Monday, 16 January 2012

A new kind of paper (and a new kind of organisation?)

by David Colyer

[A contribution to Socialist Worker's Pre-Conference Bulletin, January 2012]

Socialist Worker members have been advocating an Eco-Socialist Network for some time. Recently a network promoting the capitalistcollapse analysis has also been proposed. I support both networks, but I think there remains a need for a distinct revolutionary socialist / marxist voice.

A ‘collapse’ network would not be exclusively socialist, it should involve all those who recognise the looming reality of collapse. Likewise, the Eco-Socialist Network should be as broad as possible, including those unconvinced that capitalism will collapse. The broadness of these networks will be one of their great attractions.

Effectively promoting both the likelihood of capitalist collapse and an eco-socialist response, and relating this to current events and day to day struggles, will likely require a higher level of political agreement and organisation than broad networks will initially have.

What kind of organisation?

While most Socialist Worker members appear to agree that the ‘Leninist’ model is no longer the way to go, a central feature of that tradition – organising around a publication – remains useful.

Beyond this, a new socialist grouping would recognise that its members will be involved in a range of campaigns, parties and other organisations as individuals (not representatives of the group). It would not seek to be the main organiser of member’s activism.

The demands on members would therefore be comparatively low: agreement with a statement of aims or principles, and the commitment of a little time and/or money for the production and distribution of the publication.

With other socialist groups also reassessing the way they organise, such a loose form of organisation could open space for future cooperation or regroupment.

First steps: a new publication

A publication freely distributed online and in printed form could be the first step towards a new socialist grouping.

I envision it made up of short articles, in sections less than 1000 characters (Facebook update length), which could be posted on the internet as they are written, then each month (or week) laid-up on an A4 or A3 page for distribution as emailed pdf and printed leaflet.

Reporting on campaigns, protests, industrial action, the publication would build practical solidarity with struggles, while linking together the people waging them, fostering a sense of common cause across many diverse areas of resistance.

Locating struggles within a wider context, it would encourage an understanding of how day to problems relate to capitalism’s crisis, and an eco-socialist response.

Finally, it would unite eco-socialist activists in the collective work of promoting their shared ideas to a wider audience.

1 comment:

Binh said...

Forgive me for commenting on so many entries, but finding socialists who are thinking outside the boxes we've been handed has been tough. And not only are you folks thinking but you're are actually taking action along those lines.

I myself am trying to get something like what you are talking about off the ground: http://www.thenorthstar.info/

Ideally I'd like to run things like this:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/23/1044604/-5-of-5-essays:-How-Occupy-LA-got-itself-evicted?via=blog_511082

Quite a few socialists contacted me through my Tasks piece and I am working on trying to get them plugged in.

One thing that astonished me about OWS is the smashing success of the Occupied Wall Street Journal: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/23/1044604/-5-of-5-essays:-How-Occupy-LA-got-itself-evicted?via=blog_511082

When this paper appeared one day in Liberty Park you could not stop people from grabbing it:
http://agreatbigcity.com/the-occupied-wall-street-journal-whats-inside
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wac6/6233299696/

What was amazing about this paper was that it distributed itself. People took stacks and handed them out without anyone telling them to do it. It was a huge contrast to how things are done in the ISO where selling the paper is a condition of membership and refusal can lead to expulsion.

It proved to me that if you make a paper lively, exciting, attractive, with humor and fighting spirit people will eagerly seek it out. When it's boring, filled with generalities, ugly, and poorly written you have to force it on people or be pushy about it.

OWSJ was free, just as Iskra and Forward were, by the way. They used kickstarter to raise the initial funds for it.