Barack
    O. Obama

  9. Max Shields said on December 10th, 2008 at 5:29pm #

    “Breaking away” is a very natural phenomenon but rarely allowed within nation-states because their existence is based on control of some territorial mass.

    In the case of the US and the attempt to create a separate union, a major cause was economic and primarily the establishment of tariffs on the part of the industrial North.

    But US history was filled with attempts to escape the bondage of a central government – the one we still have in DC. The federal government was secured with the Constitution preserved throughout the last 2+ centuries. There is nothing sacrosanct about this union, but it has the force of a militia which will never allow the separation of one region or state to go it alone.

    A 1/2 million lives were sacrificed to make this point quite clear. This is a plutocracy that survives and will do so at any cost. The interesting addition is that of Israel, the sibling imperial power in the Middle East. It reflects in the most obscene detail the very history of its protector.

  10. Danny Ray said on December 10th, 2008 at 5:42pm #

    My God max you are my hero

  11. Don Hawkins said on December 11th, 2008 at 5:56am #

    Altered of course is already going on. I am not sure why you went to the civil war with that. If something like that happened now and probably could not happen it would solve nothing. We are under a little time thing here in the 21st. The only way for it to work is people working together. Can that happen well it is possible if reason can be used to overcome instinct. Instinct being stuff like war or working to get rich or doing something over and over knowing full well it will destroy human civilization but the perks and money is good. Having more and wanting more because you can. Going into Walmart and seeing a man on the floor in very bad shape and head for the check out counter. It’s a mess.

  12. Brian Koontz said on December 11th, 2008 at 6:47am #

    ” Fool me once shame on you.
    You fool me you can’t get fooled again.
    – GWB

    Spoken like the true idiot that he is. ”

    No, spoken like an affectation.

    This way of speaking by GWB is an affectation, occurring only in his recent years. GWB is a political monster and made the calculation that speaking in this way would be beneficial to the Neoconservative cause (by condescending to the American public and thus angering and depressing them).

    It is a way for GWB to say: “See, this is what I think of how Americans speak”. The media got in on it, saying that GWB is trying to “talk like Americans do”. What an odd remark – I’ve never heard an American speak like GWB does, not even drunk ones.

    By repeating calling GWB an “idiot”, Americans justify not doing anything about him. Him being an “idiot” is a substantial amount of the reason why GWB isn’t sitting in jail. Who’s the real idiot?

    Modern US presidents are primarily PR spokespeople. Developing a condescending way to speak is (potentially) a very potent way of conducting the presidency. And since Americans were manipulated successfully, taking the bait and thus the hook of GWB being an “idiot”, we might as well take our hats off to a man who has gotten the best of us.

    GWB did exactly what he wanted to do in office – help his cronies and buddies get richer, be re-elected for a second term, and get away with it scot free. He succeeded in all of this with flying colors. Yet somehow he’s the idiot?

    So indeed, “Fool me once shame on you. You fool me you can’t get fooled again”.

    Public Relations isn’t about speaking *clearly* or *articulately*, it’s about speaking *powerfully*. Americans fell into the trap GWB laid.

  13. bozh said on December 11th, 2008 at 7:57am #

    nature/gods don’t make idiots; people do; ergo get fooled each time they use the word.
    this is callled, thinks i, believing in magic of words. thnx

  14. Hue Longer said on December 11th, 2008 at 3:03pm #

    Brian,

    He sure has some balls then…did you ever hear him on “sovereign”? Google that!

  15. Superfreak said on December 11th, 2008 at 3:45pm #

    It’s sad to see that so much of the dialogue around this article has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the article.

    Jose is one of the few exceptions: Jose it seems to me that the author is talking about a new national labor party which could be formed, but he is not dismissive of the folks in SC. Just dismissive of what has failed like the Greens, etc.

    Maybe a new labor party nationally could be formed from what is in South Carolina. I don’t think your ideas are exclusive of one another.

