Many people are critical of electoral strategy, a personal emphasis of mine. That’s fine; there’s lots to criticize about elections.
However I rarely see much that satisfies me outside of electoral strategy. Everywhere people say “build movements.” But there isn’t much discussion about particularly why this hasn’t gotten us very far. Also there is often a terrible misassessment of movements as weak, whereas actually they are strong in their omnipresence but merely scattered to the four winds, with thousands of uncoordinated local coalitions.
What is lacking widely is coordination.
Three of the most important movements right now are (1) anti-austerity, (2) Black Lives Matter, and (3) solidarity networks. But these movements have no national hubs to which they are connected. What is largely needed is networking. (Another is $15Now, which is a very different case.)
However, this might go differently than has sometimes been done in the past. Some socialist groups set up front groups that are sort of “their wing” of a particular movement. System Change Not Climate Change, as a counter-example, has been a step toward overcoming this, allowing inter-tendency AND independent effort on an important issue.
What I am proposing may be even slightly different still, however. Instead of declaring a ready-made organization and inviting local coalitions to affiliate, we instead simply research, locate, and network with pre-existing local coalitions, and increasingly connect them with each other. We can begin micro-regional, work up to the state level, go macro-regional, and then national — maybe international. We can also include any random forces we bump into along the way.
This coalition, again, would not be a ready-made organization to which we attempt to recruit affiliates. Instead, it would merely be a hub for communication and coordination between local groups, having literally no life of its own beyond acting as an aggregation of local groups, for the purpose of making national actions into a real possibility, and a real force instead of just empty calls for a “national day of action” to be taken up by…whoever, ie no one. (“GENERAL STRIKE!!11”)
How do we do this work? Use the Internet, use social media, be open, be welcoming, connect people together, do that work.
Briefly, (1) anti-austerity includes multiple forces, from public-sector unions to parents who oppose education cuts, to welfare rights activists. (3) Solidarity networks are unique in that they are not organized around demands on the state, but some national coordination for national action might still have interesting possibilities. Since many solidarity networks focus on renters’ situations; a national solidarity network could spawn a national renters’ union, or national days of picketing shitty landlords. More in line with their charity angle, another writer proposed the idea of a network to fundraise for the funerals of Black people killed by police.
A fourth most important movement, (4) $15Now, has the opposite set of problems — it is highly nationally coordinated, but is widely perceived as belonging to one socialist group. I don’t expect Socialist Alternative will soften its ownership over $15Now any more than it already has (and it indeed already has to an extent), so really I think what we need to do here is get over it and participate, but without censoring ourselves.
There is also politicized charity, which I have written about elsewhere. I don’t think enough of that is going on to coordinate it.