focusing on organization isn’t sectarian


So in parts of the left we use this very spiteful word “sectarian” to mean a few things: a group that spends all its time attacking other groups, a group that is “too pure” to take part in activist movements for being too “reformist” or whatever.

Of course there are other things that may not precisely fit the definition of sectarianism, but are telltale signs.  For example, a person whose first words whenever you see them are always the criticism of another organization or group for political positions, even if that person works in various coalitions or whatever, they’re definitely sectarian.  Someone who spends their entire life on the nuances of leftist trivia is tricky – they might just be an extremely informed activist, or they might be a sectarian, depending on how they talk about or use this trivia, or deal with people.

I’m sure I am sometimes perceived as sectarian for placing so much emphasis on different forms of organization.

Truth is, consensus-based decision-making, plus the obsession with the encampment tactic, made Occupy Wall Street extremely difficult to participate in for most working people with work and family obligations, and other real-life time constraints like wanting to have a life and preferring not to blow it on three-hour meetings that debate how the encampment will deal with its trash.

So organizational style was a direct problem for making a movement accessible to ordinary working people – ironic, given that the entire movement was supposed to be about the 99%.


Sometimes people tell me, or sometimes the voices in my head tell me, that I can’t be taken seriously because if your group isn’t currently focused on engaging in living movements about specific political issues and not general ideologies, if it is focused on something electoral or organization, it must be some lame group that isn’t going anywhere and will lose out on the numbers game because of its failure to connect with people.

I’d like to introduce a new view:

Anti-capitalism is, itself, a movement.  Socialism is, itself, a movement.  Anarchism is, itself, a movement.  The struggle to build some kind of large-scale resistance entity is, itself, a movement just as organic, vital, and publicly-attractive as any anti-war march ever was.  Building any of the above movements, whether through building a group, spreading literature promoting the ideas, recruiting members, or raising visibility is itself a worthy pursuit, even if not immediately connected to single-issue leftist politics.

If we were to add up all the members of the existing left organizations, well, this is not what I’m talking about.  The total number of people accrued there would not remotely equal what I mean when I talk about America’s combined socialists and anarchists.  I think Occupy did a fantastic job drawing out a lot of people who passively identify as radical leftist but who, for various reasons, aren’t linked to any group.

Having an organization that unapologetically argues radical views while possessing ongoing national visibility, would not be some subcultural leftist preoccupation.  It would be hugely helpful in giving ideological, numeric, and logistic support to any other protest movement around things like single-payer healthcare, the labor movement, ending the mass-imprisonment of black people, debt forgiveness, whatever organic down-to-earth demand your heart desires.

Typically the argument of the existing Leninist groups is that we have to build movements first and then build a national-scale socialist party out of that, after the movements exist.

I disagree.  I think we could get the turnout for the socialist/far-left party now, and it would, in turn, be of incredible assistance to all single-issue resistance movements.

Obama, the anti-Keynesian Democrat

The Loss of Government Jobs is Holding Back the Economy

The Top 10 Things Black America Will Have To Show For 8 Years of President Obama — None of Them Are Good

^read the link
#3 is a real killer, everyone thinks he’s pro-education because he’s a Democrat. Nope, more public schools have been closed or privatized under Obama than any US president ever.

Obama is the most miraculous president of history: instead of responding to recession by expanding the public sector, his response inverted Keynes with MORE CUTS, and somehow he retained his giant liberal fan club and had conservatives calling him a socialist.

Is this the Democratic Party we can reclaim, or build a progressive faction inside? I don’t think so — especially when it’s full of people who don’t even have any clue of Obama’s true role.  They are not organized by grassroots upsurge from below, they are organized by what the televisions tell them (which is what the corporations tell them).  When you enter into a party, you also have to take the risk that you will end up losing the primaries and supporting the backward wing’s candidate.  I could fucking NEVER vote for a guy like Obama.

Regardless I think conditions are perfectly ripe for building a ruckus from the outside.

For all you leftist trolls, I know that Keynes is not Marx bla bla bla but here’s the thing, Keynes-type reforms are still something we should support especially in a recessionary context but also in general.

