What is the General Strike?

Also at CounterPunch.

The General Strike in the US is a multi-faceted, poly-centered resistance movement responding to the general crisis of capitalism and corporate power triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic is revealing to millions what was always well hidden: America is a house of cards.

The bosses and their government have no interest in defending the life and liberties of working-class people. Quite the opposite. In order for corporations to achieve their control over us, they are driven to undermine our human and political rights — just as they are driven to maximize profits. Their strategy is to hollow out and weaken all the democratic and representative functions of the government, the two-party system, even trade unions.

After four decades of retreat by organized labor; after the double defeat of the Sanders campaign; after Citizens United legalized bribery; after the multi-trillion dollar bailouts of the ruling class passed by a united and unanimous Congress — we are on our own. The General Strike is an attempt to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of representative democracy.

The General Strike is anti-Trump but it is also against the system that produced Trump. So many still want to believe the system can work for us if we elect the right leaders; that elections are actually on the level; that justice will prevail if we get the right person on the Supreme Court. We tried all this and failed.

And as inspiring as the general strike is, it is a prelude to what is coming. In a mere ten years, we will be lost to irreversible, war-driven climate chaos. The pandemic is the opening act of humanity’s greatest drama. It is now time to “fish or cut bait” and we have been cutting bait for far too long.

Neither the incremental change internalized by far too many union officials nor the incremental change of nordic social-democracy sold by democratic-socialists will be permitted in the USA. Even a moderate reformer like Bernie Sanders or a common-sense anti-war politician like Tulsi Gabbard will never ever be let near the real levers of power — unless they surrender. Why? Because we are at the very center of the empire and if the bosses lose here they have lost it all.

But we can start right here, right now. There will be real resistance no matter what because people face life and death issues. The lose/lose choices people face between food or rent or healthcare will provoke resistance. Should we stand aside and call this wave of resistance nothing: just a strike here, just a strike there? Some unhappy tenants over here or some nice mutual aid efforts over here? Or should we provide the material and symbolic support for what workers have already decided to do? We face an unprecedented crisis and millions of unemployed workers, tenants, essential workers, the poor are on the move. Let’s catch up with them.

The General Strike does not simply harken back to early 20th century models or follow normal union channels. The general strikes of long ago occurred before the US empire achieved its global dominance and stepped up the tactics of oppression used abroad against its own people at home. McCarthyism was that war at home and it went right for the labor movement’s throat. The 1947 Taft-Hartly “Slave Labor” Act essentially made general strikes led by existing unions illegal.

While corporations were always powerful it wasn’t until approximately 1980 that they finally completed their merger with the state placing their interests above and in direct opposition to all others.

For a more useful history, we should look to the waves of resistance that have occurred since the 1999 “Battle for Seattle.” Perhaps most important was the immigrant-led one-day general strike called the  “Great American Boycott.” On Mayday 2006 approximately one million people in 50 US cities avoided work, school and shopping to be part of one of the largest days of protest in American history.

In 2011, protests in Wisconsin were followed by Occupy which created millions of new activists around the world. The idea that we belonged to the 99% resonated with millions of people and gave new life to class consciousness and class solidarity by reinvesting “class” with its broadest possible meaning. Economic democracy became a mass aspiration.

The General Strike is much closer to the never-realized ideal of social movement unionism in which workplace struggles must be connected to social movements if we want to win.

But whatever historical examples you find important, today’s General Strike is based upon an actually existing resistance movement. General Strike 2020 introduced their efforts by saying:

We started this organization after we saw working class people launch a wave of labor strike and rent strike actions across the world in response to the severe negligence of our “leaders” as the pandemic has emerged. We were inspired into action by the workers and tenants and debtors who have already begun fighting and the hundreds of mutual aid systems which have spontaneously popped up everywhere.

There have been over 150 strikes since March 2020. These are the latest episode in a rapid upswing in strike activity since 2018. Many of these strikes are wildcats where strikes occur before unions were formed or are on the margins of an existing union structure. This worker self-activity should push unions, and all of us, into action.

The General Strike is also the emerging strike support networks, the expanding and unprecedented rent strike movement, the approximately 1000 active Mutual Aid projects, strategic boycott efforts targeting Amazon, Wholefoods, Trader Joes, Walmart, Tysons and more. The General Strike also means alternative supply chains and resources produced by all sorts of communal efforts from community gardens to cooperatives such as Cooperation Jackson.

The Green Party and other parties outside of the chokehold of the two-party system have been rejuvenated. And the growth of third parties will continue to the degree that we turn ourselves into the electoral wing of the social movements — or in this case the electoral wing of the General Strike. The activists associated with Popular Resistance are playing just such a role commuting back and forth between the Green Party and General Strike.

The general strike is the sum of all these struggles.

The general strike may not live up to expectations or rigid categories based on backward-looking models, but in fact, it far exceeds them because it is based on the actually existing concrete conditions of this historical moment. We cannot love our categories more than we love the life that appears before us. While was must learn from history we do not get to go back in time.

We cannot disentangle the multiple social forces at work that produced the General Strike. In fact, the organizing task is just the opposite. By seeking synergy and building networks, we will discover the organizational forms that give life to solidarity. Can we innovate the next generation of the Original Rainbow Coalition or something like it?

Our moment is one of deep crisis and opportunity. Guess what? It’s tangled and messy. Making history always is. We don’t get to select the circumstances of our engagement with history, but engage we must.

The overarching goal of the General Strike is democracy: economic, workplace, and community democracy. Representative democracy is largely broken. Direct and participatory democracy — on a mass scale — is the best response to the deeply interlocking crisis of pandemic, climate chaos, empire, and corporate rule.

We need a mighty movement to transform the political climate. For that, we need a big coalition and the political skill to find unity without uniformity. Can we build a movement of movements? For that, we need the General Strike and we need all its many parts to stay in motion.

Posted in American Culture, Capitalism, Climate Change, Cooperation, Corporate Power, electoral strategy, Empire, Green Party, History, Labor Movement, Military, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Strategy, Red Scare, revolutionary strategy, Socialism, union organzing, unions, White Supremacy, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

General Strike v. Fear and Fatalism

The General Strike is already underway. It will test us all. The big question: Is there any shred of democracy left in America? Only you can answer that. Only you can decide what course of action is best for you. But know this: the greatest enemies we face are not the oligarchs or their police or propagandists or politicians — it is the fear and fatalism within us that breeds silence and makes the millions surrender before the power of the few.

