The twentieth century went back and forth between two extremes. On one side, individualism would reign supreme in the ambitions of ‘great men’, in the excesses of Wall Street and in the quest for meaning in art and literature. On the other hand, the glorification of a caricature of the human community in the phony communism of nationalized industry under a party dictatorship. On both sides of the Iron Curtain, a battle raged between the need for social action on the parts of large groups of people and the debasement of humanity that happened in the name of this action. A simultaneous perversion of humanity and the individual occurred.
As We See It/As We Don’t See it stand out as one of the best attempts at expressing a politics that both reflects the battle between these poles and cuts to the nature of this tension. No doubt like anything that old, parts of it are now a bit dated, but the basic sentiment and approach are as relevant now as they ever were.
These texts were taken from the on-line Solidarity and Subversion archive at af-north.org
As we see it / Don’t see it
I. As We See It
The campaigns of Kshama Sawant and Ty Moore have generated a lot of debate around the role of elections in overcoming capitalism. Both candidates came from Socialist Alternative, a party with roots in the broader social democratic and trotskyist traditions that moved to electoral activity relatively recently. Sawant won her election to Seattle’s city council, and Moore lost by a hair.
A changing social and political landscape is shifting the boundaries of electoral action and the relationships of radicals both to candidates and their own activity. Narrowing in on one aspect of the debate, today we will look at the contributions of three short pieces coming from Minneapolis, where Ty Moore ran his unsuccessful campaign. The authors were responding to the discussion and activity locally as people active in struggles opposed to State power all together, including efforts to capture and reform the existing capitalist State. Though we lack the space, we strongly encourage going through a fourth piece by the Black Orchid Collective in Seattle that explores similar themes in response to their own situation with the candidacy of Sawant. Also the commentary to the pieces that follow and Black Orchid contain replies both from the authors and other people active in the relevant cities, and is worth reading. The articles are listed in chronological order as they reply to one and another.
There are a few themes to focus in on. The authors debate whether or not it matters to oppose attempts to move towards socialism through elections. Within this there is a deeper debate about how close and how likely attempts to make reforms are to impede more radical alternatives. Given that a presidential election season is approaching rapidly, and militant reformism is increasingly becoming a mobile social force, these questions are likely to face us again.