In the last couple diaries I’ve written, I’ve tried to create a framework for radical action. How to Destroy the Democratic Party sets up a broad approach for taking on, if not over, the Democratic Party base organizations, and Say You Want a Revolution tries to outline the scale of organization required for serious structural change. Ambitious indeed!
But how about tomorrow? What’s the bridge between our small, disorganized condition now and the large tasks I’ve recently delineated? I throw this in everyone else’s face, so it’s only fair it be thrown in mine.
I was once tutored by an old friend who had been a machinist in his younger days. He talked about tool-making, that most of this high-precision work entailed building tools. Tools to build other tools. To build yet more tools. On and on until it call came together for the tools building the myriad parts that we drive down the street or heat and cool our homes or watch bad movies and lying news shows on.
A rough assessment:
Likewise with politics. Continuing from the diaries referenced above, we start with a strategic assessment of what forces have to come into play for serious social change. The situation at the moment is:
(1) The corporate elite has taken the Democratic Party – the party that absorbs the organizations and protests of the working class and purports to represent them – and gutted it. The base is adrift.
(2) Over 40% of the electorate is registered independent in one form or another (3rd party, no preference, independent, whatever). A significant percentage of them are progressives, and most of them are alienated from the system to some extent.
(3) The political/economic system is on the edge of a precipice. We inhabit a dying empire, vulnerable to defeat in the international arena. But will we in the U.S. benefit from the decline and fall? Or will it all come crashing down on our heads?
(4) The corporate elite is uneasily bolstered by having a racist and fascist mass base that has the potential to violently crush democratic opposition in a way that the naked state apparatus cannot. The elite now dicker over whether we should be eaten as appetizers, or saved for the main course.
The current status quo allows the corporate elite to plot at their leisure, with complete tactical flexibility. One way it could play out is that the current Republican House majority could jam Obama to further shred our jobs and safety net, then Republican over-reach could allow the Democrats to re-assert themselves and preside over the bloody remains and call it progress. I am an optimist.
This is still a democracy.
Don’t laugh. Controlled, manipulated, circumvented, bought, weakened by the day. Yet still we have elections. The rules are changed at will, manipulated against us, but still we have rules. That the corporate elite must circumvent them is testament to their existence. Those who think otherwise should tell us their plans.
… well, we all want to change the world. In How to Destroy the Democratic Party … I explored an approach that could lead to an independent party with more than symbolic strength. But recalling the dog who finally caught the car he’d been chasing all these years, it would
… and build a viable independent alternative. Over the past few months, I’ve put out various comments stressing the critical need for organization, that the growing cries for action post Egypt/Wisconsin (we must take to the streets, general strike!, vote them out) remain at a level of abstraction, or calls to individuals, calls for morality, calls for courage.
But the masses are not rising up. The Obama/Boehner onslaught continues. The only ones to pretend the left is more than a disorganized rabble are those hardcore Dems who pump this up to make it seem that THEIR fantasy of taking over the Democratic Party is the only game in town. The strongest resistance to Obama/Boehner has been led by the unions in Wisconsin and neighboring states, and that is — at least for the time being — contained in the shelter of the Democratic Party. Repeal, recall, roll the clock back to a couple years ago. But the obvious fact that this resistance comes from organized forces seems to have had little impact on people’s need to address organizational issues.
I could say that the lack of response to my comments shows a lack of understanding on the part of the masses. But while that may be comforting late at night, it might be better to develop the idea further and render it at least a little bit less abstract.
Democrats and independents, and Democrats getting religion and newly proclaiming their independence, continue to act out an oft-repeated ritual. Democratic loyalists point out that they can influence policy from within and, more importantly, that’s where the working class can be reached, for better or worse. Independents point out the utterly craven sellout by the Democratic Party where corporate America holds the high ground and has abandoned any pretext of progressivism.
Both are correct. Both perform their rituals of beating their heads against a brick wall until their heads bleed, Dems begging for crumbs, independents settling for their sub-1% of the national presidential vote.
In the past, I have argued for a progressive* Democratic/progressive independent alliance. Still a good idea — Dump Obama has been its tactical embodiment. But Dump Obama is dependent on a challenger entering the Democratic primaries. So what we need is a plan that goes beyond 2012, and is not dependent on the whims of even most progressive Democratic politicians. So we need a better look at what we are up against.
When people talk about the Democratic Party, pro and con, it tends to be very ideologically defined, policy positions, legislative accomplishments. Or non-accomplishments. This position is a sellout, this is an abomination, this is the best deal possible. Whatever. All very important, of course. But this form of what comes down to quasi-moral analysis leads to the fiery rhetoric about how the two parties are identical. Or different. Good rhetoric but goes nowhere tactically.
So let’s go back to, say, 1970. The Republicans operated directly through their money. Their organizational base was corporate America, various chambers of commerce, and the media. They could outright buy campaigns.
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