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'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat. 'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.” (Alice in Wonderland)     
The past month or two I have been running from one demonstration and issue to another in support of various causes. I have attended several of the various demonstrations in support of Palestinian rights as Israel, with the backing of the United States, once again, exercises it’s barely hidden genocidal agenda. The past week and a half, Israel has been pounding Gaza with a massive bombing campaign and an aggressive ground war. The Palestinian people have already been devastated from a seven year siege. Many people aren’t aware that Israel, which puts forward the myth that Gaza is an independent entity, still controls most of the power, water and goods going in and out of Gaza – Gazans currently get about four hours of electricity a day and three hours of water once every three days. In the week and a half since the “war” began over 1,000 Gazans have been killed (a majority women and children),  millions of dollars of infrastructure have been destroyed. At last tally, 45 Israeli soldiers and three Islaeli civilians have died in the conflict and Israel gained controlled of approximately 1/3 of the remaining land in Gaza which they now call a “buffer zone.”

This is the third such incursion since 2008.  The other two bombing operations resulted in thousands of additional deaths and demolished neighborhoods and the ongoing blockade prevented Palestinians from rebuilding.  People often forget that the destruction of the infrastructure, once the bombing stops, is often more dangerous to the people’s health when they cannot have drinkable water (95% of Gazans don’t), adequate power and shelter.

For the first time, Palestinian voices are being heard, even by the mainstream --  if only because the devastation is so great they cannot be ignored. Demonstrations in Europe reached over 100,000 in England and France. There is clearly a movement that is stronger today than in the past.  Many of the demonstrations I attended were sizable –between one and two thousand people. In New York City, a stronghold of Zionism, that is no small number and shows the changing landscape in regard to the Palestinian issue –even here in the belly of the beast. And yet, today, as I write, there is no cease fire and the people of Palestine are still under attack.

I could go on about Gaza, but there are so many other issues. Like the 57,000 undocumented children coming across the Mexican border, fleeing from dictatorial states like Guatemala, El Salvador  and Honduras that the United States supported. Most recently the USA supported the coup in Honduras which ousted President Zelaya after he made two fatal mistakes – he doubled the minimum wage and he planned to join ALBA, a group of seven Latin American countries which have formed a coalition to fight the United States neoliberal agenda in the South. President Obama was the only leader in the western world who did not condemn the coup and gave immediate recognition to the new government. The United States government plans to send the majority of the fleeing children back to these states for their “safety” which is the reason that they fled and made the dangerous trek to the United States in the first place.

And then there are the other “domestic issues.” Thousands of poor, elderly and disabled people in Detroit are being denied water because they can’t pay their water bill, often after the state cut off their pension due to the Detroit bankruptcy. A young man brought my attention to another black man, Eric Garner, killed in Brooklyn  due to excessive police force. .(The young man who told me was unaware of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict).I also just learned, today, that there was yet another incident yesterday in which the NYPD stomped on another black man's head - also captured in a video.  Oh, and there was newspaper headline about the "open carry (guns) advocates who stood on the grassy knoll (where Kennedy was killed) and criticized Obama. Guess what man - you're still black.

Finally, there is the civil war in the Ukraine which recently resulted in the deaths of 298 civilians in an air crash (many of them AIDS researchers) when the Russian backed rebels shot the plane down by mistake. Many of the US backed forces, which recently took the Ukraine over in a coup are real old fashioned fascists (which feels a lot worse in Europe than it does here given the fact that Fascists have actually held power in Europe and we experienced the results).These new Ukrainian leaders are pressuring Europe to put more and more sanctions on Russia. I’m old enough to remember the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States and this certainly feels like Déjà vu.

But I digress.  There is a big demonstration planned in Washington for August 2nd for Palestinian rights. Kerry is negotiating right now for a short cease fire that does not actually change any of the conditions in the siege on Gaza.  Hamas (and it seems like most of the Gazan people including those who don’t back Hamas) say the cease fire must include the ending of the Siege on Gaza (what have they got to lose? They are already being slowly killed anyway with no drinkable water and half their land destroyed). Israel is unlikely to comply (Why should they ? They have our backing and the Seige meets their long term goals for a greater Israel just fine).

IN THE MEANTIME THE DEMONSTRATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C. IS STILL 7 DAYS AWAY – HOW MANY MORE PEOPLE CAN THEY KILL AND HOW MUCH MORE INFRASTRUCTURE CAN THEY DESTROY IN 7 DAYS? Of course, this is just an infinitely small fraction of the devastation we have visited on the rest of the world in just the 20th and 21st century. (Pick a region)

Have you signed your 150th petition today? Have you written your congress person or Obama? Have you gone on a demonstration? Do you feel good about doing your civic duty? I was watching TV the other night and the ad with the dog with sad eyes and the sentimental music came on soliciting donations so that the dog and other dogs could live without abuse. There is a similar ad with a small clearly starving child in Africa.  As Bill Clinton would say “I feel your pain.” Synthetic, televised pain is not enough.

The definition of insanity someone said is to keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results. With the advent of the internet and globalization, the world is turning faster now, and the contradictions are heightening. “We do what we can” we say. We “keep the faith, “we keep hope alive.” But as Mao would say, just “tolling the bell” (doing the usual level of political work or doing the usual rant as I am doing now) is not enough. We need to give ourselves a wake-up call.

What is to be Done?

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: ...So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
The Arab Awakening globally, exemplified by the Occupy Wall Street movement in the States, gave renewed hope to populist and people’s struggles. The style of organizing also reflected the changes brought about by globalization. While these movements were wildly successful on one hand, and have continued to influence our organizing in many ways, they have disintegrated to a large degree.  We were not able to hold the square (the public space). Was this ever the intention?  If so why did we fail? If not, where should we be placing our energies now?

There are three ways of making social change. 1) Economic  2) Political  and 3) Militant.  In our recent past, we were able to use all three to make certain reforms.  The economic tool was the strike in which workers removed their labor power from the owners of the place of employment, thus preventing them from making the products necessary to make a profit.   This worked in the period we call the industrial revolution. People moved from the country to large industrial factories in the cities which created a large number of workers who could act together in solidarity and, just by their magnitude, disrupt the making of profit. The strength of the political or public arena (the commons) was also stronger since people were centered in large numbers in cities and towns which made discussion of issue and transparency among the people easier.  

During this period, one of the major ideologies that effected social movements was the concept of socialism (mainly as developed by Karl Marx and later, by the leaders of the Russian revolution (Lenin, Trotsky, Kollantai, Bukharin, etc.) They discuss several basic and important ideas that impact organizing in a globalized economy, if only in some cases, to see how it is different today.

