Diversity of Tactics or Diversion from Strategy?

This was posted in Viewpoint Magazine. H/T to Jim Weill for bringing this to our attention.

The obsession over the black bloc in the past few months is a distorted reflection of the very real predominance of this tactic in contemporary struggles ... But while the tactic’s geographic reach is somewhat localized, its presence in the movement’s collective imagination has grown to immense proportions.

But it’s precisely the continued obsession with this single tactic that prevents us from seriously interrogating the necessary other term in this relationship: strategy. The discussions over the so-called “diversity of tactics” indicate the problem: by focusing all our energies on disputing the merits of a tactic, we end up neglecting strategy altogether. A “diversity of tactics” has little to do with strategy; in fact, it seems to replace strategy with liberal pluralism. The question isn’t whether to pursue a “diversity of tactics,” but rather: what kind of strategy allows us to effectively incorporate a diverse range of tactics?

On the Black Bloc

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The “internecine ultra-left argument of the moment,” says the Wall Street Journal, is the debate over the “black bloc.” And if this debate has led the WSJ to talk about “ultra-leftism,” it’s clearly a debate we have to address.

In a report called “Activists and Anarchists Speak for Themselves at Occupy Oakland,” Susie Cagle reminds us that the recent major instances of street-fighting, which have been cited by liberals critical of the black bloc, force us to abandon the stereotype of ski-masked vandals breaking windows. She writes:

People in this conversation

  • Guest - J.M.

    See my own "intervention" in the Chris Hedges-spurred controversy within Occupy @ http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2012/moore160212.html,

  • Guest - old commie

    The question of violent tactics is a strategic one. We have to look at it like a military commander: What are the best tactics to accomplish the what we are trying to do? And what would be their side (collateral) effects?
    Greece is now in a prerevolutionary stage, with massive oppression of the people and a strong communist movement to lead them. In the United States, we have only weak anticapitalist movements, which are often strongly anti-communist. and the oppression is far below that in Greece. What purpose does violence serve? Using violence now to precipitate a revolution in Greece is progressive (because it has a good chance of succeeding.) Using violence in the United ststes now would accomplish nothing, unless it is legitimate self-defense.
    A great deal depends on what the masses think about the violence; they will only support it if they see it has some real purpose and has some chance of success. A fanatic revolutionary may not care if it brings down repression on the people, but the people do care, and will only support it if they think it's worth it.
    I once had a number of discussions with a group of anarchists whose slogan was "Strike one to educate a hundred." They ended up with long prison sentences for acts of violence which accomplished nothing. I admired their revolutionary fervor, but I thought (and still think) they were idiots who did more harm than good.

  • Guest - Ghan Buri Ghan

    "Greece is now in a prerevolutionary stage, with massive oppression of the people and a strong communist movement to lead them."

    I think the leadership of a "strong communist movement" in Greece is overstated and doesn't reflect the reality on the ground there...

    "In the United States, we have only weak anticapitalist movements, which are often strongly anti-communist."

    Again, this is true but overstated, the differences between the two contexts are not that massive...

    "the oppression is far below that in Greece"

    How so?

    "A great deal depends on what the masses think about the violence; they will only support it if they see it has some real purpose and has some chance of success."

    Who do you mean by "the masses"? For better or for worse, many young people support violence that is explicitly lacking in "real purpose". (E.g. sports riots, college party riots, flash mobs, etc.)

  • Guest - louisproyect

    I wondered how long it would take MRZine to line up with Counterpunch in defending the black bloc trick-or-treaters.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    The BB, as self-defined, is a tactic. It has not strategy, As such, it becomes part of someone's else's strategy, primarily that of our adversaries. Watch as it unfolds, and weep. Perhaps in the next round, we will have absorbed the lesson.

  • Guest - Otto

    Once again we are sitting around bitching about what some other group is doing. IF I smack a bee hive, I might get stung. If the government treats us as subjects of a police state, some people might retaliate without our permission. BOO HOO!
    Some one said it is juvenile hi jinx. Guess what? Some of these people are juveniles.
    Let's just get over it and do something that works for us.

  • Guest - sks

    Old commie,

    "The question of violent tactics is a strategic one. "

    No it is not. Turning into one, however, is indeed part of a strategy of demobilization, and more importantly as the intro to this article argues, of distracting the movement from being able to engage on a conversation on strategy to counter the strategy of demobilization.

    The PSL also did a very, very, very, very, very, good summation of this - way better I believe than Viewpoint's

    http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/debate-over-occupy-tactics.html

    Carl,

    No bro, but I see what you did there. I am more and more convinced amping up the black bloc is actually part of a strategy to bring the movements under labor and NGO control - that is, part of the strategy you subscribe to. THat is why MR and Counterpunch and PSL and nearly every socialist organization has said some variation of "black bloc overrated, lets talk about the important stuff". It is people like you who want to talk about the black bloc ad nauseum because it distracts people from the task of vanquishing liberal disciplining of the OWS. I have zero hope that the right side will win, but don't play like you are in your camp because you are not, not on this question.

    Louis,

    You are neither a revolutionary nor part of Occupy nor particularly incisive. Go write about your Korean film fetish (you have missed a few amazing films so far) or whatever to your blog.

  • Guest - trotskyist ultra-left

    "I wondered how long it would take MRZine to line up with Counterpunch in defending the black bloc trick-or-treaters."

    Some (slightly boring) context:

    What Louis Proyect is referring to is an article by Peter Gelderloos, "The Surgeons of Occupy" which appeared recently on Counterpunch. Counterpunch is a controversial website which has taken some reactionary positions on certain issues such as global warming. Gelderloos is also a controversial figure, in Greece he is controversial for his associations with the Void Network, a group famous for authoring the anti-feminist text "The Limitations of Anti-Sexism". (See: "A Fake Image: About the Fraud of the Void Network and their American Friend") In his famous text, "How Non-Violence Protects the State", Gelderloos makes statements of support for the mass-murder of Spanish civilians by the right-wing Muslim group Al-Qaeda, stating "so far, no alternatives to terrorism have been developed within the relatively vulnerable belly of the beast to substantially weaken the occupation [of Iraq and Afghanistan]", in the same work he cites the popularity of "violent video games" as an argument against "all-too-frequent claim that violence alienates people", (a very macho position to take given that most violent video games target a male consumer demographic and promote the indiscriminate anti-social violence of heroic Jüngerian individuals)

    Gelderloos also wrote an anti-egalitarian essay entitled "The Justice Trap", in which he wrote "The social dynamics in horizontal societies suggest that the democratic ideal of egalitarianism does not apply to so-called egalitarian societies in which justice systems are absent. In a society in which conflict resolution is, ideally speaking, a subjective process, an abstract equality strikes me as philosophically irrelevant. [...] Equality is a mathematical concept and it might be useful to bureaucrats but it is inapplicable to human personalities and capabilities. An anarchist ontology should leave social democracy forever behind and insist that, in fact, no two humans are equal."

    In his attack on Hedges, Gelderloos defends John Zerzan, who is responsible for a somewhat blatant defense of the KKK entitled "Rank-and-File Radicalism within the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s". John Zerzan's stone age utopianism is inherently misogynistic, in that it has a callous disregard for the high number of infant mortalities women suffered under primitive society, it also is a virtual call to genocide of all people who, for various medical reasons, (such as HIV-AIDS, type 1 diabetes, and Lou Gehrig's disease, to name a few) rely on industrial technology to survive. Gelderloos has also appeared in Crimethinc's anarcho-primitivist documentary "END:CIV" along with Lierre Keith.

    My point is that Gelderloos, Zerzan, et al are being trotted out as an intellectually disingenuous strawman to launch a campaign against all of those within the Occupy movement who advocate social revolution in praxis, (not just in rhetoric) including Marxist-Leninists (as well as the majority of anarchist socialists, who in all fairness, cannot be easily associated with the politics of Gelderloos and Zerzan)

    Pseudo-Trotskyist renegades, who practice revisionist right-deviationism, are lining up with the NGOs, business unions, celebrity journalists and academics, etc. in attempting to purge all political elements that oppose liquidationism, which the pseudo-Trotskyists defend as a principled stand against the "ultra-left". Among the renegades are the ISO, the PSL, and Proyect, who is well-known for declaring his enthusiastic support for the revolutionary potential of NATO-backed counter-revolutionaries in Libya who conducted pograms against Black migrants and Tuaregs in which hundreds were killed. This sort of blatant right-opportunism needs to be denounced....

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    I will assume in any struggle many type and forms of struggle [diversity] will be constructed. If we were to theorize, from the historical construct of mass struggle, systemic or conjunctural, in the US social formation and internationally, we would find out many type and form of struggles were and are implemented in the pursuit of an objective. These diversities of strategy/ tactics are determined by their class contents, class alternatives, class positions and class line, a class strategy[ organic/un-organi to achieve an objective.

    These diversities could be opportunistic,adventurist, or revolutionary at the level of strategy and tactics base and determine by a political line.

    Such approach could contribute greatly in the attempt to constantly develop an analysis of classes in the US social formation since a class analysis in any social formation is an analysis of their struggle for their class objectives, in a system of a society divided by classes for these class’s objectives and interest at any given period of capitalism.

    Since strategy, [diversity of strategies] and tactics [a diversity of tactics] are class base for these classes interest a debate over diversity of tactics outside the appropriation of class struggle and of the interest of these classes will be a debate like a Seinfeld’s show, a debate about nothing, and the obvious conclusive result is the pragmatic/dogmatic sterile content of these debates of two sides of the same coin of pragmatism.

