FNT member responds to "Sing Our Own Song"

How do communists fuse their politics with broad sections of people? A debate has begun around a flier that was distributed to striking New York City bus drivers. Mike Ely has criticized the flier, arguing that it fails to "sing our song", to present to the workers a message that goes beyond the limits of self-interest of the bus drivers and even beyond the limits of a united working class. The following article is a reponse to Mike's article by Will, a member of the Fire Next Time network.

by Will

I am in Fire Next Time, have been involved in the bus drivers strike, and have passed out the flyers Mike is talking about.

I find Mike Ely's criticisms misplaced because he has little information on what the purpose of the flyer was. If he does know the context, he does not contextualize the rational of the flyer in his blog post.

Part 1: The Flyer

The flyer came out of a lot of conversations we had where bus drivers wanted to know what happened in 1979 (I am going to repeat this point many times). The myth of 1979 was fairly large. We saw almost all the workers having an orientation that was very legalistic and sectoral minded, praying for the unions to take care of the situation. We thought we could do something useful in providing the history of that event. Not because the event had all the answers, but because the bus drivers themselves were referencing the event. So when Mike writes in "Where's the Communist Work," questioning whether" bus drivers are more open to lessons drawn from their own past," he ignores the real conversations which we had and Mike did not. That is pretty frustrating. That is just one example of Mike's mistakes. I will go into all of them, but it shows the dangers of making the judgments Mike does.

I do not think the 1979 strike can solve the problems the workers face. But it is an expression of their attempt. So we did some research and put together a flyer. Of course, to win anything we must go further than the strikes. If we end up writing a new flyer, I hope that that is one of the things we raise. Or that in our own conversations with workers, we raise those possibilities. But I do not think these things can be forced.

Another point: as Mike probably knows, it is better to take assessment of how militants are relating to other workers by collecting their various flyers, conversations, organizations they attempt to build, actions they try to take, etc., and then assume the many things Mike did. FNT should post up some of the work around Con ED, where the structural situation of the Con ED workers allowed us to do things a little differently.

I agree that the last paragraph soft balled it and should have been sharper. That is a mistake on writing up the flyer. The last line of the flyer hints at job security. So the point about job security falls into the softness of the last paragraph.

I do not know Kasama's or Mike Ely's precise method of approach to working class people. But living NYC, Seattle and Detroit, my experience was you had revolutionaries of all political stripes go to workers and start telling them about communism, imperialism or whatever else. And it never made sense to workers because the people I saw do this--I felt--believed that workers were idiots and had to be told in highly abstract ways about the need for communism. I do not want to be mistaken for not being in favor of discussing communism or revolution. My point is that I see this all the time, where workers are trying to solve a specific problem, and the revolutionary A,B, or C is telling them about the need for communism. And every time this happens the workers shut down, their eyes glaze over, or respond that that is too idealistic, that the militants are too comfy, etc. If the workers do not ignore the revolutionary then they have classic rebuttals which hardly go anywhere.

More broadly, almost none of the revolutionaries I have met, from 1968 or today, know how to talk about revolutionary politics to working class people. I do not think Mike's suggestions help much, other than giving suggestions which I have heard many times and read about, as if that were the magic bullet. Frankly, everyone in the hard left blindly follows what Mike has outlined. I think a much more serious assessment of Mike's suggestions are needed. (Notice that I have not developed a fleshed out theory of consciousness, organization, etc. So I hope people do not jump on me by assuming that I am a spontaneist or that workers experiences are magically revolutionary. Easy caricatures, but not my position.)

I want to be clear. I am not saying that Mike or Kasama does what I outlined in the relationship of militant to workers. I do not know Kasama's practice with workers in struggle. I am just saying that is what I have seen almost 100% of the time in the hard-left. If Kasama has a better method, they should write about that or do it in NYC. I do not think any of Mike's suggestions deal with the problem I have outlined, other than saying we should just say communism and tap our heals three times. At least that is how I generally interpret Mike's very brief notes. Perhaps I am mis-understanding Mike. He can clarify.

I remember reading Mike's writings on organizing with the coal minders in West Virginia. I thought they were very helpful, nuanced, etc. I hope he brings that to the table when offering advice, which I did not feel he did with this flyer.

Finally and to repeat, the flyer has to be understood as explaining the 1979 strike to workers who did not know what happened. Otherwise, the flyer makes no sense. That is why many things were not mentioned. If we keep working on the bus driver strike, I imagine we will cover some of the points Mike has laid out.

