my Left Forum 2013 misadventure

Left Forum 2013!  You’ve all been DYING to hear my thoughts, I’m sure!  This is how I pretend I’m not a loser at a keyboard screaming into the void.  So stay faithful and true, my hypothetical audience.

First and foremost, I faced two fitting contradictions.  (1) The Left Forum was about “Economic and Ecological Transformation,” and I could not economically afford the hotels in the area.  (2) The Left Forum was about “Economic and Ecological Transformation,” and a ridiculous storm was halting me from getting there until almost a day late.  So the forum, whatever its other shortcomings, was topical.  I was broke, and messed-up nature was messing me up in turn.

Also I should preface that this was my first Left Forum, and previously the only comparable things I had attended were the National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) in DC when I was an anarchist teenager, and the ISO’s Socialism national and regional conferences.  I went to a lot more of the ISO’s stuff, maybe a total of seven or so, and I will write about how the Left Forum and the ISO events compare elsewhere.

So my trip up is already complicated by things like sleep (I work night shift) and I was made late to my train because apparently towns change the names to streets without Google Maps ever being informed.  But after hours of white-knuckle speeding in which I used Sith mind domination on police officers in order to evade tickets and infinite train boredom, I arrive.

Oh, the sheer dark side power of New York City!  I’m sorry Philadelphia, maybe I’m not meant for you.  In Philly, despite it being one of America’s top five largest cities, it still has really no place where there is a continual flow of foot traffic, just spurts of pedestrians here and there.  In lower Manhattan, I could literally not find a sidewalk that was not uncomfortably crowded.  It was hard to find a place to walk, the subways were more crowded, people kept bumping into each other, and I got this sense that everyone was just slightly more pissed off than they are anywhere else.  Like when I ask people for help they give it, with seeming good intentions, but curtly and gruffly like I sort of annoyed them by even asking even though they know I mean no harm.  Also I heard possibly almost as much Spanish and unidentified Asian being spoken as English, and I’m sure that kind of cross-cultural mish-mash in an environment that’s already a pressure cooker can really piss off the white racists and lead to all sorts of hostility and tension.  When I asked some New Yorkers about the city’s sinister air, they began trying to justify and explain it, and I had to clarify, no – I like it.

So it’s a short walk from the World Trade Center PATH stop to Pace University, home of the Left Forum.  And oh no, it begins.  These fucking people start bombarding me with “literature.”  Literature, so much fucking literature shoved in my face that I took it all home and had a fire in my backyard.  I’m not kidding, I just did that today.  Most of it was just a “Maoist” (Bob Avakian) analysis of this or that, so much of it was socialist newspapers that all say the same shit and I already read on the Internet anyway.  I’m there on a mission to promote socialist convergence so I don’t want to offend people by refusing their papers, but deep down I just really do not want their fucking papers, and most of the time the “deep down” part of me won out.

There was an unfriendly “volunteer” making me wait too long to even get the door and get my nametag which would allow me in and out of the door.  My nametag was premade which sucked, because I wanted to write Saturn instead of my real name because really most people at the Forum who already knew of me know me as Saturn because Internet.

Oh yeah – I met a lot of people in person who I have only known via Facebook or whatever.  Pretty much none of them looked precisely how I expected, even though Facebook has pictures.  Weird.

The way the Forum was organized was curious.  Often times each panel was organized by one of the specific Leftist groups.  This was odd; rather than it being a united forum, this often made it feel as if it was just a bunch of meetings by individual groups which happened to be in the same building, with much of the self-segregation of the Left persisting.  That would be an overstatement, though; it had more cross-pollenation than really any event I’ve ever seen.  Especially at North Star panels, since North Star doesn’t really have members and just tended to host people of various opinions.

So a lot of my problems with Left Forum were summarized by this one panel, “Occupy and the Future of the Left.”  It involved Frances Fox Piven, who wrote a good book once and has this great thesis about how disruption and attack are necessary but is pretty much a useless academic who IMO has writings which can too easily be interpreted to mean a dismissal of organization.  It also involved Joe Schwartz, a Temple professor I’d frequently encountered at Occupy Philly who is consistently the best speaker of whatever events he’s at simply because he discusses the standard of living and class warfare in detailed, empirical, statistical terms (see Red Meat).  Schwartz also made fun of Stalinists by saying his mother was such a ridiculous hardliner, that she thought the only thing wrong with the USSR was Gorbachaev.