The first is Marx's concept of dialectical materialism.  In traditional Hegelian dialectics, each idea (thesis) can create a different contradiction or different idea (anti-thesis) and it is the struggle between these ideas that produces a synthesis which produces, in turn, a new stage in history. Marx turns this idea on its head. Instead of starting with the an idea for a society, he starts with the specifics of the material conditions of life, how humans interact with the physical environment to reproduce the socially necessary goods we need to survive. These are the objective conditions. For Marx the most important factor in social change is the particular economy (how we produce things in a given stage of history - the level of technology, the location and resources, whether it is an agrarian or industrial society) which he calls the Base.

Marx then calls these different stages of history “Modes of Production.” All the other subjective aspects that create change (culture, politics, the state, religion, art) he calls this the Superstructure and suggests that the most important thing in making social change is the relationship of humans to their means of production and how they can change it. While some critics feel this is too simplistic, if one reads his work, one can see that he does not see these two aspects (Base/objective and Superstructure/subjective) as distinct. To use a simplistic metaphor, the economic system is more like the skeletal structure and the superstructure is more like the muscles and skin. Neither has importance without the other.
The final concept that Marx introduces is value and surplus value. The labor Theory of Value and the surplus value simply says that the real value of a commodity, depends on the quantity of labor used to produce it. Other means of production such as capital, land, technology are useless without labor.  He defines the value of things as the socially necessary labor to produce them (the amount of work put in) and surplus value as any additional worth the product you produced might have (a new tool might let you harvest grain a little faster or better in less time so that you end up with more grain than is socially necessary for your society). Marx further distinguishes between the use value (the value of the commodities to satisfy human want) and the exchange value (what it can get in exchange with other values = trading power). The labor has a very high use value but very little exchange value. The difference between the two is called the surplus value that capitalists gain through exploiting the workers. (Money here is necessary as the surplus value would be very limited in the barter system)

And here is where problems start. According to Marx, how that extra or surplus value is distributed will determine what kind of society you develop. If you distribute goods equally, everyone will be equal and have equal power. If someone manages to get more of the surplus, either through force, exploitation on the job or just luck (better land) pretty soon your tribe will have a “chief” who is making more of the decisions and has more of the power.

I am not going to go through all of the historical modes of production, but it is important to note two changes that all modes of production, except the first primitive subsistence mode, have had inequalities. The capitalist mode of production has two aspects which have formed our particular inequality. The first is that the Feudal Mode, right before Capitalism, was an agricultural mode in which the Lords and "church" (those who managed to get all the surplus)used force (weapons) to make the others (the peasants, slaves, etc) do all the work of producing socially necessary goods plus whatever other goods the controllers of the means of production wanted.  Capitalism arose when enough surplus occurred that the workers were able to set aside enough surplus to first barter, and then sell for money, to get some power on their own (if they didn't get caught).  As the money market and capitalism developed, some folks who got more and more of the surplus, developed the idea of private property and started buying up public land. In the case of the lords and church who already controlled the majority of the land and goods produced, they simply declared it their privately owned property, and kicked off the peasant workers (the enclosure movement - funny how so much of our history is determined by fencing and unfencing land).

Since the peasant workers no longer had access to the means to produce their own livelihood (free land and tools) they were then forced to go back to work for the new private property owners for whatever the owners would pay them or starve. So those without a surplus could as individuals be “free” to starve.  For the new property owners, the freedom to starve soon became the preferred method of controlling the new wage workers - whether the workers liked it or not  - because they found they could extract more labor or surplus with this new market mode of production.

At the same time, some workers did like this new freedom because they were not imprisoned on the land even if the collective social contract required that they be fed. Once kicked off the land, the workers acted as free individuals. The concept of individual rights developed in this period. John Locke, one of the Enlightenment thinkers, wrote the quote "The right to the pursuit of life, liberty and private property" which later, in the United States Constitution became "life, liberty and happiness. So although it has become a major problem under capitalism (the fifth amendment right to private property in the Bill of Rights was used, in the Dred Scot, to justify slavery), it has also led to concepts of individual liberty and democracy.

With globalization and the advent of the microchip, the relationship of people to their work and workplace changed. The multinational corporations could now “outsource” jobs to other parts of the world where labor could be had not only cheaper, but, with the new mobility of capital, whenever workers tried to organize, the owners could move factories to another region and even divide up the production of one product into several factories spread over several continents. Workplaces became smaller and more decentralized and, today, many people can work from a single modem in their own home.

With the growth of globalization and ever larger multinational corporations under monopoly capitalism,  people’s lives have become more individualized and privatized as the continuing growth of commodity production has overwhelmed our public institutions: Barnes and Noble and now Amazon have replaced our public libraries, charter schools have made inroads into our public school system (in 1996  the IMF mandated that all public education should be privatized) and the town hall meetings, mostly of yesteryear, where we discuss and democratically determine our ideology and morals, has been replaced by the 24 hour news cycle and the talking points of paid pundits on privately owned cable TV shows.  The one bright spot in all this has been the creation of the open, free and public internet which may soon be a thing of the past as, on one hand commercial enterprises and on the other the NSA, are trying to “own” this space too.

The Occupy Movement tried to reverse this trend by reclaiming public space, bringing back the ideas of grass roots, decentralized organizing and emphasized the importance of the individual person in a democratic process of decision making. In doing so, they revitalized populist movements. Even more importantly, they established the idea of the 1% and the 99% reinvigorating the idea of inequality. This had been missing from our peace and justice movements which, for the past fifty years,  had focused specifically on admittedly critical contradictions such as sexism and racism. These contradictions still have to be dealt with, but were used by the dominant ownership class to divide and conquer people by focusing on these differences to the exclusion of class issues. This is nothing new: in the 13th century, the kings tried to divide the peasantry from the urban workers; under the Patriarchy, the Catholic church used sexism (culminating in violent witch hunts, burning thousands of women live at the stake) to divide men and women workers; in the United States, the owners used the shameful history of slavery and racism to divide white from black workers.  In fact, all three of these contradictions are still live and well in our societies today.

One of the main problems I see with the Occupy movement is that, while it did define the problem in term of the rich (1%) and poor (99%) and proposed new ways of struggle by suggesting cooperatives (equally owned by the members) would replace hierarchical unequal work relationships, it did not really discuss how this would be done except through a generalized, voluntaristic struggle. it was very vague on Marx’s ideas of class struggle (how the 99% would get back the wealth/capital and control away from the 1%) and did not show how the relationship of the worker to the means of production could be helpful in determining the actual struggles needed to win. I.e,., Instead of taking over the public space, workers could take over and "de-privatize" the means of production in their shops (like Republic Windows – now New Era - did in their factory in Chicago and over two hundred factories did in Argentina).  And, depending on the objective conditions, they could refuse to pay the previous owners declaring that the labor they had already spent working there was already payment enough for the goods they had expropriated.