For readers who do not know, there are Kasama members in FNT. There have been very hard debates inside FNT with Kasama people about the nature of communism, China and many other questions. I generally see Mike's position as rushing to a conclusion based on one flyer, for the purposes of scoring ideological points. That is why I am frustrated. Perhaps I am wildly wrong. I was told Kasama does serious investigation and then debates. Mike ignored the context of the flyer, the broader situation of the workers, the broader work of the militants involved... He ignored everything except a very narrow literary critique of the flyer. I hope this was an accident by Mike and he demonstrates his serious class struggle experiences via the coal miners strike, by bringing that kind of stuff to bear on what we can do better.

Part 2: Some Notes on "Communist Work: Sing our Song"

On Mike Ely's blog post "Communist Work: Sing our Song," I generally see where Mike is coming from. I do not expect Mike to know the internal differences FNT members might have. We are a network. While, I think that our work and publications on the blog offer important counter examples/ more complex readings to what Mike says our general politics are, Mike's readings are fair enough.

At least for FNT folks, we might want to keep thinking about how our self-description needs to be more complex.

1. The underlying argument animating Mike Ely's point on his blog "Communist Work: Sing our Song" is Lenin'sWhat is to Be Done (WTBD). Correct me if I am wrong. I argue the method in which Mike is using WTBD is isolated and a-historical, leaving revolutionaries with very limited tools to solve the complexities of dealing with consciousness, organization, and class. No doubt WTBD is a key work and has important insights. But a broader set of tools are needed.

2. I am not going to directly answer Mike Ely's post. But instead offer a list of names (and implied method) and a broader way to think about the problem. I take the most from Lenin, Gramsci, Luxemburg, Marx, Fanon, Du Bois, Malcolm X, Lukacs, CLR James, Operaismo, Glaberman and a whole bunch of literary artists.

Several points: there is a running thread of exploration in all of these revolutionaries which tries to solve the different conditions oppressed people have found themselves in and the historical and specific problems of consciousness, organization and class they faced. That is key in my perspective. While, historically they often are counter-posed to one another, if we use them as historical experiences of the sharpest revolutionaries of their times, a richer sense of the class, consciousness, and revolutionary (party) emerges. I do not think they get it 100% right, but how they tackle the problems are important. (I will admit the burden is on me to elaborate. A longer article is needed on this question, but not today.)

I do not think that Lenin alone is the guiding stick for how to tackle the points Mike Ely raises. There is a lot I agree with in Ely's blog post, but its solutions are too narrow and simple. I wonder if Mike Ely can talk to people in any other manner, deal with other historical problems, consciousness, etc... It also ignores context and offers a magic pill to complex problems. In the end Mike's suggestions end up being like someone who only knows how to use a hammer to build a house. An important tool, but not the only one relevant to building a house.

Lenin wrote about one historical experience of consciousness, class, organization. Is that the only experience that counts? I think what he wrote is crucial and I take a lot from it, but it is not enough.

To me this explains Mike E's reaction to the flyer. While I think he is correct in saying that the last paragraph soft balls it, I think his general analysis is too narrow. Forgetting his lack of knowledge on what is happening in NYC, it does not demonstrate much nuance in handling consciousness, class, revolutionaries (party). Hope that makes sense.

3. Some of the questions which I'm not sure how Mike E's method would tackle are the following: a) what happens when oppressed groups revolt against the party, as in Kronstadt? b) what do we do with Mike E's post considering that most revolutionaries today are fairly disconnected from working class, lumpen, prison, etc. experiences and struggles c) what theory and strategy do oppressed groups have to teach revolutionaries; is there a dialectical relationship or is it a one way street? d) how do revolutionaries deal with the specifics which different sectors of the class are facing; is there any room for that? are we doomed into falling into sectoral struggles? e) I find most serious proletarians have a better sense of strategy than most revolutionaries. They know the conditions on the ground pretty well. One example to think about is how do Black proletarians confront the police versus the anarchist/ communist scene? f) how do social conditions, experiences, struggles help develop communist politics? or is it just a matter of line arguments/ convincing people? g) how do we tackle contradictory consciousness h) what about the relationship between action and consciousness? which one comes first? how does their relationship change historically?

