I’d originally intended to write some posts reprising my criticism of the voting ideology, of representative pseudo-democracy, and of the pathology of liberals, all of this on full repulsive display these days.
Maybe I won’t bother with that after all, but it does highlight some basic facts about movement-building.
1. Nothing can work unless we first change our minds about the system itself. If we don’t recognize the power structure as irrevocably criminal and the fundamental enemy of humanity and the Earth, if in any of the various ways we still think it can be redeemed, we’ll remain shackled and on the path the terminal enslavement and death.
(These various ways include anything which in the end still wants big, aggressive government. Whether it be “progressives”, including MMTers and other “benevolent technocrat” types, who want Better Government to directly do things, or whether it be “libertarians” and tea party types who want continued big, aggressive government in the form of corporations and top-down “contract” enforcement (as well as the military and police state), it all ends up in the same tyranny.)
It’s true that individuals can get to this realization by doing something while still thinking the wrong way. They can feel the affirmative good of direct action and negatively experience how the system blocks all action at some point, and in that indirect way come to understand and reject the system. But no real freedom and redemption movement can cohere and fight except on the conscious basis of full system rejection.
2. This organic movement has to come prior to any attempt to build a political party and do system-political things like run for office. Those who want to search right now for alternative candidates are putting the cart before the horse. Something like the Green Party is negatively defined, has no coherent affirmative basis, and is thus a mish-mash. That’s why its actions, where they threaten the system at all, are so easily blocked, disrupted, or co-opted. It tries to use the system tools simply by imitating the system itself (but allegedly toward a “better” goal). But what tools can be useful at all will only be useful in totally different ways, and will require movement consciousness, training, and discipline to use them in this different way toward a coherent goal.
To give an obvious example of this, even if a crusading ”alternative” candidate were to win an election, he’d find himself facing a monolithic structure and process, be isolated amid it to whatever extent he truly wanted to fight it, and come under severe pressure to “compromise” in order to “get anything done”, or even simply to get along better with the system people he has to deal with each day. Contrast that with a movement activist who sees office as an “inside” way to help the movement fight from outside the system. Who isn’t there toward the impossible notion of ”enacting better policy”, but to mitigate destructive policy by being a monkey-wrench in the works. Who’s there to achieve the good by helping it triumph on its own, from the bottom up. But for this to work, the outside movement first has to exist, prior to any attempt to break in.
I recommend Lawrence Goodwyn’s book The Populist Moment for doing a great job of distilling these general principles in its analysis of what the populist movement tried to do and why it eventually failed. But meanwhile we haven’t gotten anywhere near as far yet toward our movement-building goal as they did.
That’s part of why I’ve been spending this summer and fall thinking about the long run and paying almost zero attention to the kangaroo election. (Just enough to know that pro-Democrat corporate liberal fundamentalism becomes more indistinguishable from the pro-Republican conservative variety every day, and the Obama personality cult indistinguishable from the Bush cult. Equally psychopathic and brainless.)
We need relocalization and democracy. These are essential to what’s organically human. We need economic and political relocalization and democracy. That means, among other things, becoming active participants rather than passive consumers and recipients of whatever’s inflicted upon us from above. It means that we overcome consumerism in both its economic and political forms. It means we take back our human work and our human politics. In this political forum, it means we become true active citizens and stop being passive “voters”, consumers of the system product. This means renouncing the system and building a political redemption movement from the bottom up.
I’ve said many times that pro-corporatism vs. anti-corporatism is a defining, dividing abyss and litmus test. I’ll add another: Does one see oneself and advocate for others, as one’s primary political mode (I’m not saying transitional combinations aren’t possible, but what’s critical is the vector away from the system and toward true participation democracy), bottom-up direct action and organic movement-building, or passively consuming the system (including all forms of begging it for “better policy” and to be “better elites”). Which of these is your inherent idea and will?