Finally, back to the initial issue of having to run around to many different demos that don't seem to relatfoe to each other. Several of our folks (Galtisalie, UnaSpenser) have recognized the problem and called for democratic international solidarity as a means of overcoming the global isolation. I particularly liked UnaSpenser's approach of  getting down and personal with different types of people (I won't quote her here cause its too long and this is long already).

But most of the viewpoints suggest we still see this kind of solidarity as voluntarily working with "the other" instead of focusing on what we really do have in common - we are not just the 99%, we are the working class.  And it is through that commonality, that we can relate in real solidarity. Israel is not just about religion or culture, but about European colonialism helping to establish a state that it can use as a capitalist foothold in the Middle East to protect and advance its oil interests. Ditto for Latin America since we established the Monroe Doctrine in 1824. And the boy in Palestine, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was beaten and killed by right-wing extremists in revenge for the death of three Israeli teenager is no different than the father who was killed by NYPD in Brooklyn; the cutting off of water to Gaza connects to the cutting off of water to the citizens of Detroit; and the children - the children who cannot leave Gaza and are shot down like turkeys in a turkey shoot are no different than the children of Central America fleeing terrorist dictators (that we support in the name of capitalist interests), only to be returned to live under the violence.

I think one of the areas that have inadvertently caused the OWS movement problems is that they grew out of an anti-hierarchical movement. People so treasure the freedom of individual liberty and democracy having lived under a lack of both (whether it is the opaque United States Government run by the Koch brothers through Citizens United or the concepts of the often dictatorial Marxist-Leninist left which developed in a pre-democratic period).  But that is not for today.  In a couple of months I would like to do (or maybe someone else will do) a diary on individualism vs. the community.

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Meetup on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Chat, Sexism and Patriarchy, Adalah — A Just Middle East, and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There is a lot of hopefully controlled anger in (8+ / 0-)

    diary which I hope won't put people off because I reaslly do hope we can have a real discussion of the issues. I am tired of living with the unnecessary violence and frustrated that we (including me) are not doing anything about it. So I hope you will come and dialogue with me whether you agree with me or not.

    •  Have you signed onto (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geminijen, Galtisalie, annieli, poco, MrJayTee

      Jews supporting the Palestinian right of return petition on ending the war in Gaza and endorsing BDS?

      A good group, supporting a good cause!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:32:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I;ve been working on BDS and was going to add that (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, Galtisalie, poco, MrJayTee

        as a progressive demand. Do support Right of Return and have signed petitions on this issue.  Thankls for adding this to the diary.:)

        •  Additions also on Mohammed Abu Khdeir (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geminijen, Galtisalie, poco, MrJayTee

          who was beaten and burnt alive by those right-wing extremists (settlers), see:

          This teenager had nothing to do with the murder of the 3 Israeli teenagers, his family had nothing to do with it. The justification of killing people because other people have died under some grotesque vendetta and then viewing oneself as a hero seems to be embedded in the psyche of the Israeli state and military.

          1000 people dead ... many of them children (demographically looking at Gaza that will be the situation), bombing of schools ... and they justify murder under the name of "security"  ... two demos in London, one at least 50,000, the second at least 45,000 and they are not covered by the Biased Broadcasting Company; maybe 20 seconds ... yet the royal child hits one and this gets 5 minutes.

          I will do my piece on BDS as something that we can do both as individuals and to put international pressure on the Israeli state and military; clearly international anger and demos phase them not ... given how atrocious the coverage has been in the UK, I shudder to think how bad it is in the US. They are pretending that there is an equality of action on both sides; it would be laughable if there were not 1000 people dead! The Israeli military passed decimate before the land invasion; they have gone beyond centimate ... the Romans would be proud ...

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:48:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually compared the horrible death of this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annieli, Galtisalie

            Palestinian youth at the hands of the IDFto the deaths of the IDF to the deaths of the two black youths in Brooklyn at the hands of the NYPD, but you had to get to the end of the blog to see it.  Guess I put too much theorectical Marxism in the middle.  Oh well.

            •  this child was NOT killed by the IDF (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Geminijen, poco, Galtisalie

              he was killed by right-wing extremist settlers in revenge for the murder of 3 Israeli teenagers by as yet an undetermined person or group. Please stop saying that; there are enough war crimes and crimes against humanity that the Israeli government and military have committed without attributing this one horrific kidnapping, beating and being burnt alive to them. The military and state have killed enough children, but they did not directly kill this one (although the war drums being beaten by the Israeli government certainly gave these right-wing pigs an excuse for this horror). The teenagers that were killed were students as far as I know and only 1 was old enough to be in the IDF.

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:17:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I got my information from MSNBC right after it (4+ / 0-)

                happened (perhaps it was just inferred).  Thanks for the correction. I am confused. In hyour first comment you seemed to imply that I was inaccurate because it was not a revenge killing. In this comment you suggest that it was a revenge killing.

                I was hoping someone would address the other issues in the blog but very few folks have and shown up. I guess this is because:
                1)they didn't like my perspective and comments
                2)it was badly written and confusing
                3)its summer and everyone is out

                Am hoping it is the latter, but since the two or three people who responded with a rec also did not comment besides you and annellie and you seem irritated.

                Did better with the facebook viewers tonite. Hope it picks up later.

                •  no, it was a revenge killing ... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  poco, Galtisalie, jqb

                  it was not done by the IDF. It was done by a group of right-wing Zionist extremist settlers. That is clear (I posted the link from Haaretz in your piece).

                  I was irritated because I had actually edited the piece and my edits were removed when you did the re-write. It was not your fault, you probably did not see them as you didn't refresh the piece before you edited. I did write something on the editorial queue, but you probably sat down and just edited, that is what people do. I sent an email, but probably you didn't get it.

                  Outside of that statement, I thought it was an excellent piece. We need to be careful, there is enough that the IDF have done without attributing a murder done by a group of sociopaths to the IDF; the Jewish Israeli teenagers were not in the IDF as far as I know ... perhaps one was, but the other two were too young unless they are recruiting below 18. This should have been checked; I had a Guardian as well as an Haaretz link added in.

                  The theoretical Marxism was interesting and I could see where you were heading towards; so that was an interesting idea.  I think what you were saying was interesting ...

