The War for Quadrant Two

Quadrant two will prove to be the quadrant of victory for the proletariat

Archive for March, 2015

► Kshama Sawant vs. Independent Organization – [WQ2.15.03.28]

Posted by Ben Seattle on March 28, 2015

Kshama Sawant – Vacillating Ally or Strategic Opponent ?

Activists who are working today to create independent political organization are faced with the task of understanding the two sides of social democracy:

(1) the good side–its role as a vacillating ally in the struggle for useful and necessary partial demands

(2) the not-so-good side–its role as a strategic opponent which promotes of illusions aimed at undermining the recognition of the need for organization which is not dependent on social democracy.

Social democracy appears to be emerging as open trend in the U.S. in a way that has not been seen since the depression of the 1930’s, and FDR’s New Deal. This emerging phenomenon is already beginning to generate an ocean of debate and discussion as a new generation of activists are confronting, and attempting to sort out, political questions that many of them have never encountered before.

Art and I believe that we have a responsibility to make a contribution to this debate that, to the best of our ability, lays out in a calm and systematic way the principles at stake in the discussion related to Kshama Sawant and social democracy.

Respectfully,
Ben Seattle

How do we reply to Kshama Sawant and her uncritical supporters?

An Independent Organization is Inconceivable
if We Can’t Recognize the Face Of Our Enemy

► by Ben Seattle ► March 27, 2015 ► 8,000 words ► 13 pages ► 11 graphics

► Read here in PDF format:
https://warforquadranttwo.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/150328-sawant_nuance1.pdf

rug-4

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► On Marx’s 1843 Letter to Ruge – [WQ2.15.03.21]

Posted by Ben Seattle on March 21, 2015

On Marx’s 1843 Letter to Ruge

So I read this last night, and it gave some insight into Marx’s
thinking in the period leading up to the Communist Manifesto.

Manifestos are interesting. They represent the emergence of a body of thought that has developed to the point where it is ready to announce itself to the world. I wrote my own about 20 years ago. Since that time, it has probably been read by all of about 20 people. That is fine with me. I wrote it to stand the test of time. Maybe it will. More on that in a bit.

So let’s return to 1843. Parts of Marx’s letter, of course, were hard to follow, since there are so many references to books and schools of thought that were the all rage at the time, and which today are simply part of the debris of history.

The interesting part of the letter, to me, is where we can feel Marx’s excitement on realizing that humanity was approaching the culmination of the hopes and dreams that had been developing for thousands of years. I understand this feeling. I felt it, of course, in the 1960’s along with so many millions of others. I felt it in the 1970’s and 1980’s, as I was drawn into the orbit of an organization that thought it could help the proletariat become conscious of its mission. I felt it in the 1990’s as it became clear that the emerging revolution in communications was destined to give the proletariat the ability to make itself conscious and organized as a class. I felt it as the Occupy movement defied, for week after week after week, the efforts of the bourgeoisie to contain its energy and channel its consciousness into the black hole of traditional Democratic Party politics. Make no mistake. The inability of the Democratic Party to swallow up this movement put a fright into the bourgeoisie, and led to the decision to tenatively greenlight the first steps of the social democratic party which is now gradually being tested, trained and nurtured.

This is part of an ancient and necessary method of class rule. The Patricians of Rome enlisted a section of Plebeian politicians to help them quell Plebeian revolts. Force alone is never enough for the stable class rule of a small minority because, at a certain point, the oppressed lose their fear. So political deception is always required. If the Democratic Party is unable to fulfil this responsibility, then there must be a change: there must be a new party of political deception. But making this change involves a certain amount of risk for the bourgeoisie, because in the process, the nature of how this all works may become clear to increasing numbers of activists–and they will understand that the key to everything is an organization that is genuinely independent.

