Redefining Notions of Party Composition for the Green Party

by Andrew Stewart on August 17, 2017

In June 2017, a member of the southern Massachusetts Green Party local based out of Fall River, a short drive away from Providence, informed me that he and several of his fellow Greens would be getting a table at Rhode Island PrideFest, the annual LGBTQQIA+ street carnival. I responded by pointing out how the RI Greens are part of a coalition with a local Black/Brown LGBTQQIA+ organization that has a longstanding critique of PrideFest, which has become a corporatized event featuring booths from Bank of America and a police presence, ergo it would be problematic for the Rhode Island Greens to have a presence at the carnival. What proceeded from this was an exercise in redundant identity gymnastics and accusations before finally the Massachusetts group acknowledged that there was some validity to this critique. The fact I am openly queer also made it frankly hilarious.

I mention this at the outset not because it soothes my ego or gives me joy in diminishing the praxis of a sister Green Party but because it is demonstrative of a glaring flaw within the nationwide Green Parties structure. We essentially have a situation now where there is an organization in Washington DC that calls itself the Green Party of the United States and carries on with pretenses of being a national presence but which in reality is just one of multiple individual state parties that have absolutely no de facto coordination mechanisms with a central authority and other parties. It is possible for sister parties to communicate via email forums but the structure of decentralized democracy makes decision making far different than the style of previous Left political parties. This can be attributed to several factors, including those pointed out by Tom MacMillan in his column The Green Party’s Political Independence Problem. However, I would like to offer a set of suggestions that might create a more coherent national party that is unified yet also maintains the level of democracy that longtime members aspire for.

My thesis is posed as a question, can a Green Party adapt the best elements of the Old Left Marxist-Leninist praxis while simultaneously avoiding the distasteful ones? My argument is that such is possible if a historical context is properly grasped.

The desirable aspects of Communist praxis to my mind are the democratic centralism, the notion of the vanguard party, and the dual nature of praxis being both in the ballot box and the streets. The distasteful ones are the cult of personality, which generated ostracism and purges from the rank and file membership regularly, and the dogmatism tied to politics taking on features of religion rather than praxis.

At the outset it is worthwhile to point out the work of late anthropologist Anthony F.C. Wallace, which speaks to the final distasteful aspect, dogmatic sectarianism. In a 1956 paper titled Revitalization Movements he pointed out the phenomena which manifests itself in Left politics today as cults, sects, and grouplets that worship the glorious leader (living or deceased, from my experience, seems to be interchangeable, demonstrated by the perpetuity of Leon Trotsky’s veneration). Revitalization movements make a promise to those who find traditional forms of recourse unsatisfactory and exist across the entire spectrum of human experience. They promise a solution to a problem which is not being solved by alternative means. When the individual or group recognizes the failure of old methods to solve a problem, they go through five stages.

  1. Reformulation of the cultural pattern;
  2. Its communication;
  3. Organization of a reformulated cultural pattern;
  4. Adaptation of the reformulated pattern to better meet the needs and preferences of the group;
  5. Cultural transformation;
  6. Routinization, when the adapted reformulated cultural pattern becomes the standard cultural behavior for the group.

I mention this because, while there are certainly those who would like to see Greens take up Marxist-Leninist practices, a segment would automatically be alienated by my proposed redefinitions because it fails to offer the systemic behaviors such revitalists depend on. Putting it another way, the intention here is to reformulate Leninist practices to alienate from the outset cultists and sectarians.

In order to properly discuss this, we should understand that Leninist practices are first and foremost strategies that emerged in a period when communication technology was advanced to a certain point that we no longer are located at in this period. While much scholarship has emphasized the role of tsarist oppression in the period prior to 1917, I have yet to see articulation that places communication and media history front and center, something I see as essential.

