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August 07, 2007



You should check out the article written by Daniel Tasripin on the SDS convention


Wow, this sounds horrible! What a cult-like identity politics swamp. I'm glad the national World Can't Wait Youth Conference was nothing like that!

Check out this report

Friend of a friend

WCW should fold all its campus activity into the new SDS, developing chapters and campaigns.

Bush is not going to be impeached, not at this point.

There are a lot of really good folks working with World Can't Wait on campus — people who are motivated organizers that could also use the experience of working in a more multi-tendencied radical organization.

All left-wing activists on campus should join SDS. They don't have to ditch whatever else they were doing, but there should be a mass participatory anti-imperialist student organization that's nobody's dog and pony show.

Thanks for the report.

Modern P.

In response to Yada: the article was a poor (at best) description of what was really going on at the Convention. There were no religious oppression caucuses. The demo he speaks about was not even heard of by most chapters until he mentioned it, and I suspect that for the most part he's simply using it because he has axes to grind.

He's certainly right that there were lengthy plenaries -- but for him to cite Al Haber as a voice against that, when in fact he repeatedly wasted our time with doddering out-of-left-field complaints is absurd.

Similarly, if JPN wants to talk about people wasting time, he could easily speak with the delegation he came with. On a number of occasions, our time was wasted with folks from his campus raising a stink about this or that wholly technical matter. And on a number of occasions they forced purely formal votes in which they made themselves so radioactive to the majority that no one voted with them.

At any rate, I believe JPN missed the whole point of the Convention. We are an independent organization. We have to manage our own affairs, set down some structure, do at least some rudimentary political education, and come up with some ends we want to fight for -- without either the burden or benefit of being bossed, without becoming enamored of our bitchin' means.

If you want to be a part of this organization, fine; but you will not be able to lose yourself on skag and drink beer during commercials.

When you get right down to it, a lot of his complaints are similar to those of EG in the clip from Reds -- how dare those folks actually manage themselves! How dare they make decisions!

who likes processed anything?

Processed Cheese Food, that's what they call American Cheese. It's not cheese. It's oil-based, or the "process" is the content – and it's not very tasty. What about this convention?

There were no caucuses based on politics? No defining debates or discussion about anything but process?

Look ya'll: the myth of the original SDS explosion has taken unfortunate root as promoted by the non-revolutionaries of the time like Todd Gitlin and the apologetic former revolutionaries like Max Elbaum.

The fact is that active revolutionaries were outgrowing campus-based participatory democracy and began looking into actual politics.

To pretend that first-generation process obsessors like Al Haber, who played no significant role in SDS as it was known, is to accept the most conservative (liberal) take, while also ceeding the revolutionary aspirations of the 60s to arrogant control phreaks like WUO.

The bulk of activists were neither, including leading members who largely became one kind of Maoist or another. Really, when communism was hegemonic in SDS is exactly when it was a mass organization.

The "democrats" were insignificant and mainly gave up because they couldn't win any votes.

If you think kids today, especially the ones who are agitated about the world and not simply looking for a lefty identity are going to spend their lives dealing with identity caucuses (that speak for identity politics more than "people of color" or "women" or "guilty self-flagellating white guys") and voting proceedures – you will not grow beyond what you are.

Too much anarchist process fetishism. That's what it sounds like.

People will join and build a fighting, engaged and proactive student group open to a range of radical politics. They will not (in great numbers) partake in this kind of activist subculturism.

If you form caucuses, make them actually about something besides phenotype. You know... POLITICS.

How are you going to turn campuses into a front of struggle? Does the new SDS even think like this?

Is it all about process, because I have to tell you that's what killed the student movement last time.

Modern P.

A whole lot to unpack in one snidely whiplash of a post here.

First and foremost, to this drumbeat of people going from zero to lightspeed on the denunciations of "identity politics" of caucuses -- which, it occurs to me, may be the one thing uniting a Maoist on this blog with a certain sectarian anarchist webmaster who shall remain anonymous -- I believe there's something about "No investigation, no right to speak" that applies here.

Caucuses, as SDS has implemented them, have been a way of ensuring that traditionally marginalized constituencies have a method to consult among themselves, pool collective strength, and -- most importantly -- remain collectively engaged in the life of the organization as a whole.

