Post-Trump North American left trends

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OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
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Aug 31 2018 22:50
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"We decided to try and recruit every person who was mad about Trump and just open the flood gates. Now all of the problems of the activist scene are the problems of the iww. Where we were once an island of a bit of sanity we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing."

Where exactly are all these phantom people who have overrun the IWW who are "actually opposed to workplace organizing"? I've met a lot of newer members, and they're all super involved with organizing or supporting organizing at work.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Sep 1 2018 15:37

So on stuff that isn't workplace organising I think there should be radical organisations that do that stuff and in a lot of cases there are groups already that do good work. Black Rose is a good example, Parkdale Organise in Toronto etc. You don't need to have everyone in one organisation doing one thing.

As for DSA I think having something that does electoralism and a bunch of non electoral stuff will see the non electoral stuff crowded out. The NDP here claims to be a social movement organisation, except they order the cops to beat social movements when they get too strong.

As for IWW members who are hostile to workplace organising I was actually basing that comment entirely on screencaps from the internal WRUM discussions. Maybe they weren't representative of the whole but in the discussion I saw they also went unchallenged.

The thing is though over the last year a lot of those people have quit and moved on to the next issue. Because that was what was always going to happen. In ten years we will probably organising their craft brewery.

The reason we didn't explode in growth was because it wasn't our time to do it. We aren't ready yet, we're a mess and it's largely because of these get rich quick schemes and shortcuts. To say we didn't grow because we didn't adopt OT's poorly thought out plan of bandwagon jumping is basically the same as a faith healer saying we didn't get well because we lacked faith.

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OliverTwister
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Sep 2 2018 11:52
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we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing.

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As for IWW members who are hostile to workplace organising I was actually basing that comment entirely on screencaps from the internal WRUM discussions.

So being "overrun with people ... who are actually opposed to workplace organizing" actually means that you saw comments from one person (who has since been expelled from the caucus) that you interpret to be hostile to workplace organizing?

This is a great example of the kind of gaslighting and trolling that you and your allies have been subjecting the union to internally. Thanks for taking ownership of it publicly.

ETA: If anyone wonders if WRUM is "actually opposed to workplace organizing", instead of EdmontonWobbly's interpretation of one person's comments in some screenshots, they can check out our program, which was drafted and voted on by the entire caucus. The first point states clearly:

Quote:
Revolutionary Organizing in the Workplace and Across Industry

We aim to further develop our capacity to support organizing that combines the revolutionary aspirations of the class with immediate fights in the workplace. This includes struggles against racism, sexism, and all of the oppressions which define the specificities of working class experience. Our overall strategy will be built from the flexible and experimental experiences of our organizers, with the encouragement of wide-ranging debate and discussion across the union.

R Totale's picture
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Sep 8 2018 14:06

This three-part series looks to be really interesting: https://itsgoingdown.org/elections-power-the-dsa-1-the-failure-of-the-le...

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 26 2018 09:03

and now for something completely different: https://themilitant.com/2018/09/22/are-frenzied-liberals-afflicted-with-...

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Moves by the White House — from Korea to Afghanistan and the Middle East — are aimed at advancing the interests of the ruling rich. But they have unintended results that are good for working people, opening space for political discussion, debate and action by workers to defend their rights and class interests.

R Totale's picture
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Dec 26 2018 16:50

This looks like a fairly decent take on "the antifa debate": https://communemag.com/anti-anti-antifa/

Spikymike
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Dec 28 2018 16:07

Edited...Will give it another read later but.... the communemag's view appears to be against the communist position in the previous era and not just now, which makes me skeptical in regard to their understanding of what Fascism amounts to historically and it's claimed rebirth today. Some decent anti-capitalist ideas in the heads of some small antifa groups does not necessarily make them at a practical level any more effective as an opposition to capitalism rather than just some aspects of street level reaction, but then it is maybe a step forward if they recognise ''the limits of antifa identity'' and then move on to reject that identity all together?