At this time in history, the major method of communication was the telegraph and paper-based communiques carried by railroad. Telephones were a luxury item and home entertainment gimmick, equivalent in value to a phonograph, which was the medium of recorded sound. Furthermore, it was not until the 1920s that the gramophone, which we colloquially know as the vinyl record, became standardized with sizes of 12-inch, 10-inch, and 7-inch discs, prior to that alternative methods included cylinders and discs made of various substances. Radio communication was still experimental and it was not until the 1920s that vacuum tube technologies would allow for the receiver to become an appliance at home receiving daily broadcasts from licensed stations. As such, the Leninist methods were formulated as practices to accommodate the need for upwards of a week before a message would connect to the furthest reach of the Bolshevik Party’s presence in the Russian empire. Ergo the reverence for those methods being practiced exactly as they were prior to 1917 is roughly equivalent to a nostalgic aspiration to have an entire film library on Betamax cassettes or laserdisc.

What follows a set of preliminary sketches that is intended to update these Leninist methods for the Green Party’s American eco-socialist movement. I will admit from the outset that, as these sketches utilize already-existing methods, there certainly is room to fill in further details or correct so to accommodate needs.

Democratic centralism

The Green Party needs to actualize itself as a national party by suborning the multiple state parties to the Green Party of the United States. Lenin’s formulation of “freedom of discussion, unity of action”, stripped of its Cold War shibboleths and prejudices, is in reality commonsense with regards to how any political party should behave. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties exercise a uniformity on messaging and policy efforts, even if dissent within the ranks does surface from time to time. However, only so much dissent is acceptable before the dissident is ousted from the party, case and point being Dennis Kucinich, who was re-districted out of his Congressional seat for being too far to the left of the mainstream Democratic consensus. Furthermore, the case of David Cobb’s nomination at the 2004 Green Party convention despite the majority desire to nominate Ralph Nader for the presidential ticket neutralizes any serious counterarguments against this notion, as does the case of the 2016 recount effort by Jill Stein.

The key to actualizing a democratic centralism that avoids the failings previously seen in groups like the Communist Party USA is provided by the internet. There exist onetime-only polling technologies that can be used by members on issues being worked through in the state parties, which in turn submit their results to the national party. The national Steering Committee should have reports submitted to them by state parties that, while brief, give fair hearing to dissenting arguments alongside a majority opinion and polling results. From anecdotal evidence, it is my understanding that current means of communication via existing email list unfortunately have become cumbersome and unwieldy.

The internet message board, chat room, and telephone/video conferencing technologies (Skype, Facebook, Google Hangout, etc.) can and should facilitate lively and open debates that offer all the opportunity to voice their opinions. Such forums should be archived and made available on request for the Steering Committee to review. The debate periods should have firm start and end dates in order to prevent chaos. Already we have seen shadows of such a system in place, particularly with conference calls on Green strategy following the election. Many of these aforementioned technologies are available for free or low prices that the national party could and should invest in.

The notion of the vanguard party

This formulation in particular is sourced to the Johnson-Forest Tendency, a relatively small but highly influential collaborative that included Grace Lee Boggs, CLR James, and Raya Dunayevskaya that emerged from the Trotskyist movement in the 1940s and into the ’50s. They argued that the Soviet Union and the United States were both state capitalist societies, meaning that the state would engage in for-profit capitalist enterprises that would be as exploitative to the working class regardless of which side of the Iron Curtain they occupied. In the neoliberal epoch that began with Jimmy Carter’s deregulatory policies, we should further augment this analysis with an understanding of how the coordinates of struggle have been shifted. The state now desires to disown public utilities and infrastructure and transfer custodial duties to private capital. This is caused by the fact that the public sector is the last bastion of organized labor whereas the private sector is either unorganized or protected from potential organization by so-called Right to Work laws. On such a plane of class warfare, we should adjust organizational and political efforts to accommodate. Rather than utilizing the mechanism of traditional labor unions, instead organizers should create worker-owned employment agencies that take on the collective bargaining and other duties of a union but under the auspices of a large-scale employer that can take advantage of the so-called free market tax breaks and credits that have been implemented to benefit private capital now for a generation.

In effect, the training of the vanguard is not an external activity provided by the party, it is capitalist exploitation itself that teaches the working class how to be revolutionaries. The state capitalist leadership of any country, be they Communists, Islamists, or liberal democratic parties, are barely able to contain and control a vibrant and revolutionary upsurge that is always at a moment’s notice able to spontaneously develop into a mass movement. Prof. Noel Ignatiev, a James scholar, describes it as “the society of disciplined spontaneity, which for James was the definition of the new world.”