4. I also want to post a draft flyer that was floating around in FNT and other militant circles, that I wrote. It is not edited and I will not edit it for publication. I will leave its grammar and political mistakes in there, but it gets at what Mike Ely might consider a more 'dangerous' flyer. The reason I am including this draft is to demonstrate two things: a) Mike Ely is ignorantly intervening in local stuff without knowing the context. I am guessing he is pro-Lenin and pro-democratic centralism. I fall more critically in that camp as well. The burden is on people like myself and Ely to prove that our interventions can accurately capture the local conditions. And most importantly not waste time in debates which do not reflect the questions militants face. That is one of the reasons I have been frustrated with this entire conversation. There are a generation of militants who cannot stand Lenin or democratic centralism and they have good reason. I think Mike Ely gives them more ammunition.

This is not to say that we should study Lenin and the specific points he makes, but that in this instance, Mike's point are coming a little bit out of nowhere and carries a very limited framework.

b) I see no fundamental difference between this draft that I wrote up and what I ended up passing out. Some of us decided to shelve this draft of the flyer, because we ran into workers who were curious about 1979. It showed to us how people were curious about their own history--young and old workers. Maybe--I do not know--our next flyer will be this one??

"The Department of Education is on a rampage against teachers, students, parents, and workers. Piece by piece it has destroyed the lives of all these peoples. Charter schools, drop out rates,

The crisis facing all of NYC is not an accident. It is the crisis of capitalism. Many of us know this when we say that we wish money could be taken out of politics. Or that greed is the problem. All these are ideas which are afriad to get to the root of the probem--capitalism.

We can choose to ignore the situation. And in NYC, it might be possible for some, as the immense wealth of the city allows the rich to throw workers an extra crumb off their table. Anyone who knows what is on the table, knows the workers are more like slaves then human beings.

The power of workers: women, gay, undocumented, Black, white etc. is the great weapon we do not use. The city bosses know about our power. That is why solidarity strikes are illegal. That is why so many cops protect the banks. That is why so many managers boss us around at work. The question is: do we know our own strength.

There is a great battle coming. It is not the prophecy of 2012 predicted by Mayans. Great wars between the rich and the poor, between the workers and the rich are coming. The rich know this in NYC. Do we know it?

We have been losing many of the battles: Subway strike, Con Ed strike, Wisconsin, Longview etc. But we should not lose sight. Every new battle is alos a chance for us to win, and like the Egpytian revolutions, can spark a wave of victories of the poor/ workers against the rich."

5. I found NPC's arguments pretty helpful and agree. It seems like NPC is semi-familiar with FNT, but also showed great respect and had a sympathetic reading of the strengths and failures of our method. To me it showed a lot of organizational-political maturity.

(PS I am not sure who NPC is in real life.)

peace,

Will

 

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  • Reading the flyer, it's a pretty good intervention into the strike.

    The particular points that stood out to me were the very one's raised by the flyer itself:

    "We can draw several lessons from 1979, for the battle workers are engaged in today. FIRST: unions are only able to defend the interests of workers to the extent that workers themselves take self-directed, uncompromising action on their own behalf. SECOND: beyond symbolic protest and lawsuits, taking physical direct action to stop the workplace from functioning is the most powerful weapons workers possess. THIRD: spreading the battle beyond an individual contract fight, and forming a united front with other workers, holds incredible potential."

    "If bus drivers built face-to-face connection with rank-and-file teachers, as well as parents and other community organizations, we could form a united line of defense against the entire NYC ruling class. Then we could win not only job security, but a hell of a lot more."


    Exactly the work of investigating the ways the workers were seeing their history, and where the strength of organization and action could be found.

    Mike's impatience is one thing, but the politics of his critique is another. From my own experience of Trotskyist sects approaching every strike or struggle with their "real issues" — the fatigue with this kind of rhetorical posturing is everywhere.

    This isn't to say that there is only one way of approaching agitation. But working to firm up class consciousness, develop a generational understanding of WHAT A STRIKE IS, and it's great important NOW, especially among transit workers... that seems very well conceived and right on.

    The flyer doesn't demand "solidarity" — so much as show what that would mean. Reaching out to other workers in the city, not fighting (and losing) one-by-one. These are the terms.

    There was a similar grouchiness to Occupy's call for a "General Strike" on May 1, 2012. While I initially opposed that, having done strike support in NYC before and seeing it as "ultra-left" — on second thought... perhaps there is an understanding to "General Strike" that is... general.

    Not "particular" — or contract based, that is to say, in our "general interest." And to put this idea on the map, in a city where much of the working class isn't unionized, is very fearful and often economically desperate... maybe a General Strike is the future of labor action, as "bandhs" have become a weapon of choice for the revolutionary movements in South Asia.