They have been adopted because, surprise! the new SDS does not exist in the same world as the old. Women's liberation, the various oppressed nation/people of color battles, the open admissions struggles have opened the Ivory Tower enough so that it's not quite so Ivory and not quite as phallic. And yet, activist organizations still tend to, whether consciously or subconsciously, self-select toward the male and the pale. THAT's the really destructive identity politics that SDS has to deal with, not women who refuse to go back to serving up coffee.

What's further, surveying folks, it's not as if the Caucuses are the be all to end all of things. No caucus exists solely to conspire amongst itself; they have all had something that they've articulated to the whole group that has been aimed at improving the functioning of the organization as a whole.

The only reason caucuses (and for that matter, the internal processes of the organization) have taken an amount of time that would seem inordinate is because this organization is still fairly young and still getting its bearings. I think people want to get things right the first time, and that's noble, even if at times it gets into the problem of pitting the perfect against the good.


Friend of a friend wrote:

"All left-wing activists on campus should join SDS. They don't have to ditch whatever else they were doing, but there should be a mass participatory anti-imperialist student organization that's nobody's dog and pony show."

Why? I can see the value of forming SDS chapters on campuses where there's nothing else happening politically, and for reds to participate in and lead such efforts, but what makes SDS a more worthwhile student organization to build than, say, WCW or CAN on campuses where those orgs already exist?


Babo: One reason to put your resources in SDS rather than WCW is the likelihood that WCW will simply disappear in the near future. The RCP cadre will move on to another project and those student activists who were unaffiliated with the Party will be left in the dust.

Modern P.

To pipe up:

There are a number of ex-WCW folks who have been involved in forming SDS. They have, to my knowledge, stayed out of WCW while not burning their bridges with the people they knew.

There are also a number of people who are in both CAN and SDS simultaneously, without any perceivable frictions in that.

On the advantage of SDS over either of those two organizations -- I would say that SDS deals with broader sets of issues, in ways that WCW and CAN do not, and perhaps they perhaps cannot due to their inherent limitations.

Simply put, SDS has operated as a student organization. It deals with a particular constituency, has a fair amount of unity on against the war and other issues, but beyond that there is freer reign to the chapters to exercise initiative.

CAN and WCW have mostly operated as a single-issue (anti-war) front for students, on the initiative of the ISO and RCP respectively. Nothing inherently wrong with that per se; just that there's a disadvantage if people are interested in issues besides the war in Iraq, or imperialism.

In the end it's a judgement call. Do students want the certitude of having a set of politics already in command, or if you view yourself as a political agent who helps puts those politics in command?


Occam – why don't you make the deeper point we need to hear and not the cheap shot we already know.


sorry Modern P., I didn't realize you just had:

"Do students want the certitude of having a set of politics already in command, or if you view yourself as a political agent who helps puts those politics in command?"

Christopher Day

I'd really love to read other full reports from the SDS National Convention. Max's account, whatever its deficiencies, at least gave me some sense of the thing as experienced from one point of view. A few more would be helpful I think to a lot of folks who are trying to figure out how to orient towards the new SDS. There is a striking absence of politics in this report and it is hard to tell if that is reflection on SDS or Max or something else.

A thought that occurs to me is this: There is a seemingly inherent Catch-22 in trying to decide on a decision-making structure in the absence of a decision-making structure. When people are unclear about what exactly unites them politically there is a lot of natural distrust that gets amplified in unnecessary ways when the structure and process discussions are front-loaded. This is what turns a seeming Catch-22 into an actual one that paralyzes forward motion.

So what if, instead of trying to figure out how to make decisions first, people just jump into the discussion of what the political basis of unity is first without a clear decision-making process? By putting real questions of what the group stands for on the table the group is compelled to work out a process along the way in order to actually solve a problem. Instead of working through all the hypothetical scenarios involved in every variation on "modified consensus" the group figures out what actually brings it together and in so doing reduces much of the distrust that fuels the fears people feel around BOTH consensus and simple majority decision-making methods.

Personally I favor simple majority methods because they reduce the amount of ones life spent in meetings, but most of all I hate the endless discussions of structure that are fueled by the fear that one nutjob will be allowed to derail everything by blocking consensus or that a narrow majority will steamroller the concerns of a major fraction of the group.