In this sense the vanguard notion, the “groups of people who are more resolute and committed, better organized and able to take a leading role in the struggle”, is centered on the experiences of those who face the harshest depredations of the capitalist system, namely the colonized and single mothers of color. Practically speaking, we see emerge a cadre of single Black working class mothers, queer poor Latinx public school students, and Euro-American Liberation theology preachers hailing from progressive houses of worship and the like. It is the effective and total rebuttal of neoliberal corporate identity politics, embodied in the personages of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Here I would further indicate a passage from an essay by Fredric Jameson in 2007 which provides a set of tactical goals and praxis efforts.

The welfare state is of course the great postwar achievement of social democracy, even though in continental Europe it knows longer and older traditions. But it seems to me important to defend it, or better still, to give social democracy and the so-called Third Way, a chance to defend it, not because such a defense has any prospects of succeeding, but rather very precisely because from the Marxian perspective it is bound to fail. We must support social democracy because its inevitable failure constitutes the basic lesson, the fundamental pedagogy, of a genuine Left… The lesson is this, and it is a lesson about system: one cannot change anything without changing everything… Such is the lesson of system, and at the same time, if you have followed my argument, the lesson of revolution. As for the lesson about strategy, the lesson of What Is to Be Done?, I hope I have suggested an important differentiation between strategy and tactics in these remarks: one need not, in other words, slavishly imitate Lenin’s divisive, aggressive, sectarian recommendations for tactics to grasp the ongoing value of a strategy that consists in tirelessly underscoring the difference between systemic and piecemeal goals, the age-old differentiation (and how far back in history does it go after all?) between revolution and reform.

This of course does not fully answer the question related to the party’s role. What I would argue is that in one aspect a party of such a vanguard should be focused on provision of intersectional meeting facilitation as this vanguard fights for the welfare state, given a thorough analysis in the article Where Are the Women at Occupy Wall Street? by Sarah Seltzer. Professor Kimberle Crenshaw originally formulated the notion of intersectionality in her legal scholarship “to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity.” Such praxis is already being implemented by the Baltimore City Green Party with the election of Rev. Annie Chambers to represent Douglass Homes on the Resident Advisory Board, a public housing organ in urban Baltimore.

This facilitation consists of a set of practices and tactics wherein the voices of those which are predominantly marginalized within the mainstream are placed at the center of the discussion and given primacy over those who are not marginalized, namely white male heterosexual middle-to-upper class speakers. Party meetings and efforts which are held by an intersectional meeting facilitator thereby become truly democratic while promoting a socialist praxis. Progressive stack, wherein the waiting list to speak at the meeting prioritizes these marginalized voices and creates a fair and equitable distribution of opportunity for all, is a key element of this. Another aspect is a promotion of the idea that individual people do not know everything but together many people know a lot, ergo respect both strengths and weaknesses of each individual rather than attacking for shortcomings on different political points. Drew Serres lists the fourteen characteristics of an intersectional mass movement being defined by abilities to:

  1. Understand the relationship between diverse identities and challenging systems of oppression.
  2. Aim to fundamentally shift values.
  3. Have resilient hope/confidence and “faith in the future”.
  4. Are composed of a broad spectrum of human identities (e.g. backgrounds, ages, beliefs, etc.) and do not attack “the other” or marginalize groups of people.
  5. Address root structures and systems, not just a specific issue.
  6. Build capacity with and center on those most marginalized and on the frontlines of injustice.
  7. Foster the ability of people working for collective success over individual success.
  8. Use inclusive organizational models, instead of replicating privileged leadership structures.
  9. Have compassionate unity and “commitment to each other.”
  10. Channel emotion and analysis to change the dynamics of power and privilege.
  11. Have no one face, and instead have numerous leaders and organizations that truly represent their multifaceted constituency.
  12. Are innovative, creative, and dynamic.
  13. Intentionally incorporate relationships with loved ones and larger community, otherwise the movement cannot be truly “liberatory.”
  14. Have a clear vision of the future.

