Sunday, 14 July 2019

Willem Van Spronsen

Willem Van Spronsen, 69 year old Anarchist and Anti-fascist
Yesterday a man was shot and killed in the Tacoma immigrant detention centre, after attacking its transport hub in an attempt to prevent deportations. That man was Willem Van Spronsen, a 69 year old man, known as an active anti-fascist and anarchist. Last year he was in court for intervening to protect a 17 year old fellow protestor at another protest against the treatment of migrants at that facility.

Conditions there, and in other facilities have only gotten worse, with them quickly becoming concentration camps for the US government to house thousands of people of all ages in deteriorating conditions.

Since this is still breaking news there is some confusion about the events, early reports framed the incident as if Spronsen were trying to set fire to the whole camp, only for it come out that the use of incendiaries was against ICE vehicles.

La Resistencia, a group that has organised several protests against detention centres and immigration raids, including at Tacoma has released a statement.

Tacoma, WA-- Early this morning, a person who appears to have been engaged in protest against the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma was shot and killed by members of the Tacoma Police Department. Today marks yet another death linked to the detention center, and another death at the hands of the police. Based on available information, including the police scanner recording, Willem Van Spronsen, the protestor killed, appears to have been targeting not the detention center itself, as has been widely reported in the media, but the parking lot across the street from the detention center which houses the NWDC’s transportation infrastructure. This infrastructure includes a fleet of buses that transports immigrants to be caged at the detention center, and that transports immigrants from the detention center to the Yakima Airport, from which they are deported.
Mr. Van Spronsen was apparently trying to set the deportation buses on fire when he was shot and killed. His actions sadly reflect the level of desperation people across this country feel about the government’s outrageous violence against immigrants, which includes the use of detention centers to cage migrants both currently living in the U.S. and those seeking asylum. This death results from the federal government’s unresponsiveness to the anger and despair people feel at the horrors unfolding both at the border and in the interior, and from the inability of officers to de-escalate rather than shooting to kill.
But for the City of Tacoma allowing the GEO Group’s facility to be built and expanded in Tacoma, this death, and the death and suffering of those inside the detention center would have been avoided. The NWDC has become a liability not just for the tens of thousands who have been caged there, but for the city of Tacoma itself. It’s past time for the city of Tacoma to cancel GEO’s business license. It’s clear that this “business” is a deadly one, that has only brought pain and suffering to our region.
La Resistencia calls on the City of Tacoma to hold immediate public hearings addressing the Tacoma Police’s actions today that resulted in the loss of life at the Detention Center and why the City continues to allow GEO to operate with a city business license.
#####
La Resistencia (formerly NWDC Resistance) is a grassroots collective led by undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens based in Tacoma, Washington. It is an unincorporated association founded to confront human rights violations at the Northwest Detention Center and dedicated to ending the detention and deportation of immigrants.
And reports from activists in the area who knew Van Spronsen including friends believe that this action was sadly motivated in part as a form of suicide.

Puget Sounds Anarchists, a group of Anarchists from Olympia Washington that Spronson worked with also released a statement/eulogy.


Submitted Anonymously
Early this morning around 4am our friend and comrade Will Van Spronsen was shot and killed by the Tacoma police. All we know about what lead up to this comes from the cops, who are notoriously corrupt and unreliable sources for such a narrative. The story that we do have is that Will attempted to set fire to several vehicles, outbuildings and a propane tank outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma which houses hundreds of immigrants awaiting hearings or deportations. He successfully set one vehicle on fire and then exchanged gunfire with Tacoma police officers who fatally shot him. He was pronounced dead on the scene. We find his actions inspiring. The vehicles outside the detention facility are used to forcibly remove people from their homes and deport them, often to situations where they will face severe danger or death. Those vehicles being destroyed is only a start of what is needed. We wish the fires Will set had freed all the inmates and razed the entire Northwest Detention Center to the ground. And we miss our friend and wish from the bottom of our hearts that his action had not ended in his death.

