This piece was originally published on Alternet. It has been edited slightly to reflect the now-certain nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate.
Every electoral cycle gives me the sense of “Groundhog Day” within progressive circles. It feels as if the same discussion take places over and again. No matter what has transpired in the intervening years; no matter what mass struggles; no matter what theoretical insights; progressives find themselves debating the relative importance of electoral politics and the pros and cons of specific candidates. These debates frequently become nothing short of slugfests as charges are thrown around of reformism, sell-outs and purism. And then, during the next cycle, we are back at it.
What has struck me in the current cycle are two related but distinct problems. First, progressives have no national electoral strategy to speak of. Second, elections cannot be viewed simply or even mainly within the context of the pros and cons of specific candidates. In fact, with regard to the latter, there are much bigger matters at stake that are frequently obscured by the candidates themselves.
This is the third section of a three-part series by Bill Fletcher, Jr, reposted from Philosophers for Change. The first post, available here, addressed the current political context and efforts at socialist renewal. The second post, available here, addresses: “The Arab democratic uprising and the rise of mass Left radicalism” and “The question of who makes history.” This final section explores the ways in which the left must advance long-standing socialist concepts to be relevant and effective for the 21st century.
Refounding the Left
In the aftermath of the defeat of the Paris Commune Marx and Engels had to reflect on that experience and question some of their own propositions. This level of both self-analysis and self-criticism has been repeated occasionally in Left circles, but more frequently the radical Left holds onto certain ideological assertions as basic canon rather than making a concrete and exhaustive analysis.
Reposted from the Jobs With Justice blog
One of the most striking features of the Chicago teacher's strike was the level of community support for the teachers. Contrary to public expectations, the strike turned into a social mobilization around education rather than a battle for the special interests of teachers. This feature did not come out of nowhere, but actually reflected an on-going effort to shift the direction of labor unionism in America, and in this case, labor unionism among teachers.
This is the second section of a three-part piece by Bill Fletcher, Jr, reposted from Philosophers for Change. The last post, available here, addressed the current political context and efforts at socialist renewal. This post addresses: “The Arab democratic uprising and the rise of mass Left radicalism” and “The question of who makes history”
The Arab democratic uprising and the rise of mass Left radicalism
The reshaping of the global Left, and quite possibly global politics, may have been found in the Arab democratic uprising (what some call the “Arab Spring” or Arab Democratic Revolution) that kicked off with the December 2010 rising in Tunisia. Though none of these uprisings can be described as “Left”, at least in traditional terms, and though in some places the Left played a role in the uprisings, e.g., Tunisia, the scale and scope of the uprisings has been so significant so as to send shockwaves around the planet that go beyond the Left. In effect these uprisings were anti-neo-colonial and objectively anti-neo-liberal. They were mass and were not religiously inspired (though drew upon various faiths for inspiration).[iii] And, contrary to many prior risings in the Arab World, they were not coups but rather were mass interventions that in many cases brought normal life to a halt.
Reposted from Alternet | August 9, 2012
The 2012 election will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.Let’s cut to the chase. The November 2012 elections will be unlike anything that any of us can remember. It is not just that this will be a close election. It is also not just that the direction of Congress hangs in the balance. Rather, this will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.
Unfortunately what too few leftists and progressives have been prepared to accept is that the polarization is to a great extent centered on a revenge-seeking white supremacy; on race and the racial implications of the moves to the right in the US political system. It is also focused on a re-subjugation of women, harsh burdens on youth and the elderly, increased war dangers, and reaction all along the line for labor and the working class. No one on the left with any good sense should remain indifferent or stand idly by in the critical need to defeat Republicans this year.
A discussion of the future of socialism and social transformation must be grounded in two realities. The first reality is the broader economic, environmental and state-legitimacy crises in which humanity finds itself. In other words, the convergence of these three crises means that the necessity for a genuine Left capable of leading masses of people is more pressing than ever. It means that while one cannot sit back and wait for the supposed “final” crisis of capitalism to open up doors to freedom — since capitalism is largely defined by its continual crises — it is the case that the convergence of these three crises brings with it a level of urgency unlike any that most of us have experienced. Not only is there a need for a progressive, if not radical set of answers to these crises at the level of immediate reforms, but the deeper reality is that capitalism — as a system — is incapable of providing legitimate, sustainable answers to these crises, whether individually or collectively.