Philly Socialists: Fraternal Correspondence with The North Star

by Philly Socialists on February 2, 2013

The Philly Socialists are a local socialist group based in Philadelphia, who are “committed to creating a just and sustainable future for ourselves and our planet.” They engaging in community activism and organizing, in order to help “transform our political and economic system into one befitting of basic human dignity.”  On January 5, 2013, they unanimously passed the following resolution for “fraternal correspondence with The North Star.” We welcome the Philly Socialists and look forward to working with them to help advance the socialist left. 

This next year holds many promises for socialism if we are willing to fight for it. It is time for us to grow our membership, stabilize our finances, reinforce our current programs, and expand Philly Socialists to a whole new host of programs. It is in this spirit that I propose that as an organization we take our experiences, our understandings, and our opinions and contribute them to the productive dialogue that is currently occurring amongst many radical activists and intellectuals.

One forum of discussion that would be fruitful for the Party to pursue correspondence with is The North Star (thenorthstar.info) The North Star is a forum of leftists of diverse positions who in their words exist to facilitate unity and inclusiveness across the left through “rigorous and honest debate, which is just the first step in a long, protracted process of recreating a radical left in this county with meaningful political muscle.”

The North Star and Philly Socialists have affinities and divergences of opinion, but both groups are dedicated to open, honest, and respectful debate. We both are dedicated to the goal of building a broad left Party to fight for the 99%. We both see gaining political power through such a Party as a route to liberation for the 99%.

To this end I am proposing that Philly Socialists begin fraternally corresponding with The North Star. Members will be encouraged to write as Philly Socialists members, i.e. identifying as Philly Socialists but writing as individuals on their own volition. Points of unity with The North Star are listed below. These points should be kept as our “party line” when engaging with The North Star:

1. The necessity of building a Party, defined either as a new political party, a tendency within such a political party, a mass-based independent political organization, or some combination thereof

2. Science as a core Socialist value

3. Taking elections seriously; gaining political power via participation in the electoral process (with an emphasis on winning)

4. Respectful and comradely debate and airing of political differences

Of course Philly Socialists members are always free to correspond with whomever they wish and disregard the “party line.” The organization asks that such members would only identify themselves as members when writing within the core values and party line of Philly Socialists.”

  • http://webspace.webring.com/people/xm/mlause/index.html Mark A. Lause

    This is a wonderful development. As a founding member of Solidarity, I remain deeply disappointed that the project of regrouping the socialist Left and rethinking some of its most deeply held but demonstratively erroneous assumptions never quite went anywhere. I’ve wondered since the mid-1970s how many local groups of one sort or such a sort.

  • Robert Gahtan

    I think that this is an exciting development, and that it deserves attention and support. My position currently is: (1) as valuable as the history of Marxims and Trotskyism is, it should not be the only source of ideas for building a movement (2) it is sad that each movement appears to be destined to reinvent the wheel because they ignore the amazing amount of EMPIRICAL and HISTORICAL information that is now available at the click of a mouse. (3) I am particularly heartened by “2. Science as a core Socialist value”. (4) I welcome any activist who could critique and expand on: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/moyermap.html and/or http://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/imported/thisTopic-dbTopic-1248.pdf.

  • Robert Gahtan

    ADDENDUM: (5) One does not organize a party in a vacuum. I think one recruits to and builds a party by participating in living movements. (6) I very much would like to know the position of the Philly Socialists on movement building and (7):
    There are many movements that have succeeded. Their history is fairly well documented. I do not understand why each new social movement has to re-invent the wheel. The same goes for the person who changes from observer to activist. Google any of the following nine search terms and you will find ample documentary evidence
    1. Critique of social movements sociology
    2. Hand book for social movement activists
    3. Social movements that succeeded
    4. Social movements timeline
    5. Who is interested in social change
    6. Google Books Research Topic: Social Movement Theory
    7. Social movement theory and research an annotated bibliography guide
    8. Is there an idea exchange for social movements
    9. “Granting agencies” for social change

    Most, if not almost all of the relevant guidelines, strategies, tips, and tactics are there to be organized and condensed. I think that someone should get busy on this. So we end up with an activists handbook/wiki. This would:
    Permit activists to avoid well known pitfalls,
    Enable social change to accelerate,
    Provide a plan to recruit the uncommitted,
    Shorten the period that movement activists requires to learn their craft,

    The Climate Crisis and other ills that are facing our species is not allowing us much time to get started

  • David Berger

    “3. Taking elections seriously; gaining political power via participation in the electoral process (with an emphasis on winning)”

    This is a fascinating statement. It would seem to argue that meaningful power can be gained by socialists through elections.

    Am I correct in thinking that?

    • Brian S.

      This is the one part of the statement that troubles me – particularily the “winning” bit. Its quite right to take elections seriously – for most of the citizenry they are at the heart of their understanding of politics. But they are also the principal mechanism for the absorption of dissent into the capitalist state (the principal “shock absorbers” of capitalism). The equation of winning elections with “gaining political power” is a false one, both theoretically and historically.
      Participation in elections should be a tactical not principled (and at the present time not even a strategic) matter.
      Of course, these are precisely the sort of issues that you would expect such a movement as this to work its way through – its just wrong to conclude the discussion before it has begun.

  • Brandy Baker

    This is exciting. We are starting something similar to this here in Baltimore. Our founding convention is May 4 at the Baltimore Free School. I will suggest inviting someone from Philly Socialists to the convention to share how you all have done this.

  • David Berger

    I love it.

    We get: “transform(ing) our political and economic system into one befitting of basic human dignity.” And we get a discussion of googling “social movements,” all from people who call themselves socialists. But not one mention of the working class or the labor movement.

    • Ben Campbell

      David, enough with trolling every thread with the same “where’s the focus on labor?” If your workerism had been at all successful over the last 40 years, then perhaps more of the younger generation would listen to you and become union organizers. But the sad reality is that despite wishful thinking, there is no great labor upsurge on the horizon. Marxists are perfectly within their rights to focus their attention elsewhere at the moment—labor does not always have to take the lead in developing anti-capitalist consciousness. You might recall that whole Occupy Wall Street thing? I am sure you would have been mocking the organizers in August, 2011.

      At any rate, the group is not called “Philly Marxists”, but “Philly Socialists”, and are not under any obligation to speak your Marxist shibboleths. Perhaps, if you would refrain from mocking our new contributors, you might find that some members actually agree with you.

