I agree with David's cogent comments, add my deep respect for both the
long-time activity and deep insight of our elder members like Herb Fox.
Many of us besides Michael Balter chafe at the longtime inutility of much
leftism here and in many other countries.  Fraticide is not, however, the
solution, and indeed is quite the opposite of deep leftist principles, is it

As to David's good list of starting points, though -- I'd like to "trouble"
them a bit, especially points (2) and (3), with the observation that for
most Americans who are in (whether they realize it or not) the "working
class," i.e., the exploited subjects of capitalist, patriarchal, sexist, and
racist (etc.) hegemony, *capitalism is good!*

At least, that's what they think.  As they circle round and round thinking
some day they'll get the brass ring, some day their lottery ticket will be a
winner, etc.

So my point (4):  The working people that socialism and SftP speak to must
first become aware that they are "working" -- for the elite, and against
other workers and the planet.  Not, as countless commercials and candidates
have convinced them, destined to someday become rich people in big houses
with every fancy toy money can buy, and China can make.  This is a big
educational challenge.  I think it must precede or accompany all others.

On the good side?  My ultra-conservative University of Idaho -- a university
who measures their progressivism by liking Obama in a state that still votes
for Larry Craig (who so did not do whatever the press claim... besides, he
was in a frat here, and the student president, so we know he was straight.
Pause for wild laughter) -- now has a student *SOCIALIST CLUB*!  Started by
undergraduates, in their late teens and early 20's.

What a hopeful sign of spring -- a red/green spring!  Because their first
big activity included showing two films, "How Cuba Survived Peak Oil," and
"The Story of Stuff," to kick off discussion about how socialism includes
sustainability, as well as being feminist, anti-imperialist, and against
other race/class/gender/sexuality hegemonies. I was out of town when this
happened, so I've emailed the young woman who's the "Co-Chair
Representative" (another good sign, ne?) to find out more and ask to help.

Passing the torch (and not to China),


On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 8:15 AM, David Westman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I share Michael Balter's frustration with the left, but I have very
> different ideas about the solution, and I respect very highly the
> orientation of my old friend Herb Fox towards "concrete action"; even
> though
> I also differ with him about what sort of actions are beneficial.   I
> don't
> intend to get into "Balter-bashing", even though I disagree with Michael,
> but I do want to offer an alternative perspective on the problems with the
> left and what we who consider ourselves leftists should do to more
> effectively oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and lead the way to a
> better society in the USA:
> 1)  First of all, a big problem with the left has been that it has been
> too
> bemused by revisionist-Marxist deviations, by which I mean Stalinism,
> Maoism, Trotskyism, and Castroism.   All of these ideologies have deviated
> from the basic ideas of Marx and Lenin and, in the cases where they have
> actually been applied, have led to the restoration of capitalism under a
> "socialist" banner, leading the working class astray and destroying its
> ability to organize a true path forward.
> 2)  Second of all, left activists need to go to the masses and tell them
> the
> truth about US imperialism, not spend time looking for liberal saviors
> such
> as Obama, who have already shown ample evidence that they will betray the
> left and the people at the very first chance.  The truth about US
> imperialism is that it is rooted in capitalism and that the masses will
> only
> be rid of this scourge if they carry out a struggle on this basis.
> 3)  Third of all, this orientation towards the masses should offer an
> explicit working-class perspective, one that champions independent actions
> on behalf of working people's economic and political interests, not
> dependence on the liberal establishment for crumbs and favors.
> These are some of the main principles that I have seen necessary for
> really
> effective left action, effective in the sense that it will really have the
> effects that we wish for.  People on this list may think that these things
> will not be effective in reaching people, but if we reach people with a
> message that does not offer an effective solution, then what good is that
> message?   I would rather tell people the truth and risk disagreement,
> than
> tell them pretty lies and help them live in a dream world.  Thank you all
> for listening,
> David Westman