Either my group, or the Greens, but never socialist unity?

 

So we have three layers: (1) socialist groups promoting themselves, (2) socialist groups banding together to project socialist visibility, and (3) socialist groups involving themselves in broader, progressive-left formations.

Socialist groups are currently very good at (1) and (3); they need to do a better job at (2).

For example, Socialist Alternative seems enthusiastic about running candidates under its own banner.  It also seems enthusiastic about supporting Greens.  But there is little initiative, from Socialist Alternative or anywhere else, to run socialist candidates which belong to the entire socialist movement instead of just one sub-group of it.  (Hell, I would also be happy with simply more examples of socialist groups running their own candidates in serious campaigns.)

Basically this strategy is driven by the socialist movement’s internal competition.  If a group is not promoting itself, it would rather be among people who aren’t socialist, in order to convince and recruit them.  The socialist groups often see little point in having much interaction with the other socialist groups, because you can’t recruit those people – they’re already “taken.”

Sometimes this is just a healthy recognition that the Socialist Left should be working with people who aren’t socialists!  That’s good!  But it also has a flipside, where it instead behaves as a weakness.

The one thing which the socialist groups coming together could accomplish, also happens to be a very critical thing: they can form a socialist electoral front.  This is critical for making socialist forces nationally visible in the USA.  No individual socialist group can become a nationally-visible party on their own; bundling ourselves into a broad left progressive third party would hide our socialist label behind the Green or whatever other label arises.  We need visible socialism, badly.

After all, it is not a progressive party, like the Greens, nor a labor party, which is ever going to succeed in becoming a mass third party.  Why?  Because the USA’s propaganda machine has everyone convinced that the Democrats are both progressive and labor.  You need a more decisive break in order to make people understand why a distinct party is necessary.

What is the one thing the Democratic Party does not claim to be?  Socialist.  In fact they actively, consciously distance themselves from socialism.  But in a USA that is 39% sympathetic to socialism, that is leaving one hell of an opening for a party, far bigger than the milquetoast leftie activist scene which constitutes the Greens, or the Democrat-married labor bureaucracy in a country with 11% union density.

Furthermore, there is just the issue of socialist sincerity.  When will socialists ever stand up for themselves?  39% of the US likes socialism.  We seem to be assuming a sort of two-stage scenario, where first the Greens or someone else will break America’s two-party system, and “Europeanize” American politics by turning the thing into a truly plural contention.  Then after that happens we will build a socialist front?  But truth is, that might never happen.  Perhaps America cannot be Europeanized, and we need a socialist pole of attraction for revolution directly.  Or what if, America can be Europeanized, but only by a socialist electoral front?  Let’s dump the stage-ism, and dump the waiting.  We can do this now.

 

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