Rules of the road

Kasama

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August 07, 2007

Comments

r. john

Kaz writes: "The absence of key communist/socialist writing on the oppression of Black folks, Native Americans, women, queers, etc.,alongside conscious organizing in these sectors has lead to a growth of said ID politics."

I have read (and even helped write) communist and socialist writing on the situation of black people, native people, women, and gay people all my life.

I don't quite know how to jibe that with your remark.

Even your own earlier reference to the Comintern: the left in the U.S. was openly white supremacist (or indifferent) toward Black people until Stalin literally forced the CP to adopt a more-or-less Marxist stand on the national question.

In many ways the very start of serious modern theoretical treatment of Black liberation is that intervention by the Comintern.

There may be weaknesses in this body of communist work (from then til now). There may be limitations in this. There may be things to criticize about its theoretical depth and content.

But I don't understand your argument that such writings don't exist, or (for that matter) your argument that there is no organizing in such sectors.

The communist organizing I've seen has always had (as a key component from the very beginning) the organizing for womens liberation (and around key cutting edge issues of reproductive rights).

Are we looking at different movements?

Or are unsubstantiated and false claims of benign neglect casually made and allowed, because challenging them is considered morally unacceptable?

(See my complaints about cravenness.)

LS

I can't speak to the caucuses at this year's SDS convention, cuz I wasn't there.

But my experience of oppressed group caucuses in the student movement has been that they are overwhelmingly positive.

The only time they have seemed unnecessary has been in contexts where the vast majority of students are, for example, oppressed nationalities (like at most CUNY campuses). In every other US university context I've experienced or heard about, caucuses for oppressed groups have been a good, positive thing all around.

The only students I've ever heard argue on principle against caucuses (besides brand new straight, white, male activists who haven't yet had to grapple with issues of oppression) are members/supporters of Trot groups (ISO, SWP, etc) and the RCP. The Trots usually argue against them because of class reductionism (they say that caucuses on race / nationality, gender, LGBTQ, supposedly divert us from the only "real" issue of class). But really it's also cuz they can't control them as easily. I'm not as sure politically why RCP supporters have been against them, except as maybe a knee-jerk association of oppressed group caucuses with the so-called "Bundism" of oppressed nationality revolutionaries that the RCP was unfortunately born in struggle against.

Can oppressed group caucuses be taken too far? Sure, I suppose they could. But I think a look at the actual history of the main national formations in the US student movement since the 80s (PSN, USAS, SEAC, and even USSA, and now SDS), show the positive role oppressed group caucuses have played in the modern U.S. student movement.

Kazembe

"Actually this is false. the trial of a finnish worker for racism was just after the late twenties (as a result of fight against Lovestonism, and the campaign within the communist movement to adopt a recognision of the oppressed nature of black people.)"

I stand corrected. But I think the larger dynamic is the use of race of wedge to push through other issues. In terms of the CP, that meant the use of trials to settle political scores. See Richard Wright's "I Tried to Be a Communist"

"The communist organizing I've seen has always had (as a key component from the very beginning) the organizing for womens liberation (and around key cutting edge issues of reproductive rights)."

I'm referring to the lack of mass organiziations among women, Black folks, etc. The lack of development of Black people as Black people, or that of women has lead to the wide open field of ID politics.


"Even your own earlier reference to the Comintern: the left in the U.S. was openly white supremacist (or indifferent) toward Black people until Stalin literally forced the CP to adopt a more-or-less Marxist stand on the national question."

True, though I would add that folks like Hubert Harrison, Claude McKay, Otto Huiswold, Dubois, and the presence of Garvey all added to this position. And still, is this the point of reference for Black folks 70 years later. Hasn't there been some change?

"But I don't understand your argument that such writings don't exist, or (for that matter) your argument that there is no organizing in such sectors."

Certainly the writings of Harry Haywood exist, but other than DG Kelley,M.Ahmed,and some writings of FRSO/OSCL, little new research has been done to really dig into the question of POC oppressed communities today. It's a blindspot.

r. john

Thanks for replying, Kaz.