      • Brandy Baker

        Yeah, I hope that folks don’t get a case of the ass and denigrate the hard work of others on here, even if some don’t agree with all of the points. It is not good for solidarity, and I can personally attest how demoralizing it can be to start something new and have people immediately attack it. We have to stop doing stuff like that.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh

      “Just as the word ‘people’ has been given an aura of sanctity by the democrats, so you have done the same for the word ‘proletariat’.” — Karl Marx

      • David Berger

        Now you are being very dishonest, Pham. First of all, I rarely, if ever, use the word “proletariat.” And second, this is not about the use of a word; it is about content. In my opinion, the statement posted by the Philly Socialists has no socialist, working class, proletariat, labor, whatever, content.

        Here are the “points [that] should be kept as our “party line” when engaging with The North Star:”

        1. The necessity of building a Party, defined either as a new political party, a tendency within such a political party, a mass-based independent political organization, or some combination thereof

        2. Science as a core Socialist value

        3. Taking elections seriously; gaining political power via participation in the electoral process (with an emphasis on winning)

        Show me, please, the socialist content here. This could be agreed to by any miscellaneous radical (excepting the spurious word “Socialist” in point 3).

  • Robert Gahtan

    I not only agree with Ben’s comment, but would like to point out that Jodi Dean who wrote the book ” The Communist Horizon” during a lecture asked who in the audience considered themselves proletariat. Not one person raised their hand!. You may want to google her.

    • Brian S.

      @Robert Gahtan: I’m not sure what this demonstrates. “Proletarian” is a not a common term in popular discourse, and has associations with the communist movement. It may discriminate between those who have some far left political identity from those who don’t, but it tells us nothing about people’s sense of CLASS identity.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Brian What this demonstrate is that the use of jargon matters. Please look at the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUyYfC524M0) where Jodi Dean raises that very point. The audience she was referring to is to the left of “popular discourse”. I do not wish to beat a dead horse, but using “working class” and “labor” do little but demonstrate, in my view, what I would call misguided sectarianism

  • http://phillysocialists.org Tim Horras

    As Chairman of Philly Socialists, I’d like to thank everyone for the spirited comments.

    Our organization doesn’t have all the answers, and we welcome input. We are a new group (around 2 years old) and while we’ve expanded our ranks rapidly in that short period, we still have a lot of growing up to do. I’d ask that comrades remain patient with us as we continue to experiment, and in the meantime, please read up more about what we do, at our website and on Facebook (facebook.com/phillysocialists).

    Regarding the question of elections, I apologize that the proposal makes us sound more electoral-focused than we are in practice. Brian S. is correct that is comes off as clunky and lacks nuance. I assure you that this was due to the constraints of time (the document was written up for our yearly Organizational Congress). On the real, electoral activity compromises 0% of our efforts and energy at this moment, so it’s really a theoretical and strategic question, not a practical one (yet).

    I agree with Brian that there are still many open questions on this front, but there are many fresh examples that need to be looked at and studied which have been ignored; see my piece for North Star, “Dare to Win: A Brief History of Vermont’s Progressive Party” (http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=4340) and Eric Lief Davin’s excellent book I reference. The idea of this proposal was not to lay down dogma but to show our general orientation. I’m sure there will be many more discussions at length around these topics, which is a good thing.

    @Brandy Baker: That sounds awesome. I will talk to comrades about this, but I’d imagine there will probably be interest visiting and establishing contact. Feel free to email me: tim [at] phillysocialists.org

    Here’s to the opening up of a long and fruitful dialogue! :)

    • Brian S.

      Thanks for your clarification. I appreciate that you need to work through all these things, and its understandable that its on your agenda in the current economic and political context.

    • Brandy Baker

      Tell Nik I said hi.

      • Ben Campbell

        And Brandy, please keep us informed as well of Baltimore efforts.

  • http://webspace.webring.com/people/xm/mlause/index.html Mark A. Lause

    I would welcome their statement on elections, not as an indication of having some kind of illusions but as a well-earned repudiation of the pointless electoral rituals in which much of the independent socialist groups engage. Most of these actually seem to be about nothing more than grooming this or that person for a bigger internal role, or . . . at best, building a bigger clubhouse. Given the reactionary alternatives the two capitalist parties have offered voters lately, there is no reason not to expect a serious and massive protest. If the progressive insurgents can’t put together something, it will tend to be the libertarians or some variation.

    The existing organizations have failed miserably to create a viable attempt to unite voters at the polls. And have even failed to generate a meaningful discussion of the issue. Most damningly, they have failed even to attempt to construct the framework within which such a discussion could happen.

    I certainly welcome reading the statement of the Philadelphia group, as opposed to more excuses for the status quo.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Mark. What do you mean by ” The existing organizations ” Do you mean OWS who has skillfully convinced many people that a ruling class really exist by re-inveting it as the 1%? Or Jill Stein who is using the electoral platform to expose the hypocracy of Obama’s deceits? Please do not denigrate the milestones on the road to Socialism. Here, take a look at Stein ( and this is AFTER the election).From YubaNet.com

    Op-Ed
    Jill Stein: The Real Obama Emerges Again
    Author: Jill Stein, OtherWords.org
    Published on Jan 16, 2013 – 9:39:55 AM

    Jan. 16, 2013 – If you’re having political déjà vu as Obama’s second term in the White House gets underway, you’re not alone.

    The supposedly populist candidate — who won re-election promising to tax the rich, protect Social Security, and make the economy fair — has morphed back into an invaluable ally of the economic elite. Yet again, he’s willing to let you fall under the bus.

    In carving out 2013′s first round of self-inflicted budget pain, President Barack Obama has laid the groundwork for much worse to come. By making most Bush tax cuts permanent, he gave away the massive bargaining chip he could have used to protect safety net programs in the next negotiating round. Now, thanks to his pre-emptive capitulation, austerity advocates hold all the cards.

    While the deal extends unemployment insurance, this temporary relief is overwhelmed by massive, permanent gifts to the super-rich. Estate taxes have been repealed for all but the wealthiest 0.1 percent with a whopping $10.5 million per couple exemption. The agreement also locks in low capital gains and dividends rates of 15-20 percent, ensuring that billionaire bosses everywhere will pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.

    Among new corporate favors, the deal retained one of the loopholes that multinational firms are using to dodge taxes on their foreign subsidiaries — an incentive to export jobs that cost us $1.1 billion in 2012. Meanwhile, vulnerable workers are hit with a big increase in Social Security payroll taxes, as rates revert to 2010 levels.