    But with this particular flyer, hats off! That the militants didn't just whip this flyer up off the top of their heads, but consulted the workers, got a sense of their issues and situation — and wrote an intervention that will make sense, there just hasn't been a lot of that going on.

    Will's point about different drafts and different points: exactly. Everything is not everything. Why not issue a flyer every day? Hit different notes?

    But I am sure that the "intervention" school that shows up to "school" folks on the "real" issues will miss the point every time. The Mass Line method is key. And in shelving what may have been a politically sharper flyer... so what? Engaging solidarity, building real relations, supporting strike activity AS SUCH, this is all good.

    So is an informational about Occupy. About the war on unions in Wisconsin and Michigan. About the fickle tactics of professional labor... About neoliberalism. Why not more?

    Will writes:
    The burden is on people like myself and Ely to prove that our interventions can accurately capture the local conditions. And most importantly not waste time in debates which do not reflect the questions militants face. That is one of the reasons I have been frustrated with this entire conversation. There are a generation of militants who cannot stand Lenin or democratic centralism and they have good reason. I think Mike Ely gives them more ammunition.


    I think that's a fair criticism. The issue is to do it, not claim it. Traditionally, I saw that kind of intervention as "Trotskyist" — mostly as a way of avoiding how other MLM folks did much the same thing, with different emphasis. It was claiming leadership by framing, not leading by teaching and example.

  • The flyer was also produced and printed in English and Spanish. Right on.

  • I think this is an extremely important discussion, and i want to share my excitement that we seem to be off to a good, initial engagement on a number of issues. I want to say that we (here on Kasama) will do our best to host this discussion -- openly and fairly, and give "a hundred flowers" room to bloom and contend.

    We will disagree in this discussion from many sides, but we will also (hopefully) find basis for agreement (including through mutual transformation and change).

    Let's take some time with this.

    Let's imagine this as a discussion that will unfold over the next few weeks (if not longer) -- which means I'm hoping people take some time to study positions carefully, and read over some history and theory related to these matters.

    Taking some time to listen and think

    Speaking for myself, I am going to take some time to give the statements so far (by Will, Jed, Ish, NPC and more) some repeated reads.... before I jump to answer with more specific arguments.

    In the meanwhile I would like to make some brief points in hopes of deepening our exchange:

    What is the plan? How do we get to liberation on this road?

    1) The discussion opened over a FNT leaflet . And that leaflet remains a handy and available concentration of a certain kind of thinking.

    But I'm hoping we can shift our engagement more and more to the larger questions of strategy and tactics that are embodied in such an initiative.

    By that I mean, discussing what we do in terms of "where are we going?"

    We can all see that the leaflet intends to encourage militancy, that it seeks to speak broadly to the workers while proposing particular plans (rank and file networks etc.) And it seeks to encourage a kind of working class identity (where people would see themselves in social life and conflict more consciously as members of a specific class with, presumably, specific interests.)

    But I would like to ask to hear (in more detail):

    What is the strategy here?

    How does intervening with a call for more militancy and rank-and-file networking connect (us and the workers themselves) with the moment when we have a large conscious movement for socialist change that can confront and defeat capitalist forces?

    In other words, what is the connection between here and there, between now and later?

    How does this approach mesh with a plan to build consciously communist cores (if that is part of the plan)?

    How would revolutionary, communist, internationalist and militantly anti-racist consciousness (and organization) emerge from such a plan (within which this kind of intervention would be a part)?

    To be explicit: I understand how someone might imagine how this intervention might relate to a larger strike-and-solidarity-fightback movement in NYC in a year or two. Sure. That is not a big leap.

    But I'm asking something else: how do our plans and actions connect to revolution and building a liberated society?

    And specifically: how would such an imagined bigger fightback in a year or two connect with that larger goal?

    I don't assume they are automatically or obviously connected. Lots of "bigger fightbacks" in U.S. history have NOT been connected to radical politics -- the tradeunion victories of the auto sit-downs politically slid (within a very few years) to the Marine beachlandings of World War 2, and to a 1950s generation relatively conservative, patriotic and unalienated workers.

    So if we plan to support, encourage, initiate, lead, co-organize mass movements of resistance (to austerity, cutbacks, etc.), and we do (!) we still have a much harder responsibility of envisioning how a radical political movement emerges from that.