  16. James Madigan said on December 13th, 2008 at 8:43pm #

    I agree that we should form a Labor Party in Maryland. We could draw from DINOS and RINOS (dems and reps in name only), as well as from a cross-section of all 3rd parties.
    As much as I respect the Greens in this state, too few have taken up worker’s issues over the years. I heard so little outrage from them when the Bethmehem Steel retirees lost their pensions, nor of State Budget cuts that take money out of worker’s back pockets (and increased peril to correctional officers due to staff shortages and refusal to increase overtime!)
    I thank those who have tirelessly stood up and pushed against the BGE rate-hikes. They, along with members of the local ISO, could help give a MD Labor Party a push forward. If The Greens and the Libertarians can get on the ballot in MD, then why not a party which would more urgently seek to meet the needs of working people, given these rough economic times?

  17. Brandy Baker said on December 15th, 2008 at 1:28pm #

    Hi James,
    The MD Greens have not issued press statement on much of anything the past few years (I know because when I was with the now-defunct Baltimore City local, I issued almost all prs between 2004 and 2007, they were all on behalf of the local, the state and other locals sent few if any), but they really no longer exist so there’s really no point in discussing them.

    Truth is that the honeymoon with Obama will soon be over (it’s ending now) and we don’t have a progressive third party so a Labor Party for Maryland is a great idea. We should get together and see if this is viable and if it is, I strongly suggest that we join with SC. I read up on them and I like their structure, and the fact that they are not afraid to have structure, and they are not afraid of leadership. And they want serious races with serious candidates, something we have sorely been lacking, with some notable exceptions. And they are not afraid of money. Having structure and leadership, and not being afraid to say “No” to someone who is unfit to run a healthy Party makes.

    We would need to entirely reinvent the wheel as far as publicly and outreach go. A demand for a new Labor Party should come from the Labor movement as well as those who are non-union workers. That means going out to the unions (Myles is a union member) and places where we won’t get the same half-dozen Baltimore City lunatic left retreads who just come in and destroy movements just because they can. That means no sending it out to the same old tired announcement lists. But there would have to be about 10 hardcore committed people (At least) with strong bases starting in Baltimore City, Montgomery County (the easiest organizing spots in the state) and grow out from there. Having the ISO, if they are interested, would be great.

    In my opinion, we must mandate that all future discussion take place in person if we are going to have a formal discussion of this idea to see if it will work. And if the Party gets off of the ground that all discussion from then on occurs either in person or by phone-conference call. This is one of the strengths of the anti-BGE coalition. Interstate discussion should be by conference call. Nothing breeds inertia quicker than stream of consciousness back and forth volleying on the internet.

    If there is enough interest in Maryland, I’d be involved, but if not, then the time is not right to form. We need a committed group and we should make the 676 our first initiative to tackle.

    BB

  18. Max Shields said on December 15th, 2008 at 1:55pm #

    Brandy,

    Your “new” Labor Party sounds like an accommodation to the two we’ve got. That’s the problem.

    For years, too many liberals who have had problems with the duopoly’s offering simply want to mimic the system which produces…you guessed it versions of what the duopoly produces.

    It seems like a conundrum, but facing it for what it is can yield real solutions.

    I suppose I totally misunderstood your whole post when you say, “…SC. I read up on them and I like their structure, and the fact that they are not afraid to have structure, and they are not afraid of leadership. And they want serious races with serious candidates, something we have sorely been lacking, with some notable exceptions. And they are not afraid of money. Having structure and leadership, and not being afraid to say “No” to someone who is unfit to run a healthy Party makes.”

    But then again…

  19. Brandy Baker said on December 15th, 2008 at 3:46pm #

    Your post makes no sense.

  20. Brandy Baker said on December 15th, 2008 at 4:07pm #

    With all due respect Max, unless you live in Maryland and want to participate in the in-person discussions concerning whether or not this is even viable, it doesn’t matter to me what you think and I don’t have the time.

  21. Max Shields said on December 15th, 2008 at 7:00pm #

    Brandy, with all do respect, stop using public blogs to have private conversations. Otherwise you can expect comment.

  22. Brandy Baker said on December 15th, 2008 at 7:12pm #

    I never said you couldn’t comment or that my post was private. I just said that I didn’t care what you have to say.

    Have a nice day.

  23. Myles Hoenig said on December 15th, 2008 at 7:18pm #

    It looks to me what Brandy is doing is what I hoped would come from the article I wrote. That is, ORGANIZING for a new Labor Party. A public blog is the perfect place to start. Maybe others in her state, mine also, will contact her through these threads and the beginnings of such a party will emerge.

    Some blog, others organize.

    We know where the best energy is spent.

