Saturday, October 29, 2016

Socialism in America

A nice essay in the NYT:

On Nov. 8 I will be going to the polls and voting, without hesitation or disinclination, for Hillary Clinton. But what a treacherous and unforgivable act this will be for my father, who will no doubt be supporting the only presidential candidate he believes has any chance of saving the United States from almost certain ruin: Alyson Kennedy.

You have probably never heard of Alyson Kennedy until now, and neither have you heard of her running mate, Osborne Hart, unless you happen to be a member of the Socialist Workers Party, as my father has been for the past 50 years, or you happen to have passed in recent months a folding table on a city street and been handed campaign literature explaining that “the only way forward is to organize independent working-class struggles that point toward overturning the dictatorship of capital.” This is the exact sentiment, word for word, that my family subscribed to when I was growing up, a sentiment that can be traced all the way back to Marx, and that held great power over me as a child, and that holds some power over me still, but that seems to hold no power over almost anyone else, including the working class.

...

How many votes has any Socialist Workers Party candidate received? Sometimes a few thousand, sometimes tens of thousands, once 90,000, but that was 1976. No matter. The objective is not to amass votes but to participate in politics using whatever means the capitalist system has allowed so as to eventually be able to overthrow the capitalist system. To vote for a Socialist Workers Party candidate is not necessarily a “protest vote,” or at least not the kind we have come to associate with third-party candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, but rather it is a protest vote insofar as one’s entire existence is a state of protest — which was certainly true for my family.