The Real Movement

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Can the Greens and Libertarians strike a “Grand Bargain of The Radical Fringe”?

How far apart are the programmatic differences between the Libertarian Party, typically characterized as far Right, and the Green Party, typically characterized as far Left? Could these two parties, the largest formation of what we could call the radical fringe of American politics overcome their philosophical differences and present a united front against the Washington consensus by creating a unified platform?

With the overwhelming majority of the voting population in this election cycle clearly expressing a distaste for the nominees of either of the two major parties, but lacking any realistic alternative to them, this is a question those who see in electoral politics a means for radical change just might want to consider. The closest thing advocates of radical political change have to an alternative to the two fascist parties are radical fringe parties, Libertarians and Greens, who alone have been unable to break through the clutter of lesser-evilism.

To be sure, I do not want to overstate the extent to which these two parties break with the conceptual political framework of existing fascist parties: to put these two parties in some perspective, in comparison to the Marxist and anarchist varieties of communism, the Libertarians don’t go so far as to call for the complete abolition of the existing state; while the Greens don’t go so far as to demand the complete abolition of private property. Both parties implicitly or explicitly accept the continuation of these fundamental categories of bourgeois society. The Greens and Libertarians are radical in relation to the two big fascist parties, but fall well short of a complete break with the assumptions of those parties — they compose a radical fringe of bourgeois politics, not its abolition.

Still within the limits of bourgeois politics, can these parties together accomplish what neither of them has been able to accomplish on their own — break through the clutter of two party politics?

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Game Theory and Clinton’s Lesson for The Left

In October of 2013, Hillary Clinton gave an interesting talk to Goldman Sachs investors on the global political situation. This talk has since come out in the recent Wikileaks publication — the so-called Podesta emails. Very little so far has been written on that talk, but never to be one to let a capitalist political crisis go to waste, I thought it might be interesting to see what Clinton said in those talks.

I think the reason the talk, although widely anticipated, has received less attention than expected is that people may have been expecting some sort of gotcha moment, where Clinton revealed her secret ties to the illuminati or something. It turns out the talk was mostly what we might think of as a pre-campaign town hall with an exclusive group of finance capitalists; filled with the sort of self-promoting one would expect from any presidential hopeful.

The talk, however, is not simply boilerplate by a person putting together a run for the presidency. Clinton is discussing a recent government shutdown provoked by Ted Cruz in a failed attempt to get rid of Obamacare. She shows why this attempt might have failed and why Cruz overplayed his hand in his own bid to become president. As such, it contains some lessons for radicals who still hold out hope for a political path to the end of capitalism.

If Clinton is correct the Cruz shutdown threatened the most important advantage the US has enjoyed since 1971 and the collapse of Bretton Woods: the world reserve currency status of the dollar.

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Mapping the coming split on the radical Left

This paper by Dominic Heilig, Mapping the Left in Europe, has really got me thinking we may be watching the final disintegration of working class political parties. If you follow all the splits in the working class movement since the 1st International, as Heilig suggests, it soon becomes obvious the working class movement is not recombining on a new basis after each split, but only splintering further. The anarchists/Marxist split, the splits within social-democracy that produced the third International, the split within post-WWI communist parties beginning in the 1950s, etc., seems only to deepen the fragmentation of the working class movement; leaving it still less capable of effectively employing political power to emancipate itself from wage labor.

Heilig’s argument in this essay suggests the European Left is about to undergo still another disastrous split in the wake of the SYRIZA catastrophe.

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Does UBI cause inflation? A reply to Scott Santens

I recently had a conversation with Scott Santens who referred me to his article on universal basic income and the question of whether it causes inflation. This reply represents a change in tack. I am replying to Santens argument not in the spirit of refuting it, but with the hope the advocates of UBI will strengthen their argument by removing some of its fallacious reasoning.

Personally, I don’t think UBI can ever work, but people on the Left seem wedded to the idea. I offer this response to Santens in hope that should UBI ever comes to pass, its supporters will be able to tell a useful version of the program from the nightmare many on the right are now proposing.


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The Real Problem of realizing A World Without Police

I have been reading a pamphlet on police abolition, A World Without Police, in conjunction with an essay by Scott Jay, “The real problem with Jill Stein”.

The essay highlights a real paradox in the thinking of what I will for the purposes of this comment call the radical Left. By the term, ‘radical Left’, I mean those activists and thinkers who are explicitly committed to a socialist future and who see this coming into being outside the existing state and the two major political parties. The term, ‘socialist’ is used here loosely, but roughly correlates with what Marxists would define as the end of the system of wage labor.