    Respectfully,
    Myles Hoenig

  24. Max Shields said on December 16th, 2008 at 7:59am #

    Myles,

    First, I’m a strong supporter of a labor movement within the context of a much larger set of movement imperatives.

    Technically, I agree that the Green Party has not taken labor as a central issue, but it seems that is not a reason for it not to.

    That said, parties today reflect the power structure. What Brandy has proposed is a direct reflection of the duopoly. For example, the problem with the UAW and other established unions is that historically they took the labor movement and created an empire (hierachical) structure that reflects the “other side” (corporate structure) with its power elite. In other words, they took the movement out of labor and institutionalized in to reflect corporations. A labor party (look at UK if you need more of an illustration), if structured as Brandy indicates, is the same old story. It is the coopting of a true labor movement with a party that is nothing more than a label. I say be very careful of that kind of “ORGANIZING”.

    These are fundamental issues that should be addressed, imo, before willy nilly creating a “party” whether it be a socialist, green, or labor party.

    An honest discussion about the very structural perversity that governs the American Empire should be a prerequisite. Simply mimicing it with an alternative name with the same structural flaws is very problematic.

    Dressing up “your candidates” and making sure they’ve got lots of “money” is playing right into the imperial ruling structure. That’s not an alternative.

    It is because we attempt to come at the existing power structure on ITS TERMS rather than ours (which may beg the question since we need to know what our offering truly is) that makes it a deadend, zero sum game.

    The power elite hold the cards (all of them). Simply calling a party a Labor Party does not provide the answers to the deep, profound systemic and value based issues we have in the American Empire.

    Tugging a little this way and that just keeps us treading water while the elite rule.

  25. Max Shields said on December 16th, 2008 at 8:18am #

    Let me be a bit more concrete, since my last remarks are only preliminary – set the table, so to speak.

    A real workers’ movement should be reflected in our economic model.

    For example: I say, the focus should be on having the workers take over the “auto” industry. Transform it into a 21st Century entity that meets 21st Century transit needs (rather than the wasteful industry that it is today). I could envision thousands of spin-offs for the central USA region. But that takes a different type of thinking.

    The brains, the creativity of the workers are the movement, can provide the very essence of real change. Let this be a Workers’ Cooperative, grass-roots democratically run. Spain has one of the world’s most sophisticated, mature example: Mondragón Cooperative.

    Politics is not the leader. The workers are and the economic relationships that go into such a cooperative can make deep profound changes. Leaders will come from and be sustained, not by a political machine, but by the very democracy that fuels the daily lives of people. Even movements are simply a means.

    Organize, not a union or a party, but a new world based on democratic principles and social and economic justice.

  26. bozh said on December 16th, 2008 at 8:54am #

    max,
    i’m very doubtful that any movement in US wld loosen the grip on power by, let’s say, 1-10% of its pop.
    it also seems that US constitution was written so as to exclude participation in governance by an org or movement. movements also quickly fizzle out once the rulers adopt some of an org’s ideas.
    copmaring spain w. US will not do.
    majority of spaniards r socialists/communists while majority of amers r just tad left of hitler.
    movements, generally speaking, wish an implemetation of just one or few ideas.
    a party can look at all ills that befall us and not just one or several.
    that’s what i tell people who ask for donation. to them, there is just one ill that needs correcting.
    spain, once it elected a socialist party, was able to withdraw its troops from iraq.
    no protest or movement had ever even deterred a war let alone prevented it or stopped once underway.
    but a party can as spain had proved.
    the greatest movements to me r christian and muslim ones. but look at the sorry mess such movements do to us. thnx

  27. Max Shields said on December 16th, 2008 at 9:05am #

    bozh

    What do they say about necessity?

    There is a good deal of detoxification that needs to happen. Americans have a very difficult time getting their minds around democracy and social/economic justice (beyond the words) even the so-called “left” who are stuck with the mindset of empire.

    Still, bozh, we can put our energies in a worthy venture rather than act like we’re introducing “change” when all we’re offering is a different version of the same toxic structure. Labor Party would soon become a marketed Orwellian poke in the eye to workers.

    But we have examples of workers cooperatives in the US. Economic of relationships changes the narrative to one that builds on community. Don’t sell the grass-roots short, bozh.

