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What is to be done?

While reading the interesting comment thread below OhioGringo’s latest diary, I noticed a recurring trend of people talking about the need for a central leftist organization to challenge the two party oligarchy.  I became disillusioned with Obama early in his presidency in large part by reading this site, and over time I’ve drifted further left and been exploring the various far left parties in existence online.

So far, I’m not sold, but I’m still interested. 

Why I’m not sold on any of the parties:  For one thing, the legality and morality of some of the parties seems questionable.  I know the Workers World Party was once put on a terrorist watch list, and many of these parties seem to be pretty ok with the idea of mass violence as a part of their “revolutionary program”… as a pacifist who thinks the US needs radical change, not destruction and carnage, the eagerness for the more unpleasant sides of many modern revolutions among far left parties seems a big put off to me.  I’m looking to join something less like the Weathermen and more like the SCLC.

For another thing, there seems to be a weird cult vibe around many of these groups.  For example, I like a lot of what I read on the World Socialist Website, but the more I dig into the Socialist Equality Party the creepier they seem.  According to a facebook page set up by disillusioned ex-members, the leader used to cover up for a cult-like leader who used to sexually abuse female “comrades”.  Another prominent group, the International Socialist Organization, apparantly has communal shamings for members who fail to sell enough papers!

Why I’m still interested:

The left in America needs something concrete to congeal around.  And at this point in history, the left consists of so many different individual goals and groups, that the only thing that seems like it could really serve as a rallying point would be a “big concept” like Socialism.  My major problem with the Green Party is that it doesn’t seem to really know what it’s all about.  You could spend over an hour just trying to explain to people what the party stands for.  Socialism encompasses many of the goals disaffected progressives and other radicals espouse while still being a singular, encompassing idea to rally around.

Other groups I’ve looked into:

Socialist Party America:  Seems much less militant and active than some of the other, newer organizations.  However, from what I know about them (which is little), this loss of militancy may be made up for by the absence of the cult-like vibe of many of the other organizations… I don’t really know how strong or active this party still is though.  Their website is pretty poor quality, without much content.

Party for Socialism and Liberation:  Good website, very active and has had some success in electoral politics.  I don’t really get what their point in being a seperate organization from others is, though…

Communist Party USA:  I really don’t get the point of this organization.  They seem to be bigger Obama cheerleaders than DailyKos.  What’s the point?

IWW:  Still going after all these years… have had some recent success organizing workers at Jimmy Johns.

Has anyone else spent much time looking into what exists left of the democrats?  What have you found?  Do you think any of these organizations would be worth joining?  Why or why not?  I really just want to know where other people are at.  Are others seriously looking at alternative parties?  If so, maybe we could reach some kind of consensus on the organizations most worth getting involved with (and which to avoid)… I’m also curious who here is like me and is far enough left at this point that they’re thinking about Socialism rather than Progressivism…

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