Present was none other than Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin magazine, who is a fine fellow but honestly I was a little disappointed with.  I think that deep in his heart he is a revolutionist but he turned out to be much more of a Social Democrat in person than he ever seems to be in his writing.  (Ah, hell, maybe I was just hoping that and his writings totally give it away.)  But the real disappointing thing was, despite his/Jacobin’s call for socialist regroupment AKA a re-merger, he seemed pessimistic in general.  He did not seem to think the forces exist to even bother with such an attempt, which is the opposite of my own opinion.

Partially implied and partially explicitly stated, it seems the only “solution” he really offers is some kind of socialist entrance into the Democratic Party, which is actually not a solution, but our biggest problem.  Sunkara also pissed me off by saying “I don’t have the answers, and I wouldn’t trust anyone who claims to.”  He wasn’t the only one to say that – many other panelists and academics said the same useless shit.  You know what?  We sit here and listen to you for hours.  In fact in some cases you’re a professor who gets paid to have answers for society, and what’s worse, not just paid to do that, but paid by public tax dollars.  We sit here and patiently listen.  You get paid.  What, do you think you’re being cool and hip with your non-committal stance?  FUCK YOU, I DON’T TRAVEL FOUR HOURS TO HEAR PHILOSOPHICAL WANDERINGS, I DO IT TO GET SOME ANSWERS.  I DO IT BECAUSE SOMEONE SHOULD PROVIDE ME WITH A PLAN FOR ACTION, THAT AS A CONSCIOUS BEING I CAN JUDGE AND ACCEPT OR REJECT FOR MYSELF.  YOU USELESS TURD.  This is not really directed at Sunkara but the whole of the Left Forum.

Let me be clear, however, that Bhaskar was actually a fairly funny fellow and certainly not the biggest disappointment of the panel.  One of the biggest disappointments was the hyper-authoritarian format which Sunkara actually opposes, as he brought up on a different panel.  It was Question and Answer, meaning that after an hour of listening to four different panelists talk, every single question (or typically comment as people gave the rules the finger) was followed by panelist response – sometimes all the panelists.  At this panel, only seven people from the audience spoke!!!  But, as for Sunkara’s shining moment: when some sectarian from the audience (more on them later) started screaming at Sunkara about how Social Democrats (which seems to include all socialist groups but the speaker’s own) are the spawn of Satan and other stupid epithets, and went on to list the Social Democrats’ historic crimes, Sunkara said in a completely even voice and straight face, “Actually you’re forgetting the worst thing we’ve done.  We killed Rosa Luxemberg.”  I think me and my friend Tom were the only people in the audience who understood that Sunkara was trolling and burst out into hysterics.  Oh, world…smh.

However, the worst part of that panel was none of that.  It was this one piece of shit guy from the magazine Tidal, which seems to be the literary incarnation of Occupy Wall Street’s NYC remnant.  Having lost its mass character, Occupy is now a roach infestation of the worst type of verbose, pretentiously-worded anarcho-postmodernists.

Of course, it also happens to be that one of my college roommates, Mike Tracey, ran a lame leftist magazine that I really should not have helped start.  And of course this roommate also liked making political speeches in extremely pretentious language with lots of aimless meandering, and had annoying politics, and of course, of course this guy looked EXACTLY like my roommate Mike Tracey down to that fucking beard, and I really had to double check to make sure it actually was not him.  But apparently no, the world just makes copies of certain kinds of people, and I have yet to meet my own clone (besides my father), but I am sure when that actually happens we will see what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.

So this guy spoke so pretentiously and meaninglessly, and the little that came out clearly was so fucking stupid and politically useless or counterproductive, that I really want to just take his head and smack it on his podium again and again, and I think the audience near me knew I felt this way.  Sometimes in the past I felt this way about Mike Tracey, and the whole thing felt oddly like home.  The redeeming quality, though, was that a woman from the audience resembling Roseanne Barr started screaming at him that his magazine is sectarian because it only allows a strictly horizontalist perspective, whereas she and, as she rightfully claimed, many people in New York’s working class would have preferred a more clear, efficient, majority-democratic structure that would allow 9-to-5ers to actually participate.  She made this rant clearly and articulately and with furious indignant righteous justice, to audience applause.  It felt like the assholes who ran Occupy into the ground finally getting their comeuppance.  Apparently her project is called OccuEvolve.