Posted in Organizing Strategy | Leave a comment

Strike, Sick Out, Slow Down: The General Strike and You.

Also at Counterpunch.

The strike, sick out, and slowdown are among the most effective weapons in the arsenal of class struggle. They disrupt production and interrupt the flow of profits. But the most effective weapons are also the most demanding. Strikes require discipline, sacrifice, and struggle. Strikes are short-term pain for long-term gain. It’s not a coincidence that as strikes fell out of use over the last few decades the US working class fell too.

Striking for Life: Protect the Front-line, Not the Bottom Line.

The most dramatic examples of the General Strike are the many wildcat strikes across the country. Follow the action at On The Picket Line or check out this interactive map of strike actions, or the “Dual Power” map by Black Socialists in America. Get in the loop and get connected at General Strike 2020.

If you are an essential worker and risking your life — talk to your co-workers. Form a clandestine strike committee and speak to, and listen to, everyone in the shop. A strike, sick-out, or slowdown can last a few hours, a day or indefinitely. Don’t hoodwink the workers into thinking it will be easy, but when life hangs in the balance the choice becomes clear.

Wildcats are strikes led by the rank and file workers, not union officials. This is a hidden strength. The kind of actions that were the backbone of the general strikes during the 20th century are now illegal — here in the land of the free. “Sympathy” or secondary strikes where workers strike — not out of a specific grievance with their own boss — but in solidarity with other strikers were made illegal. Russia-gate’s forerunners — the anti-communist purges of the Cold War and McCarthyism gave us the 1947 Taft-Hartley “slave labor act” that tamed the labor movement. Until this day, union officials that call sympathy strikes are treated as criminals — but the wildcats strikes have no official leaders.  

In all those years since 1947 Democrats made not a single serious attempt to repeal Taft- Hartley. Maybe we can repeal it through direct action. Anyone who knows this history knows that Russia-gate and China-hate is no friend to the US working-class. 

How can we help strikers?

Local efforts may be best. You can support your local strikers by setting up a “gofundme” account for them. Mask up and observe physical distance, but show up at picket lines with food and beverage. Join your local Mutual Aid team and help back up strikers.

Learn from our new leaders. Do what the strikers ask you to do. They know best.

Strategic boycotts in alignment with strikers are an important way to slow profits — the main form of leverage strikers have. Boycott Bezos for starters.

Sick Out and Slow Down

For at-home workers, the sick out and slow down are tailor-made for you. Call in sick sometime in the first week in May. Mild symptoms; a day or two, severe; a week or more. How sick are you? Only you know. Get it? Or, take a sick day, go back for one, then take another sick day. Can’t take the whole day, take half a day. Can’t take half a day just slow down — cut your production in half or more.

Almost all stuck-at-home workers I speak with are having symptoms due to isolation and confinement. Time for a mental health day? You owe yourself one.

One of the classic slowdown tactics is “Work to Rule.” Workplace rules are usually the product of the Human Relations department meant to put a liberal face on exploitation. But these rules often slow down production and are routinely ignored by management and worker alike. Study your “handbook” and find the weakness. Sometimes you can actually slow down by following the rules.

Resistance

Working people have always resisted. Unfree workers, like slaves, developed forms of resistance to oppose slave owners. We can use the same kinds of resistance to oppose corporate power.

  • Pilfer. “Steal” it back to reclaim value the boss stole from you in the first place. Let the bosses pay.
  • Sabotage. Break your tools. Delete paperwork. Use stealth and cunning. Don’t get caught.
  • Shamming. Bullshit them. Behind your smile is the strike.

Show solidarity with the general strike.  Have a strike poster in your apartment window. Wear a red or black or lavender bandana. Change your Facebook cover image.

We have to rely on the creativity and power of the people. I am confident we will figure it out. The general strike has no central committee and that is probably a good thing since no one has all the answers. Let the people decide. You can best determine the kind of action you can take.

Just remember: whatever small step you take, you are part of something bigger. And the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

No one can do everything but everyone can do something.

 

 

Posted in Capitalism, Corporate Power, History, Labor Movement, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Method, Organizing Strategy, revolutionary strategy, Strategy, unions, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SOS — Save our Sailors and Soldiers! Stop the Spread of Covid-19

By Bob Witanek and Richard Moser


US military rank and file soldiers and sailors are being ravaged by an invisible enemy — the same enemy that is killing civilians across the country – COVID-19.

The quandary for the US: maintain readiness to launch war and continue to support the many imperialist objectives the US is pursuing in places like Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Yemen, the Asian Sea, Europe, Africa, Latin America, etc. . . . or take seriously the wholesale threat of COVID-19 to the lives of US GIs and sailors. 

The Pentagon is suppressing the breadth of the infection of its rank and file forces and mostly disregarding any real effort to minimize their casualties.

The US does not want the rest of the world – that it constantly bullies, invades, bombs, and threatens to know that it is militarily vulnerable right now due to the depleted morale and health of the rank and file.  It is ignoring COVID-19 – but it is not going away – it is starting to kill its own troops.

The strategy of downplaying the crisis is having the opposite effect since the COVID-19 is becoming so rampant it is being widely reported. No longer can it be kept secret from the nations and peoples the US is killing and threatening. More important – this murderous US strategy could lead to the deaths of hundreds, maybe even thousands of US troops. 

No doubt, the threat of dying from COVID-19 and the willful neglect of command is on the mind of GIs and sailors who are cramped in their quarters. The blow out on the Teddy Roosevelt Aircraft carrier that arose after the leak of Captain Crozier’s letter, which was written after the brass refused his requests to take life-saving action, raised the alarm.  Since then one of the sailors on the carrier has died and several hundred are sick. The carrier is not war-worthy and it represents the abject failure of the Pentagon to protect its crew. A more sober analysis would likely call it willful negligence and premeditated murder. The Pentagon is no stranger to collateral damage.

When Captain Crozier was dismissed and made to walk the plank, the crew came to the deck and cheered and chanted. The unruliness demonstrates that the sailors might have things other than duties on their minds — like trying not to get killed by COVID-19. 

