The Socialist Response

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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Luther Blissett » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:31 pm

Tangential to my nom de guerre. Stay hard left:

Lessons from Italy: the Dangers of Anti-Trumpism

Comparisons between Donald Trump and former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi abounded throughout the presidential election campaign and have only proliferated since Trump declared victory. They are not entirely ungrounded.

Trump and Berlusconi are both men who came to power from business rather than politics and both have presented their inexperience with the political establishment as a mark of purity. They have both insisted on their entrepreneurial success as the most evident proof of their qualification to rule the country. Like Plato’s tyrant, they both exhibit an ethos based on a dream of continuous and unlimited jouissance and an aggressive and hubristic eros (though Berlusconi prefers to think of himself as an irresistible seducer rather than a rapist). They both indulge in gross misogynistic and racist jokes and have reshaped public language by legitimizing insult and political incorrectness as acceptable forms of political communication and by embodying an exhilarating return of the repressed. They both revel in kitschy aesthetics and don the orange hue of artificial tanning. And they both allied with the far right in order to advance a political project of authoritarian neoliberalism and unbridled capitalism.

The analogies stop here. Trump’s very resistible rise to power is, to a certain extent, more astonishing than Berlusconi’s more predictable first electoral victory. While Trump hijacked the Republican Party, running up against opposition from a large part of the Republican establishment and from the media, Berlusconi used his media empire to both control information and create a new political party, accordingly reshaping the political spectrum. Because of the characteristics of the Italian parliamentary system, Berlusconi was forced to ally with other rightwing parties at odds one each other, Alleanza Nazionale and Northern League: the first an evolution of the neo-fascist party MSI, and the second a federalist, xenophobic right-wing party. Moreover, Berlusconi did not agitate for isolationism and protectionism, did not challenge international market agreements, and did not question Italy’s participation in the creation of the European Union and the Eurozone — at least not until 2011. Finally, Italy does not play any hegemonic geopolitical role comparable to that of the United States.

These differences are significant enough to caution against facile predictions about the course of Trump’s presidency based on Italian vicissitudes. They do not, however, mean that nothing can be learned from the Italian experience. On the contrary, we can draw some important lessons if we move our attention away from the apparent similarities between Berlusconi and Trump, and focus instead on the analogies between anti-Berlusconism and the shape anti-Trumpism threatens to take.

The selective amnesia of anti-Berlusconism

In a recent New York Times column, Luigi Zingales offers a rather scattershot interpretation of the mistakes made by the opposition to Berlusconi, arguing that prejudicial resistance to all of Berlusconi’s acts and popular mobilizations against his government, and an excessive focus on his character actually worked to strengthen Berlusconi’s power instead of weakening it. In Zingales’s interpretation, the only defeats Berlusconi suffered were due to electoral campaigns focused on positive proposals to move forward rather than on bashing Berlusconi’s character, by Romani Prodi and Matteo Renzi. From this analysis, Zingales proposes that opponents to Trump should stop the current street demonstrations and show willingness to cooperate with his administration in Congress on issues around which there is agreement between the president and Democrats against the Republican establishment, like new infrastructure investments.

This is a recipe for disaster. Let me set the historical record straight. Berlusconi’s first government, in 1994, lasted only seven inglorious months. It was swept away by a combination of heterogeneous factors, but we can identify two of primary importance. The first was the unruliness of the Northern League, whose votes Berlusconi needed to secure his victory in the North, but to whom he had nothing to offer in exchange. In particular, Berlusconi’s attempt to reform the pension system and his inability to pursue a federalist reform ran against the electoral interests of the Northern League, which worried about losing a large part of its working class support. When the Northern League decided to withdraw its support to the government, Berlusconi was forced to resign. The second factor was popular mobilization, in particular the general strike called in October 1994 by the three main unions against pension reform, which — according to union sources — saw three million people taking to the streets in ninety cities, and another in November, during which one million people marched in Rome, one of the largest union demonstrations to that date.