    For me, I will insist and firmly argue a diversity of strategies and a diversity of tactics determined by a diversity of strategies will not miraculously parachute or land on Planet Earth to defeat capitalism. These types of diversities of struggle for the defeat of capitalism will be constructed from our appropriation of the Capitalist social formation, and at the core of this analysis an analysis of the capitalist mode of productions with all its form of productions as well as all its form of concentration and circulation of capital, construct a Political line: a pathway to defeat them and define strategy/goals and priorities/tactics, all in constant mode of rectification base on the dialectical relation of theory and praxis and determined by praxis to validate theory.

    The political line in any social formation base on historical/dialectical materialism and a definition of that Political Line, a theoretical model, in the application of strategies and tactics to construct a pathway must be detectable by the laws of contradictions.

    Any dominated classes, part of the popular masses, objectively bring to the table in any construction of a Political line a strategical and tactical orientation to achieve their class interest in a divided class society and some times and most of the times these types of struggle [strategy and tactics] are not waged in a close vase, they tend to overlap thus the insistence of the autonomy of the working class in the unity of the working class with the rest of the popular masses, under the leadership of the working class, the only class capable to offer a viable long term alternative and a political line to defeat capitalism.

    The triumph of the Proletarian objective at different period of capitalism was constructed from the intransigent struggle of all forms of opportunism, economism and nowadays the triumph of the proletarian line will have to follow the same path of defeating opportunism and now populism and pragmatism in the construction of diversity of strategy and tactics, under the hegemony of the proletarian alternative.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    These different tactics do reflect strategies, but ones that are not fully conscious, articulated, or developed. They are not class conscious, because neither is proletarian, and one doesn’t even have any pretentions of being anti-capitalist.

    The spokespeople for pacifism as a tactic do not really want to overturn the prevailing social relations and are helping, along with the sold-out labor movement and NGOs, to herd the middle class more solidly into the camp of the ruling class. They want to take any question of smashing the state off the table because they want reform. They will try to demonize and isolate anything that even faintly smells of disrupting their comfortable position as the official loyal opposition. The black bloc is just the easiest target at the moment -- if reds were stronger, they would be the demons of the day. It's something we should expect.

    Others like the black bloc, who attempt to seize and defend space or to halt capitalist accumulation by engaging in direct confrontation with the police, at least recognize that the system and the state’s armed forces are their enemy. They are acting out of desperation -- tactics like this emerge during periods when the strength of the people is in decline and the enemy is more aggressively going after what it needs to keep existing (an existence which requires constant expansion) --cheaper labor, more intense extraction of raw materials, privatization of everything. And to increase their power to do this, they are implementing a more thorough, all-encompassing domination of everything and everyone.

    It hurts to lose ground, especially when the stakes are so high (and the times are so desperate), and so there will be those who try to push things forward even without the kind of organized movements that are required to win. They hope that their actions will somehow inspire people to organize into movements that can take on the capitalists and their states. But there is no developed strategy on how A leads to B. And we’ve seen historically that it doesn’t work that way -- organized movements don’t develop from trying to force the contradiction from a position of weakness. But people will keep trying, because they feel helpless otherwise. It's a very positive thing when people refuse to submit to defeat, but we can't leave it at that emotional level.

    People are obsessing and squabbling over these tactics because we are in such a terrible position of weakness overall. The people have been defeated and diverted over and over, thoroughly outmaneuvered. In order to build the kind of movement we need, we are basically starting over from scratch. We don’t have a collective strategy that can lead to liberation. We don’t have the kinds of organizations that can even generate such a strategy, or to implement it if/when we do. So, it’s no wonder that people are focusing on differences of the moment, that are not really fundamental, and are casting about for a way forward.

    What I take from this is the need to focus on building those kinds of organizations that are capable of generating an effective strategy, and class consciousness is at the foundation of that. Without understanding the nature of the structures that have trapped us and are dominating us -- the relationship of various classes to each other and how they are situated in economic production, as it exists today -- then it will be impossible to liberate ourselves.

    Time is of the essence, because the ability of the planet to sustain life is being destroyed at an increasing rate. So it is tempting to resort to immediate desperate action as opposed to building the kinds of organizations capable of collective action that can take on the system and provide an alternative. But the important thing is to win, not simply to act so we feel less helpless. So, insofar as we act today, our main purpose should be to build organization. If we don’t make progress with that from of each campaign or action that we participate in, then we’re just wasting time and prolonging the agony.

    The Occupy phenomenon has brought important discussions out into the open, and connected a lot of people to each other, which is a great first step. I think it has prepared some ground for future movements to begin to cohere. The people involved in Occupy are/were very diverse, and it seems clear that they will divide up into separate movements, sometimes very much at odds. (The reformists will see to that). While we have to, at each point in the struggle, "unite all who can be united," the hope that a united people can emerge from Occupy to build a new society is a fantasy. That can’t happen instantly, and there will be ebbs and flows and experimentation with various types of struggle. Still, Occupy did provide opportunities to spread ideas and connect with people, and so we should consolidate that as much as possible, as this upsurge ebbs and transforms into other things, so that we can be in a better position to take advantage of the next upsurge.

  • Guest - arel

    @Stephanie, I agree with some of what you said, but I do have a couple of thoughts.

    I know of many pacifists who are actively working for and would love to see the end of capitalism and the social relationships it entails. True, many of those who actively (and in some cases, in my opinion, violently) oppose any sort of physical confrontation with, or self defense in the face of, the armed violence of the state do not see the system as the problem. But I believe that most pacifists honestly want to change this system to what we communists see as our goal.

    By the same token, I don't think most of those who support and/or engage in black bloc actions are acting out of desperation or frustration at the lack of a revolutionary movement. Again, there are those who advocate adventurism and violence (be they agent provocateurs or just politically immature individuals,) but most BB'ers honestly see those tactics as necessary in the face of the violence of the system.

    <blockquote>People are obsessing and squabbling over these tactics because we are in such a terrible position of weakness overall. The people have been defeated and diverted over and over, thoroughly outmaneuvered. In order to build the kind of movement we need, we are basically starting over from scratch. We don’t have a collective strategy that can lead to liberation. We don’t have the kinds of organizations that can even generate such a strategy, or to implement it if/when we do. So, it’s no wonder that people are focusing on differences of the moment, that are not really fundamental, and are casting about for a way forward.</blockquote>

    The thing about the Occupy movement, and in my opinion both it's strength and weakness, is that it is a MASS movement. The myriad political and social makeup of the groups and individuals in this movement are just a peek at what revolution will be like in this country. There will be many different organizations, groups and individuals involved if and when revolution occurs in this country, and not just those organizations "we" can create. Yes, a revolution does need leadership and organization with a correct line and strategy for revolution and beyond, but "we" won't be of a single mind or politic.

    This is not our 1905, but it is a tremendous opportunity to both expose the nature of this system to millions of people, advance the understanding and consciousness of those who are most active, and to train ourselves and others in a theory, practice and strategy for making revolution.

    I believe this "obsessing and squabbling" is exactly what this movement, and those working to make revolution in this country, needs. This is not happening because of we are weak, but exactly because we are strong. If we weren't, the ruling class would not be using such tremendous violence to kill the Occupy movement.

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    @Stephanie

    All classes historically constituted or in the process of being constituted have a class conscience [political and ideological] and the emerging classes, as the new dominant classes, will unify and cement their relations with others classes under their emerging consciences. The case of the bourgeoisie against feudalism in many European social formation, the American bourgeoisie against imperial England and in other cases such as in many dominated social formation, the incapacity of the bourgeoisie to totally rid of society of feudalist social relation, mostly at the level of productions, we can observe a totally deformed capitalism effecting, as well, all the super structural forms. For example, the incapacity for bourgeois democracy/dictatorship to fully implement and the existence of feudalist super structural forms in these social formations. So not only the proletariat have a class conscious but all classes as well.

    The class conscious of the petit bourgeoisie to give a long-term alternative to capitalism is quite limited and social experience allowed us to confirm a relative absolute truth of their incapacity and impotency to offer such alternative. Mao will insist, on the Chinese revolutionary experience, for the need of the petit bourgeoisie to disrobe of their petit bourgeois class conscious to be fully vetted and invested in the proletarian struggle. Lenin on the Russian revolutionary struggle will always warned of a bourgeois liberalist dominant tendency of the revolutionary petit bourgeois in the struggle for socialism.

    @Arel,

    Although, you directed your view to Stephanie I will intrude and contribute in answering the point you raised .As a tactical form of struggle I have no discord with a pacific struggle. A strike, a march and Occupy are all pacific tactical form/ type of struggle and violence struggle are the highest form, with different types, corresponding to an higher stage of political struggle when a class can no longer dominate and others classes are no longer accepting that dominance. In the political arena act of banditries and vagabondage are neither forms nor type of struggle and should be avoided.

    A pacific struggle is correct and most of the struggle waged against capitalism has been, so far, dominantly pacifist struggle, with spice and sprinkle of violence. Again, I will insist the nature of struggle [pacific or revolutionary] is not in the act but in the objective.

    My discord with pacifism is they tend to believe pacific struggle is the only exclusive type and form of struggle. I will argue this argument of pacifisms is not corroborated by any human’s history of class struggle nationally and internationally. So far, no radical transformation of a mode of productions to another is pacifically developed; even in inter dominant class struggle. Theories are constructed from social praxis, not outside social praxis and pacifisms are a theory created outside the arena of social praxis, making it a metaphysical theory.

    I tend to agree with Stephanie’s assessment of the nature of the these tactics but in addition I will argue any tactics depleted of a strategy is limited and may have a collective repercussion and are tactics really showing adventurism and obsession, trade mark of petit bourgeois ideology.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    Just a couple of brief points for now...

