Eugene Debs:

“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

now-were-saying02We are independent. We hold that there are Democrats who are fighting like hell to be independent from corporate power. Likewise, there are independents who are such in name only, while in fact serving corporate interests. A party, any party, is exclusionary almost by definition. You are a member, or you are not. Platforms and programs are grounds for contention. You either agree with Article XIV, subparagraph (6) or you don’t. We don’t need to start out by figuring out who to exclude. The only “exclusion” we would insist on — as the Sanders campaign certainly insists — is that we are not to be beholden to the billionaire class. That is not an exclusion based on ideology. It is an exclusion based on interests, and we do believe that there are conflicting interests.\r\n\r\nThe IWW put it well: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.”

On paper, there are a great variety of Master Plans that would work, if only … if only … But the “if only’s” abound. Trying to pick the one true path, when there is insufficient critical mass to put any of them into action, is a formula for endless sectarian warfare. Options like creating a new party, or taking over the Democratic Party, are beyond the means of progressive Americans at this historical moment. But we do not despair. We are not trying to get people to stop doing what they are doing, but we are insistent that people need to change how they are doing what they are doing. And whatever people do, it we insist that it have some organizational manifestation.

This is not just a quarrel over semantics. The problem is that movement is wrenched out of the relationship between organization and mass movement, a relationship which is ill understood by the U.S. Left, and deliberately obscured by media and academia (if they can see at all) which want to bury that relationship.\r\n\r\nThe problem is far from academic. The deadly consequence for the U.S. Left is that it fetishizes “raising consciousness” while treating building actual organizing efforts as a throwaway line. Thus the dearth of serious mass organizing by the Left, which at best seeks to raise the consciousness of the masses without doing the hard work of organizing the masses.\r\n\r\nSo at the moment we are registered Democrats, though some (Green and Democrat alike) might prefer that we weren’t. We have friends among the Green Party who somehow put up with our occasionally harsh critiques of the Green Party. We have no intention of trying to get Greens to register Democrat, nor are we trying to get Democrats to register Green.

We are sometimes vague. But that very vagueness is perhaps a virtue. It calls on people of whatever stripe to find common ground in action, without necessarily becoming something other than what they are. As Popeye said, “I am what I am!” A variety of tactics center around a set of common values. We can start with the above quote from Eugene Debs, and organize from there.

October 10, 2016