But it is what happened after the fall of Berlusconi’s first government that offers the most significant lessons for anti-Trump opposition, for it is thanks to the neoliberal and austerity policies carried on by the center-left in the subsequent six years that Berlusconi’s power was consolidated. First, the technocratic government led by Lamberto Dini between 1995 and 1996 undertook the most devastating reform of the pension system to date, introducing for the first time the contributory scheme meant to progressively replace the retributive system. The reform passed with the support of the center-left and the agreement of the unions, in the name of preventing Berlusconi’s return to power at all costs. In the 1996 elections, the center-left coalition managed to secure a parliamentary majority thanks to the external support of Rifondazione Comunista and the Northern League’s refusal to form a coalition with Berlusconi. The center-left coalition produced the first Prodi government and subsequently Massimo D’Alema’s government. Over the course of five years, center-left governments passed the first labor reforms to introduce massive casualization and significantly erode workers’ rights; tried to pass a devastating reform of public education and successfully introduced school autonomy policies that opened the path to a corporate-style management of public schools, as well as neoliberal reforms to higher education; carried on the largest privatization of public companies and assets in Europe to that date; participated in the NATO bombing of Serbia; and passed the immigration law instituting the first detention centers for undocumented migrants. Finally, D’Alema’s government created the infamous “Bicamerale,” a bipartisan commission that, D’Alema hoped, would lead to an agreement with Berlusconi on a project of semi-presidential reform of the Constitution that would have strengthened the prerogatives of the executive power at the expense of representation and parliamentary democracy.

With each of these measures, center-left governments only met opposition organized in the streets by the radical left, because unions and center-left voters were willing to swallow everything in the name of preventing Berlusconi’s return to power at all costs. The brilliant outcome of these policies was the real beginning of Berlusconi’s era, with his victory in the elections of 2001, which secured him a crashing majority both in the Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies. While after 2001 center-left voters took to the streets for anti-Berlusconi demonstrations in defense of democracy and against corruption, center-left MPs continued to cooperate with Berlusconi whenever possible and to protect him from judiciary prosecution, in the same way that they refused to pass a law against Berlusconi’s monopoly on information during the Prodi and D’Alema governments. The icing on the cake was the 2014 deal between Renzi and Berlusconi on constitutional reform and new electoral law, blessed by the President of the Republic and former Communist Giorgio Napolitano. It is also worth remembering that Berlusconi actually lost the elections of 2006, and came back to power only after the failure of the Prodi’s government to keep its narrow parliamentary majority, due to the defection of a centrist small party (UDEUR).

Mainstream Italian anti-Berlusconism has always suffered from a grave form of selective amnesia. The effects of six years of harsh austerity policies and virtually no significant social opposition have never been taken into consideration as a decisive causal factor in the consolidation of Berlusconi’s power. Nor has mainstream anti-Berlusconism ever shown any willingness to admit the substantial continuity between Berlusconi’s second government’s austerity policies and those of the center-left. Berlusconi’s attack on labor rights was, for example, just an effort to expand the casualization of work introduced by the center-left (a goal realized years later by center-left Renzi’s government through the Jobs Act). His privatizations of public services were primed by the center-left’s embrace of the notion that “private” is better. The center-right’s immigration law, which criminalizes illegal immigration, is nothing but an amendment of the previous center-left law. Italian participation in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars was been made politically possible by the first violation of Article 11 of the Italian Constitution — which prevents Italy from participating in wars of aggression — prompted by D’Alema to allow Italian forces to contribute to the bombing of Serbia.

Mainstream anti-Berlusconism has indeed always preferred to deal in perceptions and impressions, rather than actual facts. In the anti-Berlusconian imaginary, Berlusconi’s rule lasted twenty long years rather than nine, Berlusconi was a fascist, Italian democracy was in danger, the radical left helped consolidate Berlusconi’s power because of its sectarianism and unwillingness to cooperate with the center-left, Berlusconi’s voters were all racist and misogynistic uneducated losers, the country was constitutively right-wing and that was the reason why even moderate Keynesian policies were impossible and why the left needed to ally with all kinds of neoliberal technocrats, in the name of preventing Berlusconi’s return to power at all costs. Does this sound familiar?

From anti-Berlusconism to anti-Trumpism: avoiding the same mistakes

The conclusion to this sad story is illuminating. For all the talk about Berlusconi’s fascism, his irresistible media empire and control of public information, his “videocracy,” and the end of republican democracy, a week of mild financial terrorism and the alliance of interests between the EU Commission, the ECB, and the Europeanist sector of Italian capital — with support from the President of the Republic and of the center-left — was sufficient to swiftly kick Berlusconi out of office and replace him with Mario Monti’s technocratic government. This was the end of that very center-right that in the eyes of mainstream anti-Berlusconians was so invincible only a few months earlier.