    The fig leaf Obama provided to cover this surrender is a token tax increase on wealthy households earning over $450,000 per year. This marks a brazen retreat from his promise to raise taxes on those earning over $250,000, a meager reform to begin with in a tax system already rife with favors for the rich.

    In this past round of budget bargaining, Obama proposed alarming cuts to key safety net programs that will be considered in upcoming negotiations. This tossed aside another key promise: to protect Social Security. It comes as nearly half of Americans are either low-income or living in poverty, and one in three seniors relies on Social Security to stay out of poverty.

    Obama also offered to slash needed reductions in bloated military spending from $500 billion over 10 years, the amount included in the 2011 budget deal, to a mere $100 billion.

    Obama’s abandonment of his progressive base repeats 2008 post-election history, when the hope-and-change candidate suddenly devolved into a fearless defender of economic privilege. His early White House appointments of Wall Street darlings Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner were followed, with breath-taking irony, by the naming of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, America’s leader in layoffs, to head the jobs council.

    Team Obama then led the charge for trillions in Wall Street bailouts, corporate-driven trade agreements that send jobs overseas and depress U.S. wages, health care reform that locked public options out of the debate, drill-baby-drill energy policies, the sabotage of international climate accords, foreclosure neglect, surging immigrant deportations, drone attacks, assaults on civil liberties, and more.

    As Obama’s second term begins, he’s again undermining the progressive base, paving the way for more austerity, disparities, war and corporate power.

    Washington’s failure to deal justly and effectively with the fake fiscal cliff calamity leaves little hope it will resolve the real looming crises — the unraveling economy and accelerating climate catastrophe. The enormity of these threats compel solutions of equal magnitude — like the Green New Deal I promoted as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2012. It would obliterate the fiscal cliff while putting America back to work, greening the economy, cutting the oversized military, saving trillions through Medicare for All, and taxing the wealthy.

    Fortunately, grassroots movements and non-corporate political parties have begun to lead the way. It’s time to join them while we still can, putting our voices, bodies, and votes behind real solutions that can truly deliver a peaceful, just, green future for us all.

    Jill Stein won half a million votes as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2012. JillStein.org Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

    © Copyright YubaNet.com

  • http://webspace.webring.com/people/xm/mlause/index.html Mark A. Lause

    Given the subject under discussion, I was talking about those socialist organizations who failed either to support Stein or come up with any other unified alternative. Again, given the subject of electoral politics, I don’t see how anyone can read any criticism of OWS into what I wrote.

    I’m beginning to think that this mode of discussion is far too easily derailed. Maybe the best option is for me to just wait until there’s something concrete on the table. Or plans for some RL discussions.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Mark. Apologies for the derailment. Would appreciate a list of the socialist organizations you have in mind. I think that that would put something concrete on the table, and clarify your original comment

  • http://webspace.webring.com/people/xm/mlause/index.html Mark A. Lause

    I pointed out that the experience of the 2012 election was that the socialist organizations failed to produce a coherent and viable electoral response that seemed viable and serious. This seems a straightforward observation of reality as a materialist would see it.

    I think it is clear enough without naming names. :-) And I also would discourage anything that might make any organization hostile to approaching the upcoming elections in the spirit suggested by the Philadelphia group.

    But, certainly, if you saw any group or groups that actually did organize a coherent, viable, serious socialist intervention in the 2012 national elections, I’d be glad to here about it.

  • David Berger

    From David Berger: I love it.
    We get: “transform(ing) our political and economic system into one befitting of basic human dignity.” And we get a discussion of googling “social movements,” all from people who call themselves socialists. But not one mention of the working class or the labor movement.

    From Ben Campbell: David, enough with trolling every thread with the same “where’s the focus on labor?”

    From David Berger: Fascinating that you find my orientation towards the working class, especially the organized working class to be “trolling.”

    From Ben Campbell: If your workerism …

    From David Berger: Nice attempt at a political smeer. I’ve already been accused of trolling and being a cop. What’s next?

    From Ben Campbell: had been at all successful over the last 40 years, then perhaps more of the younger generation would listen to you and become union organizers.

    From David Berger: Wow! So the fact that the working class has been in retreat all over the world is an excuse to abandon the working class as the primary agent for the achieving of revolutionary socialism. Your thinking is really vulgar, Ben. The fact is that it is exactly those left groups that have an orientation towards the working class, e.g. the ISO, SA and Soli, that have maintained the socialist tradition “over the last 40 years.”

    From Ben Campbell: But the sad reality is that despite wishful thinking, there is no great labor upsurge on the horizon.

    From David Berger: That may be true. But it is also true that the working class in the US is in motion for the first time in decades. As an example, just this weekend in New York, there has been a conference on rebuilding New York post-Sandy, with considerable union cooperation; a caravan across the City to support the striking school bus drivers and attendants; a night march to support workers at Golden Farms in Brooklyn. Yes, “there is no great labor upsurge on the horizon,” but things could change overnight.

    From Ben Campbell: Marxists are perfectly within their rights to focus their attention elsewhere at the moment

    From David Berger: Thank you for your kind permission.

    From Ben Campbell: labor does not always have to take the lead in developing anti-capitalist consciousness.

    From David Berger: No it doesn’t. In fact, it often doesn’t.

    From Ben Campbell: You might recall that whole Occupy Wall Street thing?

    From David Berger: I seem to recall it somehow, considering I was involved from late September ’11 till now. And unlike some poseurs around here, my involvement was early, consistent and is ongoing.

    From Ben Campbell: I am sure you would have been mocking the organizers in August, 2011.

    From David Berger: Considering the fact that Marxists, with a working class orientation, were involved from before the beginning, like at the time of Boombergville, that’s just a dumb, slanderous remark. However, let me point out that the non-Marxist elements, the anarchists for instance, have by and large disappeared while the Labor Alliance, especially 99 Pickets and the Labor Outreach Committee, are ongoing and vital.

    From Ben Campbell: At any rate, the group is not called “Philly Marxists”, but “Philly Socialists”, and are not under any obligation to speak your Marxist shibboleths.

    From David Berger: I guess you think terms like “working class” and “labor movement” are “Marxist shibboleths.” Wow!

    From Ben Campbell: Perhaps, if you would refrain from mocking our new contributors, you might find that some members actually agree with you.

    David Berger: If people around hear, avowed socialists of one stripe or another, can’t stand criticism, I wonder what’s going to happen as the tempo of class struggle speeds up. And, in addition, I wonder how people are going to react when some elements around here flirt continuously with the Democrats?

