Friday, January 20, 2012

Rotting Empire: Failure of Mass Parties

The Electoral College Motto: "No Good Can Come of This"

When I was involved with the American arm of the CWI, every other newspaper article that was published would end with some variation of "... and this is why we need to build a mass party in the interests of the working class."

It was the kind of thing people made jokes about, sounding like a goddamn broken record every issue. It was also the sort of thing that caused me endless writerly exasperation. I'm sure it eventually bored the few readers who were not already members.

But hey, on its own, a "mass party" sounds well and good, right? After all, as the activist group (rightly) points out: Wall Street has two parties of its own - Democrats and Republicans. Two variations of the same general practices. A center-right party and a conservative party. They keep America good and profitable. It sure would be nice if there was a great big party for working folks to defend their own interests, wouldn't it? Fight fire with fire?

No. Wrong.



People who don't use those words aren't necessarily your allies, either. But folks who use this kind of terminology tend, in my experience, to either be psychopathic schemers or the boot-licking lackeys for psychopathic schemers. They will also, at some point, refer to you as "unwashed."

"The masses." If people referred to me by my density, I wouldn't wash, either.

Let's face it: when you join a "mass party," ie, a party made up of lots of people united for a common interest, you're compromising your individual positions for a party platform. That has its uses, sure. Legalizing gay marriage. Legalizing hemp. Banning the death penalty. We live in a pretty big country and pretty big decisions "have" to get made.

But your voice gets drowned out. There's lots of people shrieking for the ears of just a few representatives. Having a new political party doesn't change that. And it's always the political people shrieking the loudest, the ones who think they know best for everybody else.

We don't need another party that whitewashes personal and regional differences.

Also big parties are targets for big interests. The Democrats are constantly co-opted by business, and they're constantly co-opting social movements in turn. Big institutions, whether it be corrupt labor bureaucracies or planet-poisoning industries or corrupt financial powerhouses, use big political parties to cover their asses. That's how the Republican party can house both working-class conservatives ("I don't want my money going to anyone else!") and rich conservatives ("I don't want my money going to anyone else!").

We can't get what we want out of national parties. We can't build a "mass party" that we won't eventually lose to other "mass" institutions. Look at the Labour Party in Britain!

It'd be much wiser to form smaller parties that we can hold on a short leash. Keep em accountable. Keep em close to the people they represent. It'd do us far more good in the long run to start paying more attention to our local political scene, instead of fixating on a cabal of a few hundred limp-dicked old fossils in Washington whose geriatric minds we will never change.

Political parties love their Dicks (this one is Cheney).

Mass parties emerged from mass communications: the telegraph, the radio, telephones and television. Look at where our technology is heading, what it's doing to our lives and our society, and ask yourself what it will and could do to the political parties of the future. And to you socialist activists, nostalgic for the myths of the mighty Bolsheviks, you need to get yourselves in shape. This is far, far away from the Russia of the first World War. This ... is reality. And the old models cannot engage it.

1 comment:

comrade x said...

But you forgot to mention " the youth"!!! Here's how you should have ended it...
" The capitalist parties represent the rich and powerful. Only by forming a party of our own, composed of workers and youth, can we hope to build a society based on equality and justice."
Now go to the local hipster coffee house and have a sit down with comrade so-and-so and he will explain the importance of badly written socialist literature in a revolutionary movement to you. Again.