It’s become something of a truism that socialism is re-emerging as a popular political ideology among wide layers of working class youth.
In the years leading up to 2016, a handful of socialist collectives followed a diversity of unique and winding paths leading to a point where there was sufficient interest in each others’ ideas and political practice that further interface was deemed desirable.
Our points of reference were, 1) a shared commitment to “base-building” through community organizing, workplace activism, and mutual aid programs in addition to standard leftist activities such as protest and study groups, 2) ideological heterogeneity and a willingness to work across differences with leftists coming out of a diversity of ideological heritages, 3) autonomy and independence from any existing national political formations.
This search for like-minded allies culminated in over a dozen unaffiliated locally-based socialist groups meeting in Philadelphia in August of 2017, where we shared our experiences with organizing and political perspectives during a time of increasing class consciousness.
Today, these loosely-affiliated groups known provisionally as the “Marxist Center” encounter a rapidly changing political environment. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in light of Donald Trump’s election, and the longtime home of social democracy in the USA (the Democratic Socialists of America or DSA) has grown significantly.
While our local socialist collectives have all grown and engaged in important political activity in our respective cities, we must recognize that our humble efforts - as impressive as they have been - are insufficient to the enormous tasks we face.
Global and domestic political questions can only be resolved by action on a nationwide or international level. Every worker understands this intuitively. While our focus on sinking deep roots into the working class is aided by our municipal orientation, there exists a danger that workers pass us by completely in the pursuit of resolving the critical political questions of the day.
While our local organizing have helped us grow robust and sustainable activist organizations, we need to go bigger and become more ambitious if we are going to respond to the needs of the class.
Without a national media strategy, our exemplary work at the local level will be ignored, in favor of groups with influential allies in media outlets and outsized social media presences. In terms of getting attention of the general public, it will be increasingly difficult for interested potential members to find us and determine if our politics and practice resonate with their felt needs.
The process of deepening political unity between our groups needs to kick into high gear. But setting aside the unity process, our tendency has even more pressing needs. New collectives are popping up left and right, and many need guidance and support. We also possess a critical opportunity to put forward our strategy to a receptive audience of socialists in other organizations.
This proposal lays out a strategy for continuing to build relationships between groups in the Marxist Center milieu, establish ties with other socialist political formations within the US, and lend a helping hand to less established independent collectives.
A “two track” approach to party-building in 2018
Going forward, we propose a two-track strategy of party-building: cohereing the tendency while constructing the united front.
One track is the construction of a united front. This means reaching out to progressive and working class organizations and finding out where and if the possibility exists for joint work and the exchange of ideas.
We now have several years of experience relating to national progressive and working class organizations, and have a better sense of who our allies are. Concretely, what we’d be seeking to put together would be co-sponsorship of forums to present our various perspectives, encouraging individuals from various groups to meet and possibly engage in joint actions if local conditions warrant it. The specific proposal (see “Milestones” below) suggests a joint speaking tour, organizer exchanges, and a coalition conference of base-building organizations.
Cohering the tendency means focusing on drawing in the various independent Marxist Center groups, urging them to seek further political unity, engage in joint work (where applicable) and move toward constituting a unified national organization. This is proposed to be accomplished through several national meetings, retreats and multilateral organizer exchanges.
Taken together, the two-tracks of the strategy will reinforce and support each other as our movement grows in power and numbers.
The following milestones are proposed to track our progress in reaching the goal of creating a national political formation and a robust coalition of progressive and working class organizations.
January-April 2018Multilateral organizer exchangesTo further ties with Cooperation Jackson (CJ), Philly Socialists will send half a dozen cadre to visit Jackson, Mississippi, observe CJ operations, and establish relationships. Other collectives are encouraged to send or host comrades from other MC collectives in a low key multilateral organizer exchange.
May-July 2018Preliminary national unity meetingWe will invite a small sampling of leaders from the national network of the Marxist Center to discuss what obstacles to unity may be and how to articulate the need for a national entity to our respective constituencies. Attendees may consist of delegates from the individual organizations representatives of a “Unity Committee” or not depending on the wishes of each collective, or alternatively could establish a unity committee at the meeting, or neither.
August-September 2018 National Marxist Center Retreat and establishment of provisional “organizing center”
This would be a national retreat consisting of several (3-4) days of intensive discussion, looking toward the formation of a unity committee (see “Preliminary National Unity Meeting” above), an organizing center (see “For a National Organizing Center” below), or a full-blown provisional network or national organization.
October-December 2018“Opening up” and expanding the base-building conference
Given the widespread and growing interest ideas around “base-building” and “dual power” have exerted within the socialist movement, we propose conceiving of the base-building conference as an explicitly coalitional event, fitting into our “united front” campaign, to be undertaken jointly with a number of sympathetic forces, including but not limited to elements of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Cooperation Jackson, other socialist and working class organizations (PSL, SP-USA, ISO, IWW, etc.), etc.
If a unity committee is agreed upon, said body would work on planning any or all of the 2019 events enumerated above (unity meeting, retreat, conference) along with any similar events in 2019.
Once the organizing committee is established, it will focus on the following tasks in 2018-2019:Visiting local collectives Providing troubleshooting consultations remotely as requestedDetermining needs of collectives based on conversations with local organizers and attempting to help link local collectives with relevant resources
For a National Organizing Center, not an Ideological Center
We propose the formation of an “Organizing Center”; a committee composed of some combination of members from the various Marxist Center groups with a mission to support the growth and development of independent collectives affiliated with the Marxist Center.
