As I’ve gone back over the past few years of blogging I’ve done, I found that nowhere had I done an extended essay on political strategy from a radical left perspective. I have done such strategic writing on religion, feminism, and other categories of the “eightfold revolution”, but somehow my views on politics proper, the nature of human governance and how to transform our present system, haven’t been addressed at length or with much substance.
How to begin such a big subject is probably the first writer’s block. I am sympathetic to a variety of alternative polities, from “Parpolity” by Stephen Shalom, municipalism by Murray Bookchin, Quaker consensus, and a few others. My view is that participation in democratic decision-making, especially if it is undertaken with a serious commitment to equality and freedom is a life-changing experience and no revolutionary transformation worthy of the name can get by with the limited sorts of representational governance that is dominant in modernized societies.
The question that I keep returning to isn’t exactly how a participatory radical democracy would actually function. Rather, it’s how do we begin the change within our present society in ways that will make it more likely that a radical democratic future will become real? What is the strategy?
I realized that I had very strong convictions about this when I read the following comments on the “Unrepentant Marxist” blog:
Question: “I spend my time trying to keep the fascist right from coming into power, yes I realize that both parties are flirting with Fascism in the USA, however I am taking my chances with the Democrats, to at least advance more to the left.”
Answer: “I strongly disagree with you on the Democratic Party. In my view the DP is the main obstacle to the kind of principled and uncompromising direct action that will lead to major reforms. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this more than Obama’s refusal to call upon the countless numbers of young people who volunteered to elect him. A huge network of idealistic and energetic young people could have been mobilized to press for single-payer but instead the movement was turned off like a faucet once Obama was elected. Interestingly enough, the Republican Party is much better at mobilizing people in action, even if it is for reactionary ends. This is one of the reasons I was a supporter of the Green Party until it decided to tail-end the DP. It could have been an electoral party that had an activist dimension. We still need something like that and I hope that worsening economic conditions can bring into being.”
While I appreciate Mr. Proyect’s candor, I find his political “hope” to be typically defeatist. Let’s hope society gets bad enough that it will turn to us enlightened radicals for answers. Not. Gonna. Happen. I might wish as well that something other than the Green Party was the main left alternative to the Democratic Party, but that’s the situation we face. If I am serious about forming a radical democratic movement, I should get involved with the one organization that is trying at least a semblance of such a formation, the Green Party.
Oh, I know the Greens are often defeatist and opportunist at times. Does that really make them a worse organization within which to organize than the Democrats? If I go peruse the Green Party’s “10 Key Values” I still come away agreeing with them far more than any Democratic Party platform.
There’s a lot more to say on this topic, but for now I’ll just leave it there. I want to build a real alternative to representative democracy and while I don’t expect the GP to actually become that alternative immediately, one has to start somewhere and there, within the Green Party, is where the most sustained and successful efforts are happening, right now.