Unified Leftist Politics: An Ongoing Investigation

In the wake of the Rachel Dolezal controversy and my critique of Identity Politics I feel it necessary to discuss further the importance for revolutionary praxis of breaking away from sectarian politics. If we are to create a political movement to counter the hegemony of Global Capitalism it must be a unified movement. The problem with Identity Politics is that it fractures the Left into an inordinate number of varying identity groups. This form of politics leaves us with conversations about the comparative degrees of oppression faced by transgendered white women versus gay men or women of color. We are repeatedly left to debate whose victimhood is more legitimate, creating a kind of language turf war wherein the battles are fought within the movement itself over placement in the hierarchy of oppression rather than in developing a unified revolutionary praxis for countering the hegemony of Global Capitalism.

The practical, concrete result this ideological formation has on street level political activism is the dominance of Movementism. Movementism is purely a reactionist enterprise. It tends to take the form of political activism in response to a single issue: the war in Iraq, police brutality, abortion restrictions, voter disenfranchisement, etc. As a result of this disorganization and spontaneous formation there is very little that the organizations formed around these issues can actually accomplish. Their disunity from the rest of the goals of the Left is precisely the reason that they generally fail to achieve their aims. They only appear spontaneously in the wake of an immediate crisis, feeding off the energy of the local populace to fill their ranks. Once that energy dissipates, as it always does when people begin returning to their normal lives, the organization falls apart, slipping back into obscurity.

We need to develop a movement across the left on the basis of a shared political line in opposition to Global Capitalism just as the Bourgeoisie united as a single class in opposition to Feudalism. We must take the various forms of oppression which exist under Capitalism and bring them within a unified politics. Instead of arguing over the hierarchy of oppression we must identify the various expressions of oppressions under Capitalism as anachronisms within the context of a better world and should thus be abolished along with their progenitor, Class Society, the modern formation of which is Capitalism. We need political organizations that live within, and recruit from, their communities around the country, devoted to the daily task that is the construction of revolutionary organizations capable of creating and promoting a revolutionary politics and the concrete strategy for its practical application.

The economic crisis that has brought suffering to so many millions of Americans would have been an excellent opportunity for these organizations to begin their practical efforts toward seizing political power through the established channels were these kinds of organizations being built in the preceding decades. However, Capitalism is yet again in crisis and the Left in America remains utterly impotent to do anything about it. This is not to say that the Left should ignore reformist struggles aimed at incremental improvements. Any reformist legislative campaign that is likely to be enacted and thus likely to improve the lives of millions of Americans, like the expansion of insurance and access to Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, should be supported. But surely that does not mean that reformist struggle should be the only practical political activity of the Left.

The struggle for the overthrow of Capitalism through political revolution should not remain merely an academic, theoretical exercise. We need to develop practical tools for concrete revolutionary praxis all the while incorporating, and focusing, the energy of spontaneous political activism in the wake of crises into our paradigm. When these crises emerge there must exist revolutionary political organizations that the mass of the people can turn to for assistance. And these organizations must exist within and be derived from all the communities, but particularly those communities with the least access to the established avenues of political participation. As Marx correctly concluded the slaves make history, for they have nothing to lose but their chains. Certainly this will be a herculean undertaking.

Nevertheless, if the Left in America wishes to address and solve the many challenges that face not only the country but the planet, with climate change being the most dire, then this sectarianism must not persist. We have spent far too long huddled in our individual corners, fighting our own small, individual battles against attacks on the environment, anti-poverty programs, reproductive rights, voting rights, police brutality, corporate crime, and so on. Without a unified front there can be no long term victory in any of these fights. For there is too much money and power behind the counter-revolutionary forces within our society who desire to see the perpetuation of Class Society in the form of Global Capitalism for it is from the maintenance of the status quo that they benefit. Not to mention those who want to see the achievements of human liberation and progress rolled back. I hope to continue my investigation into this issue by researching the thought of revolutionaries past and present who also struggled with these same concerns.