Let me again state that the Q&A format is really horrible and undemocratic.  The panelists get to talk enough; other than perhaps a closing at the end, the rest of the time should belong to the audience forming its own democratic dialogue, with comments not questions (which must inherently revolve around the panelists).  Because of the harsh limit on the amount of audience speakers, half of the few who squeaked in ended up being screaming sectarians there only to denounce everything.

Those freaking sectarians need to be physically driven out of the movement.  Also I’m not sure if I classify the Avakianist RCP in the same category, but it’s pretty close.  I’m really just not sure if anyone can take the Left seriously if there is actually a group walking around talking about their glorious leader Bob Avakian.  Seriously, they never even stated why Avakian was so great; they just dropped his name a lot and hoped it would stick?  I understand if you have some attraction to Maoism; Mao was a pretty serious dude who came to power over a whole giant country, and Maoism has some interesting theories which make it unique from any other school of Marxism.  Okay I get that.  But this whole unsubstantiated promotion of Avakian just makes you look god damn ridiculous, and makes the rest of us look ridiculous too, for even standing near you or breathing the same air.  I think the Left needs to be beaten into a shape that will cause the working majority to actually identify with it, and that beating may sometimes have to be literal.  These people need to go away, and to feel like it’s not physically safe for them to come back, it’s the only way.

Back to reality: I was going to stay at my cousin’s, and he was going to let me into his place.  Well my cousin fell asleep.  I called him four times and couldn’t get in.  I started panicking and looked for hotels in the area.  The only one within walking distance was $220 per night for last-minute walk-ins, which a $9/hr slave such as myself simply cannot do.  I seriously considered finding an alley to sleep in.  Finally I just started yelling up at my cousin’s window until it woke his him up and he let me in.  The transaction was fast.  I gave him the promised beer.  He showed me around.  I showered, otherwise hygiened, and slept.  I woke and left before he was even awake.  So it goes.

A lot of the rest is really incidental and episodic.  I’d been handling out Socialist Convergence Campaign quarter-sheets that say “We need an American SYRIZA!”  During a third party strategy panel, a guy sitting next to me grabbed one and wrote on the back “I am in NY SYRIZA.”  I gave him the that-makes-literally-no-sense-face until he explained to me that he’s Greek and NYC has a SYRIZA chapter for Greek immigrants.  He took my number, word up.  I met a lot of the North Star crew, and had a really great conversation with Dario.  I was really impressed by Tim Horras’ knowledge of third party history, too; really it was beastly.

I also met Carl Davidson, whose event I had sort of accidentally trolled on Facebook, but we could at least be civil.  He is/was way too much of a Democrat for my liking but made a good point about how the Left is going nowhere until every leftist knows what a precinct captain knows: everyone in your neighborhood, their names, their birthdays, their problems, whether they are registered to vote, if they’re not registered how likely is it you could get them to register, “plus/minus/zero” (are they for your/against you/neutral)?  Despite my disagreements with a good deal of his politics, he dropped a quotable that really sums up where I am in politics and life: “We can’t achieve socialism through elections, but we can only achieve it through elections, that is, by utilizing them and exhausting them in the eyes of the public.”

I had good conversations with members of Socialist Alternative and the Green Party, one of whom promised to give me training in the law and process of working in elections, and made an NJ contact with the Greens that way.  I had some awkward run-ins with New York ISOers, the tendency I just recently quietly exited, but it was more awkward silence than any kind of hostility.  My old organizer Shaun Harkin had a nice chat though.  He ran an apparently awesome panel on Thatcher and the Irish which I had to skip because of a third party strategy panel, but for anyone wondering from my old school TCNJ, Shaun Harkin is still a babe, and let me be clear that I’m a straight guy…mostly…except when I’m around Shaun Harkin…  I learned some disturbing things about climate change, like the OECD says that even though capitalism is actually lifting some of the global population out of poverty, the environmental catastrophe which is inevitable with our current CO2 emissions will wipe out any such gains by driving 2-3 billion people back into deep poverty.  I got to see an old acquaintance Mike McCabe also tear Occupy’s silliness a new one and put forward a better, more realistic model for how to build the Left.  He mocked consensus: if it can’t manage a movement, or even a single decision, how can it manage a society?  He described its time-consuming, impractical nature as a “dystopian utopia.”