Putting the discussion of politics first is a useful way of clarifying why people should trust each other and what sort of unity might reasonably be accomplished. A lot of clarity around the mechanics of running an organization can be had once some rough appreciation that everybody really does share some common purpose is established.

I am putting this out not as a criticism of SDS who seem to be doing fine without (or in spite of) anybodies advice, but more as a reflection prompted by this report on having sat through more "structure discussions" than I care to admit and the modest hope that somebody somewhere might in the future be spared some unnecessary frustrations.


Really, how ignorant/opportunist are some of the people on this list?

"CAN and WCW have mostly operated as a single-issue (anti-war) front for students, on the initiative of the ISO and RCP respectively. Nothing inherently wrong with that per se; just that there's a disadvantage if people are interested in issues besides the war in Iraq, or imperialism."

So patently false in too many ways.

SDS is 1) exclusively students and 2) does in fact mainly focus their big actions on issues related to the war and empire, neither of which characterizes WCW.

People are (legitimately) interested in other issues, and WCW encompasses many of those in a better articulated framework than SDS, in my view.

WCW from day one has been working on different levels and with vastly disparate groupings in society, on campus and off, to do what many in the milieu of economism and identity politics claim is impossible, too left or not left enough: HALT this program of religious fascism and endless war, while there still remains an opening to do so, through mobilizing millions to create a situation where the Bush regime is forced to step down, which could in turn open the path towards possibitilies for deeper advances against the system.

At a time when polls show a large plurality of Americans being in favor of the Bush cabal taking the fuck off before their term is up, an SDS chapter told me they're not uniting with any impeachment efforts at this point. So while perhaps the majority of people within this very empire's borders want to see Bush gone ASAP, a group that claims to favor a "democratic" society is willing to allow these wire-tapping, torturing, New Orleans-abandoning, evolution-denying fucks to stay in power?

What happened to "Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win?"

Don't try to dismiss this by claiming the problem is broader than Bush: if we don't force these people to take a concentrated blow through actions both massive and local that don't rely on the bourgouis electoral system and its suffocating logic, and if we don't challenged peoples' lowered sights, we have no chance at surviving what's to come. We might as well get used to having our community gardens and our kaleidoscope of caucuses in concentration camps.

I'm not familiar with CAN, but as a communist (no hidden agenda to unearth here based on my affiliation) who's been involved with World Can't Wait for some time, I'd recommend that people who feel obliged to claim that WCW is "narrow" and SDS is "broad" or "multi-faceted" by contrast actually READ THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT'S CALL and observe its continued practice.

Do I really need to quote from it directly?

I understand that not everyone will agree with its analysis or practice, but making assertions like that in a matter-of-fact tone doesn't serve a thing.

I'm honestly glad SDS is around and that fresh students are taking some bold actions to live out their convictions. But if we're going to declare that something is a certain way, let's try to be more accurate.

WCW taking on BattleCry in SF?

Sunsara Taylor slamming BattleCry's leader and Bill O'Reilly on national TV, along with WCW's consistent interventions
in the ongoing political struggle over "morality"?

Taking a sizeable bus tour last summer through a number of red states, most notably going head to head with Operation Save America in front of Mississippi's ONLY REMAINING abortion clinic?

Would SDS have anything to say to UCLA's South Campus students, i.e. the science students, many of whom are sickened by the fact that hideous theocrats are increasingly presiding over some of the most powerful positions in the world with regards to AIDS, global warming, public health, and gay rights? Do THEY get a "caucus", or maybe just a spot on the event calendar, in your chapters' programmatic/tactical conceptions?

And how are we (not just activist students, whom I hell of appreciate and have come up around) but the MASSES going to stop this war and transform society if we can't even summon the courage to force this hated and vulnerable administration out of power?

The quest for a political opposition (and ideology, dare I type the word) with broad but radical potential in these intense times is far from over.


Friend: Cheap shot or reality check? I think some people on this board are so enamored of "line struggle" and so steeped in jargon that they lose sight of the basics. It doesn't matter what you think, it matters what you do. If someone doesn't have my back, I don't care what their manifesto says. When the RCP abandonded NION, independent activists who trusted them got burned.

To be fair, much the same can be said for anarchists who fetishize structure and then never follow up anyway. Many self-proclaimed activists are over-educated and if anything need to unlearn some things before they'll be free to interact like humans again.