I wrote ""The communist organizing I've seen has always had (as a key component from the very beginning) the organizing for womens liberation (and around key cutting edge issues of reproductive rights)."

Kaz wrote: "I'm referring to the lack of mass organiziations among women, Black folks, etc. The lack of development of Black people as Black people, or that of women has lead to the wide open field of ID politics."

In other words your complaint is not the lack of organization, but the particular line you want to see shaping such organizing.

Someday you will have to explain to me what the "development of Black people as Black people" means.

Unity and Struggle!

Christopher Day

A big problem in these discussions is that what precisely constitutes "identity politics" is so elastic that criticism of some genuinely bogus practices easily segues into whining about how hard it is to be a white guy in the movement, which frankly is its own sort of "identity politics" and quite reasonably tests some folks patience.

White chauvinism and male chauvinism (to pick just two) are pervasive in this society and it is ridiculous to think that they won't routinely infect mass movements in which building unity across race and gender lines is critical. It is very difficult to deal effectively with the constant expressions of white and male chauvinism in mixed and politically heterogeneous movements and organizations where folks are at all sorts of places in their political development. A couple of decidedly imperfect mechanism have been developed in response to this problem. The first is the caucus which provides an opportunity for the the most directly effected people to constitute themselves as an organized force to promote solutions to these problems. The other (less common) mechanism is internal political education directed at the possessors of privilege.

The possible ideological content of each of these is highly variable, though the actual forms often enough reflect the generally degraded state of political discourse within our movements (anti-intellectualism, turfing, crude empiricism). In other words it depends on the politics of the participants. Railing against the organizational form is (IMHO) much less fruitful than addressing the concrete politics of actual people (and not strawmen). JBs rants against identity politics pays no heed to what so many of the participants in caucuses say about how they enable them to continue to participate in movements in spite of the infuriating persistence of chauvinist behavior. This matters and has a lot to do with the advances that have been made in this regard.

Feelings are not arguments, but neither are they irrelevant. Most people of color activists don't need to be lectured on the calculus that makes white allies so important to their liberation. Many, however, do need spaces in which this fact isn't (however unconsciously) lorded over them if continuous participation in multi-racial formations is to be endurable.

Gotta go.

Saoirse

I would also add CISPES as an exemplary model of a left formation that had a mass character and utilized caucus's quite effectively. Similiar my cursory knowledge of the Phil CP's sectorial organizing also seems like it is worthy of further investigation.

The fact is there is a whole lot that went on in the "identity politics" arena worthy of left consideration, respect and immulation. Grps such as ACT UP and WHAM's work around health care and HIV. Some of the work around TBTN is notable.

These identity formations and activists flowed in and out of left formations throughout the period, strengthening both trends.

Other identity activists work on survival institutions and projects. Essential in the work that they've done around mental health, job skills, sex education and sexual and reproductive rights work. Although I can't uphold these projects as things the left should do. They are not things that can be treated currently or historically with such contempt.

All of these projects and endeavors can be critiqued and sometimes blasted for having limited politics.

Further cultural projects, in the case of feminism having some of the most backward politics see the continuing struggle at the MWMF play important roles during the lean times. Groups like the RCP (omg) have played a tremendously constructive role in promoting the work of groups like RATM, Dead Prez, and others. I can remember BA writing positively about punk rock at the time too. Not b/c they didnt see the contradictions nor were they shy about pointing them out. Still there criticism were framed in a manner to respectively engage punk rockers and radical nationalists, street kids and metalheads. And again this stands in marked contrasted to the words on this blog that I dont think its necessary to quote. Whereby all caucus's and identity politics get compressed into a neat little baggy of bad politics (zionist. bundist. Karanga.) that we can so easily and readily dismiss.

