The North Star at Left Forum

by The North Star on May 27, 2013

The North Star is growing; this means new collaborators, new topics, a new website, and hopefully new readers — more on this soon. It also means that we’ve organized three panel discussions for this year’s Left Forum. Stop by if you’ll be at the Left Forum, at Pace University in New York, June 7-9 — register here.


Left Third-Party Organizing: Challenges and Opportunities
Sunday, June 9, 12:00pm – 01:50pm, Room W211

Carl Davidson (Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism)
Tim Horras (Philly Socialists)
Ursula Rozum (Green Party)
Seamus Whelan (Socialist Alternative)
Chair: Ben Campbell

In an age of two-party domination and neoliberal hegemony, what opportunities exist for left electoral politics through third party campaigns? Why and when should leftists focus on third party campaigns, as opposed to Democratic Party primaries? Where should the left focus its electoral resources, and how might it overcome division? Should third-party politics be thought of in terms of consciousness-raising, or is the left in a position to affect public policy by taking power?

The Crisis of Capitalism: Five Years Later
Sunday, June 9, 03:00pm – 04:50pm, Room E307

Radhika Desai
Doug Henwood
Leo Panitch
Chair: Ben Campbell

The financial crisis of 2008 seemed to mark an inflection point for capitalist accumulation. How does the post-2008 period compare to that of pre-2008? Is global capitalism still in crisis? How does or did this crisis compare to past crises of capital, and how has or will global capitalism recover, if at all? How will this all depend on ongoing struggles of resistance?

The North Star: Strategies on Renewing the Radical Left
Sunday, June 9, 10:00am – 11:50am, Room E316

Luke Elliott
Tim Horras (Philly Socialists)
Siobhan Waters
Amy Wuest
Chair: Dario Cankovic

Recognizing that understanding and changing the world must be a collective and comradely effort, The North Star aims to serve as a space for open and rigorous discussion and debate with an aim to contribute to the reconstitution of the radical left. To this end, we’ve brought together editors and participants of The North Star project to discuss some of the questions that need to be asked and answered in order to renew a radical left with real political muscle. What is the state of the radical left in the wake of Occupy? What is the immediate task of the radical left in the United States? What lessons, positive and negative, are to be learned from past and present organizations, movements and struggles? What is our role as self-identified ‘radical leftists’ in building and advancing these organizations, movements and struggles? What are the relations between theory and practice, academia and activism, socialism and democracy, science and socialism? How should these relations impact strategy and struggle?

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Joaquin Bustelo May 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I think with an eye to developing collaboration there should be at least an informal get-together of people who feel themselves to be on the North Star “wavelength,” whatever their current affiliation and fully respecting the commitments comrades have already made, whether to the ISO, Solidarity, FRSO, Committees of Correspondence, CP or whatever.

I would say (at least in my view), the North Star outlook takes as its starting point the actual movement, whatever its stage at a given time in a given place, and seeks to raise and develop the level of the movement from within/below, not convince it to adopt pre-conceived formulas. In the first instance we try to understand, not explain; to learn, not to teach; to participate, not “intervene” along dogmatic lines.

And this outlook has been illuminated by very concrete events: the economic depression and the Occupy crystallization of class-based anger and resentment against bankers, the corporations and their government captured in the slogan “We are the 99%!”

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!”

In the longer term I would hope we could contribute to preparing and cohering folks who will play the role projected in the Communist Manifesto:

“The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.”

After nearly a century of patriarchal, hierarchical, vanguardist bullshit, let the words of the
Manifesto serve as a bucket ice water: we aren’t called upon to lead, nor to follow, but to push. Because the task is not to have working and oppressed people seize power under OUR banner, but under THEIRS.

There is no need to post here times and places for a Polaris gathering; that is easily coordinated through the already scheduled events. But I’d be interested to read how others view North Star, or how we should build upon what Peter Camejo (and his friends) were trying to do.

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Pham Binh May 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

What you call The North Star outlook/approach is what guided Marx and Engels in their 1848 activism, although the ISO’s Todd Chretien seems to think otherwise: http://socialistworker.org/2013/05/29/ready-for-the-revolutionary-wave

I’m planning two essays to build off the insights of Camejo and partly in response to Paul Le Blanc:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/camejo/1984/19841001b.htm
http://links.org.au/node/3366

The short answer is a loose network of comrades (red, black, and red/black) on similar wavelengths. This of course is nothing new: Marx and Engels had what in their day were called correspondence committees. In the absence of mass-based political formations (party or non), I think this is the way to go. It’s a strategy that is/can be sect-inclusive rather than sect-centered. Those who can’t behave properly will find themselves on the outside of these burgeoning relationships and positive developments since no one will want to cooperate with them.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) May 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm

TNS: In an age of two-party domination and neoliberal hegemony, what opportunities exist for left electoral politics through third party campaigns? Why and when should leftists focus on third party campaigns, as opposed to Democratic Party primaries? Where should the left focus its electoral resources, and how might it overcome division? Should third-party politics be thought of in terms of consciousness-raising, or is the left in a position to affect public policy by taking power?

DAVID BERGER: I must say that I find: “third party campaigns, as opposed to Democratic Party primaries” to be bizarre. The fact that after all these years the garbage pail of the DP is still considered a valid arena blows my mind. Yes, I know that workers support the DP, and it’s necessary to reach out to them. However, to imply by our actions that DP candidates, e.g. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, are somehow worth anything but a swift kick in the pants, is very strange to me.

The entire Wisconsin movement was quite ably and easily led into the DP and destroyed. Has no one learned from that?

TNS: Recognizing that understanding and changing the world must be a collective and comradely effort, The North Star aims to serve as a space for open and rigorous discussion and debate with an aim to contribute to the reconstitution of the radical left. To this end, we’ve brought together editors and participants of The North Star project to discuss some of the questions that need to be asked and answered in order to renew a radical left with real political muscle. What is the state of the radical left in the wake of Occupy? What is the immediate task of the radical left in the United States? What lessons, positive and negative, are to be learned from past and present organizations, movements and struggles? What is our role as self-identified ‘radical leftists’ in building and advancing these organizations, movements and struggles? What are the relations between theory and practice, academia and activism, socialism and democracy, science and socialism? How should these relations impact strategy and struggle?