And here is the lesson: Italian anti-Berlusconism ended up consolidating and strengthening Berlusconi’s power, rather than undermining it, by consistently avoiding the real causes of Berlusconi’s success and by justifying and legitimizing years of harsh austerity in the name of preventing Berlusconi’s return to power at all costs. On top of this, it contributed to the self-disintegration of the Italian left and enabled the further neoliberal and technocratic degeneration of the Democratic Party. In 2014, Paolo Flores D’Arcais, director of Micromega and one of the founders of the democratic anti-Berlusconi movement, “I girotondi,” which exemplified many of the limitations of mainstream anti-Berlusconism, would claim that Renzi is worse than Berlusconi. At the end of the day it appears that lesser-evilism delivered the worst.

Anti-Trumpism runs the same risk. Immediately after the presidential elections the white working class has been targeted by Democratic public opinion-makers as the source of Trump’s victory and dismissed as intrinsically racist and grossly uneducated. Third party voters have been accused of contributing to Clinton’s defeat. Attempts at explaining both working class voters’ support for Trump or abstention in light of the effects of neoliberal globalization and disillusionment with Obama’s presidency have been mocked as economic reductionism. And a number of think pieces have commented upon the end of American democracy and the advent of American fascism.

A thoroughly informed analysis of the composition of the Trump vote and of its significance to molecular political changes taking place in the US electorate will have to wait until the end of vote counting. However, some significant new information seems to have emerged. In contrast with last week’s analysis, it now appears that Trump indeed gathered 1 million votes more than Romney and there is the probability that he even fared better than Romney with Latino voters. The margin of Clinton’s victory in the popular vote has increased to an astonishing 1.7 million, but Clinton is still down 2.3 million votes compared to Obama in 2012, and it is likely that a number of former Obama supporters voted for Trump. Finally, turnout was higher than in 2012.

What seems to have delivered the victory to Trump is the combination of two main factors. One is, of course, a profoundly undemocratic electoral system, which the Democratic Party has never really challenged. A second factor resides in Trump’s ability to serve as a catalyst for entirely heterogeneous voting motivations. A significant part of his white electorate has certainly been galvanized by his appalling racism, homophobia, and misogyny and has identified Trump as the agent of revenge for the election of Obama and the nomination of a female candidate.

But a significant component of the vote for Trump cannot be explained without referring to disillusionment with Obama’s presidency, to the dramatic social effects of the world economic crisis, delocalizations, and austerity, and to the well-grounded perception of Clinton’s entanglements with Wall Street and the old establishment.

This heterogeneity of motivations and expectations, combined with the strained relationship between Trump and a large number of Republican officials, represents an element of fragility in Trump’s future presidency.

An effective opposition to Trump should work on disentangling these heterogeneous and even incompatible motivations, by, on the one hand, fighting back against the new wave of racism, misogyny, and homophobia ahead of us, and on the other, addressing the legitimate desire for a radical change expressed in part by votes for Trump and in the abstention of millions of former Democratic voters. This entails working on creating large social coalitions and movements to oppose what is to come, but also abandoning once and for all the idea that lesser-evilism, which has already caused serious damage, is a viable option. As the disaster of Italian anti-Berlusconism shows, the only way to effectively oppose authoritarian, racist, and sexist neoliberalism is by offering a radical and credible alternative.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:56 pm

I claim no easy... answers... but I think about these sorts of issues all the time. Questions I wrestle with include: Organization, Reformism, Leadership, Strategy, Tactics, Electoralism, Counterpower, Progressivism, etc., etc.

Social Theory and Practice of this type hasn't been made available enough to the majority of us. So we have to start from where we are.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby brekin » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:48 pm

Luther Blissett wrote:
History shows that the only thing that can defeat fascism is socialism.


