It would really warm my heart if these concepts were more popular in the left:
Being right wins you exactly nothing if you have no power.
If you don't choose your battles, your opponents will choose them for you.
In the context of political contests, collective discipline is at least as important as autonomy.
Politics is not something you "have." It's something you DO. If your "politics" doesn't involve building and wielding collective power, it's not politics.
Organizing (in the classic grassroots organizing sense) means organizing people into a cohesive political force that can contest power. Planning an event or starting a FB group of self-selecting likeminded "comrades" may be a fine thing to do, but it's not the same as organizing.
The statement "The ruling class, united, will never be defeated" is probably more true than "The people, united, will never be defeated." Fissures among elites are as important for our success as the unity of our base.
Eschewing universalizing meta-narratives will not protect you from being written into your opponent's.
Our work is not to build from scratch a special sphere that houses socially enlightened/woke "activists." Our work is to align and politicize everyday social spaces; to weave politics and collective action into the fabric of society.
Knowledge of what is wrong with a social system and knowledge of how to change the system are two completely different categories of knowledge. (Too many critics fail to grasp that having the former does not automatically confer them with the latter.)
Revelations of misdeeds of the powerful induce only popular resignation if there is no viable counter-power to take advantage of the opening.
You can develop a robust political critique without bothering with questions of power and strategy, but not a robust political operation.
A leader without a social base is not a leader. Effective leaders emerge in tandem with effective organizations, campaigns, and movements.
If you’ve made it this far maybe buy my book which elaborates on all of the above.
Woke signaling is an enlightened variety of elitism.
Politics only cares about public opinion when public opinion is organized.
Organizing a popular political force requires meeting people where they are, in the spaces they frequent, in familiar language.

Clubhouses, on the other hand, require people to learn a special vocabulary and assimilate into a subculture in order to join.

Which are you building?
It is always unwise to underestimate the strengths of your opponents.

But it’s far worse to believe your opponents are all-powerful, invincible, or monolithic, as if they are somehow destined to win.
Temporary alliances are a strategic necessity—the norm, not the exception. To grow our forces and win, we can't eschew ready allies because they weren't with us in the past (or we think they'll screw us in the future). "No permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests."
We can complain all we want about fair-weather friends and ephemeral allies throwing us / our movements under the bus—our grievances may be righteous—but in politics it's ultimately up to us to build the power, incentives, and deterrents to prevent them from being able to do so.
80/20 rule:

80% of your time doing work that engages a broader base and creates strategic forward momentum

20% of your time doing damage control / curbing other people's dumb shit and toxicity

I was a political organizer for 12 years before I realized I had the ratio flipped.
There is a mistaken idea in some pockets of the Left that you shift the Overton Window by saying things that sound extreme to most people.

You shift the Overton Window by framing bold demands as popular demands; by framing your values and agenda as common sense.

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More from @jonathansmucker

Oct 1, 2021
It is irresponsible journalism to refer to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as "moderates."

Words have meanings! They also have positive and negative associations that have an effect on readers and viewers.

Have an ed board meeting about it or whatever, but please make it stop.
The labels "moderate" and "centrist" are associated with the idea of the "median voter." The implication is that "moderates" are closer to the position of most voters who are "in the middle" and alienated from the extreme poles of either political party...
Political elites have been wrapping themselves in the label "moderate" for decades to push agendas that are highly unpopular with working-class people (e.g., "free trade" deals and deregulation of Wall Street).
Read 4 tweets
Aug 15, 2021
What depresses the hell out of me when listening to Democratic politicians, liberal advocacy groups, and unapologetic leftists alike, is how rarely I hear people even try to speak in popular/majoritarian language.
And I'm primarily talking about spokespeople here—folks who are presumably trained or prepared to be connecting with popular or particular social bases in order to activate them or win their sympathy.
A Matt Karp interview earlier this year hits on some of this and is really worth reading:… @karpmj
Read 13 tweets
Mar 6, 2021
Senator @kyrstensinema’s history and psychology is as fascinating as it is depressing. She seems motivated by a somewhat personal resentment of “the Left” and her own experience of its ineffectiveness and naval-gazing (in a particular time period)…
She and I are roughly the same age. I also came of age with the same backdrop of a weak, dysfunctional Left. It often felt like we didn't have anything big enough to really accurately call a "movement"; it might sound harsh, but we had residue from when there had been a movement.
I too became disillusioned with the pathologies of what I too often experienced as a small and insular Left—a little clubhouse that often seemed completely uninterested in building or wielding real political power. I've written a lot about this experience in @hegemonyhowto
Read 23 tweets
Jan 8, 2021
If we want a future that is not run (/run into the ground) by literal Nazis, we will have to fight for it. There is no "back to brunch."
If we want to defeat authoritarianism, we will need to do a lot better than condemning its most heinous visible acts.

We have to confront the underlying crisis of runaway inequality that has created conditions where authoritarian demagogues and movements flourish.
If the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress fail to deliver big for working class people (urban and rural, young and old, of every race), then the next consolidation of authoritarian power will likely be far worse than the one we have just endured.
Read 5 tweets
Dec 4, 2020
Insurgent strategy must always be grounded in a sober assessment of the present balance of forces.

But it must also be grounded in a visionary imagining of how forces can favorably shift when insurgents capture the momentum.

The real trick is to hold both things at once.
Don't let people who aren't accountable to an organized base set the strategy.
Don’t demonize your opponents to the point that you neglect to study them.
Read 7 tweets
Nov 9, 2020
The story of who was key in defeating Trump is a critical contest in framing Biden’s popular mandate.

A message strategy thread:
Trump’s defeat is the result of a massive multiracial working class movement fighting back—as opposed to an intervention of elite forces, former GOP operatives, or of conservative “swing” voters.
A core challenge in this narrative contest is cutting through the noise and the bunk “common sense” of the dominant narrative asserted by the political class.
Read 48 tweets

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