    To Arel:

    I agree with you that there is much potential and opportunity in the present moment, but not that we are in a position of strength now (yet?). I think the state is attempting to crush and divert emerging movements before they get strong.

    I also agree that many types of organizations and individuals will be participating and influencing (in many ways) a revolutionary movement. They won't all be part of that movement, but they'll be present in the swirl of events.

    I don't think I would call most of what's occurred with Occupy a "movement" (more like a mobilization, or a process that may be helping movement(s) come into being). If I can borrow the "ecosystem" metaphor others have used here before -- it seems like a developmental step: Occupy as a diverse mix of pioneer species of plants making damaged or barren land more hospitable for the next level of ecological succession.

    To Jan:

    In your previous comment you said, "a class analysis in any social formation is an analysis of their struggle for their class objectives." Are you saying that by observing and analyzing the motivations of current struggles we can understand the balance and make-up of class forces that exist in society overall? Or are you saying something else?

  • Guest - Marq Dyeth

    Thanks to Sephanie McMilan for clearing the air on this.

    Metaphors based around natural processes like plant succession can be tricky and sometimes come with baggage that we need to be aware of and careful about-- but this is just a quibble.

    For the most part I strongly agree: we need a bigger ecosystem of our own. Institutions, organizations, networks, and the ability to reproduce them, and through them ourselves. Yes!

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    Stephanie asked

    Are you saying that by observing and analyzing the motivations of current struggles we can understand the balance and make-up of class forces that exist in society overall?

    My response:

    This is exactly what I am saying.
    For example, in Occupy a general and overall tendency of the lumpem Proletariat exist. They will naturally come and occupy and reproduce their life style @ Occupy and followed any group that offer an alternative. This tendency is not particular to the US lumpem but it is universal as class praxis of the Lumpem Proletariat. Comrades in Brazil, Argentina and Haiti observed the same tendency of the Lumpem.

    The petit bourgeoisie will come an offer rapidly an immediate lifestyle alternative to capitalism without really questioning capitalism and articulate their conception of democracy with radicalism such as real democracy, direct democracy and quickly form an utopian form of government “All the power to the GA” without really take political power.

    One particularity of the petit bourgeoisie is they tend to fusion their problems with capitalism with those of other classes mainly the working class and pass as the hegemonic force in the struggle against capitalism and you will observe, in some cases, because of a lack of autonomous organizations and the reactionary leadership of organized labor workers resist that amalgam and that resistance sometimes is manifested in reality in a very reactionary way. Not until workers construct their autonomous organizations at all levels, breakaway from the reactionary leadership of Organized Labor and offer their own alternative to capitalism the struggle against capitalism will be limited.

    I must admit, even with the current crisis of capitalism, we are in a period of low level of class struggle and class consciences and the existing struggle are led by the petit bourgeoisie and not yet a presence of working class struggle, capable to unify all these struggle under its leadership…

    Occupy just offered us and continue to do so a wide panoramic view of the petit bourgeois struggle against capitalism with its entire dominant tendency to offer or not to offer a genuine alternative to capitalism but we can observe as well all the illusions of petit bourgeois democracy and bourgeois liberal tendencies, a good positive step but a very limited positive step.

    Please recognize this is a very limited of a schematic panorama of classes resisting this crisis of capitalism. I think a period in which we will be able to construct and develop a systematic class analysis of classes, in the popular camp, in the US social formation.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    To Jan:

    If we can understand a society's class composition and capacity through the struggles that exist, then it seems we could also make conclusions through their absence.

    You said, and I think anyone with eyes would have to agree, that there is "not yet a presence of working class struggle, capable to unify all these struggle under its leadership."

    The working class is both enslaved by and dependent upon capitalism. The first (enslavement) will cause an impulse to rebel. The second (dependency) will cause a tendency to accommodate and make concessions. When the economy is growing, workers are in a stronger position and fight back more against exploitation. They can say, "Take this job and shove it," and push wages higher.
    When the economy is in decline, like now, workers will tend to feel their dependence, and those in power convince us that we should be grateful to have jobs. Neither impulse could break capitalism. Even the impulse to rebel spontaneously leads to a demand for better terms for workers, and that's all. Then these concessions are always taken away again when capitalism enters a crisis, and unemployment makes workers again compliant.

    The possibility to break from this system can emerge when we develop and build alternatives for collective survival, and when the pain of exploitation is clearly worse than these alternatives. (I'm not talking about creating alternative lifestyles within the system, while still allowing the system to exist -- that can't work and has not worked).

    As you described, tent cities and the Occupy camps are better alternatives than being homeless and isolated, which is why the most consistent residents will be people who are otherwise homeless. They might be (or be capable of becoming) better alternatives than long-term unemployment (though to deal with unemployment, 50% of people globally are turning instead to the informal or "gray" economy). But occupations/camps are not better alternatives to exploitation on the job.

    So we need to figure out the forms of struggle that can lead to better alternatives than exploitation -- wage slavery and debt -- as well as forms of struggle to counter the dispossession of those who still live off the land and are not yet trapped within the capitalist economy.

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    To Steph:
    I would not say conclusion but rather acknowledge the limitations of this struggle, since these struggles are on-going. At this moment, we are understanding from the interest of the working class the anti capitalist struggle of the petit bourgeoisie, all the positive aspect as well as all the negative aspect and understand that any collective struggle outside the unity of the struggle of capitalist exploitation and proletarian dictatorship will result in the reproductions of the capitalist mode of productions.

    We are facing two opposites and antagonistic alternatives a capitalist alternative and a proletarian alternative. As we are able to observe humans historical struggle has not been able to produce a third alternative, a third pathway even with all the attempts of the petit bourgeoisie to create a third one.

    I totally don’t agree with your third paragraph that I think is kind of mechanical and economist. The relations of capital to labor is always an antagonistic relations and how workers deal with antagonism is based on the level on workers becoming a class for itself, a maturity of class consciousness. The working class under the leadership of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie of Organized labor, the economistic, workerism and ultra leftist praxis of the left are not under the best conditions to emancipate, since emancipation is not a choice against enslavement causing an impulse to rebel or a dependent mentality to accommodate but rather the recognition of its historical role as a viable alternative to capitalism, base on the appropriation of dialectical and historical materialism.

    The historical task of the working class is not to achieve the objective, a conservative one I might add “an equitable wage for an equitable day of labor” but to achieve the revolutionary objective of abolition of wages under the principle of the collective appropriation of the means of production by the working class against petit bourgeois illusions of egalitarian and self management.

    There is a general theory of classes opposite to a sociological approach of not recognizing class struggle. This general theory of classes is determined by the development of productions as well of the struggle of these classes. I will refer you to some class analysis by Mao of the Chinese society and the struggle of these classes and of a proletarian line in how to organize these classes under a proletarian alternative. Many other intellectuals such as Polantzas, Martha Hannecker and Ernst Mandel did contribute in the general theory of classes. It is our turn to contribute on that path and to break with the populist notion of classes.

    I don’t know if Occupy is a better alternative for the Lumpem, outside of a political line guiding our praxis in how to unify the lumpem, not homeless, under a clear political objective. The Lumpem is a fraction of working class that achieved a stage of de-classification and totally deprive of a future. A homeless could be a Lumpem or not.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    @Stephanie

    <blockquote>The working class is both enslaved by and dependent upon capitalism. The first (enslavement) will cause an impulse to rebel. The second (dependency) will cause a tendency to accommodate and make concessions. When the economy is growing, workers are in a stronger position and fight back more against exploitation. They can say, “Take this job and shove it,” and push wages higher.
    When the economy is in decline, like now, workers will tend to feel their dependence, and those in power convince us that we should be grateful to have jobs. Neither impulse could break capitalism. Even the impulse to rebel spontaneously leads to a demand for better terms for workers, and that’s all. Then these concessions are always taken away again when capitalism enters a crisis, and unemployment makes workers again compliant</blockquote>

    Question: what has history shown us about the limitations of this dialectic? Is it true, historically, that workers in this country have been at their most militant when unemployment has been low and wages have been on the rise? Was that the case in the period from 1945 until the early 70s? Wasn't it rather the historically low level of working class militancy in this period that gave rise to New Left ideas about the need to constitute a new revolutionary subject? Wasn't the dominant view among radical forces at this time that the working class, at least in its hegemonic white male guise, had been bought off and could no longer be counted on to enact its historic role?

    Alternatively, wasn't working class militancy at a much higher level during the Great Depression, the worst capitalist crisis of them all (so far), when the whole system was on trial and workers were looking at the Soviet Union and the Communist Party as beacons of hope?

    Internationally, aren't we looking at the same dynamic? After all, It did take the complete collapse of Russian society to bring the Bolsheviks to power.

    You may be right with respect to European Social Democracy, but I wonder how much this was due to working class militancy and how much was due to the geopolitical needs of the ruling class during the Cold War (of course the two are interrelated, but which one was primary?)

  • Guest - old commie

    SKS (#7)
    I wonder if we're talking the same language. I read the PSL editorial you refer to, and I agree with it 100%. One big problem with kasama is that everybody tries to argue things on a theoretical level, with words that mean all kinds of things to all kinds of people. We need to discuss specific, real things, not just what's in our own heads. That applies to Chris Hedge's article, too.
    To put my earlier statement in different words: the tactics we use are determined by our strategies, which is what we are trying to accomplish in the longer run. Our strategies are determined in a dfferent way by our tactics, since certain tactics will lead to certain results, and other tactics will lead to different results, regardless of what we want or intend.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    For Red Fly --

    Those observations are mostly based on my own experiences and others I talk with -- not very scientific, I know. Isn't this a very common experience ? -- that we are more confident of expressing hatred of our jobs when the economy is strong and we know we can get work elsewhere; conversely we cling to them and put up with much more bullshit, including lower pay, when unemployment rises. During this recession and the one in the early 90s, this has been the case as far as I've seen (in various locations in the eastern US, anyway).