  28. Brandy Baker said on December 16th, 2008 at 3:05pm #

    “A labor party (look at UK if you need more of an illustration), if structured as Brandy indicates, is the same old story. It is the coopting of a true labor movement with a party that is nothing more than a label. I say be very careful of that kind of “ORGANIZING”.”

    That is absolute nonsense and is nothing even resembling what I wrote. This is an ultra-left purist attitude towards third parties, which history has shown, have been instrumental in bringing about change. I said above that a Party would have to come directly from the labor movement. How would I or anyone else be “coopting”?

    “Dressing up “your candidates” and making sure they’ve got lots of “money” is playing right into the imperial ruling structure. That’s not an alternative.”

    This is fucking ridiculous and mindless wheel spinning. Guess what? To do anything, you need money (and I never said corporate money). I cannot tell you how tired I am of sitting in meetings (whether for third parties or anti-war or anti-death penalty) with doctors, lawyers, and college professors who do not contribute A DIME to the movement even though they live in some of the wealthiest parts of the city.

    You need money to build a movement. Money is not dirty. Why can’t the Left get their heads around this idea? Why is asking for monthly dues considered co-opting? (You fucking better ask for monthly dues for ANY organization that you build or it’s over before it begins).

    Why can’t they understand that their poorly designed Microsoft Word flyers posted on a couple of telephone poles continue to be read by no one and that is why they can only draw 6 people to an event? Why do they continue on being out of touch? Why does concern over how we present ourselves to the public considered selling out or considered “liberal”? You people continue to lose and you wonder why.

    “I say, the focus should be on having the workers take over the “auto” industry.”

    This was already attempted by the SWP. They got out of their fancy schools and got jobs in the auto industry in the 70s to try and make revolution. This is a grand idea that sounds pretty in theory, but try going out and executing it. It’s easy to dismiss concrete organizing and offer grandiose ideas nad think you can get there with no organizatiohn. And who says that a new Labor Party could not do take over the plants if that is what they wanted to? That decision needs to be made by the workers themselves and not some Ivy League grads or ultra-left purist bloggers who dream big and shoot real plans down.

    Myles,

    This discussion should continue off-line.

  29. Max Shields said on December 16th, 2008 at 4:47pm #

    Brandy,
    I think I understand perfectly well what you said.

    As far as third parties changing the world for the better, I’d say, why are we in worse shape today than we, arguably were before the Great Depression? (Oh yea we’ll have a black man doing what white men before him did. Now that’s progress!)

    I’m not saying that a viable independent can’t add to the discussion, but we’re way beyond that. This is not the 1930s. We are now witnessing the collapse of an empire. This empire has been in existence for centuries. Within that context you’re anachronistic notion of a Labor Party just flies in the face of reality.

    I’m in no way dismissing organizing. I’m dismissing the kind of organizing you are proposing. If you’ve defined the problem as just needing one more well constructed Party to represent workers, than perhaps you’ve got a point.

    That is simply not the solution as I see it. Before us is a collapsing economy. A model built and sustained (such as it is) for an empire model of governance. Our institutions – schools, colleges, unions, government at all levels, clubs, non-profits/for-profits all reflect this empire, hierarchical model. It is the one you’re looking to use to create a Party for the workers (how kind of you).

    The problem IS the model. It’s our continued narrative of growth which is the basis of the empire’s model and a money based sense of what matters.

    Call it idealistic or far “left” if you can’t take the truth. But the truth is all around you nowhere in nature will you find your “labor party”. Life has nothing to do with the kind of hierarchical model you and millions before you have been taught to look to.

    It is a model that ultimately has an elite in charge. You become a member who is only needed when the power structure needs to justify itself. It is the kind of model that has led to endless war and destruction.

    The Labor Party in UK is certainly not adverse to marching off to imperial wars.

    I would suggest looking at an alternative set of organizing principles one based on partnerships and relationships and not on who’s in charge. Needing money is a joke. Our monetary system is based on debt. What are you going to do challenge the machine that had one candidate rake in a billion to market himself?!?

    You are living a delusional fantasy. Off-line or on-line.

    I’m not suggesting we have “Ivy Leaguers” play workers. Here if you care about learning about how a workers’ cooperative works: http://www.geo.coop/node/12

  30. Brandy Baker said on December 16th, 2008 at 4:55pm #

    Continue to be irrelevant and hyperbolic.