Many left formations intuitively understand the importance of everything from cultural expressions to caucus's and know how to utilize them in broader struggle within a broader revolutionary agenda. Others continue like the ISO slamming any caucus of 18 year old feminists who want to spend lunch time talking about abortion, patriarchy and the accumulation of capital on a world scale for the first time.

Modern P.

With regard to r. john's comment on "the false subjective assumption that all white people are racist"

I do not think it is either so subjective, or so false, to have an assumption that white people in the United States are, by default, products and beneficiaries of a society in which white supremacist racism is the default ideology. I would go further to say, all people regardless of race are by default products of the ideology of white supremacist racism, even if we are not all beneficiaries of it.

Why? Because ideology is, after all, "they do not know it, but they are doing it." Are the masses all consciously perpetuating white supremacy? No. But unless there is concerted effort to deprogram ourselves of that ideology, effort to bring it to light and to confront it, white supremacy creeps into the overall world-view of anyone in the U.S., especially white people themselves.

(On a digression: there is, I believe, a great illustration of the ideology of white supremacist racism in action, in Malcolm X the film. Denzel Washington, portraying Malcolm in his days as a train car waiter, callously being called "boy" by a white man. We are shown one sequence, where he smashes a pie into the face of the white man for the insult. A moment later, he is shown cheerfully serving the same clean-faced white man the undamaged pie, an indication that it was all just fantasy. All of which is to say, with the force of ideology, we can even "know" that what we do is wrong, and yet we still "do" according to the ideology.)

I believe as well, r. john, there is also a bit of mangled Mao in your citation of On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People as well, that I believe needs to be unpacked.

The point of that writing is there is a dual nature to some contradictions among the people (i.e., "contradictions between the exploited and the exploiting classes have a non-antagonistic as well as an antagonistic aspect") -- and that a warning that "the contradiction between the working class and the national bourgeoisie will change into a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy if we do not handle it properly and do not follow the policy of uniting with, criticizing and educating the national bourgeoisie, or if the national bourgeoisie does not accept this policy of ours."

In other words, there's is in fact a struggle that goes on among the people; and though the struggle should be carried out with great care, nevertheless it has to move toward resolution. Note too that it is criticism, not simply conciliation, that Mao calls for.

lurking

any thoughts on anything besides identity? what were people arguing about at the conference? can any of the sds'ers here speak to what the basic range of thinking is among participants? developed factions, etc? what organizations have done entries? I know freedom roads did and some crimthinc anarchists, but not much more than that. this other stuff is important. when people say identity politics, I don't know what that means. are there examples of groups dedicated to it or is it a boogyman?

Matt

From my vantage point, the cacauses weren't about guilt or identity politics but about struggling together, rooting out opressive behavior and collective liberation. The ally cacauses I attended generally could have used more facilitation--except for the male ally one which was the best of its kind I've ever attended--but I think their general direction was right on. On the national level, leaps and bounds have been taken over the past year in addressing patriarchy within SDS--there are some local chapters where this is a significant issue and others where it isn't but at the national scale the loudest voices and informal leadership have definitely been male.

As for the politics of the organization, right now its probably best defined by its orientation towards mass movement building--while no one is interested in PL style tailing of the working-class, I think everyone is aware that students can't win alone--and adherence to the "three antis" of anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and anti-opression politics. The majority of the convention could probably be termed liberterian/anti-authoritarian socialists--but even the individualist anarchist leaning ones have their critique of Crimethinc/TAZ style "politics" and want to break out of anarchist subcultures--which overlapped with a significant, but minority, Marxist presence. Most people at the convention had read their Marx, but Leninists were a distinct minority (incl. several people from both frsos but no other orgs that I saw). From conversations I had, I suspect left-liberals also have a significant presence at local chapters and the the kids at the convention, who probably represented the most committed and politically developed folks in the network (i.e., the leaders), were more radical than their chapters as a whole.

As SDSers graduate, I think its going to move from being a student org to being a more general youth org. There hasn't been a youth-led national left-unity group that's serious about movement-building--and actually is in movement--since I've come of age politically. Combined with the community we're making and general feeling of excitement in Detroit, that's going to keep a lot of us around, working in local SDS chapters post-college.