    From Robert Gahtan: I not only agree with Ben’s comment, but would like to point out that Jodi Dean who wrote the book ” The Communist Horizon” during a lecture asked who in the audience considered themselves proletariat. Not one person raised their hand!. You may want to google her.

    From Brian S: I’m not sure what this demonstrates. “Proletarian” is a not a common term in popular discourse, and has associations with the communist movement. It may discriminate between those who have some far left political identity from those who don’t, but it tells us nothing about people’s sense of CLASS identity.

    From Robert Gahtan: What this demonstrate is that the use of jargon matters. Please look at the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUyYfC524M0) where Jodi Dean raises that very point. The audience she was referring to is to the left of “popular discourse”. I do not wish to beat a dead horse, but using “working class” and “labor” do little but demonstrate, in my view, what I would call misguided sectarianism.

    From David Berger: Uh, if you think that terms like “working class” and “labor” are sectarian, what words would you, as a socialist, substitute? Middle class? To return to my original point, it is highly disturbing that a group calling itself socialist would, in a communication to a socialist online journal, describing its political outlook, not use these terms.

    • Ben Campbell

      Yes David, you do use the words “working class” as Marxist shibboleth.

      shibboleth, n. 1. A word, especially seen as a test, to distinguish someone as belonging to a particular nation, class, profession etc.

      This is not a question of people who “can’t stand criticism”. This is about the fact that you repeatedly refuse to engage substantively, now dismissing others simply for not using your preferred language. And it is trolling when you do so repeatedly in multiple threads. Future comments of this nature will be deleted. Repeated violations of the commenting policy will result in commenting privileges revoked.

      • http://thecahokian.blogspot.com/ ISH

        You’re really gonna ban David Berger for mentioning…”the working class.” Unbelievable. Well, maybe not.

      • Arthur

        David Bergers comments are usually (not always) an unhelpful repetition of the same theme used as a put-down of others rather than to engage in debate.

        Pointing that out, repeatedly and with increasing sharpness, is reasonable. It may have even got to the point where editorial reminder notes appended to his comments would be resasonable.

        But sudden escalation to deletions and threats of exclusion is not justified. Establishing a tradition of open debate (including figuring out how to cope with the inevitable problems and abuse of that) is more important than the level of distraction and nuisance currently provided by Dave Berger. (He isn’t acting like that guy who was reasonably excluded because he had nothing much to say except for continuously sneering while endlessly claiming to have been censored because his posts were delayed for moderation like everybody else’s).

        • Ben Campbell

          Arthur, I was simply reminding David Berger of the commenting policy: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?page_id=3994 . Engage substantively. If a commenter does not, the comment may not be approved. If this happens repeatedly, their commenting privileges may be removed. It really isn’t that complicated. As you have mentioned, this type of “exclusion” is exceedingly rare, but it has, nonetheless, been required in the past.

          ISH, the problem with David is certainly not that he uses the term “working class”. That is just silly.

          At any rate, David’s unsubstantive piece of snarkiness has now derailed this thread. This is why it should probably not have been approved in the first place, and this is why subsequent such comments will not be approved.

          We are open to suggestions about the site, including comment moderation (some people have asked for more, others for less). Please either email them or post them in the yearly review thread, but please allow this discussion to return to the topic at hand.

  • https://www.facebook.com/PhillySocialists/info Aaron Slater

    As a member of Philly Socialists and as the member that put forward the proposal to correspond with The North Star, I appreciate the support we have received so far from contributors and I and we (Philly Socialists) are open to discussion and criticism.

    As we have stated, we decided to join this effort to foster dialogue, debate, and mutual understanding across the left. We will start submitting articles as the weeks and months progress and I look forward to the interesting and enlightening discussions that will surely develop.

    To speak personally about our “points of unity” with The North Star I would like to address each point below. These views are my own and do not represent everyone in our organization.

    1. The necessity of building a Party, defined either as a new political party, a tendency within such a political party, a mass-based independent political organization, or some combination thereof

    A. It is my belief that a Party or so sort of configuration is needed on the left to advance long term
    systemic change. One point of pride I have about our organization is that we are working and
    planning for the long haul. We joke about a 40 year plan, but the joke comes from a realistic
    assessment of where I see the left in the United States. I see “Party” building and movement
    building as integrally connected. If we want to effect real and lasting social change the left’s
    “Party” must be tied to people’s lives the way a social movement is. We can not simply recreate
    bourgeois politics and expect to change the system.

    2. Science as a core Socialist value

    B. Philly Socialists as an organization holds science as a core value. What I mean by this is that we
    let science, reason, and metrics help guide our decision making. As an organization we are
    opposed to ideas that are pulled out of thin air with little to no basis in the “real world”. We are
    also opposed to ignoring the facts or hoping for the best. For example, in our organizing we take
    special care to note how effective our outreach methods are. If we are finding a method that
    “seems” like a good idea, or fits in with some abstract idea of how we view ourselves, but in
    reality it is not succeeding, we have no problem evaluating the success and cutting what is
    failing.

    As a small start up with little resources or time, we have no tolerance for things that do not
    produce results or meet our goals, no matter how noble or great the idea is.

    3. Taking elections seriously; gaining political power via participation in the electoral process (with an emphasis on winning)

    C. Our dedication to taking elections serious stems from our opposition to celebrity campaigns
    and campaigns that are futile and are ran simply out of desire to run or based on a party or
    party member’s own vanity. Personally I see most socialist or leftist Presidential campaigns in
    this light. When Philly Socialists say we take elections seriously with an emphasis on winning,
    we mean running races that have a chance of success or that have a goal other than winning
    election that can be achieved.

    4. Respectful and comradely debate and airing of political differences

    D. This is goes without saying. Let’s work towards unity on the left rather than further infighting.

    • Ben Campbell

      Aaron and Tim (and others), welcome! I don’t want to get into much of a discussion about these “points of unity”, as I realize that your organization is not one that defines itself through programmatic statements, but through actions. Thus, we look forward to hearing a report on the kinds of things that you’ve been up to on the ground, and lessons (both positive and negative) you’ve learned from these. That type of thing is sorely lacking around here: discussions centered around concrete actions, rather than abstract program, would probably contribute to increasing the level of comradely discussion around here.

    • David Berger

      Comrade, Aaron, having looked at the website of your oganization:

      http://phillysocialists.org/

      I see no socialist content as I understand the word or as the word is generally understood. I see descriptions of two actions your group is engaged in: feeding people and teaching English. These activities could be provided by liberals, conservatives, church groups, NGOs, charities, etc.