    Yes, after WW2 in the US, working class militancy was at a very low level and the general assessment on the left was that it had been bought off. This was a period of economic growth, so there goes my tidy formula. Jan was right to call it mechanical. But I don't think it was economist so much as trying to find the way out of economism by rejecting spontaneity.

    We haven't had a Soviet Union (or a communist China) as a beacon of hope for many decades now, so isn't that irrelevant to our current situation? I don't know that working class militancy during the Great Depression would have been so strong without the Soviet Union.

    To Jan,

    I agree that the petit bourgeoisie is incapable of providing an alternative to capitalism. It's a big problem that its ideology dominates the political scene (and the consciousness of the majority of people in the US whether they are of that class or not).

    For an alternative to class society -- yes, this must come from the working class, whose main interest is to eliminate wages (and thus privately appropriated surplus value) -- but also, there are others who have always remained outside of class society (and are the only ones who know how to live sustainably) -- unconquered, traditional indigenous peoples. I want to explore more what a working class/indigenous alliance might look like (wherever it's feasible) -- as the Naxalites have been implementing, though I don't know how much the working class is actually organized in that movement.

    Production continues to become more mechanized, dispersed, sent offshore. Instead of being bought off, the US workforce is being thrown in the garbage. From an international perspective -- the centers of production have changed location and the main struggles of workers may take place in many places outside the US, but all will have global importance.

    Increasingly part of the equation: extreme resource extraction is reaching physical limits all over the world -- the empire, after devastating everywhere else, is cannibalizing its own centers. There is not going to be any advancement into common abundance; instead we may need to undevelop the productive forces for collective survival. It's not going to be enough to collectively appropriate surplus value (the task of the proletariat) -- we may have to reduce its production or stop it altogether.

  • Guest - sks

    Old commie,

    I see what you are saying. We agree in the abstract.

    You also mention the need to be concrete.

    What is a concrete strategy?

    I have already touched upon a question of line: regime change.

    In terms of strategy, aside from the fact that I believe socialist organizing is critical, I am not very much set - and in fact, I believe it do be deeply arrogant to presume one person knows more than an entire organization.

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    Stephanie said:
    “…But also, there are others who have always remained outside of class society (and are the only ones who know how to live sustainably) — unconquered, traditional indigenous peoples. I want to explore more what a working class/indigenous alliance might look like (wherever it’s feasible) — as the Naxalites have been implementing, though I don’t know how much the working class is actually organized in that movement.”

    My response:
    A few things:
    • I think it is a problem to generalize from a minute, minority tendency in class relations. In specific case the left encounter, traditional people who have always remained outside of classes, I would agree with you the need to produce a theory capable to define a political line capable to construct the unity of the working class with indigenous people. Our primary objective is inside an Imperialist social formation and the task to develop that theory is quite secondary for the US revolutionary left at this time.

    • I have many times demarcate my self from the theory of “primitive communism” as a form of social organization and a particular mode of productions. I do question the non-existence of classes in these modes of productions; I do rather try to understand what did limit those classes not to be able to be constituted. I must admit that this dynamic of class constitution inside this mode of productions has been a secondary task for me.

    • Your last paragraph [# 21] is kind of problematic. It is a pre conceived decision and sometimes these pre conceived decisions are very dangerous and could lead to very detrimental political orientation in the implementation of these pre-conceived decisions. To undeveloped the productive forces or stop it altogether is for me quite dangerous,
    ,
    • We may learn from the Stalin experience with its pre-conceived ideas of development of the productive forces how that economic decisions led to very extreme bureaucratic practices and the Pol Pot experiences in Cambodia. I will argue of the need to make the social relation in productions determined the development/or not of the productive forces but not leave it on human decision to stop/reduce productions, it could be suicidal and even fascist to implement. I think Mao’s contributions on the needs for a social formation to count on its own strength, in this case, is far more dialectical and reflect a theory more correspondent to the objective reality to transform that reality than such a dangerous, pre defined position to stop or to reduce production.

    • To plant, to collect, and to distribute food is a productive process. To make a shirt, small scale or big scale is a productive process. To sop that process is to send human being to the Stone Age but not really resolve your intent of saving the planet. Humans have to realize their own conditions of reproductions in this planet base on the struggle for productions and class struggle; under capitalism will be for private ownership and under communism for collective appropriation but still for our reproductions.


    • In this moment, the US revolutionary left is to reclaim the working class [white, black et all shades of pigmentation] has it own, rupture the influence of bourgeois ideology on workers, and construct our own ideology and advance in the path of socialist revolutions for communism. This is the path that started with previous revolutionary and we need to continue in that path.

    • For me, we are in the period of demarcation, an aspect of political rapprochement, with the objectives to build political unity to construct a powerful revolutionary movement against capitalism based on the principles of Proletarian Imperialism. These debates are healthy as long as they for the objective to build unity.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @sks

    I don't want to see the OWS groupings under anyone's thumbs other than their own. They are a critical force in their own right. I hope they grow and remain nonpartisan at this point, ie, not bother with endorsing any candidates. It couldn't happen anyway, given 90+ consensus. No need for them to relate to elections, but no need for them to be hostile to those among the 99% who do, either.

    The only exception is that it might be wise for them to denounce the GOP effort to purge the voting lists en masse, of the elderly, the poor, and ex-offenders. That's just a matter of small 'd' democracy, and it matters to their more important allies, such as the Black community.

    But I do thing they need to think strategically, to find and build the bridges to the main force, the broad masses of workers and oppressed nationalities, the two key components of the main force, and all their grassroots organizations--left, progressive and center.

    For my part, I offer up a strategy of a popular front vs finance capital, which I think both fits who they are, what they are doing and what is appropriate for the times. I think they need to have practical alliances with all others involved in such a front--trade unions, community groups, green jobs startups, progressives NGOs. student and youth organizations and so on. But they can speak for themselves in these wider coalitions, and they will have many disagreements. In fact, if they are too comfortable in these alliance, if their is not considerable tension among the forces involved, then it's not being done right.

    The aim of such a front at this point is not 'regime change,' save as changing the balance of forces to one that would implement deep structural reforms. But the socialist component of such a front needs to pose the question of regime change, at least at the level of revolutionary education, if not mass action.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    To clarify, I was trying to explore the idea of stopping the accumulation of *surplus,* rather than stopping all production (I do realize our basic needs of life must be met through collective production of some kind). I wonder, though, if the very existence of surplus tends to concentrate political power. This is suggested by some who have linked the development of agriculture and food preservation techniques to the rise of classes in the first place.

    About undeveloping productive forces -- I'm trying to get at the need to reduce the amount of stuff produced. When commodities no longer exist, and profit is not a motivation, then people's needs can be met with much less conversion of natural materials into products, and much less exploitation of labor. I'm suggesting a different approach from the common socialist vision of continued growth and abundance, which is not possible. If we don't reduce the production of unnecessary things, then eventually we'll be unable to meet people's basic needs at all.

    I agree that the future structure of society shouldn't be imposed. Nevertheless, discussing what is and isn't possible is important, so that collectively we can move forward in a direction that makes sense and will work, that is realistic and not utopian.

    Unavoidably, people struggling for any kind of social change have some vision in their head of the future they are fighting for. Since our thoughts are shaped by our current system, they are spontaneously dominated by ideas that are foundational to this system, like faith in technology to solve every problem, utilitarian views of nature, continuous growth and abundance.

    I've heard communists say that when we use up all the resources here we can colonize other planets. That, to me, is a much more dangerous idea than my assertion that we can not produce everything our whims might desire, that we live within physical limits that we must respect and deal with.

    But reality itself will tell us that. If the capitalists are defeated, and its illusions fall away, and we are able to collectively deal with the wreckage they've left us, then it will be clear what needs to be produced for us to keep living, and what doesn't.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    I was composing my previous post in response to Jan -- Carl's appeared meanwhile in between.

    Jan also said:

    "I think it is a problem to generalize from a minute, minority tendency in class relations. In specific case the left encounter, traditional people who have always remained outside of classes, I would agree with you the need to produce a theory capable to define a political line capable to construct the unity of the working class with indigenous people. Our primary objective is inside an Imperialist social formation and the task to develop that theory is quite secondary for the US revolutionary left at this time."

    I'm not only concerned with what to do inside the US. We need a global strategy, and what we do in any particular place should be determined by an international perspective. This alliance is important to the communist project on a global scale. Primary accumulation is continuous, and accelerating. Huge extraction projects -- dams, coal-fired power plants, fracking for natural gas, tar sands oil production -- are expanding in China, India, Europe, Brazil, Canada, and in the US too. These are going to kill us all if allowed to come to fruition.

    The only people standing in their way -- the immediate victims of primary accumulation, and those with a fundamental interest in stopping it -- are those who are based on and dependent on the land that these projects are colonizing: indigenous groups and subsistence farmers. They are not going to be able to stop them alone. They are building whatever alliances are currently possible, mostly with NGOs and progressive forces that are also for various reasons not going to stop them. They need an alliance with the revolutionary international proletariat (which has yet to emerge as the force it needs to be).

    In my view, this is a mutually necessary alliance.