And finally, one distinction that I think is worth making between SDS and WCW/CAN. Both WCW and CAN are single-issue focused orgs which get most of their direction from ML groups, which are held to be where the real politics live. SDS is developing its politics, as individuals and an organization, trying to weave diverse traditions together. The collective articulation of theory as an org is going to take time and come out of our attempts to do local organizing, but that doesn't mean we don't have politics or that most people in the org are down with the early/mid 60s left-liberal SDS version of "participatory democracy." Most people I know in the network take participatory democracy to entail collective self-rule and the social ownership/control of production, among other things. The goal, I think, is to phrase socialism in the contemporary American vernacular and provide a basic point of unity which can group a lot of people together and attract liberals/progressives while having radical(izing) potential. We need to keep moving forward without slamming the door behind us if we want to build a radical (youth) movement...

Christopher Day

Thanks Matt, that was useful.

toil toil

What great news. This country hasn't had a radical student federation on a national level in a generation. Not once worth all that much since the days of the old SDS and SNCC. It's been too long and the lack of a learning curve and testing ground is just one of the things that has lowered our sights.

People seem so beaten down, at least when it comes to the big picture. Torture, shrug. Endless war, shrug. State-controlled abortion, shrug. Feminism is a dream from some other time. College is so damn expensive and everybody has to work.

I'm no student. I'll tell you this -- direct action gets the goods.

Don't be a language police! Self-righteousness will kill you on campus. Make new things possible instead of complaining. Nobody cares what you don't like about other students. If you're outward bound, this SDS will grow by leaps and bounds. Nobody, I promise you, cares about what you say your voting process is. That's just fake politics. Every campus will end up doing something different no matter what you decide.

So many good wishes going your way.

Light up the campuses with debate, don't be afraid, respect other people and don't ever back down in the face of cynicism and dispair.

What you do matters more than anything.

r. john

well put.

I too think that many people are looking for something to break, are looking for a place to stand and act, with others.

And that the divisive conflicts over process and structure will prove themselves to be irrelevent and moot.

that last post is worth rereading and repeating:

* * * * * * * *

I'll tell you this -- direct action gets the goods.

Don't be a language police! Self-righteousness will kill you on campus. Make new things possible instead of complaining. Nobody cares what you don't like about other students. If you're outward bound, this SDS will grow by leaps and bounds. Nobody, I promise you, cares about what you say your voting process is. That's just fake politics. Every campus will end up doing something different no matter what you decide.

So many good wishes going your way.

Light up the campuses with debate, don't be afraid, respect other people and don't ever back down in the face of cynicism and dispair.

What you do matters more than anything.

ShineThePath

http://shinethepath.blogspot.com/2007/08/toward-bright-future-sds-leads-way-for.html

I posted my very own thoughts on the event, I attended...I am finding a lot of the stuff spreading to Indymedia is blowing a lot of things out of preportion.

repeater

Moder P writes: "The issue with identity politics cannot be phrased as, 'It makes [white/hetero/men] uncomfortable.'"

The problem, as you more or less state at a later point, is that it ONLY makes white/hetero/men uncomfortable, that is, it does nothing to fundamentally disturb the set of social relations corresponding to white supremacy, it simply settles for pointing out that such social relations exist.

Modern P: "if it makes privileged folk uncomfortable to discuss an articulated position given in a spirit of respect they need to grow up."

If we assume we're dealing with grown-ups, then why would we need to separate people?

And what is this articulated position? Certainly I agree with the sentiment, but process obsession, whether structured on the ready-made categories of the system or not (i.e. Identity politics), tends to preclude the development of an articulate position which can end white supremacy.

How did the People of Color Caucus help SDS to develop its position on the question of White Supremacy? What is SDS's plan for ending this most onerouos social relation? Excuse one for getting the impression that the Caucus itself IS the plan, and what is that but making "white people" more comfortable?