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klas batalo
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Jan 4 2019 18:19

i'm with spikymike that article was really bad...

it counters the critique with what: grey block?

now don't get me wrong i prefer that tactical method in general but there really was no innovations in thinking or politics that i saw in the article

Mike Harman
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Jan 4 2019 23:10

Not sure if anyone is following the Marxist Center stuff.

It seems to be mostly Leninists who are extremely frustrated with US sects, i.e. leaning on people like Hal Draper. But also anarchists and anti-state communists to some extent. Quite loose at the moment, but less loose than the DSA in that they all reject the Democrats. Not sure what a good link would be, so no link yet.

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Jan 6 2019 11:44

Saw the New River Workers' Power lot had joined, which mildly surprised me, but don't really know enough about either to comment that much further.

Spikymike
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Jan 13 2019 12:39

I haven't heard of the 'Marxist Centre' in the USA before but borrowed this explanatory link from the spgb which might clarify some points but doesn't promise too much as far as I can see;
https://theleftwind.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/where-does-the-marxist-cent...
Edit; And I see that Donald Parkinson (ex of the Tampa Communist League) has written up a report of the last Marxist Centre conference here;
https://cosmonaut.blog/2019/01/12/building-revolution-in-the-usa-notes-o... pushing his usual 'build the mass socialist party' line. The Center itself seem a non to encouraging mixed bag of disparate left groups.

sherbu-kteer
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Jan 9 2019 07:37

The DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus has released a strategy statement called 'Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism In Our Time'. I'd be interested to know people's thoughts on it, seems to be better than the platform document they released earlier in the year, but they still appear very reluctant to use the big 'Ⓐ' word...

Spikymike
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Jan 9 2019 10:59

Well something for everyone is offered up (by the libertarian Socialist Caucus of the DSA) in this extensive list of 'models' popular within the self-identified radical movement and each of them has probably got some benefits as means of survival within the capitalist system for some people, but the retained 'preamble' is just wrong to start with along with the tried and failed strategy of 'building socialism within the shell of capitalism' or ''assembling it piece by piece'' etc. If it had started off with a thorough analysis of what was wrong with the old model of 'welfare state capitalism' from a genuine communist perspective, beyond it's sadness at it being a claimed lost class 'compromise' then the stated opposition to the capitalist economy and state in it's entirety would be more convincing. Of course I'm just repeating my criticism of other proposals on this site for a 'solidarity economy' and in general the errors of 'self management' as promoted by Castoriadis and the old UK Solidarity group. So some good intentions but more hope over reality in this document.

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Jan 10 2019 19:48
klas batalo wrote:
i'm with spikymike that article was really bad...

it counters the critique with what: grey block?

now don't get me wrong i prefer that tactical method in general but there really was no innovations in thinking or politics that i saw in the article

Went back and had a look at that article, and I don't really understand this response: it counters the critique with 1) pointing out how weak the "antifascism = 1930s popular fronts" argument is, and 2) responds to the claim that antifascists see racism and fascism as being about bad individuals with bad ideas by citing antifa talking about their structural analysis. Like, maybe it doesn't advance any great tactical innovations, but it definitely does take on and rebut the kind of critique advanced by Lucha no Feik and Garneau.

Another thought: maybe this discussion has been had out elsewhere and everyone's tired of it, but are there parallels between the current controversy over whether the IWW should take an antifascist stance or just concentrate on workplace organizing, and the historical debate about whether it should've explicitly opposed WWI or just concentrate on workplace organizing?

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Jan 11 2019 20:41
R Totale wrote:
klas batalo wrote:
i'm with spikymike that article was really bad...

it counters the critique with what: grey block?

now don't get me wrong i prefer that tactical method in general but there really was no innovations in thinking or politics that i saw in the article

Went back and had a look at that article, and I don't really understand this response: it counters the critique with 1) pointing out how weak the "antifascism = 1930s popular fronts" argument is, and 2) responds to the claim that antifascists see racism and fascism as being about bad individuals with bad ideas by citing antifa talking about their structural analysis. Like, maybe it doesn't advance any great tactical innovations, but it definitely does take on and rebut the kind of critique advanced by Lucha no Feik and Garneau.