The Left: its own biggest obstacle?

What if, deep down, most Americans deeply identified with the leftist message of class warfare, “We are the 99%,” attacking wealth and income equality, universal healthcare, etc?

What if most Americans were even on board with us in terms of the Culture War – anti-racism, supporting same-sex marriage, generally leaning toward women’s rights, legalizing weed, opposing the wars?

Actually this is how things are.  In the USA all these issues are at least in the mid-40%s, and could be shifted with an informational campaign, if not already having solid majorities toward our side.  So why aren’t we winning?

Obviously there are the obstacles we are always contending with, like “our political system is intentionally unrepresentative of the population” and “therefore it will take more than just having a majority, the Left will have to act as a magnet for mobilizing that majority in struggle.”

But you’d think that by now, this much would be clear.  So why precisely does the Left, which does exist with some semblance of organization and numbers, not act as a magnet for mobilizing the majority in struggle?

I think the Left, while having political positions which many people increasingly agree with, often makes the mistake of presenting itself as a counterculture instead of a political movement.

Furthermore, when the Left does indulge in counterculture, they indulge in a very soft, white-light Buddhist/hippie version of counterculture which is opposite of the dark energy that defines most Americans.  (Make no mistake, America is sheer evil, so the question is do we whine about it or work with it?)

There’s also the issue of “lack of self-awareness.”  Like a subway masturbator, some leftists just yell out slogans with no awareness or concern of the context of how society will receive the message.  We navel-gaze with internal issues and preoccupations instead of sticking to the core messages of class warfare, fighting social oppressions, and revolution which really attract ordinary people.  This is a biggie.

Finally, building off that lack of self-awareness, we on the Left do not even imagine ourselves as playing this role – as a well-oiled machine for coordinating numbers of people far larger than ourselves.  We think of ourselves as just ourselves – a little group of people with similar ideas, and little thought of what part we play in the big picture.  In other words, no strategy.

So, without the vision or ambition of becoming the rallying point of a revolting majority, we don’t become one, except sometimes accidentally, like Occupy Wall Street.  And then because that was just an accident, we are not prepared to sustain the numbers we attract.  We make the mistakes listed above, the instinctively leftist majority drifts back into demoblization, disorganization — and depression.

The greatest enemy is not the neo-Nazis, whom we love to attack so much.  It is not the cops.  It is not the Republicans.  The Democratic Party establishment is pretty high on my list but no, I don’t even think it’s them.

Our greatest enemy is always our own failures, our own weakness, our own disorganization, our failure to resonate with wider masses.

Which is tragic, because we really could resonate far.

Issues in demonstrations

When we throw a demonstration, who is the intended audience?

Is it a media event?  (Doesn’t being a media event alone tend to channel things toward small, snappy-looking groups instead of building mass-coordination between many people?)

Is it meant to reach the public bystanders wherever we march?  The pedestrians, the motorists, or both?

Is the demonstration meant to impress or intimidate the politicians?  (If so, can they even see us?  Are we hoping they see us in person or just hear about it over the news?)

Are we trying to re-energize ourselves, and give isolated participants a sense of our collective strength?

Is it one of these?  All of these?  Some and not others, which combination?

And of course, the big question – is our demonstration actually geared to effectively reach our intended targets?

If we want to be seen by pedestrians, are we friendly and welcoming to them, or do we seem threatening and menacing?  Is the activist milieu from a different demographic than the people who are witnessing us?

Do we have a sharp presentation, or do we look like a waddling blob?

Is our chanting sensitive to the context?

Do we chant “We are the 99%” when there’s only five of us?  When we chant “WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!” do the people who witness us feel like they are part of the “us” and they are taking over the street with us, or do they feel like the activist Left just forcefully seized what was previously everybody’s street?

Is anyone else annoyed that there are about ten different socialists newspapers circulating at every demonstration?  Even worse, when you try to sell one, do you find yourself completely foiled by the fact that the entire place is covered in free copies of People’s Weekly World?