17
Jul
11

Joining The Party: Peace and Freedom Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative (Part VII)

I thought I’d close out round one of my search for a political party by examining the last four organizations on my list all in one post. Let’s start with the Peace and Freedom Party, a Socialist party founded in 1967.

Now as the PFP dissolved and reformed numerous times over the past forty-plus years, giving a clear and comprehensive history of the party is going to be a nightmare. I’ll just give the roughest of backgrounds, and say that the Peace and Freedom Party was formed out of the antiwar and countercultural movements of the 60s, during which time it nominated Eldridge Cleaver, a leader of the Black Panther Party, for president. Unfortunately, the PFP did not achieve widespread popularity on a national level, and has been, since the late 60s, relegated to California.

PFP Pros:

  • The PFP Platform lists out a wide variety of clear, radical goals, including calls for honoring treaties made with Native Americans, demanding equal rights for women and gays, expansion of public transportation, and restructuring education, agriculture, etc.
  • The PFP is, as it was in the 60s, extremely active in opposition to war.
  • The PFP is “multi-tendency”, meaning that they accept leftists from all schools of Marxism.

PFP Cons:

  • The PFP, as mentioned above, is quite small, and while extremely active, it is only (or at least, largely) active in California.

So the answer is ‘no’ for the Peace and Freedom Party.

And it’s a real shame too- like I said, the PFP has a really good platform, and if the party were larger it would be getting a thumbs-up for sure. I’ll admit, I knew going into all this that the PFP was too small for me to join, but I thought I should mention it here nevertheless- if nothing else, I can do some off-hand advertising for them.

So that brings us to the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

The PSL is a pretty new organization, and I wasn’t able to find much out about its founding- and to be honest, I’m not sure it matters that much. A party’s age indicates how flexible it is, or how it handles what history throws at it, but it’s not everything. The same roots and ties that some parties take pride in are the very things that keep them from working together with rival organizations. So I’m not going to mention the PSL’s age as a con, though it should be taken into consideration.

PSL Pros:

  • The PSL describes itself as “Marxist-Leninist”, a label that simply means the PSL endorses Marxism as it was implemented under Lenin (the vanguard party, endorsing a more centralized form of government, etc.). There are some things I disagree with when it comes to Leninism, but for the most part, it can be understood to be “classic” Marxism, and in my experience, Marxist-Leninists tend to be fairly tolerant of other schools of Communism.
  • The PSL argues for the liberation of what it deems to be colonies (US territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and other areas)- something we can all get behind.
  • The PSL, in spite of being a minor leftist party, is fairly widespread, with branches in many major US cities.

PSL Cons:

  • The PSL does not condemn Stalinism, and seems to adopt the view that the USSR ceased to be Communist as a result of the policies of Gorbachev. Now that should set off more than a few warning bells. The USSR was not Marxist, for a ‘Communist’ to say otherwise- well, it throws all their politics into question. Now the PSL does appear to endorse basic Communism, however, the PSL’s refusal to condemn the travesty of socialism that was Stalin’s Russia does not sit easy with me.
  • The PSL does not seem to be politically active (that is, attempting to change things using elections and political office). As with other Marxist organizations that fully reject the idea that the current political structures can be used in the interests of the oppressed and working class, I see where they’re coming from, but I disagree. I think that, even if it’s on the most basic level, the current political system can be used for the good of the revolution, though it certainly isn’t the answer to the basic problems of Capitalism and the state. It’s not a major problem, but it’s still not good.

So what’s the verdict on the PSL?

meh...

For the first time in this investigation, I’m truly unable to deliver a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There’s a lot the PSL has going for it, and a lot against it, and I’m not going to be able to decide without further investigation. So here’s what I’ll do- I’ll look around a bit, write a few letters, and if the PSL doesn’t appear in the second round of decision making, you’ll know it didn’t make the cut.

So until then, let’s take a look at Socialist Action.

