As the IOPS project moves along, we will face certain criticism regarding electoral activism. As a tactic, parliamentary democracy is worth participating in, as many reforms that benefit people can be passed that way. And in this belief I may differ from many on the left. However, it would be delusional to think that winning a majority in Congress would be a victory for socialism, even if we by some chance gained the presidency. Rather such institutions should then be replaced with a workers democracy, which would require a revolution.
So my essential argument remains: when the efforts of reform have exhausted their use, we are left with revolution. Some of the reforms that we will be able to win won't eliminate capitalism, but lessen the harsh brutality on the people's lives. This is an essential part of building up grassroots support.
"You must either vote for or against your own material interests as a wealth producer; there is no political purgatory in this nation of ours, despite the desperate efforts of so-called Progressive capitalist politicians to establish one. Socialism alone represents the material heaven of plenty for those who toil and the Socialist party alone offers the political means for attaining that heaven of economic plenty which the toil of the workers of the world provides in unceasing and measureless flow." ~Eugene V. Debs
A strategy frequently endorsed by many socialists in the US is to "move the Democratic Party to the left". One proposed way of doing this is through the organization PDA, or Progressive Democrats of America. This strategy relies on dishonesty. Not only would the socialism of these people be downplayed, but if a candidate was to run, they would have to adopt capitalist policies in order to be supported by the capitalist establishment. And when in power, if you were to ever be called a socialist, you would deny it, lest your ability to get funding for your next campaign be diminished. Isn't this the dictionary definition of opportunism?
Jed Brandt put it perfectly, when talking about the "Van Jones effect":
"I am opposed to white supremacy, not because its white people involved. I am opposed to the system that we traditionally call imperialism and the idea that some people have rights and privileges that are not granted to all human beings, and the solution to that problem is communism and socialism and we should put it in our mouths. We should say it when we say: "What is your politics?". "I am a socialist! I demand that we have healthcare for people, and its not a demand that is negotiable with insurance companies. We will take your insurance companies! We will take the farms in this country! We will shut down the military apparatus of this country, and I'm tired of being told to stuff my anger back in my pants. Its got to end!"
Progressivism historically has been a trend to save capitalism when the ability to form a socialist movement is at its strongest. The capitalist class thinks long-term. They know that if they are to keep their positions in society, they should support progressivism. At least until the socialist movement dies down. If we are socialists, we should be opposed to both private and state capitalism, and not be fooled by politicians who do not have our best interests at heart.
Socialists trying to infiltrate capitalist parties push the political spectrum to the extreme right. Why? Because capitalists then believe that progressivism is about as far to the left as the people are willing to go, and therefore can get away going to the extreme right. Growing a mass movement for socialism, on the other-hand, would genuinely shift politics to the left.
How can a party, which depends on capitalist contributions in order to sustain itself, be pulled at all to the left? Imagine - after receiving all this money, the politician will vote in favor of the proletariat, domestically or internationally! Again, Jed Brandt is spot on here: "When the left become the defenders of liberal imperialism, it is the far-right who make the gains." Democrats have used the left time and time again, and until you ditch them as their voting block and join the socialist movement, they will continue this abuse.
Debs sums up my thoughts on this perfectly:
"Either you must vote for capitalism, with its ever increasing poverty and prostitution for the workers - with its army, its militia, its police and its courts, with which it enforces bestial conditions upon you - or else you must vote for Socialism which proclaims industrial peace in place of war - plenty in place of poverty - love and chastity in place of vice and prostitution."