Heh? Does the National Socialist German Workers' Party sound familiar?
You know the Nazis.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Party

There's nothing to say socialism (or the promise of it) can't create fascism (again). In fact, "uniting" under one banner and taking over the means of production under a strong man could bring that about. In fact, Trump the oligarch, partnering with Bernie the socialist, could do that quite easily. Trump could nationalize certain businesses or industries under the guise of improving business competition or out of national defense, while Bernie could spin it (believe it) as improving workers rights/wages. When in reality it is just a monopoly with the real owners in the shadows orchestrating the labor/workers unions.

A couple hundred organizers met yesterday to discuss ways in which to build forward taking the people power approach over the strictly electoral approach. To organize patrols to mobilize against deportation dragnets; to conduct anti-catcalling / anti-harassment / anti-assault patrols; to teach english classes to immigrants for free; to organize against police brutality, the war on drugs (including heroin and methamphetamines), and the carceral state; to unite labor unions and bring them back into their older, more radical leftist political spaces; to create our own media; to organize the students who for the first time have a more favorable opinion of socialism than of capitalism; to strike; to run for local office; and to protest.
The answer to defeating trump lies in a sectarian left and a united front of all tendencies: anarchists of all stripes, communists, progressives, the libertarian left, even liberals. By focusing on direct action, intervention, project work and disruption, the internecine conflicts the left is known for should hopefully fall by the wayside. We've already united leftist groups from all over the country to plan, meet, and protest against the DNC this summer, and the only dissenting group was the Spartacist League, but that's to be expected. We still have close ties to these groups and are already organizing with them again to fight trump and trumpism.
There's nothing to conserve. The planet and the political sphere are changing too fast. The way forward is the next stage in human evolution out of the scourge of capitalism as predicted by Marx and Engels, and the people are ready to fight for it.
Let's use this thread to gather ideas.


Marx and Engels,
Trotsky and Lenin,
Lenin and Stalin,
Stalin.
If I knew all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing. St. Paul
I hang onto my prejudices, they are the testicles of my mind. Eric Hoffer
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Luther Blissett » Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:49 pm

brekin » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:48 pm wrote:
Luther Blissett wrote:
History shows that the only thing that can defeat fascism is socialism.


Heh? Does the National Socialist German Workers' Party sound familiar?
You know the Nazis.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Party

There's nothing to say socialism (or the promise of it) can't create fascism (again). In fact, "uniting" under one banner and taking over the means of production under a strong man could bring that about. In fact, Trump the oligarch, partnering with Bernie the socialist, could do that quite easily. Trump could nationalize certain businesses or industries under the guise of improving business competition or out of national defense, while Bernie could spin it (believe it) as improving workers rights/wages. When in reality it is just a monopoly with the real owners in the shadows orchestrating the labor/workers unions.

A couple hundred organizers met yesterday to discuss ways in which to build forward taking the people power approach over the strictly electoral approach. To organize patrols to mobilize against deportation dragnets; to conduct anti-catcalling / anti-harassment / anti-assault patrols; to teach english classes to immigrants for free; to organize against police brutality, the war on drugs (including heroin and methamphetamines), and the carceral state; to unite labor unions and bring them back into their older, more radical leftist political spaces; to create our own media; to organize the students who for the first time have a more favorable opinion of socialism than of capitalism; to strike; to run for local office; and to protest.
The answer to defeating trump lies in a sectarian left and a united front of all tendencies: anarchists of all stripes, communists, progressives, the libertarian left, even liberals. By focusing on direct action, intervention, project work and disruption, the internecine conflicts the left is known for should hopefully fall by the wayside. We've already united leftist groups from all over the country to plan, meet, and protest against the DNC this summer, and the only dissenting group was the Spartacist League, but that's to be expected. We still have close ties to these groups and are already organizing with them again to fight trump and trumpism.
There's nothing to conserve. The planet and the political sphere are changing too fast. The way forward is the next stage in human evolution out of the scourge of capitalism as predicted by Marx and Engels, and the people are ready to fight for it.
Let's use this thread to gather ideas.


Marx and Engels,
Trotsky and Lenin,
Lenin and Stalin,
Stalin.


As I'm sure you know, the National Socialists simply stole the term which didn't represent their ideological beliefs by any stretch. Despite the many interpretations of Niemöller's poem, the first line means in translation "first they came for the socialists" because leftists were some of the first to be eliminated by the nazis.

