Left Strategy in challenging times

Left Strategy in Challenging Times

PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION

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How do we convert the energy we see in the streets to electoral power? How do we fight racism and defend immigrants while setting a strong class pole? What are effective tactics for conducting the fight against corporate Democrats on Democratic Party terrain? And how do we do this while building the broadest possible front against Trump and Trumpism?

Organizing Upgrade

Organizing Upgrade

October 3, 2017.

Dear Friends,

We’re excited to let you know that we are re-launching Organizing Upgrade!  Today, more than ever, left organizers need a forum to discuss and debate strategy. We need to share organizing models that respond to the profound dangers we are facing – like the ascent of white nationalism – and that take advantages of the real opportunities of this political moment. More than ever, we need to place our work in the context of the long-term trends that shape our context: the decline of US power in the world, demographic shifts, and rampant inequality that has stemmed from neoliberalism.

You can check out these pieces to get a sense of the conversations we are working to promote:

• The Concept Paper for a new caucus of progressive organizations working to win governing power at the state level.

• A short video by Linda Burnham, challenging left organizers to remember that – while we are fighting for our own communities – we also need to fight for the country as a whole.

• A description of our vision for the relaunch of Organizing Upgrade.

Why are we re-launching Organizing Upgrade? We have to move beyond “think-pieces” and start to answer the hard strategic and practical questions of this moment, like:

• How do we convert the energy we see in the streets to electoral power?

• How do we fight racism and defend immigrants while setting a strong class pole?

• What are effective tactics for conducting the fight against corporate Democrats on Democratic Party terrain?

• And how do we do this while building the broadest possible front against Trump and Trumpism?

All around us we see new openness to left analyses and to radical race and class politics. Exciting electoral initiatives, based on different versions of an “inside/outside” strategy, are developing around the country. The dynamics of our moment have created real possibilities for rebuilding a left based on multi-racial class solidarity, a holistic and internationalist vision and a determination to break out of the margins and get to the center of national politics.

We come from a vantage point that places the struggle against racism at the center of building a powerful multi-racial working class movement in this country. We think that the left and social movements cannot work in isolation; we need to be prioritize building broad fronts in opposition to the right.  We are all part of the political trend that is working to build left inside-outside projects that enable us to wield mass people power both at the ballot box and in the streets.

On October 19th at 5 p.m. Pacific Time / 8 p.m. Eastern Time, the left inside/outside project and OrgUp will be hosting the first session of #PeopleTakePower, a series of online discussions with the raddest organizers working to defeat the right and advance progressive politics. Our first session will feature Rukia Lumumba from Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s mayoral campaign in Jackson, Mississippi, and Rafael Navar, national political director of Communications Workers of America. Register here and join the discussion!

We are reaching out to you because we think you can help us make this project a success!  We are seeking your ideas, feedback, and submissions that to help develop out this strategic position. And we also welcome thoughtful challenges to these positions. There is no obvious path forward, and we believe that productive debate will strengthen our work.

We also need your support to let folks know we are back, and gain circulation among social movement organizers! Please like us on Facebook, re-post pieces that you appreciate and let your friends know that we are back online!

In Solidarity,

Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Max Elbaum, Harmony Goldberg, Maria Poblet and Bob Wing, Organizing Upgrade Editorial Committee

 

About

We are re-launching Organizing Upgrade to serve as a space where left organizers can discuss strategy and share organizing models that respond to the profound dangers and the real opportunities of this political moment.

The Trump administration poses a series of grave threats. Most central is the dangerous ascent of white nationalism, which — after years of racist backlash and the strategic use of race by the Republican Party — now has sway at the very center of executive power in this country. This is, in turn, energizing grassroots mobilization among white supremacist forces of many stripes.

There are a number of other dangerous possibilities in this moment: the elimination of environmental regulations will have irreversible impacts on the planet, the public sector is under threat of dismantling and privatization, women and LGBTQ people are facing threats to a series of basic rights and the threat of war is growing ever stronger. Left organizers need a space for deep discussion and debate over strategic responses to these threats, and Organizing Upgrade will serve as one forum for that debate.