Several days after Crozier’s dismissal from his post, Navy Acting Secretary Modly visited the same carrier and called Captain Crozier stupid and idiotic during a speech to the crew — he was heckled and cussed out by sailors in attendance. Mody was soon dismissed from his position for failing to manage the situation. Once again, rank and file soldiers were in open defiance of authority. Sadly, Captain Crozier himself has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Pentagon has demonstrated its worries over this state of affairs among the rank and file, warning “enemy” nations from attacking:

“We’re still capable and we’re still ready no matter what the threat,” Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley said recently. “I wouldn’t want any mixed messages going out there to any adversaries that they can take advantage of an opportunity, if you will, at a time of crisis,” he added. “That would be a terrible and tragic mistake if they thought that.”

 

What the Pentagon misses is that it is caught in a double bind: increases in military activities will only increase the spread of COVID-19 further weakening US military power. The pandemic has magnified the contradictions of empire: imperial overreach sows the seeds of its own destruction.

It is time to do everything possible to save the lives of troops and sailors whose health and safety is being disregarded by the US so as not to appear weak before its many chosen adversaries.

The US must suspend its focus on warfare and empire and instead focus on saving the lives of as many GI’s and sailors as possible. The following demands should be widely communicated to the public, veterans and to active-duty soldiers and sailors.

 

  • Quarantine entire armed forces – suspend all hostile operations.
  • Testing and medical support for all military personnel
  • Training and logistical support for hospitals, clinics, shelters, and neighborhood medical surveys – not repression but total medical coverage. 
  • All of the healthy get redeployed in a civilian effort to save the maximum number of lives — under civilian command, without arms.
  • Transportation and deliveries of food and supplies to sick and/or homebound
  • Harvest of the crops where civilian workers are sick or not available.

The ranks would be totally engaged in the service of the people under civilian control.

As we struggle to save the maximum number of lives – as we make plans to resist the bipartisan effort to prematurely “open up America” and let the virus “coarse through the population” (possibly killing millions) – we need to actually work to save the lives of the troops. While we do not know the exact casualty count, we know it is growing. The GIs and sailors should know that we are ready to struggle to save their lives while it is the brass that willfully neglecting their safety and medical needs.

But the biggest question remains: Will soldiers and sailors join the General Strike? We shall see. But if the military rebels it will shake the empire itself.  


Further links:

 
https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-navy-evacuates-roughly-80-of-uss-theodore-roosevelt-crew-2020-4?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=sf-bi-main&fbclid=IwAR2qIYrn4NgAdN_3Fp5qYcOr4y42Ag2Srczjdy3kyu28JVcTbDUfQsDfu_k

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/13/833308068/sailor-on-uss-theodore-roosevelt-dies-from-covid-19-complications?fbclid=IwAR2Ox1vsBUM33KlWNC3ZB8sxgdH2su7qsqg5x4Ql7TqetG9lUuKdrfhuZJ0

https://nationandstate.com/2020/04/11/top-pentagon-generals-warn-enemies-not-to-attack-as-150-bases-impacted-by-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR2o_AJechy3cbnKPx28iq1Xl2Eey_3FVxLRU_68v5dV5yu6fNsIjEPnKsc 

 

https://taskandpurpose.com/news/navy-uss-theodore-roosevelt-morale?fbclid=IwAR2Aa2KmXGBl0lraKSSXsf_fd1Dx2F5DqIQGpFxq-y0jqw8-2WxtiKD5u5w

https://www.defenseone.com/news/2020/04/the-d-brief-april-09-2020/164486/

https://www.blackagendareport.com/uss-covid-19-guam-puget-sound 


Bob Witanek is founder of #NJAntiWarAgenda and is coordinating a demand that #WeWillDecide opposing corporate-driven demands to force a rise in COVID-19.  He recently released a song “Breathe” with some commentary which you can view here.

Richard Moser writes at befreedom.co and is a contributor to Counterpunch

 

Posted in Empire, Military, Movement Culture, Organizing Method, Organizing Strategy, Strategy, War, War creates Climate Change, Working Class | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

From Strike Wave to General Strike

Above photo: Yasmine James (center with microphone), the McDonald’s worker attacked while working at a St. Petersburg restaurant, spoke to a crowd at a worker rally Tuesday. Spectrum News image. Thanks to Popular Resistance.

Also in Counterpunch and Popular Resistance.

The strike wave is here. The strike wave is real.  Can workers take the next steps toward a General Strike?

The current crisis is a rare opportunity for us to build a movement both outside of electoral politics and based on an organizing model. That matters because the biggest shortcoming of the left and the social movements is our lack of organizing.

Organizing can do what good intentions or radical theory or electoral campaigns cannot: turn solidarity from a dream into a living thing. But without some serious solidarity, all our hopes for a General Strike will fail to materialize.

As we build the solidarity infrastructure needed for a General Strike lets not lie to each other. It’s called “class struggle” for a reason. Strikes are painful with workers pitting their sacrifice and suffering up against the bosses’ profits. Strikes are no party.

But, general strikes, while rare, are a good match for the unprecedented interlocking crises we face. There is an answer to our problems. It’s the age-old working-class answer: “solidarity forever.” But, never forget that solidarity is forged in sacrifice too. Solidarity is not simply passing a resolution or staking a claim — it is actions like boycotts or mutual aid efforts or sending money to those at the front lines or going on strike yourself.

The Strike is Back

After a long period of retreat, the strike has returned with a vengeance. In 2018 West Virginia teachers kicked off a strike wave the likes of which we have not seen for decades. And like today’s strikes, the leadership is coming from the rank and file — not union officials.

 

In this moment of pandemic panic strikes and unrest are focused on immediate demands. We want a general strike and that is a great thing but we have to pave the way between the largely defensive strikes that actually exist and the political offensive that is the heart of a general strike.

General strikes contest for power by explicitly raising class consciousness and proposing system-wide reform, economic democracy, maybe even social transformation. The political task is to build the transition between the defensive strike wave and the offensive general strike we need. We can find the path by starting down the trailhead right in front of us.

If we want to engage people we have to listen carefully to what they say and do. The strongest currents of resistance that I see are actions, demands, and tactics around the immediate life and death questions of safety, protection, and survival:

  • Protective equipment, sick benefits, hazard pay.
  • Strike as “sick out” that withholds labor until we break the back of the pandemic. 
  • Strikes, slowdowns, rolling job actions or staying home. Let the workers decide.
  • Increase wages for essential workers.
  • The conversion of production to ventilators or masks or tests.
  • Universal health care  
  • No rent, no evictions, no vacancies
  • Mutual Aid to serve the people

These may be immediate demands but in them we can imagine the possibilities of the General Strike. In these demands, (and in the bosses’ rush to get us back to work) we can see that labor creates all wealth. We can see that workers are essential and bosses are disposable. When workers demand that they switch production to ventilators or masks — the seeds of worker control are taking root. Housing and health care are revealed as demands of direct interest to everyone, not just a moral stand. If the General Strike is the front-line, Mutual Aid is the quartermaster providing aid and comfort to the troops. Mutual Aid shows us what a democratic economy looks like.