    Surplus value is created not only from the exploitation of labor but requires the extraction of resources. These are intertwined and inseparable processes. To me it seems clear that capital should be and can be battled at both locations.

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    “But reality itself will tell us that” I do agree with this. This is more dialectical than anything you said previously and some of the statement is very problematic. Prediction is just that predictions, but when predictions become a conclusion to a problem that is not yet resolved it is dangerous.

    But anyhow, I do not think we should put the cart before the horses. Let construct unity to rid society of capitalism and in that process the reality will impose upon us the needs to develop new theories to face new existing realities.

    I think contrary to CD in post 24, Occupy carries the seeds to be under the thumbs of the capitalist class, most mass movement and mobilizations do. To prevent it will require the autonomous presence of the proletarian revolutionary alternatives and the autonomous presence of the working class as a centerfold of these movements

    Your ideas of a popular front are plausible but it will require the constructions of mass organizations of all the fundamental classes, but not simply a regrouping of political organizations. So, first priority is to construct mass combative organizations.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @Jan

    I have no idea what 'the autonomous presence of the proletarian revolutionary alternatives' means. A group of unemployed people who agree with you? What?

    I think the OWS gatherings in any given city simply represent the the people and the decisions taken by the GAs at them. They are mostly unemployed, under-employed and student youth, from what I've seen. Plus a few Vets for Peace, anarchist and socialist grouplets, and UFPJ organizer types. I don't think i've run into a real capitalist yet. A few reformist union leaders, yes, but if that's what you mean, I'm not worried much.

    If you want to say it's not the demographics that matter, but the ideas in their heads, how would you ever measure and compile such a thing, let alone assign it to an 'autonomous class'? Interview everyone and have them fill out some standardized test? But then who defines the standards?

    As for the popular front, I agree our own organizations need to be build, and others as well, but I would pull in existing progressive and center organizations of all kinds, so long as they aim their fire at finance capital. If you think such a front is only to be made up of mass organizations led by revolutionaries, I assure you it will never happen, save as a caricature.

  • Guest - Sks

    @Carl

    That is very sweet of you, trying to protect the sensibilities of voting 99%. However, that is a strawman. I am not for confronting the people. I am not an ultra-leftist.

    Its about confronting the bosses, the 1%, and their wholesale control of the Democrats - their agenda on what democracy means, their agenda on disciplining the people for their ends.

    The line of march is "hate the electoral process, not the voter", much in the same way we "hate the war, not the warrior". However, this strategic orientation cannot be used - and is used by right-opportunism - to justify a mass line of non-resistance to the state and its consensus mechanisms.

    And that is the line struggle: for you the confrontation of the Democrats is the confrontation of the Democrat-identified voter, without any evidence to support this, other than an ideologically held belief, of Berstenian origin, that the movement is everything, and the final goal is not relevant.

  • Guest - Jan Makandal

    I think SKS just open the door permitting us to clarify the theory of autonomy enabling us to construct a political line of class autonomy.

    Autonomy, very concisely, is the capacity of a class to construct its own organization in any concrete reality, it owns ideology and its own political orientation and to organize and unify other classes, under its leadership, to achieve its political objective: POLITICAL POWER. Since the history of humanity is the history of its struggle for production and class struggle determined by class struggle, all alternatives in any social formation are class based, never by individuals. The only class universally incapable of offering a class alternative inside any social formation is the petit bourgeoisie. The ideological nature of that class is to serve, to accommodate and to compromise, therefore opportunism even in its most radical form of struggle.

    So, under capitalism we are facing two classes that have shown a capacity to offer alternatives: the bourgeoisie and the working class. Humanity has yet to produce any other class capable to historically set up to the plate to play that historical role.

    The bourgeoisie, in search of the labor power, had to develop its own autonomous practice against feudalism, produce its own concept of liberty, freedom [the pursuit of liberty, to organize other classes and unify them against feudalism.

    The American bourgeoisie, under its own particular condition of not facing feudalism, as soon it recognized its potential for political power developed a very ruthless form of autonomy. The bourgeoisie unify the masses and bluff them on the promises of Liberty and Freedom, by denying them the most basic forms of political freedom and this tradition continues still now. Not only the bourgeoisie in co hoot with the petit bourgeoisie are our best peddlers of illusions.

    From the incept proletarians revolutionary has always struggle for proletarian class autonomy. Marx in different letters sent to the international to give political orientation to maintain proletarian class autonmy, Lenin in its struggle against opportunism and Mao in constructing a proletarian line from the theory of the United Front and New Democracy. Sometimes the theory of proletarian class autonomy simply remained a theory not being able to translate in praxis. Marx letter to the American bourgeoisie praising the revolution, bourgeois democracy and totally bypassing the interest of the working class at a time the American working class was under severe repression. The most recent experience of the Chinese revolution is a concrete example of a theory not being able to be implemented in praxis constructing many problems in the constructing of socialism in China to finally reverse to capitalist construction.

    As you could see the theory of class autonomy and the political line to construct class autonomy in real time is not an innovation, an invention or a creation. The only innovative element is “my” political current is actually trying to implement this line in reality, not easy due to class domination of the bourgeoisie on the masses, in particular the working class, but possible A PROBLEM TO TACKLE AND RESOLVE.

    The autonomous presence of the proletarian revolutionary alternatives’ means the working class is offering the alternative for the collective appropriation of the means of productions for a new type of political power.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @Jan

    <blockquote>Autonomy, very concisely, is the capacity of a class to construct its own organization in any concrete reality, it owns ideology and its own political orientation and to organize and unify other classes, under its leadership, to achieve its political objective: POLITICAL POWER.</blockquote>

    This is the self-definition of every left group, sect and cult. It doesn't help much. And I would substitute 'science and analysis; for 'ideology' in any case--ideology is the ossified ideas of the old order

    @SKS

    <blockquote>The line of march is “hate the electoral process, not the voter”, much in the same way we “hate the war, not the warrior”. However, this strategic orientation cannot be used – and is used by right-opportunism – to justify a mass line of non-resistance to the state and its consensus mechanisms.</blockquote>

    Hmmm...If you tried something like 'Hate the electoral process, not the voter, smash all Republicans in 2012', you might have a decent mass line here, or the beginnings of one. I wouldn't urge it on Occupy! in any case. They're better sticking to direct action than elections, at least as an organized formation. See the ATT action in Atlanta a few days ago.

    <blockquote>And that is the line struggle: for you the confrontation of the Democrats is the confrontation of the Democrat-identified voter, without any evidence to support this, other than an ideologically held belief, of Berstenian origin, that the movement is everything, and the final goal is not relevant.</blockquote>

    The final goal is always relevant--but which one and in what sphere? And when you battle on the ground, you usually do so among workers with varying views. In our mass democratic work, we try to win works away from the Tea Party and the GOP, where a third of the unionized workers around here put their votes. In our socialist education work, we try to win them away from Keynesian liberalism, the view of most progressive union leaders and activists, over to Marxism.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    Carl said, "This is the self-definition of every left group, sect and cult."

    Perhaps, but self-definition doesn't make it true. Can you think of even one group in the US that actually fits Jan's description?

    And if not, is this something that needs to exist before we can win? If you don't think it's necessary, then that is a different matter and you should say so. If it is necessary, then we should be talking about how it could be built.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @Stephanie

    No, none of them do. not even my own. If one did, i'd join it. Some of them have managed in small degrees to build base organizations of workers, and even a few socialist study circles among them where workers come to a political class consciousness, militant activity and a socialist outlook. We work on it here, where I am. But these are miniscule and very uneven in relation to our tasks, and nothing to brag about.

    It is indeed necessary. Without organizations of workers, there will be no socialist victories, or even many trade unionists ones. This is why i argue that organization-building trumps movement-building, even as the two are linked.

    And yes, talking about how best to go about this is something I work on day in and day out. I think one step that would help, as I suggested above, is to set aside the notion of proletarian 'ideology' and use 'social science, analysis and working hypotheses' instead. Ironically, the latter are often more difficult than the former.

  • Guest - J.M.

    Louis -- The SWP which is your frame of historical reference, aside from its sucking up to and pimping off of Malcolm X, was never a serious part of the true revolutionary traditions of the 1960s. More the Trotskyist version of the revisionist Communist Party, trying to hold back the movement from really attacking the capitalist system. And since your own "Christopher Hitchens Moment" supporting the imperialist forces in Libya, there's not much further to be said. Go write your memoirs or something.

  • Guest - J.M.

    "Go write your memoirs or something and let the rest of us get on with it."

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @J.M

    Since when did we get a Pope deciding on which sections of the 1960s upsurge, or even forces today, could be ex-communicated? Proyect and I rarely agree, but I find his input often valuable nonetheless, even when his polemics are aimed at me. Lighten up, and engage the argument, rather than deciding what's beyond the pale.

  • Guest - J.M.

    Carl - For me (and I would hope for you, too) supporting a U.S.-supported imperialist war against Third World people puts one beyond the pale. You're dead to me if you do that. This antipathy to Proyect is not coming out of nowhere. To let you know a bit about the background, I tried to "engage" Proyect on his own List with reasonable arguments countless times before he threw me off for not wanting to hear me "telling truth to power" about the aforementioned war and affirming the revolutionary value of Third World struggles today (something Trotskyism has always been historically weak on). So what do you think were the pros and cons of the SWP and other Trots during the Sixties? I'm not simply being metaphorical here. I remember the SWP's crowd-control monitors linking arms at D.C. anti-war protests (which they did a quite useful service to help organize) to prevent angry people (like me) from stepping out of line.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @JM

    We never had any problem evading SWP monitors--that is, if you truly had you own contingent and it wanted to carry out an independent action of its own. I was involved in several of these, and if you were blocked you were rather wimpy or unimaginative.. But if you were for simply provoking cops to stampede the crowd, then I would side with the SWP 'peace police.' Those large peaceful actions were rather important. i had a North Vietnamese general explain to me once how much it mattered to have actions that even grandmothers with baby carriages could be comfortable in.

