It is this that indicates the futility of U.S. social democracy, in both its right- and left forms. Right social democracy is the “realignment” fantasy shared by the majority of the Democratic Socialists of America, as well as the CPUSA. In this fantasy, the Democratic Party would not cease to function as part of the state apparatus, but it would do so in a way that is better aligned with the desires captured by the social movements that it electorally exploits—the unionized fraction of the working class, and minoritized racial, ethnic, and gender groupings. Thus the movements must conservatize themselves in order to capture and radicalize the Democratic Party. In the process, the movements have in fact conservatized themselves, as in the case of Labor, nearly out of existence. Left social democracy is represented by those groupings who insist it is possible somehow for a “new” party to give genuine representation to the working class, on the model of European social democracy. In the current atmosphere of DSA hegemony on the left, this tendency is not as visible as it once was, but it can be seen in various DSA minority groupings, in the “left” Greens who want to make the Green Party into an explicitly socialist party (or who insist, based on tortured readings of various GP position papers, that it already is one!), and in a few small groupings, usually of Trotskyist origin, who proclaim the need for a “workers party”. Such groupings do not recognize the degree to which U.S. political parties differ in their relationship to the State apparatus from European ones, and share a utopian view of the European reality that is out of step with the experience of workers’ movements there.
This note is not a general statement on the “party-form.” Such a statement would require both more empirical research (e.g., on the varying relations of parties and states in Latin America and other portions of the “global South”) and theoretical rigor (describing the fundamentally carceral nature of the diagram of power on which various types of party formations are based). But it provides adequate evidence, for those with eyes to see, on the futility of continued reliance on party formations in two important geographical spaces, the U.S. and Europe. Unfortunately, it is a futility that continues to consume much of what passes for “the left.”