Will Van Spronsen was a long-time anarchist, anti-fascist and a kind, loving person. Here in Olympia some of us remember him as a skilled tarp structure builder from the Occupy encampment in 2011. Others remember him from the protests outside the NWDC last summer where he was accused of lunging at a cop and wrapping his arms around the officer’s neck and shoulders, as the officer was trying to arrest a 17-year-old protester. The very next day when he was released from jail he came right back to the encampment outside the center to support the other protesters. He is also remembered as a patient and thoughtful listener who was always willing to hear people out.
We are grief stricken, inspired and enraged by what occurred early this morning. ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm is only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend. Will gave his life fighting ICE we may never know what specifically was going through his head in the last hours of his life but we know that the NWDC must be destroyed and the prisoners must be freed. We do not need heroes, only friends and comrades. Will was simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what he loved; fighting for a better world.

This evening around 8pm roughly 30 anarchists gathered at Percival landing in Olympia WA to remember Will Van Spronsen and to oppose ICE. We held road flares and banners reading “Rest In Power Will Van Spronsen” “Abolish ICE” “RIP Will” “Fire to the Prisons” and “Stop Deportation End Incarceration.” We shared stories and memories of Will with each other, laughed, and cried. Some people split off and plastered downtown Olympia with “Immigrants Welcome” stickers, while others drove circles around downtown flying the “Rest in Power Will” from the back of a truck.
May his memory be a blessing.
Love to those still fighting.

Fragments of his writing have since started to trickle through.


http://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/letters/rules-on-rainwater-make-no-sense-letter-to-the-editor/

He also typed up a short letter, some are calling a manifesto, that in reality is closer to a suicide note and explanation of his personal frustrations, horrors and dreams.




Its a little hard to read, so for clarity I've typed it up, I tried to keep the punctuation as close to the original as possible but the capitalisation in word processing didn't always comply.


Note: This letter was originally typed up on three pages without capitalisation. Punctuation retained from the original. Italics represent transcription additions.

First page

There’s wrong and there’s right.
it’s time to take action against the forces of evil.

Evil says one life is worth less than another
evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here.
evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary.
the handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane.
beware the centrist.

I have a father’s broken heart
I have a broken down body
and I have an unshakeable abhorrence for injustice
that is what brings me here.
this is my clear opportunity to try to make a difference, I’d be an ingrate to be waiting for
a more obvious invitation.

I follow three teachers:
don pritts, my spiritual guide, “love without action is just a word.”
john brown, my moral guide, “what is needed is action!”
emma goldman, my political guide, “if I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution”

I’m a head in the clouds dreamer, I believe in love and redemption.
I believe we’re going to win
I’m joyfully revolutionary. (we all should have been reading emma goldman in school instead of the jingo drivel we were fed. But I digress.) (we should all be looking at the photos of the YPJ heroes should we falter and think our dreams are impossible, but I double digress. Fight me.)

In these days of fascist hooligans preying on vulnerable people on our streets, in the name of the state or supported and defended by the state.

In these days of highly profitable detention/concentration camps and a battle over the semantics,
In these days of hopelessness, empty pursuit and endless yearning.

We are living in visible fascism ascendant. (I say visible, because those paying attention watched it survive and thrive under the protection of the state for decades. [see howard zinn, “a people’s history of the united states.) now it unabashedly follows its agenda with open and full cooperation from the government. From governments around the world.

fascism serves the needs of the state serves the needs of business and at our expense. who benefits? jeff bezos, warren buffett, elon musk, tim cook, bill gates, betsy de vos, george soros, donald trump, and need i go on? let me say it again: rich guys, (who think you’re not really all that good.) really dig government, (every government everywhere, including “communist” governments,) because they make the rules that make the rich guys richer.
simple.
don’t overthink it.

(are you patriots in the back paying attention?)

Second page

when I was a boy, in post war Holland., later france, my head was filled with stories of the rise of fascism in the 30’s. I promised myself that I would not be one of those who stands by as neighbors are torn from their homes and imprisoned for somehow being perceived as lesser.
you don’t have to burn the motherfucker down, but are you just going to stand by?

