Criticism/Self-Criticism in the Socialist movement, if that is not a misnomer
This a long examination of the "tortured history" of the Socialist movement in America from an organizational perspective. I imagine there are a number of people who will be unhappy with the post -- Obama is, after all, a "Socialist" -- but I think the writer says some sensible things:
here are some ideas for potential forms a new socialist movement could take:
- A common website, newspaper, and/or journal, with the aim of posting important news, reports on struggles, socialist and radical analysis, and serving as a forum for debate and organizing ideas
- A collaboration to organize a roster of talented speakers on a variety of issues and work together on building big events for them around the country. Instead of poorly organized, poorly attended events with poor presentations, these could be big forums which inspire people to activism. The roster of speakers could include people like Dahr Jamail, Chris Hedges, Cindy Sheehan, Glenn Greenwald (who is speaking at the ISO’s Socialism 2011 conference in Chicago) important figures from struggles internationally, etc.
- Big regional and nationwide socialist conferences, along the lines of the ISO’s Socialism Conference in Chicago (and the Bay Area) but even bigger and better. These could be geared not only toward socialist education but also toward developing action proposals and ideas. The fact that no initiative like this has developed in recent years is somewhat disturbing, though understandable given the logic that I’ve outlined.
- Joint study groups and classes in local areas (or via the Internet), socialist education centers, etc.
- Local groups of activists who join together to work on common campaigns, or report on all the different work they’re involved in, even if they are from different political trends
There is no magic formula for the constitution of a more effective American socialist movement. It will likely involve a variety of different types of organizational efforts, combined with a growth in struggles by workers and youth on any number of issues. I am putting forward all these ideas because I think they hold potential for building a sounder foundation for this process.
On what political basis might this all come together? It might seem ridiculous that I am only bringing that point up now, since in many ways it is the central one. Have I abandoned politics in search of organizational shortcuts? Have I jettisoned any concept of a shared program or perspectives as the basis for working together?23 I haven’t, but I felt that the most essential questions to focus on in this piece were organizational. As should be clear from all of the above, I think there have to be better vehicles for the discussion of a program and perspectives than what currently exist.
Imagine if several of the currently existing groups, along with unaffiliated socialists, agreed to approach the questions we face from a fresh perspective, without bringing their organizational baggage with them. Wouldn’t it be possible to take a fresh look at the situation we face in the U.S., clarify our tasks, and find common points of agreement on which we could build some type of united organization or project? Isn’t it at least worth a shot, as an experiment?
Besides, what do we really have to lose?
Well, the chains, but then, who doesn't like their chains?