A New Direction for The North Star Site

by The North Star on May 18, 2012

The North Star was originally launched as a horizontal, collaborative project/publication by and for occupiers that would unite people geographically from different occupations and politically from different ideological backgrounds. At the time (February 2012) there was no other project with this orientation/ambition. Now there is an overabundance of similar projects with similar aims but far more resources and connections to a much greater number of Occupys. Furthermore, the exclusive focus on Occupy turned out to be inhibiting since  there is quite a bit of activism unrelated to Occupy, and the number of people involved in it on a daily or weekly basis shrank after the evictions, drastically limiting the pool of possible participants/contributors.

All of this calls for a change in direction and focus.

The North Star’s name is a conscious reference to the The North Star network set up by Peter Camejo in the 1980s after he left the U.S. Socialist Workers Party (it is also the name of his wonderful autobiography). At the time, Camejo concluded that the future of radical politics in this country lay not with the plethora of three-letter left groups but elsewhere; Occupy has born this out in way he could not have imagined, creating an entire infrastructure of ongoing protest and resistance almost overnight independently of the existing left.

Occupy succeeded because it was and is uncompromisingly inclusive. In a very different context, the radical left coalition in Greece (SYRIZA) has succeeded for much the same reason, and in Britain, there is the Anti Capitalist Initiative, a left unity project which is off to a promising start.

What the American anti-capitalist, anti-austerity left needs more than anything else to win victories is unity, and that unity cannot occur without 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.

Facilitating this will be The North Star’s new focus.

Many have fought for unity on the American left and failed. What makes this initiative any different? Why will this effort succeed while others have failed?

There is no guarantee that The North Star will succeed, but if no sustained effort is made or direct action taken to begin overcoming the existing divisions, we are guaranteed to stay stuck with them. The wreckage of the 1960s revolutionary left is a stark reminder of what happens when revolutionaries behave as though the divisions in their ranks are an insurmountable given (or worse yet, a political virtue) rather than as an obstacle to overcome and liquidate.

The choices we make today will shape the left for decades, for better or worse. Let’s learn from the mistakes of our predecessors instead of making them ourselves and expecting different results.

All that said, the failed unity initiatives of the past occurred in very different  circumstances. Today we live in an era of revolution, when everything and everyone is in motion. The old labels and boundaries will not do because they are constantly at odds with a rapidly changing reality. Self-proclaimed socialists today stand literally on opposite sides of the barricades in Greece. Marxists joined anarchists in rebuffing Chris Hedges’ dishonest attempt to scapegoat the Black Bloc for Occupy’s problems.

Life itself is creating unity where there was none before. This is the real, material basis that The North Star hopes to build on and further.

The site will be revamped in the weeks ahead to reflect this change in focus. Stay tuned.

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