And this is what is happening now. The nature of the SA did not change when Kshama Sawant defended Larry Gossett. All that happened is that its nature became obvious. What is important to understand is that many activists will support an organization that appears to be doing good things as long as the betrayal is not obvious. But betrayal only becomes obvious when there is a high level of struggle. In normal circumstances, it takes a long time to become obvious. Our efforts will mean comparatively little unless we train ourselves to look beneath the surface, because lots of organizations betray.

And a lot of activists betray themselves.

The bourgeoisie has a primal fear that the proletariat will see the need to create its independent organization. It is this primal fear that is _d_r_i_v_i_n_g_ _e_v_e_r_y_t_h_i_n_g_ _f_o_r_w_a_r_d. So if we want this social democratic project to go forward (and we certainly do) our best tactic, so to speak, is to recognize this project for what it is and support only the actions of this project that are of benefit to our class while, at the same time, opposing the illusions and (instead of promoting illusions) make clear to the proletariat that the social democrats are simply the nice face of our class enemy, and that we need organization which our class enemy cannot control.

The proletariat can only make itself conscious by means of an independent organization. And as the misery of the proletariat increases (which appears to be on the agenda) the danger of independent organization grows, particularly as social media makes it easier for activists to communicate to one another their experience and conclusions. The ability to communicate independent of the traditional bourgeois lacky gatekeepers is like oxygen. Oxygen in the atmosphere is steadily increasing, decade after decade. The misery of austerity and the anger it creates is like heat. And as heat and oxygen both increase, history awaits a spark. That spark will be independent organization.

In reading his 1843 letter, we can see how Marx could feel that the world (the proletariat and oppressed) was ready for a solution to all the problems of humanity. That is still the case today, although we have a lot of historical experience to confront. The proletarian revolutions in Russia and China led to the largest famines in history and the substitution of one oppressive ruling class for another. Part of the debris of this history is the proliferation of cargo-cults in every country today that attach themselves to words, phrases or symbols of these great revolutions without understanding the theoretical contradictions (mainly surrounding the need for genuine democracy at every level) which must be resolved before we can move forward with a project which is deserving of the attention and respect of the proletariat.

And this brings up the other barrier to independent organization which we need to confront. Activists who create organizations often become intoxicated with their creations and, essentially, take themselves and their experience out of circulation, sealing themselves off from the decisive tasks of our time. I witnessed this with the creation of Mike Ely’s Kasama organization. There was an initial flurry of excitement because the revolution in communications had made it possible for Ely to consolidate much of the human debris that had been cast off by the RCP as Avakian turned it into the kind of organization that gives cults a bad name. But the problem is that the proletariat needs an organization that represents its material interest. And the material interest of the proletariat is an organization that has the ability to absorb all the best activists of the class. But this stands in contradiction to the accepted practices which Kasama inherited from the RCP–which is to absorb only gullible and obedient activists. In the end, they got rid of Avakian and the extreme cultishness, and opened things up to a limited degree, but the apple did not fall that far from tree. Some Kasama supporters, by the way, may not be happy with my frank description of their project. But I owe them the truth and would be betraying them if I failed to give it to them. And if they don’t like what I say–they can challenge me openly. Our movement needs open confrontation. When we are afraid of open confrontation–the result is that the proletariat does not have an independent organization. And, in the absence of a genuinely independent organization, the bourgeoisie will continue to have a free hand to implement austerity at home and wage imperialist war overseas. It really is better if we do not live our lives in fear.

Humanity is vastly closer to our goal than Marx was in 1843, but we do not know it. And we need to know it. Who is going to say this?

The many struggles for partial demands are important, of course. But it is not simply a matter of finding the right struggles in which to invest our life energy, or the best sections of the working class and oppressed to attempt to mobilize–because these things (by themselves, alone) will all fall apart with time if the proletariat continues to lack an organization that is genuinely independent. Without our own organization we ultimately will be left with nothing: the energy, consciousness, militancy and independence of the mass movements will be systematically siphoned off and flushed down the memory hole by our experienced class enemy. It is sophisticated. We are naive. It has historical memory. We have illusions. It has consciousness. We have nothing.