This is the test of our fundamental belief in real freedom and our responsibility to each other.
this is a call to patriots, too, to stand against this travesty against everything that you hold sacred,
I know you. I know that in your hearts, you see the dishonor in these camps. It’s time for you, too, to stand up to the money pulling the strings of every goddamn puppet pretending to represent us.

I’m a man who loves you all and this spinning ball so much that I’m going to fulfil my childhood promise to myself to be noble.

Here it is, in these corporate for profit concentration camps.
here it is, in brown and non conforming folks afraid to show their faces for the fear of the
police/migra/proud boys/the boss/beckies…
here it is, a planet almost used up by the markets greed.

I’m a black and white thinker.
detention camps are an abomination.
I’m not standing by.
I really shouldn’t have to say any more than this.

I set aside my broken heart and I heal the only way I know how- by being useful.
I efficiently compartmentalize my pain…
and I joyfully go about this work.
(to those burdened with the wreckage from my actions, I hope that you will make the best use of that burden.)

Third page


To my comrades:

I regret that I will miss the rest of the revolution.
thank you for the honor of having been in your midst.

Giving me space to be useful, to feel that I was fulfilling my ideals, has been the spiritual
pinnacle of my life.

Doing what I can to help defend my precious and wondrous people is an experience too
rich to describe.

My trans comrades have transformed me, solidifying my conviction that we will be
guided to a dreamed of future by those most marginalized among us today. I have
dreamed it so clearly that I have no regret for not seeing how it turns out. Thank you for
bringing me so far along.

I am antifa, I stand with comrades around the world who act from the love of life in every
permutation. comrades who understand that freedom means real freedom for all and a
life worth living.
Keep the faith!
all power to the people
bella ciao


Postscript


Audio manifesto: theSuper8.bandcamp.com

Don’t let your silly government agencies spend money “investigating” this one. I was
radicalized in civics class at 13 when we were taught about the electoral college. It was
at that point that I decided that the status quo might be a house of cards. Further reading
confirmed this in the positive. I highly recommend reading!
I am not affiliated with any organization, I have disaffiliated from any organization who
disagree with my choice of tactics.
the semi automatic weapon I used was a cheap, home built unregistered “ghost” ar15, i
had six magazines. I strongly encourage comrades and incoming comrades to arm themselves.
we are now responsible for defending people from the predatory state.
ignore the law in arming yourself if you have the luxury, I did.

__________________________________________________________________________________

The letter also contained a link to an album called the audio manifesto



Edit: Looks like Bandcamp have deleted the album, fortunately it was saved on Archive.org





Saturday, 13 July 2019

Does Work Really Work? - L. Susan Brown






'One of the first questions people often ask when they are introduced to one another in our society is “what do you do?” This is more than just polite small talk — it is an indication of the immense importance work has for us.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Renegade Kautsky and his Acolyte Eric Blanc

This is actually a paraphrasing of a quotation by Trotsky, I don't know why this is attributed to Kautsky but its sums up his reputation very well


Jacobin magazine is increasingly becoming a bit of  punching bag in my circles, I can't really disagree the few articles I've liked or thought were important turned out to have been originally written for a different publication and then rehosted. Though to be fair, rehosting is an important and useful service, hell its mostly what I do online, I'm not bringing this up to be dismissive I'm just relating my experiences with the publication.

One article that got a lot of derision a few months ago was Why Kautsky was Right (and Why you Should Care). Most people on my radar made some comments about SPD degeneration, you know World War One, siding with the Freikorps, murdering its own members for being to radical etc.

But well I figured I'd read it, and eventually got around to it. I don't think the argument is convincing, but I think it does merit a bit of response, because honestly as increased popularity of "the Left" has continued I have noticed more people calling themselves Kautskyites.

The article written by Eric Blanc was largely a response piece to two other authors Muldoon and Post, whom Blanc believes are too attached to Leninism to be objective. Personally speaking I'm not really interesting in which of the three are proved right, so I'm going to be skipping most of the direct responses to Post and Muldoon, except for areas were I do believe its relevant to what I think are the main issues of the work.