  31. Brandy Baker said on December 16th, 2008 at 4:57pm #

    …and continue the naval gazing. T

    The rest of us have work to do.

  32. Myles Hoenig said on December 16th, 2008 at 5:07pm #

    Max,
    You are not the ownership of ‘truth’ so please do patronize people who don’t envision life as you and just a few others see it.

    To say “needing money is a joke” is absurd when dealing with a movement. I’m sorry, but singing “Joe Hill” will not get people to magically materialize flyers, billboards, phone banks, street work.

    I was embarrassed to be part of the Greens in MD who some felt that for a state-wide race asking for a very limited amount from individuals was the only way of showing that they’re Green.

    You think Brandy is ‘living a delusional fantasy’ but what kind of life are you living? Do you contribute to anything? Do you put limits on what you give for fear that the receiver might become corrupted by your extra bucks?
    Do you do anything that makes a difference or do you blog? Is your reality around a computer screen, or as research has shown, like Brandy’s who has been a candidate for a state office and involved in many leftist campaigns, doing real street work.

    To all reading this, anyone in the State of Maryland who would like to attempt to start a Labor Party please contact me directly and we can try and start something new. Reality is what we make it. If some think it’s delusional then exert your energy elsewhere, but I hope it’s in a productive direction.

    Myles

  33. Max Shields said on December 16th, 2008 at 5:16pm #

    Myles and Brandy,

    There is just so much that can and needs to be done. Parties are limiting. They keep you away from the real work, work that is not fruitless but yields real results.

    My community is embarking on several different non-hierarchical models of local businesses, a new local food system and changing the fundamental way land is used in urban centers.

    I won’t go on, but this kind of work requires organizing, but not party organizing.

    Parties are very problematic because they create a political cynicism which is divisive when you’re looking to transform what’s going on.

    But I gather that you and Brandy are pretty satisfied with the power structure and just see an opportunity to get a new party going.

    Have fun. Maybe if you put a tenth of the effort into getting land value tax passed in Maryland you’d really be accomplishing something for the people of Maryland (contact the Maryland Land Value Tax project)…but I got it, you need to start a party.

  34. Myles Hoenig said on December 16th, 2008 at 5:55pm #

    You think your issues, your method, you ideals are the only ones worth fighting.
    Neither Brandy, I, nor any other have claimed to own either reality, wisdom, or the winning strategy. We have never attacked what you’re doing, but simply attacked your argument.
    You think we enjoy the power structure because you don’t see anything other than it being your way or the wrong way.
    Your self-importance rant clearly comes from someone who enjoys acting like a spoiled kid who gets what he wants by browbeating or insulting others.
    I’m sorry to be personal but your condescending bullshit leaves no other characteristic.
    Please find some other place to engage in self-masturbatory exercises.
    I will not be responding to any more such worthless nonsense.

  35. bozh said on December 16th, 2008 at 6:03pm #

    so why does US or its rulers have one party? because that’s the way to go if u want to stay in power.
    why does every land i know of have 2+ parties? because, some parties ensure that plutocratic class of life does not take over media, education, banking, military, spy agencies, entertainment industry totally.
    nowhere on earth is person more led astray than in US.
    nowhere does 98% of voters vote for one party system, continuous warfare; for no healthcare or higher education. thnx

  36. Max Shields said on December 16th, 2008 at 6:14pm #

    Myles,

    You and your friend, Brandy, seem to have it all figured out with Labor Party.

    Bozh,
    I don’t think the American empire invented empire or war. So, let’s not get too carried away with the perfections of non-US Imperialism is better than US Imperialism.

    Seems the US has a monopoly on the endless war but the US is simply the seed of European empire rule.

    I don’t know that anyone in the US votes for war (at least not the majority).

    I think you’d need to expand on your idea of how 2 parties assure that the plutocracy doesn’t rule. After all the duopoly plays at being two parties, what makes you think that another party who plays by the plutocratic rules doesn’t just become another faux alternative?