Luke Elliott
Tim Horras (Philly Socialists)
Siobhan Waters
Amy Wuest
Chair: Dario Cankovic

DVID BERGER: Wow! Not one single person on this list, as far as I know, is actively engaged in Occupy, but you’re going to discuss it. And, absent comrades who are involved in labor work in Occupy, we have the Philly Socialists, who are not, as far as I know, involved in the labor movement, nor were they particularly involved with Occupy.

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Ben Campbell May 28, 2013 at 12:06 am

The fact that you can tell, by a list of names, whether or not somebody is “actively engaged in Occupy” is pretty clear evidence that Occupy is dead, over, past tense.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) May 28, 2013 at 8:38 am

This is an snarky, unworthy and untrue statement. If you want to avoid the slowly growing involvement of Occupy, especially Occupy Wall Street, with the working class, you can do so. But that’s on you. The 400+ workers and Occupiers who engaged in “roving pickets” on May Day didn’t come from nowhere.

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Brandy Baker June 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Okay, let’s all take a breath.

If the democratic red, black, red/black left want to work together, we should try to not be so reactive to one another when we hear opinions with which we disagree. I include myself in that group (of course when I posted this sentiment a few days ago, I got my head bit off, de-friended on FB, and was cussed out via private message, but I am still optimistic, which is why I am posting it now).

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Pham Binh May 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

Let’s not confuse Occupy’s well-being with Berger’s skill at reasoning or engaging in comradely discussion.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) May 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

Let’s not confuse Binh’s hostility with genuine political dialog. He seems incapable of dealing with political differences except in a negative manner.

I am not saying that Occupy is doing well. What I am saying is that it is far from dead. It is, in fact, the only arena I know of where people of different political flavors of leftism are trying to work together.

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Thomas Barton May 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm

It would be useful to post the address and directions to where these meetings are to take place, in case some readers not familiar with New York City may wish to attend.

The “Left Forum” link above misleadingly shows “Left Forum | Department of Sociology | CUNY Graduate Center | 365 Fifth Avenue | New York, NY 10016”

The “register here” link above does have the Pace address, with a map that can’t be copied to post in this comment window, but that is not helpful for people who may wish to go but not register in advance and so do not work to find the address at a link they will not have reason to use.

Many organizations have been known to post meeting notices with directions to the meeting. This, of course, fails to weed out the undeserving who have not shown by their diligent search for a meeting location that they are fit to participate.

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Ben Campbell May 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm

The Left Forum is at Pace University: One Pace Plaza, New York, NY. A block from city hall at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Thomas Barton May 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm

1. Clear.

2. Apologies to the moderator and list for my uncalled for sarcasm above. Bad week at work is not a sufficient excuse.

T

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John Halle May 30, 2013 at 10:52 am

Thanks-what a breath of fresh air to find “one of us” actually owning up to a mistake and apologizing for unnecessary snarkiness. (I’m not for a minute claiming I’m exempt from this criticism.)

Incidentally, possibly related to this, has anyone noticed that, if the alias used here are any indication, there seems to be virtually no participation by women in this group. Does the tone and macho posturing have something to do with this? Maybe worth considering if we are seriously interested in building an organization-rather than bickering among ourselves.

Finally, I’m not sure whether I will be able to make the Left Forum but I will be in NYC this coming Sunday afternoon in the Columbia neighborhood. If anyone wants to meet up for coffee at the Hungarian Pastry shop at around 3, I’ll be there, reading Penny Lewis’s new book on Hardhats, Hippies and Hawks.

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Darwin26 May 27, 2013 at 10:40 pm

glad to see the Green Party on board !!! in CA i was Peace ‘n Freedom but i’m in Montana now and i need to get someone to run for Baucus old seat ~ The Green Party subscribes to the NPA platform and that’s a major +++

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Darwin26 May 28, 2013 at 1:47 am

i believe Marx and Engles would have discussed Occupy from hell to breakfast ! they discussed a lot of ‘Occupies’ why not discuss ours ~ one doesn’t have to be in it to discuss it. sheeeesh dude, mellow out

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Darwin26 May 28, 2013 at 10:42 am

Yes, thank you Phan ~ point well taken :) Marx had to deal with so much of this ~ in 1851 he and Engles disbanded and aborted every org they had tried to build; to flush away the impertinent and rediculous (Blanc, Rollin, others)…

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Darwin26 May 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

it’s a feather in Phan’s hat that he continues to post Red Dave’s thoughts and feelings.
~ there is a lot more going on for the Left than meets your eyes RD… Occupy is a ‘sentiment’ at this time and whatever grows from it we hope is for the Working Class. i don’t believe anyone is disparaging it…but it doesn’t exist as an entity in many places around the US… IE it is not the only Left thing going on.

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David Berger May 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm

With all due respect D26, don’t condescend to me.

I don’t have to post here at TNS. I’m doing so because I genuinely believe that many people here are headed, eyes wide shut, towards a very large political trap: the Democratic Party. I also think that because if a lack of historical perspective, many ideas are being floated around here that are either anti-socialist (byork et al.) or just plain silly (the Philly Socialists).

I have a fair amount of experience, going back a long time. I am a feather in no one’s cap. If that’s your attitude towards me, we’ll … .

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Joe Vaughan June 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

It isn’t a feather in anyone’s hat to post comments and urge the shunning of the commentator because of vaguely alleged and undefined “improper behavior,” especially when the criteria for impropriety are defined as the guild mystery of a clique, self-evident to the illuminated and therefore inexplicable to the non-illuminated.

Intellectuals with a true grasp of Marxist history and economics are a rare and precious thing. Intellectuals in pursuit of political power, however–no matter what they think–are quite another. The evil done by the latter can easily cancel the good done by the former.

In my opinion, such people, if not ridiculous, have to be regarded as dangerous to the people until proved otherwise.

I think this exchange smacks of demagoguery.