For the bourgeoisie, liquidating the mass movements is like taking candy from a baby. We can work our hearts out and devote our entire life energy to carefully building up these movements–and they will still melt away, in time, like snowmen in hell. This will not stop until we have our own organization. And this organization will mean little if its “independence” is nothing more than the typical fraud or it succumbs to intoxication and attempts to protect itself from activists who are not gullible and not obedient.

This is what every activist needs to know. And when every activist does know this–then no force on earth will be able to stop us.

Ben Seattle
March 21, 2015

ps: here is what I posted, probably in 1996:

The cyberLeninist Manifesto:

The principle that “information wants to be free”
fits Leninism like a bullet fits a rifle
in what turns out to be
the ultimate nightmare for the bourgeoisie.
at http://www.leninism.org/intro.htm

cyberLeninism_button

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► The Proletarian Party in the Information Age – [WQ2.15.03.17]

Posted by Ben Seattle on March 17, 2015

The Proletarian Party
in the Information Age

Political transparency, and the right to democratic
communication and self-organization, will make it possible
for the working class to organize, raise its consciousness,
become aware of its historic mission,
and overthrow the class rule of the bourgeoisie

Read the 4-page, formatted PDF here:
https://warforquadranttwo.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/2015-03-16_frank.pdf

Delacroix

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► The Proletarian Party and the Channel – [WQ2.15.03.04]

Posted by Ben Seattle on March 4, 2015

The Printable four page PDF for this 2500 word letter is here:  https://warforquadranttwo.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/15-03-04-jordan.pdf

Letter to Comrade Jordan: Are We Serious About Creating A Proletarian Party?

The Proletarian Party and the Channel

In the coming century of information war, an independent, public and democratic communications channel will emerge, controlled by the militant left, to allow revolutionary activists to connect with one another, and bring the simple truth to the working class and oppressed in their millions.

The forging of such a channel will require widespread conscious recognition that its creation is the decisive organizational task of our time–standing next to the decisive political task of our time:  fighting for, winning and successfully defending our independence from our treacherous social democratic allies.

Hi Jordan,

First, I would like to congratulate you for your decision to bring your criticism of SA to the public domain, where it belongs.

And, while this was the right thing to do and is certainly a positive development which creates clarity in the movement, I will also give you my opinion that going public with your views was long overdue.  And I will add that your criticism has a number of weaknesses.

I would like to see future criticisms that you write be more powerful.

1. A Trusted Link to the Pig-Slop Bucket

The SA, in my view, is increasingly revealing itself to be a plaything in the hands of the Democratic Party.  The YouTube video captured perfectly the contradiction between (on the one hand) the need of the movement for clarity and consciousness concerning the utterly treacherous role of the Democratic Party and (on the other hand) the SA’s need to prove itself a trusted link in the system of bourgeois class rule by demonstrating, in full public view, that their flagship personality was willing to humiliate herself, and perform like a trained poodle to demonstrate the god-like, source of-light-and-life power of her master (the Democratic Party).

The divine result of this public expression of fealty was (as if by magic) the recent puff piece on the front page of the Sunday Seattle Times, where she disavowed that the idea that anyone should think of her as “dangerous”, and a quarter million readers saw photos of Kshama Sawant’s cute dogs.  The dogs were an inspired touch.  Dogs have a way of being cute, especially if they love and cherish and (above all) obey their masters.  If they fail to obey their masters–or pull too hard at their leash–they won’t get a river of favorable publicity.

training your dog 6

You know my views on this.  This is a training process.  But the fundamental character of the SA has not changed by the weight of a single lie.  All that has happened is that the betrayal that was always at the heart of the SA’s nature (visible to anyone who was not naive, and who cared to look beneath the surface) has become increasingly difficult to deny.  So were you naive in the past, or were you simply reluctant to look under the surface?  And (more to the point) are you any different today?  This is not a rhetorical question.  If you consider yourself to be different today, I would like to know why.  I am listening.