      What makes these activities socialist?

      • https://www.facebook.com/PhillySocialists/info Aaron Slater

        Philly Socialists believe that a socialist state should provide the services that we currently provide. However, since the government is increasingly shedding any commitment to any semblance of the social safety net, we are stepping in. I agree that “liberals, conservatives, church groups, charities, etc” could and at some times do provide such services. One goal as an organization is to build a movement/party through a dual strategy program. We do and will continue to serve the people as well as use our political capital built through our service to contest for power.

        Why are our actions socialist? Why are we not like everyone else giving out charity? Well for one we do not give out charity, we provide aid to the people, as well as use our outreach to start building relationships with the people we serve. We are explicitly socialist in our dealings with the people for two main reasons. We want to expose socialism as a positive social and political force in peoples lives, and we want to build support for our organization and build up political capital. As well as being openly socialist in our dealings with the community, we are explicitly political in our goals towards social and political transformation. We have thus far avoided the entangling snare of the “non-profit industrial complex” a term we use to describe how bourgeois politics both liberal and conservative entrap activists and people seeking change into a relationship of subservience to the capitalist state as well as forced apoliticalism. Once groups start suckling at the breast of grants and 501-C-3 status they must shed their politics and revolutionary fire. Philly Socialists is not such a group.

        • David Berger

          From Aaron Slater: Philly Socialists believe that a socialist state should provide the services that we currently provide.

          David Berger: This tells us nothing about the class nature of the socialist state you envision. Do you believe that socialism has anything to do with the power of the working class to control the economy?

          From Aaron Slater: However, since the government is increasingly shedding any commitment to any semblance of the social safety net, we are stepping in.

          David Berger: Do you really believe that providing a few hundred meals a month is “stepping in” to replace the “social safety net”? Do you do any kind of labor organizing? Were you involved with Occupy Philadelphia?

          From Aaron Slater: I agree that “liberals, conservatives, church groups, charities, etc” could and at some times do provide such services.

          David Berger: Okay. So what makes you different besides the fact that you are smaller?

          From Aaron Slater: One goal as an organization is to build a movement/party through a dual strategy program.

          David Berger: What evidence do you have historically that this has ever worked? How is it working now? Are you recruiting to your organization?

          From Aaron Slater: We do and will continue to serve the people

          David Berger: This is, of course, a Maoist notion and implies a separation between the socialist organization the “the people”? By the way, do you have a class analysis of capitalism?

          From Aaron Slater: as well as use our political capital built through our service to contest for power.

          David Berger: (1) Again, do you have any historical evidence that such a strategy works? (2) And what kind of success have you had with it these days? (3) Who are you contending against for power? And in the name of what social class are you contending?

          Are you seriously saying that providing free food and teaching English is contending for power?

          From Aaron Slater: Why are our actions socialist?

          David Berger: Good question still because you have yet to provide any socialist rationale for what you are doing?

          From Aaron Slater: Why are we not like everyone else giving out charity?

          David Berger: Good question.

          From Aaron Slater: Well for one we do not give out charity, we provide aid to the people

          David Berger: You have yet to provide a difference between what you do and charity. You are making a distinction (“aid” vs. “chairty”) without a difference.

          From Aaron Slater: as well as use our outreach to start building relationships with the people we serve.

          David Berger: So the difference is the propaganda you hand out with your food.

          From Aaron Slater: We are explicitly socialist in our dealings with the people

          David Berger: What is “explicitly socialist” in your dealings? You have yet to provide a difference between yourselves and a benevolent charity.

          From Aaron Slater: for two main reasons. We want to expose socialism as a positive social and political force in peoples lives

          David Berger: And you are doing this by acting as a charity.

          From Aaron Slater: and we want to build support for our organization and build up political capital.

          David Berger: How, in fact are you doing this? Do you recruit to your organization? Do you collect funds?

          From Aaron Slater: As well as being openly socialist in our dealings with the community

          David Berger: What does that mean concretely besides being benevolent and giving our socialist propaganda?

          From Aaron Slater: we are explicitly political in our goals towards social and political transformation.

          David Berger: Political is as political does. Again, how is what you’re doing being “explicitly political”? Does this mean that a charity that runs a soup kitchen is being “explicitly political”? If not, then the essence of being “explicitly political” seems to be your giving out of propaganda.

          From Aaron Slater: We have thus far avoided the entangling snare of the “non-profit industrial complex” a term we use to describe how bourgeois politics both liberal and conservative entrap activists and people seeking change into a relationship of subservience to the capitalist state as well as forced apoliticalism.

          David Berger: It is not clear how you are avoiding this trap. How are you helping to end this “relationship of subservience to the capitalist state as well as forced apoliticalism”? Is it your belief that food donations from a socialist group does this?

          From Aaron Slater: Once groups start suckling at the breast of grants and 501-C-3 status they must shed their politics and revolutionary fire. Philly Socialists is not such a group.

          David Berger: But except for your distribution of socialist propaganda, you have no way of distinguishing yourself from any other charity.

        • Brandy Baker

          For a long time, I have wrestled with the idea of aid, in the past, taking the dogmatic, knee-jerk position (that we’re all taught) that our sole goal is to have meetings and get the word out on revolutionary politics and that people should come out to fight for their own, rights. We only focus on working class anger and run with that.

          The problem is that anger is not the only emotion that working people feel. And if socialists can provide English classes or something else that is of use, then we are meeting the people at a place where we can build trust. And Marxist theory is not the sole avenue to much needed community alliances. People are more than just, “workers” and they feel many other emotions than,”anger”. We need to look at the whole person, not doing so has resulted in toxic sexts where people burn out and in some instances sadly, are treated horrifically.

          • https://www.facebook.com/PhillySocialists/info Aaron Slater

            Brandy, thanks for sharing. Philly Socialists have struggled with the very same issues. What we have seen in practice is that working class people and the poor actually want to give back to the community. When we served hot meals to the hungry we had people who received meals come back to serve others. We have had students of our ESL class volunteer to be peer tutors and help other immigrants and English language learners improve their skills.

            Our aid programs have multiple objectives. One objective is the serve the people, create a positive relationship between people who actively associate with our socialist organization and those who do not. One objective is to gain experience for our cadre, problem solving, task management, democratic decision making. One of the most important objectives is to empower working and poor peoples to join anti-capitalist actions.