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Richard Estes May 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm

The second panel looks interesting. Will they address social and cultural aspects of the crisis as well as econonomically material ones? Social media as a form of marketing and production seems to have significant consequences for employment and consumption. As for the other two, it would be interesting to hear their perspective about the people they intend to reach and how the left can do so.

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Louis Proyect May 29, 2013 at 8:57 am

I don’t have to post here at TNS.

Of course you do, David. It is your way of feeling that you matter, like Rosa Luxemburg challenging Eduard Bernstein or Trotsky writing dispatches from Coyoacan. Even if the whole thing is a bit of a charade, it obviously serves some purpose in an otherwise routine existence.

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PatrickSMcNally May 29, 2013 at 9:51 am

Not really sure what your point is. Are you saying that you now support the idea of working to capture the Democratic party from the inside? That would be a bit of a shift if you did.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) May 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

DAVID BERGER: I don’t have to post here at TNS.

LOUIS PROYECT: Of course you do, David. It is your way of feeling that you matter, like Rosa Luxemburg challenging Eduard Bernstein or Trotsky writing dispatches from Coyoacan. Even if the whole thing is a bit of a charade, it obviously serves some purpose in an otherwise routine existence.

DAVID BERGER: That’s a petty, unworthy and untrue remark. I thought better of you, Louis.

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Richard Estes May 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm

The odd thing here is that David and Louis agree on quite a bit when it comes to working within the Democratic Party. But you would never know it from this exchange.

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Louis Proyect May 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm

This is not about political differences. It is about the wisdom of obsessively attacking this blog as a bunch of dirty sell-outs. As I have told David repeatedly, the Internet is a good place for like-minded people to network. His daily rants remind me of what the Internet was like 15 years ago. Thank goodness it has changed.

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David Berger May 30, 2013 at 12:52 am

LOUIS PROYECT: This is not about political differences.

DAVID BERGER: Are you sure about that, Louis?

LOUIS PROYECT: It is about the wisdom of obsessively attacking this blog as a bunch of dirty sell-outs.

DAVID BERGER: Your phrase, Louis, not mine. If you’re talking about me expressing my political differences where and when I think it’s worthwhile to do do, that’s hardly obsessive.

LOUIS PROYECT: As I have told David repeatedly, the Internet is a good place for like-minded people to network.

DAVID BERGER: If you think that Facebook is the be all and end sll of communication online, let me respectfully disagree.

LOUIS PROYECT: His daily rants remind me of what the Internet was like 15 years ago. Thank goodness it has changed.

DAVID BERGER: If you think a megaschwarmeri is the ideal political milieu, you’re welcome to your opinion, needless to say, I differ.

And I would appreciate it if you canned the pop psychology and personal attacks.

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Christian May 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Will there be a the north star presence at the Socialism 2013 ( http://www.socialismconference.org/ ) conference? I think it would be great to have a table there and get some info to people.

http://www.socialismconference.org/

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Pham Binh May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Not unless some enterprising ISO members set one up. If the Left Forum continues to be held in the summer, I think it would be both wise and great for the ISO to merge its yearly conference with the Forum. That would mean dozens more panels, 1,200 more participants, and greater ISO influence on the left and vice-versa. A win-win-win if you ask me.

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Joaquin Bustelo May 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm

ISO’ers staffing a North Star table at socialism 2013?

Dude, what have you been smoking!?!?!? And whatever it is, you better share when i get to NYC next week. That must be some awesome shit.

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Pham Binh May 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm

If The North Star stands for anything, it is for a policy of non-exclusion, something I imagine someone from the pre-Barnes SWP would appreciate. You may not take that seriously but I do.

Any ISOers who might be interested should contact us through the email listed on the submissions tab.

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Brandy Baker June 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm

It would be wonderful to see that type of collaboration.

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Pham Binh June 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm

It takes two to tango and right now we’re on the dance floor solo. The North Star is a standing invitation rather than a one-time offer.

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Pham Binh May 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm

This looks interesting:
http://socialistconvergence.webs.com/

They plug our panels on their home page. Will have to investigate.

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Joaquin Bustelo May 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I just read socialist convergence’s stuff. They sound outrageously, impossibly, incredibly sane. Also, they propose something concrete and practical: round up some of your socialist friends and try to create a common space.

We’ll meet them next week and see.

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Jon Hoch June 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

I just read the Socialist Convergence stuff and liked it too. I’m down with their non-sectarian stuff and I think their jokey tone (“No disintegrations!”) will appeal more to people my age than dry, Marxist tomes, however useful the latter are. I also like their point about engaging with mainstream media outlets. Enough preaching to the choir! While I don’t have money to take out advertisements about socialism, I’ve found that most small town and small city papers will print pretty much any letter to the editor they receive. At the end of my letters I always try to link to a socialist website for more information. It amounts to free advertising that reaches thousands of readers.

ie: http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/536707/Tax-the-rich-to-fund-cinemas.html?nav=5005

Lately i’ve been linking to Socialist Worker (US), though I’m not a Trotskyist, because I think they’re at the moment the best one-stop-shop for class-conscious news. But as North Star develops a more professional looking site that is updated more frequently with posts of more consistent quality, I’ll definitely consider linking here, as I much prefer the non-sectarian approach, not tied to baggage with the Russian Revolution.

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Pham Binh June 1, 2013 at 11:03 am

Thank you. We’re working hard to be worthy of such consideration.

It never ceases to amaze me how little effort existing socialist groups put into reaching mass numbers of people using modern media. How many of them have a strategy for local papers? How many run radio shows, or T.V. programs? WBAI and the Indypendent here in NYC reach an audience of tens of thousands and offhand I don’t think there is any socialist presence in either. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into a cab driven by a Haitian immigrant or a native-born white guy who had WBAI on which of course sparked political discussion. Time Warner Cable runs its own 24-hour news channel and it’s amazing how much pro-union, class conscious stuff comes out when they air calls from viewers commenting on local events like the bus drivers strike, the mayoral or city council races, or stop-and-frisk. Socialists should be getting in on that action rather than talking to ourselves in our own special language that no working person can grasp without a PhD in left lingo (reformism, austerity, soviets).

