I keep hearing this over and over from some of my friends. I just had a talk with a friend of mine about this. He’s like me. Basically a liberal Democrat on the left wing of the Democratic Party. However, he has long called himself a Communist. He now calls himself a democratic socialist. He has long supported Communism overseas, especially in the USSR. According to my critics, this guy can’t possibly exist. Neither can I.
And yet we do.
My critics are badly mistaken. My friend says they don’t understand politics in the US. For instance, in many countries, it makes sense to join a small Left party and vote for them. In a parliamentary system, you might just elect a deputy or two, and you won’t hurt the rest of the Left at all. In the UK, you can reliably vote Green and elect some folks here or there. In Abiezer Coppe’s town, nearly 50% of the City Council are Greens.
That’s not possible in the US. The Green Party never goes anywhere and can barely elect a soul to any office in the land. There’s no point voting Green.
Here in the US, voting Left third party is just throwing your vote away. At worst, you’re helping to elect Republicans. At best, you’re masturbating in a voting booth. There’s no point even getting involved in Left Third Party politics here in the US. Why bother? I could go join some kooky Commie sect, but why bother? I would spend the remaining 30 years of my life whacking off politically and not accomplishing a damn thing.
The truth is that in the US, the only action on the Left is in the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is truly a big tent party. It has everyone from rightwing unreconstructed racist Southern Democrats all the way to out and out socialists and Communists. I’ve known many socialists and Communists in the US who typically vote Democrat. Some were even active in Democratic Party politics.
So, our rightwing critics are right in a sense. A fair number of liberals are anywhere from soft on Communism to out and out Com symps and fellow travelers.
My father was an anti-Communist liberal Democrat all his life. He was furious at my politics and nearly regarded me as a deadly enemy politically. That’s because I was just too “Village Voice Left,” as he put it, for his tastes. Nevertheless, towards the end of his life, he was sympathetic towards the late USSR, East Bloc and Cuba. He was still an anti-Commie liberal, but he got more socialist in his old age.
My mother was similar. An anti-Communist Republican, she once told me philosophically that in many 3rd World countries they were probably better off Communist, as capitalism had largely failed there anyway. She’s lately moved to the Democratic Party. Comments like hers are fairly common among fairly liberal middle class Whites.
My point is, I am simply on the Left. Sure I support the Democratic Party. They aren’t exactly peaches and cream, but the US is a deeply reactionary country, and Democrats are the only vehicle for progressive change.
I also support socialists of all types, including social democrats. I have a soft spot for Communists and Chavez types, though I’ve never lived under a Communist regime, so I don’t know if I would actually like it or not. Perhaps given that experience, I might take a different stand on Communism.
People question how I can support Maoists in Nepal, India and other places.
Easy. All of the rest of Left politics in these places has failed. The Indian Congress Party is a socialist party. So is it’s evil twin in Nepal, the Nepalese Congress Party. Worse, revisionist Communism has even failed in India, looking at the experience of the CPI-M in West Bengal. Revisionist Communism has badly failed in Nepal, with a Marxist-Leninist party in bed with the worst of the Right in the present government.
There’s never been an effective Left party of any type in the Philippines. There probably never will be.
What’s the alternative in Colombia? The Left can’t even organize without getting massacred. Obviously, the Left needs to take up guns to defend themselves.
While I’m not a Maoist, it’s clear that rest of Left politics in the places above has failed, so it’s time to give the Maoists a chance. Let’s see what they can do. What the heck, nothing else has worked.