                  "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                  by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:38:09 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Definitely not 3)! Some 1) comes with the (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NY brit expat

                  territory when you courageously take on this subject. A lot of 3), but I'm glad you didn't wait to post this until the fall. Who knows how many more will die in the interim? Thanks for speaking up so well. Solidarity Geminijen.

                  garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

                  by Galtisalie on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:57:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  that's a pesky problem indeed (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NY brit expat, Geminijen, Galtisalie
              too much theoretical Marxism in the middle

              Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

              by annieli on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:29:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Tonight's anti-capitalist meetup (6+ / 0-)

    has been x-posted to:

    Wild Wild Left:



    ("Discussion of the Israel/Palestine situation is off limits" at The Stars Hollow Gazette:

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:10:03 PM PDT

    •  damn, sorry for the repost ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, Galtisalie

      I missed this completely ... I think my computer is not happy with the heat!!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:39:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, this didn't show up on my computer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think it is stroking from the heat ... well, that could be me along with it!!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:41:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for this fine diary (6+ / 0-)
    Most recently the USA supported the coup in Honduras which ousted President Zelaya after he made two fatal mistakes – he doubled the minimum wage and he planned to join ALBA, a group of seven Latin American countries which have formed a coalition to fight the United States neoliberal agenda in the South.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:11:52 PM PDT

  •  ACM SCHEDULE (6+ / 0-)


    3rd: Galtisalie, unless someone else wants that date!
    10th: UnaSpenser (?)
    17th: NY Brit Expat
    31st: Annieli



    Hi Comrades and Fellow Travellers!

    For August, we have only two dates definitively filled: NY Brit Expat will do the 17th and Annieli will do the 31st. Galtisalie is currently planning to write for August 3 but would be glad to yield that date to someone else. UnaSpenser is probably able and willing to write for August 10. If you can write something for the 3rd or 24th that would be extremely helpful! If you can volunteer for those dates, please do so, we need you to keep the group going!

    And, September also is wide open for interested persons!

    We need you!

    Alternatively, if you could put a piece in queue that is NOT time sensitive, we can use it when need arises. That would help everyone out in organising the series!

    Please can you help by volunteering to post? It does not have to be fancy or theory ... it can be about anything from an anti-capitalist perspective ... perhaps an action that is happening that you think is important, a discussion of current events or serious debate ... whatever you feel comfortable with and what you can do!

    Please respond to this post or/and send a private message by kosmail to NY Brit Expat and/or send a message to our email group:

    Please, the ACM needs you to write, can you volunteer to keep this great series going?! If you are on facebook and want to join the group:

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:21:39 PM PDT

  •  Tonight's ACM was reposted by Galtisalie to: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Galtisalie, annieli, poco, MrJayTee


    Wild Wild Left:


    It was not reposted to Stars Hollow Gazette as they do not allow I/P diaries on their page ... which means they are missing a heck of a lot of news and information ...

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:12:40 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for an excellent diary Geminijen. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, Geminijen, poco

    It all comes back to the topic UnaSpenser has been wonderfully focused on: Solidarity. We cannot end our definition of "we" at borders, whether those with Gaza or Mexico and Central America, especially when the U.S., going back generations, has been a major cause of the injustice and chaos that creates human desperation.

    I am glad that Democratic Socialists of America came out with a strong resolution condemning the Israeli bombing of Gaza and all attacks on innocent civilians:
    Reading the comments to that resolution, it is obvious that taking this stand was setting that organization up for criticism, which tended toward suggesting that as a U.S. organization it should not get involved. But, the very fact that I am a socialist requires that I not ignore injustice and not accept historical circumstances as controlling. WE CAN DO BETTER than the sorry inheritance of history! WE MUST NOT ACCEPT OPPRESSION wherever it emanates from!

    By the same token, we must move forward in a positive manner. The real, and necessarily deep, solutions, point toward socialism, for the region and for our world. I find Moshe Machover's analysis and proposal compelling:
    He writes:

    I have outlined elsewhere a socialist resolution of the conflict, so I need not expand on it here. Suffice it to say that it looks beyond the narrow box of Palestine to a regional revolution that will overthrow Zionism as well as the oppressive Arab regimes and establish a socialist Arab east, within which both Palestinian Arab and Hebrew national groups can be accommodated by democratic consent and on equal terms.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:15:44 PM PDT

    •  Agreed completely ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Galtisalie, poco

      I do slightly disagree with Moshe Machover as I believe a correct transitional demand is a single secular democratic state; the Palestinians cannot wait for socialism to be won. I have seen Moshe speak, he is excellent, so it is a disagreement, but there are others that were part of Matzpen that I believe held the position. I did enjoy him making Sean Matgamna from the AWL who was asserting a two-state solution and denying Israeli aggression (and had to leave out the 1956 Suez Conflict to make his case) which was rather amusing.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:30:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No question, single state is much more just (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, NY brit expat

        than two state. I certainly would not advocate the U.S. continuing to advance a two state solution, although I do note that there are some pro-Palestinian international socialists who view the two state solution as the only "realistic" alternative and do not want to see that alternative discarded.

        I kind of find myself asking WWRS (What Would Rosa Say)? Perhaps she would say that a "transitional" single state may be equally if not more difficult to achieve than regional socialism. I tend to think that she would say that the workers of Gaza should not die fighting for anything less than their full emancipation as workers in solidarity with others on the Israeli side of the border, but also with those in other nations in the region.

        I linked below to his analogy to the Soviet Union. Interestingly, to argue against my own above thesis about what Rosa Luxemburg would say, her position on the Soviet Union reveals the difficulty of cookie cutter theory. Although criticizing so much of what was being done in the Soviet Union for what we now know were correct observations, she was also glad that Russia had gotten rid of the Czar of course. She wanted the Soviet Union to succeed and had pragmatic suggestions in the area of agriculture for instance that would have kept production levels high.

        To round back up to UnaSpenserian logic, which your point evidences, the most important thing is to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and let them come to their own solutions. Regards.

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:07:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Russians were not facing genocide (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geminijen, Galtisalie, poco

          and ethnic cleansing ... that is why things are not always the same ... one is a colonial and imperialist struggle and the other was a struggle for socialism. The latter is far off in the distance in the Middle East ...

          The choice is for the Palestinians and always has been; someone just forgot to tell this to everyone else in the world and those that are killing them off ... we stand in solidarity and we can help by encouraging a BDS campaign which will put pressure on the Israeli government and military. That is concrete and it hits them where they hurt ... there are many parts to BDS: military, all trade, in the occupied territories, cultural, academic ... many different avenues. But remember Abbas doesn't support that ... neither do some "liberal" zionists ... but I do and have been doing so with the support of left Palestinians who have called for it.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:25:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Here is another link. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, Geminijen, poco

      Moshe Machover's piece on "Resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict – a socialist viewpoint" is also very good:

      He draws an analogy to the Soviet Union:

      Socialism in one country, Russia, was a doomed Utopia for two inter-connected reasons.

      First, the socio-economic level of development and the balance of class forces within the Russian empire were adverse to the establishment of a socialist order there.

      Second, capitalism is in any case a global system, which cannot be overthrown in a single country, but only – at the very least – in a large region of the world.