Taken together these actions and demands are the beginnings of a struggle for economic, workplace and community democracy. Call it Freedom and Democracy, call it Socialism or Revolution, call it Reason or call it Treason — I don’t care what you call it.

Its Solidarity Forever or General Strike Never

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” ― Lilla Watson

Solidarity is not simply good intentions or the fine speeches that politicians sometimes make. Solidarity grows by acting on the principle that “your liberation is bound up with mine.” With solidarity, a new world is possible — without it we surrender to corporate power.

By all means, have your steering committee pass a resolution but real solidarity can only be achieved by organizing and activism. Here are a few possibilities:

  • We need to coordinate strategic boycotts targeting Amazon, Whole Foods and other corporate criminals. We need a huge email list and a website updated daily to select targets and coordinate timing.  Who will take up this work?
  • In 2016 the Sanders campaign proved that a presidential campaign could be crowdfunded by millions of small donations. Can we set up a funding mechanism to funnel money to striking workers trying to last “one day longer” than the boss?
  • Solidarity with strikers means building networks, coalitions, Mutual Aid and communal efforts, and Unemployed Councils.

The Crisis Cannot Be Resolved by Normal Means

When compared with the narrow vision of the electoral arena (with the vast majority of politicians from both major parties still opposing universal healthcare) even these initial spontaneous uprising are full of ideas for redistributing wealth and power. Even in the depths of the crisis, unanimous Congressional action could deliver nothing greater than temporary cash payments so meager as to exaggerate the very wealth inequality that made our world unsustainable in the first place.

These tasty crumbs are welcomed aid to workers but were also a good move by the ruling class to calm things down. Without real resistance, our rulers got away with tossing us the bare minimum necessary to engineer consent so they could gain a far bigger prize: the further consolidation of 40 years of corporate power.

It’s not that progressive Democrats produced nothing. They moved the discourse in important ways. But the unanimous consent to the corporate bailout signals the limits of even well-meaning electoral activity under existing conditions. And that is why the strike wave is so important. Direct action gets the goods. And, the torch is passed back from celebrities and politicians to the unknown everyday people that were always the true leaders of the working-class.   

The left needs Ella Bakers’ vision. Do we have the capacity to “pick up the pieces or put together pieces?” 

What will help the millions move? What will build the capacity for self-organization? We need to learn and quick. Because it is when millions move — then and only then — that we will unleash the enormous creative energies of the people. They will find the way forward.

The people are telling us where to find them. Can we catch up? Its due time for all organizers to engage, listen, learn from and stand with our new leaders. There is no greater solidarity than this.

 

 

 

Posted in Capitalism, Cooperation, Corporate Power, electoral strategy, Empire, Labor Movement, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Method, Organizing Strategy, Prefigurative politics, revolutionary strategy, Socialism, Strategy, unions, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia-gate: The Dead But Undead

Attention all Russia-gaters! Under the cover of pandemic, the US finally dropped charges against those dastardly Russian meme-bombers! 

Just in case you think this is yet another conspiracy led by Trump’s DOJ to hide something, the case against the troll farm fell apart 2 years ago when Mueller was still in charge. It’s been in limbo ever since but as the trial approached the DOJ killed the case. In a sane world, this would be the final nail in its coffin but the Russia-gate zombie is useful — so it rises again.

Russia-gate Dies

In May 2018, Concord Management, one of the indicted firms, pleaded innocent and went to court to clear its name. Concord’s lawyers had the audacity to ask for evidence as part of the normal legal procedure of “discovery.” Discovery means that both parties must exchange all the information and facts relating to the case at hand. Otherwise, legal defense is impossible.

Since we have no extradition treaty with Russia, the troll farmers could have safely stayed in Russia. Apparently, Mueller was betting that would be the case. 

Who would be foolish enough to voluntarily come to the US to stand trial for one of the most notorious crimes of the century? Well, Concord Management did; they called Mueller’s bluff.

In a propaganda campaign filled with one “bombshell,” after another, these events were so underreported that many people never heard of them. Why? Well, this bombshell blew up the Russia-gate narrative. And when reported at all it was spun as yet another Russian attempt to weaponize “secret” materials.

Mueller’s double-speak as to why he suspended the case is identical to what the DOJ’s spin is today. Both Mueller and the DOJ are saying that to release the evidence of a threat to national security is itself a breach of national security — a threat that outweighs the alleged Russian meddling. In other words, informed Americans are more dangerous to the security of the state than Russians. This is completely in keeping with Edward Snowdon’s revelations about massive domestic spying.  As quoted in the Guardian Snowdon said:

“Why are we intercepting more American communications than we’re intercepting Russian communications?”

Like the NSA, both Mueller and the DOJ’s actions treat the American public as if we are their targets. Police actions speak louder than police words

We can only conclude that Mueller never intended to prosecute the only example of Russian influence he could come up with.

 

Russia-gate Rises

No weapon as potent as Russia-gate will be put to rest over the lack of a little thing like evidence.

Who does Russia-gate serve? Who does this cover-up serve? It serves the purposes of the state. The intelligence community — of which Mueller is a leader — has seen itself as the gatekeepers of what the public should know and believe since the 1950s. Russia-gate serves the purpose of this once-hidden force that has now become a powerful and independent actor in American politics.

Recent events reveal the increasingly overt meddling and intervention of the secret police forces in domestic affairs. Here are a few choice examples. 

On the eve of the Nevada primary, the Washington Post tells us that the Russians are helping Sanders. Who says so? The police. How are they helping exactly? The police could not say. 

Ever the faithful servants of the state, the New York Times piled on with more Russia connect the dots smears on Sanders. Bloomberg carried the slander into the debates. Hillary Clinton, one of the architects of Russia-gate, smeared Tulsi Gabbard as a Russian asset, who, in a rare act of political courage, sued Clinton and waged a public counter-attack on Russia-gate and the abuses of the intelligence agencies.  

Soon after, on the eve of Super Tuesday, a joint statement from eight police agencies made yet another fact-free intervention in the election by — you guessed it — warning about election meddling. It seems the intelligence community is more interested in king-making than finding out about the coronavirus. Apparently, subversive thoughts are far more dangerous than pandemics for the security of the state. 