Modern P. – I'm not saying this was the main issue at the confab, but do you think the choice is between accepting (promoting or whatevering) the conceits of identity politics or... "women serving the coffee"?

Really, really – I don't.

I've never experienced them as a good thing, nor ever particularly representative of those who are shunted off to talk about how excluded they feel. It always front-loads the identity and results in the same psuedo-politic.

Putting everyone who isn't white into a room? To what end? To introduce de facto segregation into a meeting of ostensibly radical students? So the Koreans and West Indian students can talk about their common heritage and needs?

Women now outnumber men on college campuses. Campuses, by and large, are far more diverse than a generation ago, as with the general population.

If student activists are trained to think that women can't "speak freely" in front of men, etc. – then what the hell is up with that?!

Step up people.

This is contrasted with the lack of caucuses built around politics, initiatives or region.

Or maybe it's just my own experience clouding the issue.

I remember attending a student environmental conference at Sarah Lawrence when I was an undergrad. I left NYC where women played a vital, leading role to go to a women's college where half the environmental meeting was eaten up by a gender segregated caucus. I was compelled to attend the men's workshop... where the number one point of discussion was "at what point is it cool to hit on the women here?"

I kid you not. Nothing wrong with hooking up at conferences. Not at all, but somehow the gender segregation infantalized everyone who took part in it.

Have some backbone. Step up. Whites and men should NOT feel compelled to "be quiet" or just do what non-whites or women (or whoever) says. We should put politics in command and expect ourselves and others to be principled and on point.

Really, that kind of ID politics front-loading will consign SDS to a slim sector of the student body – and I promise you it will attract more white boys and middle class guilt cases than committed students from oppressed groups.


Occam, I am friends with several "independent activists in NION" who were indeed left in the lurch a bit – but in two regions they maintained a functioning organization, and the RCP just pulled out. They didn't "burn" anyone or anything. Folks were flustered, but really – so what?

Take care about that method you're advocating, the "fuck the politics, do you have my back" or "we're really just fam".

Many activist networks function as blow-in-the-wood patronage deals, where professionalized "activists" are defensive job boards and politics are totally subordinated to maintaining the power status of the key people involved.

I don't know you, but I bet you know what I'm talking about.

Should the RCP have de-camped from Not In Our Name? Fair question – but the issue isn't the lurch of independent activists, primarily – it's what was politically necessary. Otherwise, think about it – groups that are about themselves and not the larger world end up kind of... corrupt.



Pablo – you are right in much of what you say about "broadness" and, I think, the specifics of what you raise.

However – breadth of vision is not the same as a participatory organization, that is multi-faceted in focus and who is directly involved from jump.

The issue isn't that the students already in SDS are supposed to be won over – but that the hundreds of thousands students who already should be active but aren't haven't found a vehicle for their development and role.

Why shouldn't every student in WCW, and I'm talking core organizers mainly – why shouldn't they take up the new SDS and help build an actual, independent, broad and radical student grouping?

What precludes that in your opinion?


Yes, definitely know what you're talking about. And I couldn't agree more about those identity politics workshops.

My point about "having my back" was poorly worded. What I mean is: for all the big talk, almost no one is committing to a course of action in a community and sticking to it.

The RCP is not the sole or even worst offender: I could point also to the pre-RNC "spokes councils" which explicitly put debate, collaboration, accountability, and follow-through off the agenda. Literally.

Of course repression is real, but the left is partially responsible for its own isolation. Anarchists have their subculture, communists their study groups, identitarians their endless ritual workshops, academics their journals, and the professional activists have their salaries. Niches are comfortable. We're all overloaded with communication. We need to get real.

Sorry to be so negative on your board here, at this point I'm more frustrated than anything else...


At this point, the left is largely responsible for its isolation – at least insofar as coherent, organized groups are concerned.

To my mind, that's exactly what's so exciting about the participatory nature of SDS. Student in particular need an open laboratory of struggle. Modern P. puts it as being "agents" of struggle, not simply selling a new certainty.

That is what makes leaders. We need a generation of leaders – and for those of us who are veterans, more or less, to support, advise, critique and engage the young who are, at least, trying.

Occam's point about "committing to a course of action in a community and sticking to it" is right on. We should add that the content of that course of action is key... as the myriad of Alinskyite "community" organizations attests. See Acorn, then tell me about "community". LOL.

