Here's another set of articles, zeroing in on questions of socialist strategy and organizing praxis (yes I'm reading all my open tabs today)
First, '5 Theses on Militant Development' in @viewpointmag by @_dierrez_- viewpointmag.com/2020/09/21/sei…

I love a good 'X Theses' structure for an article, and this one delivers.
The question for @_dierrez_ is: "While new left-wing political forces and organizational formations have composed since the onset of neoliberalism’s crisis, how can we facilitate the stabilization, strength, and capabilities of these organizations amid an accelerating crisis?"
His answer - "we want to become organized, but the vast majority of us simply do not know how and lack the know-how. No doubt, there are militants in our ranks who have developed this know-how, but this remains largely trapped in the minds of discrete individuals".
"there is a gap of a particular kind of knowledge that I call combat-organizational knowledge: knowledge that relates to the knowing of practices, techniques, and mechanisms that allow workers to not only organize themselves into a fighting and destructive force, but (cont)
into an autonomous and creative force capable of wielding operational control of the means of production...The question facing us now is how [that knowledge] may be developed." Big question, to be sure.
I appreciated bringing Lenin into this, on the question of how structures were built for sustained application of knowledge won through struggle: 'How did the party create a disciplined and capable fighting force? Through the development of militant worker subjectivity (cont)
, the ability to maintain a firm and lasting connection with working-class bases, and the evaluation of strategy and tactics via the experience of struggle." And also the point that we don't need to take 50 years to do this - we just need to systematize the lessons being learned.
This isn't an article advocating for building a single mass organization though. "Organizations can develop divisions of infrastructural labor to produce and circulate the knowledge internally while others can specialize in that particular function and circulate it outwards."
This is an important and valuable point - that we're not going to be able to organize everyone in to DSA in the US, or into actual parties in countries like Germany where Gutierrez is writing from - so part of the question is how to develop practices that can help mold other orgs
and learn from them too. "One of our many jobs, then, is to develop and circulate capacities and skills, not so that workers meet some elite standard of privilege or prestige, but so that they are able to conduct struggle no matter the scenario or battlefield."
The next article is @Quirknky's "To Win The Future, DSA Needs Stronger Structures" has been posted a lot lately, and I'm glad I finally took the time to read through it. A good deeper dive to follow up on the '5 theses' above. dsaorganizer.org/2020/12/24/to-…?
The main thesis is an attempt to go beyond the 'decentralization vs centralization' framing of the debate at the 2019 convention in a way I really appreciate, focusing on internal democracy and lessons that can be applied across chapters.
On the question of working group autonomy/siloed issue campaigns: "The question of 'democracy' ceases to be about the power of a regular member of DSA, but the power of a committee. The agency of our membership as a whole is supplanted with the agency of an internal (cont)
issue structure within it. This makes organizational strategy impossible, and bleeds us of our only strength as a socialist organization-our ability to collectively and democratically mobilize our numbers to win." YES.
The second half of the article goes deep on wohy building democratic structures is so important, not only for DSA to become more powerful, but also to demonstrate that our theory of change is a better one than the vast majority of foundation-funded issue based advocacy orgs.
That theory of change being: "The role of a socialist organization is to transform us into a collective subject capable of exercising democratic power, to make us capable of what we presently are incapable of. " Music to my ears!
Ok and now, finally, my take on @ramsincanon's article in @MWSocialist from last October that I'm only now getting to: Organizations in Movement. midwestsocialist.com/2020/10/30/org…
"While a movement is a generalized phenomenon organized around objectives and principles, organizations serve a movement by specializing to make progress towards goals." One of the clearest definitions I've ever seen.
"Politics are not an identity, but a worldview and practice, and are formed by people in intentional conversation and struggle together. Members of organizations have a meaningful opportunity to develop politics, not merely express opinions." say it again!
I really appreciate the way this article is breaking off chunks of complex concepts and using very concrete historical examples to illustrate the point. Drawing on the archive of combat-organizational knowledge, to go back to the first piece in this thread.
The piece is also continually referencing itself - not in a tautological way, but rather to keep reinforcing the thesis and the visionary opening of 'a movement that can move millions onto a picket line, and all the different work going on behind that line to bind it.'
The real meaty section of the piece, Section IV, Organizations in Movements, in Movement - goes deep into different organizational models - again, rooted in historical examples.
the first, The Vanguard Party, uses the Black Panther Party as the major excavation site: "In the final analysis, the vanguard structure allowed the Party to conduct high-intensity work: sending out armed patrols to protect neighborhoods, seeding and creating mutual aid (cont)
“survival programs,” and organizing a segment of the working class that lacks the type institutional power that would otherwise make self organization more feasible." A very valuable analysis of the way that vanguard/discipline structure tied together seemingly divergent tactics.