The running of candidates from such a party would therefore be a project that brings into the public square of electoral politics such a motivating force, meaning it would be a project focused on getting votes primarily but also emphasizing that the campaign is a representation of these ‘disciplined spontaneity’ values in action which can and do serve as a prophesy of another world being possible. Ignatiev writes “The task of revolutionaries is not to organize the workers but to organize themselves – to discover those patterns of activity and forms of organization that have sprung up out of the struggle and that embody the new society, and to help them grow stronger, more confident, and more conscious of their direction.”

It would therefore play into what the French philosopher Guy Debord wrote, “The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society it is specifically the sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness. Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the common ground of the deceived gaze and of false consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of generalized separation.”

Dual nature of praxis being both in the ballot box and the streets

The rather tiresome and obscure nature of what divided the Russian Socialists into the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions is a story not worth retreading. However, there is some relevance in that the debate dealt with a fundamental question of identity, namely what it means to be a socialist. What does it mean to be a Green?

I would argue that it is defined largely by the issue of activism that takes place every day in the workplace, home, and leisure activity time. Having a Green identity is grounded in the belief that the world can and should move past ecological, economic, and social degradation and into an eco-socialist epoch. Unlike being a Democrat, which is defined by a superficial sort of feminism that boils down to little more than hiring practices and abortion rights, or a Republican, which is a fusion of white nationalism, libertarianism, and conspiracism, Greens have a much more significant role to play everyday in our communities.

Rather trying to be an institution that people will come to for a political home, instead the Greens need to be going to existing organizations/movements and making it clear the Green Party stands in solidarity with them. We need to be the party of Occupy and Black Lives Matter/Movement for Black Lives by working in solidarity with them on the grassroots level. Greens like Cheri Honkala in Philadelphia provide a model of the types of Greens we can aspire to be.

One way to do this comes into play around the question of 501(c)3 nonprofits. For the past 45 years the progressive movement has been based out of a network of nonprofits. (In a strange irony of history, that fact is directly the result of none other than Ralph Nader’s praxis during the period.) These days we see nonprofit activists hindered in what they can advocate for and promote due to fears of their IRS classification being audited. The Green Party should be making clear to the progressive movement that it exists to articulate the causes and needs which they worry are not able to be voiced via nonprofits. In this sense each individual party should work to develop with these nonprofits what is known as “anchor organization” connections. Anchor organizations are existing groups and civic congregations within a give area where voters and their families gather to build mutual support networks. It can be a house of worship where the food pantry provides canned goods weekly to the poor. It can be a Shriners or Rotary hall whose major work has included childhood medical transportation or vaccination. It can be the union hall that hosts the annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner. There are plenty of these organizations that provide a place for a Green Party to drop anchor and develop lasting relationships.

Now in this regard one element will come down to a matter of individual state party registration status. In Rhode Island, for example, our laws regarding political parties and ballot access are such that GPRI, in order to maintain continuous existence, is constituted as a PAC with the Board of Elections and the Secretary of State. We submit quarterly finance reports to these bodies and have therefore maintained our constitution despite the fact that our ballot laws do not technically recognize us as a political party. Formulating solutions to each state’s ballot laws is a challenge that would and should require further coordination with the national party.

This sort of praxis can only be borne out by embracing a dues-paying membership model, an issue given sufficient elucidation and argument by Howie Hawkins and Bruce Dixon of late.

Concluding remarks

The Green Party, as with other socialist formations, have seen a spike in popularity and membership stemming from the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in the past 24 months. Democratic Socialists of America, a modest organization whose major founding figureheads, Irving Howe, Michael Harrington and Bayard Rustin, were on the wrong side of history in the 1968 New York teachers strike and Zionism, have also seen an outright rebirth, stimulated in part by the success of the radical journal Jacobin. But the other part is because they are a dues-paying membership organization. As a result, the Providence DSA just ran not one but two candidates for Providence City Council in a special election primary in July 2017, with one of them, a Haitian woman, winning the contest. That is a great achievement.