Modern P writes: "The problem of identity politics and its tactics -- race-baiting, guilt-tripping, etc. -- ain't that they make the privileged uncomfortable, it is that they accept the cheap and easy victories for the oppressed."

There are a couple more problems with it... at its worst it halts the development of political lines and theories necessary for action, and to the extent that this occurs, it also betrays a world view which is demonstratively more interested in the question of "Who Am I?", as opposed to (dialectically of course) the question of "What Is To Be Done?"

Without answering this question, with regards to how we end these various oppressions with some finality, the apparent "easy victory" isn't a victory at all. And of course this is why the discourse relating to identity and the various social categories created for us, and marketed to us, is not threatening to the status quo. It is very much "of the here and now".

I think JB's linking of the Sartre poem, gets at this fairly directly, though without addressing, necessarilly, the exact categories which form our social reality in the here and now. In other words, Sartre describes how the capitalist-imperialist system cuts us up into little categories, the better to count us, the better to market us, market to us, control us, etc.

What is interesting, with regard to this critique of identity politics and the sexuality question at least, is that there are some voices amongst radical queers who actually share it, recognizing that the debate about gay-marriage, the creation of the term and social category of "gay community" has an extremely conservatizing effect. To my reading of it, queer theory itself, what is radical in it, is denying the normativity of heterosexuality not by posing its binary opposite, but by exploding the whole set of categories. Unfortunately, in the absence of an agreed upon system for understanding and discussing sexuality, we see the tendency to create new and more identities and categories. What is the acronym up to now, LGBTTTIQQA? Talk about alfabet soup, but what is truly negative about each one of these letters is that they demarcate a new self-designed category to which, from which, and on which capital can develop itself.

The bottom line, and what was radical about these movements concentrating on identity, particularly the women's movement, was that the demand was to NOT be summed up by whatever category society had designed for you. The demand is to be recognized as, and have the right to develop as that most indescribable of things, a fully formed human subject. This of course entailed dealing with the particularities, but never subordinating the larger picture to them, which unfortunately is what this trend of critique became both in substance and in form through the 80's and 90's.

Modern P writes:

"With regard to r. john's comment on "the false subjective assumption that all white people are racist"

I do not think it is either so subjective, or so false, to have an assumption that white people in the United States are, by default, products and beneficiaries of a society in which white supremacist racism is the default ideology. I would go further to say, all people regardless of race are by default products of the ideology of white supremacist racism, even if we are not all beneficiaries of it.

Why? Because ideology is, after all, "they do not know it, but they are doing it." Are the masses all consciously perpetuating white supremacy? No. But unless there is concerted effort to deprogram ourselves of that ideology, effort to bring it to light and to confront it, white supremacy creeps into the overall world-view of anyone in the U.S., especially white people themselves.

(On a digression: there is, I believe, a great illustration of the ideology of white supremacist racism in action, in Malcolm X the film. Denzel Washington, portraying Malcolm in his days as a train car waiter, callously being called "boy" by a white man. We are shown one sequence, where he smashes a pie into the face of the white man for the insult. A moment later, he is shown cheerfully serving the same clean-faced white man the undamaged pie, an indication that it was all just fantasy. All of which is to say, with the force of ideology, we can even "know" that what we do is wrong, and yet we still "do" according to the ideology.)

I believe as well, r. john, there is also a bit of mangled Mao in your citation of On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People as well, that I believe needs to be unpacked.

The point of that writing is there is a dual nature to some contradictions among the people (i.e., "contradictions between the exploited and the exploiting classes have a non-antagonistic as well as an antagonistic aspect") -- and that a warning that "the contradiction between the working class and the national bourgeoisie will change into a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy if we do not handle it properly and do not follow the policy of uniting with, criticizing and educating the national bourgeoisie, or if the national bourgeoisie does not accept this policy of ours."

In other words, there's is in fact a struggle that goes on among the people; and though the struggle should be carried out with great care, nevertheless it has to move toward resolution. Note too that it is criticism, not simply conciliation, that Mao calls for."

