I have a lot of sympathy with the sentiments expressed in this article and was particularly interested to note people looking to Kasama-like organizational methods.
The message of the Occupy movement that there is a 99% versus 1% problem has struck a chord across the world. That is a massive achievement not and just a good thing. It’s clearly an attempt to unite the many to defeat the few and a great strategic move.
So while it is always necessary to identify the contradictions within the 99% in order to keep moving forward and dare to win anything, we do so using the method (genuine, not phony) of unity-criticism-unity. We unite and don’t split. Democracy is our greatest weapon.
Sects are dead-ends and invariably reject this weapon and Kasama is just another dead-end sect. It essentially runs a “teen-style” magazine blog that endlessly repeats and diverts and never really develops. It is incapable of running an ongoing debate designed to go somewhere. It is unable to even develop for itself a relevant Marxist “brand” that goes beyond the mushy green that quickly degenerates into anti-working class politics, and the always anti-war, anti-imperialist “politics” of Mike Ely. The attitude of the U.S. Revolutionary Communist Party and Trotskyite movement towards World War Two is the load stone of this failure. Whenever the issues present themselves in contemporary form, the masses draw the same conclusion as that drawn by the masses at the time of World War Two. Rejection is the inevitable response to the politics and organizational structure, (presented as Leninist of course) but actually the isolated and hated sectarianism of ever-so-busy sect-building anti-imperialists are correctly rejected.For example, that the masses would ever tolerate a one-party state in the modern Western world is a delusion that ought not to be blamed on Lenin!
In Australia, the Occupy movement was not at a level as in the U.S., due mainly to economic factors which I’ll not go into. Anyway, in my city there were no groups “occupying” public space, there was talk of organizing a meeting but decided that whatever good might come of it elsewhere it would be bad news here, because it would be way below any sort of critical mass.
In Sydney and Melbourne, there were actions which ended similarly to other cities and other “occupations” I have been involved with, (namely of campus buildings and other public space) with being closed down by the police. In this, I see many similarities outlined above that mirror the undergrad antics we faced in the student movement when my distrust and disdain of Trotskyist and anarchist campus “interventions” began.
Consistently, Australian International Socialist Organization and Green-Left outside caucuses would decide their own tactics that were often to hijack the meetings/marches and protests. This really caused problems for us as campus organisers and over the years I have noted that it is necessary to protect students from their excesses. They become isolated and hated as soon as they start their “interventions” or not long after.
But now people are working out that a Depression-era period of class struggle is before us, and we have no mass-based political reality, so first up all the Ecumenical activity among the already walking dead of the sects.
Never forget they are still the walking dead.
To me, it is perfectly clear that if your emblem (the clown face) is co-opted (especially by murderers) then you better stop using it and quickly, or else there will be this sort of trouble. “I believe it is necessary and possible to avoid the problems of disorganization that lead to a situation where working class people think we are sociopathic clowns trying to attack them. I also believe it is possible to do this without reverting to forms of Leninism that are as outdated as dinosaurs. Many people are trying to figure out a third option.”
This article demonstrates the problem of anarchist methods and thinking while proposing the problem as Leninism, AND in the same breath proposing as useful and necessary, Leninist-based anarchist methods?
This is going to require some filling in of some detail for me to grasp.
I would be aghast if the revolutionary left gave up their principle weapon – dialectics and materialism – and if you reject Lenin, you reject dialectical materialism and so can’t qualify as a Marxist in my view. That might be okay for some, but if you want to participate in left discussions there is a requirement to generate and adopt a materialist position (or at least commit to not misuse the term by using it colloquially or pejoratively).
To reject Leninism as an outdated dinosaur rather than to adopt it is as a sharp weapon to be used to further proletarian interests is utterly wrong. What has to be rejected is Lemingism that presents as Leninism. True, that’s essentially all you will have ever been exposed to, but I can’t help that. You just have to read Lenin and the rest of the classical Marxists without looking for any recent application in the Western world. Anyone who is serious about finding answers to the increasing crises of capitalism better start reading philosophy and economics while they get about their struggles. For instance, “be concerned with the well-being of the masses” is a great line to keep in mind.
My student organization had – a long time prior to my involvement – adopted Maoist organizing structures, and we radicals did very well from this legacy that we (by the time I got involved) did not even really know the history of. When I did discover the history of my student organization it lead to my interest in Marx-to-Mao philosophy.
I recommend the action group method of organizing because it works. More thinking is what is required not mindless confrontation.
As a female with kids, I don’t like it when protests are billed as picnics and non-confrontational when clearly they are a confrontation with the state that will eventually involve cops coming (often at 5 a.m.) to break it up and arrest a few “trouble-makers” to go on with.
This kind of negative cycle ought to be avoided.
On the view expressed towards the third way. I can only say strip away illusions and prepare to struggle. I recall a first-year philosophy/critical thinking essay where I ended with the similar plea – there has got to be a third-way found. My paper was sent back saying there is no third way, which I didn’t believe at the time but have come to see as correct through practice.
My experience shows how necessary an ongoing process of criticism really is. Offering a protest movement a forum for real debate is a great contribution. Kasama could not do even this but maybe Binh and others can.