Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The socialist left produces very convincing propaganda explaining “the need to break with the Democratic Party” but has proven unable to engineer such a break in the past seven decades. Refusing to unite “as a matter of principle” with forces and people who disagree with us (or who are confused, undecided or vacillate) on the Democratic Party in a common socialist organisation is the first step to ensuring that such a break never happens.

The Socialist Party of the Eugene V. Debs era established a tradition of (1) refusing to vote for Democratic politicians, (2) opposing what was then called “fusion” with the Democratic Party and (3) competing with both parties of the 1% whereever and whenever possible. This tradition arose on the basis of the experience gained by the populist movement, the first of many grassroots uprisings diverted by the Democratic Party.

The US socialist left can revive this old tradition for the following reasons. Half of the voting population abstained from presidential elections even before Occupy. The popularity of Ron Paul among occupiers and young people is a strong indication that people are so desperate for someone to run against the political system that they are willing to overlook the racist newsletters his campaign opportunistically produced for fundraising purposes, his opposition to regulating Wall Street and his refusal to break with the Republican Party. Last but not least, for many occupiers, President Obama was their last hope that the US political system might be able to somehow redeem itself. Nothing inspires direct action like electing a fresh-faced newcomer talking about hope and change who puts a knife into your back the minute he becomes commander-in-chief.

Now is the time for us to think big, take bold initiatives and fearlessly experiment. Doing so will lead to difficulties, false starts and even failures, but without failures in Wisconsin and Bloombergville Occupy Wall Street would not have succeeded. We cannot continue to cling to the existing state, methods and boundaries of the socialist left out of fear, inertia, or both, if we hope to create a broad revolutionary movement that threatens the rule of the 1% in this country.


What would a common socialist organisation look like? How would it function?

Again, these are issues we have to figure out in practice, as we go along. Socialism cannot be designed or created by an enlightened few armed with a detailed “Marxist” blueprint; if we wish to remain true to that vision, a common socialist organisation that unites various trends cannot be dismissed because we don’t know in advance what it will look like, how it will work, the concrete moments of its development.

What we can say with certainty is this: rejecting the multi-tendency model leaves us with its opposite, the single-tendency model. This model has crippled both the Stalinist and the Trotskyist wings of the socialist movement internationally for decades, although in radically different ways, producing defeats of world-historic proportions for the former and competing sects, mutual excommunications and permanent irrelevance for the latter.

Multi-tendency groups already exist on the US political scene: the John Reed Society at Harvard, the Revolutionary Students Union on campuses in Utah, the Socialist Student Union at the University of Michigan. They are far from being “still-born projects”. They produce propaganda, engage in agitation, put on cultural events, create literature and bring people together socially, recreating on a small scale the vibrant, comradely culture that was once part and parcel of our movement’s glory days when Big Bill Haywood, Eugene Debs, Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman and other titans differed with one another while fighting the battles we read about in our labour history books.

Another socialist left is possible. We can build it together.
 The rest of Pham Binh's article (Another Socialist Left is Possible) quoted from the previous post.

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