            It is hard to fight for change when you are hungry. It is hard to fight for change if you cannot communicate with the larger community that you live in. It is hard to fight for change for many reasons. Our aid programs are intended to reduce these barriers to entry so that we can form a more diverse and vibrant movement.

            Currently we are formulating a child care collective. The idea is to start small at first and grow if it is successful and resonates with the people. It is hard to be involved in fighting for change when you work and take care of a family. Our proposed project seeks to resolve this issue, if only in a small way for now.

            In solidarity
            Aaron

            • David Berger

              All very nice, if you’re setting up a liberal NGO. But, jargon aside, this has nothing to do with building socialism. There is nothing in this that sets you aside as a socialist group.

              Let me ask you the same questions I asked below, which might serve to delineate where you stand as socialists.

              (1) What was/is the relationship of your group to Occupy Philadelphia? Were you involved, at all, in the national Occupy gathering last July?

              (2) Have you ever engaged in any labor-related actions: strike support, organizing, etc.?

              (3) Have you been involved in the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal? (Sorry I spelled his name wrong below.)

              (4) Have you been involved in any anti-racist or anti-war work?

              • https://www.facebook.com/PhillySocialists/info Aaron Slater

                1. Philly Socialist members were involved in the food and comfort committees at Occupy Philly. Members of Occupy Philly then staffed our Red Plenty food service after the occupation was closed. No we were not involved in the national Occupy gathering.

                2. We have not been involved with strike support or labor organizing as an organization. Our communications person worked as a union communications and data person before working with us. Our Outreach person as worked with various union organizing drives, most specifically the security guards union here in Philadelphia.

                3. No we have not been working to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

                4. Many of our members have been involved in anti-war work. Our chairman and communications person were co-organizers in New Brunswick New Jersey against the war. Our

                So my question to you is what is your point? Tell me, how effective have these methods been in organizing a viable leftist movement?

                You say that “Looking at the work of Philly Socialists, “It’s the Looking at the work of Philly Socialists, “It’s the same old deja vu all over again.”I also see “the same old deja vu all over again,” reading your posts. Labor Tail-ism, Free Mumia, and all the standard leftist/socialists/communist approaches, mandated platform planks, and buzzwords have not been successful.

                We are trying a new approach and any constructive criticism is appreciated. Telling everyone they are not socialist, or Marxist, or whatever enough compared to your standard is not.

                Since I have shared so much of what we are doing, and why we are doing it, would you care to share what you are doing to help bring about social change towards a socialist end.

                • David Berger

                  From Aaron Slater: We are trying a new approach

                  David Berger: No, you are trying a very old approach.

                  What you are trying, essentially, is a utopian socialist approach in which you are trying, in whole or in part, to replace capitalism, supplement its working or demonstrate some kind of alternate way of life. If you look at the history of American utopian socialism, you can see all this going back over 150 years. You can also look at the SDS ERAP project and the Panther free breakfast program. None of them either ameliorated capitalism to a significant degree, helped to build mass consciousness or even helped much to build the organizations that attempted them.

                  From Aaron Slater: and any constructive criticism is appreciated. Telling everyone they are not socialist, or Marxist, or whatever enough compared to your standard is not.

                  David Berger: What you don’t like is that it is obvious that what you are engaged in has little or nothing to do with building a socialist movement.

                  From Aaron Slater: Since I have shared so much of what we are doing, and why we are doing it, would you care to share what you are doing to help bring about social change towards a socialist end.

                  David Berger: I am one of the coordinators of the Labor Outreach Committee of Occupy Wall Street. At present, we are engaged in, among other things, support fired CWA workers, support for an organizing drive at a grocery store in Brooklyn, strike support for the striking school bus drivers and attendants and work with Occupy Sandy for a “peoples rebuilding of New York.

                  Enough for you? There’s a few other actions we’re engaged in, but that should do for now.

                  • David Berger

                    Let me add that Occupy Sandy was/is engaged in much the same kind of work you are doing, with regard to food distribution, etc., after the Sandy disaster. In the absence of a specifically socialist content, what it has all come down to is NGO politics in spades.

                    No significant recruiting to Occupy or any other left group involved has taken place despite literally millions of hours of work of the kind you are doing.

                    • Ben Campbell

                      David, this is useful advice for the Philly Socialists, and a good question: how to maintain a “socialist content” so that work like this does not become mere charity work. However, I am sure that this is a question that they grappled with. I don’t doubt that you and they have legitimate differences of opinion, but to simply treat them as though they are ignorant about these questions is insulting. Why not wait until hearing more about their activities, before passing judgment on something that perhaps sounds a little like “charity work”? As a relatively young group, I am sure they will be open to constructive criticism. But as I indicated earlier, this current discussion is mired in abstract points of principle. When we hear more about Philly Socialists activities, we may have a better idea of what has been successful, what could be improved, what else they should do, etc. To dismiss them as hopeless utopians without even waiting for their first report just comes across as dogmatic.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Aaron: Thank you for your thoughtful expansion and clarification of your “party line”. Perhaps using the term “guiding principles” might be more appropriate than “party line”
    1. The necessity of building a Party, defined either as a new political party, a tendency within such a political party, a mass-based independent political organization, or some combination thereof (I agree)
    A. One point of pride I have about our organization is that we are working and planning for the long haul. (I would appreciate clarification of what you mean by the “long haul”). (It seems to me that having a plan is good and necessary, but one must still be active in the present. It is particularly helpful to have a plan in times of severe crisis. If you look at Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine you may well find the utility of having a plan.)
    We joke about a 40 year plan, (this is hardly a joke. With global warming at humanity’s heel we need a plan) (BTW is what you mean a plan or a program? I think political groups speak in terms of programs. Plan implies that far too much is known about future events)
    2. Science as a core Socialist value (I wish you had added truth, honesty and integrity. This is a powerful way to distinguish yourselves from those who are sloppy. You cannot develop leadership without trust and credibility))

  • Robert Gahtan

    @David. I am stunned, suprised and troubled by your comment. 1. Calling someone comrade brings up images of Stalin to most people. Just ask (scientifically) the next ten random persons. 2. While I agree with you that many of the tasks PhillySocialists can be done by other groupings, you appear to be blind to the dialectic that requires the process: Uninformed>Informed>Disatisfied>Observer>Participant>Liberal>Activist>Left winger>Socialist>Revolutionary. I am sure that I have left out several intermediate steps and look forward to your additions on your next post.

    • David Berger

      From Robert Gahtan: David. I am stunned, suprised and troubled by your comment. 1. Calling someone comrade brings up images of Stalin to most people.