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Jon Hoch June 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I think any time anyone writes something for a movement publication, whether it be Socialist Worker or Z Magazine or what have you, they should also try to get it published in a mainstream paper. I don’t know where everyone else is based, but my hometown paper, the print edition of which reaches 5,000 people, allows not only letters of up to 500 words, but guest commentaries of up to 1,000. You’re allowed to submit one of either every 30 days. Present a left-wing perspective to the general public, and at the very end of the article or letter link to a left-wing site.

ie. “For more class-conscious news and analysis, please visit Socialist Worker.org.”

It’s free advertising. We’ve got to stop speaking to the converted. It’s just masturbatory and dulls our ability to argue before a general audience.

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Pham Binh June 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm

All true.

My only minor beef is that there is a place for more specialized commentary/analysis. For example, my OWS reports were written for the Indypendent rather than as letters to the editor of NYT or Daily News (or NY Post) because when OWS broke out, confusion reigned in progressive circles, and among Marxists, the reaction ranged from dismissive to hostile. So I was trying to fight that trend by encouraging folks to come down to Zuccotti where history was being made (this was before OWS became Occupy). The general public at the time was sympathetic but skeptical; polls showed they didn’t think OWS would accomplish anything, and for me, editorializing against that mass sentiment would not have been a good use of time. Better to convince the people who could and should know better and who already understand the issues than beat my head against the brick wall of mass cynicism.

The other thing to say is that if the left in this country was at all healthy, we’d have teams of people doing what you’re doing as an individual in systemic, coordinated campaigns. This is what the right does very effectively. When a left professor gets friendly coverage in a bourgeois outlet, Free Republic/Tea Party scum pounce and deluge newspapers and T.V. stations with complaints and criticisms; how often does the left do that? Hardly ever, if we’re honest. The right certainly doesn’t nitpick Ann Coulter’s line on 1917 or Reagan as an excuse not to cooperate to push their agenda. They are very keen on influencing the everyman, the Joe six pack, and so they know how to dress up Chicago School economics in everyday language that speaks to common sense.

That said, I was surprised when your letter called the rich parasites. That to me seems like the very thing you’re arguing against re: language and talking to a non/apolitical audience. Really it’s a value judgment, one that is informed by the unsurpassed political economy of Marx, but a judgment nonetheless. I don’t think that talk connects with people’s everyday experience; even OWS said “we are the 99%” rather than “eat the 1%,” for example. I do think many people view Lloyd Blankfein and the Wall Street banksters as parasites because they survive and thrive on taxpayer welfare. This is common knowledge now, but the rich as a whole are not viewed this way by and large. To me, a more sensible argument is to tax the people with the money. Tax the haves, not the have-nots and the have-less-and-lesses as it were. It makes no sense to tax the broke, the indigent, the struggling to get by, and the losing ground fast, especially when so many of the rich pay no taxes at all or far less than the legal rate thanks to lawyers and loopholes.

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Jon Hoch June 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I definitely think there’s a place for commentary and analysis aimed toward those within the movement. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I didn’t. I’m actually quite a big fan of your work, and you might not remember me but we corresponded briefly over email during Occupy. I just think that within the left the ratio of stuff aimed at a general audience versus the stuff aimed toward those already within the movement is crazy messed up. My criticism certainly wasn’t aimed at you in particular. (That said, your work is excellent, so if there is a general publication near you that would be willing to occasionally publish your commentaries I would recommend you run them there and include a link to the North Star or another site of your choice in the text.)

And I’m not sure I agree with your point about me calling the rich parasites. To me, engaging with the mainstream media isn’t about changing our message, it’s about making it really easy and palatable to understand. So for instance, if I said the rich “lived by extracting surplus value from the proletariat,” no one would have any idea what I was talking about and the few that did would think I was a bit of an Ivory Tower wanker. Instead, I tried to communicate the same message, in relatively easy terms to understand, by, for instance ,calling the rich parasites. Now if your point is that people respond better to positive statements (“We are the 99%”) rather than negative ones (“Eat the 1%”) that’s a different conversation. You’d probably be right. But I also think there’s a lot of untapped class rage out there and if a reader5 sees an explanation of how capitalism works that they understand and agree with, that comes with a link to more commentary like it, I think you might be able to draw people in. But really I have no idea what the answer is.

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Pham Binh June 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Yes, Jon I remember you from when you posted on Unrepentant Marxist about whether or not to bring a sleeping bag. ;) Those were the days!

I didn’t intentionally bust your chops or nitpick (although my inner Trot is hard to suppress sometimes). I was trying to explain The North Star orientation which is towards the existing left and self-identified leftists (or maybe developing leftists) rather than the general public at large.

One of the striking things to me about Occupy and the left was/is the absence of a venue for any type of self-reflection/criticism and strategy elaboration. You’re either on board with the party line or not and so broaching really tough/painful issues is all but impossible. The week of the OWS eviction, I was going to write up a report about how OWS dealt with (or failed to, but then began to as the months wore on) with sexual assaults in the encampment. The sects railed about OWS being too cop-friendly but the complete opposite was the case — they (like the UK SWP…) refused to involve the police in sexual assault cases and also refused to expel accused rapists from the encampment, letting them roam freely, since booting them out would be “authoritarian.” No one signs up for a movement to be a bouncer or a cop, that I understand, but the alternative to self-policing or involving the actual police is a free-for-all for criminality which puts vulnerable and oppressed people at risk. So eventually they did call the cops and develop a process involving liasons to the police, sexual assault experts, and the proper authorities.

The difficulty for me was that no one wanted to talk about this problem, and many assaulted/groped/harassed women were reluctant to go to the corporate press about it because they knew their experiences would be used as fodder against OWS, and there was no means within the movement to air the issue ina constructive manner either. OWS Journal and Occupywallstreet.net either ignored movement problems or whitewashed them. So I’m hoping TNS can help fill this void of being a place where things that need to be said can be said in addition to being a non-sectarian, non-jargony, non-1917 obsessed vehicle.