  37. Jason Oberg said on December 16th, 2008 at 11:21pm #

    A valid point, but it is actually possible to institute and maintain a third party that truly represents the people. For one thing, we already have men who have demonstrated their ability to lead with the best interests of the people in mind (I refer to Ralph Nader, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and others), without succumbing to the allure of big-business shortcuts and concessions. The problem is, too many of these people, like Paul and Kucinich, are all too hesitant to break away from their own parties for fear of doing nobody any good. This attitude needs to change, because they aren’t doing a lot of good now, at least not outside their respective districts, despite their efforts. Look at how Ron Paul was railroaded by his own party this last year. These are good men and they need to band together. With leaders such as these, introducing a new major party to the American people would have an astounding effect. The whole problem with the “Noble Few” as I call them is that they’re worlds apart in the political spectrum. I believe the unification of the truly labor-minded, corporate-evil-detecting established politicians would for the first time give the American people hope that is more than just a piece of propaganda. To give people an alternative in their hearts and minds to Obama, who they know deep down is just another guy who may or may not help them, would invigorate the political spirit of the masses in a way we’re too pessimistic to conceive of at this point. Unity has always been a problem in America, even among the most well-intentioned groups. But to see a new party formed that the duopoly cannot ignore, and that invites the participation of the masses and talks to them honestly, without deception, would be simply revolutionary. This is the Third Party we need.

  38. Max Shields said on December 17th, 2008 at 7:02am #

    Jason,
    My point is simply that using the structure of the duopoly to create another party is very problematic. It is a systemic problem. Systemic problems call for systemic solutions and another Party regardless its moniker is simply an addition to the existing system.

    Obama is a perfect case in point. If a party must “compete” within the system it is forced to live within it. The parameters are clear.

    Nader was the exception this time and last as he ran as an independent. This has the advantage of not playing by the empire’s rules but the disadvantage of being totally shut out.

    This is not about a person. It is about a culture and economic system which fosters an imperial empire. All of our institutions reflect this structure. To simply add another one creates the illusion of alternative – as did Obama for some people, without the fundamentals changing at all.

    The New Deal preserved the empire. At that moment in time we could have taken a different course, but instead the system was patched and sent on its way to become ever more what it was then a uni-super imperial empire.

    The American polity, culture and economics must all be redirected. At the national level this is a massive – pretty much futile undertaking. It is only at the local level, human-scale, that we can make the kind of profound changes needed.

    John Andrews on another topic brought up this Free Democracy is a solution. http://www.freedemocrats.co.uk.

    Sounds like an interesting place to consider some action coupled with some other grass-roots transformation.

  39. Deadbeat said on December 17th, 2008 at 9:10am #

    I’ve read the arguments herein and I have to agree with Brandy & Myles. Max arguments lacks analysis and nuance. There will have to be many different fronts needed to raise the conscientiousness of the people. For example Max doesn’t offer any means to protect his initiatives. Having a loosely based “organization” can be easily infiltrated and disrupted by the state. This is why having a very tight knit labor party apparatus is necessary in order to effectively challenge the state. Max doesn’t present a solution to the weaknesses of his ideas. What he does by not offering solidarity to Brandy and Myles results in alienation and Brandy is correct in pointing out this as being the reason why the Left consistently loses.

    It is the Left’s ineffectiveness at building solidarity that created the environment for Barack Obama NOT the other way around. The Left today is NOT offering an alternative to the duopoly. Also Max needs to do a better review of history. One of the reason why Roosevelt had to offer a new deal was due to the challenge he was getting from his Left flank and especially the “Share the Wealth” campaign of Huey Long who was murdered just prior to his 1936 challenge. Unfortunately Max is not a very good student of history.

  40. Max Shields said on December 17th, 2008 at 9:26am #

    Deadbeat,

    Your comments lack total substance as usual.

    You are of the old school which thinks the “new” way forward is through the prism of the old empire.

    The New Deal saved the fundamental structure of empire and allowed it to become what it is today – the world’s most egrecious violator of human rights via mass invasions.

    The New Deal did save capitalism, and did nothing for the so-called left. But the problem is not left/right. It is a systemic problem that has been thoroughly documented – you, Deadbeat just need to READ. It may be too nuanced or perhaps too blunt for you. In any case, you’ve got your usual specious argument that is baseless.

    Siding with this Labor Party two-some simply supports the weakness of their case.

    Saying my arguments lacks nuance is simply your usual way of saying NOTHING. Sure, Huey Long changed America! Now that would be a surprise to Louisiana that bastion of progressivism. The most corrupt state (perhaps second to Illinois) in the terribly corrupt union of the USA.

