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What is the Peace and Freedom Party’s Next Step?

by Workers Action Sunday, Nov. 09, 2003 at 7:54 AM
sf_adam (a) rocketmail.com San Francisco

A Revolutionary Point of View of the Peace and Freedom Party and the struggle today.

What is the Peace an...
peacefreedom.jpg, image/jpeg, 560x144

What is the Peace and Freedom Party’s Next Step?

A Statement by Workers Action, November 7, 2003



As the most widely recognized socialist electoral front in California, Peace and Freedom Party is in a unique position at this historical moment. With over 70,000 registered voters, P&FP has a potential base to build from to make a difference in combating the big business attacks against workers. To do so P&FP needs to start from a general perspective of the historical period we have entered in order to take advantage of it.

The unfolding international capitalist crisis is centered in the actions of Wall Street. There is no long term solution for it on a capitalist basis other then war and ruin for the working class abroad and at home. Objectively, this crisis poses the question of which class is to rule – the big business elite’s with their program of increasing misery, or the working class who have the capacity to reorganize society on a socialist basis.

Currently California is leading the slide towards economic collapse, political instability, and in response, militant class struggle in the US. The recall and governor’s campaign was a clear sign that the bosses know that they cannot play by the usual rules. The massive anti-war mobilizations as well as, for instance, the strikes of grocery store and transportation workers in southern California, show a momentum among the ruled to rise to the challenges ahead. The draconian attacks against workers’ living conditions and expectations will be met with a response that has not been seen in decades. Workers will be compelled to enter a path of struggle that will open new possibilities in the fight for socialism.

Yet the workers traditional leadership in, for instance, the unions are still herding their rank and file into the Democratic Party. This reactionary strategy is being exposed to greater numbers every day as the Democrats and Republicans join hands in escalating the attacks against our class. There is a growing possibility for P&FP to get their foot in the door as an independent political working class alternative. Breaking with the twin capitalist parties is a big step for the working class in their march forward and P&FP should play an important role in this.

Yet P&FP received only 1,455 votes in the last governor’s election. The collapse of P&FP’s performance cannot be solely attributed to a lack of resources or a shift to the right of some workers (most of whom saw no reason to vote). The campaign on the part of P&FP as a whole was characterized by a lack of political clarity and will. The active members of P&F must make a critical evaluation of P&FP’s political perspectives in assessing the failure so they will be better able to take advantage of the crisis that is brewing in California (and the world.)

If the active circles of P&FP genuinely held the perspective that we are entering into a new period of capitalist degeneration and working class struggle, there would have had a very different campaign. Instead, the most elementary steps to present P&FP as an alternative to war, unemployment, racism, and misery, were executed in either a lack luster manner or not at all. C.T. Weber was left to run largely on his own with little or no political consultation or logistical coordination. A candidates’ debate that was organized by P&FP’s Labor committee wasn’t even advertised in P&FP’s paper. Incredibly, there wasn’t even a mailing to P&FP’s membership!

Despite the efforts of some individuals, including C.T. Weber’s substantial investment of time and energy, P&FP’s campaign was damn near non-existent. It was as though P&FP really didn’t want to run against the Democrats. P&FP’s confused position on the recall vote only reinforced this perception. Instead of calling for a blank ballot on the recall question as an expression of no confidence in the boss’s parties’ games, P&FP urged a no vote. This combined with its nearly non-existent Governor’s campaign objectively aligned P&FP with the Democrats, regardless of words to the contrary in P&FP statements that were not widely distributed.

Such confusion will not help to distinguish P&FP from pro-capitalist third parities such as the Greens, let alone the Democrats. With the inevitable increased class polarization in the coming period, this lack of clarity will leave P&FP in the dust. Because of the historical point we find ourselves in, P&FP needs to rethink its approach and platform.

As a guide to action, PF&P’S platform is unworkable. It contains many good individual points, but it fails to consistently draw a clear class line. While it supports socialism in the future, it fails in the here and now to build a bridge towards this goal. No where does it approach the demands of workers’ control, the expropriation of the capitalists, or the creation of independent working class bodies in any field of current day struggle in even an embryonic way. In the absence of this, where it should be putting forward platform points to build a plan of action on, it presents what sounds like reformist platitudes that appear to direct workers into “the usual channels of power.” Furthermore, while it is an elementary given in most socialist programs to call for a workers’ government and the nationalization of industry, these are strangely absent in PF&P’s program.

Of course, there is not necessarily always an equal sign between an organizations present platform and its potential to help the working class achieve a revolutionary step forward. Part of the problem with P&FP’s platform appears to be its conception what a platform should do. P&FP’s current platform appears to be a diplomatic amalgamation of the various left tendencies within P&FP, stitched together for the sake of striking a truce among the radicals. What we need is a platform that represents the advancing consciousness of the most class minded and active elements of the working class. To achieve this P&FP needs to adjust its course.

The danger that P&FP faces is becoming a comfortable leftist watering hole without an active base. While it is all too easy to fall into such a routine, it cannot be sustained in the period we have entered. P&FP needs to move towards building itself as a fighting workers’ party where different tendencies promote their platform among a widening field of workers struggling against capitalist ruin. Workers’ who understand the need to break from the capitalists parties and are willing to join, build, and help form P&FP.

To promote this process in the run up towards the 2004 elections, P&FP needs a plan of action. It needs to build a series of regional conferences culminating in a statewide conference to bring new elements into P&FP and establish a coherent platform to run on as well as elect candidates. These conferences should be used as an outreach tool to invite both workers’ organizations and individual workers to participate. Where ever there is struggle, P&FP needs to be on the front lines advancing the call to build P&FP as an alternative to the capitalist parties by promoting wide participation in these platform building conferences. In this way P&FP can broaden its base, strengthen its reputation, and construct a platform that both genuinely reflects the consciousness of advanced workers as well as propels them towards a militant independent working class perspective.

P&FP’s CC could start now at organizing such a drive and insuring it results in a democratically built platform representing more then P&FP’s current active members. This could give P&FP’s 2004 campaign some real meat on its bones. Workers’ Actions will promote what we view as a revolutionary platform, as should all socialist tendencies. We don’t demand a revolutionary platform, however. What is needed is a platform that genuinely represents a working class base and presents a class independent guide to action in opposing the capitalists’ attacks. If this is done, P&FP’s 2004 campaign will be all the stronger for it.



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