Service à la russe

Miah Simone replies to Ben Seattle's letter on behalf of the Red Party Central Committee

Well rounded

(Read Ben Seattle’s letter here.)

Since you began with an introduction I thought I would as well. My name is Miah, and I have been a communist for four years this upcoming August. My first encounter with the organized left was with the International Socialist Organization. I ended up dedicating about two years to that organization before I started to wise up to how undemocratic it was. I have since moved away from Trotskyism and found my organizational home in the Red Party.

We’re very glad that you enjoyed the first eleven courses and very sad that the dessert was not to your taste. I have discussed with the author and we both agree that we could have added a cherry or two but the bulk would have remained. We wish to see a united party-movement and one of the clearest paths we can see to this is common action. The only arena for common action that most of the left adheres to, does not have a presence in, and would not be splintered by sectarian theory-mongering (the splitting on the basis of theory rather than program) is elections.

Your idea to start a revolutionary news service is commendable and we would likely support such a thing if asked. We would like to clarify a few things involving this idea of yours though.

  1. News services, the great ones at least, have had organizational backing of some form so we must ask independent in what sense? From the two parties, from the sects, from what?
  2. Now we appreciate the idea of a democratic publication and strive towards it with our policy of open publishing of all letters sent to us. We must ask: is this your idea of democratic in this context or is there something more we do not see?

On all the others points for your news service we would not disagree. Though we do add that it should be open about being socialist (not sure if that is what you meant by number 4).

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3 Comments

  1. This reply is posted (together with a graphic) on my blog at:
    (https, etc) warforquadranttwo.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/341/

    ==============================================
    The Channel will belong to the Public Domain

    (Reply to Miah Simone, Representative
    of the Red Party Central Committee)
    ==============================================

    > Since you began with an introduction I thought
    > I would as well. My name is Miah, and I have been
    > a communist for four years this upcoming August.

    Congratulations. Four years.

    I know this takes courage.

    > My first encounter with the organized left was
    > with the International Socialist Organization.

    Yes, sad thing, that.

    > I ended up dedicating about two years to that
    > organization before I started to wise up to
    > how undemocratic it was.

    Two years? What tipped you off?

    > I have since moved away from Trotskyism
    > and found my organizational home in
    > the Red Party.

    I see.

    I appreciate, Miah, your ability to express yourself
    with such clarity, using so few words.

    > We’re very glad that you enjoyed the first
    > eleven courses and very sad that the dessert
    > was not to your taste.

    I’ll bet you are fucking heartbroken.

    > We wish to see a united party-movement

    I’ll bet you do.

    > and one of the clearest paths we can see
    > to this is common action.

    Common action to serve the interest of _which_ class?
    Bourgeoisie? Or Proletariat? I am not attempting
    to be a nerdy nitpicker. For me, it is a matter of
    the heart.

    > The only arena
    > for common action that most of the left

    So what is meant by the fascinating term “most of the left”?

    Could it be … social-democracy?

    You can bank on it.

    You are speaking in favor of giving social-democracy
    veto power over the future.

    You are speaking in favor of giving social-democracy
    the ability to place its veto over any project aimed at
    uniting all who wish to struggle to break the rule of capital.

    Before I go along with that, I prefer to die.

    > The only arena
    > for common action that most of the left
    > adheres to, does not have a presence in,
    > and would not be splintered by
    > sectarian theory-mongering
    > (the splitting on the basis of theory
    > rather than program) is elections.

    I must make clear, before I begin, that I oppose sectarian theory-mongering. I have never had much truck with mongers of any sort. However, my experience (as a theoretician who has always considered theory a matter of absolute life and death) is that many people, many political trends (including #socdem political trends) have a strong hatred of theory that can make things clear. Kind of the way bible-thumpers and snake-oil salesmen are afraid of the truth.

    Which one are you?

    My guess is you are not a bible-thumper.

    You tried that. It didn’t work.

    > Your idea to start a revolutionary news service
    > is commendable and we would likely support such
    > a thing if asked.

    The news service, by its nature, would be democratic.

    If it is genuinely democratic, you don’t need anyone’s
    permission (much less mine) to help out. It will be
    the nature of the project that no one person or center
    will be able to keep you out, so long as your activity,
    on balance, serves to build the project–and you have
    the ability to, so to speak, “make your case” in
    the public arena in the event of a public challenge.

    You can help (and I am asking you to help) by asking me
    some hard questions. Go ahead. Hit me with your best shot.

    > We would like to clarify a few things

    I love good questions:

    > involving this idea of yours though.

    You give me too much credit to call it my idea.

    > News services, the great ones at least, have had
    > organizational backing of some form

    Very good question.

    > News services, the great ones at least,
    > have had organizational backing
    > of some form
    > so we must ask independent in what sense?
    > From the two parties, from the sects, from what?

    From _any_ and _all_ persons, organizations
    or institutions which live subject to the veto
    of their bourgeois masters (or their swarm
    of social democratic flunkies).

    Is that suffiently clear?

    Let me know. There is a lot more I could say.

    > Now we appreciate the idea of a democratic
    > publication

    Maybe you do. Per the above, it is unclear
    if you understand what it means to be independent,
    or what it means to be democratic.

    It is not easy to understand these things.

    It requires real work.

    My impression is that you would rather live
    under the thumb of social democracy.

    > and strive towards it with our policy of
    > open publishing of all letters sent to us.

    Well, that is good. There are many organizations, such as the CVO and the IG, which do not allow readers to post comments on their blogs. For those kinds of organizations, the truth is a terrible smell closing in on them from all directions. It cannot be escaped. It invades even their dreams. No escape. The nightmare has no pity.