The Green Party has the opportunity to become a national party with dues-paying membership that can finance growth into a pillar of the various movements that have emerged since the Nader campaign in 2000. It could grow into a formidable presence based on these suggestions. However, without at least dues-paying membership it will stagnate. This is because it requires a steady form of revenue, generated by the monthly dues, to finance the activities that will promote its growth. Other methods to establish a steady revenue line have yet to materialize or suggest themselves.

The refusal to take up the role being presented by history to the Green Party by the Trump presidency would be almost criminal to squander. First, it would effectively hinder the development of an independent left politics to oppose both neoliberalism and Trump’s regenerated brand of white nationalism. Second, it would retroactively endorse liberal notions about lesser-evil voting and spoiler ideas.

The Cobb fusionist faction members, longtime leaders of the party, tell themselves and others all sorts of wonderful stories that fluff their egos and have absolutely nothing to do with reality. I have personally witnessed this emeritus generation say everything from “we have a great connection with the Latino community” to “this book on neoliberalism does not mention the impact of the Green Party.” They offer as excuses everything from the fact that we don’t have publicly-funded elections to the distraction caused by the campaign of Bernie Sanders. But the plain truth is that they have run a party which once was selling out Madison Square Garden into the ground. It is undeniable that their self-delusion, self-aggrandizement, and manipulative invocation of claims that their opponents are racists has turned the party into a long-running practical joke on themselves that would be pathetic if it were not so sad. The Green Party is seen as a massive waste of time in the public imagination precisely because of David Cobb’s antics.

So what is to be done?

The present media discourse and coordinates are quite obviously aligned to formulate a repetition of the 2004 electoral cycle and the notion of ‘lesser-evil’ voting. From an objective media criticism perspective, one can see the mainstream liberal-progressive news outlets enacting Marx’s quip about tragedies and farces for all to see.

We must begin with an adult analysis of the 2016 Stein campaign. The selection of Ajamu Baraka was the smartest and most progressive thing they did because, quoting Jeffrey St. Clair, it “wasn’t so much because Baraka is black, but because he was able to articulate a theory of political engagement that spoke directly to the experience of black and brown Americans.” Stein’s rather controversial vote recount effort created a split with her running mate and the opponents of the Cobb brand of fusion politics. Now we find in the aftermath of the 2017 Nation Meeting Stein and the fusion element are trying to consolidate their control of the party through a variety of efforts that take energy and efforts away from the matters today in the national discourse that American voters and particularly working class ones actually care about. Things are further complicated by a chronic habit of slander, libel, and rather clumsy Machiavellian efforts instigated by the fusionists towards anyone to their left.

The 2018 and 2020 contests must include Greens embracing a Vote Pact strategy that will effectively negate the entire lesser-evil fusionist argument. This is an arrangement when a traditional Democratic voter engages a traditional Republican voter wherein both agree to instead cast a ballot for a third party candidate. Speaking from personal experience, I was able to engage a loved one to vote for the Libertarians as opposed to Trump while I voted for the Greens. While some may protest about engagement with Libertarians, there is a factor of pragmatism to consider herein that has antecedents in the united front tactics of the Comintern.

In a very broad sense, Libertarians are adherents to a retrograde version of American liberalism that pre-existed the Keynesian epoch in the Democratic Party. In a May 2016 column, Vijay Prashad pointed out that “Roosevelt’s main [1933 campaign] plank was to shrink the government and expand U.S. trade with the world. These were policy positions much favored by the elite. During the election, there was little sign that Roosevelt would expand the U.S. government and use state spending to enhance economic activity.” The right wing of the Libertarian movement, which can honestly be described as fascist, has its antecedents within the Southern Dixiecrats that were a key pillar of the New Deal coalition. Yet in my experience I have found their left wing is inclined towards a kind of anarchism that combines more recent developments propagated by Noam Chomsky with a strain of Gilded Age socialist praxis that was derived from the thought of Benjamin Tucker, Rosa Slobodinsky and Voltairine de Cleyre. Whether that praxis can further evolve towards a logic seen within the work of Daniel De Leon is a potential future outcome that might be encouraged through comradely exchange of ideas.