And, while your post announces that you gave up your membership status in SA–you do not explain why you did so.

Did you feel embarrassed to be associated with this increasingly naked and blatant opportunism?  Was it too much to stomach?  Did you feel like you could not lift your head?  Did you wonder what you were going to say to people whose respect you valued?

training your dog 7

Did you feel like you were in danger of spending your life living for a lie?  Did you feel a need to publicly oppose the efforts of the SA to suffocate emerging groups like Outside Agitators 206 (struggling to breathe oxygen like a newborn child) by forcing them to obey the will of Democratic Party lieutenants like Larry Gossett, who have been entrusted with the unpleasant but necessary task of infanticide?

(Chinese mid-wives, as you may know, would sometimes throw female newborns into the pig slop bucket.  That is Gossett’s role.  He forced the SA to help him in his on-going efforts to force this “useless thing” into the pig-slop bucket.  Some might not consider this to be a particularly appetizing picture, but when Gossett is done, he plans to treat himself to a hearty breakfast.)

gossett

And there is a more important question: Did opposing the SA in this public way require that you surrender your membership status?

That’s how it looks to me.  To say such a thing, of course, is only speculation on my part.  I would prefer to hear the truth from you.

If my inference (ie: that you believed you had to choose between public criticism and maintaining membership status) is accurate–then this (by itself) would tell us a lot about how groups like the SA are fundamentally undemocratic (by design) and therefore eligible to become a trusted link in the system of bourgeois class rule.

Kshama-SeaTimes

2. The Dan Damage Thread on Kasama Addressed the Need for Democratic Public Space

In preparation for this reply I studied your participation in the Dan Damage thread from Kasama, where comrade Damage quotes Louis Proyect and Hal Draper, and makes the controversial suggestion that serious activists take five minutes out of their busy and important days to consider the need to pull their heads out of their rear ends and work together to use the internet to create a communications channel that will bring to millions the most important idea of our time:

The only way humanity can overcome its fundamental problems, is to overthrow the class rule of the bourgeoisie, and replace it with the class rule of the proletariat.

This single idea, and the knowledge required to understand why this idea accurately reflects objective reality, is the key to understanding how the world, and everything in it, really works.

One of the central ideas in Dan’s essay was that activists like he and I need a democratic public space where we can discover and talk to one another, have a conversation, and exchange experience, in a democratic way, without any would-be emperors or mini-Bob’s telling us who we are allowed to talk to and what we are allowed to talk about.  The idea of a democratic public space is powerful beyond imagination.  We saw democratic public spaces emerge in Egypt and its echo here (the Occupy movement) and similar movements in Europe and elsewhere.  It was the struggle for democratic public spaces that allowed these movements to become powerful vehicles of the aspirations of the masses.

I would have, by the way, told comrade Damage that I agreed with him, when I read his essay on the Kasama site three years ago–except that the Kasama site is not such a democratic public space and I had no right or ability to post on Kasama (where my posts are consistently deleted before anyone can read them) nor any ability to contact Dan Damage directly, and tell him that I appreciate his open support of the idea that activists must take necessary and practical steps to end their isolation from one another.

(And by the way, if any reader or member of the Kasama community, knows how to contact Dan Damage, I would greatly appreciate it if this letter might be brought to his attention, because he might read it and, just as I drew insight and encouragement from his words, the possibility exists that he might draw insight or encouragement from mine.)

I also carefully read the replies to comrade Damage from Liam and you.  Both of you were polite and respectful to Dan.  But both of you were (and are) thoroughly intoxicated by all kinds of illusions.  Every conclusion Dan drew, based on painful and abundant historical experience, went over your heads.