Students are a motley crew, and no simple community. Issues of tuition at the bourgeois universities and overwork at the more typical state schools are real, and a great hinderance to committed work and immersion.

So, too, are the bad habits of anarchism – which don't usually go by that name, but teach radicals to limit themselves and disdain audacious action... treating leadership like a dirty word, an imperative to develop correct ideas like an "authoritarian" imposition and that accepts the inward self-styled purity of participants above (and way beyond) the central task of transforming ourselves by changing the world.

Occam – don't fight against frustration, fight through it. The best balm for the crab apple within is engagement. I'm only cynical when I don't do mass work... just a thought. Then again, when I do mass work I end up so mad at the existing left for its failure to find a real "road to the proletariat".

People know what's up much more than activists think. They just don't see a way through.

That's our job. Our duty, which ain't a dirty word either.


The "identities" argument may be better had on the recent "poem" I found inside an essay by my old friend JP...

"The institutions of bourgeois democracy have split me apart: there is me and there are all the Others they tell me I am (a Frenchman, a soldier, a worker, a taxpayer, a citizen, and so on). This splitting-up forces us to live with what psychiatrists call a perpetual identity crisis. Who am I, in the end? An Other identical with all the others, inhabited by these impotent thoughts which come into being everywhere and are not actually thought anywhere? Or am I myself? And who is voting? I do not recognize myself any more."

More here...

Modern P.

JB asked: do you think the choice is between accepting (promoting or whatevering) the conceits of identity politics or... "women serving the coffee"?

No. The choice for a new revolutionary endeavor that is committed toward confrontation against the ruling order: is it going to be in this world (because for all its current problems, it is worth winning), or is it going to be of this world (and be seduced by the decadent charms of the existing order)?

I believe SDS has chosen to be in this world, but not of it. That has meant an intervention against certain temptations and deviations from the path. The temptations toward backsliding into a contentedness with being a white subcultural phenomenon. The temptations toward act as though it were a meat market. The temptation to treat the queers as just some entertaining sideshow. And so on.

The caucuses have been built primarily with that in mind, with fighting corrupting influences, to keep the collective eyes on the actual prize. They have not been the sole means, nor were they ever proposed to be.

As for identity politics -- identity politics would have the caucuses be an end good in and of themselves (i.e., they would be "turf"). That has not been either their intention nor their actual execution.

It has been my experience that the problems that come after caucuses meet are not, for the most part, really been problems of the caucuses themselves but rather a sort of instinct toward going on a guilt trip among the privileged. The problem of dudes prattling on and on about whether it's okay to hit on "the chicks" is not some problem caused by women asserting themselves, it's the inherent problem of privilege, the noblesse oblige aspect of it. Or, as another analyst who should know put it, "perfect masculinity is psychotic." Cease thinking that you've got to be a perfect man, center yourself around being a decent human being, and everything else falls into line.


as a longtime revolutionary leftist who also happens to be queer. I have mixed feelings about caucus'. that is until I read a blog of a rev. leftist and everyone is dissing caucus's. "cult-like identity politics" who are you Sean Hannity? And at the risk of being impolite I am so sick of hearing about poor out straight guys who have nothing to do but doddle in men's or allies groups cause they've never bothered to do any work around queer or feminist issues in there lives.

Fact is for many queer revolutionaries and many women a national conf. where they get to interact with ONE other person who is like them can be transformative. Transformative in keeping them active in a local chapter or grp where the rest of the people in said grp have no experience in being allies to their particular survival as a queer or as a woman.

This just means that when you gather people for a national conf. all rev's need to recognize folks come together with similiar but often differing needs that overlap. Mind you I'm not sayin' I wouldn't find my 800th queer causcus boring but for the life of me when I'm around a group of straight boys from the suburbs on a long weekend cut me some slack.

Christopher Day

A radical proposition: it depends. Whether a womens caucus or a people of color caucus or an anti-oppression workshop is productive or not depends. It depends on the group. It depends on the timing. It depends on how it is organized and so on.

I've been to more than one conference where half the time was spent in such activities and none of the business that the group intended to deal with was completed fueling organizational stagnation and doing little to actually improve gender or race dynamics.

