Democrats: Big brick in the wall

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Jerry Russell, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/02/07/modern-liberals-are-1950s-authoritarians/

    ...We never set out to become our parents. A counterculture never sets out to become the thing it rebelled against. An actor never sets out to become a twisted mockery of the character he once played. But it happens.

    ...Look at the worldview of the average person who identifies as a liberal and you’ll find adoration of psychopathic authoritarian intelligence agencies like the CIA and the FBI, a significantly warmed opinion of George W Bush and the neocons he ushered into power, a total apathy toward the US war machine and Orwellian surveillance network, a seething hatred of all things Russia and a hysterical McCarthyite beef with anyone who fails to fall in line with approved establishment narratives. They have become the very flag-waving, authority-cheerleading, art-killing oppressive zealots that the counterculture of the 1960s burst free from like a drowning man finally getting his head above water and clawing his way onto the shore.

    I’ve been thinking about the western attitude toward Muslims a lot lately, and how we’re all having the exact wrong debate about it. The modern liberal loves to scream at conservatives for Islamophobia, as though screaming at someone not to be afraid of something has ever been useful. It makes them feel very good about themselves to do this, to scream at the “racists” and “hateful bigots” who fear violence and extremism from Muslim radicals. They will scream at conservatives over this til they’re blue in the face… but you’ll never see them screaming at the US war machine that is ultimately responsible for Islamophobia in the first place.

    ...The progressive drive toward real change has been warped and twisted into a drive toward good manners. The push toward solving problems by equitable distribution of money and power has been neutered by the fairy tale that you can solve problems with a “Resist” hashtag and a rainbow flag. ...
    https://godsandradicals.org/2018/01/11/the-democratic-party-is-not-what-you-think/

    On the ground, the Democrats are a tightly organized party with strong central discipline – much stronger than either their critics or most of their supporters realize. And unless US leftists learn how the Democratic Party actually works, their organizing will continue to fail....

    On paper, the Democratic Party is a broad coalition. In practice, it is a cadre party.

    It is controlled by professional Democrats – activist NGO managers, politicians’ staffers, “political operatives,” etc. These cadres set the Party’s priorities, oversee its day-to-day work, and keep any potential leftist competition under control. Some of them work for the Democratic Party proper, but most don’t. Officially, their “progressive nonprofit” employers aren’t Democrat-affiliated. Materially, they are the Democratic Party’s front groups. The small, self-selecting core uses them to bring in supporters. It’s not coincidence that the same person grant-writing for Greenpeace one year is working for Emily’s List the next. It’s the same people. They are their Party’s cadre structure, and they keep their front groups in line.

    Sure, they align with different internal factions. Their competition is important enough to keep plenty of political reporters employed. But the drama of Bernie vs. Hillary obscures a deeper, more important reality. The faction fights and power struggles never step outside the overarching ideological boundaries of the Democratic “party line.” Sure, Berniecrats want comparatively more social programs, and Hillary supporters comparatively fewer. However, none of them deviates from the Party’s core program:

    • A capitalist economy with some regulation, but very little state ownership;
    • Collaboration between the government and businesses for “job creation” and social services provision;
    • Social liberalism, expressed through moderate affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, official statements of support for oppressed demographics, and a few changes to police codes of conduct;
    • An expansive military through which the US enforces its global hegemony;
    • Nominal support for immigrants’ rights, but without full amnesty or open borders;
    • Opposition to expanding ballot access for minor parties;
    • A day-to-day political practice of lobbying, running campaigns for office, and symbolic “expressive protest.”
    No member of the Democratic cadre structure would dare deviate from that framework. If they did, they’d risk losing their job; certainly, their career prospects would vanish. Do they always interpret the core program the same way? Of course not. But they do always uphold it.

    Why does that matter, though? What, concretely, does their discipline mean? Well, nearly every activist organization in the US is a Democratic front group. After all, even if they didn’t want to be, their commitment to “conventional activism” demands it. When you spend your time waving signs and, perhaps, lobbying officials or supporting candidates, what’s your mechanism for enacting change? The only way you can bridge the gap between protest and power is through the support of Democratic politicians – and you can’t get that support if you won’t align with their Party. And, of course, activist groups don’t typically want to be independent in the first place. After all, their leaders and staffers are Democratic cadres. Their careers will take them across the whole extended Party structure.