That said here's the version on Jacobin, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/04/karl-kautsky-democratic-socialism-elections-rupture

For me the article begins at Kautsky's Democratic Road to Socialism, the early section about Kautsky earlier more radical ideas and views being completely overshadowed by his ore famous, or more infamous and more reformist ideas later in life is fair I feel. Though I disagree with the way Blanc absolves him of agency in his own compromise. The man did re-join the SPD in 1920, after they had led a brutal paramilitary counterrevolution against German socialists after all. But this is a digression.

The articles defence of Kautsky's Democratic theories on revolution lies on two points.

  • The majority of workers in parliamentary countries would generally seek to use legal mass movements and the existing democratic channels to advance their interests.
  • Technological advances have made modern armies to strong to be overthrown through uprisings on the old-nineteenth model of barricade street fighting
On their own its hard to disagree with these points, I'm sure we can all think of dozens of failed insurrections and periods of mass struggle in democratic countries that didn't go beyond voting in a new crowd. To pick an example the Poll Tax riots and mass refusal to pay campaigns effectively toppled the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and forced the government to reverse course, but the government remained in power, and even got re-elected. 

But the combination is rather odd, while insurrections against states with modern armies have failed, for example the German Revolution of 1918, some of them have actively succeeded. To pick a random example a vast modern army didn't save the Shah in 1979. So if insurrections can topple autocratic states, the modern repressive apparatus doesn't seem that insurmountable an obstacle. And also insurrections haven't really relied on the old barricade model either, where barricades do appear in conflicts its largely an act of desperation by the defenders in individual battles. If anything most insurrections don't copy nineteenth century Paris.

Blanc often, because this a response piece aims his arguments in opposition to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. But again that wasn't really Paris 1830, the street fighting and combat was much different. They also didn't topple the Tsarist state but the Provisional Government, which on paper was much more democratic and republican. In practice it was still very autocratic, but so was the Germany of Kautsky's day when he made his turn, so that just raises the issue of what on earth do we mean by Democracy?

In popular terms we call governmental systems where the governing representatives are chosen via some form of election, and usually where every vote is weighted the same, preferably on a franchise that's open to every citizen from a certain age. 

In line with this approach, Kautsky insisted that fighting for a democratic republic — the complete democratization of the political regime, election of state officials, dissolution of the standing army, etc. — was a central component of socialist politics.

Now Blanc and Kautsky go beyond this in their views on "democratising the state" but Blanc at least admits that no state (certainly not the USA) measures up to this higher form democratisation, but this just leaves the question of how much democracy is needed before insurrection (supposedly) becomes impossible? Kautsky had already come to this conclusion in the 1910s, so even the low colloquial bar of universal suffrage for part of the political class had not been met by most of the countries on earth at that point. The Kaisers Germany of which Kautsky and his party operated within had parliaments, they did have influence within them, infamously when the Kaiser wanted War Credits to pursue war with Russia, which quickly turned into World War One. So did it qualify or not? If it did, its parliamentary channels didn't save the Kaiser when millions of workers, soldiers and sailors mutinied and built Councils. Or did it become sufficiently democratic after that, when the turmoil forced the creation of a federal Republic? 

And there's another issue, history has shown contrary to Blanc's assertion that insurrections against democratic societies are quite common and often successful. The issue here is most if not all such seizures of power have been by openly reactionary elements. 

In 1948 the Czechoslovak Communist party launched a coup against a parliamentary democracy and took the country into the Eastern Bloc. In 1967 João Goulart the President of Brazil was overthrown by the military. In 1973 in Chile Salvador Allende was deposed and murdered by the Chilean military, Blanc acknowledges this case in his article. I could go on all day.

Now I'm sure Blanc and other Kaustkyites would cry foul that these don't really count because they weren't carried out by Communists, or by the proletariat, but they do at least show that it is possible to topple a democratic society and even build sustained regime off of it. 

