Not A Dime’s Worth of Difference Between the Twin Parties of Imperialism


Bradley/Coleman for S.F. Board of Supervisors

This year’s elections take place under the ominous shadow of World War III. Across America, reaction is on the march as the preparations for war against the Soviet Union go ahead with a vengeance. "Red Dawn", probably the most vicious piece of Cold War calumny since the fifties, plays in packed movie houses. In real life the FBI openly targets leftists, trade unionists, black activists and just about anybody else who dissents from the racist status quo, under the guise of "preventing terrorism." Meanwhile right-wing organizations from the theocratic Moral Majority to the fascist race-terrorist Ku Klux Klan flourish. The capitalist war drive and its corollaries (declining living standards, union-busting and political repression) are the issues for working people in 1984.

Ronald Reagan is currently the crudest advocate and main publicist for the war drive, but this crusade is truly a bipartisan effort. Racist Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy "ethnic purity" Carter (and his sidekick, Fritz Mondale) initiated the MX missile program, the Cruise and the Pershing IIs. Reagan’s armament program simply continues the Carter/Mondale policy. Likewise on El Salvador there is a consensus on the need to crush the leftist insurgents—the only differences are over how. From the point of view of working people and the oppressed, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the twin parties of capitalism.

Only independent working class candidates, standing on a clearly socialist program, can provide an unambiguous alternative to the madness of the "Republicrats" war plans. A key part of such a program must be the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union against imperialism. The survival of the planned economy established when the Russian workers overthrew their capitalist masters in 1917 represents a real gain for all working people—which is why the Democrats and Republicans are united in their desire to destroy it. Of course the USSR today is no socialist paradise. We call for proletarian political revolution to sweep the ruling Stalinist bureaucrats (the Brezhnevs, Andropovs and Chernenkos) into the trashcan of history where they belong and to re-establish the political rule of the working class. But class-conscious workers must never forget that it is the Soviet nuclear arsenal which has prevented the Pentagon from doing to Hanoi and Havana what was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Socialist candidates must stand for uncompromising opposition to Mondale and the Democratic Party. Under the guise of "lesser-evilism" the labor bureaucrats, the black pro-capitalist hucksters like Jesse Jackson and fake leftists from Michael Harrington to Angela Davis seek to channel the legitimate hostility which the downtrodden and exploited feel toward Reagan into electoral support for the Democrats. But Fritz Mondale is no alternative to Ronald Reagan. In San Francisco workers do have a choice—the Spartacist campaign of Richard Bradley and Diana Coleman for Board of Supervisors provides a clear working-class alternative to the parties of the bosses. They call for revolutionary integration; united labor/black action to crush the fascists; military victory to the Salvadoran leftist insurgents and for other key elements of a revolutionary socialist program.

Unfortunately the Spartacist League has demonstrated an impulse to seek shelter from the "Reagan years" under the skirts of the Democratic Party and has recently made a number of political departures from its own revolutionary history. While running independent candidates and roundly denouncing those who openly endorse the Democrats, the SL has been laying the groundwork for abandoning independent political action in the future.

Spartacist League Tilts Toward Democrats

Recent Spartacist propaganda has laid heavy emphasis on the dangers posed by Reagan. Fair enough. But the SL went beyond the bounds of the rational when it projected a terrorist attack by the Republicans (in league with the fascists and Dianne Feinstein’s cops) against the Democratic Party National Convention last summer (Workers Vanguard No. 358, 6 July). The model for this was supposed to be Hitler’s Reichstag fire provocation of 1933. Using this fantastic scenario as a justification, the SL offered to supply convention guards to protect the party that brought us the war in Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs and that runs Tom Metzger, an open Klansman, for Congress! And the Spartacists didn’t only offer their own supporters—they called on the whole labor movement to rally to the "defense" of the Democrats. (Needless to say no similar offer was made to the Reagan/Bush gathering in Texas the next month.)

The trade-union bureaucrats who work overtime to sell their ranks on the notion that the Democrats are the "friends of labor," would probably have been only too happy to rally a few thousand marshals for the Democrats had Mondale, Tip O’Neill or Dianne Feinstein asked them to. In fact the loyal allegiance of the labor tops to the Democrats is one of the biggest political weaknesses of the labor movement today. But the bureaucrats weren’t about to mobilize their ranks just because the SL was running around acting like Chicken Little.

A grotesque postscript to the whole affair was the claim in the 14 September issue of Workers Vanguard that its predictions had come true: "The recent Democratic Party national convention in SF was the target of massive rightist provocation and cop violence" (our emphasis). There certainly was plenty of cop violence, but none of it targeted the Democrat’s convention—it was all directed at the radical protesters outside.

In opposition to those phoney socialists who play up the secondary tactical differences between the two capitalist parties to hustle votes for the "lesser evil", Trotskyists have historically asserted that from the standpoint of the working class there is "not a dime’s worth of difference" between the twin parties of racism and imperialist war. Even the pro-Sandinista press in Nicaragua, which has long cherished illusions in the Democrats, now asserts that "Reagan, Mondale, It’s the Same Thing." Yet the SL has suddenly repudiated its historic slogan and now claims that "Anyone but a blind man can see that there is more than ‘a dime’s worth of difference’ between Mondale and Reagan" (WV No. 361, 31 August).

The SL’s suddenly ambiguous attitude toward the "differences" between the twin parties of U.S. imperialism is reminiscent of the approach used by the reformist Communist Party when it first supported the Democrats in 1936. The CP ran its own candidate for president but focused his campaign around the slogan "Stop Landon" (the Republican) and thereby gave backhanded support to Roosevelt. The SL has not yet reached that level of degeneration. A vote for Bradley/Coleman is still a vote for a socialist program and independent working class action despite the SL’s recent wobbles on the Democrats. Vote Spartacist on November 6—but watch the tilt!




October 1984

Posted: 25 November 2004