But still, something was missing…

 

NO STRATEGY

I was hoping that more people at the Left Forum would identify with the strategy I was putting forward.  Actually no, I was hoping for more – I was hoping that people who had previously made noises about regroupment or convergence before, like Jacobin and North Star, would bring it up first and I could be a voice in support.

No, turns out that nobody brought it up, I always had to break the ice, and in the tiny 90-second increment I was typically given to speak, I could never really bring it up in a sophisticated way.  This caused many people to dismiss my introduction of socialist convergence as “oh just another noobie who would feel good if everybody got together” and not as an actually complex position based on the need for socialists to project visibility and the historical irrelevance that results from their fragmentation, a rift that cannot be healed by merely collaborating in movements.

The darkness bless Jodi Dean for being the only one who backed me up in person.  Read her piece here.

Pretty much every group that I hoped would bring up regroupment either didn’t even bring it up, or worse, as in Sunkara’s case, actually made the ridiculous claim that a third party would be premature.  Of course the speakers of the existing socialist groups either said the same thing or trotted (perhaps Trot-ted) out the tired old line that groups with different ideas and methods can’t work together.

One of my SCC compatriots has helped me come to a certain conclusion about that.  Socialist leaders say “build movements” as if to say “never you mind the big picture, little grunt, leave that to the experts.”  This is comparable to the method of union bureaucrats who tell their organizers and members to focus on doing organizing work and to never question anything strategic such as organizing style, or party politics issues like the Democrat alignment.

It is an emphasis on struggle, which seems productive but goes ultimately nowhere without the right kind of organization to carry it to an expansionist, confrontational, or revolutionary conclusion.

It is an emphasis on just building their current organization, instead of questioning where that whole project is going – isn’t that just supposed to be a subfaction of some larger formation, and not forever remain a freestanding organization unto itself?  It’s it completely ridiculous to think it will bloom into a mass party by itself, rather than just being a catalyst for one?

So the strategies provided by the entire combined panelists of the Left Forum involved the following three ideas: (1) reject the horizontalist silliness of Occupy (2) build movements (3) build one of the existing fragmented hyper-opinionated socialist groups.

I agree with the first two, anyway, but they still don’t answer the question of organization.  In fact the first two are so obvious to anyone who has been in the movements that they hardly even need stating.  Across the entire Left Forum, really then, the question of strategy went entirely unanswered.  All in all, the leaders failed to lead.

The only remotely sane line being put forward came from the Green Party, who is at least trying to fill the vacuum even if it’s with liberal-progressivism, and Socialist Alternative, who is also at least running in elections, even if they’re probably trying to become The Electoral Alternative themselves with the other socialist groups in tow and not as partners.  Still, their ambition does us all good by actually getting the race for socialist electoralism kicked off.

Is that not enough for you?  Yeah, it’s definitely not enough for me either.  Check out the Socialist Convergence Campaign, and maybe get involved.

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Physically evict the sectarians

So it’s one thing, when some trolls come onto your webpage or whatever, and they start screaming about how their specific Fourth International is the One, the True, the Only, and start wailing about how all socialist groups are fake socialists and social democrats and take the wrong position on Syria etc.

Typically there’s only so much damage they can do, and then you can ban them with a click of your mouse or two.  Easy peasy.

It is, of course, important that you actually do make those few clicks and purge them out.  This is because any leftists who want to bring new people on board (which is the whole idea) will have their whole project stymied by the shitstorm caused by the shitheads.  New people get confused – is there a grain of truth to their screamed, scathing insults?  Do I even want to be in an environment where people are so counterproductive and denunciatory?  Should I get out while I can?

Of course the groups which the sectarians attack are typically nowhere near as denunciatory and hostile as the sectarians who are on the offensive, even if they do get critical of each other, as Left groups often do excessively.  However, new people can often be so shell-shocked by the negativity (and not just negativity, but futile fratricidal negativity) that they don’t discriminate as to whose fault the bickering is, and prefer to simply remove themselves from the situation.