As with the PSL, I’ve had some difficulty finding out why Socialist Action was founded, or rather, what the major influences were behind its founding. As before, I don’t think it’s terribly important. History’s good, but it doesn’t make or break a party. I’ll just get right into the pros and cons- those should give a pretty good picture of what Socialist Action stands for.

Socialist Action Pros:

  • Socialist Action is a Trotskyist organization. They believe in the vanguard party, that the USSR was not Marxist, that true Communism means the establishment of pure democracy, and the general abolition of the state. All in all, the Trotskyist ideology gives me some assurance that Socialist Action understands what Communism really means.
  • While Socialist Action is a minor Communist party, they realize this and have structured their organization in such a way as to ensure that you can still be an active member, even if you aren’t located near one of their branches. It’s a really nice feature I wish more parties would implement.
  • While Socialist Action recognizes that elections are not the ultimate answer to the issues of Capitalism and nationalism, they do seem to understand that elections can be used to benefit the working class and oppressed.

Socialist Action Cons:

  • While Socialist Action is attempting to work with its small membership, it can’t be denied that there is strength in numbers, and in this respect, Socialist Action leaves something to be desired.
  • I am a little concerned that Socialist Action might not be as ‘multi-tendency’ as it ought to be. A major aspect of the party I join should be its ability to work alongside rival groups for the common goal of Socialism.

So the final verdict?

Again, I need to look into this party further- there’s enough on both side to merit a more detailed investigation. As with the PSL, if Socialist Action doesn’t make it to the next round, you’ll know it’s been cut.

 

That leaves us only with our fourth and final organization: Socialist Alternative.

Socialist Alternative is, similar to Socialist Action, a Trotskyist organization. As with previous organizations, I haven’t been able to find out a lot about the origins of this group, and as always, I doubt it’s all that important. Let’s move straight on to the pros and cons section.

Socialist Alternative Pros:

  • Socialist Alternative was actually recommended to me by a Welsh Trotskyist, a member of SA’s British counterpart, the Socialist Party. While I’ve never actually ‘met’ the comrade in question, from his blog and his internet activity, it would appear he’s active in spreading the revolution. If his experiences are any reflection of the level of activity I’d have in the Socialist Alternative, it’d be certainly an encouragement.
  • Socialist Alternative is, while a minor Communist organization, fairly widespread- always a plus.

Socialist Alternative Cons:

  • In the past four presidential elections, Socialist Alternative has backed Ralph Nader, which, considering that Nader is not a Socialist in any sense of the word, is pretty weird.
  • While Socialist Alternative has a good program, it isn’t quite as detailed as I’d like it to be- but maybe I’m still contrasting it with the platform of the Peace and Freedom Party.
  • As with all minor leftist parties, Socialist Alternative seems pretty small, and size does matter- at least a bit.

So what’s my decision on the Socialist Alternative?

Yep, it’s another one of these. The pros and cons balance each other out, and a more detailed investigation will have to be had.

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1 Response to “Joining The Party: Peace and Freedom Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative (Part VII)”


  1. 1 Laureen
    September 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    The age of a party has nothing to do with it being a revisionist/reformist party or a party true to Marxism-Leninism. CPGB-ML is the only true Socialist/Communist party in either the US or Britain who adhere to Marxist Leninist principles of theory and practice and are self-critical and self-correcting. They splintered off from another party because the latter was reformist and revisionist. Many parties splinter off and create new parties in either direction, reformist/revisionist or legitimate Marxist/Leninists. My litmus test is their assessment of Stalin. Stalin was a continuator of Marxist/Leninism. He and the workers of the Soviet Union proved that Socialism is viable. Their accomplishments were undeniable under Stalin. So to keep the workers in the US inline the bourgeoisie had to maneuver. Anti-Communism became Anti-Stalinism. It was Khruschev who opened the door to the down fall of the Soviet Union starting in 1956. All dedicated proletarian Communists must support the accomplishments of Stalin. For more go to CPGB-ML Proletarian TV (make sure it is CPGB-ML because there are a couple other Proletarian TVs) to find out more. Search their videos for Social Democracy and Stalin, Khruschev.


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