As a tactic, this makes sense, because of the first line of this thread: "History shows that the only thing that can defeat fascism is socialism." They knew what they were doing. Eliminate the far left first, the only group capable of, with the philosophical background to, and willing to stand up to fascists.

The contemporary left is at least trying to work beyond the mistakes of history and of personality cults and autocratic regimes. Not people power "under a strong man" - just the redistribution of power to the people.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby tapitsbo » Mon Nov 21, 2016 10:42 pm

of course nazis and bolsheviks continue to fascinate, but how are we supposed to feel about people like Shaw?

***

Positioning yourself to the left of the Democratic Party like Luther is here is definitely way more dignified than continuing to defend it or hoping it won...

to make hard left work you're going to have to declare war on/divorce yourself from the mainstream media, which I vaguely am guessing Luther is on board with but not all here seem to be, especially recently
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:41 am

Workers' power is key:


To Escape Trump’s America, We Need to Bring the Militant Labor Tactics of 1946 Back to the Future


Image
Oakland General Strike. Dec 3, 1946.

Back to the Future, Part 1:
The last general strike in the US was in Oakland in 1946. That year there were 6 city-wide general strikes, plus nationwide strikes in steel, coal, and rail transport. More than 5 million workers struck in the biggest strike wave of US history. So what happened? Why haven’t we ever gone out like that again? Congress amended US labor law in 1947, adding massive penalties for the very tactics that had allowed strikes to spread and be successful – and the business unions accepted the new laws. In fact, they even went beyond them by voluntarily adding “no-strike clauses” to every union contract for the last 70 years, and agreeing that when they do strike in between contracts it will only be for their own wages and working conditions, not to support anybody else or to apply pressure about things happening in the broader society. When we allowed ourselves to lose our most important weapons 70 years ago, we took the first step towards Trump’s America. We’re stuck in the wrong timeline – if we want to get out, we have to bring the militant labor tactics of 1946 back to the future!

Image
The retail workers who began the general strike. Oakland, 1946.


https://lifelongwobbly.com/2016/11/12/t ... he-future/
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:10 am

Can we get off the magic words, please?

Socialist parties have been neoliberal, social democratic, stalinist, liberal and illiberal, left and right and everything in between. It all depends on who and what and where. Saying "socialism" doesn't magically lead to any of those outcomes any more than "liberty" automatically leads to slave camps in Mississippi. The Nazis were not an offshoot, they were a new thing who grab the term at a time and place when it's positively connoted among the people they want to reach, and claim they're against "international" socialism because they are NATIONAL.

brekin, you could always show respect enough to Luther to respond to his posts and skip your pavlovian mantra.

Luther, Niemoeller said, First they came for the COMMUNISTS. And that's how it was.

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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby bks » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:20 am

All of the things listed by Luther in the OP are crucial elements of resistance. Each thinks local first, then regional/national/international. The idea is to provide the services that vulnerable people and communities are most in need of, services which government has either abandoned or, in the Trumpist/anti-immigrant case, created the need for.

Local politics will be the most vulnerable to remaking in accordance with public need.

At the activist meeting Luther referred to, it was pointed out that here in Philadelphia two of seven city council seats are awarded to the party garnering the second-highest number of votes. Democrats always are the highest vote-getters. While Republicans are the second-highest, in a city of more than 1.6M, their vote totals are very low (abt 35K or so), which means that a socialist party can effectively target those seats simply by getting out politically motivated, young, urban voters. There's enough college students in Philadelphia alone to beat the Republicans. Gaining invitations to majority black churches in North and West Philadelphia will, over time, enable socialists to peel off enough Democratic voters to realize this.

The next city council election isn't until 2019! Winning those seats would be a very important victory and strategy needs to be developed to realize it. I am committed to helping this happen. Seattle has already seen a victory of this sort and socialists in other major cities need to do the same.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Luther Blissett » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:28 am

American Dream » Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:41 am wrote:Workers' power is key:


To Escape Trump’s America, We Need to Bring the Militant Labor Tactics of 1946 Back to the Future


Image
Oakland General Strike. Dec 3, 1946.