    Deadbeat, since when is Huey Long must read for American Empire history? Only in your little world.

  41. HR said on December 17th, 2008 at 12:27pm #

    Max, you might consider reading T. Harry Williams’s biography of Huey Long, if you haven’t already. It provides a lot of context on the deeply entrenched, corrupt, patrician politics (along with the New Orleans machine) of LA that existed long before Huey came on the scene. Some of that rubbed off on him, undoubtedly, as he implemented his programs in the state. Nevertheless, his public works projects in LA were appreciated by ordinary people.

    Huey, along with midwest populists in “congress” did cause FDR to move farther to the left than he was originally inclined to move. Huey also, in the context of the reality of the LA politics, was a progressive, one who became feared by the national ruling elite. The response was to brand him a demagogue, something bad according to their definition, which is far from the original definition of the word: someone who champions the cause of the people.

    He should be required study, if only to point out the contrast between what media and “historians” portray as real and what is truly real.

  42. Jason Oberg said on December 17th, 2008 at 12:43pm #

    Max,
    You’re absolutely right, of course. Don’t misunderstand me, please…I realize all too well the totalitarian umbrella we all live under. But how do you topple one of the most powerful and crafty empires the world has ever known? One of two ways: From forces outside, as with the Roman Empire (although the same internal corruptions and excesses contributed greatly to their demise as well), or from within, i.e. by the people. I believe the latter must be considered our only hope at this point, for we can safely assume that nobody is going to conquer the United States anytime in the near or distant future. A new third party, comprising our most conscientious citizens, could be viewed perhaps as a rebellion rather than a political party, providing those within it treat it as such. If those in this new “party” would challenge the fundamentals of our modern system rather than trying to attain victory within that system by playing by the corporate machine’s rules, that would be the only way. I realize that the whole “party” system has proven to be a wash, but a movement—a serious one—needs to come from somewhere. I truly believe if you assembled our most staunch defenders of the Constitution’s more relevant precepts, and were able to mobilize the American people through said defenders, you could have a genuine revolution on your hands. Imagine if the majority of the U.S. citizenry was told the truth about…everything! If suddenly, instead of an Obama or a Clinton telling them what they want to hear; warding off all the bad thoughts and enormous problems by masquerading political propaganda like “Change!” as ideology, the would-be leaders were telling them like it is, like it has been for far too long now. The People need to wake up from this “American Dream” and realize that it’s actually a nightmare. My new third party could accomplish that, though of course not through the conventional American media. True “grassroots” campaigning, and spreading the word, everywhere, would bring information directly to the people, rather than through Newsweek or MSNBC. I don’t believe there has been a time since the Depression when Americans would be more receptive.
    This, of course, wouldn’t be easy, for the corporate rulers would block the paths of these rabble-rousers at every turn. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly would bark even louder than they used to; Ralph Nader would be even more “irrelevant” and “arrogant” than before; the “liberals” would be even crazier than they used to be (It amazes me that anyone who stands up for the little guy in this country is labeled a “nut” and dismissed). The most important feat to be accomplished in all this would be the spread of information. This is something the Third Parties have failed miserably to do. Imagine if Ralph Nader was going around the country telling ordinary people about Dissident Voice, Socialist Worker, End the Fed, and so many other progressive sources of textual information, both on the internet and in independent publication. The Nation has been in print since 1865. How many Americans even know it exists? This is the greatest problem within our society—the suppression of honest information. So instead of just trying to sell their own books, the voices of justice and real change need to acknowledge and share these crucial sources of information and ideas with the American populace.
    I realize I’ve rattled on for a while here, but I do believe that a new third party—not merely a labor party, because it’s too late for that, and besides, as the NDP in Canada has shown, they’re susceptible to the same old corruption—would very well be our answer. But it needs to be a party dedicated to the purpose of toppling the system, noyt being absorbed into it.

  43. Max Shields said on December 17th, 2008 at 4:35pm #

    HR,

    The point, the one I made and was utterly mangled by your buddy – Deadbeat – is that a Labor Party is not the solution when it uses as its model the empire structure which is what Brandy and Myles were proposing.

    Huey Long has absolutely NOTHING to do with my point, but Deadbeat – and you are amplifying it – interject Long into the discussion. Long was not part of a Labor Party. Yes he was a populist. No one is denying that. He may have forced – along with many other factors – FDR to move more to a progressive position within the New Deal.