If the Libertarians are genuine liberals, which is a matter of worthwhile debate, and the center and left wing of the Greens stand within the ideological realm of Socialists and Communists, we can engage with theses on the united front from the Fourth Congress of the Comintern:

The united front tactic is simply an initiative whereby the Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie. Every action, for even the most trivial everyday demand, can lead to revolutionary awareness and revolutionary education; it is the experience of struggle that will convince workers of the inevitability of revolution and the historic importance of Communism. It is particularly important when using the united front tactic to achieve not just agitational but also organisational results. Every opportunity must be used to establish organisational footholds among the working masses themselves (factory committees, supervisory commissions made up of workers from all the different parties and unaligned workers, action committees, etc.). The main aim of the united front tactic is to unify the working masses through agitation and organisation. The real success of the united front tactic depends on a movement “from below”, from the rank-and-file of the working masses.

We need to have a mature and open conversation about building a united front that will include these pre-New Deal liberals. The role of Communists will be filled in this instance by the direct action protesters who gather under the label of Occupy and Black Lives Matter. The Green Party fills the definition of Socialist parties. This is a logical but also quite challenging alliance to build.

A further point, which I would close with, pertains to the ontology of the Greens with regards to revolution and whether it is a revolutionary party. Or rather we perhaps instead should begin with the ontology of revolution? For many who define themselves as socialists, whether it be around the maypole of Socialist Alternative, Democratic Socialists of America, or a similar gathering, the popular notion of revolution is defined by a rather Romantic and Euro-centric vision of revolution that was best enacted in the musical Les Miserables. However, it is necessary to again turn to the Comintern and Lenin so to add nuance. I would quote here an extended passage from the 2012 biography Mao: The Real Story, which in one sense was publicized as a rebuttal to Chang and Halliday’s 2005 sensational and lurid Mao: The Untold Story.

[Mao] explained that there are many different kinds of democrats, and to bolster his point of view he cited the basic resolutions on the national and colonial questions adopted at the Second Comintern Congress one year earlier. As early as late November 1919, Lenin and other revolutionary leaders in Moscow realized that the attempt to disseminate Bolshevik theories beyond the eastern borders of Soviet Russia faced serious obstacles. Apart from a small number of leftist radicals, it seemed that no one in the East was eager to embrace Bolshevism. Most intellectuals adhered to nationalist views. The ideas of nationalism, rather than the abstract idea of internationalism that the Comintern supported, were also more easily accepted by the masses. By the summer of 1920, Lenin understood that “pure” Bolshevik tactics aimed at preparing for socialist revolution were unlikely to be successful in the East. This forced the Russian communists to consider how to adapt their theories to countries that were even more backward industrially than Russia or that were either colonies or semi-colonies. They began to view world socialist revolution not only, or not so much, as the struggle “of revolutionary proletarians in all countries against their own bourgeoisie,” but as rather the struggle “of all the oppressed people in all the colonies, countries, and dependencies against international imperialism.” Such thinking was incorporated into the new Comintern policy in China based on the theory of anticolonial revolution that Lenin had formulated in 1920.

I would further point to the introductory comments written Rob D.G. Kelley for the 2000 Monthly Review Press reissue of Discourse on Colonialism by Aimé Césaire which prove to be quite useful for the task of alienating the cultists.

I want to suggest that Discourse made some critical contributions to our thinking about colonialism, fascism, and revolution. First, its recasting of the history Western Civilization helps us locate the origins of fascism within colonialism itself; hence, within the very traditions of humanism, critics believed fascism threatened. Second, Césaire was neither confused about Marxism nor masquerading as a Marxist when he wrote Discourse. On the contrary, he was attempting to revise Marx, along the lines of his predecessors such as W.E.B. Du Bois and M.N. Roy, by suggesting that the anticolonial struggle supersedes the proletarian revolution as the fundamental historical movement of the period. The implications are enormous: the coming revolution was not posed in terms of capitalism versus socialism…but in terms of the complete and total overthrow of a racist, colonialist system that would open the way to imagine a whole new world.