    I'm a 'NATO, hands off Libya!' guy. But some on the left got swept up in the revolutionary rhetoric of the anti-Gaddafi crowd, thinking that his overthrow would initiate the permanent revolution. I argued with them considerably that they were taking a 'left' social-imperialist line on the matter, as well as a 'left' delusional assessment of the resistance forces. Now they are learning a bitter lesson the hard way. Notice that far fewer of them are clamoring for NATO to invade Syria.

    I think they made a grievous mistake, which if persisted in, will take them down Hitchen's path. But allow them a period to lick their wounds and correct their mistakes.

  • Guest - J.M.

    Fair enough, Carl. But I have not heard any self-criticism from Proyect and the like.

    P.S. I was able to evade the SWP "peace police," too. But just the idea!

  • Guest - Sks

    @Carl

    "The final goal is always relevant–but which one and in what sphere? And when you battle on the ground, you usually do so among workers with varying views. In our mass democratic work, we try to win works away from the Tea Party and the GOP, where a third of the unionized workers around here put their votes. In our socialist education work, we try to win them away from Keynesian liberalism, the view of most progressive union leaders and activists, over to Marxism."

    That is an idealistic strategic orientation.

    Our movements are weak, with no dominant party, competing ideologies, etc. It is an issue of concrete capacity. So we shouldn't fight the battle to win over the reactionaries or the intermediate. First we need to coalesce the advanced - to unite all that can be united, and then worry about the rest. It is going after windmills to propose otherwise, and this has a concrete demobilizing aspect:

    By worrying so much about the Right, and of seeking ways to accommodate the center, we forget the millions of socialists that stumble around without leadership, or the serious anarchists that are willing - from platformism and syndicalism - to engage in political struggle against capitalism.

    Strategically, the task is to build the capacity of the revolutionary forces to the point of relevancy - even minority relevancy - rather than to fight battles we cannot win ourselves. Essentially, your line is "Join the Kuomintang to fight the Japanese". My line is "march the long march to build the Commune and the Parties". Which one is more similar to a historical success I will leave up to the reader.

    In effect all of the criticism launched at the black bloc that is of an strategic - rather than purely tactical - nature can be leveled at the orientation you advocate. And unlike the criticism of the black bloc, which is unscientific and impressionistic, we have decades of failure of your strategic line in practice. That is the factual reality: the closest it ever came was the Rainbow Coalition, and its legacy is Obama and Jean Quan. If you take pride in that legacy, that is your call, but I don't.

    However, the line I advocate, has given us some headway (with some problems) in Portugal and Germany, to mention just two places in the first world - not to mention Brazil which is already on an even more advance level, in which what is considered far left in this country is in power, and whose far-left opposition number in the millions of dues paying active cadre in a number of groups.

    The idea that inertia is unbeatable that you put forth is pessimism of the will: the inertia is surmountable, it won't be easy, but it can be done. We just need to abandon your strategic outlook for a revolutionary one.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @sks

    I could argue that my line is doing well in Germany, too, with Die Linke in parliament--but I won't because it would be silly to do so.

    If it matters to you, I know how to set priorities. You can see me as an OL diehard on 'party-building as the central task,' 'ultra-leftism is the main danger among revolutionaries' and 'build class-struggle unions and move them to the left.' Those were the features of the OL line that worked out rather well back in the day, until we got skewered by some of our own delusions.

    But far from 'idealist,' organization building and identifying the advanced occurs in a context. We have zero anarchists in Beaver county, and no socialist groups to our left or right to cross swords with. So we do battle with the Tea Party and a few foot-dragging union leaders--those are the ones that arise in this reality. I suppose I could go up to the University of Pittsburgh, and find some Trotskyists and anarchists to debate--in fact, I'd be happy to do so. But my core here wouldn't be all that interested in it, even though a few went upriver to help out Occupy Pittsburgh.

  • Guest - louisproyect

    Jay, you were removed from Marxmail because you had become consumed with the need to prove that I was--as you put it--the next Christopher Hitchens. As you surely must realize, I have many subscribers from the Greenleft in Australia who backed the KLA. I had my disagreements with these comrades but never tried to prove that they were latter-day Kautskyites. Your problem is that you have never overcome the disease of the 60s, which is to find some "renegade" to read out of the movement. Max Elbaum's book diagnosed this illness well. I of course wouldn't call it a cancer but it is certainly a nasty case of the hives to say the least.

  • Guest - Sks

    Louis,

    And you are always looking for people to ban from marxmail and your blog. Don't throw stones in glass houses.

  • Guest - Sks

    @Carl

    Die Linke is not your line. It is mine.

    Your line is to support the Democrats against the Right.

    Die Linke has many internal struggles, including those who are open to coalition with the SPD, but it is an independent political force from the SPD (which in this case are analogous but not the same as the Democrats)

    You might want a Die Linke, but for that to happen you have to get down and build it, and this won't happen until an organic break with Democratic Party strategy is done. It is really that simple.

    And that narrow view, almost pastoral, informed solely by your immediate surroundings, its telling. 20,000 people voted socialist in Ohio, without any significant campaigning. What that tells me is that your impressionistic view of the subjective will to break with capitalism among the social base you describe is much more advanced than you claim.

    In essence, in some places there would be no Democratic Party if the Socialists inside of it decided to work for Socialism. In other the division of one into two would create a space of negotiation that isolates the right and moves the Democrats to the center-left.

    Yet it is easier to claim a Socialist subjectiveness, while objectively sustaining anti-communist and center-right forces in the Democrats. It's Lovestone with a human face.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @SKS

    You're ignoring my point. We can't have Die Linke here because we don't have a parliamentary system. If we had eggs, we could have bacon and eggs, if we had bacon.

    Many on the left refuse to recognize this point. Why, I have no idea, but it matters a great deal.

    Since we don't have a parliamentary system, the best we can do that's similar to Die Linke is work with PDA in the Democratic orbit and/or, in some cases, with the Greens or the SP outside that orbit where you can do so without the spoiler effect, as LaBotz did in his Ohio Senate race. WPA in NY is a special case, since fusion is allowed in NY

    I recently did a speaking engagement at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin, funded by Die Linke's share of the vote. We should be so lucky. With those kind of resources, we could come to scale much easier.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    Sorry, that's WFP in NY, ie Working Families Party.

  • Guest - wpg1919

    Not that I'm an advocate of the "mass workers party" strategy, but what is the big difference between a parliamentary system and the US congress that makes it impossible? There doesn't seem to be a big difference between a bunch of MPs elected from their constituencies on a first past the post basis and a bunch of congressmen elected from their districts on a first past the post basis.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    The difference is that the parliamentary systems in Europe include some measure of proportional representation, as well as the largest plurality designated the winner, ie, 'first past the post.' Without the proportional measures, here we simply call it 'winner take all, and the effect is rather different

    Take the case of Germany, which started this:

    <blockquote>Germany elects on federal level a legislature. The parliament has one chamber—the Bundestag (or Federal Diet); the Bundesrat, or Federal Council, represents the regions and is not considered a chamber as its members are not elected. The Bundestag nominally has 598 members, elected for a four year term. Half, 299 members, are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting, while a further 299 members are allocated from statewide party lists to achieve a proportional distribution in the legislature, conducted according to a form of proportional representation called the Mixed member proportional representation system (MMP). Voters vote once for a constituency representative, and a second time for a party, and the lists are used to make the party balances match the distribution of second votes. In the most recent election there were 24 overhang seats, giving a total of 622 seats. This is caused by larger parties winning additional single-member constituencies above the totals determined by their proportional party vote. -- Wikipedia</blockquote>

    This is how Die Linke can win 5-to-15 percent of the votes, and still get assigned seats in the parliament--and also a portion of public funding for their educational efforts, according to their vote percentages. This is true for all parties, across the spectrum.

    This is impossible in the US system, which the Electoral College also skewers in a racist way. For instance, if every Black voter in the South had not voted in recent elections, it would not have made any difference in the national outcome.

    Likewise, we see the 'spoiler effect.' Ross Perot's Reform Party split the vote largely hurting the center-right and the right, giving the election to Clinton even with a minority of the popular vote. We all know about 2000 and Al Gore--the margin was so slim, Bush's victory could be attributed, variously, to Nader or even Monica Morehead of the Workers World party. I attribute it to the GOP purging more than 10,000 Black voters in Florida. In any case, you could say Bush won by one Black vote, Clarence Thomas's on the Supreme Court.

    But one key difference with the US and Europe, is that European Parties tend to have defined platforms that matter to some degree--then they form ruling majorities that pick Prime Ministers and such, and small parties can often decide whether one bloc or another has a majority. No such thing here. Our parties are mainly based on selling candidates like toothpaste, with competing ads and sound bites as spectacle (mis-named 'debates'), and the one who can pour the most millions in ads most often wins.

    In the Bay Area, they have recently implemented a good reform, IRV or instant runoff, which helps minority parties, such that in many areas, the Dem vs Green/Peace and Freedom race is key, with the GOP a distant third.

    We won't even get into the elitist and racial bias in how the Senate is set up....

  • Guest - Sks

    @Carl

    Wow. All I can say is, wow.

    So because the duopoly exists, because the electoral college exists, we have to stop trying to circumvent and surround it, and ultimately destroy it, and accept it as an inescapable reality?