Re: the rich. For me, I just don’t see a lot of traction happening among workers and oppressed peoples with blanket demonization of people who happen to have tons of money. Most of us dream of winning the Powerball and becoming rich someday. The lines at the bodegas where I live for that last $500 million jackpot attest to this widespread aspiration among the people. I see demonizing the rich as such as an old left hobby horse rather than a political or strategic necessity for us, and I’m also wary of trying to whip up resentment because I think it tends to impede class consciousness rather than raise it. Usually people become resentful and indignant because their consciousness has sharpened as the result of a particularly egregious outrage (think Kent State, Ramarly Graham, Ludlow massacre) or because the course of struggle has revealed some new, shocking truth (cops beating up women and old ladies on behalf of banksters) rather than resentment leading to greater consciousness. People on a mass scale definitely hate banksters, CEOs, and Mitt Romneys, but they also hate those deemed to be lazy, incompetent, not pulling their weight, and/or “whiners” and resentment is an emotion rather than a thought so it can cut in both progressive and reactionary directions. I’ll never forget the middle-aged white bus driver sitting on a lawn chair at a picket line in Queens during a small 2003 strike during my ISO days telling me how much he hated welfare moms (almost certainly minorities) riding his bus and I snapped at him, “so who are your striking against, them or your bosses?” That shut him up but I don’t think I succeeded in changing his mind. That’s why I think blanket denunciations of the rich as such don’t resonate much beyond the ranks of the already conscious, aware leftist, but I could be wrong. I do think linking left sites is a good idea though.

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Jon Hoch June 2, 2013 at 5:32 am

Good luck with TNS!

I’m still not quite sure I agree with you on the uselessness of attempting to demonize the rich. As the environmentalist Bill McKibben recently said, movements need an enemy to mobilize against. My armchair psychology tells me that most people’s lives suck and it’s our nature to look for someone to blame. Much better it be the rich than immigrants, or African-Americans, etc. And you know, as people become more conscious we can kind of point out, “Hey, it’s not really the rich as people we’re opposed to; it’s their place in society.” ie. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. But again, I really have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m not a big strategic thinker and could be easily swayed by a good argument.

Anyway, it’s five in the morning here and I’m a little hungover, so I’m going back to bed!

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Arthur June 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Agree with Jon Hoch re the rich and with both re usefulness of both internal and external discussion.

But a significant part of internal discussion should be ABOUT how to present external discussion.

eg Its way past time to be drafting material for mainstream consumption about why intervention in Syria is urgent. Actual drafting and discussion about that would be far more useful. I suspect its hindered by the wrong analysis that there’s no possibility of positive action resulting from efforts to convince the mainstream.

PatrickSMcNally June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I believe that David Berger may have already requested that Arthur should start “drafting material for mainstream consumption about why intervention in Syria is urgent.” Have you tried sitting down with John McCain to hammer out a transcript? It might be useful to see it.

Arthur June 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm

That response from PSMcN confirms the problem. Re-establishing a genuine left that actually opposes fascist dictators requires taking those ideas out to the mainstream, not getting bogged down by people who just don’t get it.

The main value of arguing with such people should be in sharpening arguments to influence the mainstream. A focus on what they have in common with mainstream conservatives (eg cynicism, apathy, lack of concern for “foreigners”, islamophobia etc etc) can help do that while getting distracted by their pathetic attempts to appear somehow more “radical” and “anti-imperialist” than people who do want to fight fascist dictatorships is just a waste of time.

Certainly John McCain is doing a better job on Syria than anyone here.

Pham Binh June 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm

This is something I wrote for a more general audience: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=2328

Richard Estes June 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm

A number of college campuses has radio stations operating under FCC educational licenses. A condition of this license is that they provide a specified number of hours of public affairs programming. The University of California has 5 such stations, including the one where I program my show, KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, California. I recommend that people look into whether such stations exist in their area (and they aren’t necessarily just college ones), and, if so, what sort of student and community programming opportunities exist. Stations sometimes have difficulty finding people to produce such programming locally, and purchase syndicated programming to fulfill the requirement. Some are fine with it, but others would be happy to have someone programming it locally for free instead. Even if you don’t want to program, you can call the shows and comment on them.

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Brandy Baker June 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I am a big, big proponent of buying up as much advertising as we can with our meager budgets.

When we ran a gubernatorial campaign in 06′ we spent 1k for a billboard which bought us space for a month. Every Friday, we would stand on front of the billboard and wave to folks with signs and pass out lit to cars coming by. It got us more media coverage. We also did radio ads on local stations. During election time, he costs of some of those AM ads really drop.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) June 1, 2013 at 10:01 am

Problem with Socialist Convergence, and you can see it on their website, is a complete absence of any strategy, except for electoral action and socialists uniting. Uniting on what basis?

My experience, even in the past year and a half, is that the best opportunity for socialist unity, regroupment, convergence, etc., is joint action with those forces of labor, primarily at the bottom, that are in motion.

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Joe Vaughan June 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

“forces of labor . . . that are in motion”

Put it another way: if the forces of labor are not in motion, no amount of conferencing can make up for the lack.

Which, to be sure, is different from saying that socialist conferences should never happen or won’t make a difference under any circumstances. Nor does it follow that The North Star are “a bunch of sellouts” who wouldn’t know labor in motion if it bit them.

Nevertheless, this is well said and appropriate here.

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Pham Binh May 31, 2013 at 12:20 pm

These panels are by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy.

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Pham Binh June 1, 2013 at 10:51 am

Here’s the Facebook event page for our three panels: https://­www.facebook.com­/events/­572057789512166/

Spread far and wide!

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David Berger (RED DAVE) June 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

ARTHUR: That response from PSMcN confirms the problem. Re-establishing a genuine left that actually opposes fascist dictators requires taking those ideas out to the mainstream, not getting bogged down by people who just don’t get it.

DAVID BERGER: (1) You wouldn’t know the “genuine left” if it bit you on the ass. (2) You don’t know what fascism is. (3) For you the “mainstream” is the imperialist ruling class.