The pamphlet, ‘A World Without Police’ touches on one aspect of what this loosely defined socialist future would look like, public safety. In this vision a socialist future is one in which the public function of the police has lost its character as a special body of individuals. That function is now carried out directly and immediately by the members of society. It is, of course, tentative, as should be expected: It is impossible to say how those who have never grown up with armed men and women patrolling a community will function in absence of those men and women. But, the pamphlet tries to paint a realistic picture of what this looks like for those of us for whom the police seem as necessary as food and water.

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The Green Party and the neighborhood assembly: You govern the way you win

Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary 16th century Japanese swordsman and author of The Book of Five Rings wrote, “You can only fight the way you practice”. This aphorism has been adopted by the United States Army in the following form:

“Remember, you will fight as you train!”

The Musashi statement is both a reminder and a warning for the radical Left: You will govern a city exactly the same way you win the election to govern it.

I was reminded of it when I read this criticism of one of my posts by a redditor with the rather odd nickname, “BecomingTesla”. In answer to my observation that the Harris campaign says nothing about the Green Party’s bold promise to replace the existing government with neighborhood assemblies, the redditor writes: Read the rest of this entry »

Can Joshua Harris and the Greens fix Baltimore?

I have been boning up on the Green Party’s 2016 campaign, because it is the largest single radical Left party in the United States. Its fate will be a big influence on the radical Left going forward.

As part of that effort, I have been looking at what is for me the most promising Green Party election campaign this season: Joshua Harris, a former Democrat, who is now running for mayor of Baltimore on the Green Party ticket. Harris’s campaign brings together a number of threads I have been thinking about this year and last in the wake of the SYRIZA disaster in Greece.

The Green Party public banking initiative

The centerpiece of the Harris campaign is his proposal to set up a public bank in Baltimore using the rainy day fund as initial capital. He wants to use these funds to invest beyond the inner harbor. The centerpiece of his proposal for radical change is a public bank, modeled on a bank that has already been established in North Dakota. According to Harris, “[public] banking, essentially, takes the concept of traditional banks and brings it into the government sector.”

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Radical But Incoherent: A comment on the Green Party program

Given that this election season is over except for the crowning of one of the two major candidates, I assume many third parties will now be looking to the 2018 and 2020 election seasons. So I thought I would spend some time looking at the Green Party program. As the largest radical Left party on the scene, they bear watching.


Some significant radical measures

The Greens have a very good platform that includes:

1. Radical restructuring of governance
2. Reduction of labor hours
3. Worker-owned cooperatives
4. Workplace democracy
5. Labor law reform

The Greens appear to have given a lot of thought to their platform in an attempt to develop a fully rounded approach. The most important measures they propose concerns the radical restructuring of governance: community assemblies that appear to echo the Paris Commune. The community assemblies would serve as local legislative bodies with power to “monitor, instruct, and recall representatives elected to municipal, state, and federal office.”

Also included under this section is a proposal for reducing the salaries of elected officials to that of an average worker.

It is unclear from the platform if this body carries out its duties alongside the existing local, state and federal government or replaces it entirely. In other words, it is not clear if the Greens want to add another layer of administration to the existing state or abolish it. If it is the latter, the Greens propose to go much further than anything radical governments have attempted in decades.

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Can communists govern a major American city?

A month ago, I was asked by a commenter to expand on the argument I made in an earlier post on the failure of Marxist economists to offer any policy useful recommendations to radical activists trying to organize among the working class.

I offer this post as an answer to that request.


A changed political landscape

There is something of a distinction between the generations raised before Reagan and Thatcher and those who came after that suggest radical politics is now on an even footing with bourgeois politics. Allow me to oversimplify this argument for purposes of brevity.

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Create Two, Three, Many SYRIZAs?

The programs of the Left are being threatened from an unexpected direction

openbordersOver the weekend I spent some time  taking a deep dive into the programs of some of the radical parties on the Left and I have a big question: How do you have open borders, on the one hand; and many of the programs supported by the Left, on the other hand?

The Socialist Equality Party argues:

“The SEP fights for the repeal of all anti-immigrant laws and the disbanding of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Border Patrol. It calls for all undocumented workers to be guaranteed full legal rights, including the right to work and the right to travel to their home countries without the threat of being barred from returning and torn from their families. Against the attempt to militarize borders and persecute immigrants, not only in the US but all over the globe, the working class must uphold the principle of open borders—the right of workers to live and work in whatever country they choose with full citizenship rights.”

So far, so good, right?

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