But what about in-person events and environments where these idiots pull the same shit?

I write this coming out of the 2013 Left Forum, which already did not lend itself very well to discussion from the “audience.”  However, this was made all the worse by the fact that, in the few tiny slots when the audience members were permitted to get a word in edgewise, the persistent little sectarians made sure to take the mic and immediately spend it on vigorously denouncing the speakers and, often as not, any socialist group who happened to be prevalent even if not related to the topic of conversation.  This often included but was not limited to DSA, the ISO, SPUSA, Solidarity, the Green Party, and Socialist Alternative, all of whom I include on my axis of sanity.

If I was a new leftist, and I witnessed the shrill counterproductive yelps of these Sparts and Spart clones, I would march out in disgust and not come back.  Like Ben Campbell of North Star, I’d throw my hands in the air and wash them of all you time-wasting neurotic fucks.

Actually truth is, I’ve been a radical leftist for ten years, and a half-decent organizer for six, and I still don’t really want to go back to the Left Forum, a big reason being these fucking sectarian shitheads.

As usual, there is one solution: revolution.

On the Internet, we can remove the sectarians with the click of a button.  In person, it will take some shoving.

Yes, I am serious, we should treat them as almost comparable to the neo-Nazis who sometimes protest our events or pollute our streets.  We should get them out of here.

First we have to be clear about something.  Is anyone who disagrees with you a sectarian?  No.  Is anyone who splits their group or asserts their needs to start a new, small group a sectarian?  Well, technically maybe, but they’re not the harmful people that I’m talking about.  Debate is not what should be stifled, because you can debate in an even tone.  It’s true, some criticisms need to be made, and as long as you can objectively balance what is wrong with certain groups or people, with the fact that they are indeed a leftist and contribute somehow, then it’s fair game.  Even if you think the division is so fundamental that they belong somewhere else (perhaps Democrats for example), you can explain that to everyone calmly and may indeed make your point better that way.   By sectarian I mean the people who come to events for the sole purpose of attacking, discrediting, and yelling at other groups, not every poor bastard tabling outside, and if you go to these events, you will sure know who I am talking about when you see them.

So now that we know who we’re talking about, are they really that bad?  Well, think about it.  Who does more damage to the Left on a routine basis, denying it recruits and causing it internal trauma and fatigue?  The neo-Nazis, who have not yet assembled a commie-smashing army and rarely even do anything, or the sectarians, who poison and demoralize our every single event?

Correct answer: the sectarians.

Sometimes security or the police are around.  This may preclude us from getting our British football hooligan club together for physically dragging them out.  In such a case, there’s still tons of harassment we can do!  We can grab their shitty papers out of their hands and throw them in the trash – they’re already shoving them in our faces, it will be easy enough.  We can flip their tables over and watch all their denunciatory pamphlets scatter across the ground like 52-card pickup.  If we can’t touch them with our hands, we can at least bring out the water balloons and supersoakers, maybe involve some paint.  We can dance around them in circles singing “Pop Goes the Weasel.”  Later, away from the eyes of the authorities, we can beat the shit out of them the way they have historically been known to physically attack us when they could.  We can locate and invade their meetings and disrupt them for a change.  We can break their willingness, and their organizational ability, to ever show up and scare the public away from our events ever again.

The sectarians are in a constant war with us and have been for a long time.  It’s time we fired back, and not with words, which is just playing their game.  Time we actually owned the space in our own fucking house and enforced it with our bodies.

Will this process be pretty?  No, it will be ugly.  It may be just as bad, or worse than, the sectarian harassment in terms of traumatizing new people and scaring them away.  But this is a temporary purge against a historic problem.  In order to gain a widespread audience, people are going to have to be able to take the Left seriously.  That means our meetings can’t be contaminated by haters and wreckers.  It has to have a rebirth in fire, and swat away the flies.

Besides, it will be totally fun and you know you want to anyway.

Edit: someone wisely pointed out that, if it’s your private event, maybe you can just get security to escort them out.  Less fun but something to consider.

Red Meat

There is a phrase among political scientists, wonks, and people who otherwise have no life like me, called “red meat.”  It means political issues that excite your core constituency, and has typically been used in reference to the Republican Right.

