Friday, July 13, 2007

Too much partisanship? re: semi-Herbert Aptheker

Herbert Aptheker was an interesting fellow. One of the first pioneers of African-American history he was also a devoted member of the Communist Party, and from what I can tell not one its more progressive members. Aptheker wrote a little pamphlet entitled "The Nature of Democracy and Freedom", which advanced an argument for a one party state. Aptheker's argument is extreme and extraordinarily self serving, but it goes like this: political parties are formed around distinct political philosophies that have their point as justifying totally different systems of society. In this view conservatives represent modified feudalism, liberals represent modified capitalism, and of course the Communist Party represents socialist government. Because of that, if you support socialism of course you should support the Communist Party! And if the Soviet Union allowed other parties it would essentially have been advocating the self-overthrow of its system, so if you believe that Communism is right then surely you wouldn't support letting competing parties into a socialist society.

Aptheker is wrong about one party states but at least you can squeeze out of his concept the idea that political philosophies or ideologies or whatever you want to call them really do fucking matter. Which is how the charge of too much partisanship gets into this. There's been a sea change and it isn't just people associated with the Democratic Party that have been affected. The country is in the process of having a big portion of its citizens break away from centrist oriented liberal politics and taking its views a little more seriously..........but, okay, I'm laughing as I type that because the distance many of these people are breaking away from mainstream liberal politics is very slight, as can be seen in the recent morphing of "The Huffington Post" into something resembling mainstream liberalism + anti-Bush stuff.....nevertheless, people have begun to take their politics more seriously and this is pissing off people on the right.

The point is that in a sense Aptheker was right in that politics potentially can embody different worldviews so fundamentally at odds, relating to such very important issues, that it's right to fight over them tooth and nail. It's an alternate formulation of fellow Communist Michael Parenti's phrase that "Reality is Partisan", which I suppose is his way of saying that reality follows the Communist Party line. And socialist science proves Darwin wrong a la Lysenko, right, whatever, but I digress. Partisanship, not in the sense of being for a particular party, not even in the sense of being hardcore about a very particular permutation of a given ideology, is in fact important, and hopefully we haven't seen anything yet in the development of this in the United States.

And maybe the greater Progressive movement will actually have some guts and remember that there are also other issues out there besides Bush and besides the Iraq war that also need attention and that will need attention after Bush is gone and the Iraq war is over.

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