I agree with this, but then, is what's going on in SDS an example of how to engage these contradictions amongst the people correctly, in order to better confront the enemy? How?

As an aside, I think the whole "creeping in" phrase gives an incorrect impression. It is not that we as anti-racists are somehow purified of the effects of white supremacy on our own lives and minds, and then the struggle is just to maintain this purity, to fight against the "creeping in", rather, we are steeped in it, as are all people in this society from their various positions. And the struggle is to concretely transform our social reality as totally as possible. This requires focusing not on what we are, but what we are not, that is, revolutionaries.

Modern P writes: "This is why the People of Color Caucus in SDS doesn't race-bait, not because it hurts anyone's feelings, but because what we need and what we are concentrated on is an actual confrontation with the white supremacist power structure -- no more and no less."

No more? Well I think you've lowered your sights in this instance, but regardless, once again, what is your plan? And my insistance on this is to point out that if your conference did not produce a political DECISION, a commitment, and a plan for reaching these ends, then it wasn't political in the sense that we need it to be, and you're not confronting white supremacy.

In the same way that the USSF ended up being a "big success" merely because it got the right mix of people to the table, the SDS conference seems to have been "a success" in that it moved forward in providing the space and structure for people to discuss, and in having the right mix of people doing the discussing (more women leaders, etc.). But nothing of note was decided by this great mix of people, and it seems that their decisions with regards to how the national organization will work simply ratified how it in fact does work. It is certainly not that the level of diversity and the intense interest in developing it and strengthening it is a negative thing. The question is how does that discussion relate to, or lead down the road to making political decisions about what is to be done in the current context. The problem is that it doesn't seem to relate at all, especially in a world where so much is transforming so rapidly, and where so much horrible shit is going on, that is, it seems that the process is not leading to political decisions on how to change the situation. The concentration on representation and process is myopic when the desired process never gets around to addressing these problems politically. The obvious implication lurking around out there is that there may in fact be something in the structures of these two events/organizations which precludes them from answering these questions. A structure which arises out of, again, a particular uniting problematic of "Who Am I?", as opposed to "What Is To Be Done?"

It would be nice if we could get around to understanding the former question as being fundamentally constituted by the latter, and not the other way around. "We are what we do", not "we do what we are". The former implies, and, in fact, constitutes agency. It seems glaringly obvious to me that the latter is the way that not only the USSF and SDS conference were organized, but that this is the way that all "politics" (really an anti-politics) is structured in the U.S., and it is exactly because we don't have agency in this system, exactly because we are prisoners to our social relations as expressed in these categories, that we accept this whole structure while taking up the slogans, images, and myths of those who were rebels because they rebelled. If THIS is not addressed we will choke to death on the irony, sooner rather than later.

Finally, a federated structure with no effective centralization, again, simply ratifies what already exists in the U.S., that is, disparate groups based upon localized interests acting with little coordination. For those of you interested, you might go about investigating exactly what kind of apparatus the State has to destroy its opponents, both in terms of direct coercive capabilities as well as a legal structure with which to administer the dose. With all that, it seems to me that the movement is about to get blindsided, especially if it continues down this track of behaving as if important political realities and decisions about them can be put off for another year, if not indefinately.

I certainly hope something clicks to bring SDS up a level, and it is good that people are at least discussing this stuff and getting together about it, but the alarmist in me says that there is something wrong, or something missing, and that the big issues and the seriousness of the stakes are not being addressed.

Modern P.

Unpacking repeater:

The issue of phrasing the problem of identity politics as simply a matter of making white/hetero/male folk uncomfortable is that, actually, oppressors should not be too comfortable. Any effort that challenges a chauvinism will discomfort those who, for whatever reason, have not seen such a challenge -- such as people who are, on the average 19 to 21 years old.

The real question here, is that discomfort a beginning of a broader questioning or is it an end in and of itself. I think guilt is a perfectly first response, but that it has to be struggled through.