ARTHUR: The main value of arguing with such people should be in sharpening arguments to influence the mainstream.

DAVID BERGER: I’m sure your version of the “mainstream” can always use an apologist or two under the guise of being a socialist. So, by all means continue trying to influence them. ‘Cause you’re sure not influencing anyone else.

ARTHUR: A focus on what they have in common with mainstream conservatives

DAVID BERGER: Hint: John McCain is a “mainstream conservative.”

ARTHUR: (eg cynicism, apathy, lack of concern for “foreigners”, islamophobia etc etc)

DAVID BERGER: Hint: In English, as in all other languages, words have meanings. If you want to demonstrate that people around here have the above traits, you will need to demonstrate this using something called “evidence.” That’s another English word that also has a meaning.

ARTHUR: can help do that while getting distracted by their pathetic attempts to appear somehow more “radical” and “anti-imperialist” than people who do want to fight fascist dictatorships is just a waste of time.

DAVID BERGER: Hint: Making an alliance with the imperialist ruling class is not a good way to fight fascism.

ARTHUR: Certainly John McCain is doing a better job on Syria than anyone here.

DAVID BERGER: Then by all means you should enter into a political alliance with him. Here’s how to get in touch with him:

http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.contactform

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Pham Binh June 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm
Jon Hoch June 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

PB: “This is something I wrote for a more general audience: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=2328

You’re a badass writer Pham! I guess my quibble is about the method you used to distribute it and the people were distributing to. First of all, pamphlets? That seems pretty old school to me. How many people do you think actually read your article? My guess is that it would have been a lot more if it had been published in a mainstream newspaper. That way you would have had thousands of people reading it in print and likely many more reading it online and sharing it over social networks. Why ghettoize ourselves? Second, while the audience you were targeting was larger than the one NS targets, it was still a relatively small group, being those who were active participants in the Occupy. Again, I’m not saying there’s not a place for this kind of internal criticism, but you’re such a good writer I think your talent would be better used targeting as wide an audience as possible. One of your big strengths as a writer I think, besides being able to explain complex ideas relatively clearly, is that you’re able to take radical positions without sounding like your foaming at the mouth, which is a problem I suffer from, haha.

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Pham Binh June 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm

It went out in the thousands on Occupy Wall Street’s post-eviction tables in Union Square and next to Trinity Church over the course of six months, plus a local anarchist tabling outfit In Our Hearts had it as well. Very old school but very effective in this particular case. If Marxists wrote good stuff, people would want to read it and you wouldn’t have to force it on them or argue with them to look at it the way parents try to get kids to eat their veggies. When something is good, you can’t stop people from seeking it out.

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Pham Binh June 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

They key is to make people an offer they can’t refuse. Malcolm X was the master of this. No one could argue with his common sense, down-to-Earth logic. Another example that I’m proud of is a quarter sheet flyer I did: http://www.thenorthstar.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/OWSyria.jpg

I’ve actually offered to custom make the PDF of Common Sense for several radical/socialist groups with a back cover detailing specific local struggles/initiatives for readers to plug into. Folks from Socialist Alternative expressed interest but never followed up. I figure it beats most of what’s available plus it’s much cheaper than producing and distributing a monthly wannabe Iskra/Pravda, but perhaps it would open people’s minds a bit too much and provoke too many uncomfortable questions from prospective recruits.

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Jon Hoch June 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I still think you would reach a larger number of people and have a greater influence by trying to seek publication in mainstream publications (even if they’re small). But you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Pham Binh June 4, 2013 at 7:08 pm

True, I could go the Sunkara/Henwood route but I think writing Common Sense in mainstream publications would be pissing in the wind in the sense that it wouldn’t contribute to a better, healthier, more effective left that is actually merged with the oppressed and exploited that I think is a precondition to ending our side’s decades-long losing streak in the class war. That really is the whole point of TNS, which is an open-ended and collaborative experiment rather than the “Pham Binh show.”

If you (or others) have any ideas how we could make things better and more participatory here, don’t hold back.

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Jon Hoch June 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I’m a little tired so maybe I’m just reading you incorrectly. But are you saying writing for a general audience is “pissing in the wind?” Seems like there wouldn’t be much hope for us if that was the case. Surely I’m reading you wrong.

Anyway, I’m off to bed. Night TNS.

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Pham Binh June 5, 2013 at 10:11 am

That would be a strange thing to say given my first comment to you in this discussion. I agree with you that the ratio of left output aimed at itself versus the 99% is messed up; my only point is that I can’t do much to fix that balance even if I completely ditched left writing for a mainstream orientation. The Common Sense pamphlet taught me a lot (I wish I had thought of it during the encampment to stick it in the People’s Library! I was too busy unlearning “Leninist” pseudo-vanguardism), namely, that writing for a non-radical audience on its own, independent of a struggle, cause, concrete activity, or generalized plan does not necessarily lead to much in the way of a stronger, healthier left which is my focus these days. One of the big problems with the existing left is that we have no mechanism for talent development or for promoting skilled people. If you look at the planetanarchy.net site, you’ll see I’ve been scribbling since I was 16 back when Clinton was president, so if my stuff is readable now, it was the result of a lot of effort over many years. The writing endemic to party line outlets makes instruction manuals seem exciting. Who and what gets published is more a function of cliques and repeating tired shibboleths and when you learn that that is the way it’s “supposed” to be done, you wonder why people don’t even finish your leaflets. I’m hoping outlets like TNS can help with this problem so that comrades learn how to be more effective propagandists and agitators.

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Jon Hoch June 5, 2013 at 11:52 am

Here here.

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Darwin26 June 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

TNS is being and promoting Effective Agitators and deseminators of fine Leftware ~ imo thank you,

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Pham Binh June 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

ISO’s recommended panels:
http://socialistworker.org/2013/06/06/recommended-at-left-forum

Glad to see Gopal will be speaking on Syria.

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Deran June 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I don’t suppose any of these panels will be streamed on the internet? Or at least video taped so those of us far away can partake from a distance? Thanks.

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Pham Binh June 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

InshAllah we will have video and printed material coming out over the next 1-2 weeks on a new and improved site.