      Now, the analogous argument I wish to put forward is that both the ‘two-state solution’ and the ‘one-state solution’ to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict are fundamentally flawed. Although each of them, in a suitable version, may present an acceptable and even attractive vision, they are equally abstract and Utopian, because no just and lasting resolution of the conflict is possible within the confines of pre-1948 Palestine. Whether re-partitioned into two pieces or reconstituted as a single piece, the Palestine box itself is not a container within which the conflict can be justly and lastingly resolved. This is so for two inter-connected reasons. First, the balance of power within pre-1948 Palestine – between the two nationalities, the Hebrew settlers and the indigenous Palestinian Arabs – is adverse to any just resolution of the conflict. Second, in any case the conflict is deeply imbedded in the regional context of the Arab East, and cannot possibly be resolved in isolation from it and in the absence of a profound transformation of the entire region.

      garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

      by Galtisalie on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:35:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you Galtisalie for the excellent analysis (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, Galtisalie

        from Machover. I am in total agreement and will use it in future discussions.

      •  This is exactly what I was talking about (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, Geminijen, Galtisalie

        he is holding a maximalist position; which I certainly agree with should be the ultimate position we are aiming and fighting for. However, the Palestinians cannot wait for this ... they need to survive and they are literally facing ethnic cleansing and genocidal policies. The secular democratic single state is not a final outcome for socialists, but it is an advance on what is happening to Palestinians now. So, that is why I called it a transitional position, something that is achievable, but will not end the situation as capitalism is not our end game. :)

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:50:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As we used to say about Vietnam, we don't do a (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, NY brit expat, Galtisalie

          service for the Palestinians by taking a minimalist position. We won't be deciding anyway - they will and they will do whatever they need - even being forced into a cease fire without lifting the siege (which I hope they won't have). Our job is to give them maximalist support so they have all their options. (Kind of like the maximum threat in negotiating).

          •  Moshe is an Israeli, not a Palestinian (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Geminijen, poco, Galtisalie

            and he would never claim to speak for Palestinians. You can hold any position you want, but the choice is for Palestinians and quite honestly the two state solution chosen by Fatah is long dead in the water for anyone that is watching the situation closely; while it is comforting to right-wing Israelis hoping they can transport Palestinians to even smaller enclaves and to American politicians that are simply espousing nonsense.

            PFLP and DFLP were arguing for secular democratic state as a starting point to socialism way back when. I do not know what they are holding today ... so holding a maximalist position and standing by that is not consistent with what the left-wing Palestinians were arguing. The question is who speaks for the Palestinians? When was the last time they voted in the West Bank? Why the support for Hamas? Let's talk about the failures and corruption of the PA who are still following a two-state position which is economically and socially non-viable.

            The US gov't does not care about democracy, they do not care about human rights, they do not even care about civil rights of Palestinians living in Israel ...

            On this note, since we clearly are discussing minimalist-maximalist discussions, rather than transitional demands, I really have nothing to add and it is really late ... so thanks for a really interesting and thoughtful piece! :)

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:19:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I agree that a revolution in the middle east with (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, UnaSpenser, Galtisalie

      a regional socialist solution is one of the best scenarios. If it shout ld occur, the many problem may be one that happened to Africa in the 1960s.  Because of the objective conditions (the lack of a democratic environment in Africa which is in fact similar to the that in the Middle East) led to a number of regimes that called themselves socialist and then reverted to dictatoships.  I axtually have more hope for the Middle East because of the Arab Spring and because we are much further along globally and we all influence each other.

      But that begs the question of what we are doing in this country as we, too, are part of the international working class and no one should be able to influence the United States as well as those of us who live here.  

      •  I think that people are working and fighting (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, Geminijen, Galtisalie

        hard in the US and Britain; we are also facing long term entrenched hostility to socialism and a very weak left and trade union movement ... we must keep on fighting. In many senses OWS was a major step forward and between the economic crisis, the impact on so many working people's lives, there have been some victories (fast-food workers organising for better wages, the fight for a living minimum wage), but they are reform in nature as the time we are in, due to the weakness of the left and even a reformist trade union movement (which facilitated the attack on the working class as they would never have been able to do it if the left was strong).  We need to understand the period and put forward transitional demands as keep on fighting. There are a number of things to fight for, you do it every day. We are not in a revolutionary period as an understatement.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:47:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but reforms are more likely to lead to (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, NY brit expat, Galtisalie

          revolutions than others.  Which is why we have to analyze things carefully even I times when objective conditions are hard instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off.

          There have been only a few demos that tried to make deeper connections -- one called by IAC that compared the violence against children in Palestine and Central and South America.It was well attended by the Lastino community.  

          The largest demo so far, I understand, was last night (several thousands)which seemed to be called by the same coalition.

          I do think some people can and will make the connections if you give them the chance.

      •  Sorry for all the typos above - keyboard problems (4+ / 0-)

        that I have been trying to fix for the last two weeks. Had computer in shop for a couple of days. Didn't really help. So where is everyone tonite? Though I do enjoy talking to the couple of folks who did show up!

        •  I don't know ... did shares on fb ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, Geminijen, Galtisalie

          so maybe a slow night ... too bad, it is a good piece and raises good points for discussion ...

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:55:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  perhaps the problem is one to do with the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geminijen, Galtisalie

          speed setting of the keyboard. So you type faster than your keyboard accepts and that is why you are getting typos. Happened to me and I upped the speed for the keyboard; don't laugh, but playing the banjo has increased my typing speed back to what it was before computers became the norm! :D ok, you can laugh!!

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:07:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  sorry, was involved in household things. -nt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Galtisalie, NY brit expat

          Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

          by UnaSpenser on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:12:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for pulling all these strands (4+ / 0-)

    together: Gaza, Latin America, Detroit, to point out how a particular form of predatory capitalism victimizes, and more often than not, kills, the most vulnerable among us.

    While Khadeir was burnt alive by extremist settlers, his cousin, visiting from Florida was brutally beaten by the IDF forces:

    Fifteen-year-old Palestinian-American Tariq Abukhdeir, cousin of recent lynching victim Muhammed Abu Khudair, was brutally beaten by masked Israeli police on Thursday evening in the Shuafat neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

    It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

    by poco on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:10:08 PM PDT

  •  While I agree that the working class would (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen, Galtisalie, NY brit expat, poco

    be best served and most powerful by creating labor solidarity,
    I do get concerned that this leave out those who can't work. Solidarity will need to be multi-layered. Workers may be the most obvious starting point and where to get a stronghold to wrench control away from owner/exploiters.

    Still, it gives me pause to always be approaching change from the lens of economic models. First, when we do that, we seem to be locked into predefined systems. Second, while some economic models have some built-in principles about the quality of social interactions, mostly it's strictly related to how to produce goods and services and who determines how to distribute the products and gains.