On the other hand I've been to lots and lots of meetings where white men fillibustered the whole thing, sometimes ramming through decisions that depended on the work of the very women who were fuming through the whole thing.

Finally, JB writes: "Whites and men should NOT feel compelled to "be quiet" or just do what non-whites or women (or whoever) says." This, of course, is surreal. For every guilt-ridden white boy refusing to share his brilliant insights with a meeting, there are twenty loudly rambling on about whatever has entered their minds. And for every dude dutifully taking orders from women in leadership there are forty either ignoring them or making task promises that won't be kept. For the record, and I'm sure to the surprise of nobody except apparently JB, two of those unaccountable loudmouths have been JB and myself more times than I care to count. Whether these problems are usefully addressed by caucuses or workshops is another question, but pretending that they aren't the defining aspects of bad gender and race dynamics in the movement reflects a lack of self-awareness brother.


it does depends and very often it is not you who gets to determine whether or not its productive.

What's striking is my reading is that the caucus component of the conf was poorly organized. And that the conf. didnt set goals for the caucus's.

These problems are quite different than the subsequent charge on this blog to be bold and brave enough to debate the value of caucus's. And the value of dreaded identity politics.

Christopher Day

Some thoughts on effective caucuses and workshops:

Be realistic about the number that can be had without overloading a meeting. Meeting time is often precious. Does the meeting actually have a critical mass to support a particular caucus?

Be clear about what you want a caucus to accomplish and make advance preparations unless your goal is a gripe session. (Which it might be.) The same goes for what the white folks are doing during the p.o.c. caucus. The too frequent tendency of these latter sessions to degenerate into guilty navel-gazing or worse might be headed off by making them more educational in nature. There are often plenty of folks who could benefit from a History of the Black Liberation Movement 101 session. Those who "already know all that stuff" should be put to work as facilitators.

Be reasonable about time. Race and gender dynamics problems are not going to be solved in an organization by adding another hour to a caucus session. The real work has to be taking place between meetings.

Expect resistance and roll with it. We are all at different places along the paths of our political development. We all bring some sort of baggage. Caucuses will always spark resistance. Treat this as a teachable moment unless you really don't want to be in the same group with anybody who hasn't already figured this all out yet.

Making people cry is not a good measure of an effective workshop. But just because somebody cries doesn't mean it wasn't productive either.

The best means for addressing problems of internal dynamics may be a shift in external orientation. Taking up the fight against racism in your external work will do more to develop clarity and healthy internal dynamics than all the anti-oppression workshops you'll ever attend. This isn't an argument against the latter, but rather for a recognition of the critical role of political orientation. There is a dialectic between internal and external politics and, in general, the external orientation is the leading aspect. Beware of meetings that only beget more meetings.

In terms of internal dynamics, setting aside adequate time for informal meeting and socializing is often as important as what happens in the formal meetings, caucuses and workshops.


I wish it was surreal, Chris.

And yes, you are all right (Saoirse and Modern P.) about what needs these caucuses relate to. I'm arguing that they build-in a bad ideology and method and don't fix the problem, but aggrevate it and create new ones.

If anyone thinks the left has too many white guys with opinions... I don't know what they are talking about. We need ten thousand white men (and, of course people from all backgrounds) who refuse to be quiet, to hedge their bets, to sit on what they do know because whoever happens to be the room today may or may not be on that level.

Disagreement becomes "offensive" and speech codes stand in for debate. Tell me that's surreal. Tell me that hasn't turned a generation off of (particularly) campus activism.

I certainly have been in rooms where one or two loudmouths dominated everything... but they certainly weren't always white (though 9 times out ten they were men). Entitlement is real, but you know... so is totally unprincipled and shitty (and fake) race-baiting that sounds angry and radical, but is often enough deeply cynical and conservative.

Can I notice that if my family came from Europe? Should I not say this, despite some pretty deep experience with it? Should I not note where those who advocated such methods end up... regardless of how such contradictions get framed in the moment?

"Speaking as a white man..."

No. I don't speak "as a white man", nor do the ideas in my head fundamentally "come from" a "white male" place. I don't think the world actually works like that, and I'll just refuse to accept such a limiting of what the discourse should be to the comfort zone of anyone.