Then comes the Biden endorsement. In what The Washington Post called a “break with tradition” 100 former intelligence agents and other members of the national security state have publicly endorsed Biden. As quoted in the Independent:

“Margaret Henoch, a former CIA officer…agreed that a public endorsement is “absolutely” unheard of for career professionals.”

And leading this unheard-of endorsement is James Clapper. As former Director of National Intelligence, he was boss of all 17 secret police forces. Clapper is an unindicted perjurer that lied to Congress about the massive spying on everyday Americans by the National Security Agency. As reported in the Independent, Clapper repeats the core message of the Biden campaign:

“I just think he would represent if elected, a restoration of normality to the country,” 

Dude knows how to toe the party line and to deceive. Whether its “Normality,” or MAGA any return to the past is simply not in the cards. “Normal” cannot be purchased at any price or with any degree of power. Mother nature will see to that. The pandemic is just a prelude to irreversible climate chaos. Ten years — tick, tick, tick.

Break with Tradition or Abuse of Power?

It is not simply a break with tradition but yet another step in the long history of the abuse of power. The executive branch has grown so large, it has overwhelmed anything even resembling the Constitutional separation of powers or checks and balances. We have the empire to thank for that.

And since 9/11 the power of the intelligence community has grown even greater. The Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act institutionalized police powers to spy on all Americans. In words we could apply to the pandemic crisis, the American Civil Liberties Union states:

“In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks the FBI sought to rid itself of these legal restraints and expand its investigative and intelligence collection capabilities. Acting during a period of fear and uncertainty, Congress, the White House, and the attorney general gave the FBI enhanced investigative and surveillance authorities…Other powers the FBI simply assumed for itself, often secretly, and at times in direct violation of existing laws.

Who and what benefits from Russia-gate? The corporate state and its need to destroy what little remains of our human rights.

Russia-Gate and Movement Strategy

Russia-gate works to distract us from our own problems; divide the progressive movement and set strict limits on dissent. Even Sanders pays tribute to the very weapons used against him by repeating the Russia-gate mantra. For a campaign so focused on completing the mission of the first New Deal, it is a self-inflicted wound. The first New Deal remains unfinished precisely because of Russia-gates’ predecessors: the Cold War and McCarthyism.

The most effective assault on the New Deal was aimed directly at the working class. The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act (which even the Cold Warrior President Truman called the “slave-labor act”) purged the socialists and communists leading 18 CIO unions, banned key tactics and strategies and promoted “right to work” laws.

In the larger context, Taft-Hartley increased the power and rights of management while limiting all forms of workplace and economic democracy. Taft-Hartley was passed despite Truman’s veto by a powerful coalition of Democrats and Republicans. It’s the last major labor law “reform” this country has seen. 

The second New Deal will not be born if we swallow the same poison that killed the first New Deal. 

The collapse of the Russian collusion story also illustrates the total bankruptcy of the choices made by the DNC after 2016. They preferred the high drama and wild accusations of Russia-gate and the New Cold War to healthcare, election reform or positive programs of any kind.

Russia-gate’s aim is to enforce ideological discipline and silence criticism. But without criticism, people failed to learn the lessons of 2016. That failure is clear in the selection of Biden who represents the repetition of the old electoral strategy.

While it’s understandable to cling to a winning strategy it is stupid to cling to a losing one. Even a winning strategy can turn into a losing one if armies fight using the methods of the last war. Winning armies, on the other hand, fight the war they are actually in. And that requires a clear-eyed assessment of the conditions we currently face. 

The war we are actually in will increasingly demand the creation of mass movements, coalitions of all kinds, local communal efforts, mutual aid networks, organizing projects and third parties especially now after the frontal assault on the Democrats and the Presidency seems blocked.

We face uncertainty, risk, and danger. But whatever the outcomes of this unpredictable pandemic and the chaotic, rigged Democratic primary may be — and even if Sanders can defeat the DNC and Trump both — any progressive political agenda will be in jeopardy without massive outside pressure. In any case, we need to outflank the ruling class with a mighty army of activists coordinated with but outside of the electoral arena.

 

 

 

Posted in American Culture, Capitalism, Climate Change, Corporate Power, electoral strategy, Electoral Strategy for 2016, Empire, History, Labor Movement, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Strategy, Red Scare, revolutionary strategy, Socialism, Strategy, unions, War, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Inside is Connected to the Outside: The Inside/Outside Strategy Revisited

The Inside/Outside Strategy (IOS) claims we need to work both inside and outside the dominant order to win. Most critiques of IOS correctly point to the shortcomings and dangers of working within the system. But, this weakness is also a reflection of the lack of powerful outside movements to recruit and discipline inside actors. If the outside isn’t working the inside isn’t working either. That said, far too many hopes, dreams, and dollars have been invested in inside work — elections in particular.

Working inside does not mean climbing the career ladder, joining some political machine, or aiming no higher than mere reform. Inside work, done well, means identifying the conflicts and divisions within the power structure and pushing on them. It means intensifying the struggle, working around obstacles and organizing outside the centers of power. Inside work does not have to mean giving up on revolutionary change. It should mean just the opposite.

But one part of the concrete conditions we cannot ignore is the reality that different people and tendencies will, in fact, work different angles. Some might focus either too far inside or too far outside the existing order for our tastes but we should aim toward greater synergy and coordination between the two. The trick is to learn to keep one foot in each world. Walk the razor’s edge.

For those critical of working within the Democratic Party, for example, our task is to build up our capacity for mass movements, local communal projects, and third parties. Organizing projects are far more important than winning the debate about where to concentrate forces.

“Inside” the Academic Labor Movement

I quit my job as a tenured professor and spent the next 15 years as a union organizer for the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers. My main focus was on organizing the part-time and non-tenure track faculty who were the most exploited of the teachers. The were the targets of a punishing austerity that cleared the way for the corporatization of higher education. As a staff member I was “inside” the union but in order to do the job I had to take on a complicated three-front struggle.

The first front –the struggle for adjunct rights and against the two-tiered labor system — was the most important. When I started in 1998, the adjunct movement was coming into its own. I had a movement I could relate to, advocate for and help to organize. Without that outside force, there would have been nothing and no ground for an insider like me to stand on.