Another thought: maybe this discussion has been had out elsewhere and everyone's tired of it, but are there parallels between the current controversy over whether the IWW should take an antifascist stance or just concentrate on workplace organizing, and the historical debate about whether it should've explicitly opposed WWI or just concentrate on workplace organizing?

Yes, there are very important parallels. I've had conversations in the past with some of the main anti-antifa people where they said that the IWW should not have opposed conscription. Also, some of us pointed out the parallel last year:

Revolutionary Unionism or White Workerism wrote:
One hundred years ago, on August 1, 1917, Frank Little was lynched while organizing copper miners in Butte, Montana. Just one week earlier, at a General Executive Board meeting in Chicago, he was the lone voice calling for the IWW to oppose conscription for World War 1, in line with the 1916 Convention’s anti-war resolution. The rest of the Board refused out of fear of repression, and saying that they should keep focusing on workplace activity. Frank’s last letter before his murder was to “Big Bill” Haywood, the GEB Chair, urging him to have the GEB come out against conscription. As Frank predicted, the repression came anyways, and Big Bill died in exile in Russia.

We are seeing history repeat itself in bizarre, pathetic miniature. As a union, we haven’t adequately acknowledged the reality of increasing state repression and a growing, violent far-right. We haven’t acknowledged the growing possibilities for the IWW to expand as people are attracted to our model – the recent spike in membership is dismissively referred to as a “Trump bump.” We barely responded to the attempted political murder of one of our members in Seattle, or to the mass arrest and felony charges of many of our members at the protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration. More recently, we’ve had nothing to say or do after the racist murders in Portland, despite the Ferguson solidarity motion from our 2014 Convention which commits us to organizing against white supremacy. The IWW has an incredible opportunity to grow and to make itself relevant in this moment, but we are stuck at an impasse and feel paralyzed. How did we get here, and how can we get beyond it?

jolasmo
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Jan 12 2019 16:19
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We are seeing history repeat itself in bizarre, pathetic miniature.

First time as tragedy etc.

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Juan Conatz
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Jan 13 2019 02:13
R Totale wrote:
Another thought: maybe this discussion has been had out elsewhere and everyone's tired of it, but are there parallels between the current controversy over whether the IWW should take an antifascist stance or just concentrate on workplace organizing, and the historical debate about whether it should've explicitly opposed WWI or just concentrate on workplace organizing?

I never thought about it compared to that. I thought it had more in common with the debate over free speech fights. From what I remember, the language that was used by free speech fight detractors was similar to the anti-activist language that users of this site are familiar with.

Spikymike
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Jan 13 2019 18:06

The ongoing discussion in this thread around Trump and 'antifa' in the USA and the divergent strategies adopted by various elements of the marxist and anarchist left is addressed better than much else I've seen from an anarchist source here;
https://itsgoingdown.org/diagnostic-of-the-future-a-forecast
It's been mentioned on a couple of other websites and in other threads on this site in it's attempt to get some kind of grip on the underlying changes within the global capitalist order both economically and politically post the 2008 crash and some of the misplaced responses to that within the broader libertarian anarchist and communist milieu. It's a pretty long text but worth a read.

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Jan 13 2019 18:22

Yep, Diagnostic of the Future is great, would be good to add it to the library here sometime.

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May 7 2019 01:33

I started some discussion in the comments to Capitalist Realism that I thought should probably be brought to this thread.

I brought up how Mark Fisher's 'Vampire Castle' essay is consistently brought up by the very online 'new' Social Democratic Left.

I do think it is just a part of a general trend of 'class reductionism' vs 'identity politics' that has existed for many, many years on the American Left. Just in my time on the left, learning about older members of groups I've been a part of and their experience in Sojourner Truth Organization, it was definitely a thing on the New Left. I believe it has been lost now, but about a decade or so ago, there was serious, lengthy discussion on the Anarchist Black Cat forums between members of Bring the Ruckus and members of various anarchist political organization that approached this topic.

But I suppose this really was amplified and accelerated during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. It's no longer just a marginal leftist conflict, but has also expressed itself within mainstream politics, at least in the Democratic Party. So it is a wider thing, which crosses all left or liberal politics.