Why red meat?  Well, in the red/blue Republican/Democrat system, Republicans are “red.”  Also the Right tends to be identified with carnivores as opposed to vegetarian liberals etc – more on that later.

So Republican red meat tends to focus on opposing abortion, gun rights (which I favor), limiting immigration, foreign policy paranoia (everyone is out to kill America), militarism, and possibly most of all, lowering taxes.

 

WE NEED SOCIALIST RED MEAT

Class warfare!  Tax the rich, jail the bankers, universal healthcare, bring back unions, $15 minimum wage.  Make “red” mean what it used to mean!

Sometimes people are afraid to raise red meat issues.  For example, there are a lot of black middle class leaders who are afraid to really go on the offensive against the harsh continuation of racism in the USA.  Precisely why is complicated; some are bought off or have a much more comfortable income than most blacks, and some are just afraid to be seen as extreme or “racist against white people.”

We socialists are often afraid to bring out our class warfare red meat.  Sometimes we are painfully unaware that the word “socialism” itself is no longer something holding us back, but actually a word that attracts people to us.  The same with “class warfare” – we are so used to hearing FOX News use it as a bad thing that we forget that, for many people, anything FOX describes as a negative must be a positive.  Occupy exploded in a way that other movements simply do not, because it was about class warfare: the 99% versus the 1%, a literal occupation of the financial district.

 

LIBERAL-PROGRESSIVE HIPPIE POLITICS GOES NOWHERE/THE GREEN PARTY

It seems that, post-Occupy, most of the Left has horribly forgotten that class warfare is what made Occupy successful.  The Left since Occupy, probably more from lack of self-awareness or persistence of memory than anything else, has distanced itself from its roots: Marxist, based on economics, based on class warfare and inciting people’s anger against the wealth distribution and their place in the economic hierarchy.  Instead it seems to have continued its usual trend-following, or trend-cycling, obsessive focus with one pet issue, and then another, and then another.  It’s not that other issues don’t matter – they do – but the Left almost always makes the mistake of entirely forgetting to discuss class or the standard of living while focusing on these issues.  Basically it fails to walk and chew gum at the same time.

It’s not that economics has become secondary in people’s minds.  Yes, people have developed an interest in other issues, which is probably a good thing.  In fact, dissatisfaction with the ability of our government itself to even function is a growing concern according to a recent Gallup poll – this is, of course, an important revolutionary conclusion.  But still, despite the shifting, the same poll indicates that economics still reigns supreme as the popular issue among the general public – and the Left has completely dropped this ball and moved on to other fads.

The Left strays from the power of red meat, and thereby loses any chance of establishing itself as relevant outside of its tiny circle.  Besides red meat’s seductive strength being a justification for an energetic, class-warfare based image that is very capable of achieving wide popularity, this is also the reason that the Green Party will never take off.  (Don’t get me wrong, I respect the Greens and they are the only party I have ever really voted for besides the occasional crank socialist, but when they’re a strategic dead-end, it has to be discussed directly.)

There is a very small number of activists in the USA.  Sadly its characteristics are often subcultural as much as they are political.  People in the activist scene are assumed, not just by society but by the activist scene itself, to follow certain cultural trends.  A lot of it involves liberal moralism, instead of working class self-interest.  It seems to embrace an aesthetic of softness inherited from 1960s hippies which is often accompanied by bad political corollaries: non-revolutionism, the tendency to view different opinions as things to be “tolerated” instead of valuing honest debate and direct conversation, a lack of seriousness toward political strategy or political organizing itself, a tendency to view anyone who puts forward a plan as “authoritarian” or “oppressive.”  Where 1960s hippiedom does not hold, Millennial hipsterism often takes its place, sometimes with similar political results to the hippie tendency, and sometimes totally different given the limitless varieties of hipsterism.  Still, the critical thing is that the Left can be more subcultural than political.

When this supposedly “political” scene is not just downright dysfunctional because it’s actually a subculture and not a political movement, it is often dominated by liberal-progressive moralism which does not value red meat.  The Green Party can be an example of this.

Many recent Green Party candidates have actually put a significant focus on economics.  However, no matter how much they do so, their branding as “Green” will always obstruct the ability of the public to realize they are an anti-corporate party and not a party based entirely on environmentalism.  Again, nothing against environmentalism, but a party based entirely on it would not become popular, and given the “Green” label, that’s what most people assume the Greens actually are!