    The Democratic Party and its fronts don’t just have passive supporters. They’ve grown an entire community and social scene around their institutions. Because of that, they shape the social and cultural fabric of the places where they’re strong, wielding influence disproportionate to their numbers. In other words, the Democratic Party has a base, constituted through its fronts.

    That base doesn’t overlap with the activist subculture – it is the activist subculture. There is no distinction. The activist scene exists because the day-to-day activities of the Democratic Party’s fronts bring it into being, providing an anchor for the informal activities and social networks that surround it. To participate in the activist subculture is to join the Democratic Party’s base.

    That doesn’t just go for consciously Democratic liberals. Anarchist affinity groups form out of protest-based social scenes; concretely, they need protests in which to operate, and large protests only happen when the Democratic Party uses its fronts to mobilize people. The anarchist scene emerges from the Democratic base and relies on the Democrats’ institutional infrastructure.

    Leninist organizations run fronts of their own, attempting to imitate the more successful Democratic ones. However, they also depend on the Democratic base. They draw on the same pool of activists, advocate for the same causes, and usually show up at the same demonstrations. So, they only attract support when they hide their Leninist affiliation and follow the Democrats’ lead – as Refuse Fascism (a Revolutionary Communist Party front) discovered in November, when it called for protests without Democratic support and nobody came....

    The US Left may not realize it, but nearly all of it is part of the Democratic Party’s extended machinery. However, leftists are excluded from the Democratic cadre structure; they can’t actually direct its course. That leaves them with two options: embrace the Democratic line, or marginalize themselves.

    Do you support leftist politics? Leave the activist subculture.
     
  2. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Makes sense.

    What's the alternative?

    I have to presume that the US Right is structurally approximately the mirror of the Left. Back in the day it seemed that the Libertarians were a viable alternative, but is seems that they were merely another front, as the Tea Party(s) are as well.
     
  3. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    One alternative, of course, is to become a blogger, "journalist" or historian. Such as, for example, Caitlin Johnstone, or Andre Vltchek.

    Sophia Burns (quoted in the 2nd article above) suggests that it's necessary to build a new alternative, starting basically from scratch. And of course in that case, the challenge is to protect it from being infiltrated and converted into just another front group.

    https://godsandradicals.org/2017/09/30/you-have-to-deliver/

    What does get taken seriously?

    You have to deliver results. You have to prove that when you act on your ideas, your community’s life gets better. You have credibility only to the extent that when you organize a project, it gives people more power and a better conditions in a concrete, tangible, material way. If you put that off until after the revolution (or after your socialist candidate wins), your revolution will never arrive. No one will support you besides a few political hobbyists – and why should they?

    Are your ideas insightful and true? Prove it. If you can’t deliver, your ideas are wrong. No one will or should listen to your arguments unless you show, in practice, that they mean something (no matter how hostile the external conditions). ....

    Why do so many working-class people align with Protestant fundamentalism?

    Christian Right churches give them reasons to join. Their safety net often out-competes the government’s; they offer food and clothing and shelter, community, existential purpose, social support, help with childcare and elder care, and even mental health services (through pastoral counseling and 12-step groups). That’s how the Christian Right has gotten such a massive and well-organized base. Its network of parallel institutions allows it to wield disproportionate power. In Texas, for instance, the Christian Right dominates state politics – but only 31% of Texans are evangelical Protestants! There is power in a base of autonomous institutions.

    The revolutionary Left doesn’t offer much competition. Why not learn from the enemy? Radicals can prove through practice that they can build programs that not only improve people’s material conditions, but also operate according to participatory democracy (which Christian Right churches do not). If that alternative was there, how many more poor and working people might become radical? Most people don’t choose to become socialists because socialism isn’t offering them anything they need. It’s perfectly reasonable to reject an ideology that talks big but isn’t actually improving your life.
     

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