3. Social Democracy is a Foundation of Sand

I need to wrap this up.  I will tell you, Jordan, what I want from you.

I want to talk to you.  I want your attention.

Art and I tried to tell you, years ago, that you can’t build anything significant on a foundation of sand, and that the bourgeoisie are not fools.  They will only give you status, publicity and power to the extent that you agree to serve their interests.  For this reason, the core work that is necessary cannot come from social democratic election campaigns, but rather can only originate in expressions of activist aspirations that are organized in a way that is safe from the predatory appetites of groups like the SA–because it is only a fantasy, an illusion, that groups like the SA (or its “radical” ISO doppelganger) will ever be able to break free of their leash.

I want to talk to you about social democracy.  Activists will never be able to work together to create a movement which is deserving of the respect of the working class, and centered on the need to overthrow the class rule of the bourgeoisie–until they understand, on the level of life-and-death, the distinction between, on the one hand, social democracy and, on the other hand, the central organizing goal of our movement.

You are not helping things in the slightest, and are only confusing yourself (and those who look to you for clarity) when you throw around the rat-bastard degraded word “socialism”–which is now used to fool the working class.  This is a word that used to mean everything.  It now means nothing.

So why not call the SA social democratic, instead of calling them “socialists”?  Isn’t the whole point of your recent action motivated by a desire to move in the direction of honesty, so you can look at the guy in the mirror and not be disgusted?

Because you help the SA push their agenda if you present them as having potential to be anything more than what they are–a temporary vacillating ally, which may help deliver to us the fruits of our own struggles, but which can be counted on to make every attempt, at the most critical moment, to steal from us our consciousness and independence.

I want you to think about these things because you are going through a period right now in which you may be having new thoughts, or a return of older thoughts that you may not have thought for a while.

I want to continue this conversation.  There is too much more I would like to say.  I want to write more, but it is hard to do so, with my other responsibilities, unless you are able to send me a signal that I have earned some minutes of your attention.

4. The “Big Tent” vs. the Channel

You asked comrade Dan how his proposed for what you called a “big tent” would come about.  I have come to the conclusion that it will come about more-or-less on the basis that Dan described.  I support and share his central idea, which I express as follows:

We will begin to overcome the mutually assured isolation of competing cargo-cults (floating like leaky boats on a social democratic sea) when we work with integrity to create the necessary democratic public space where activists can work with and learn from one another in projects aimed at bringing to the entire working class an understanding of its position in society and its necessary and inevitable historic mission: overthrowing the class rule of the bourgeoisie.

I don’t call the project we need a “big tent”.  (To readers who may be unaware of political code phrases: the term “big tent” is often used to refer to the Democratic Party, because that is how this treacherously engineered tarpit has traditionally presented itself to activists.)  I use a different term.

I use the phrase “the channel” to describe the democratic public space and the gravitational attraction that will be created by the central project which, I believe, will unite all the best parts of the left–and bring political transparency to, and connect, every part of the proletarian mind.  And that phrase is also what I believe it will eventually be called by a great many people.  It is not Dan’s idea, and it is not mine.  I read about it in a book written by some foreign guy in 1902.

cover-7

I want, Jordan, for us to have substantive and public exchanges of opinion on the nature of the tasks that are decisive for our movement.  I want these exchanges to take place in person, as well as on our blogs.  I want to meet somewhere and talk to you one-to-one, just you and me, sometime in the next month or two, if you might be able to work that in.  I would also like to meet you together with other activists.  I am sure Art would like to talk to you, and I can think of at least two or three other activists who may also have a strong interest.  But my priority would be the one-to-one meeting, just you and me, because that would be as simple and easy as I can make it.  And, then, Art and I could go to work on finding out who else might value the opportunity to talk to you about your experience, conclusions and potential plans.

Let me know what you think.

Ben Seattle — March 2015

  • Isolated from one another, we are easily defeated
  • Connected to one another, no force on earth can stop us

 Reference Links:

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