Against Accomodation: On the Pragmatists' Faustian Bargain with the Ruling Parties and the Reproduction of the Two-Party State

Independent progressives continue to agitate for active opposition to the reigning Democratic majority in the Congress. At Docudharma, Rusty1776 argues against self-described progressive pragmatists and calls for a boycott of the major parties in the midterm elections of 2010:

Democrats told us they couldn't Impeach because "we don't have the votes". They told us they couldn't pass single payer because "we don't have the votes." They told us they couldn't give us a strong public option because "we don't have the votes." They told us they couldn't even give us a watered down public option because "we don't have the votes." When progressives boycott the Midterms, Democrats will discover the true meaning of "we don't have the votes." . . .

"Pragmatic" progressives will freak out, we'll be lectured about "reality" by people who think that gutter they're crawling in is the Yellow Brick Road to Incremental Change. They've been crawling in that gutter of "political reality" ever since their anti-Impeachment days. They weren't worth listening to then and they never will be. We've supported Democrats over and over again, election after election, but nothing ever changes. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insanity. It's insane to keep reelecting corrupt politicians who keep betraying us.

Whether Democrat or Republican, the strategy of the so-called 'pragmatists' is nothing but reactionary accommodation of the ruling parties and the reigning political status quo: opposition to the greater evil requires support for the lesser evil. In other words, the pragmatist's Faustian bargain with the duopolist order ensures the reproduction of a system which is admittedly evil. In a post on "The Anti-Corporatist Movement" at Booman Tribune, BooMan writes:

What I am arguing is that progressives need to adopt a strategy that is realistic, practical, and effective to deal with the situation we face. First, we need to recognize that the Republicans are still the biggest problem facing the country.

Reading this, I was reminded of a comment here a few days ago, by Eric Dondero of Libertarian Republican, who objected to a call for a libertarian-progressive people's alliance against the two-party state on the grounds that, given the differences between Democrats and Republicans, there is no basis for such an alliance, writing: "From a libertarian standpoint, Democrats are 98% Fascist, Republicans are 80% Pro-Freedom." Ironically, partisans of the Democratic and Republican Parties are never so much the same as when they argue that they are different. The partisan of the Democratic or Republican Party can only ever be half-right when offering an analysis of any given political problem because the greatest political problem facing the people of the United States is the crisis of representative government represented by the Democratic-Republican two-party state.


Samuel Wilson said...

It seems like disgruntled ideologues never notice the complaints of rival ideologues, which would disprove any argument that dead-end partisanship is a matter of ideological necessity. Instead of taking the complaints of conservatives as proof that the Republican party isn't the extremist monster of their imagination, many progressives either dismiss those complaints as irrelevant or convince themselves that the complainants are on the brink of taking over the GOP if they haven't done so already. Conservatives respond, or fail to respond to progressive complaints against the Democrats in the same way. In a way the response is understandable because the ideologues too often complain on the premise that the parties belong to them, reinforcing the perception that they are ideological entities while complaining and proving that they aren't. Doesn't it boggle the mind?

d.eris said...

It sure does. The fact that such ideological symmetries seem to be overlooked only by the ideologues themselves suggests that this ignorance is a condition of each's ideological stance, otherwise they may recognize the invalidity and inconsistency of the duopolist formation. Unless they're just radically cynical, which is also a strong possibility in many cases.

d.eris said...

And then each side wonders why so many people think there's no difference between the parties!

Ross Levin said...

Very, very interesting post and sources. For me, even though I generally disagree with BooMan (he posts at Daily Kos where I also post, and he's much too self righteously moderate for me), I really agreed with this:

"The Democrats haven't been offering single-payer to anyone, much to the frustration of the vast majority of their activists. They have not devised strategies to abolish private insurance, despite the accusations of the Republicans. If you want single-payer, you need another party or you need to work on the state level as progressives are doing here in Pennsylvania."

And this comes to something that I've been realizing over the past few weeks. I love the idea of third parties, but I'm not sure party politics is right for me (although I will still give it a try in the real world). And I'm not sure that it's right for social movements, either, which is really what the progressive movement should be (although I've also been thinking of myself as more of a populist lately, so maybe I shouldn't be giving advice to progressives...).

d.eris said...

I think political independence is key. A mass exodus from the major parties would release all sorts of social and political potentials, and upend what passes for wisdom among the political and media elites.