I have been asked by repeater for a further explanation of the Caucus's articulated positions. I will sum up what was reported back to the whole group after some discussions:

1) In terms of SDS rank-and-file affairs, the POC Caucus put forward that the overall goals of the organization should shift away from "diversity" for its own sake -- that is, diversity in the common sense of diversifying one's portfolio -- because such a stance is devoid of both politics, and is just downright disrespectful. We're not here to be ornaments, we're here to do some work.

We instead need to ensure that the politics of SDS should address a broader set of issues (i.e., should not have a chauvinist bias toward the perspectives of white students), and with it a broader approach toward issues of racism.

We also put forward that beyond prettifying or diversifying the informal leadership roles of the organization (facilitators, press people, etc.), there needs to be greater attention to formal preparation for people to take those positions. Basically, to avoid this sort of reflexive need that white folk have of putting totally unprepared folks just to feel better about "diversity".

2) With regard to SDS's inter-organizational affairs, we put forward that greater emphasis has to be put on political engagement with organizations dealing with people of color or specific nationalities. That SDS should not, in fact, simply tail whatever groups have the melanin or slant-eyes or whatnot, but that care and attention be put into building relationships of respect. This includes working toward a deeper unity with people of color/oppressed nationality organizations, but also ensuring that SDS specifically not attempt to raid or co-opt those organizations.

3) In the long-term political direction of work, a particular statement of views on anti-racism was put forward by two white members that were concerned that there had been a neglect in anti-racist/white supremacist discussion. It was a last minute document, somewhat hurried; some of the wording was a bit clumsy, but they made a good faith effort that was coming from a correct place.

The People of Color Caucus took some time to brainstorm both criticisim and critique the document as it was, and then to share findings with the whole group and then with the authors. In the end, it was found to be in need of some more political content than the authors originally had. The Caucus is therefore going to put some time and energies alongside the original authors, so that the statement has both better scope and better focus.

JB

Without having read through all of this, I'd like to go back to the reports by the people who were there – who did not report a preponderance of identity politics, but as Matt put it, it wasn't about "guilt or identity politics but about struggling together, rooting out opressive behavior and collective liberation."

In fact, the main point was to build a functioning structure for the organization. If it's true their 2006 founding converence was "90%" male, I'd be shocked if they didn't discuss that, or the women (and others) didn't want to create a self-consciousness among participants about who the group is for. That can take some effort.

For those of us who came of age in the 90s (or 80s or even 60s for the some of the people here) – I don't know, let's not push too many old battles on a still new group. Hell, they already got grilled by the press about the Weathermen... which is surreal. So, you know.

another report

Bronx Bolsheviks report

another report

quoting:

SDS did make strides in creating a structure, the federated council system, albeit its complexity to avoid any individuals taking too much power seems to only be a call to bureaucracy and for just such individuals to continue to do such work. But this is a step in the right direction, and it did indeed isolate the backward elements of chapters such as University of Central Florida and Tacoma, whose thought seem to converge to the methodology of Crimethinc, The "Ex-Workers" Collective. The proposal for a Nested Council system was withdrawn by its author John Cronan in order to come from this Convention with some direction and formalized way to communicate for chapters.

I found that my prejudices and concerns about Caucuses in particular where not well founded. The Caucuses, and specifically the People of Color Caucus, played a positive role in giving direction to our Convention while not trying the dominated the Convention by utilizing their positions to make any political determining demand on the body. Neither did the Caucuses try to enforce the liberal white guilt mentality by playing identity cards of oppression, “who is more oppressed” game. The direction that the Caucuses gave to our National Convention was needed, and they will become the focal point for further political discussion within SDS.

What are the Revolutionary tasks for those in SDS? Build model chapters, ones which are connected to the struggles in their community, elevate the politics of SDS, and gives an anti-Imperialist analysis to our work. Model chapters that can be emulated by others, by students looking for outlets and forms to begin joining in the struggle against Imperialism.

