Be critical, but be for Chuy

March 12, 2015

IN RESPONSE to "An alternative to Mayor 1 Percent?": Winning political power is a long-term game of moves and countermoves. It doesn't overnight, and the International Socialist Organization should not sit back and criticize everything that does not perfectly reach your ideal of an independent left alternative.

Of course Jesús "Chuy" García is not perfect by any means. Of course he shouldn't be hiring 1,000 cops--that is seriously problematic. Yes, in his last few years in Cook County he was part of a system that helped administer austerity (what do you know, it just so happens to be impossible to completely remove yourself from some of the negative aspects of systems that you embed yourself in for the purpose of gaining political power for your community).

Yes, we should vociferously criticize him on these fronts--and yes, we should support him at the same time. Since the 1980s, he has used avenues of political office to represent and better himself and his community. He fought as part of a multiracial coalition in the 1980s, a thing that was quite radical at the time. Though he doesn't break with the system, he is solidly anti-machine, within the system.

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More important than any defense of Chuy is the fact that, when you consider the tactical forces and relations at play in the given moment, it obviously makes sense to support the election of Chuy García as a front against Rahm Emanuel, a neoliberal overlord who is much, much more a mover and driver of austerity than a humble Cook County commissioner who has spent his career trying to do right by his people.

Get your fingers on the pulse of the city, and stop feeling your own pulse. It's disgusting that at a moment when the mass of the city is rallying around our real opportunity to significantly alter the balance of power, you sit back and condescendingly call the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans who support Chuy "misled" and call him a puppet of neoliberalism.

Politics is a long-term gave of moves and countermoves. Chuy is obviously not perfect. Yes, once he comes into office, we are going to have to push him, from the left, to address the Black Lives Matter movement more. Yes, he might try to make cuts as well. No, he is not socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. But that does not exist right now in Chicago. Sure, call for it to exist; say it should exist; but throw your weight behind the forces that exist in the present, in order to bend the present towards the direction of your ideal. That is Marxism. Marxism is not sitting back with your hands crossed and pooh-poohing everything that does not reach your ideal.

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To criticize Chuy in this moment is not reactionary in itself. But to criticize him, and not to endorse him but to call him a neoliberal, and then to suggest that those who follow him are misled--in a moment when he is poised to actually defeat Rahm Emanuel--is utterly reactionary, and further proof that the scattering of Trotskyist sects throughout the world will remain largely irrelevant when it comes to the actual historical forces that shape our society.
Ben, Chicago

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