But this is not a moment to only focus on defense. There are also a number of significant opportunities for expansion and real advance in this moment. The breakout success of the Sanders campaign and his continued popularity as a political figure challenge left organizers to step into the progressive possibilities of the “populist moment.” And in response to the extreme dangers of our moment, we have seen the emergence of a powerful mass opposition to Trump, from the Women’s March through the recent mobilizations against white supremacy.

Everywhere from the base of progressive movements to progressive institutions and even well into the liberal world, there is new openness to left analyses and to radical race and class politics. And there are a lot of exciting new electoral initiatives, based on different versions of an “inside/outside” strategy, that are developing around the country. The dynamics of our moment have created real possibilities for rebuilding a left based on multi-racial class solidarity, a holistic and internationalist vision and a determination to break out of the margins and get to the center of national politics.

To respond to these dangers and threats, left organizers needs space to step back and reflect on these threat and possibilities and to place them in the context of the long-term trends that are shaping our political context: the decline of US power in the world, demographic shifts, and the growth of inequality that has stemmed from neoliberalism. We have to move beyond critical “think-pieces” and start to answer the hard strategic and practical questions of this moment, like:

• How do we convert the energy we see in the streets to electoral power?

• How do we fight racism and defend immigrants while setting a strong class pole?

• What are effective tactics for conducting the fight against corporate Democrats on Democratic Party terrain?

• And how do we do this while building the broadest possible front against Trump and Trumpism?

Organizing Upgrade will address these issues in the coming months, gathering strategic reflections and case studies from left organizers around the country. Our editorial team — Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Max Elbaum, Harmony Goldberg, Maria Poblet and Bob Wing — comes from a vantage point that places the struggle against racism at the center of building a powerful multi-racial working class movement in this country. We think that the left and social movements cannot work in isolation; we need to be prioritize building broad fronts in opposition to the emergence of the right. We are all part of the political trend that is working to build left inside-outside projects that enable us to wield mass people power both at the ballot box and in the streets.

We welcome submissions that reflections that strategic positions, and we also welcome thoughtful challenges to these positions. There is no obvious path forward, and we believe that productive debate will strengthen our work. Please send us your ideas, feedback, submissions and thoughts.

Editoral Collective

Calvin Cheung-Miaw

Calvin Cheung-Miaw (he/him) is a student in the San Francisco Bay Area who has been active in the labor, anti-war, and immigrant rights movements. In November 2016 he authored the article “Trump’s Victory Is a Wake-Up Call to the Left” and he is currently involved in efforts to build left unity around an anti-right wing, inside/outside political strategy.

Max Elbaum

Max Elbaum (he/him) has been active in peace, anti-racist and radical movements since joining SDS in Madison, Wisconsin in the 1960s. He is the author of Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che (Verso 2002; Paperback 2006). Each fall he runs a Marathon for Peace to benefit antiwar and antimilitarist projects, most recently US Labor Against the War.

Harmony Goldberg

Harmony Goldberg (She / her) is a left educator and writer, based in Brooklyn, New York. Harmony helped to found SOUL, the School of Unity and Liberation, and she’s been running political education courses for grassroots organizations rooted in multi-racial working class communities ever since. She has worked most deeply in the youth movement and the domestic workers movement historically, and she is currently working closely with People’s Action and the Grassroots Policy Project. And she talks about Gramsci alot.

Maria Poblet

Maria Poblet has a couple decades of community organizing experience, a smart mouth, and an optimism of the will. She helped build racial & economic justice powerhouse Causa Justa Just Cause, as it’s first Executive Director. She is also a co-founder of the US Chapter of the World March of Women and of LeftRoots.

Bob Wing

Bob Wing (he/him) has been a racial justice organizer and writer since 1968. He was the founding editor of ColorLines magazine and War Times/Tiempo de Guerras newspaper. Some of his essays include “Why the Fight for the South Is So Important — And How It Can and Must Be Won,” “Towards a Social Justice Electoral Strategy,” and “The Battlelines Are Drawn: Rightwing Neo-Secession or a Third Reconstruction.” He is a member of the Organizing Committee of the State-Based Power Caucus.

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