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I read the Ackerman article (Blueprint) when it first came out. There was
also a response by John Leslie of Philly Socialists. The second was
entitled "The Party we Need". I commented on both at that time

My main point was that the entire method of these two comrades was
mistaken. We can lay out all the fine blueprints we like, but that's a bit
like plotting a course for a sailboat without taking into account the
prevailing winds and current. Same with starting from what we "need". Truth
be told, what we need is a socialist revolution. So why not just skip over
the stage of building a mass working class party if our "needs" are all
that matter?

Ackerman talks a lot about Mazzocchi and the "Labor Party Advocates" -
later the "Labor Party" - experience. I was intimately involved in that.
The heart of the problem was that Mazzocchi was unwilling to go directly to
the rank and file and start to build a base that would oppose the rest of
the union leadership. Such a base, by the way, would have to have combined
the issue of a "Labor" party with the issue of the jobsite issues, fighting
for better contracts, etc. In other words, a knock-down, drag-out battle
with the rest of the union leadership.

Ackerman ignores this, as he ignores the general mood of the union rank and
file, which can be characterized as feeling alienated from the unions and
extremely distrustful of the leadership, for good reason. In general,
Leslie also fails to reckon with this, although he is slightly more
critical of the union leadership. The general result is an over-focus on
the unions.

The other point is that Leslie correctly gets away from calling it a
"labor" party. However, what is his alternative? He correctly makes the
point that such a party would have to link up with and draw in all the
specially oppressed and the movements around their oppression. But the
class nature is still unanswered. As a result, its hard to see how what he
proposes is that much different from the hopeless mish-mash of the Green
Party. No, I think we have to have a clear class label - a mass *working
class* party.

As far as a working class party "gestating in or with the Democrats". Nope.
Won't happen. The laws of physics/gravity apply. When a smaller body and a
larger body enter each other's gravitational fields, the small body orbits
around the larger body, not the other way around. Every single attempt,
whether sincere or not, to work with Democratic Party politicians has ended
in those who make those attempts being sucked into that vortex.

I have a further suspicion: I used to know some of the people in the UC
Berkeley school of labor studies. Many of them considered themselves to be
socialists. This was before the days when socialism was the "in" thing. But
they also saw their career as being in some way linked to the union
leadership. That included those who intended to remain in academia. They
also had little or no experience with, were isolated from, the rank and
file workers - either in the unions or out. I think these factors tended to
combine to slant their entire approach.

I have a young friend and comrade who is a real Marxist and a doctoral
candidate in history. I can't tell you how many stories he's told me about
being told he has to drop Marxism and, in particular, that he has to stop
talking about class interests and class struggle, if he wants to have any
sort of career in academia. He's an exceptional character - one of the most
intellectually hones people I know - and has refused to do so. But the
pressures are enormous.

John Reimann
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