      David Berger: I would hope that we are not just “most poeple” at The North Star and people around here are aware of the socialist tradition of using the word “comrade,” which long precedes Stalin.

      From Robert Gahtan: Just ask (scientifically) the next ten random persons.

      David Berger: To use that term publicly is, indeed, sectarian and often just weird. But we are not just “random persons” here.

      From Robert Gahtan: 2. While I agree with you that many of the tasks PhillySocialists can be done by other groupings, you appear to be blind to the dialectic that requires the process: Uninformed>Informed>Disatisfied>Observer>Participant>Liberal>Activist>Left winger>Socialist>Revolutionary.

      David Berger: I am far from blind. But I fail to see what kind of dialectic there is here. Dialectic, as I understand it, involves working out the necessary contradictions within a subject. While there are contradictions in the subjects you provide here, it is not at all clear that there is a necessary process involved. If this were the case, the progress to being a socialist revolutionary would be far more robust. In fact, there are contradictions in the process that can negate, retard and even reverse the process. It is far from being a matter of “stages.”

      From Robert Gahtan: I am sure that I have left out several intermediate steps and look forward to your additions on your next post.

      David Berger: It is not a matter of “intermediate steps.” It is a matter that you are presuming, more or less, a linear process, which is far from the case.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Aaron: Philly Socialists believe that a socialist state should provide the services that we currently provide. (Come now! Are you guys providing running water, public transportation and other services? Please be precise. It is hard enough to communicate in this fashion. Sloppiness does not help)
    However, since the government is increasingly shedding any commitment to any semblance of the social safety net, we (no one can accuse you of timidity if you are comparing yourselves to the US government) are stepping in.

    We do and will continue to “serve the people” (are you aware of the origins of that slogan? “Serve the People” or “Service for the People” (Chinese: pinyin: wèi rénmín fúwù) is a political slogan which first appeared in Mao-era China )

    Socialists is not such a group. (I agree. You are not such a group. I think you should look into the Transition Movement. What they are doing sounds far closer to what you are doing,and thinking than what is discussed on North Star)

    • https://www.facebook.com/PhillySocialists/info Aaron Slater

      Robert, you are correct, we are not providing running water, public transportation, and other services, but as these and other services continue to be cut we will try to pick up as much slack as we can. Obviously we can not create a fully functioning state in tandem to the United States government, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try to serve the people the best we can.

      We will continue to expand our service to the people as much as we can in an effort to build a dynamic and inclusive cross class/racial movement. In addition to our two ESL locations, our previous food distribution, we are currently working on a community garden/vacant land takeover and doing the initial research into a child care collective.

      As for the origins in Maoism, in fact we are aware of this, and how it was incorporated into The Black Panther Party’s social programs. Philly Socialists are open to borrowing positive and effective ideas from all traditions. As the byline of this site states, “I am for whatever gets results.”

      • David Berger

        From Aaron Slater: As for the origins in Maoism, in fact we are aware of this

        David Berger: Considering the miserable history of Maoist China, how do you feel about this?

        From Aaron Slater: and how it was incorporated into The Black Panther Party’s social programs.

        David Berger: Are you aware that the Panther Free Breakfast program was a failure. While it attracted a certain amount of publicity, it did nothing to expand revolutionary consciousness?

        From Aaron Slater: Philly Socialists are open to borrowing positive and effective ideas from all traditions. As the byline of this site states, “I am for whatever gets results.”

        David Berger: The questions in my mind are: What results are you getting, and what results do you want? From my point of view, what you are engaged in is scarcely distinguished from charity work or the activities of Occupy Wall Street at its worst: a glorified soup kitchen.

        By the way, (1) what was/is the relationship of your group to Occupy Philadelphia? Were you involved, at all, in the national Occupy gathering last July? (2) Have you ever engaged in any labor-related actions: strike support, organizing, etc.? (3) Have you been involved in the campaign to free Mumia Abdul Jamal? (4) Have you been involved in any anti-racist or anti-war work?

    • Ben Campbell

      Robert, just to be clear, if the type of work done and advocated by the Philly Socialists is underdiscussed on North Star, it is not by any design, and these perspectives are most welcome; indeed as I have indicated they might be quite salutary.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Aaron. Please, do look at the Transition Movement. This may well save you a lot of wasted time and give you some good ideas. Do let me know what you think. Thank you for your prompt response. Fraternally, Robert

  • Robert Gahtan

    @Ben: I stand corrected.
    @Aaron: My discomfort with”“serve the people” is that echoing Mao can serve to disorient the independents and the very people you are trying to reach. It can also serve to alienate/unfriend them. Building a movement, or party, in my opinion, requires extreme care in one’s communications.

    For example: the objection to violence is based on the fact that most people don’t like it and are repelled by it. Ultra-leftism is destructive just because it alienates the vast majority of the people. One does not object to it on moral grounds.

    As an aside, (I would like to include this tangent in the conversation) you may want to have a look at “Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth. I am impressed with the book because it’s conclusion is based on fairly extensive research

    Perhaps I can better make my point by suggesting you look at the language used in http://activistshandbook.wordpress.com/ . You might even consider printing it out and sharing it with your brothers, sisters and (comrades).

    as a P.S. I would appreciate your evaluation of The Transition Movement. (http://www.transitionus.org/). Also, have your started publishing a newsletter?

  • Robert Gahtan

    @David: I am not sure that you are right about the use of “comrade”. My understanding is that The North Star is a forum for “the anti-capitalist left” Furthermore, I ws commenting to Aaron, and it seems to me that he and his grouping may not be as clear as you are about the associations with the word comrade.

    I thought that part of dialectic was that changes in quantity leads to change in quality. In any case, I certainly do not mean a “linear process”. If I am mistaken, please edify me….comaradely, Robert

    • David Berger

      The use of “comrade” is customary among socialists, Communists and anarchists. However, as I said, to use it in public is sectarian. Among members of “the anti-capitalist left” who are not ideologically aligned, such as people for who Occupy Wall Street was their first political action, the term is doubtless unfamiliar, weird, tainted with Stalin’s politics, etc. However, I would hope that here at The North Star, comrades (:-) would be familiar and comfortable with it. Maybe not.

      As to dialectics, there are held to be three laws: (1) the transformation of quantity into quality; (2) the negation of the negation; the interpenetration of opposites. They constitute a whole, controversial realm of study in Marxism. Suffice to say that they are designed to describe the inner and out dynamics of change.