There is something about Green liberal-progressivism, though, that places class warfare red meat as simply one more issue in a laundry list of liberal-progressive issues connected by a vague anti-oppression/progressive moralism and not connected by the economic issues that really excite people.  You need a party which everyone realizes is primarily based on red meat, on class warfare, which of course also takes progressive stances on all issues.  A “socialist” party would accomplish this.  Maybe some others would too.  But “Green” does not, especially given that deep down they really do place red meat as just one in a collection and not as the central thrust.

Most of America is not interested in liberal-progressive moralism.  They want more, not less.  They want to take wealth from the rich for themselves, not save the whales or the children.  They aren’t even interested in being political beyond what it can do for them.  Most Americans belong to the dark side.

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.

I will follow until I don’t

That title means I have a policy of assumed base-line 100% disloyalty to any organization I may nominally join.

I may support your efforts.  I may do your organizing groundwork even – knock on doors with you, help you hang up flyers, help canvas people to promote a meeting or event, find you a meeting space, give you money, whatever.

Or I might not.

It’s not like I fuse my soul to an organization.  I just assist whichever of its activities I find valuable.  Don’t expect me to show up for whatever you do that I don’t care about.

If I am helping your campaign, I may suddenly withdraw my efforts.  I do not feel obligated to provide a reason why.  (Lately it would be because I had surgery and I’m sick as a dog, but that doesn’t seem to stop these fucking liberal foundation paid organizer types from blowing up my inbox and I can’t even mentally expend the energy to pretend to care.)

It’s possible I just don’t feel like it anymore.  Don’t assume I can even articulate my own thoughts; honestly most people can’t articulate their own thoughts, so it’s foolish to expect clearly-stated reasons for anything from anyone.  Most of real life is things, actions, and events, not the text-life of us intellectual types.

You don’t own me just because I worked with you once.

I think this is often the best and most natural form of decision-making, and let’s face it, it’s the one that really happens.  People vote with their feet.  People jump on the bandwagon.  Later they jump off.  What’s important is the reality of it, not the logic.  That’s the real determining force in revolutionary times – huge amounts of people doing things and changing their allegiances – not necessarily having a clearly spelled-out articulation of why.

Can you attract a large, steady following in a world of disloyal, inconsistent people?

That’s the true test of history.

selfish politics is the most attractive

When most people hear political talk, it has to pass the “what’s in it for me?” test.

If there’s not something in it for them, they typically don’t care.

As a leftist, learn to shape your statements towards appealing to people’s pragmatism, their needs — their selfishness.

TALK ABOUT CLASS, DESCRIBE IT BY NUMBERS.

Don’t hate people for being this way.  It’s just the way the world is (as in, yes, the world is completely evil).

You can hate and fear that truth, or you can use it and win.

The call of justice may gather our little leftist subculture, but it doesn’t work for moving the tremendous majority.

There may be exceptions to this — MLKJr seemed to do a pretty good job using a moral call to action.

But then again, there was a lot of intrinsic motivation, too.  Like blacks themselves suffering under racism, and therefore wanting to fight it.

I too have a dream.  I dream of a world where every single action a person undertakes will arise from their intrinsic motivations.  I want every inch of a person’s life to be freedom.  I don’t want them to get out of bed in the morning because they have to work to survive.  I want them to wake up looking forward to spending their day in precisely the manner they wish to.

Infinite liberation.  All power to the imagination!

So I think we leftists need to keep in mind the attractive power of allowing people to be selfish, to focus on their own wants and desires.

Very often leftists yell about “greed.”  Those greedy bastards!  Corporate greed.

No, I think this is entirely off track.  We should all be greedier.  Everyone should look at their paychecks and feel greed at that moment.  They should thirst, as for blood.  They should want to come down on the necks of their employers for MORE MONEY.

What is the greediest — to want a sizeable chunk of the world, an estate?  Your own little separated-off section?

Or is it perhaps greedier, to want the entire world, and to own it not by partitioning, but to radically share it in a process of co-creation?

Many of us leftists are finger-waggers.  We wag our fingers at people for everything.  We scold.

Where are the people saying we all deserve more?  I want us to be those people.