Cyber Nuts and Democrats
8 December 2000
While reading the articles posted on David North’s “World Socialist Web Site,” one can’t help but detect a change in position before and after the U.S. presidential election. Before the election their position seemed to be that both major parties were equally reactionary. Now with all of what’s been happening since, they have stated that the extreme right wing which controls George W. Bush would implement the most sweeping attacks on the working class in history should Bush ultimately prevail. If this is the case why did they not take this position before the election? They seem to think that because the vote was so close, the reactionaries are now seizing the opportunity to steal the election and create a free market police state. If Bush had won decisively I guess he would still be a “compassionate conservative.”
There is no doubt in my mind that the Republicans used intimidation and fraud to assure a Bush victory in Florida. And the articles on the WSWS have been illuminating in exposing this fact. But consistency in positions seems to be lacking.
I would be interested to know what [you] think, not so much about the Northites but about the whole election circus.
In Struggle, Timothy L.
WV Replies: Timothy L. might have missed it, but we dealt with the election circus in our article “White House Scramble” (WV No. 746, 17 November 2000). As for David North’s Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and World Socialist Web Site, this gang will say anything one day and the opposite the next if it appears to suit their immediate opportunist appetites. The one consistent feature of their pronouncements is that they reflect, albeit often in quite weird ways, mainstream liberal public opinion.
When U.S. imperialism launched a wave of terror bombing against Iraq in December 1998, North echoed the patriotism being whipped up by invoking films like Patton and Saving Private Ryan in order to salute the military commanders of U.S. imperialism in World War ll because “they, at least, led their armies against an enemy fully capable of fighting back” (19 December 1998). Respectfully debating professional anti-Communist Ronald Radosh, who had published an article praising McCarthyism, North sent a letter to the New York Times (22 October 1998) obscenely claiming that the Trotskyists had been there first, writing: “Before the cold war, anti-Stalinism was associated principally with the Socialist left — above all with Trotskyists.”
Before last year’s presidential elections, the SEP bizarrely claimed that both capitalist parties had displayed “populist trappings” (3 October 2000) and wrote that Al Gore had adopted the “posture of a populist opponent of powerful corporate interests.” But their subsequent material is positively surreal, arguing that the Florida ballot flap showed “that the attack on the principle of popular sovereignty raised the specter of authoritarian and dictatorial forms of rule” (8 December 2000). In a speech posted a few days later, North talked of “a political crisis so immense, so fundamental” as to “call into question the whole governmental structure.” North took us to task for stating the obvious: “The Gore-Bush feud is at this point more like a tempest in a teapot than a political crisis for the bourgeoisie.” He continued, in truly demented fashion (his italics): “The beginning of a revolutionary crisis in the very bastion of world capitalism — and that is the essential significance of the present developments — has introduced into the world situation a factor of extraordinary and almost incalculable magnitude.”
Cynical crisis-mongering has long been the stock in trade of these political bandits. Like the rest of the fake left, albeit with their own outlandish twist, the Northites used the turmoil around the elections to give backhanded support to the Democrats. The SEP’s Web postings are filled with paeans to the supposed “traditions of American democracy” being trampled underfoot by Bush, the Supreme Court et al. In his speech, North even makes an explicit analogy to the “irrepressible conflict” with the Southern slaveholders on the eve of the Civil War — ironic indeed coming from an outfit which has echoed the racists in opposing defense of affirmative action, among other things.
When North was labor editor of the now-departed and unlamented Bulletin in 1972, he enthused over a “developing break between the labor movement and the Democratic Party” based on his “exclusive interview” with anti- Communist Steelworkers bureaucrat I. W. Abel (Bulletin, 24 July 1972). This was at a time when the Cold War AFL-CIO labor bureaucracy under George Meany stood to the right of significant sections of the ruling class on the burning question of the Vietnam War. North reprinted excerpts from a speech to the AFL-CIO convention in which Abel “broke” with Democratic “peace” candidate George McGovern, meticulously editing out Abel’s endorsement of McGovern’s right-wing Democratic Party rival. North & Co. advanced a “labor party” platform in that period even Meany might have embraced, saying nothing about either the war or the struggle for black rights!
As for David North’s Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and World Socialist Web Site, this gang will say anything one day and the opposite the next if it appears to suit their immediate opportunist appetites. The one consistent feature of their pronouncements is that they reflect, albeit often in quite weird ways, mainstream liberal public opinion.
In 1993, the Northites cynically pointed to the pro-capitalist policies of the labor tops in order to write off the trade unions entirely as workers organizations. Today, they chastise the labor tops for not fighting hard enough against the “extreme right-wing elements that control the Republican Party” (“AFL-CIO Rally in Tallahassee: Unions Offer No Strategy to Fight Denial of Voting Rights,” 8 December 2000).
Bush & Co. are plenty right-wing, but stealing an election is as Americas as apple pie — hardly a sign that this imperialist ruling class is about to dispense with the stability of bourgeois democratic rule. As we wrote in response to the bleating of the reformists for “real democracy”: “This is capitalist democracy, which is nothing but a screen for the iron dictatorship of capital.”