Back to the Future, Part 1:
The last general strike in the US was in Oakland in 1946. That year there were 6 city-wide general strikes, plus nationwide strikes in steel, coal, and rail transport. More than 5 million workers struck in the biggest strike wave of US history. So what happened? Why haven’t we ever gone out like that again? Congress amended US labor law in 1947, adding massive penalties for the very tactics that had allowed strikes to spread and be successful – and the business unions accepted the new laws. In fact, they even went beyond them by voluntarily adding “no-strike clauses” to every union contract for the last 70 years, and agreeing that when they do strike in between contracts it will only be for their own wages and working conditions, not to support anybody else or to apply pressure about things happening in the broader society. When we allowed ourselves to lose our most important weapons 70 years ago, we took the first step towards Trump’s America. We’re stuck in the wrong timeline – if we want to get out, we have to bring the militant labor tactics of 1946 back to the future!

Image
The retail workers who began the general strike. Oakland, 1946.


https://lifelongwobbly.com/2016/11/12/t ... he-future/


I agree, and there's going to be separate pushes not only to organize the non-organized (womens unions, commuter unions, expanded service worker unions, etc) but to start thinking about the future of automated work and jobs loss and to expand the interface between leftist groups and traditional labor unions. Perhaps a new spread of wildcat strikes given union leadership willingness to capitulate to neoliberal imperialist power? I'm all on board for the inauguration strike and I hope that catches on.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:37 am

bks » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:20 am wrote:All of the things listed by Luther in the OP are crucial elements of resistance. Each thinks local first, then regional/national/international. The idea is to provide the services that vulnerable people and communities are most in need of, services which government has either abandoned or, in the Trumpist/anti-immigrant case, created the need for.

Local politics will be the most vulnerable to remaking in accordance with public need.

At the activist meeting Luther referred to, it was pointed out that here in Philadelphia two of seven city council seats are awarded to the party garnering the second-highest number of votes. Democrats always are the highest vote-getters. While Republicans are the second-highest, in a city of more than 1.6M, their vote totals are very low (abt 35K or so), which means that a socialist party can effectively target those seats simply by getting out politically motivated, young, urban voters. There's enough college students in Philadelphia alone to beat the Republicans. Gaining invitations to majority black churches in North and West Philadelphia will, over time, enable socialists to peel off enough Democratic voters to realize this.

The next city council election isn't until 2019! Winning those seats would be a very important victory and strategy needs to be developed to realize it. I am committed to helping this happen. Seattle has already seen a victory of this sort and socialists in other major cities need to do the same.


I strongly believe that such electoral strategies need to include a large element outside of that rubric, too. Why? In significant part because American cities like Philadelphia and Chicago are dominated by a Democratic Party machine that is truly fucking deep. This machine is in alliance with Big Business, but also local elites, union bosses, neighborhood patronage networks, the black misleadership class, etc., as well as various mafias, good ol' boy police networks and many, many other shady forces.

Therefore, to break that hegemony and build a truly independent class struggle counterpower within that framework would be quite an achievement. Since it may or may not ultimately "succeed" within this arena, it needs a significant extra-parliamentary element where independent organizing force can be developed in a complementary manner. That way, the struggle continues no matter what the big boys can pull off in terms of marginalization and exclusion from their system of power.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Luther Blissett » Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:57 pm

Most definitely. I haven't the first clue what that looks like but you're right in that a lot of groundwork needs to be laid first, and there are ample opportunities for this. The old Black Panther free breakfast and the current Food Not Bombs programs come to mind, along with non-market-driven opportunities for working people to feel empowered. In organizing with other tenants, I have heard time and time again that many of them did not previously believe mass power like that was ever possible.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby brekin » Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:17 pm

JackRiddler » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:10 am wrote:Can we get off the magic words, please?

Socialist parties have been neoliberal, social democratic, stalinist, liberal and illiberal, left and right and everything in between. It all depends on who and what and where. Saying "socialism" doesn't magically lead to any of those outcomes any more than "liberty" automatically leads to slave camps in Mississippi. The Nazis were not an offshoot, they were a new thing who grab the term at a time and place when it's positively connoted among the people they want to reach, and claim they're against "international" socialism because they are NATIONAL.
brekin, you could always show respect enough to Luther to respond to his posts and skip your pavlovian mantra.
Luther, Niemoeller said, First they came for the COMMUNISTS. And that's how it was.
.


