27
Feb
16

Bernie Sanders and working class political independence

The Irish left who advocate explicit or not-so-explicit support for the capitalist Sinn Féin in the coming election usually do so despite a formal adherence to the principle of working class political independence. The same is true of the international left who are supporting Bernie Sanders in the US race to be the Democratic Party presidential candidate. I recently sent the following letter to the Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain (published this week with the heading “Peculiar”), pointing out the contradiction between their support for Sanders and their stated political principles.

In ‘The real Iowa coup’ (February 4), Tom Munday argued for critical support to capitalist politician Bernie Sanders: “It was and remains correct to give critical support to Jeremy Corbyn, knowing full well that he is a left reformist, for we appreciate that he creates a space for our arguments to be heard. This is likewise true of Sanders”.

The critical support tactic can sometimes be used to expose reformists within the workers’ movement, but extending it a Democrat – one of the twin parties of the American imperialist bourgeoisie – stands in stark contradiction to the basic Marxist principle of working class political independence.

The CPGB claims to uphold “the principle of working class political independence from the parties of the bourgeoisie” (‘Theses on the Labour Party’). Evidently we understand the word ‘principle’ differently. Your political support for Sanders is only the latest in a long line of abandonments of the Marxist principle of working class political independence (see, for instance, the relevant section of the IBT’s ‘Bolshevism vs CPGB-ism’).

Supporters of the CPGB should ask themselves why it is that the principle of working class political independence means so little in practice, while the organisational principle that the CPGB invokes to distinguish itself from other groups – ie, its peculiar definition of democratic centralism – is non-negotiable.

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