Saturday, March 2, 2013

Propositions, Postulates and Hypotheses toward Socialist Political Organization in the U.S.

Explanation: Propositions are statements for which I have evidence, but have not yet marshaled that evidence in order to prove it. Thus they may serve as jumping off points for future essays. Postulates are statements for which I believe I’ve already made an adequate case, or for which the evidence for them is widely available, though they can certainly be discussed further as needed or desired. Hypotheses are statements about future events that, while they may appear to follow logically from the Propositions and Postulates, can be tested only through active intervention.

Proposition: The long-term decline of organized labor in the U.S. has reached a tipping point of irreversibility under the present leadership.

Hypothesis: Regeneration of working-class organization in the U.S., if it happens, will take the form of political organization before it takes the form of industrial or economic organization—as was the case in 1930s, though for different reasons than in the 1930s.

Postulate: For better or worse, most Americans, including many radically-minded Americans, think of politics as "that pertaining to or taking place at the ballot box."

Proposition: Therefore, any organization not capable of making an impact at the ballot box at all levels of government will be regarded by most Americans, even those who are radically-minded, as non- or sub-political.

Proposition: The best-case scenario for a non-political organization that aspires to function as a political organization is to persist as a propaganda group. (Worse cases being those of sects, cults, etc.)

Postulate: Any hope there may once have been for the transformation of a propaganda group into a political party by way of the gradual accretion of members is now definitely closed off. Previous examples in U.S. history (Abolitionist movement giving rise to the Republican Party; the Populists; coherence of socialist groupings into the Socialist Party and the split-off of the Communist Party) belong to a historical period which is now over.

Postulate: The U.S. not only has a large population: It is geographically, economically, and culturally diverse. No political tendency that is confined to a small number of urban metropolitan areas or certain regions/states can aspire to the type of national impact proper to a political party. Because of this, the numerical threshold for an organization to have a national impact is fairly high, even if it consists entirely of highly dedicated activists.

Hypothesis: The threshold may be as low as in the range of 5-10,000 highly dedicated activists, but certainly no less.

Postulate: There are at least that many people who consider themselves socialists or communists in the U.S., most of whom are not at present members of any organization that calls itself such.

Proposition: The anti-democratic mechanisms of the U.S. Constitution render any serious socialist or democratic reform proposal impossible of realization except through a revolutionary undertaking.

Proposition: The key dividing line among those who consider themselves socialists or communists is not what they call themselves. Nor is it whether they consider "reform" or "revolution" to be the means toward their desired aim, since the events of the 20th century and the poorly theorized understandings developed of them have rendered the term "revolution" largely vacuous. The key dividing line whether they consider the U.S. Democratic Party to be worthy of some level of support, however critical, on the part of those who seek to transform the system.

Proposition: Therefore we must subtract from the estimate those who are ideologues (i.e. false leaders) of a strategic or tactical orientation toward the Democratic Party apparatus and/or liberal public opinion (e.g.: cadres of the DSA, CoC, CPUSA, FRSO; editors and writers of the Jacobin magazine).

Proposition: Beyond that distinction, further historical distinctions (democratic socialist, however many varieties of Trotskyism, Maoism, left communism, etc.) are artifacts of past periods of struggle and distractions from the critical tasks of the moment.

Proposition: Confusion over other political expressions of the capitalist class (e.g. the Green Party) is lamentable, but capable of being overcome through the formation of a genuine political pole for the socialist- or communist-minded.

Hypothesis: Even with the necessary subtractions, if no further distinctions are insisted upon unnecessarily, there may well be enough socialist- or communist-minded individuals to serve as the basis for a national political organization of sufficient weight to have an impact at all levels of government and activism, i.e. a political party.

Proposition: It is therefore incumbent upon unaffiliated socialists to identify—not the political formation with which they presently agree on the greatest number of propositions—but the political formation most likely to serve as a nexus or point of convergence for socialist-minded individuals in political upheavals to come.

Proposition: In the age of social media, names matter.

Postulate: The Socialist Party and the Communist Party each have legacy rights to the most memorable names left for our political tradition—and the Communist Party, by acting as an adjunct of the Democratic Party, is unlikely be attractive for those disgusted e.g. with President Obama’s role in promoting austerity measures against public workers, or enabling drone assassination, warrantless wiretapping, and the maintenance of U.S. military power around the globe.

Hypothesis: From the outside at least, the Socialist Party, under the aegis of "radical democracy," appears to have developed flexible modes of organizing better adapted to our present political, social and technological realities than the various pseudo-Leninist propaganda groups—who in turn are well on the way to discrediting themselves, whether through rank opportunism, personal scandal, or ideological sclerosis and inactivity.

Proposition: All unaffiliated socialists, regardless of their political pasts or present constellation of views, should join the Socialist Party.

Hypothesis: The Socialist Party will likely need to make adjustments to itself in order to accommodate the prospect of such growth through regroupment: e.g. reviving or creating anew state and local organizations in areas where they have been dormant or absent; enlargement of the women’s commission; creation of new commissions composed of members of distinct oppressed groups facing their own modalities of oppression under capitalist rule in the U.S. (e.g. Blacks, Latinos, LGBT people, immigrants); increased emphasis in the platform on the demands now framed under the heading "environment," to reflect the degree to which the urgency of a socialist reconstruction of society derives from the ecological precipice onto which capital has been allowed to drag humanity.

Hypothesis: As part of such a process, the Socialist Party would be positioned to open negotiations with existing socialist and communist organizations, regardless of size or background, on whether and how to join forces.

As a consequence of the above considerations, I have applied for membership in the Socialist Party of the USA. If you are in the United States and consider yourself a socialist, you should too. Please visit the page for their Spring Organizing Drive.

No comments:

Post a Comment