National or local?

Many people want to revert to local activity, in order to build really-existing components of the future party which they can see and touch, and personally know to be real and substantial.

Sadly, the lower you aim, sometimes the lower you get.  If you’re not attacking the whole picture, you inspire fewer people.  Occupy was inspiring because it was massive in sweep and scope.  We can be like Kasama and consciously go for the whole thing – not just because it’s what we want, but because it works.

If an organization is a webwork of relationships between people (and a series of ideas), then the webwork of relationships across distance in a national organization can be just as real as

In fact, Millennials are increasingly finding their online friends to be equally as, or more, real than their in-person friends.

It buggers the distinction between “real” and “on the Internet.”  Probably we should begin saying “on the Internet” vs. in-person instead, coming to grips with the fact that Internet phenomena effect in-person behaviors as well as political events, and they are now both real.

Local-vs.-national is the same problem as movement-vs.-party.  Going national feels wrong.  It feels too ambitious, feels delusional.  But it’s not.  It’s preparatory.  It’s necessary.

Left Unity and – Adding One More Group?

Firstly, even starting a new group is a painful thing to do – not simply because starting a group is hard, but also because the Left already has so many groups and doesn’t need one more, but instead needs a multi-tendency party that can include many of them.

Good Leftists have a strong desire not to add more particles to an already-fragmented Left.  Sadly, one division we must insist on is democracy, since we won’t have a stable unity until democracy prevails.

The bureaucratic (ie undemocratic) groups may form a temporary unity, but never a stable one – their bureaucracies are always self-interested, always conniving for more power, and always willing to depart at a moment’s notice when the unity no longer serves them.

It might protect a party-in-formation more to simply bypass inevitable splitters from the start, than to confuse the process by having an illusory unity followed by a demoralizing split.

However, the attempt at unity may be a way to shake up the bureaucracies of the established organizations.  Any departure from the unity could cause a crisis of legitimacy for the leadership, as the membership is disgusted by the dissolution.

Or maybe not.  It’s likely that upon the (self-instigated) failure of the unity, the bureaucratic leaderships will simply be able to sell their members on continued cynicism about unity, or conflate the need for a solid faction as the same as the need for a totally separate, non-related organization.

This process could rile the membership, though, because the sensible desire to have a visible pole of attraction is very strong.  Sadly, however, the memberships will probably just continue to choke on the contradictions of their own beliefs, longing for a pole of attraction, but justifying their own separateness at the same time, without admitting that these things are in conflict.

However, we could wring our hands forever about what forces beyond ourselves will do, or we can actually get organized.

This will mean, sadly, adding one more particle to the massively fragmented Left.  But as long as it is a particle fiercely dedicated to unification and the emergence of a mass pole of attraction beyond itself, and takes active steps toward this as part of its present (not future) day-to-day activity, then this state of things is a temporary, possibly necessary evil.

We should move against that evil division immediately as it becomes possible.  We should take concrete steps to encourage the emergence of that possibility, before then.

Also in the meantime, many contradictions can be overcome by explicitly allowing and encouraging dual membership between our organization and others.

Where formal merging is not possible, a much greater sense of inter-Left fraternity can nonetheless prevail: much greater mutual consultation, much greater pooling of resources, much greater inter-socializing, many more co-hosted events.

 “Who starts the party?”

Who is anyone?  Anyone can be someone.  Start the party with whoever else wants to start a party!

We always want to lay the groundwork for a party, before declaring a party.  We want to have a series of phenomena which constitute a party – like coalitions, movements, unions, study groups – before putting the capstone on it by drawing all those people together and naming it a party.

However, rather than viewing the formal, artificial, intentional act of declaring a party to be a capstone, it is more like a skeleton.  It is the bones that the meat goes on.  Having a party helps build those other things, rather than the party being only the final stage of them.

Most of all, we cannot help the fact that, even if we wanted a party built on entirely organic, spontaneous, and movement-driven foundations, we would ultimately have to take the artificial action of declaring it a party, and figuring out its boundaries and infrastructure.  Many people on the Left are afraid of doing this.  They are afraid it is premature, audacious, and pretentious.  Indeed, there are many groups on the Left who declare themselves to be parties, even internationals, whereas there is very little legitimate basis for calling these tiny grouplets either of those things.

But we don’t really have a choice.  We have to say things which seem premature, in order that others might be familiarized with the ideas, so that they ultimately become popular and “well-timed.”  We have to create structures which seem like more formality than substance, because we need to create formal democratic frameworks for mass participation before mass participation happens.  We cannot build a good system for managing the discussion, debate, voting, and coordination of millions of people, in the middle of the moment that those millions of people become mobilized.  Otherwise, the democracy will probably be poorly-conceived and poorly-executed to not being a democracy at all.  Otherwise, the energy of the movement will be wasted in clouds of energy without direction, resulting (as many times before) in burnout and cynicism.  We therefore need a democratic structure already in place which we can scale up to meet that need when it comes.

Giving people a banner to rally around is not some unnecessary, self-serving activity.  It is absolutely essential to the crystallization of class-consciousness, the development of radical consciousness which goes beyond antagonism to insisting on a fundamentally new system, and even to the proper sustenance of social movements in the street.