But I concede examples of left wing insurrections against democratic states are very limited, 1968 in France, and the struggles in Italy in the 70s are the most well known cases of revolts against democratic societies. Though the Zapatista insurrection in the 1990s was in opposition to a state that meets most definitions of Democratic, and does appear to have had a lot of support in Chiapas. Anyone familiar with Mexican government and its authorities will know that's a low bar, but still it seems to clear Blancs bar for a democratic state. And possibly the Irish Civil War, its debatable how socialistic the anti Free State IRA was, but they were a lot more friendly to workplace occupations and Councils in Ireland than the Free State, who had the backing of Irelands businessmen and actively intervened to defeat strikes. And the Free State despite its brutal repression and on the spot executions, was a functional Parliamentary society. The violence actually increased after Collins was killed and the Dail took over from the officers.

These aren't perfect examples I admit, but I think they show the question hasn't been so satisfactorily settled in Kautsky's favour like Blanc is suggesting.

Similarly, Post at no point provides any evidence for his assertion that
only workers’ councils, not a socialist-led government elected by universal suffrage, are capable of leading a break with capitalism.

Blanc seems to be correct from what I've read of Post, but he is also guilty of not providing any evidence for his chosen path leading to a break with Capitalism. He does cite an example of what he believes was a case of Kautskyite Socialist-led government elected by universal suffrage coming to power later on, but it didn't lead to a break with capitalism, and he misses out a lot of important context to that example.

So let's tackle it, the Finnish case.

The viability of Kautsky’s strategy in practice was demonstrated by the Finnish Revolution of 1917–18. Unlike most social-democratic parties of the era, the Finnish Social Democracy under the guidance of a cadre of young “Kautskyists” led by Otto Kuusinen upheld its commitment to radical democratic socialism. Through patient class-conscious organization and education, Finnish socialists won a majority in parliament in 1916, leading the Right to dissolve the institution in the summer of 1917, which in turn sparked a socialist-led revolution in January 1918. Finnish social democracy’s preference for a defensive parliamentary strategy did not prevent it from overthrowing capitalist rule and taking steps towards socialism.
It links to another article on Jacobin Finland's Revolution, also by Blanc.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/05/finland-revolution-russian-empire-tsarism-independence-general-strike

Which is a little curious because parts of that article throws up obstacles to this one.

The reason of citing Finland, is because its an example apparently of mass socialist party working within a Democratic system and maintaining a more radical commitment to anti-capitalism. There's just one problem here, in Blanc's own words in the Finnish Revolution article, that radicalism was tied to events in the wider Russian Empire.

But Finland’s participation in the 1905 Revolution veered the party to the left. During the November 1905 general strike, one Finnish socialist leader marveled at the popular upsurge:
"We live in a wonderful period of time … Peoples who were humble and satisfied to bear the burden of slavery have suddenly thrown off their yoke. Groups who until now have been eating pine bark, now demand bread."
In the wake of the 1905 Revolution, moderate socialist MPs, union leaders, and functionaries now found themselves a minority within the SDP. Seeking to implement the orientation elaborated by German Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky, from 1906 onwards most of the party infused legal tactics and a parliamentary focus with a sharp class-struggle politics. “Class hatred is to be welcomed, as it is a virtue,” proclaimed one party publication.
Only an independent labor movement, the SDP announced, could advance workers’ interests, defend and expand Finnish autonomy from Russia, and win full political democracy. A socialist revolution would eventually be the task of the day, but until then the party should cautiously build up its strength and avoid any premature clashes with the ruling class.
This strategy of revolutionary social democracy — with its militant message and slow-but-steady methods — was spectacularly successful in Finland. By 1907, over one hundred thousand workers had joined the party, making it the largest socialist organization per capita in the world. And in July 1916 Finnish Social Democracy made history by becoming the first socialist party in any country to win a majority in parliament. Due to recent years of tsarist “Russification,” however, most state power in Finland by this time was held by the Russian administration. Only in 1917 did the SDP confront the challenges of holding a parliamentary socialist majority in a capitalist society.
So we have the Revolution of 1905 spurring the radicals against the moderates, we also have the acknowledgement that the Russian Empire had succeeded in keeping much of the power of Finnish society in Imperial hands. So while the Grand Duchy of Finland was very democratic for the Russian Empire, its doesn't really measure up Blanc and Kautsky's more Democratic society. So again this just begs the question yet again how democracy do we need for a Kautskyian revolution?