    There is no direct and automatic linkage between "fight back" and radical politics (between militancy and communism) -- and American history is full of proof.

    That dilemma is why I wrote my own personal "lessons from a thirty year old strike" -- discussing the coalfield wildcat of 1973, the shootout at Keystone #1 and some political lessons for revolutionary possibilities. And it is why I believe that the method of "extracting lessons" of 1979 (in the FNT leaflet) is a bit... uh... simplistic. For some witers, the "lesson" of any past event turns out to be "we workers need to unite and fight" -- but the history of REAL working class history is rarely so schematic. And in fact, the real lessons of our past struggles are (ironically) very different from "we are workers, let's unite and fight." In fact such "lessons" (repeated in hundreds of leaflets and articles by previous leftists) are generally ideological pre-verdicts of the writers, imposed backwards onto historical events -- often distorting the realities they claim to sum up.

    (For example: what does it mean to sum up "lessons" of the 1979 NYC strike -- without discussing the Black liberation struggles and urban rebellions and antiwar movements -- that were the context and igniter of the rank-and-file outbreaks of the 1970s? What does it mean to discuss sporadic working class strikes of the 1970s, without touching on the role that race and Black liberation had in all radical working class activity of those days? What are our supposed "lessons" without such real politics and history? And in those days, the AFT teachers union had played a notoriously racist role in NYC politics -- can we talk of "lessons" of cross-union solidarity without dealing with such experiences like grown ups?)

    I don't want to make assumptions about what others are thinking and acting on. I don't want to assume I know what the larger plan of FNT is (and then run the risk of mischaracterization).

    So please, fill it in the blanks.

    Local conditions? Or general problems of strategy

    2) I see that the question of "local conditions" comes up a lot. And I will deal with it in more depth.

    In general, in the U.S. left there are often assumptions that "without direct experiences you can't know anything" -- in ways that absolutizes local or personal experiences. (So that it is assumed that a white woman can't write perceptively about African American liberation and its contradictions or history, etc.)

    And there are (of course) local conditions... and sometimes they are quite peculiar or unique. (I.e. my own experience in the coal fields was not something reproduced anywhere else, and the trade union militancy of the miners coexisted with a rural isolation and religiosity that didn't crop up in other sections of workers.)

    But really, there are also some general conditions (including the relative lack of political radicalism and organization at this moment among workers nationally). And there are some *general* points we can make about larger countrywide strategy and tactics.

    Should we speak mainly to the broad mass of workers -- and mainly focus on their questions? Should we mainly be seeking to identify, congeal and fuse with the politically more advanced workers (so that we and they can act together as a pole for reaching the broad mass)? And what would that difference look like?

    Without denying "local conditions" -- I would just like to say that the local conditions are not that radically different in most cases.

    I have argued that we should seek out, investigate, and focus on those *local* conditions were the advanced workers are (for peculiar and distinctive reason) particularly advanced and open to revolutionary politics -- and that we should not (by contrast) simply disperse to wherever we happen to find movement. (The old 60's phrase was "if it moves fondle it.)

    So yes, there are local conditioins, and there are generalized national conditions (that influence our strategy for both communist organization and mass work). How do we evaluate them?

    3) A revolutionary mass line not "Fire your ideas, hire mine"

    I am not surprised that some people read my remarks and can only see a legacy of wooden, "interventions" by self-important and dogmatic leftists who say "fire your ideas and hire mine." We have all seen pedantic and patronizing "interventions" where some organizations mainly are arguing for their own personal jargon ("Can you say cap-it-al-ism? How about soc-ial-ism?") -- as if the people are braindamaged "blank sheets" needing pedagogical instruction. And we have all seen interventions where the main point was "Sure your struggle is fine, but mainly you should get with us...."

    And i don't blame people for thinking that any discussion of socialist agitation, or revolutionary politics "from without" etc, must be a call for that kind of sterile lecturing. (Who didn't see sections of the "organized left" go from hating Occupy Wall Street ("petty bourgeois," "anarchist influenced," "disconnected from the oppressed," not "correct" in its formulations), from realizing they wanted to be inside OWS (where they would lecture people in detached and mechanical ways about what to think and do--i.e. just show their hostility and cluelessness in a new way). We have all seen this.

    But....

    The argument that communist agitation is (inherently) dogmatic and outdated -- quickly can become an argument against organizing the most radical forces in society to spread the most radical ideas within society.

    We need to spread ideas that are not widely known. There is an evangelical side to communist work -- not just an "organizing" side.