    > We must ask: is this your idea of democratic
    > in this context or is there something more
    > we do not see?

    There is something more.

    The channel will be democratic in the way
    that Occupy’s General Assemblies were democratic
    at the height of the movement in the most militant
    cities (fall, 2011).

    > On all the others points for your news service
    > we would not disagree. Though we do add that
    > it should be open about being socialist
    > (not sure if that is what you meant by number 4).

    … NOTE TO READERS: Miah is making reference
    … to point number four of my proposal:

    … “(4) The news service will be centered around
    … the need overthrow the rule of capital.”

    Everything about the news service will be in the public domain.

    The disagreements, the contradictions, everything.
    It will all belong to the public domain.

    All information, all politics, and all power,
    are coming to the public domain.

    Nothing can stop this.

    news-service

    Now my question for you (and for _anyone_ around your group)
    is simple: If you are on the earth for the purpose of
    struggling to help the proletariat create its own organization
    (one which is _independent_ and _democratic) then will you make
    this clear to me in unmistakable terms?

    All power to the public domain,

    Ben Seattle

    2015-06-20, 5:00 pm (.)
    (https, etc) warforquadranttwo.wordpress.com/

  2. Snarky comments about length of comradeship aside (I want to bring tons of zero-dayers into the movement in the right circumstances), I can understand your case against a congressional candidate. After all, as one of our stated policy goals is the abolition of the Presidency and the Senate, how likely is it that we’re going to elect somebody to do it? On this point I can agree with you.

    I do believe that elections on a local level would be of huge importance to a movement, however. Of course these are vastly different from national congressional elections and I would be interested in hearing what your opinion of those are, Ben.

    To demonstrate that our interests represent those of the working class, we ought to present or support Marxist candidates for city councilship or other positions of similar size. Besides making it easier to promote an effective campaign it would give us more power to declare what our intentions as Marxists are. Would it implement immediate change? Perhaps not if we only got one or two seats filled. But to serve as a statement for a unified movement, I think it would be a major step.

  3. Hi Josh,

    > Snarky comments about

    I normally oppose snarky comments, but sometimes I feel that a little humor helps to reward readers for their time and attention. I do, however, always make an effort to zero in on the political contradictions that are important to the movement.

    > I can understand your case against a congressional
    > candidate. After all, as one of our stated policy
    > goals is the abolition of the Presidency and the
    > Senate, how likely is it that we’re going to elect
    > somebody to do it? On this point I can agree with you.

    Good.

    > I do believe that elections on a local level
    > would be of huge importance to a movement, however.
    > Of course these are vastly different from national
    > congressional elections and I would be interested
    > in hearing what your opinion of those are, Ben.

    I don’t know if you read the reply to the Red Party from Art. He went into detail on a number of these questions here:

    (https, etc) struggleforunifiedtheory.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/our-practical-work-must-serve-the-independent-class-movement-of-the-proletariat-sut-15-4-26/

    Also, I have written a lot about the campaign of Kshama Sawant and what has been called “sewer socialism” (ie: municipal eletions) for about a hundred years. In particular, I put together a 13 page PDF, with 8 thousand words and 11 graphics, on this topic here:

    Kshama Sawant – Vacillating Ally or Strategic Opponent ?
    (https, etc) warforquadranttwo.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/150328-sawant_nuance1.pdf

    The bottom line is that success in local elections will generally require support from “allies”. These allies, unfortunately, will only support you as long as you do not threaten the interests of the ruling bourgeoisie. As long as our vision of what we can do as a movement is _restricted_ to what we can “sell” to these “allies”–then our vision is for a movement that is on a leash.

    We need to create a movement, and an organization, which is not dependent on the false friends of the working class.

    > To demonstrate that our interests represent those
    > of the working class, we ought to

    Who is “we”? When people talk like this, I always bring up the story of the Lone Ranger and Tonto surrounded on a hill by hundreds of angry native Americans. The Lone Ranger says to Tonto: “Looks like we are in a difficult situation.” Tonto replies: “What do you mean ‘we’, white man?”

    > present or support Marxist candidates

    How do you know they are Marxist? Because they say they are? Like Kshama Sawant?

    > Besides making it easier to promote an effective
    > campaign it would give us more power to declare
    > what our intentions as Marxists are.

    Before you can declare your intentions, you need to decide what they are.

    Is it your intention to fight? It does not look like that to me.

    I do not want to offend you. But my responsibility is to tell you the truth as I see it.

    > to serve as a statement for a unified movement,
    > I think it would be a major step.

    The “movement” will never be unified around a reformist election campaign. The best part of the movement will turn its back on such a campaign, because the best activists will realize where it leads. Such a campaign would represent social democracy: an alliance which personalities and institutions controlled by our class enemy will prop up.

    If you want to sacrifice your life energy for the politics of being on a leash–that is your choice. Such a thing would not inspire me to get out of bed in the morning.

    The militant section of the movement, in the meantime, will struggle with the difficult problem of creating an independent pole. This is where I believe the idea of an independent news service comes in. This news service must be independent from the control of small groups of activists. The news service must be independent from the control of social democracy. The news service will maintain this independence on the foundation of the democratic right of activists to shape it and determine its destiny.

    I will add, Josh, that politically, we are separated by a vast gulf. However I appreciate your taking the time to ask me about my views. In the long term, those activists who remain active learn from their experience. And calm and principled public discussion between activists with different views can help to lubricate this painful process.

    All the best,
    Ben Seattle

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