Which is why, as Mike Harman has pointed out many times, some 'class reductionists' who happen to be anarchists or communists find themselves in the same corner as some social democrats. Because it isn't really about those labels. It's about whether one believes more or less colorblind universal class gains are the solution or are a better solution to non-class forms of oppression than other things.

When Bernie Sanders supporter and DSA member Douglas Williams, IWW organizer Marianne Garneau and councilist Emanuel Santos all say very similar things in 3 different pieces from 3 different years, it's much more than whoever is more 'radical' or 'conservative' or whatever disparaging label we can come up with. It's more about a tension that has yet to be resolved.

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May 7 2019 02:10
Juan Conatz wrote:
When Bernie Sanders supporter and DSA member Douglas Williams, IWW organizer Marianna Garneau and councilist Emanuel Santos all say very similar things in 3 different pieces from 3 different years, it's much more than whoever is more 'radical' or 'conservative' or whatever disparaging label we can come up with. It's more about a tension that has yet to be resolved.

word

Mike Harman
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May 7 2019 10:16
Juan Conatz wrote:
When Bernie Sanders supporter and DSA member Douglas Williams, IWW organizer Marianna Garneau and councilist Emanuel Santos

The intransigence article cites three different articles by social democrat Adolph Reed in the footnotes as well as name checking him in the main body of the text. Frames the entire thing as Garvey vs. Douglass. The most notable thing though is the complete absence of discussion of the Black Panthers or the Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement/League of Revolutionary Black Workers (or even MLK's support for the Memphis sanitation strike) - are they included in the Garvey/Douglass dichotomy somewhere or excluded from the target? One thing to critique the BPP/DRUM/LRBW quite another to ignore them entirely.

Not that no-one should ever cite social democrats, but when the argument makes the same omissions and conflations it's very unfortunate here.

Spikymike
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May 7 2019 10:42

And still going on of course as in the 'Democrats' and the DSA's 'Post-Trump' election preparations. Some brief 'predictions' and follow-up here;
https://libcom.org/library/what-democracy-looks-internationalist-perspec...
but then Left-communist understanding of what constitutes 'identity politics' is not everyones here!

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gram negative
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May 7 2019 14:43

a lot of the current 'idpol' vs 'class' posturing is cynical posturing by people trying to position their career in professional leftism. the 'pragmatic' social democrats are now the hard-nosed class warriors, waging class-struggle social democracy with a straight face. however, the recipe is the same - somehow reform or at least use the democratic party (ironically the greatest bastion ofthe idpol they so hate) and take over the unions while somehow avoiding the same pattern that generation after generation have found themselves trapped within. old wine, new bottles, etc. don't get me wrong, it is interesting to see a much wider and public discussion of left politics, but i still feel that anarchists and those who are critical of the state are still grappling with how to relate to this upsurge in a positive and novel way. there is a strong current of anti-anarchism to this new wave of social democracy, somewhat justified by the real ineptidude and failures of the past decades, but alo reflectig a recognition that these same irrational dreamers are usually the people who are most involved in actual material mutual aid in the us, as limited as it may be. i personally feel that i am in the desert and my political engagement has shrunk to nearly nil, as i struggle to find a way to intervene to feels actually meaningful.

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May 31 2019 13:00
Mike Harman wrote:
The intransigence article cites three different articles by social democrat Adolph Reed in the footnotes as well as name checking him in the main body of the text. Frames the entire thing as Garvey vs. Douglass. The most notable thing though is the complete absence of discussion of the Black Panthers or the Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement/League of Revolutionary Black Workers (or even MLK's support for the Memphis sanitation strike) - are they included in the Garvey/Douglass dichotomy somewhere or excluded from the target? One thing to critique the BPP/DRUM/LRBW quite another to ignore them entirely.

Not that no-one should ever cite social democrats, but when the argument makes the same omissions and conflations it's very unfortunate here.