      It’s not a matter that the process: Uninformed>Informed>Disatisfied>Observer>Participant>Liberal>Activist>Left winger>Socialist>Revolutionary

      is incomplete. It’s that it attempts to describe a process, which is indeed dialectical, according to a stage theory that doesn’t really capture the stages of individual political development. As I understand it, the essence of dialectical change is that the change itself is necessary, it cannot, in the long run, be stopped. For example, the transformation of feudalism into capitalism. This process is unstoppable, but, as we know from history, takes many weird twists and turns, which are described by dialectics.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @David Thank you for your note. I am troubled by your exxample: ” the transformation of feudalism into capitalism. This process is “unstoppable”. It implies, to me that it is inevitable that Russia, China, Cuba, “unstopably” will not regress, into some form that is just a variant of capitalism? In any event, I am frankly less interested in “whither Cuba” than affecting and infecting those I come into contact with.

    Perhaps someone will join this conversation and comment on: “Uninformed>Informed>Disatisfied> Observer>Participant>Liberal>Activist>Left winger>Socialist>Revolutionary, and conatribute to additional twists and turns

    For the moment, I will stay with Yogi Berra who is quoted as saying:”It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. I suspect that my approach works better in practice than yours in theory. I look forward to your reply.

    • David Berger

      From Robert Gahtan: I am troubled by your exxample: ” the transformation of feudalism into capitalism. This process is “unstoppable”.

      David Berger: You may be misinterpreting my use of this word.

      From Robert Gahtan: It implies, to me that it is inevitable that Russia, China, Cuba, “unstopably” will not regress, into some form that is just a variant of capitalism?

      David Berger: In the case of Russia and China, that regression has already taken place. I’m not going to get into a grab-ass on Cuba, but in my opinion, the process, which I wouldn’t in any of these three cases call “regression” but “unfolding” is already well under way there. Russia and China are clearly capitalist. The strong state component is a clear example of state capitalism. Like I said, though, I don’t want to get into it about Cuba. (Start a new thread if that’s what you want.)

      From Robert Gahtan: In any event, I am frankly less interested in “whither Cuba” than affecting and infecting those I come into contact with.

      DAvid Berger: Cool, but I would still maintain that, jargon apart, what you are doing has little or nothing to do with socialist action.

      From Robert Gahtan: Perhaps someone will join this conversation and comment on: “Uninformed>Informed>Disatisfied> Observer>Participant>Liberal>Activist>Left winger>Socialist>Revolutionary, and conatribute to additional twists and turns

      David Berger: Perhaps, but what’s the point? It’s an idealist schema, something any grad student could come up with.

      From Robert Gahtan: For the moment, I will stay with Yogi Berra who is quoted as saying:”It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. I suspect that my approach works better in practice than yours in theory. I look forward to your reply.

      David Berger: So, I’ll quote the Yog, who I actually saw play at Yankee Stadium back in the day. Looking at the work of Philly Socialists, “It’s the same old deja vu all over again.”

  • Robert Gahtan

    @David: “what’s the point? It’s an idealist schema” I take it you refuse to engage, and simply wish to parade your socialist (and perhaps sectarian) credentials.

    I suggest you reflect on the impact of what you say. But perhaps you are unaware of what you achieve by insulting me as well as the Philly Socialists.

    I envy you. Most of us, unlike yourself, did not emerge from the womb as an erudite Marxist and socialist activist. We all went through a process in our radicalization, with many ups and downs. Since you feel there is no point to my requests for clarification, this conversation best end.

    • David Berger

      From Robert Gathan: @David: “what’s the point? It’s an idealist schema” I take it you refuse to engage, and simply wish to parade your socialist (and perhaps sectarian) credentials.

      David Berger; You have made up a “logical” schema, which any grad student could do. What does it have to do with actual progress? Looks nice. Does it work? My “saocialist credentials” come from many years in the movement. I have learned a few things.

      From Robert Gathan: I suggest you reflect on the impact of what you say.

      David Berger: Have I hurt your feelings? If you want to stick around Left politics, I suggest you grow a thick skin.

      From Robert Gathan: But perhaps you are unaware of what you achieve by insulting me as well as the Philly Socialists.

      David Berger: I am far from unaware. I’ve upset you in some way. Are you so sensitive about your politics that you can’t handle some criticism?

      From Robert Gathan: I envy you. Most of us, unlike yourself, did not emerge from the womb as an erudite Marxist and socialist activist.

      David Berger: I have been around for awhile. Praxis makes perfect. Learning to take criticism helps too.

      From Robert Gathan: We all went through a process in our radicalization, with many ups and downs. Since you feel there is no point to my requests for clarification, this conversation best end.

      David Berger: I am clarifying, constantly. What’s going on is you don’t like my clarification. If you want to duck out, that’s your business. I have seen ‘em come; and I’ve seen ‘em go.

  • Robert Gahtan

    @David. After waiting for things to cool down, I have revisited our conversation. I guess what I object to in your posts are (1) an insulting tone, (2) I know more than you do attitude and (3) I am more of an activist than you are.

    Instead of helping Aron along, I feel you (1) denigrate what he is saying/doing and (2)showing how much better you are than most of us.

    I am not “ducking out”.

    “I’ve upset you in some way. Are you so sensitive about your politics that you can’t handle some criticism?” The way that I am upset is that I am saddened by your approach, and not at all distressed by criticism.

    I am saddened because here is an opportunity for you to persuade and enlighten, and instead, I feel you are using it to belittle. Please look back on your experience in convincing others and tally up the sucesses and failures.

    I do not doubt that you have spent many years in the movement, but I am asking again, did you start out with that experience and wisdom? Hardly. You started out as Aaron and I did. Your calling me an “idealist” and “thinking in stages instead of dialectically” does little to advance my, or any one else’s thinking.

    Please, let’s drop the derailment into the personal and go back to my original question.
    ““Uninformed>Informed>Disatisfied> Observer>Participant>Liberal>Activist>Left winger>Socialist>Revolutionary, and conatribute to additional twists and turns”

    I again ask you to clarify and elaborate as opposed to criticize, attack and denigrate.

  • Terry Painter

    I live in one of the most fascist areas in the USA north of the Mason-Dixon line: Rapid City, SD. I would love to correspond with leftists/socialists/intellectuals from anywhere. My email address is probably not allowed but I’ll try it anyway: hippymando[at]rap.midco.net. My name’s Terry; hope to hear from some of you. Intelligent conversation in western SD is rarely possible.

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