    For that we need "all-around communist work" -- in other words, there is room for agitation broadly among the people, and for the work of organizing in specific struggles (of course). But there are needs to identify and fuse with the more advanced and revolutionary workers (and that requires a public work of a particular kind). And there are other forms of work needed. In other words, the "model" of a communist is not simply "workplace organizer" or agitator within the movements of the moment -- but part of a larger division of labor, carrying out work of many kinds.

    We need to do it creatively (learning from the past) -- in ways that fuse with (and learn from) advanced sections among the people.

    But if the rightous argument against dogmatic posturing becomes a mistaken argument for a focus on trade union militancy... then we will not ever have revolutionary cores, or a movement consciously aiming for socialist changes.

    I am not arguing for clueless, patronizing lectures written in obscure jargon. I am arguing for a mass line (where we identify the language and issues among the most advanced of the people) and formulate plans and presentations that can connect (and help them connect to each other). We need a process of doing work for a revolutionary movement. That is not some mechanical listing of "what we believe, what you should do." But it does involve bringing ideas of revolution, socialism and communism forward in creative ways and in accessible language, in the context of real life and modern political conditions.

    None of that is obvious... but I will try (as i consider what to write in reply) to elaborate what I believe a more radical sense of "intervention" would look like (in contrast to the idea of focusing mainly on moving the center of spontaneous movements toward more imediate militancy and more specific kinds of working class identity.

    (And in the interests of clarity: I don't assume that revolutionary class consciousness means something like "I am a worker, and my working class has common interests."

    Consciousness of class (which everyone has in Britain, for example) is not class consciousness.

    Having a self-conscious working class identity doesn't make anyone inherently more radical, or make a movement necessarily more revolutionary. On the contrary: in the U.S. historically, the most revolutionary movements among the oppressed have not had working class identity (for real and objective reasons). And the movements with the most European-style working class identity have generally been socialdemocratic (at best) in U.S. history but often racist and patriotic in even less radical ways.)

    4) "Break with past! Rush to repeat its errors!"

    I understand that Will sees this leaflet as a break with the old "New Communist Movement" -- and as an expression of discontent with previous forms of Marxism-Leninism and communist sect life.

    For me that is (however) ironic: Since the whole New Communist Movement (in the 1970s) started precisely handing out trade union leaflets promising "lessons of our struggle" and urging more "rank-and-file unity", worker identity, and militiancy.

    That is precisely a template that existed in hundreds, perhaps thousands of similar leaflets. (I have myself written or handed out dozens of leaflets -- exactly like the FNT leaflet, so close in tone, content, program and look that it is eerie.)

    In other words, this is not a break from the politics of the New Communist Movement -- it is a very very close approximation of the thinking and expectations of that (earlier) generations of revolutionaries as they moved out of campuses into workplaces and communities.

    (And it is a politics of "what to do" that is very close and parallel to the trade unionism of the very old left -- the Comintern parties and the trotskyist grouplets in the 1930s.)

    In my own mind, I have opened a file for arguments that say "I don't want to study or sum up the NCM, I hate them. I just want to rush to reproduce what they did."

    There are, in other words, not new questions. They are very very old questions. You may think this politics arises from "local conditions" ("we talked to NYC bus drivers, and this is what is on their mind...") But it really is not that much different from when an earlier generation hung out at auto plants or steel mills or strawberry fields in the early 1970s -- and applied very similar assumptions about how to move the mass toward militancy (and from there toward more radical political consciousness and action).

    It is common (in my discussions with people) to hear that people intend a very serious and determined break with the "sects" of the previous left movements, while they very energetically take up the assumptions and strategies that formed those sects.

    The solution to this is to get explicit: Let's make our strategies transparent. If you think we should do XXX, then explain how XXX connects to our larger goals. How is XXX part of a road that leads to a liberated world, to the end of classes and the oppression of women and nations? Connect the dots.

    There is an approach call "tactics as process" -- where people do "what makes sense now", and then (at some future point) shifts to doing "what makes sense then." I.e. there is not an overall plan, but a series of practical decisions based on each moment (with the assumptions often masked).

    But lets have an approach of "tactics as plan" -- where we connect our language, "central tasks," interventions and proposals to a plan.... and then lets dig into practice (i.e. how such things worked in the past, how they are working now, and how they connect to our assumptions about how consciousness, organization and revolutions actually develop).

    Comment last edited on about 1 year ago by Mike Ely