Peace and Freedom Party starts national campaign

peace and freedom party logo

While I applaud the Peace and Freedom Party, the only socialist party in California with ballot status, on their plans to go nationwide and get left candidates on the ballot everywhere, their press release announcing this is inept and makes the usual leftie mistakes.

Harsh words? Then consider the following, the opening paragraph of the press release.

Announcing its intention to challenge the Democrats and Republicans in 2010, a national organizing effort to build a new electoral party of the left has announced its interim leadership and basic unity statement. Debra Reiger of Sacramento, who also serves as North State Organizer of the Peace and Freedom Party, is the Interim Chair of the National Organizing Continuations Committee (NOCC). The committee was empowered to coordinate the multi-state effort at the National Organizing Conference held on August 1 in San Francisco. The Interim Secretary is Georgia Williams of Fresno, who also serves as Secretary of the Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee.

Well, that’s certainly a stirring call to action isn’t it? Do you feel motivated to join them in the cause? Didn’t think so. More likely, you have no clue what they’re talking about and probably lost interest quickly.

Did the main organizers just have to get their names in the first paragraph, even at the expense of explaining what the press release is about? A press release goes everywhere. The first paragraph should clearly and enthusiastically explain what it’s about. This doesn’t. But that’s a quibble compared to the real problem.

“We oppose rule by the wealthy and their corporations” says Reiger. “Their bloody wars, their exploitation of workers, their oppression of working people and dissidents at home and abroad continue no matter which big-money party holds office. We are working to build a national slate of candidates for Senate, House of Representatives, and other offices in the 2010 elections – and that’s just a start.”

Williams comments that “Some people claim the Democrats are socialists. This is ridiculous. It becomes clearer every day that the Democrats are capitalists who serve the corporations and their wealthy owners. The NOCC serves as an umbrella organization for people and organizations who think the working people of our country should own the goods and services they produce and run the economy.”

This cookie-cutter prose could come from any of a number of socialist sites. It doesn’t explain why P&F is worth joining. Plus, hello? There’s a serious recession going on. People are losing jobs, homes, pensions and getting increasingly angry at the banksters. You’d think a socialist party might deem this worthy of mention. But apparently not.

If you want to elect people, you need to appeal to them. This press release is clearly written to appeal to a few lefties on the fringe, and not to the mainstream or even to liberals. So how can they possibly succeed when they’ve already eliminated most of their potential audience?

If you want to talk about socialism to the mainstream, start by talking about jobs and layoffs, help them find solutions to their problems, and listen to them. Then, after you’ve gotten their interest and trust, you can begin to speak about socialism. That’s how to do it. Not the other way around.


  1. Clearly you don’t appreciate the praxis of the vanguard party, which will smash the state and lead the masses to a dictatorship of the proletariat! If everybody understood the jargon of academic Marxism, they wouldn’t be the vanguard now, would they?

    It’s even dumber than spending all your organizing effort manipulating bylaws to “save the party” from your enemy faction.

    • Ah, so you’ve been both places too, eh? (Good to hear from you again.)

      The vanguard theory sounds good but in practice is more like endless circular firing squads followed by deep discussions about how the ruling class is so devious that the way to The Worker’s Paradise is continually being thwarted by them.

      “I used to be disgusted but now I’m just amused.”

  2. Suppose the press release is as badly written as you say. I don’t see anyone else trying to get this project off the ground, never mind someone doing it any better. And the project itself is, in my opinion, essential.

    It’s true that the press release is intended for activists who already identify themselves as socialists. This is about getting ballot access for a socialist party in as many states as possible. While ballot access by itself won’t win many votes for socialist candidates, the lack of it is a major obstacle.

    I agree with your approach to talking to people about socialism. Election are one — and only one — of the necessary platforms for doing what you describe.

    Disclosure: I am a member of the P&F state central committee and attended the August 1 conference.

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