Huh? Wut? Jack, you and Luther operate under magic words. It's not "your type of Socialism" when it doesn't work out. But when it sort of, kind of, does in a limited way, but especially only really on paper then that is what we need. Even capitalist America became somewhat socialist during WWII. You can't create a war machine like Nazi Germany without instituting some socialist practices. The bald fact is you can't have socialism unless you hand over more power to the state, creating state socialism. Even if you are saying it will ultimately not be, that is always "the transition phase", which never seems to end.

Those lathering to increase the governments control over people with socialism (of course for their own betterment) need to look at who is heading the government right now. The worse possible thing would be is if Trump did implement socialist practices. Because "the state" would just become one big corporation, which of course is all about the people and them making America Great Again.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby dada » Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:21 pm

Speaking of national and international socialism...

This inevitable sidetrack into 'what does the word socialism mean?' got me thinking about something Trotsky said. From the introduction to The Permanent Revolution:

"Were one to take the history of the ideological struggle over a period of a quarter-century, cut it into little pieces, mix them in a mortar, and then command a blind man to stick the pieces together again, a greater theoretical and historical jumble of nonsense could hardly result than the one with which the epigones feed their readers and hearers."

I think he has a point. We should try the 'cut, mix, command a blind man to stick the pieces together' method. We wouldn't do worse than the crap spewed by pop intellectuals, pretenders or the press.

Plus it has the advantage of the random strategy. Keep your enemies guessing. And you know, gives it that up-to-date modern art vibe. Purreal anti-syncreticism, we should call it.

Let's make revolution fun again.

I'll be crypto-minister of propaganda and new ideas, but only if you don't want me to be. Because like Groucho, I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Luther Blissett » Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:05 am

brekin » Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:17 pm wrote:
JackRiddler » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:10 am wrote:Can we get off the magic words, please?

Socialist parties have been neoliberal, social democratic, stalinist, liberal and illiberal, left and right and everything in between. It all depends on who and what and where. Saying "socialism" doesn't magically lead to any of those outcomes any more than "liberty" automatically leads to slave camps in Mississippi. The Nazis were not an offshoot, they were a new thing who grab the term at a time and place when it's positively connoted among the people they want to reach, and claim they're against "international" socialism because they are NATIONAL.
brekin, you could always show respect enough to Luther to respond to his posts and skip your pavlovian mantra.
Luther, Niemoeller said, First they came for the COMMUNISTS. And that's how it was.
.


Huh? Wut? Jack, you and Luther operate under magic words. It's not "your type of Socialism" when it doesn't work out. But when it sort of, kind of, does in a limited way, but especially only really on paper then that is what we need. Even capitalist America became somewhat socialist during WWII. You can't create a war machine like Nazi Germany without instituting some socialist practices. The bald fact is you can't have socialism unless you hand over more power to the state, creating state socialism. Even if you are saying it will ultimately not be, that is always "the transition phase", which never seems to end.

Those lathering to increase the governments control over people with socialism (of course for their own betterment) need to look at who is heading the government right now. The worse possible thing would be is if Trump did implement socialist practices. Because "the state" would just become one big corporation, which of course is all about the people and them making America Great Again.


The left seeks to seize power from the full machinations of the state and redistribute it to all classes, aside from the ownership-ruling class. That includes Trump voters. A syndicalist worker cooperative in place of the top-down structure of the corporation could still choose to make suicidal, self-harming, boss-fluffing decisions, but probably wouldn't.

The desires of the broad working and non-working class are more aligned than most people think and often come down to tactics and process. The neoliberal process has proved itself to be a corrupting failure. For the first time in history, young people have a more favorable opinion of socialism than of capitalism, as I keep citing. This is the future and it's right there for you and me, Brekin and Luther, to take it together. These young people obviously do not want to give the state more power. Conversations with them reveal that they understand all too well what state power has done with the planet, to income and wealth inequality, to deep poverty, to incarceration, to police brutality, to colonialism, imperialism and war.

This imagined "transition phase" doesn't have to exist in a new world built from collective grassroots approaches.
The Rich and the Corporate remain in their hundred-year fever visions of Bolsheviks taking their stuff - JackRiddler
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:09 am

It should be added that the Socialist Left represents a broad array of agenda from the most strongly statist to the resolutely anti-State, and every possible permutation between and beyond.
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