We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Towards a Revolutionary Left: A Critique and Proposal

Click here to access article from Facing Reality.

This document authored by activists in Philadelphia reflects the abysmal state of revolutionary politics in the US, but also, in a more positive vain, a desire to confront this reality and to offer a constructive way forward. Their focus is on the scene in Philadelphia, but their observations clearly apply to urban areas across the country. 

I read the article with a great degree of discomfort at the article's descriptions of the low level of political activity and consciousness. I have been a life-long anti-capitalist with mostly discouraging experiences dating back to the Civil Rights Movement. Having reached an advanced age, I've become disengaged from nearly all revolutionary oriented groups most of which have degenerated into insular groups with a narrow focus and with ageist prejudices. And, I have no interest in participating in reformist organizations. In spite of my own experience and observations, I had hoped for a more advanced activist left than what is described here. 
The low level of class struggle in the U.S. is reflected in the acceptance of a very mediocre level of struggle among the left. Every recent major struggle has ended in defeat, while campaigns against particular policies have produced limited reforms, but no significant upsurges. While there exist small insurgent layers of the working class that are willing to fight, most of the left organizes for reforms within capitalism.
Nevertheless, we must face reality and start from that reality to build something effective in preparation for the imminent degeneration of a liberal capitalist society into an overt, oppressive police state. This article make a valuable contribution toward that effort. 
All signs point to a deepening of the economic crisis in the coming years and decades. Contrary to what bourgeois economists claim, the global economic downturn is just beginning. Based on our assessment of the historical moment we find ourselves in, we believe that more outbreaks are coming which could be much larger and more radical than anything we have seen. To contribute to the coming struggles as effectively as possible, we believe militants...should develop...more revolutionary organizations. The clock is ticking. This will be an uphill battle, requiring perseverance, dedication, intellectual rigor, political understanding, and organizational sophistication. So far our generation has been unable to meet this challenge. Will we rise to this task before it is too late?