Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reply to a Sectarian

Over on the Shared Sacrifice fan page, someone coming from the anti-capitalist left is asking some pointed questions about why we're interviewing insurgent Democrat Claudia Wright this Saturday, why we welcome Democrats at all.  I think the writer is confused about the purpose of the Shared Sacrifice Media Collective--precisely that it is based on difference, that it attempts to be a gathering place for people from many different progressive, left, socialist, anarchist, and reformist tendencies who are often at odds and so have had no space in which to both debate and celebrate what we're debating about.  So he quoted from something I'd written before--
Whether someone must overtly oppose capitalism to be 'on the left' is one of the many discussions we have on this site, and within the Shared Sacrifice social media collective. We are admittedly a _pluralist_ left organization. We don't have an ideological purity test. We are a gathering place for... socialists, anarchists, Greens, and others who consider themselves left of center. This includes supporters of [Claudia] Wright.
He asked:
So does your "pluralist left organization" include supporters of Barack Obama? Is he "left of center" by your definition? Was Bill Clinton?
I didn't answer the question of whether Obama or Clinton are left of center by my definition, because the answer to that question is obvious to anyone who's read what I've written or talked politics with me.  But I did say this--
I've thought a lot about these conversations so this may sound a little more obnoxious than I'm comfortable with.

It's not "mine" per se. But I think yes, it does. I didn't vote for Obama and I disagree with those who did. But I'd rather have them hanging out here than wandering rightward or having nowhere to go. There is a difference between a dialogue with Obama Democrats and a dialogue with GOP loyalists--even if the Democrats and Republicans represent different factions of the ruling class. There is a difference between the policy agenda of different Democratic political candidates. Leftists who don't see this difference or the necessity of engagement with liberals are welcome to explain why engagement is a waste of time or counterproductive. So far, you have only asked brief questions. You owe us more.

I've done sectarianism. It's bleak, lonely, and induces groupthink. Cults of personality form. The purity of the gateway becomes an abstract ideological system, and a psychological crutch. Instead I have chosen to engage with anyone whose political orientation is community-oriented, other-oriented, willing to put human needs before profits.

My challenge to each and every small organization or party with the name socialist in it is to come together and form a LARGE socialist party--at least with 10,000 + members. I don't need to apologize to anyone for supporting a pluralist progressive organization until all those sectarians put aside their differences and form a movement that can genuinely get something done.

On our podcast, we've interviewed the presidential candidates of the SEP and the SP, interviewed DSA members, and have twice interviewed Richard Wolff, one of the best Marxist economists living. Most people even slightly left of center have a lot of respect for the socialist tradition even if they have misgivings about going revolutionary. That's no reason why we all shouldn't get together and talk--and that's what we do here.

I respect what you bring to this conversation. I know you're committed to a world beyond capital. You have a unique opportunity on a page with nearly 1000 members who are hungry for conversation about how to free humanity from the grip of corporations and their priestly lackeys. Engage us.

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