Views in brief

October 23, 2018

Why shouldn’t we support Krasner?

THIS IS in response to Paul D’Amato’s critique (“A prosecutor shouldn’t get our support”) of Lauren Fleer for her more or less sympathetic coverage of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (“Larry Krasner and the fight to break the cages”).

D’Amato starts on the wrong track when he claims that non-support for bourgeois party candidates is “a fundamental principle of the Marxist movement.” His claim may describe the International Socialist Organization (ISO) stance, but it hardly represents a Marxist consensus.

He then makes an equally problematic argument: “It is also a fundamental position of our movement to offer no support to state officials whose job is to run aspects of the state’s administration of repression and control.”

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Since no DA, no matter how progressive, can transform the capitalist state’s entire repressive legal apparatus, D’Amato’s second principle leaves us virtually no room to effect change through the electoral process. It’s the kind of purism that handcuffs struggles for reform, and gives socialism and Marxism a bad name. And unfortunately, such political rigidity describes much of the far left.

To his credit, D’Amato does “welcome policies that reduce incarceration,” and if Fleer is correct about Krasner, his policies will indeed help thousands of folks. But apparently, D’Amato doesn’t welcome these policies enough to actually vote for a Krasner-style candidate.

Black Lives Matter and other Philly activist groups seem to have it right. They recognized Krasner as the more progressive candidate and helped elect him. They cheer him for the good things he’s doing, and challenge him for the bad things.

Ultimately, of course, we need fundamental change — in the criminal justice system and more. But in the here and now, and in the absence of viable left parties, should we really be opposing electoral action that produces concrete improvements in people’s lives?
Howard Ryan, Philadelphia

Why people didn’t vote for Clinton

IN RESPONSE to “Are white women to blame for Kavanaugh?”: I appreciate Tess Carter and Leela Yellesetty’s thoughtful and well-researched article in general and agree with their main points. However, I was scratching my head at this part: “Despite a gender gap caused by fewer men voting for Clinton in 2016 than Barack Obama in 2008 — no doubt due in part to sexism toward Clinton — white women got the blame.”

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

Although I agree that it is unfair to single out white women — though frightening that 45 percent of them supported Kavanaugh — what is the evidence that the amount of support of Clinton by men was any more undermined by sexism than support of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 was undermined by racism?

McCain and Romney both won significantly more support among white voters than Obama did. Far more women were elected to political office in 2016 than in any previous year, a substantial majority of the time doing so by beating men, and the vote for another woman running for president — Jill Stein — was triple what it was in 2012.

What is most striking about the 2016 presidential election results is the number of people who voted for someone other than the two major-party candidates — more than quadruple the number who did so in 2008 and more than three times the number who did so in 2012. And as the authors said, only 55 percent turned out to vote at all.

The lower level of support for the two major-party candidates held across the board, for men as well as women, and white people as well as people of color.

Although unfortunately, his “blue no matter who” perspective is a huge political dead end, Michael Moore has analyzed what happened in 2016 in more depth than anybody else, and in fact predicted the outcome several months in advance, including picking which states Donald Trump would pull off an upset. His analysis is worth paying attention to.

What happened had everything to do with people being frustrated with 40 years of neoliberalism and the failure of the Democrats to do anything substantial to help them during and after the Great Recession — and very little to do with the fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman.
Jeff Melton, Bloomington, Indiana

Lyric musicians deserved more

IN RESPONSE to “When the Lyric went quiet”: I’m glad to see that covered this strike.

I realize that opera orchestra members are not the same as lower-paid hotel workers, but nevertheless, they are workers, even if highly specialized. They carry much of the weight of the performance, and opera or any sort of musical theater performance would be impossible without them.

In addition to Andy Freud’s executive salary, the article should mention that prima donna soprano Renee Fleming receives about $500,000 annually in consulting fees just to fly in from New York a couple times per year. Conductor Sir Andrew Davis, though excellent, only conducts about half of the season each year, and makes at least 10 times what orchestra members make.

As the article points out, the rich are getting richer, and many are donating more. Even if ticket sales are down somewhat and the seats aren’t filled to capacity each and every night, there is no dearth of money at Lyric or most large arts organizations these days.

After the 2008-09 crash, arts managers might have been able to make the claim that donations and gifts were down, but that is no longer the case.

I’m happy the Lyric season will continue. At the same time, the orchestral musicians didn’t get a fair shake, and I’m sure things will only get harder for them in 2019 when their contract comes up and management asks their already weak unions for more concessions.
Martin Jones, Chicago

Preparing for the Bolsonaro threat

IN RESPONSE to “The far-right threat that looms in Brazil”: The analyses of Todd Chretien and the Resistencia current are well and good, but something is missing in them.

Shouldn’t there be a discussion on what steps can be taken now to place the Brazilian working class in the best possible position to defend itself in the event, which now looks very likely, that Bolsonaro wins the October 28 runoff election?

My fear is that a total preoccupation with the presidential runoff election risks leaving working-class and oppressed Brazilians unnecessarily vulnerable to a blitzkrieg death-squad offensive launched by a newly installed Bolsonaro administration.

This is exactly what happened in the Philippines when Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency there recently. Now is the time to forge and fortify neighborhood defense committees in Brazilian working-class neighborhoods likely to be on the receiving end of a Bolsonaro death-squad offensive.

Hopefully, militants from the Socialist Liberty Party, Communist Party and others of the Brazilian left are attending to this incredibly pressing matter. To not do so would put the Brazilian working class in a position analogous to that of the German working class immediately after Hitler’s assumption of the German chancellory in January 1933.
Mike Howells, New Orleans