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snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

June 6, 2012

From a leftist point of view, I completely agree with Doug Henwood that both Democrats and union leaders are to blame for blowing a major opportunity in Wisconsin; and Gov. Walker’s victory vividly illustrates the weakness of their continual reliance on electoral strategies to the exclusion of all else, as well as the relative ineffectiveness of de-radicalized, bureaucratic labour unions to capitalize on popular movements and agitate on behalf of the entire working class. Purely electoral solutions are limited, and ordinary working-class people looking for truly progressive victories need to stop letting themselves be fooled into funneling all their time, energy, and money into the Democratic Party.

While the Democratic Party tends to present itself as pro-labour, in reality it’s anything but, as its continual support of neoliberal policies at home and abroad clearly demonstrates. Not to mention its unwillingness to call for, or to support calls for, direct actions like general strikes. It’s high time the left in this country started thinking outside the box of two-party electoral politics and got back to the more ‘radical’ roots of the American labour movement—a time when, in the words of Stanley Aronowitz, “Workers … used to fight for their demands continuously and agree to return to work only when they were met.”

A “popular campaign … to agitate, educate, and organize on the importance of the labor movement to the maintenance of living standards” and/or for something like single-payer healthcare would’ve been far more useful and effective, in my opinion, than channeling everything into a pointless recall campaign geared towards trying to get an already-defeated Democrat elected into the governor’s seat. /rant

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