    It seems to me that we need multilevel tracks of resistance, solidarity-building and re-envisioning. We need to get the oppressive power out of the hands of the capitalists and start talking about what we want life to look like and feel like. From there we can build new systems. With enough solidarity, perhaps we'll have ideas we haven't even imagined, yet.

    That said, I do see the most hope for us all in what is happening in Venezuela and Bolivia and the BRICS declarations. There is definitely a socialist underpinning, but with the declarations from BRICS, there is first a lot of establishments of principles. If we could get everyone to agree to those, first, we would likely have less reactionary yelling about "teh evil socialism!", etc. We can move forward building a system where every step has to meet the principles.

    Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

    by UnaSpenser on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:12:04 PM PDT

    •  The economic base is only half of the solution - (4+ / 0-)

      the superstructure is all those other things you talk about. While Marx stresses the importance of the base (kind of like sex is only 5% of an intimate sexual relationship, it is still critical).  

      The two interact (my previous metaphor: like the skeletal frame and the muscle and skin.  The skeletal structure cant move without muscles and tendons (and directions from the brain).

      For me the problem is that economics seems so dull to so many people, they prefer to start and end with the superstructure and then miss critical aspects of reality.This is often true of folks to deal strictly with the hierarchical state,

      As for workers and non-workers, I use workers in the broadest sense of of the word.  It is really the 99% only instead of defining them by the amount of wealth, they are defined by their relation to the means of production. Don't know a workers community that would not include children, disabled and old people in retirement (like myself).Admittedly my definition of workers(peasants) is broader than Marx's, but times and the mode of production has changed since his day.  

      •  working out mutual understanding of words is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Galtisalie, NY brit expat

        so important!

        When I read 'workers', I think mostly of labor strikes. Which, if that's all we're seeing as the need, doesn't address so much!

        But, clearly, you mean more than that.

        I was noting the comment about how people are concerned that relying on volunteerism is problematic. Interestingly enough, I never used that term. I didn't say people should "volunteer." I purposefully was staying away from terms which started to categorize activities into what "pays" and what "doesn't pay." Again, it's seeing everything through an economic lens, which I think is one of the big flaws in the way we approach organizing society.

        I'd like to hear more about why people think relying on "volunteerism" is a problem. I'm wondering if it's based on the idea that people aren't committed if they're not paid. Or that you need official organizations to make sure things are happening, I don't know, efficiently or fairly or thoroughly?

        Given the social environment we've all be acculturated in, I can see how we'd be skeptical about rebuilding a society based on our free will and determination to do so. In the current structures, people who don't get paid starve. No one can "afford" to "give away" all their time.

        A lot of this is a capitalist gameboard. What's embedded in there is a lack of faith in the basic goodness of people. We really don't seem to believe that we could establish a set of principles and be assured that we'd stick with them.

        I have to admit, human history doesn't speak well of us. But, I believe that's because the one thing we've always done is succumb to violence or coercion. If we could figure out how to have enough solidarity such that we have a strong social immune system to corruption, I think we'd see that we don't have view life as an accounting of who works how much and who gets what.

        I don't imagine we'd get there any time soon.

        Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

        by UnaSpenser on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 07:12:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your right about words! Volunteerism is used by (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Galtisalie, NY brit expat, UnaSpenser

          Marx in a very specific way and does not mean paid or unpaid.  It means, more or less, that people take actions based only on their own wishes and that their actions don't necessarily match the realty of the situation.  Some people thought the Weather people who started efforts toward  urban guerilla warfare in the 60s & 70s were "volunteeristic" in that the objective conditions in the American left didn't call for it.y the way, I was sloppy and confusing in my use of the word worker as I was trying to find a new way to express a wider context.

          As for our basically "good" nature, Marx believed in that. I believe we have both generosity and greed in our natures. My beliefs are based the actions of two non-modern tribes.   The Kung in Central Africa are hunters and diggers. They are said to live very communally and without any(?) hierarchy. One of their favorite sayings when they greet each other is "Don't be greedy" (loose translation). The other group is the INuit Indians in Alaska. Whenever one of their members accumulates a lot of stuff and starts to act egocentric, or when they appoint a new chief, they honor that person by giving them a potlatch (party) where they are expected to give away all their worldly goods in return for the honor.

          •  So, with volunteerism, individuals are lacking (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ZhenRen, NY brit expat

            any commitment to anything larger than themselves?

            I think that's one of the misunderstandings people have of small 'a' anarchists. Anarchists believe in autonomy, but they also believe in commitment to the community. In my experience, people have a hard time wrapping their heads around that and realizing that, without the commitment - which comes with establishing a shared set of principles and agreeing to operate by them - you can't establish meaningful decision-making.

            I can imagine a functioning society with a small 'd' democratic and small 'a' anarchist cores along with volunteerists who might float through places or areas of interest without commitment. But you'd need cores of committed people and you'd have to learn how to build non-hierarchic decision-making structures with vast numbers of peoples. Which can be done. We see it with the Algonquin and their spokes council-type structures.

            But, I can definitely see how people would be skeptical of an all volunteerist society. That would likely be chaos. Maybe that's why people associate chaos with anarchy; because their really picture volunteerism in their heads and don't what anarchy really is.
            (which is one of the reasons I'd like to get rid of all the names. There is so much mis-education that people are closed off to learning what the names really represent.)

            Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

            by UnaSpenser on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:21:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly right (0+ / 0-)

              Anarchists balance between the collective and the individual.

              Liberty, equality, solidarity, the three basic principles. None of these matter or have relevance to anyone but a social being.

              "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

              by ZhenRen on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 04:05:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Occupy was a spontaneous uprising (5+ / 0-)

    RE: voluntarism.

    It needed time to bring the participants together into greater solidarity, which, if this had been forced or coerced, or over-directed, would have utterly failed. It was precisely the form it took that allowed it to spread to over 2000 cities around the world. I'm personally not sure if that is voluntarism in the sense of Marxist dialectics (if I understand you correctly). It was exactly what was needed at the time, and I think the main benefit was to teach thousands of young people what it means to organize in a new and non-coercive manner, which is no small accomplishment.

    When thousands of people come together with very different political notions, it would be a mistake to try to push them into specific political actions, and thus risking dividing them just as they were getting started. Being non-political, in regards to political action involving the electoral system, was exactly the right approach (coincidentally just as Bakunin had argued regarding the Internationale years before).