    Again, has absolutely NOTHING to do with my point. Do any of you guys READ or just pick up on a word and run off at the mouth as if you got some kind of great IDEA?!?!

    If you want to respond to my posts – please don’t shift the conversation to something that has NOTHING to do with what I stated.

    Thank you
    Max

  44. Max Shields said on December 17th, 2008 at 5:00pm #

    Jason,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I’m not convinced that a third party is the solution. Why? Because such a party would have to perform some real magic – how NOT to be marginalized before it even got off the ground?

    I could imagine a party that came out of a movement. It would be self-organizing and not hierarchical. The problem with top down organizing is that it inherits the very destructive seeds you are trying to get away from. Such a party would not be like the Dems or Repubs and therefore would not be like the Labor Party Myles envisions.

    There are organizing principles which work. They are messy, when compared to top down organizing. Since the empire version is all about order and control, it is attractive to many when they consider an alternative party like Myles has discussed. It is, however, dangerous, to simply replace (if that’s even possible) one party with another using the same structural underpinnings and funding mechanism.

    I appreciate the desire for a true alternative means of voicing a powerful progressive governance. But too frequently, progressives follow the path laid down by empire. Violence is the ultimate submission to empire. So, violent revolutions backfire only proving empire’s model as the ultimate winner and not moving using fundamentally along.

    I agree that the change needs to come from outside the system, and needs to be made with what we have – people. Change is much more likely on a smaller scale. Self-organizing is what creates authentic movements and from there change. Such organizing is unstoppable. MLK and Ghandi both prove the power of such self-organizing. It is how nature works. It is the only way real authentic change can happen.

    Parties are artificial structures. If they are extensions of a movement they can have purpose, but they tend to take on a life of their own, leaving most everyone else behind. Hierachical parties are simply a swap from one empire party to another.

  45. bozh said on December 17th, 2008 at 5:31pm #

    but only a party rules. that’s why every country has at least one party.
    there is no loss in starting a second party in US; whatever results, it wld be positive to some degree. thnx

  46. Max Shields said on December 17th, 2008 at 5:42pm #

    bozh,

    Why don’t you start a US party? Tell us where to send our donations.
    thnx

  47. HR said on December 18th, 2008 at 12:59am #

    It appears to me that Deadbeat, whoever he or she is, had a good point, one that was germane to your earlier comment. But, he took issue with something you said, and your responded like an infant. Grow up.

  48. Max Shields said on December 18th, 2008 at 5:38am #

    Since you don’t read what people write and call them infants because they call you out on it, I think you should take a closer look at what you’re doing. In another thread you went on and on and on about the word warrior. I listened to Gates the other night on Charlie Rose. Not once did he use the word warrior and yet you seem to have an issue with that. Now you picked up on my response to some one who said my “argument” was weak because I didn’t include Huey Long in my counterpoint to Myles and Brandy regarding a Labor Party.

    What part of what I write, HR, don’t you understand? It seems like pretty much everything. So, my suggestion is don’t respond to what you don’t get.

  49. bozh said on December 18th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    max,
    i am not an amer. i already belong to a party, the NDP. it’s a socialist party w. quite a few impostors.
    there is already a party in US, the green party. nader may have started one. or is a head of a movement?
    besides i have an accent. so, even if i were an amer, i’m not sure i’d be of much value to socialists.
    plutos in US have a party; tho twowinged. it rules. that’s why plutos have it.
    if plutos did not deem a party as essential in imposing its will on alien and domestic pops; they wld surely have opted for a movement or an org.
    but no country had done that.
    US constitution was works of one party.
    i’m not saying that a person can’t improve things locally. but one achieves more by being interdependent w. some 100-200mn people.
    at this stage of our panhuman development, people deeply desire to be led; natch, wisely.
    OK, US plutocrats may rule for decades or centuries/millennia regardless of the second or third party.
    but wld their party rule to the degree that it had for the least 300 yrs?
    so, clearly, either or linguistic structure does not apply regarding what may be accomplished.
    try it and find out.
    in canada, NDP was started by word of mouth. money had not played a role in establishment of that party.
    but NDP is federally still weak. canada is also ruled by oneparty system.
    that’s why we r in afgh’n. thnx