WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS SITE?
Many leftists dream of a day when we will establish a successful revolutionary mass party. An even larger group dream of The Day when popular forces achieve a decisive victory over the existing system, and the party-builders merely believe that organizations are the method for accomplishing that.
You’d think that would be the beginning – first you build the organization, and then the consolidated forces fight for a new society. However the truth is, successfully building a mass party is almost an endgame stage. If you actually build a well-functioning revolutionary faction in society, the rest is almost as simple as to keep pushing forward with what you’ve been doing. The question torturing us, then, is not what we do when we already have such a faction, but how we build one in the first place?
The purpose of this website is to brainstorm different techniques for leftists to emerge from being a series of ineffectual, isolated individuals and groups, to forming something bigger. I am not just talking about getting all the socialist groups together, either (though now might be the time for that), but consolidating all the new emerging rebels whose banner is the slogan “We Are the 99%.” This website declares NOW the time to construct a revolutionary alliance in an aggressive, expansionist, large-scale approach which, after patient organizing, ultimately results in an insurrectionary working majority takeover in Philadelphia, as an example and ally to other cities in revolt.
This site will even go so far as to follow the various local movements and upcoming events, and give concrete pointers about which ones are the best opportunities for welding together the people’s army we desire.
This site will focus at the local level of Philadelphia. However, we do so with the intention that Philadelphia shall be an experimental grounds, paving the way forward at the national and local levels.
This city led the first American Revolution. So shall it lead the next.
SO WHO DOES THIS SITE REPRESENT? WHAT IS IT?
Is this an organization? Not exactly. While I seek collaboration and other contributors, this is mainly a personal website with me, Matt Hoke, calling the shots. I am a member of the International Socialist Organization. That being said, I consider myself more informed by the ISO’s guidelines than rigidly enslaved to its routines. I am an organic organizer. I believe that it is the duty of all leftists to be “micro-Lenins” – to look at their local situation, to organically assess the forces, opportunities, and limitations around them; to creatively imagine the way forward, to outline a practical plan to back up their vision, using tactics freshly invented and tailored to the situation rather than mechanically repeating what has always been done and lagging behind the spontaneous movements of the masses.
It’s one thing to say the above. To actually live it, however, is an experience which continually re-shatters all of your assumptions. Any sense of security you may have had in your perfect ideas will be broken again and again by the test of real events. The emotional trauma of this should not be written off as inconsequential to our larger goals – it is like the psychological death and rebirth signified by the Tarot cards Death, the Tower, and the Hanged Man (learntarot.org). You can’t succeed in the larger goal without being able to handle the personal experience of it.
To really live this vision of navigating the chaos of politics in order to build a mass revolutionary faction requires a boldness, courage, and fearlessness which most of the unfortunate souls will simply never experience. You have to stand in front of entire crowds, in the face of their irrational disapproval, patiently explaining your provocative ideas. You have to be able to freely imagine a plan by yourself, to believe in it and in yourself, even when you are entirely alone in this conviction. You have to be willing to tell your own organization that it is missing the mark – and at the same time, you have to be diplomatic enough about it that the conversation is focused on fixing the problem, rather than breaking down into counterproductive bickering.
Frankly, you have to live like Christ. You have to live as if you have nothing to lose because you have already consecrated your life to the telling of truth in disregard of all consequences. This sounds like a huge sacrifice until you realize that everything else is bullshit, that satisfying yourself in a stable little life of personal/consumerist wishes is impossible in this system anyway, that everything existing deserves to perish, and you are only freeing yourself of the last obstacles to a passionately meaningful life. Really it is no sacrifice at all.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO IN THE HERE-AND-NOW?
The immediate reason I started this site: I believe that most anarchist cliques and socialist organizations, my own included, have failed to understand the significance of Occupy Wall Street.
Many socialist organizations insist on channeling the movement toward specific demands in order to give it a sharp concrete power of pressuring and discrediting the powers that be. Purist anarchists argue that Occupy represents a totally new society, a new revolution, and that to embrace demands would be to compromise its revolutionary nature.
The truth is that both are necessary. The anarchists are missing the point that you can have clear demands for non-revolutionary changes, without sacrificing your revolutionary sincerity, and that such a tactic can even be a strong tool for moving society to the brink.
The socialists are missing the point that Occupy is not simply about society wanting some reforms, nor even about a general desire for class warfare (important!), but that Occupy is permeated by people who want a literal revolution – literally, a movement culminating in an insurrection which smashes the existing state. Ironically, socialists (or at least, my kind) want the same exact thing, but have either not acknowledged that this aspiration is widespread at Occupy, or don’t know what to do about it.
We are accustomed to not pushing our ideas too hard so that we can work with wider coalitions, without them being constantly bombarded by revolutionary rhetoric they are only marginally interested in at best. Ironically, we have never been faced with so many people wanting the revolution that we ourselves want. We are not prepared to be direct enough. Obviously, we should shake ourselves, realize the situation, and catch up.
AS A RESULT, THIS WEBSITE ADVOCATES A CONSIDERABLE SHIFT IN SOCIALIST TACTICS, SUCH AS:
Holding joint public meetings co-sponsored by all socialist groups in the city
- Forming a united team of socialists and others within Occupy Philly to move it in a revolutionary-and-realistic direction (emphasizing class analysis, majority rule over consensus, embracing demands while not forsaking revolutionary hopes)
- The direct explanation of the science of revolution, and Leninist organizing philosophy, to a wide audience rather than saving it for small study groups
- Embracing, and internalizing into our own groups, Occupy's tactics of rowdy outdoor street meetings and ambitious, large-scale, confrontational events and actions
- Saturating the entire city with agitational-educational speakers on sidewalks, covering every area, not by ourselves, but recruiting Occupy to take part
- Generally taking charge in these times of upheaval instead of letting them pass us by, with the audacity to play a central role instead of a marginal one
Also see my proposal to transition the Occupy Philly encampment into an organization with the same style and purpose (working title: the “99% Coalition”).