    The Working Families Party is not a good example - it was created as a way for unions to counteract the local weight of Conservative and Libertarian Parties, in particular their role as money loopholes to the Republicans, and to ward off an attack from the left in the form of the Green Party. It was a spoiler for, not against the Democrats. In a few highly localized instances it has been used to discipline rightward or opportunist Democrats.

    Some of the people behind this party are involved in this:
    http://www.globalstrategygroup.com/

    Who also happen to be the ones behind the effort to create the WFP Connecticut, and are behind Ultimate Blue Dog Joe Lieberman.

    Lets talk concrete: with friends like this, who needs enemies?

    No - we can indeed build an effective socialist brand local political machine - side-stepping the national election question - concentrating both on real militancy on the local and State level and Occupy-type movements of disruption, while advancing an agenda of Socialism as the only viable alternative for working people. This effort will meet a counter-effort - witness the terrible destruction of the Greens at the hands of the Democrats - but it is worth strategically aligning with it.

    You can try to justify your right-wing existence, and claim the sect left doesn't get it, but this is not true. Some of us get it - we just think you right-opportunists are much more a problem than the antics of the black bloc.

    Take for example, the PSL campaigns under their own flag, which revived the old WWP ritualistic election participation into dynamic campaigns with real community impact (for example, they routinely get first page coverage on non-white media). While I think it is a bit sectarian of them to insist on a Party list before being a real Party (ie a multi-sectional/factional electoral effort with a common Socialist agenda would be much better), it does demonstrate that this work can have resonance with the proletariat - the revolutionary subject.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @sks, who says

    <blockquote>So because the duopoly exists, because the electoral college exists, we have to stop trying to circumvent and surround it, and ultimately destroy it, and accept it as an inescapable reality?</blockquote>

    No, of course not, You misread me. But i do say that you have to stop pretending that we have some other starting point, and that we can pretend these conditions don't exist.

    I know the strengths and weaknesses of the WFP. I was among the founders of the New Party, of which WFP is the last remnant. That's where I first met Obama, when he was a young kid working for Project Vote and came to get our NP for an endorsement. We helped him win his first election in Chicago, along with electing the local ACORN President as Alderman for the 17th Ward. Eight Black ladies and I interviewed Barack, to see if his living wage platform was in tune with ours. It was. I recall thinking, at the time that this kid was very smart. He knew exactly what to say, and that if he played his cards right, he might even get to be Alderman some day. Little did I know! (For those of you outside Chicago, in that turf, Alderman ranks much higher than the statehouse or even Members of congress.)

    I am ready to support a repeat of a Socialist campaign like the one LaBotz ran in Ohio. Make it a Left Front effort, the more, the merrier. I also support the dozen PDA candidates for Congress. We will need more than one approach to build ourselves up to scale here--but we can't ignore the nature of what we're dealing with. We have to find its weak points, and open up some cracks. That's my point. We don't just pretend we have another system like Germany's

  • Guest - Sks

    The issue is Carl, it is false to say this:

    "But i do say that you have to stop pretending that we have some other starting point, and that we can pretend these conditions don’t exist."

    Of course that is the starting point. But starting points are just that, starting points: we need to get on the race.

    PDA and any other such efforts are, under current conditions, nothing more than left dressing of right-wing policies. You have to stop pretending otherwise, and pretending this is not the case.

    Millions of people voted for a left third party in 2000. Tens of thousands for a much more haphazard effort in Ohio. The subjective conditions are there.

    As to Obama, charisma goes a long way in politics. Yet this needs to match loyalty to a goal of revolutionary transformation - which Obama clearly lacked even from a young age.

    That is the trap of Democratic Party politics: we see winning in the short term much less important than winning in the long term. It is tactics-as-strategy, and unlike that other tactic-as-strategy problem we have, one that is a conveyor belt to the right.

    Put simply, PDA is much more worse, strategically, than the black bloc would ever be.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    PDA worse than the Black Bloc?

    OK, you can have the BB. I'll take the Congressional Progressive Caucus, especially all their base organizations, and PDA's 12 candidates and their supporters.

    I'll make that deal and trade in a heartbeat, any day of the week. I'm quite certain I can find more people to transform into revolutionaries in my base than you ever will in the BB bunch. Lots of luck.

    In the meantime, I was supportive of the Greens in 2000. I voted for their guys in Illinois up until I left. And if we can find some races like LaBotz did, I'm still game for making a left unity project out of it, and run a socialist candidate on a socialist platform, and see what comes of it.

    Meanwhile, PDA serves us well as a 'party within a party' in the Dem primaries and organizing among the more advanced and politically active workers.

  • Guest - PatrickSMcNally

    &gt; PDA serves us well as a ‘party within a party’ in the Dem primaries

    That type of talk is the perfect fodder for Glenn Beck. It is a central theme on the Right that there is a "party within a party" behind the Democrats, and some would even trace this back to Adam Weishaupt. The last thing that is needed is for a purported Left to feed such notions.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    It's not a notion, it's a fact. Glenn Beck can make what he wants of it.

    PDA is an independent PAC that works closely with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has a platform at odds with other top Dems--the People's Budget, Conyer's Full Employment Bill, and getting out of Afghanistan. The media has often dubbed them as the 'Tom Hayden Democrats.' Unfortunately, it only has about 80 votes out of 535.

    I think many in PDA might like to be in the same position vis-a-vis the Dems that the 'Tea Party' is in relation to the GOP, but they lack the megabillions of the rightwing foundations and think tanks.

    It's common knowledge, at least in the media and the political class, that five or six major factions operate withing the Dems. PDA is a minor one working the working class side of the fault line in the party, but also plays a role in the major mass movements. Check them out at http://pdamerica.org if you like.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    I think for revolutionaries to align themselves with either political brand -- Democrat or Republican -- at <em>this&lt;/em point in history, when the capitalist-imperialist system is in its deepest crisis since the 1930s, when we&#039;re a global conflagration of mass street action, and the ruling class and its political parties, in this country and around the world, are becoming more and more discredited in the eyes of the people everyday, is to fundamentally misread the situation. These are world historic times we&#039;re living in. New possibilities are opening up everyday. And, on the horizon, there lies an even greater banking and economic crisis.

    Carl, for you to advocate stubbornly for this very conservative strategy of organization-building by working with Democratic Party bigwigs (some of whom, you&#039;ve said, are your &quot;good friends&quot;) shows I think that you&#039;re blind to historic moment. You cling desperately to this totally skewed view that the scaaaaaary Republicans are sooooooooooo much worse than the Democrats when the latter group of criminals have started at least 4 wars since 2008 (let&#039;s see, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen...I know I must be forgetting at least 1) and are now looking to start a couple more, in Iran and Syria, when these criminals are fully on board the &quot;shared sacrifice&quot; of the austerity train that their biggest paymasters, the Wall Street banksters, demand, when Obama agreed to the biggest rollback in women&#039;s reproductive rights at the federal level since the Hyde amendment by signing Executive Order 13535, when the Democrats have spearheaded an assault on civil liberties that even George W. Bush wasn&#039;t evilly audacious enough to attempt (see especially the passage of the Nazi-like NDAA -- got an explanation for this one yet, Carl?), when Obama has initiated the worst assault on whistleblowers since Nixon, etc. etc. I could go on (and on and on...the crimes are seemingly endless, with a fresh outrage nearly every day.) I think it&#039;s a very bad thing, especially now, at this moment, for revolutionaries to tie themselves in any way to this gang.

    If the shit really does hit the fan, these criminals, along with the Republicans, will be put in the dustbin of history. We don&#039;t want to be put there with them.

    I think your efforts, Carl, would be better spent -- along with the Solidarity Economy stuff, which I think is good, worthwhile work -- trying to win over to socialism the middle forces that you have some influence with in the media and academia and around the liberal blogosphere.

    How much of difference do you think it would make if, say, (to use just one example...I have no idea if you know him or not) Bill Moyers came out against capitalism and in favor of socialism or even communism? Or Paul Krugman? Or Markos? Or Jane Hamsher? Or Olbermann? Or Maddow? Or Glenn Greenwald? A lot of of these people have politics that are in essence socialist (or at least social-democratic, which is like socialism with training-wheels). I&#039;ll bet you if that happened a lot of those rank and file left liberals, who read this stuff everyday, would have their minds opened. The key to making it work would be for them not just to say they&#039;re socialists or that socialism is a good idea, but for them to come out openly <em>against</em> the capitalist system that is daily murdering our people.

    Also, university economics departments: anybody reading this who may have some influence in this realm needs to make a big-push for a much greater openness to heterodox approaches (hell, even the Keynesians are viewed as "radicals" in this milieu today). The reigning dogma is pure ideological garbage, having no relation whatsoever to anything like an objective pursuit of a scientific understanding of political economy. 2008 should have completely discredited these hired prizefighters, and yet there's only a very slight crack in their ideological hegemony.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    Where's my edit button? Please help with formatting error.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    @Redfly,

    Regarding just one of your minor points... if one of those mainstream media pundits came out against capitalism, their careers would be over in a heartbeat, and they know it. You can see the semi-famous ones clawing their way up the media ladder, or trying to keep their precarious position -- though all their analysis might point straight to that conclusion, they're extremely careful not to express those forbidden thoughts.

    The writers/artists I talk with who are anti-capitalist feel a stark (yet unspoken) censorship, even in supposedly oppositional media outlets (especially there! since that's where the struggle directly manifests itself -- anti-capitalist writers don't try to get in the National Review but do want to be in The Nation and Daily Kos). Those who cross the invisible line know they'll be marginalized, and have to make the daily choice to either tell the truth (and instantly lose their platform for doing so) or keep making a living.