Where is SDS heading? To the future in my opinion, the organization is now set to handle real political debate and struggle and to begin organizing its campuses (which in many places are already occurring). The Right in Essence group of so-called “Marxists” and Anarchists who have utilized the James Neshewat, a UCF student, produced article to sneer and snicker about SDS show their true colors as utter reactionaries and having no connection to the masses themselves. Their understanding is quite clearly rooted in dogmatic and mechanical approach to building mass, if indeed revolutionary, organizations. There is a need of patience in taking steps and leaps with the majority of its constituency and raising its overall consciousness. The approach of the Right-in-Essence cliques is essentially to ignore this and go to the last step of building real organizations dedicated to popular struggle.

r. john

thanks for the post from "another report." And thanks for the further summation of the caucuses and their role.

Your post includes a "tidy program" -- "build model chapters" "anti-imperialist student movement" etc. Was there a document of some kind putting this view forward? Is there an url?

is this the article from Neshewat you are referring to?
http://www.counterpunch.org/neshewat08062007.html

or is there another one.

Is there further documents from this "Right in Essense" group? Is this a real group? Do they call themselves this? Who are the "so-called marxists" and anarchists you refer to? Do they have documents and more specific affiliations?

ShineThePath

"Another Report" was putting up my report back from the SDS National Convention. I participated as a member of the CUNY Hunter College SDS.

On whether there are documents on anything about building Model Chapters, no there is not one. Perhaps I will give myself time to produce one...there is however one Document on Anti-Imperialism by Pat Korte of New School SDS...a document I feel has some weaknesses, but was not given a chance to be discussed at our Convention, albeit it will serve as a document for discussion on Imperialism, and there have been a few people I know of interested in building theoretical cirlces around the question of Imperialism itself.

http://newsds.org/wiki/index.php?title=Vision_Proposals_for_2007_National_Convention#.E2.80.9CPosition_On_U.S._Imperialism_In_The_Middle_East.E2.80.9D_by_Pat_Korte.2C_The_New_School_SDS

I wish I knew how to make that into a visible link, but I am not good with URL.

And yes, the article I am referring to is the one from Counter-Punch. The Right-in-Essence people I am referring to are the "Marxists" and Anarchists posting on many boards speaking on the Convention, and have united in their attacks on SDS because of the Conventions' task of building structure.

html for dummies

Easy as pie...

The New Centrist

Forgetting Orwell’s Lessons for the Left: Useful Idiots and Fellow Travelers in the 21st Century

http://newcentrist.wordpress.com/2007/08/13/forgetting-orwell%e2%80%99s-lessons-for-the-left-useful-idiots-and-fellow-travelers-in-the-21st-century/

zerohour

Speaking of "useful idiots" maybe we could clear the air here about who is being using whom.

Anti-communist socialists clawys claim to be more reasonable and even-handed yet, their ideas and behavior always seem to favor imperialism. One was is to lazily spread falshoods.

There is no documented source that Lenin ever called communist allies in sympathizers "useful idiots" nor that he held them in such contempt. Why would such scrupulous "socialist" fail to do even such basic research? Because spreading anti-communism is more important than telling the truth.

Another way is to "inadvertently" convince people that imperialism can be reformed if we just play nice.

It is well-documented by now how socialists like Norman Thomas and George Orwell received funding through CIA fronts. In Orwell's defense, there is no proof that he knew. Sadly, they didn't even have to be told what to say because their kind of "socialism" was already the kind the CIA liked. The kind that was attractive to lefty liberals who were outraged by capitalism, but still held onto illusions about its capacity for reform. The CIA funded them because they were well-known, they shared the Cold War consensus about communism, and when it came right down to it, their kind of socialism was practically ineffective and irrelevant to bringing about large-scale change. Even the CIA saw that.

"Useful idiots"? At some point, some socialists have proven to be quite useful - for imperialism. It's pathetic to see that some still aspire to this shitty standard.

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