The adjunct faculty had been — and still are — dispossessed: unions rarely represent them well and often comply with workplace rules that actually hurt them. Adjuncts work for poverty wages, lack health care and are always fifteen minutes away from total humiliation. Sometimes students are their only true allies.

The second front was confronting management. Higher education managers adopt the ways and means of the corporation. Their arrogance and cruelty are so vicious it’s hard to make sense of.

Management understands what union officials usually don’t; the adjuncts are a crucial source of cheap labor and a wedge to weaken the entire workforce. To the bosses, adjuncts are a class enemy to which they will give no quarter. University management — liberals all — led the race-to-the-bottom replacing good jobs with bad, transferring wealth to the top and saddling generations of students with bad debts and dismal futures.

The last and most challenging front was dealing with conservative union officials that represented a small, influential, but deeply misguided segment of the tenured faculty. With some very notable and very honorable exceptions many of the official types, both elected leaders (many union elections are uncontested) and staff, avoided the issues or dragged their feet — a few were outright sellouts.

Very few union leaders play an effective inside role because they want to control the more radical rank and file rather than leverage their power. Instead, the savvy inside leader tells the boss: “I cannot control these people so if you don’t want a strike you better start throwing concessions our way.” But since control over members is tied to their own power most union officials squander rank and file pressure.

As the percentage of hires off the tenure-line grew year after year — replacing the secure with the vulnerable — a cultural shift eased the faculty’s surrender to the new order. The tenured faculty were all too eager to turn tenure from a right designed to defend academic freedom into a privilege rewarding hard work, intellectual prowess and merit.

What is “merit” other than the morality of the so-called “free market?” And, it has a powerful appeal. Who doesn’t want a merit badge? Why do you think so many academic radicals still believe that the free-market is a description of reality? Once privilege and merit replaced workplace rights the tenured faculty behaved much as other privileged groups do when tempted by the comforts of merit and the delusions of class collaboration.

Three Fronts in a War of Maneuver

Now, don’t take this analogy too far, but back when unions had real power they did not just fight scabs on the picket line. They sent their very best organizers into the shop to talk with and educate the strikebreakers, who were, after all, just workers in desperate need of a decent wage and class consciousness.

Whether its labor unions or the Democratic Party, don’t go “inside” unless you are ready to fight on three fronts and deal with the intense contradictions that struggle requires. Keep the shifting relationships between inside and outside foremost in your mind. If the connections weaken or break, you weaken or break.

Should people work inside or outside?  A good organizer usually encourages people to follow their own political instincts. When moved by the courage of their own convictions, people are more likely to do something — anything — and that activism will always be the best teacher.

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Inside/Outside Strategy Revisited

What is Strategy?

Strategy is a plan — a proposed course of action. Strategy demands the analysis of current conditions and statements of desired goals. But, the primary focus of strategy is “how.”  How do we work the transition between what is and what ought to be?

An effective strategy proposes how existing consciousness, resources, and capacities can achieve a range of political ends. Strategy tries to answer the hardest questions of all: what to do next and how to do it? While strategic thinking often relies on one political theory or other it is not the same exact thing as theory — its nothing as orderly or elegant as that.

Inside/Outside Strategy (IOS) is an approach to organizing and movement building that emphasizes learning from and coordination with resistance movements that have political positions you do not completely agree with. IOS is an inclusive rather than an exclusive approach. A “both/and” attitude can help us resolve the static binaries and false choices that divide us and waste our energies. IOS is an alternative to the endless arguments and fragmentation that characterize the conventional left-wing pursuit of the “correct line.” IOS is particularly useful in organizing mass movements, coalitions, big-tent political parties, and revolutions.

Effective organizations regularly use a strategic planning process. While there are variations all include an assessment of the various forces in play; yourself, allies and adversaries; a shortlist of goals; the selection of tactics and demands; and most crucially — matching the tactics and tasks to the organizational resources already in hand. In the spirit of experimentation, the results must be evaluated, criticized and the plan revised. But always, we start from where we are — not where we’d like to be or hope to be.

Strategy is permanently provisional. Strategy is a work in progress, an unending discussion open to revision based on practice and the constantly shifting political context. Strategy does not provide certainty but is a guide to action. But the sad fact remains that much activism is simply reactive or willfully avoids strategic work.

The IOS Remains A Coherent Strategic Framework For An Incoherent World

In 2014, when I started writing about IOS, I was hard-pressed to find good sources and examples — the discussion was just getting underway. A lot has changed since then. IOS has become a topic of discussion among strategy-minded activists. 

IOS reaches its greatest potential as an overall strategy for social transformation.  It can be applied to a wide variety of situations and movements. Still, most discussions of IOS focus narrowly on the relationships between social movements or organizing on the one hand and electoral work on the other. 

IOS emphasizes experimentation in practice rather than doctrinal rigor or ideological clarity as a way of rebalancing a movement drunk on polemics and the hangover of analysis paralysis. IOS gives priority to engagement with the millions rather than debates between or within organizations.

Personal experience is the best teacher by far and that is why job #1 is to encourage people to take action. Real change becomes possible when millions act on the stage of history and not before. And when the millions move they will burst every comfortable category the “left” prizes so dearly. Change will not be orderly.

The mixed reaction of the US and French left to the Yellow Vests is just one example of our inability to deal with the contradictions unfolding before us. It reminds me of Lenin’s observations of the 1916 Irish Revolution.

“To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression…against national oppression, etc.-to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, “We are for socialism”, and another, somewhere else and says, “We are for imperialism”, and that will he a social revolution!

Lenin continues:

Whoever expects a “pure” social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is.

The socialist revolution…cannot be anything other than an outburst of mass struggle on the part of all and sundry oppressed and discontented elements. Inevitably, sections of the petty bourgeoisie and of the backward workers will participate in it—without such participation, mass struggle is impossible, without it no revolution is possible….”

 

Let’s start working on the world as we find it not as we wish it to be.[1] That in no way means we accept the world the way it is. But, it does mean we are working toward a strategy that is far more effective than moral outrage or ideological precision.

It’s not that raising consciousness is a waste of time — it is vitally important. We need to bring the empire into view first and foremost because that is where the crisis cooks the hottest. Yes, we need the ideological struggle but tempered and trained by the complicated political context we find ourselves in. And, there is nothing more full of contradictions than revolution — nothing.

Deal with that or we deal ourselves a losing hand.