The next type of organization, the 'Neighborhood and Community Organization', uses ACORN as its example. And the analysis, whew!! "This type of organizational form and focus developed to address a certain theory and experience: that explicitly political and ideological (cont)
organizations have less appeal and relevance at the local site of struggle; that mass organizations are too difficult to build and maintain; and that (along the lines of the Black Panther Party’s analysis) the poor and underclass require a devoted organizational form due (cont)
to the unique challenges of organizing there and the lack of institutional power of that segment of the working class, as opposed to the more plain institutional power of the rest of the class (e.g.., in the workplace, or campus, etc.)."
One of the most valuable things when people like @ramsincanon write down their analysis + experience is learning tidbits like this: In the 1980s, [ACORN] attempted to launch a new labor federation, the United Labor Unions (ULU), focused on organizing low wage workers".
And this: "At the time ACORN collapsed, they were an organization capable of mobilizing in 700 neighborhoods. The day-to-day work of door-knocking and organizing at the neighborhood level across 700 neighborhoods and dozens of states both (cont
(1) cannot fund itself and (2) requires full-time commitment, if not from the individual organizers, then at a minimum from a stable leadership." The financial equation for staff-driven organizing, as Canon goes on to show, simply can't add up.
"Fifty years and billions of dollars in smaller-dollar dues, foundation grants, union funding later, and communities have less power than they ever have in the face of capital." 😭
The point: "Pushing for organizations to open up and have their memberships work together, struggle together, and make decisions together is how a movement can sustain itself across organizations. A “table” of leaders is unlikely or unable to do this."
And now, mass organization - which can have a slippery, poorly defined precedent, but what @ramsincanon means by 'mass' is: "If the entirety of the working class has to see itself as a single political actor whose liberation needs the end of capitalism and nothing less, victory
requires that segments of the class tie their fates together. Why? Because a structurally divided class is not a class taking power for itself. It is merely a group of working class people taking power for themselves." Seems right to me!
This class analysis is melting my face (and every argument I've ever heard for why we should abandon the idea of cohering a class).
What are the defining features of said mass organization cohering said class? Well - "An organization as we’ve just described needs certain structural features. It must have members, political actors with rights and privileges in the organization, who identify with the (cont)
organization as a whole. It has to be transparent, so members can see the inner workings. It must have low barriers to entry so that it can grow at scale and not become selective. It must allow for some ideological diversity so that its analysis can adapt and sharpen. It (cont)
must allow for ready access to leadership so that a broad population generates the organizing and political skills to lead the class. And, importantly, it has to have an all-consuming need to bring in more and more members from the working class who are politicized and (cont)
struggle together, in order to make sure that the organization leads but never outpaces the class." That's what.
THE INCREDIBLY CRUCIAL POINT AGAIN! " This itself sharpens the political skills of the class as a whole; an overemphasis on coalitions between leaders is counter-productive, as it creates no incentive to bring constituencies together."
The last type of organization is the 'broker and technical organization'. Significantly less analysis here on this type, but I appreciate that it's put in relationship with the other organizations because it's true, we do need people with technical expertise.
There's also a small acknowledgement that one of the major missing pieces in this analysis is one on cooperative economics and mutual aid (with a link to a 'side piece' going more in depth on this). Looks like a question for others to take up and develop more in this vein.
And now we come to the final big section, 'Organizational Shape and Function' - with a fairly simple, but often unappreciated subthesis that I would like tattooed on my forehead. "An organization cannot be a movement."
This last section serves as a conclusion, where @ramsincanon argues that a mass org cannot be 'the movement', but it can strive to be the 'political home' cohering a class together. A nuanced close to a nuanced, and desperately needed piece for the terrain we find ourselves on.
Two other pieces I have open in my tabs and read through today relevant to this (extremely long-winded) thread: Fred Ross Sr.'s 'Axioms for Organizers'. Ross was a key organizer with the United Farm Workers- this is a page to print and put above your desk. libraries.ucsd.edu/farmworkermove…
And, the public facing strategy from Leftroots, which is a POC cadre building organization that many DSA militants have interacted with in the past. Well worth a read to see how other US Left formations are thinking about strategy in this moment. leftroots.net/towards-strate…

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More from @chitrans_plant

12 Jan
I finally read @OlufemiOTaiwo's article on deference epistemology after listening to @thedigradio episode about it a couple weeks ago, and god damn I want to send this to everyone and make them read it. thephilosopher1923.org/essay-taiwo
On the 'chattering class': "Perhaps the lucky few who get jobs finding the most culturally authentic and cosmetically radical description of the continuing carnage are really winning one for the culture."
On our political task: " it would be a world-making project: aimed at building and rebuilding actual structures of social connection and movement, rather than mere critique of the ones we already have."
Read 14 tweets

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