by Birrion Sondahl (originally published on An Appeal to Reason)
Joe Hill wrote this in a telegram to Bill Haywood shortly before he was executed by the capitalist state on trumped up charges for murder:
Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!
As Joe Hill’s lawyer said:
The main thing the state had on Hill was that he was a Wobbly and therefore sure to be guilty.
The same is true of anyone who supports working class struggle today. While execution is generally the last resort of the ruling class and reserved for non citizens, it is not beyond them. The fate of progressives running in the Democrat Party is not death, but rather smear campaigns and lies, shunning and shaming. We saw this clearly with Bernie and we have seen it again with Nina. No lie is too much for the establishment when it comes to stopping progressive momentum. Nina Turner was willing to tell truth to power and this is an unforgiveable sin for the establishment. The biggest liars have the greatest success in the Democratic Party. The truth tellers do not last long.
I understand the pain of electoral losses. The Bernie campaigns were especially brutal, but every loss hits deeply for those who donated and campaigned with their hard earned money and time. I know the volunteers for Nina worked incredibly hard and put their souls into this fight. Yet all the Dems had to do was manipulate the media and spend a few million in attack ads (and perhaps use a little fraction magic) to defeat a very strong grassroots campaign. And this is one of the primary issues of running progressives in Democratic Primaries. No matter how many volunteers and how much dedication you have, the establishment controls the narrative. The people wanted Bernie – record breaking donations and volunteers showed that. We got Joe Biden. The people wanted Nina Turner and we get Shontel Brown, who is under investigation for ethics violation. The change the party from within strategy is clearly busted.
Even when progressives win, they are still treated as the enemy by the party. Nancy Pelosi disparaged and marginalized the squad and when they could have prevented her from being reelected as speaker, they still voted for her. This is the power of the party. What good are progressives when in order to be accepted by the party they have to support Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden? The end result of cooperating with corporate Democrats is embarrassing. Could anyone imagine in 2016 that Bernie Sanders would end up in this degrading interview?
The answer does not lie in corporate parties like the Democrats. They have shown us that they will spend more time and money defeating Medicare for All and a Green New Deal than on defeating neofascist Republicans. As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Democrats are not the lesser evil, they are simply a different flavor of evil.
What Nina does after her loss is up to her. What we do now is up to us. We need to be building real movements, not expending energy within a corrupt party. The Democratic Party has not moved left, all they have done is drag progressives right. The Democratic Party will block progress until it is destroyed. This could have been done from within if Bernie had been willing to be truly revolutionary. As Bernie did not take that step, it is now up to us to lead the way to a brighter future, a future free of corporate control.
Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again.
– Eugene V. Debs
It has always been the people that must free themselves. Working class solidarity is the answer. The Democratic Party does everything they can to prevent class consciousness and working class movements from gaining real traction. Do not mourn electoral losses, organize working class movements. Our future depends on it.
**To read more of Birrion Sondahl’s work, subscribe to his substack by clicking here.**
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Photo: Darrell Nance