 

  1. While the concept of “working with the world the way we find it,” is most often associated with Saul Alinsky it is a really just a practical application of the most useful insight Marx and Engels ever offered: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

 

Posted in American Culture, American Exceptionalism, Capitalism, Cooperation, Corporate Power, History, Labor Movement, Martin Luther King, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Method, Organizing Strategy, Strategy, union organzing, unions, White Privilege, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement And One Losing Way

Q. What cloaks the empire and turns a mighty movement into a mirage? 

A. Narrow partisan politics.

When anti-war activism plays second-fiddle to “follow the leader.” The chosen champion and the opposing villian loom so large that they become the main focus of attention obscuring the empire and dumbing the movement down.

But, build independent peace organizations — of any kind for any project — and we will put the movement on a firm foundation. If history is a guide, the most effective and committed voices for peace will come from an independent position largely outside of electoral activity. Applying stronger “outside” pressure on “inside” politicians and parties is the best recipe.

As Ajamu Baraka details in Black Agenda Report, anti-war activism driven by partisan loyalty is weak and limited. Partisan activism substitutes loyalty to a party for loyalty to our class interests and our political or environmental values — all of which demand peace and dismantling of empire. This is as true for the anti-interventionist conservatives that followed Trump to war as it is for the Democrats that only oppose Republican-led aggression.

Here is the essential history. The 2003 global demonstrations before the Gulf War were the largest peace demonstrations ever. But the size of the movement masked weakness: millions of those protesters lacked a truly political or anti-imperial opposition to war. The moderate tone of the protests failed to deliver either sustained disruption or systemic analysis. Going from weakness to weakness, the inability of even gigantic demonstrations to stop war further discouraged many. And, far too many protested only the outrages of Bush — a Republican President.

Obama, on the other hand, extended Bush’s wars and relied on drones, mercenaries and  “moderate rebels” to lower US casualties and hide the war from the public. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize and made everything seem cool again –including war. As the partisan protesters dropped out — comfortable with a Democrat in the White House — the real anti-war movement struggled just to survive.

Once again hopes ride high that politicians will save us but an anti-war movement with eyes on the prize must avoid a narrow partisan approach.

To state the obvious: the empire is not a mere policy choice of particular politicians or parties. Rather, it is a system of alliances and military bases that enforce a global order. The current US empire is an interlocking structure that merges the corporation and the state  —  the Military-Industrial-Complex being the prototype of that merger. Since WWII both Democrats and Republicans have supported the empire with few exceptions.

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Even still, it’s kind of amazing that the leading Democrats — in the middle of impeachment proceedings — supported the 2020 NDAA giving Trump a green light for war. Huge war budgets, a new Space Force, the elimination of all restrictions on the power of presidential wars and the use of force against Iran and Venezuela handed Trump the keys.

The hawks in control of the Democratic Party must be taken to task. Look here to see who voted for the NDAA in the Senate, who voted against it and who did not vote at all.

This shallow partisan stance will not lead us to anti-imperialism but we can counter with messages that emphasize the cultural and systematic nature of war and empire. The deep culture of war is hate and fear of the “other” contrasted to our own exceptional innocent white moralityWhether you go around stirring up the hate and fear of immigrants, or women, or Blacks — or Iranians, Muslims, Russians, or Chinese — you are stirring the imperial pot.

If we are only against hate and fear when the Republicans do it we are not against war.

The US empire has deep roots far beyond the reach of electoral activity. Show me a single example in world history of an empire dismantled in an orderly fashion by an election.

What Are Our “Units of Power?”

Let’s help people make the transition beyond the pro-war, pro-corporate consensus that dominates US politics. That transition will be primarily based on personal experience in a poly-centered movement large enough, diverse enough and audacious enough to disrupt the existing order.

If there is a clear formula for scaling up from the hopeful but small movements of today to more massive movements  — I do not know what it is. But for starters, it cannot hurt to connect empire abroad with empire at home,  anti-austerity efforts with opposition to the poverty draft, and the peace movement with the environmental movement. That’s big synergy for sure.

But synergy needs structure. Pick any project you like, of course, but build organizations to seed a larger movement and to tide us over between dramatic moments of protest.

“Recognizing that no army can mobilize and demobilize and remain a fighting unit, we will have to build far-flung workmanlike and experienced organizations.”

“Our most powerful nonviolent weapon is, as would be expected, also our most demanding, that is organization. To produce change people must be organized to work together in units of power” — Martin Luther King

There is widespread anti-war sentiment but without “units of power,” these attitudes will not become a mass movement.

The empire is a giant machine cranking out racism, misogyny, poverty and climate chaos. War is coming for your children and your planet. Make the connection between war and your community.

Units of power are best built along the paths to anti-imperialism. The Embassy Protectors;  Women’s March on the Pentagon; the Black Alliance for Peace;  National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth; GI Rights Hotline;  US Labor Against the War; Code Pink and the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign are a few prime examples of how to connect communities to the peace movement.

Digital warriors can get in the loop with Americans for Peace and Human Rights, Berners Against Militarism, Tulsi Gabbard Peace Movement and Stop the War Machine.

Or maybe best of all go totally local. Local chapters of Veterans for Peace are working hard as are community-based groups like St. Pete for Peace, Chelsea Uniting Against the War, NJ Hands Off Venezuala or No F-35 Fighter Jets in Madison.

Sporadic waves of protest, party politics, and appeals to morality will not be enough to reach millions of people. It’s our job — if we truly oppose wars — to build units of power and prove that war and empire are against the economic and political interests of the vast majority of the American people.

Our narrative: the empire is the weapon of the 1%; the engine of austerity; the enforcer of hate and hierarchy; the cause of climate change and the enemy of freedom. Our countermove: organize the unorganized.

Posted in American Culture, Capitalism, Climate Change, Corporate Power, electoral strategy, Empire, Green Party, History, Martin Luther King, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Method, Organizing Strategy, Strategy, War, War creates Climate Change, White Supremacy, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bossing Grown Folks Around: The Open Letter to the Greens

Also in Counterpunch

Before a single primary vote has been tallied a number of big-shot progressive Democrats are already calling for the Green Party to stand down in an “open letter.”

Of all the issues we face, why focus so narrowly on marginal election maneuvers? Of all the movements we need to organize, why try to demobilize a dissident political party? Of all the great debates to be had, why spoil a discussion by faithfully repeating the failed DNC narratives of 2016: Elevate Trump, Lesser of Two Evils, Spoiler, and Vote Blue No Matter Who?

