12 September 2008

The Presidential Candidates: Brian P. Moore

Moore is the candidate of the Socialist Party USA. The SPUSA "strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control - a non-racist, classless, feminist socialist society... where working people own and control the means of production and distribution through democratically-controlled public agencies; where full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work; where workers have the right to form unions freely, and to strike and engage in other forms of job actions; and where the production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. "

The SPUSA is the surviving remnant of the Socialist Party that ran Eugene V. Debs for President in the heady days of 1912, when he earned nearly a million votes. This entity fell apart in the early 1970s after falling under the control of a faction that was more concerned with being anti-Communist than anti-capitalist. The present-day SPUSA now has less than 2,000 members, but that figure actually reflects growth in recent years. After its worst-ever electoral performance in 1992, the party has been improving slowly. Its nearly 11,000 votes earned in 2004 was its strongest showing since the modern SPUSA first fielded a ticket in 1976.

Modesty in size has not resulted in modesty of ambition. "The Socialist Party stands for the abolition of every form of domination and exploitation, whether based on social class, gender, race/ethnicity, age, education, sexual orientation, or other characteristics," the 2008 platform declares.

Since this is a socialist party, we may as well see what they think about the economy. Their long-term goal, of course, is democratic workers' control over the means of production. Over the next four years, however, Moore will want to concentrate on annulling NAFTA and CAFTA, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, with future raises pegged to the cost of living, "steeply graduated" income and estate taxes, and those old standbys, full employment and a living wage. In addition, the SPUSA calls for a democratically controlled, socially owned National Banking Authority and National Pension Authority, community-based compensation for workers dislocated by plant closings, unemployment compensation at 100% of a worker's former salary (or the minimum wage if higher) during a retraining process, "tax benefits for renters equal to those for homeowners," and the cancellation of "Third World" debt as part of its opposition to the International Monetary Fund and other global "instruments of capitalist oppression." Good luck with all that, considering how few congressional candidates the SPUSA is running. I counted a grand total of four on the party's website.

The party's "International Policy" plank is drastic. It calls for complete disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan, the cessation of all aid to Israel and all military aid to "Colombia and all other recipients," the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, the abolition of the CIA, NSA and NATO, a 50% cut in the military budget towards a permanent reduction of spending to 10% of current totals as part of an "unconditional disarmament by the United States," reform of the United Nations to eliminate the veto power of the five permanent Security Council members and end their permanent membership, and a Constitutional amendment requiring "a binding vote of the people on all issues of war or military intervention," -- but wouldn't "unconditional disarmament" render any such vote moot?

As for the candidate, Moore is a Peace Corps veteran and a Vietnam-era anti-war activist who has "worked 25 years for health maintenance organization" and studied the Cuban health-care system while visiting that country to promote his 2006 campaign for one of Florida's seats in the U.S. Senate. He believes he can "attract non-socialist voters by demonstrating his identification with average citizens." To do this, he points out that he "has worked in factories" and is "an all-around athlete." He seems to be running as much against a stereotype of the socialist as an ivory-tower academic as he is challenging the American Bipolarchy. You can learn more about him on his personal campaign website.

His and the SPUSA's goals are mostly unobjectionable and mainly admirable, but as President all he'll have is a bully pulpit without Congressional support. Unless he intends to practice an imperial Presidency and govern by executive order, he should expect to accomplish nothing if he has to depend on Democrats at best to enact his agenda. I could go into much more detail on the party's sweeping agenda, but it all seems futile. This is the sort of movement that cannot start from the top unless it intends to rule from the top, and Moore signals no such intention.

To his credit, Moore is getting around and getting air time on the internet and mentions in newspapers. His campaign took the odd step of putting a radio interview he gave last June on YouTube, accompanied by a slide show of images of the candidate. I'm embedding it below so you can have a listen. Search around and you'll also see footage of Moore holding a weekly protest against the war and having a debate with a representative of the Constitution Party.

The man in the picture with Moore is his running mate, Stewart Alexander. A former radio talk show host and car salesman, Alexander ran for mayor of Los Angeles as an independent in 1988 and managed, as a tourist, to get himself thrown out of Israel earlier in the 1980s.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous1 says:

Moore is basically a relection of the degeneracy of present day capitalism. With American jobs being exported overseas and a corrupt elite profiting from a debt ridden, fraudulent financial system, it is small wonder that the socialist message has some appeal. However, the system has never worked in its pure form. Even in its modified form it imposes crushing taxes on the population to support its welfare programs. A better program would be Adolf Hitler's National Socialism, which was far less drastic. That preserved private wealth and property while imposing some restraint and order. It also provided social welfare within reasonable bounds for the average German worker. Germany and Germans came first, not international flows of capital.

The anti-foreign intervention part of Moore's program does make sense. It is worth noting that paleo-conservatives in America once opposed foreign adventurism, something which the Israel-First neo-cons do not. It was the Jews war, WW2, which changed all that. It is increasingly evident that the old categories of left and right are breaking down and are no longer relevant. The US is approaching the chaos of the old Weimar Republic. How ironic would it be, if Adolf Hitler and his system were to rise again in response to the collapse of the present order?

Samuel Wilson said...

As Anon should know, to the extent that there are still "paleo-conservatives," they still oppose foreign intervention. If anything, the "paleo" label has emerged to distinguish conservatives who still uphold the principles of Robert Taft and the pre-Pearl Harbor "isolationists." Among the presidential candidates, the Constitutionalist Chuck Baldwin comes closet to the old "paleo" standard. Ron Paul also represents this strain to an extent, and I've noted his effort to rally "right" and "left" parties behind a common anti-war and anti-other stuff platform. As for alternatives to socialism and capitalism, you might consider Jackson Grimes's advocacy of a Mussolini-style corporate state, however confused his attitude toward civil liberties seems to be.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous1 says:

I basically agree. Paleoconservatives as a real political force are dead-and have been for many years. One of the interesting things about American politics is that the supposed opposites, liberals and conservatives, both stand united on the proposition that WW2 was a great thing. As to alternatives to the present social order, it is all purely hypothetical since the present system is rigged beyond possibility of changing. As to who is doing the rigging, my views are already on record.