Fascism and "lesser evil" politics
Louis N Proyect
lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Feb 15 06:50:50 MST 1996
Gary's report on the role of the 2nd International in the rise of Hitler was
not just elegant thinking, but elegant prose.
Hugh Rodwell's reply was also extremely astute. However, I do not share
his belief that the Fourth International was an appropriate
counter-measure to the failure of the Third.
Gary has made an important contribution to the discussion since it is
particularly relevant to the way the left functions today in face of
The tendency is for most leftists to support the lesser-evil. In the
United States, this means a vote for Clinton instead of Dole. Of course,
bourgeois politics has been shifting rightward ever since the Carter
admininstration, so the "lesser evil" we choose turns out to be pretty
Let us leave aside for a moment the question of whether fascism is an
immediate threat. We are still confronted with the problem of how to
advance the interests of the working-class.
In the 1930s, Trotsky advocated a united-front. How do we translate this
into the context of politics today. Do we try to set up a meeting between
Gus Hall and Bogdan Denitch? Do we try to coalesce the Trotskyites into a
common front, all 600 of them?
My interpretation of the lessons of the united front is filtered through
the experience of the Vietnam antiwar movement. This
extraparliamentary movement united people in *action* against
imperialist war. The organizations and individuals in most instances were
not drawn from the working-class battalions of heavy industry.
This led "orthodox" Trotskyites to accuse the antiwar movement of being a
popular front. They would spot Ted Kennedy or some other liberal on the
platform of a peace rally and invoke all the ghosts of the Spanish Civil War.
The 20s and 30s are an important era to study if you are interested in
revolutionary politics, but such study must be conducted in a dialectical
manner otherwise you end up in a totally muddled and sectarian dead-end.
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