- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:15
- Written by Red Fly
"What role do groups like Progressives for Obama play in maintaining the 'great legitimacy' of elections in the U.S.? Is there any responsibility here?
"Is this 'great legitimacy' something we should tail or something we should be fighting to overcome? If the latter, then how is this possible while actively encouraging support for the Democrats?"
The following essay appeared as part of our ongoing Kasama discussion of these presidential elections (and revolutionary strategy generally) -- this round was specifically kicked off by the decision of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back) to call for "voting against Romney" (and specifically voting for Obama "especially" in states where the election is close).
by Red Fly
Carl Davidson wrote here on Kasama:
I've been reading György Lukács' chapter, "Class Consciousness" from History and Class Consciousness and I think he has some compelling things to say about your strategic orientation that you should consider, Carl. Let us go through a bit of it together.
Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher Jr. write, in their recent joint essay "The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him":
This is what perpetual electoral lesser-evilism amounts to in practice: a denial of the working class' historical mission and a tailing of bourgeois consciousness. Instead of organizing for the conquest of hegemony through the development of working class consciousness, which in its historically clarified form is critical and revolutionary (and thus necessarily independent), what takes place instead is an impotent mirroring of bourgeois consciousness and its reified institutions, in which the basic parameters of the bourgeois setup are reaffirmed over and over, but with a "clean" conscience. Reality transforms into its opposite: the perpetual re-creation of an unreal politics, a fake politics, a "politics" which can only ever confirm the non-presence of real politics. This substitute for politics -- an imposter posing as politics -- assures confinement in the prison house of bourgeois consciousness because it is itself the direct reflection of the falsity, the essential nullity, at the heart of its mystified vision of reality, which is not a reality of politics at all, but of narrow and naked self-interest.
At the heart of all real politics is the struggle for truth defined as the consciousness of the totality of social relations and institutional reflections these give rise to. But bourgeois politics is a consumer spectacle in which truth is unlocatable--not actively denied but simply without dimension. There is only ever "the middle class," which is just another way of saying there is no class. There is only ever "our national interests," which is just another way of saying there are no antagonistic interests, between nations in the "Homeland," or anywhere else, since in the self-conception of the "Homeland" there are no other nations at all, merely a big backyard dotted with innumerable imperial clubhouses/military bases, cruise missile fuckhouses for Team America's imperial pleasure. There is only ever "American freedom," which is just another way of saying there is no debate about the meaning of this concept, no attention given to the profound unfreedom of billions that is the condition of its possibility for a relative few. There is only ever "American values," which is just another way of saying their are only the values of the bourgeois camarilla and its factions.
A fight for another kind of system? No. Voting for Democrats is a fight to avoid a fight for another kind of system.
Carl and Bill Fletcher write:
Carl's vision is based on "a long-term progressive electoral strategy that is focused on winning power." From this strategic perspective, nestled deep within the enemy's reified institutional camp, I think it's impossible for the proletariat to ever recognize the totality of this system. Social relations will remain reified through a constant renewal and legitimation of bourgeois power.
Another, I think much more promising, vision is based on removing obstacles to the proletariat's self-understanding through forging an independent path at distance from the ruling class and its institutions, by helping the proletariat not to recognize its self in the alien power of bourgeois institutions, but in the power of its role in the process of production.