Coordinate and nationalize the local coalitions

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.


Reform necessitates more reform

The transition to socialism is always rough. When you make incursions into the market, it creates distortions in the market: capital flight, issues with supply & demand reacting back against your wage hikes and rent controls, etc.
You can respond to these distortions in one of two ways: (1) back off and compromise, or (2) push further, making further incursions into the market, to increasingly resolve the issues that your initial incursions made.
Of course your further incursions will cause further distortions. So you’ve either got to keep pushing all the way to a system not based on the market (socialism), you’ve got to abandon socialism entirely, or you try to maintain an unsustainable holding formation or mixture (European Social Democracy, the current situation in Venezuela). Applicable to the future of Greece.

Challenging Ourselves to Kick Ass

What drives me to be organized and keep up an organization’s momentum is that I keep a continual awareness of how other people perceive my efforts.  That’s what challenges me to keep shit going.

If i wasn’t a member, how would I judge it?  Looking at it totally mercilessly — would I laugh and move on?  Are we an embarrassment?  Maybe we are, and if we are, we should use that embarrassment as fuel to do better.

Does the group look sloppy, or poorly-organized?  Would I see that it has good intentions, but poor execution?  Can we gear up and create divisions of labor and reminder systems to fix that?

Does it look like it’s going anywhere?  If it doesn’t, do we need to re-evaluate our current approach?  Do we need to use our imaginations and intuitions to find a path that brings us closer to our goals while tapping into real existing possibilities and forces?

Does it look like it’s progressing?  Are we stagnating?  How do we take what we’ve established, and scale it up to the next level?  If you’re not continually hungry to keep things expanding, well, why the fuck aren’t you?!

Does it look like a democracy, with multiple voices in a dialogue generating ideas and directions?  If not, do I need to broaden the scope of it to include more deviation?  Do I need to simply raise issues to address instead of immediately starting off with my ideas of how to fix things?

Does it look like it has drifted from its original stated purpose?  Wait — what was the original purpose?!  Remind yourself!  Can we bring it back to focus?  What would we have to de-emphasize to do that?

The key is not just, getting people to do things…it’s getting other people to get other people to do things, with increasingly exponential layers in concentric circles with yourself at the core.

Being able to get other people organized requires you to be highly organized and articulate, yourself.  But that’s a good thing.  Being the greatest victim of your own ambition and perfectionism creates group momentum beyond yourself and is extremely empowering.