I think you missed my point. I'm saying those labels are somewhat irrelevant here. Rather than merely revealing some sort of opportunity to say "Aha! Gotcha!" in a debate with the left communist, it reveals that the issue is much wider than these labels. They represent fundamental differences on how one views race and class. Consider the debate in In These Times on reparations for Black American decedents of slaves between Janaé Bonsu, Zaid Jilani/Leighton Woodhouse and William Darity Jr/Kirsten Mullen. Underlying the disagreements are the same things that are happening in anti-ip articles I linked before.

Spikymike
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Jun 20 2019 11:13

Not easy for those of us in the UK to keep up with the twists and turns of developments in the USA Democrats preparation for the new round of elections and the arguments amongst self-professed 'socialists' in the DSA and others in relation to this, but the spgb's ajj has done a decent job of updating this with some useful linked texts in their discussion thread here:
https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/topic/the-elizabeth-warren-thr...
I suppose the spgb's electoralist approach makes them more interested in some of this than others here.

Mike Harman
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Jun 18 2019 11:02
Juan Conatz wrote:

I think you missed my point. I'm saying those labels are somewhat irrelevant here. Rather than merely revealing some sort of opportunity to say "Aha! Gotcha!" in a debate with the left communist, it reveals that the issue is much wider than these labels. They represent fundamental differences on how one views race and class.

Hmm it might be the same point differently expressed. I think there is a social democratic understanding of class underpinning these debates, which cuts across the actual labels. i.e. an emphasis on the working class as a social grouping within capitalism (via its class consciousness or lack of it), vs. proletarian self-abolition.

People who are technically abolitionist but reproducing this kind of lassallean class analysis despite this, are in my view doing so because they're missing out on an abolitionist perspective on race and gender. A good example of not doing that is this article by Chris Chen https://libcom.org/library/limit-point-capitalist-equality-notes-toward-...

However I do think that the reliance on Reed et all ought to be a wake up call for people doing this given the way he bends history to reach extremely reformist conclusions, which maybe is 'aha gotcha'.

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Jun 20 2019 16:04

Not quite sure this is the category of 'Post-Trump North American left trends', but it seems a large percentage of people I knew personally in the IWW have left. Some of that could be attributed to the massive turnover rate, of which most left groups are famous for. But I would argue an equal amount could be attributed to the effects of the 2016 election, the debates and conflicts that it pushed to the front. I would assume there will eventually be more pieces like this, explaining why some people moved away from the far left.

https://medium.com/@benji.rants/adjectives-and-nouns-d38285961e13

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Jun 20 2019 21:05

I imagine it must be tricky to say for sure, but how do you think the org looks like now compared to, say, 2015?
Also would be interested to know what, if anything, people are doing after leaving - I think what happened in London with the UVW and IWGB seems to have turned out pretty well in the end, but don't think there's anything comparable in the US?

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Jun 21 2019 13:08
R Totale wrote:
I imagine it must be tricky to say for sure, but how do you think the org looks like now compared to, say, 2015?

I would say that in the U.S., there's been a massive rise in scattered, individual members in places where the IWW does not have an organized presence. There are a few reasons for this. For example, it's easier than ever to join the IWW online. There also is always something happening, whether it is Charlottesville, the "Right-to-Work" Supreme Court decision, etc. It seems that sometimes people are motivated to join a leftist organization in response to some terrible news event.

While, overall, places with an previous organized IWW presence have somewhat stagnated, with some regional exceptions.

The organization as a whole feels very in flux to me, and the possibilities of major structural changes seem to be inevitable. It's more unclear to me than ever who the 'social leaders' and important people in the organization are. One month, someone who I think is probably one of the most important people has been expelled/discredited the next month as part of some scandal. Some branches are really on the rise, with explosive growth and multiple workplace campaigns in the works. While other long standing branches seem to be on the verge of disintegration due to conflict or key people leaving. It's a confusing time, tbh.

Quote:
Also would be interested to know what, if anything, people are doing after leaving - I think what happened in London with the UVW and IWGB seems to have turned out pretty well in the end, but don't think there's anything comparable in the US?

UVW and IWGB left as organized groups. There's been nothing comparable here really, besides the Seattle General Defense Committee of the IWW leaving (I think). I was more talking about individuals drifting off, not really saying anything, just walking away...