It is this formulation of revolution that qualifies the Green Party and the intersectional praxis I describe as revolutionary even if the vast membership fails to recognize their revolutionary praxis. Slavoj Zizek is of course fond quoting Marx’s formulation of ideology, “they do not know it, but they are doing it”, and in this instance the Greens serve as a perfect practical example. Except in instances where the fusionist element of the party has engaged quite intentionally in behavior that promotes a “peculiar kind of solidarity is an artifact of white liberal guilt and the tokenism used to assuage it”, the Green Party’s opposition to imperialism and racism provides the kernel of revolutionary praxis, something that should not be discouraged.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

SocraticGadfly August 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Some great, great stuff here, Andrew.

Reply

Brian Setzler August 17, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Why are you a fan of hierarchy? The notion that all Greens must have unified position on whether or not to attend a Pride Parade is ridiculous and goes against the notion of decentralization.

We need to create decentralized networks of activist cells and it’s okay if two cells don’t have the same view of things. You can help educate the other one but unless they are clearly violating our commitments to peace, justice, sustainability, and/or democracy, then move on and let it go.

The alternative is to increase internal fighting and escalation as each side tries to fight the other (internally mind you) in order to win an unnecessary battle. Yes, Pride is infected with corporate sponsors AND, that is also a good place to spread the Green message and recruit new members.

The hierarchical structure you recommend here is dis-empowering to individuals and the entire party as members give up their own initiative waiting to find out if it is okay with those upstairs. They also spend their time waiting for those upstairs to act (they must be in charge and more organized then our little chapter, they think) rather than acting themselves.

We aren’t the communist party and we aren’t the socialist party. We are the Green Party and it would be polite if you learned a bit about Green ideas before you try pushing a Red agenda on us.

Brian Setzler
Portland, Oregon

Reply

Andrew Stewart August 17, 2017 at 9:36 pm

You cannot enact the Green platform and values and maintain the capitalist system. If you get past the mythology and hype and instead develop a grasp of the really existing socialist system, you recognize that the Green values have always been socialist. Capitalism is anti-democratic. Capitalism is racist. Capitalism is patriarchal.

De-centralization as a concept needs to be disciplined and mature.

Your platform supports reparations for slavery, a socialist cause in toto!

Reply

Andrew Stewart August 17, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Correction: grasp of the really existing CAPITALIST system

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SocraticGadfly August 17, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Andrew, that said, I wish you had mentioned the SPUSA, not just the DSA, in part because the SPUSA is actually socialist in a way the DSA is not, and because it’s an actual political party.

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Reza August 17, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Andrew,

First off, thank you for this contribution to the debate around party building, a much needed debate within the Green Party.

I voted Green, so when I read about Cobb’s flirtations with Brown-Red alliances, I was pretty disappointed, nay, mad! So much so I changed my voter registration to ‘No Party Affiliation’. I was especially mad since Cobb’s flirtation with right wing-tolerant personalities came after that fiasco of a move by Jill Stein to waste Green Party money on a recount on behalf of the corrupt, neoliberal, warmongering, Wall St. stooge, Hillary Clinton.

As long as such people are in control of the party, there is no hope of any meaningful change for the better within that party, and I for one hold no hope of any such change happening any time soon. Such people would prefer to lose elections and members alike, and keep their ‘positions of power’, such as it is, than let go and let the party flourish. In a sense there IS a national party; but it only manifests its national presence negatively.

So, my question is: How do you plan to get rid of such characters in control of the Green Party? It seems that is the first step in the re-orienting process.

Reply

Andrew Stewart August 18, 2017 at 11:16 pm

I’m currently engaged in an active group to help the Cobbites get a grip on reality.

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SocraticGadfly August 18, 2017 at 10:54 pm

In my opinion, and with self-polling at one of the Occupy websites providing supporting data, the original Occupy at Zuccotti Park was a bunch of MBAs and JDs mad that Wall Street didn’t hire them in the middle of the Great recession. Plus, Andrew, per your just-posted piece, no organization. At least, no publicly demonstrated organization.

socraticgadfly.blogspot DOT com/2011/10/ows-young-white-well-educated-latte.html

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SocraticGadfly August 18, 2017 at 10:56 pm

Damned commenting system kept claiming I was spamming, then started delivering error messages, hence the “DOT”

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