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Deran June 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Hamdallah. Thank you.

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Jon Hoch June 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

So Pham said earlier that if we had any ideas for the sites not to hold back. I’m taking him at his word. I’m full of really stupid ones so feel free to shoot this or any other down!

But would it be beneficial for TNS to have an affiliated forum? I wouldn’t want it to be a talk shop where we just bust each other’s chops for not following the perfect line, but rather an organizing tool. It could be divided up into regions, sort of like this one is, except much more specific:

http://libcom.org/forums

Instead of by continents it could be divided by cities. For instance, I just moved to Saratoga Springs, NY. I’d really like there to be a place that would show up when someone Googles “Saratoga Socialists” or “Saratoga Anarchists” or “Saratoga Progressives.” As it currently stands, nothing comes up (aside from “Saratoga Springs Progressive Insurance” lol). Even if a section got very, very, very few posts, it could be useful if it facilitated a few connections.

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Pham Binh June 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

This is a good idea. Dario Cankovic and I were discussing something similar for the revamped site and it’s also a lot like the Excel spreadsheet Andrew Gorman of the SP put together that has 30 red groups’ branch-level contact info. All of this should be put together into one interface; which is best I’m not sure. I know I lurk in the Practice section of Revleft for this reason.

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Andrew Gorman June 10, 2013 at 2:23 am

By the way Binh, did you ever save a copy of that spreadsheet? I haven’t updated it in a couple of months, and Im not sure the link is still accessible to the public from my site anymore.

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Pham Binh June 10, 2013 at 4:42 am

I do. I’ll get it to you later today. I might tweak the formatting a bit if it’s going to be public.

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Darwin26 June 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Good and Interesting idea for City Socialist /etc Club sites especially in Fly-over country like Montana.

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Jon Hoch June 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Ideally it would be done by cities, but even if it was divided by regions, with each city getting it’s own thread it would be helpful. For instance, I know there’s a Socialist Party of Central New York. But there’s no equivalent for upstate New York. So even if Upstate New York just got it’s own forum, which was welcoming to progressives of various persuasions, and each city got it’s own thread, it would be cool. I mean the Adirondack Park, while pretty underpopulated, is a pretty big geographic area. I think if you type “Adirondack Socialists” into Google all you get is a short history of radicalism I wrote for the local paper years ago. Kind of sad. I know there’s like minded people there though, because small city and town Occupy events were popping up all over the place in 2011.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 4:45 am

Wherein I complain about shit in the hopes it gets better and is not just annoying:

1. Socialist is misspelled on Socialist Party USA’s main page. “Socialit?” C’mon. It’s clear the site gets very few visitors since it hasn’t been pointed out yet.

2. What’s the deal with Socialist Party USA’s logos? They look like they haven’t been updated in 30 years.

3. Link to to SPUSA’s publication The Organizer on main page doesn’t work.

4. It seems like SPUSA focuses more on the print edition of their publications. This seems entirely stuck in the past. Why are articles still clustered together in “issues?” Why are articles only available as PDFs, so they assumably won’t be picked up by Google? Why do they have three separate publications in the first place when all of them are updated infrequently?

5. SocialistParty-usa.net? Is that really the best we can do? Who owns SocialistPartyUSA.org? How much would it cost to purchase?

Sorry to be a dick. It’s 4 in the morning and I feel like shit. But I really want to be able to recommend the SPUSA site to peeps and right now it’s kind of like amateur hour.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 4:57 am

Sorry if that sounded too mean! I meant it as constructive criticism. But reading my message over it sounds way, way, way too harsh.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 8:02 am

One last bit of constructive criticism that hopefully doesn’t come across as too asshole-ish:

Who is responsible for the Occupy Wall Street site? It seems to have gone progressively further and further down hill since the camps were removed. This is frustrating, as for instance, I know a guy who I brought with me to OWS NYC who won’t read socialist blogs but regularly checks the OWS website. At the risk of sounding like an absolute jerk, this seems kind of like a new low: http://occupywallst.org/article/the-world-beyond-capitalism-a-poem/

First of all, if we’re going to be posting anti-capitalist art, why are we posting poetry? It hasn’t been a relevant medium to the masses in, what, 100 years or so? Second, and I’m going to be frank while hoping not to hurt anyone’s feelings, the poem isn’t the best.

There’s tons of stuff going on that could be written about. If they’re completely lacking writers, it would be much better to just repost stuff from other sources.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

I was posting from a location that had very slow internet connection before so wasn’t able to watch the video. I’ve since watched it. The animation and the reading-aloud adds a little but I still don’t think the poem is very good (especially alone on the page) or that poetry is an art form that means much to most people. I’m honestly pretty surprised it came from the Guardian. I just assumed a rank and file activist wrote it.

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Pham Binh June 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

Slam poetry has quite an underground following although it’s a bit of an avante garde thing. Rap is really where it’s at though in terms of a mass art form of poetry. If I’m not mistaken their site is run by the OWS media group, but without a mass movement/occupation to hold them accountable, they are left to their own devices it seems. I’ve heard complaints that the OWS Facebook page promotes conspiracy theories about the Syrian revolution as well. The healthier elements (and healthier is a relative term) are involved in a smattering of other projects so whatever is up on the website is hardly representative of anything other than a few handfuls (cliques) of activists.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 11:08 am

You’re completely right about the fact that there simply isn’t a mass movement behind the OWS site anymore to hold whoever runs it accountable. But I think some of the low quality stuff they’ve been putting out could be an argument for paid staffers, which I know is a discussion we’ve had on TNS before. I guess I think the left is throwing the baby out with the bath water in an overreaction to where Leninism has led by dismissing the need for professional revolutionaries. I mean, surely the Civil Rights movement had paid organizers and, correct me if I’m wrong, but it didn’t degenerate into some kind of unaccountable vanguard party primarily concerned with looking after its own bureaucratic self-interest. Just imagine if right now Pham, instead of doing whatever his day job was, was being paid to publish and edit the Occupy Wall Street site full time. It’s a great platform that a lot of people who haven’t necessarily trudged through Das Kapital read, but it’s losing credibility fast, primarily because there’s no movement behind it, but also because the content on the site is shitty.