Or to remember a discussion I had not long ago with a prominent African-American radical about "who has the right to speak in Harlem" – fucking ANYONE has the right to speak in Harlem, including white people with something worth hearing. This man literally quoted Baudrillard to me as a way of attacking the supposed "eurocentrism" of Marxism.

Right, reactionary FRENCH post-modern localist bullshit is good, while scientific, internationalist materialism is bad. Puleaze.

I liked the Ruckus plan, which I use for every meeting I facilitate as part of the introductions: "If you're used to talking and knowing what you think, take a breath before you speak and step back some. If you feel shy or unsure – it's your responsibility to step up." Or, "step-up, step back" for short.

That is fundamentally different from breaking EVERY meeting up into racially segregated (often by surreal markers such as "people of color" or "women", frankly) that serve as incubators of ID politics.

In other words, if women can't speak up in liberation movements, and men can't be socially compelled to take leadership from women (based on political line) – then we're in trouble whether there's a caucus or not.

I would argue that the caucus is a modern equivilent of the Ladies Auxiellery where bitch sessions stand in for actually leading.

The recent US Social Forum was largely people of color (disproportionate to the population as a whole) and women were highly represented at all levels of planning, speaking and logistics.

I think we shouldn't underplay the tremendous breakthroughs that have happened, or demand retreads of 1980s-style (anti-political) cultural politics. Naomi Klein actually had an excelent chapter about this in her book No Logo.

And speaking of my own loud mouth: thank you, Chris, but I'll use it.

Should we get into that? Should we have a discussion about how ostensibly "People of Color" organization right here in NYC utilized the most grotesque race-baiting to try and (literally) crush the independent radical circles we worked in? Should we name names on that front?

Personally, I'd rather not re-fight old battles with forces I think are grotesque – regardless of their genetalia and phenotype. The exact same people who run white-baiting on multi-racial groups will turn around and run voter registration campaigns for the Democratic Party (and endorse folks like Clinton).

I have never seen guilt workshops produce anything but antipathy, guilt, directionless hostility and promote the idea that the unity of people is intrinsically impossible. That is not to say that in some times and places such things aren't necessary – but I don't believe segregation is how to challenge it. I believe in revolutionary, principled politics-in-command integration, for lack of a better word. Or, we do know that word. Comrades, not "allies".

I'll also say that it's funny you should talk about "unaccountability". Most of my work, including paid work, has been under the direction of people of color and women. That is true to this day, both in political practice and assistance to groups and projects on their own terms.

It is that experience that taught me politics is real, including within (overall) oppressed communities, nations and social groups. If you don't think every Democratic wardheeler knows how to give the "400 years" speech, I don't know what to say. Anyone can... recognizing oppression isn't the same thing as speaking to end it. In fact, some make their way in the world surfing it.

I'm not arguing against political education regarding racism and national oppression – or integrating sexual egalitarianism into the very fabric of our work. I'm saying that identity politics (as such) is fucking poison – especially to student groups who because of their social situation are particularly prone to it as default mode.

If it is not understood and struggled against (at least in the worst aspects), it will demobilise groups into naval-gazing guilt rituals and resentment, turning global social problems into personal failings – and will act as if ideas are only important because of whose mouth they come out of.

No. That's wrong. We have a common, shared reality and there will not be a re-tread of the way social movements built around identity stood in for (and aggressively attacked) proletarian internationalism (whatever name that goes by).


Comrade Saoirse: It's not about the "poor white boys", though if we don't break through with those Long Island boys, to say nothing of Georgia, we're not going to make it anywhere ultimately. But I hear you.

But isn't the point of a conference to actually meet and engage people you don't know? And if you're an active, conscious revolutionary – to challenge and help people who may be ignorant?

Is that way out there?

To make the road by walking and all?

If there are working groups around identity – say a program to develop Black Student Union's or sexual issues – then right on. But if the point of these caucuses is to manage conferences through identity slinging, it is (I am arguing) a way of back-dooring a very particular (and I think destructive) ideology that is more suited to developing future career networks than a liberation movement among the oppressed (and not just in name).

Ron Karenga. Susan Brownmiller. Zionism. And even, in its way, modern Islamism.

Some things are huge problems within the left that are barely issues in the larger world.

I don't know if this tangent is actually the main issue with the convention, which I didn't attend. I do think ID issues are related to process fetishism in general – which may be a healthier way of discussing it.

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