Members of the Organizing Center will make themselves available to local groups. If a local organizer encounters a problem and wants to talk it through, or just vent, we’ll get on the phone with them as an ally in their corner. If a local organization needs help setting up a fundraising event or navigating incorporating and getting a bank account, we can help walk them through the process. If there’s a volunteer task that a local can’t get sourced, such as graphic design or web development, we’ll link them up with someone who can take on these tasks them remotely, possibly from another part of the country.
This Organizing Center will not be tasked with making declarations on current events. It will not be expected to think up or coordinate national campaigns. It will not determine a “political line” and discipline the affiliated groups who stray from the appointed path. Instead, the Organizing Center will pool from our available collective talent and resources to support the local organizing efforts of our various affiliated groups.
This is not to say that the body will be completely “apolitical.” Questions of what to spend our time and resources on, and what work to abstain from, are always strategic and therefore political in nature. However, the “politics” of Organizing Committee will stem from its mission: supporting the growth and development of independent collectives affiliated with the Marxist Center.
This work is distinct from the question of creating a national organization. However, it is our contention that the efforts of an Organizing Center will facilitate the development of political unity.
For this reason, we reject the notion that establishing an Organizing Center must wait until programmatic political unity is achieved. We say that relationships created and strengthened through concrete work will lay the foundation for political unity. We say further that political unity should not be rushed and may take a prolonged period of discussion to establish. In the meantime, many groups that form up during this time may not be around for the founding of a national organization if they don’t receive support in the meantime.
Conclusion: History calls us... Who are we going to be?
While phenomena such as the presidential primary campaign of Bernie Sanders have amplified trends toward an emerging generational rendezvous with democratic socialism, our movement needs to ask if the working class is only prepared to fight for a return to the class compromise of the “New Deal,” or rather to struggle through to the historic end goals of the socialist movement going back hundreds of years: raising the working class into the sovereign political power in society.
As social democracy increasingly comes to be seen as identical to socialism in the eyes of the American public, those of us who support the aims of working class hegemony, a rationally and democratically managed economy, and the establishment of a cooperative commonwealth must openly declare our views and aims.
We do not seek to set up a sectarian party in opposition to the other currents within the working-class. We form a single current in the larger stream of reemergent socialism. We seek to cohere our trend and construct a united front.
We are communists. We seek to aid in the transformation of the oppressed and exploited into the leaders of our society. The struggle of the working class is our struggle. The future belongs to the dispossessed.
In struggle and solidarity,
(Individual signatories)Eli Sadoff - Bucks County SocialistsJR Flynn - Bucks County SocialistsMeleiza Figueroa - Campus Antifascist Network / Movement School for RevolutionariesDarling Hernandez - Colorado Springs SocialistsEilex Rodriguez - Colorado Springs SocialistsGabriel Palcic - Colorado Springs Socialists Jenny Contreras - Colorado Springs SocialistsJeremy Craig - Colorado Springs SocialistsJoshua Cerda - Colorado Springs SocialistsJustin Craig - Colorado Springs SocialistsLucas Molina - Colorado Springs SocialistsWilliam Covington - Colorado Springs SocialistsBee Ivey - Communist Labor PartyClara Everbeck - Communist Labor PartySophia Burns - Communist Labor Party / Seattle CommunistsDaniel Gutiérrez - Democratic Autonomy FederationTyler Davis - Democratic Autonomy FederationYesenia Padilla - Democratic Autonomy FederationAlex Walter - Kentucky Workers LeagueDrew Van't Land - Kentucky Workers LeagueSamuel Lockridge - Kentucky Workers LeagueTaylor Schulz - Kentucky Workers LeagueWill Emmons - Kentucky Workers LeagueAlex Gritton - Louisville SocialistsAkinbode A. Omolabi - Mobile Bay Socialist CollectiveChris Arnott - Mobile Bay Socialist CollectiveJoel Harold - Mobile Bay Socialist CollectiveSwapneel Rao (Azad) - Mobile Bay Socialist CollectiveAsma Alomari - Organization for a Free SocietyJohn Cronan Jr. - Organization for a Free SocietyPat Korte - Organization for a Free SocietyAndrew Joung - Philly SocialistsAriel Diliberto - Philly SocialistsCaleb Gallus - Philly SocialistsChris Stevens - Philly Socialists / Bucks County Socialists Gene Patrick - Philly SocialistsJeff Klinger - Philly SocialistsKlyde Breitton - Philly Socialists / Philadelphia Tenants UnionNicholas Hahn - Philly SocialistsPaul Hazen - Philly SocialistsTim Horras - Philly SocialistsTomfía Guernderson - Philly SocialistsJosh Hollandsworth - Red Party - North CarolinaIda Maydae - Red Bloom Communist CollectiveMaga Miranda - Red Bloom Communist CollectiveTeresa Rolka - Red Bloom Communist CollectiveJericho Jones - Red Rose SocialistsJosh Redd - Red Rose SocialistsSarah Miller - Red Rose Socialists J. Ama Mantey - Sacramento SocialistsJake Simon - Sacramento SocialistsPeter Charles Kraljev - Sacramento SocialistsTyler Brenes - Silk City Socialists
(Collective endorsements)Bucks County SocialistsColorado Springs SocialistsCommunist Labor PartyCooperation NorthfieldNebraska Left Coalition New River Workers PowerOrganization for a Free SocietyPhilly SocialistsRhode Island Socialists