Anyway, sorry if I’m posting too much. I’m still waiting on that background check to start my new job. If it comes today I can go to orientation tomorrow. If it doesn’t I have to wait until Saturday. I’m losing my mind. You wouldn’t believe how much Xbox I’ve played, haha.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) June 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

I was unable to attend the Left Forum last weekend due to important personal commitments. I have a question for the “owners” of TNS:

Did anyone at any of the forums sponsored by TNS state publicly and clearly that:

(1) TNS supports Democratic Party candidates;

(2) TNS supports US intervention in Syria?

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Pham Binh June 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

No, because TNS doesn’t have a party line. Please read the “about” section for more information.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) June 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

“Disingenuous” is your middle name, Pham. Enjoy it. Most political people I am in touch with on the Internet are well aware off the political tendency that TNS represents. And the fact that you censor other opinions demonstrates this.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Red Dave….

I know absolutely nothing on Syria, so I’m not going to take an opinion on it. But who is Pham censoring? You seem to be commenting quite a bit.

I’m not really sure what you’re referring to when you say the TNS endorses DP candidates, but if that’s your criteria to utterly dismiss someone do you also dismiss Noam Chomsky and the late Howard Zinn, who also endorsed lesser-evilism in swing states at one point or another?

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David Berger (RED DAVE) June 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm

JON HOCH: I know absolutely nothing on Syria, so I’m not going to take an opinion on it. But who is Pham censoring? You seem to be commenting quite a bit.

DAVIDBERGER: I have quite a few documents that I have posted to TNS and were not printed. Others have mentioned the same practice. It seems, interestingly, to have slacked off recently.

JON HOCH: I’m not really sure what you’re referring to when you say the TNS endorses DP candidates, but if that’s your criteria to utterly dismiss someone do you also dismiss Noam Chomsky and the late Howard Zinn, who also endorsed lesser-evilism in swing states at one point or another?

DAVID BERGER: It has been a general practice of the Left, outside of the Communist Party and various social democratic groups, to avoid the DP like the plague. I am aware that both Zinn and Chomsky supported Democrats. I have great respect for both these men, but on this issue, we differ.

Several months ago, when this issue first came up, it was denied that Pham Binh, for instance, was actually calling for support of Democrats. Then we had a statement of a strategy of running candidates in DP primaries and, if they lost, running the same candidates as independents.

Now, in the case of Chokwe Lumumba, whose published political positions since he became a Democrat, have been totally mainstream (yes, I’m aware of much that he has published on process, as opposed to issues), we have out-and-out support for a Dem.

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Pham Binh June 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Lumumba speaks on his relationship to the Democratic Party and independent politics. He explains how he is not a Democrat and yet ran on the Democratic ticket:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igOV_3PZ0JM

His platform developed in conjunction with local mass assemblies:
http://mxgm.org/the-jackson-plan-a-struggle-for-self-determination-participatory-democracy-and-economic-justice/

This guy is now the Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi and Berger is raising hell about the fact that I don’t share his dim view about this development. In fact, I don’t know anyone who does, except the local white supremacists and businessmen.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Where I’m at right now the internet is too slow to load Youtube videos. And I actually have to meet someone in a second so I only had a chance to skim the Jackson Plan. But it seemed pretty good to me. At the end of the day what ticket he runs on is kind arbitrary, right? It’s what he does that matters.

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PatrickSMcNally June 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I’m not aware of anyone here who has yet expressed a “dim view about this development.” I didn’t have a “dim view” when Obama beat first McCain and then Romney. After all, I had never supported either of them, so why would I take a dim view when they lost? Where I did have substantive disagreements with some purported “Leftists” was when they tried to pass off Obama’s victory as somehow representing specifically a victory for a Left-wing, rather than just the victory of one bourgeois candidate over another.

Now it’s true that there can be differences in the way that a local election functions versus the national elections which Obama won in 2008 & 2012. I’ve generally abstained from tossing around any judgments about this Lumumba election because I don’t think that I’ve taken the time to gather enough information where I could make a serious opinion. But you are the one who is here putting forth the view that the Lumumba-win represents some kind of Leftist victory. The responsibility is on you to justify that verdict, not for anyone else to justify taking a “dim view about this development.”

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Pham Binh June 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

You should read through some of the material I posted so we can have an intelligent discussion about the issues involved in the Lumumba case then. I’m not sure how a member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement who beat the much-better funded incumbent in the primary and the business interests the guy represented could be construed as a/the bourgeois candidate. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

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PatrickSMcNally June 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Believe it or not, I read through some of that stuff almost a year ago. You should read some of the statements Obama made when he was beginning his political career prior to 2008 so we can have an intelligent discussion about how candidates throw out general cool-sounding statements in the run-up to an election. That does especially have a long history with candidates who run as Democrats.

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Pham Binh June 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Lumumba’s program wasn’t written by him alone but by his constituents and so there’s no basis for comparing him to Obama, except maybe the African name thing but that’s as facile as it gets.

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Jon Hoch June 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Welcome to another addition of Jon’s Unsolicited Advice That He Brainstorms While Waiting to Pass A Background Check…

Is there anyway that we could start a united left podcast that would include discussion of current events between people of various anti-capitalist tendencies? It could be done over Skype, so geography wouldn’t be an issue. How great would it be though to get Pham Binh, Alan Maas, the Jacobin guy, and a few others together each week to just talk? Maybe we’d end up finding out we have a lot more in common then we think. Either way, even if you ended up disagreeing I think it would end up building unity. It’s a lot easier to be uncivil over text. I like the format of the Slate Culture Gabfest. They have regular panelists, with occasional guests, that you become acquainted with and each week they focus on three current events and discuss them each fifteen-or-so minute segments. We could do something similar. I think someone from TNS should make a really public invitation so the ball is in their court in terms of building bridges. And if they end up turning you down they’ll just end up looking bad.

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Darwin26 June 18, 2013 at 1:50 am

Good luck with the Job Jon,

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