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Reading Dave Jette, with gratitude

Dave Jette, one of the founders of WIP and longtime contributor, passed away in January 2022. The Seattle Times published an obituary that provides a contour of Dave’s life, including his love for his family, his passion for organizing hiking trips, his accomplishments as a physicist researching radiation treatments for cancer, and his political involvement.

I met Dave once when he and his wife Cecile came to our house. Dave was completing his book, A Reformulation of Dialectical Materialism, and wanted to discuss a proposal to publish a series of columns in WIP called “Looking Forward.” (These columns, written between 2018-2022, have been collected as a book called Looking Forward, available through http://www.lulucom, as well as on Dave’s website, Beyond Classical Marxism: Socialism,

Dave explained his relationship with WIP in “The Political Origins of WIP”, a column published in the October 2020 issue. Dave published around twenty columns in WIP’s first two years, on topics including democracy, socialism, and Marxism. Dave’s return to WIP as a regular columnist began in 2018. His last column was published in January 2022.

Dave’s purpose in writing was, as he put it on his blog, “to further the transformation of U.S. society to socialism, a lifelong endeavor for me since I was radicalized by the Vietnam War.”

His reason for supporting WIP specifically was based on his belief in WIP’s political significance, its “unabashedly progressive content” and its ability to survive for three decades from, as he put it, “the ashes of the Washington State Rainbow Coalition.”

Dave’s staunch advocacy for WIP has helped the paper survive. Dave served as a trustee for Tom Warner’s Worker Defense Fund from 2011-2022. In that role, Dave supported WIP’s annual request for funding through a grant-like process. Each summer, WIP submitted a request for funds. Sometime in fall, we learned the results of our application. Support from the Worker Defense Fund has kept WIP on solid financial ground for ten years.

In the last two years, much of Dave’s writing has focused on the rising threat of Trumpism, aka fascism, and how to combat it. After being active in the Green Party for more than 20 years at the local, state, and national level, Dave’s approach to electoral politics changed. Dave was at one time a critic of the “lesser of two evils” argument for supporting the Democratic Party and was fully conscious of that party’s historical service as a political tool of the 1% to absorb struggles that threaten to challenge the status quo. Dave more recently began to call for supporting progressive Democrats in primaries, and ceasing political attacks on the Democratic winners of those primaries.

This seeming about-face in electoral politics was based on Dave’s analysis of this historical moment. In an essay called “An Anti-Right Front” published at in January 2021, Dave argued this:

“But what will happen as capitalist neoliberalism unrelentingly sinks the living conditions of the masses of Americans?  The groundwork has been laid for the advent of a highly authoritarian society, even for fascism:  the campaign to discredit the election and build a fascist tendency has put in place key pieces for a demagogue far more skilled than Trump to ride this current to power in 2024.

And the depth of racism in our country is driving this frenzy on the right. It is not possible to understand the irrationality of the Trumpists without taking this racism into account, just as the idea of Aryan supremacy (“the master race”) taking hold in Germany undergirded so much of what seems today to have been so irrational as well as murderous. The Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by a mob displaying Confederate and neo-Nazi regalia should strip away any lingering denial on this point.”

Dave described the need to develop a united anti-right movement–a movement against what  fellow Convergence writer Whitney Maxey calls the New Confederacy, “the predominantly white, cross-class united front that is made up of the most reactionary organizations, individuals, and capitalists and uses the Republican Party, as their political instrument.” In a column published in WIP in January 2022, Dave argued that we must “use the Democratic Party to propagate a new society.”

We do well to listen to Dave. A recent Washington Post article by Hannah Allam describes this new amalgamation of forces on the Right in a story about the “Government Resistance Impeded Tyranny” (GRIT) demonstration held in Olympia in early March. Organizers described it as a networking event. Three Percenter logos, Confederate flags, and Proud Boys t-shirts were visible along with MAGA, anti-Biden, and red, white and blue attire.

Dave concluded his article on developing a united anti-right movement by arguing that “socialists are simply going to have to give up their rigorous antipathy to having anything to do with the Democratic Party, if we are to survive.”
It appears his advice applies to more than just socialists.

¡Hasta la victoria, siempre!

Emily Lardner is a member of the WIP Publishing Committee.

To read more of this remarkable person’s writings, go to Dave’s webpage, Beyond Classical Marxism: Socialism.


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