    To try to direct the Occupy movement into specific channels would have been a mistake. It was better to let the mostly young members organically find their way to more specificity. It was happening, people were beginning to really grasp what was under their noses towards the end.  But alas, it ended with a nationally coordinated police action that was quite brutal, although technically it is still ongoing. These members were learning important things about horizontality, mutual aid and solidarity, equality, free association and liberty, what being a collective is, and how the individual relates to the collective group. This was amazing in itself, and a major development.

    No doubt many of them have been digesting what they learned, synthesizing, reading, and coming to conclusions. I think, if this ever happens again, they will return with more definition.

    "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

    by ZhenRen on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:57:43 AM PDT

    •  Learning from struggles and (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, Galtisalie, ZhenRen, UnaSpenser

      understanding the positives and negatives takes time; always we need to evaluate the actions and struggles we undertake. We learn lessons ... horizontality in struggle is essential, but we also need to understand the idea of a division of labour which rotates to ensure that those that are leading are never entrenched. Leadership does evolve within the context of struggle, we have seen it. What we need to be certain of is that anyone can do that and that requires participation at all levels, sharing of knowledge and experience and mutual respect at all levels, especially in organising and communication. Those are hard lessons to learn.

      Structure evolves in a group dynamic, we need to be certain that that structure does not become vertical and that division of tasks does not become prioritisation of one group of tasks over another.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 03:12:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm going to hastily post this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        I don't want to lose it, but I'm off to work, late! No time to clean it up... sorry, all.


        I can only speak from that experience, but in Portland, the elements you speak of were clearly evident, not that there weren't moments of learning and imperfection. In Portland, if anything there was almost too much of a revolutionary dynamic, and the people were so intent on disallowing anyone from imposing themselves on the rest, that there was a constant push-back, which was unsettling, but necessary, to the flow of the group.

        Women in Portland, particularly, were extraordinary in standing up, constantly reminding delegated individuals (spokespersons) of affinity groups  they must always speak for the group; in other words, that they're recallable and mandated, often rotated, and not autocrats holding a permanent post, a concept clearly going back to Proudhon and later Bakunin (which they in turn seminally learned directly from a groundswell of working class activists), not that I have any idea how much any of the Occupy membership read those early theorists (although there were anarchists strewn here and there in the groups, mostly quite young, but some were older).

        Especially in the first weeks, people would begin to insert their own decisions as delegates, only to be strongly and immediately rebuked (often by a female -- there are strong, aware women here), and reminded of the agreements voted on in the subgroup. People knew the authority came from below, and in fact seemed to grasp this intuitively and instinctively. I was awed to the core to observe this, and the whole thing struck me as extraordinary. But Portland is a different world, I suppose. The IWW is strong in the Pacific North West for a reason.

        The first meeting that was held to spark off the movement involved such confrontations. We had split into a dozen working groups, and the smaller groups delegated people to be spokesman for the groups. I remember a young guy getting up to speak, who was the delegate for the newly organized safety committee. He was a young fireman, and seemed to feel he was ready to lead, but when he got up to tell the main group what they had worked out as a subgroup, he injected his own decisions, only to be strongly reminded by a woman in his group they had not agreed to his off-the-cuff statements. He backed down, apologized, and everyone there watching this interaction understood within the first hour... this was going to be very different.

        I'll never forget some of the early moments when key ideas were expressed from out of the blue, coalescing, teaching, transmitting old knowledge, in a matter of seconds to the rest of the group. We were creating a basic groundwork one day with hundreds present, when one one middle aged fellow (whom I had learned was a well read anarchist) interjected, commenting about who would be invited as guest speakers, to say, "and no politicians!"

        The group became quiet for a palpable moment, all looking at him, as the words sunk in, and one by one agreement was found in less than a minute. "No politicians!" someone finally yelled, and then another, and another, the group majority assenting, and it was settled. Some certainly disagreed with this (although no one said so), but there is nothing more vertical than political action, and the disgusting fawning over personalities and candidates, and if the group had become a tool for campaigning and electioneering, the entire spirit of social equality would have been corrupted.

        The way these ideas became introduced, one by one, and so readily accepted, was remarkable. People were learning rapidly, but there was a long way to go, and considering the disparate individuals present, from the numerous homeless, a few addicts and alcoholics from the street, a large contingent of partiers, students and young intellectuals, some local elderly, Portland street teenagers,  hard-core, seasoned young activists, as well as the police presence, and the tension between some who were more radical to those more staid, that they could all come together as well as they managed was remarkable.

        As much as there was to learn, the basic agreement, that this was a horizontal movement, held them together, whereas had they had gone a different direction, it would have fizzled in a couple of weeks. One thing seemed clear: the people there wanted a voice, were starving for meaningful, direct, personal impact on community management, and wanted to have the equality of direct democracy, and did not want to be relegated to the structurally created idiocy of merely following those with the privilege of thinking for the group. Once they had a taste of that, the matter was settled. No one wanted to change the basic approach, or if they objected, they must have left early on.

        Within this milieu, certain gifted facilitators (mostly on the younger side) did come forward, but only by consent, and they were rotated, but they were not at all consistently facilitating. Many of the best were female. Facilitating this diverse crowd was very difficult, and some had a knack, some didn't, but everyone who wanted, from what I witnessed, were given opportunities by joining the open facilitators affinity group which trained all comers to the basic idea of consensus (following the pattern exemplified in New York) and gave each opportunities to facilitate a general assembly.

        By any measure, given the cacophony of perspectives from the people in attendance, it was a great step forward for Portland to bring people together this way. I don't think any movement, in any time of history, achieves perfection in the outset. All individuals are at different stages of becoming conscious of what was called in Spain "the idea", that of equality in social relations. Its easy to present "solidarity" with a more regimented approach, but that isn't true solidarity, when direction comes from the top. And the idea of a mixture of both some propose, with some top-down, some bottom up, is a farce, since elites in such systems always have disproportionate power, and thus solidarity which is at all coerced isn't really solidarity, which is why Emma Goldman said organization that is vertical isn't true organization, if solidarity is considered a basic essential element.

        But getting all this worked out consumed loads of time, and I think some felt they had time, that it was worth taking, and so they dallied.

        "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

        by ZhenRen on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 11:38:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  wish we had had that much solidarity around (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen, NY brit expat

          the principles of anarchism and the collective in Boston. There were people very interested in it, but not enough people with enough experience of it to hold a core together. It was undermined at every turn.

          At one point, there was a proposal put forth at a GA. The proposer wanted to change the decision-making process such that a proposer got final say as to how his proposal was amended. The collective could offer ideas, but the proposer controlled the resulting changes.

          This was so antithetical to collective decision-making. It was the only time I blocked a proposal. I stated why it was something I couldn't live with in a movement which claimed to be about consensus decisions. Blocks could not be realized if they didn't cross two thresholds. The first was a vote on whether the person blocking was blocking on principles or not. They voted that I wasn't applying any principles and did not let my block even get to the second voting threshold. Since, blocking was supposed to require leaving the collective if your block failed, that was my last participation in Occupy Boston. It wasn't the first time I had witnessed serious pushback on the principles of consensus decision-making. There were far too many people who didn't "get it" and didn't care to.

          Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

          by UnaSpenser on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:32:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry that happened (0+ / 0-)

            Your experience was quite different from the one I had in Portland, not that there weren't difficult snags to work out. No one would ever have been asked to leave, we're just too easy going. We tried to streamline the process by adopting a spokescouncil approach, which I really liked, and people seemed mostly supportive of the concept, and they were really enthused. I suppose I had a much different experience due to the city.

            The general assemblies were, I think, much too large for dealing with day to day operations. No anarchist society would try that. In anarchist Spain, some worker groups running factories (there were hundreds of collectives, and dozens upon dozens of federations of the collectives -- anarchism has generally been conceived as a federation of collectives from the outset with Proudhon) would meet one a week, or once a month! They were much more efficient than Occupy was. And it wasn't all purely consensus of 90%, but sometimes simply a majority vote, but all decisions were easily revisited, and people who were in the minority always had the opportunity to raise the issue again. That's the difference from a hard law on a state level. Anarchists can change delegates immediately upon a vote, and change rules and agreements the same way -- all is subject to change by direct democracy.

            Some anarchists have argued cogently against consensus, and prefer a simple vote. From what I've read, a simpler form of direct democracy is preferred in Europe, and European anarchists view the consensus approach as a trend among American anarchists. There is still debate, still an attempt to find agreement, but they don't strive for near unanimity. Food for thought.

            The point is it should come from the bottom, always giving people autonomy to forge their own way of living, always provide a way for people to change agreements or adopt agreements in response to new conditions, and never bound to a state that directs them from on high.

            I think the necessity of getting real work done in a worker collective serves as a natural limiting force to make things happen by arguing less, and dealing with pressing issues while allowing subgroups to get day to day operations moving along. Delegation is important. When people know each other, are used to working together, it can make a big difference.

            I've discussed this with numerous people on dkos, and from this its apparent that there have been a lot of occupiers who simply didn't agree with most of the adopted philosophy of Occupy, preferring instead political action, disliking the non-hierarchical approach. What they don't understand is that approach was the first offered by a different NY group, and it was Graeber and a few others who went off to a different corner to discuss a horizontal organizational style, and what grew out of that is what became Occupy, while the first group, with their top down style, didn't lead to anything beyond their short term plans.

            "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

            by ZhenRen on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 02:48:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you (99%)and tried to express (5+ / 0-)

      this throughout the article. There is, however, some need for structure - which in fact was present in OWS, at least in New York. There were "leaders" to some degree although not stated (I saw them operating in Foley Square --mainly anarchists). There is always a conflict between the amount of structure and keeping a movement open to change and new ideas. My main point was that one of the lenses we were missing was the Marxist underpinning of how we view ourselves in relation to the means of production and having this knowledge can add to how we strategize for change. The M-L groups were way too rigid and doctrinaire. As you (and as I tried to) point out, the openness to new ideas was the beauty of Occupy.  I still think that Marx's idea of people's relationship to the means of production and the interaction between the base/objective and superstructure/subjective adds a dimension to our analysis of class relations that is important to our strategizing and that we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      Reread the blog and realize that it was a little hurried and unclear (and typos, auto-correct and missing words -have one of those jumpy notebooks - didn't help). Thanks for plowing through that stuff.

      •  I think class struggle (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        UnaSpenser, NY brit expat

        and the relationship of workers to the means of production was strongly implicit in Occupy by the form of organization as well as the focus on Wall Street. I suppose individuals could have proposed more direct discussion of this, but the focus was on working out the organizational structure, which ate up loads of time, since this was an entirely new experience for most there. It was a social experiment that was absorbing of time and effort.

        But implicit in a horizontal structure is the idea of social equality, which transmits the idea of workplace equality, including equality in distribution of goods and equal sharing of resources used in production. It seems to me that Occupy was out to demonstrate this by living it everyday, in the Occupy kitchens, in the general assembly meetings, in the way work was structured throughout the movement.

        If it had taken on a direct approach, delving into these concepts on a theoretical level, it would have been too much for them in addition to all that was already being dealt with. The focus was on direct action, that of creating a liberated space outside of authority of the state, one of not asking permission from authority, or appealing to authority, but of completely rejecting it, where they could self-manage using principles of self-management. Even if this wasn't directly discussed as theory, it was intuitively and instinctively accepted as a natural, spontaneous, desirable form of organizing. Perhaps that was the genius of Occupy. People lived the experience rather than theorize endlessly about it, allowing individuals to see it in action. It wasn't labeled anarchist, or socialist, or anything other than "Occupy". But people were eating this up as if starving for this form of interrelating socially.

        Proudhon (before Marx), and then Bakunin, both identified and defined capitalism by precisely the relationship of the worker to the means of production, including the concept in embryo of surplus value, but they also included in this an analysis of the state, and its essential role in enforcement and protection of capitalism. When Occupy defied the State, declined to work with police, declined to get permits, and set up a microcosm of stateless, more or less anarchic self management not in a single city but in thousands around the world, that was a form of powerful direct action.

        Thus, challenging the authority of the state in this manner is certainly part of class struggle, because it not only rejected the entire form of organization used in capitalist society, but challenged the foundation of capitalism, the state itself. One can't have wage slavery if one demands equality, much less private property and the exploitation of workers. But leaving this for members to grasp by experience, rather than more explicitly discussing, was, I think, what made this spread like wild fire.

        Anyway, in my mind this was a very good start, even if it didn't go far enough. But then, pushing it further than it was ready to go could easily have backfired.

        This is fun to develop as a discussion, but I have to go to work, speaking of labor, so I'll leave off here. I can't go back and edit... out of time, so I hope this makes sense.

        "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

        by ZhenRen on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 11:28:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Enjoyed the part of this discussion by Unaspencer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and ZhenRen. I think we agree in many aspects - my Socialist friends call me an anarchist and my anarchist friends call me a socialist - not necessarily complimentary in either case. I think that the Spanish Civil War example was particularly good because I believe it was exactly because so much of the space they were trying to hold was more directly connected to their workplaces and their daily survival and they couldn't get lost in their ideas which sometimes happened at Zuccotti. Now that we have lost our "commons", I think we have to figure out how we want to take over the stolen privatized parts of society.  I personally think taking over rental housing and workplaces are two good areas -- especially workplaces.  Which kind of places, I think there is now a shift from walking out off the job (though still sometimes relevant) to sitting in and taking over the means of production. (Sorry I couldn't rec you - somehow that stops after a certain length of time)  

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