Nina Turner captured the failure of 2016 when she said:

“We should have been speaking to people’s hearts and not trying to shame and boss grown folks around.”

How does this shaming and bossing around work?

First and foremost the letter is only convincing if you accept the existing electoral system as permanent. A far better politics targets the rigged system itself as a starting point for reform. The open letter collapses in the face of a simple reform like Rank Choice Voting.

The strongest three arguments of the open letter are Trump, Trump, Trump. As in 2016, Trump is cast as the avatar of all evil but that role play masks the deep systematic evils of empire. Politics is not a morality play or a Marvel movie filled with superheroes and archvillains. Politics is a power struggle and in that struggle, all voices of real opposition and resistance are necessary — including the Green Party.

As a practical political matter, elevating Trump is designed to rally the party faithful– otherwise its a dud. The DNC elevated Trump in 2016 — failed. The DNC elevated Trump in Russia-Gate — failed. The DNC elevated Trump in impeachment — failed again. Hanging on to a winning strategy is understandable, hanging on to a losing one is not.

If we do not understand the institutional nature of power we will never overcome Trump or the corporate empire he leads. The corporate wing of the Democratic party and the rigged electoral system are part of the problem — not part of the solution. Elevating Trump again cannot hide that.

The real threat to Sanders and Gabbard comes from the DNC itself which will try to protect its own power — even at the cost of nominating lose/lose candidates like Warren or Biden. We lose in the short run if Trump prevails and we lose in the long run if they “win” because corporate politicians refuse to deal with the political crisis that produced Trump.

Again it’s a practical political matter. Since the Reagan revolution realigned elections so-called centrists Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry and Hillary Clinton were all losers. Only Bill Clinton wins as a centrist and his main accomplishments achieved longstanding Republican policy objectives. Obama proved himself centrist but won because he ran as an agent of change. The open letter forgets all this: centrists are losers.

Thanks to the war machine and corporate drive for unlimited profit we are 10 years from irreversible climate chaos. There is nothing about Clinton (or the current DNC) to suggest that they would’ve acted in a decisive way had Clinton won. The DNC disarmed its own Green New Deal Committee for starters.

The DNC continues to attack Trump from the right by pushing the New Cold War, the New McCarthyism, the Space Force, and the New Arms Race. Nothing like amping up the existential threats of nuclear war, world war and climate chaos to knock the “lesser” out of the lesser of two evils. And the history is clear: both major parties have been managers of empire and corporate power long before Trump came along.

The timing of the open letter is just so revealing. Since there is no nominee they are calling on us to support anyone that gets it. Even billionaires who buy their way in? Since their arguments do not depend on Sanders or Gabbard winning the nomination this is a preemptive strike pushing us to “vote blue no matter who.” They counsel surrender just as the electoral battle is beginning.

The open letter holds back from promoting Sanders or Gabbard because then the co-signers would have to take aim at the DNC instead of just repeating the DNC’s narratives.

For at least fifty years lesser of two evils voting has been the primary strategy of radical voters. Did it work? We have been conned into giving up our right to be represented by candidates and parties that actually stand for our class interests and political values. 50 years of surrender has enabled both major parties to run hard to the right. When we give up on democracy we get the likes of Clinton and Trump — and in 2016 that meant we got Trump.

 

Predictably, the open letter falls back on “the spoiler.” They talk about vote counts in swing states to give their worn-out arguments the weight of math — but it is not math by a mile. Major elections are complex equations with at least 20 or 30 variables determining the outcome. The spoiler fallacy isolates a single variable — third party votes — and ignores the rest. That won’t get you passed high school algebra, but it will earn you high marks in the arts of scapegoating.

It’s not even good arithmetic as they never add or subtract the millions of non-voters because that would undermine the main assumption of the spoiler fallacy — that there is a scarcity of votes. There are millions of votes for anyone with vision and capacity to motivate them.

These lame arguments have failed for decades and will not work now. If the Democrats have a strong anti-austerity, anti-war and Green New Deal program — like the Green Party does — they can win over independents or the 90+ million US voters that stay home.

In effect, the open letter has already given up on Sanders and Gabbard. Instead, they punch down and punch left on the 1.5 million Green voters. Ganging up on the Green Party is not going to win Sanders the nomination.

Sanders and Gabbard supporters, you already know this to be true: these attacks against the Greens have and will be used against you too.

Worse yet, the authors totally dodge their responsibility to stand for democracy and reform the electoral system. Imagine if the DNC had put all its weight into election reform and ending voter suppression instead of Russia-Gate?

Harvard University’s Election Integrity Project (EIP) evaluated the US as the most dysfunctional electoral system among so-called “western democracies?”

As Global Research reports:

According to the EIP, U.S. elections scored lower than Argentina, South Africa, Tunisia, and Rwanda — and strikingly lower than even Brazil. Specifically compared to Western democracies, U.S. elections scored the lowest, slightly worse than the U.K., while Denmark and Finland topped the list.

The Green Party shooting itself it the foot will not make up for the failure to fight for basic democracy. The authors’ lip service to electoral reform means they have given up their right to condemn the Green Party — or anyone else to their left.

Electoral reform as mild as the “top two” primary in California has already produced credible Green campaigns for Congress in districts where no Republicans are on the ballot. Rodolfo Cortez Barrigan is a visionary candidate who got 24% of the vote in 2018 and will do far better in 2020.

Ranked Choice Voting would totally destroy the entire argument of the close-minded “open letter.” In Maine — where the people forced the politicians to accept Ranked Choice Voting — Green, teacher and activist Lisa Savage is running for Senate. People can vote for their interests and build a multi-party system at the same time — with no spoiler or lesser of two evils.

Imagine a system without voter suppression; without the constant meddling of billionaires and corporate media; without the year-long propaganda primary that gives big money and big media enormous power; without gerrymandering; without electoral fraud; without the electoral college or superdelegates — without the stranglehold of the two-party system.

Instead imagine elections with Rank Choice Voting or other forms of proportional representation, multiple parties, universal registration, automatic recounts, easy ballot access for dissenting parties, paper ballots, public funding only, or real debates. Imagine that.

But alas, the authors of the open letter appear more interested in supporting the establishment and bossing people around than reforming the system.

 

 

 

Posted in Capitalism, Climate Change, electoral strategy, Empire, Green Party, History, Movement Culture, organizing, Organizing Strategy, Red Scare, revolutionary strategy, War creates Climate Change, Working Class | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments