Tag: method

Election Heads Up — It’s a Plan

A few days ago, I ran across a fascinating post on FireDogLake by scrowder, called A failure to plan is a plan to fail – a challenge to the FDL website.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. So said a poster here on a different diary today and it got me to thinking. What is the progressive plan for dealing with the Conservadems in Congress who’ve sold us out time and again since the Reagan years?

(crickets)  Yeah, that’s the problem. The debate always comes down to this: Vote Dem or let the Repugs rule. And that’s what happens. Dems lose their base in disgust and Repugs take over. I’m just as guilty. I’ve voted Nader every election until the chance to elect a black man president outweighed the knowledge that this guy was being foisted on us by the corporatocracy.

Instead of worrying about polls, or what the Dems should be doing or what Obama isn’t doing, we should be wholly focused on getting progressives past their primary challenges and replacing Conservadems on the ballot. But we aren’t.

The point — to underline scrowder — is on what WE are doing, not on what THEY aren’t doing for us.

Rethinking the Greens

Green, green, it’s green they say

On the far side of the hill

Green, green, I’m goin’ away

To where the grass is greener still

  — New Christy Minstrels

As some of you may know, I have not considered the Green Party a viable vehicle for independent politics.  I have argued that they are organizationally calcified, obsessed with programmatics, and would lack the flexibility to adapt to a strong 3rd-party upsurge.

At the same time, I’ve noticed a lot of people touting the Greens as our best independent vehicle, citing their having thoroughly progressive politics, a nationally-recognized organization in place, and ballot status in many states and I am moved by this.  I have put in many years with independent left politics, including:

     California Peace & Freedom Party

     Barry Commoner’s Citizens Party (Northern California executive board)

     Lenora Fulani’s New Alliance Party (I was their main typesetter)

     Ross Perot’s Reform Party (active in New Jersey branch’s bloody factions)

But I have never seen as much broad 3rd-party sentiment as I am seeing now.  Not even close.  Politically chaotic, from teabaggers (whatever their leaders may tout), to commie radicals to pissed-off liberals to Golden-Mean moderates, but never as much part of the mainstream discourse.  Geez, I remember the days when 3rd party votes weren’t even counted.

So in these circumstances, I am reconsidering my position on the Greens.  It may be the case that the Greens or elements of the Greens will be more responsive to an independent upsurge than to maintaining their own organizational status quo.

Action and Avalanche

NightprowlKitty asked:

… then give us some small tactics.  You’d find a lot of folks would join in, well at least I would.  I am not experienced at this.  I’m not even sure I understand it!  But I’m ready to help even if I’m not yet ready to lead in this kind of project. I’d love an essay from you with concrete action items that illustrate these “small tactics.”

I responded to Ground with a tactic for a group of maybe 10 people that begins thus:

Go to your representative’s office, present your demands, and insist on seeing him or her.  Staffer tells you congressperson is in Washington and isn’t available.  You say, we’ll wait here until he/she comes back on the next plane.  Staffer says that’s ridiculous.  You say you’re staying.  Staffer threatens to call police.  Fork:  If police come, you treat them politely, explaining the justice of your position, then you leave, having provoked a response that provides a news hook.  If police don’t come, you stay 5 minutes past closing time, then leave.  You have defied authority, stayed out of jail.  And upset the staffer.

You could also come back when the rep is in town.

Another I’ve toyed with is for a small group of people to prepare a flier and go to a jobs fair (New York State even gives a schedule of them here).  These grotesque spectacles give the illusion that you could get a job.  The flier could say any number of things.  If the small group included unemployed people, the flier could advocate not leaving until jobs were offered to all.  Tactically, you could back down when pressured by security.  Having to be forced out by security or police becomes an issue all by itself.  If the group were all employed, it could have a general statement about unemployment and call a meeting.  Give a phone number and web page (not that expensive since the traffic would not be massive).  The very act of trying to organize at such events could provoke a reaction, and that reaction, however small, then becomes an issue.  Then you could take your group and “Go to your representative’s office …” as above, demanding the right to organize at these events.  (Organize for what?  You’d have to figure that out.)  Some of the fairs listed are for government jobs, and thus the issue would be more sensitive than if the jobs were private sector.

On General Strike

In NightProwlKitty’s essay Ground, Heather writes:

My immediate thought and what i got from that diary was that even if a person had only small opportunities to have an impact on the revenue stream like canceling the cable, but that move was part of a whole big movement under ONE umbrella framed as a general strike, which also absorbed the people making the big moves, and the people already impacted severely by the way things are, then there would be some eyes popping open.


A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants. It is also characterized by participation of workers in a multitude of workplaces, and tends to involve entire communities. The general strike has waxed and waned in popularity since the mid-19th century, and has characterized many historically important strikes.

… The classic general strike, by contrast, involves also workers (and members of the working-class) who have no direct stake in the outcome of the strike. For example, in the San Francisco General Strike of 1934, both union and non-union workers struck for four days to protest the police and employers’ tactics that had killed two picketers and in support of the longshoremen’s and seamen’s demands …

Some in the labour movement hope to mount a “peaceful revolution” by organizing enough strikers to completely paralyse the state and corporate apparatus. With this goal achieved, the workers would be able to re-organize society along radically different lines.

Since we are political people, I think it most helpful to go with the syndicalist use Wikipedia quoted in the paragraph directly above.

Method of activism pt. 2 — practicum

continued from part 1

No, these affairs did not grip all of American society.  Most people tried to go about their daily lives.  But these matters gripped the activists, and the activists were in motion, and the activists set the tone.  Not that we were better people.  Social motion allowed us to try different tactics and see what worked.  Decisions were thrust upon us whether we wanted them or not.

We HAD to address:

What kind of society should America be?

participatory democracy


social democracy




humane capitalism

back to the farm?

Stupid arguments.  Loud arguments.  Smart arguments.  Old wheels dragged out and re-invented, new wheels imagined.

Toward a method of activism pt. 1

the following is part 1 of a 2-part diary pulling together some thoughts I’ve gathered from dialoguing on DocuDharma.  I plan to publish part 2 tomorrow (Saturday).

If you wish to read it in its entirety now, it can be found on the Antemedius site.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” — Shakespeare

The overall state of dialogue on the left is incredibly banal.  It is narrow.  It is ahistorical.

Our current condition comes at the tail-end of a long deterioration.  At its best, left politics at the beginning of the 60s was alive and dynamic and creative.  At its worst, left politics by the end of the 60s had the character of the war of all against all.  The life of organizations was nasty, brutish and short.  While the tide of the movement had been rising, everyone had new blood to proselytize, recruit, mobilize, even as they excoriated each other as sellouts, petit-bourgeois deviationists and running dog lackeys.  Advocates of more radical action were successful, an active movement validated them — or bailed them out as the case might be.

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