    Hence the remarkable proliferation of films, books, articles, etc. that do all the work of exposing the evils of capitalism, yet somehow never actually conclude that capitalism must be ended. They make the case but never speak the verdict.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    @RedFly

    Actual, I do spend much of my time between elections working on bringing 21st Century socialism, not only to trade unionists, but to would-be Marxists, and real ones, in academia, the media and the blogosphere. My national tour, such as it's been, about a dozen venues so far, has featured the story of Mondragon and its implications for 21st century socialism. I now have about 50 of the left professoriate in my Online Unity of the Left project (I want about 50 more in the core--all who want to help the project succeed are welcome). This will be a good resource for revolutionary education for all trends. See http://oulleft.org

    I do work the elections, however, in my all-white working class township in Beaver County and in the all Black, very poor sections of our towns. We have a good local organization, and it keeps me very anchored with what's on the minds of the masses. I have done a couple of Marxist study groups with people contacted via this work. They are decent prototypes, but we are need to do much more here.

    But what I've enjoyed most has been speaking at venues pulled together by OWS youth, who are very interested in Mondragon and the solidarity economy, mainly because its a theory and practice that serves as a bridge between the anarchists, syndicalists and socialists among the young. I mention elections during these to any questions that come up, but people mainly want to get into theories of socialism, which I'm happy to do.

    One note: Winning social-dems to Marxism is not so easy, except among the young. Many of the above 35 NGOers and academics are firmly rooted in Keynes, and getting them to see Keynes as an adjunct, but Marx as the main thing, is more of a radical break for them than you might think.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    <blockquote>The writers/artists I talk with who are anti-capitalist feel a stark (yet unspoken) censorship, even in supposedly oppositional media outlets (especially there! since that’s where the struggle directly manifests itself — anti-capitalist writers don’t try to get in the National Review but do want to be in The Nation and Daily Kos). Those who cross the invisible line know they’ll be marginalized, and have to make the daily choice to either tell the truth (and instantly lose their platform for doing so) or keep making a living</blockquote>

    Oh I understand that these fears exist. But this is not the 1950s either. And neo-McCarthyists just look completely silly in an age where the Soviet Union doesn't exist and the Chinese Communist Party are the finest capitalists in the world. People like Beck are seen as utter loons to the center of American politics and rightly so.

    Obviously there are career risks here, but I believe it's possible that some of these folks may love humanity enough to overcome their class interests and join with people. I know they can see the suffering going on. And I think many of them can see the path the Earth and the entire species is headed toward if this infernal machine is not stopped and replaced by something sustainable and beneficial the overwhelming majority of living creatures. Also keep in mind that some folks are big enough (and rich enough!) and have enough control over their own niche that, combined with the power of the still-free internet to get the word out without the sponsorship of the corporate controlled media (if they get kicked off the air or out of the traditional newspapers, well they've still got a large group of online followers of precisely the type of left liberals that we would like to win over), that the risks are far less than they used to be.

    The hour is getting seriously late. And if the human species doesn't figure it out soon and radically change things then all that fear will become truly self-fulfilling. We need to make a stand and fight.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    Keep up the good work on that front then, Carl.

    Still can't figure out why you insist on doing electoral work for the Democrats when a) they're just as bad or worse than the Republicans and b) there's a real, objective, living process of delegitimization going on, in which both major parties are more or less hated by the majority of the people and this country and when faith in the institutions of the bourgeois system is at an all-time low.

    Revolutionaries do NOT want to be associated with these gangsters when things take a turn for the worse.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    Or even be associated with them if things just continue to stagnate and muddle along.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    @ Red Fly,

    It's not in the form of overt censorship; it's economic censorship. Not many can make a living on the web (especially when the websites that do pay for content don't pay much, and are anyhow almost exclusively of the type that don't allow the invisible line of advocating for rev to be crossed).

    I agree we have to encourage people to have the integrity to speak the truth when they see it. It would help if we found the ways to create a material basis for them to do so.

    We need a reader-supported independent revolutionary press (of all forms -- print/web/broadcast). If we build viable alternatives for "content providers" to survive as such, maybe they will be more inclined to come out against capitalism. That would be more constructive than appealing to them to ignore the relentless economic pressure that prevents them from telling the truth.

    Unfortunately, there's a huge trend among radicals that insists on content being "free" (in the sense of not costing anything) even under a system where the basic needs of those providing such content are NOT free. This is driving many good writers and artists either to pull their punches or to quit altogether.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    I work with PDA, not the Democrats. It's a shade of difference, but it matters a lot. Even though it endorse a few Dem candidates, it has no official tie to the Democratic Party. See http://pdamerica for more.

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    Sorry for the typo on the link It's http://pdamerica.org

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    ... in fact another cartoonist friend of mine and I were just talking about this yesterday -- that those who can afford to say whatever they want, and don't have to battle with publishers and publications for every measly dollar, are those with secure positions in universities or other institutions. For the independent writer and artist, making any kind of living is increasingly difficult.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    Those are all good points, Stephapie. Especially with respect to the need to create a material basis for many of these people to step forward. Maybe this is one area where Carl's work in creating the solidarity economy can really be of help.

    <blockquote>That would be more constructive than appealing to them to ignore the relentless economic pressure that prevents them from telling the truth. </blockquote>

    Some of the folks I have in mind though are not all under relentless economic pressure. Some are at this point wealthy enough to live a secure, upper-middle class life (a step down from their current state of luxury) till the end even if they stopped working today.

    Some of them have large enough audiences that they could live on web advertising from a new site, in addition to lecturing, writing books, teaching, etc.

    And actually, if they could get together as a group and form a writers' cooperative they could create one of the most heavily trafficked news sites on the web.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    <blockquote>I work with PDA, not the Democrats. It’s a shade of difference, but it matters a lot. Even though it endorse a few Dem candidates, it has no official tie to the Democratic Party. See http://pdamerica for more.</blockquote>

    Well, Carl, let's hope the workers buy that when the time comes, eh?

  • Guest - Red Fly

    Those are all good points, Stephapie.

    Stepha<em>n</em>ie! Oy vey.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    @Redfly

    "And actually, if they could get together as a group and form a writers’ cooperative they could create one of the most heavily trafficked news sites on the web."

    I like this one!!

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    Actually, I've been working on a plan for something like this, but larger scale. I have all the hardware and bandwidth, but the development funding is still on hold. It's called the 'Actual News Network'--half owned by its staff, the other half by its input sources. It revenues will be from a combination of targeted ads and user subscriptions for deeper detail. It's planned of the basis that in five years, most TVs will be able to access 'Internet Channels' much as they now get cable channels, and one of these will be ANN, the Actual New Network. Here's a link to a graphic pdf outlining the project.

    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw9ruq8c4pwMRkJ4X1F3MnBTTEMtMnNrdjBtQnVpdw

    About a third of the groups mention in it have been approached, and like the idea.

  • Guest - Stephanie McMillan

    @carl,

    I only have time for a cursory look, but want to ask ... is this anything other than an aggregation site like HuffPo? Looks like you're even listing others who aggregate (like Common Dreams -- who appropriates content, by the way, without compensation) so it is basically a central place to get stuff already widely available. Or am I missing something?

    Also, the sites you list are all competing for the same donors. If this diverts direct donations to them, I don't see them sticking with it.

    And why would readers come to your site and pay subscription fees for something they can find free directly at these other sites?

    I don't mean to be negative, but I've thought about this stuff too and haven't found satisfactory answers to the basic economic problems of this kind of model.

    If you rely on ads alone, then individual contributors will end up with no more than pennies for their pieces -- this I am sure of. The only way a site like this can make money is for the aggregator itself, not for individual content providers.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    Hmm...Actual News Network...too close to Real News Network, who do really good work of the kind we need a lot more of.

    The key is to land some bigger fish. People who've built up a certain reputation amongst the target audience. And who would be willing, along with other like-minded bigger fish, to put forward an explicitly anti-capitalist, pro-socialist politics. I know this isn't easy to make happen. It's not as if we can just will it into existence. But if folks knew they had the backing of a large, built-in audience, they would be more likely to take a leap. The bigger and better the initial collective, the less risk there is for each individual member, and the less risk for young and up-and-coming talent to jump with them.

  • Guest - Red Fly

    A kind of 21st century Marat Collective.

    Calling all Friends of the People...

  • Guest - Carl Davidson

    ANN? It's politics are that of a popular front vs finance capital, including a definite socialist pole within it. Obviously that also means debate and contending viewpoints among leftists and progressives. Fine.

    It's unique in that it would be available on anyone's TV, computer or Smartphone 365/24/7

    Why would anyone subscribe? The basic 365/24/7 news would be free, but additional material going deeper into topics, and the ability to dialogue, would require a subscription. (Think of the porn sites. There's a lot at no cost, but for 'quality' (ugh!), you have to pay a bit)

    The 'value added' is that a lot of the sources only deliver text. The task of the staff is to turn the best of that text into video newscasts, like Democracy Now or Grit TV. Yes, all these components are out there already, but each one is only two or three hours at most. ANN would combine them, 365/24/7 and add depth for subscribers.

    Finally, the idea is not to rely on grants, but to make it self-sustaining. No one gets rich, but everyone gets a share of the profits, and it operates slightly in the black. In my view, such a venture would be one strong point in a Gramscian 'war of position' that would help develop a counter-hegemonic bloc in the realm of news and information.

    I don't know if i'll ever see the development funds for it to gel. But the model is adaptable to regional, topical and local scales. Have fun with it.

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