Anyway further into the article it describes how the army (mostly made up of Russians) quickly mutinied once news of the Insurrection in February of 1917 arrived in Finland, and they then disarmed the police. This is very important because it means that a key part of the success of the Finnish Social Democrats, was the insurrection against Tsarist autocracy in the other parts of the Empire. This is important because lets say for argument sake that the success of the Finnish SPD is an example of the successes of Kautskyian ideas, they're are no longer practical or viable. We don't live in a world where Empires like the Russian Empire exist anymore, there are no moderately democratic provinces within greater autocratic powers, well no I'll be fair, the situation with Hong Kong and the People's Republic might be similar but that's about it.

Blanc in his responses to Muldoon and Post believes that their ideas are too rooted in the past of 1917, but I don't see how he's any different here. In his own words, much of the political development of the Finnish SPD was dependent on its connections to the wider Empire, and it too like the German SPD had its own collaborationist wing that worked with anti-socialists.

Like in the rest of the empire, Finland in March was swept up by a call for “national unity.” Hoping to win broad autonomy from the new Russian Provisional Government, a wing of moderate SDP leaders broke with the party’s longstanding position and joined a coalition administration with Finnish liberals. Various radical socialists denounced this move as a “betrayal” and a gross violation of the SDP’s Marxist principles — other key leaders, however, went along with the entry into government in order to prevent a split in the party.

Finland’s political honeymoon was short-lived. The new coalition government was quickly caught in the crossfire of the class struggle as unprecedented militancy erupted in Finland’s workplaces, streets, and rural areas. Some Finnish socialists focused their efforts on building armed workers’ militias. Others promoted strikes, militant trade-unionism, and shop-floor activism.
This is not a picture of ideological coherence, and of course the Finnish parliament was also pushing for national independence, this would lead to the parliament being dissolved by the Russian Provisional Government. So again a very big limitation on Democracy in the Grand Duchy, Blanc even includes this quote.

 our bourgeoisie had no army, nor even a police force they could count upon … [t]herefore there seemed every reason to keep to the beaten track of parliamentary legality, in which, so it appeared, Social Democracy could wrest one victory after another.
This does not support Blancs assertions. Its an admission that the Finnish SPD only maintained its "kautskyian" parliamentary path, because the repressive apparatus of the state had been destroyed. But they had only been destroyed thanks to an external revolution. If there hadn't been an insurrection in the Imperial interior those regiments would have remained loyal and not have disarmed the police. And even after that the parliamentary majority of the SPD was neutralised from above.

The article and history goes on to outline how Finnish workers turned increasingly to mass direct action with the leaders of the SPD and its Unions being outflanked, before losing the civil war. I don't see how this is supposed to be compelling, Blanc says that eventually the Finnish SPD "grew a spine" and started leading the class struggle, but by his own admission this was after the workers and their militia's had already continued on after the moderates in the SPD backed down.

The Finnish Revolution is a very interesting episode and we can learn much from it, but one thing we can't learn from it is how to enact Kaustky's ideas of "Democratic Social Revolution". The SPD majority, divered and split, operated within a autocratic society and was forced into its radicalism (though curiously in neither article does Blanc explain how the Finnish SPD broke from Capital) by the Finnish workers. The only difference between Finland and Germany is the numbers within the factions of the SPD.

This is a recurring flaw in both Blanc and Kautsky's views, on the one hand both acknowledge that for socialism to be achieved it will have to rely on mass struggle, such as a general strike.

To defeat such ruling-class resistance, Kautsky advocated that workers use the weapon of a general strike. He also affirmed that though Marxists desired and advocated a peaceful revolution, they must be prepared to use force if necessary to uphold their democratic mandate. Capitalists would not renounce violence even if the socialists did.
Which raises the question, if the General strike and other forceful means will be the decisive factors, and why bother putting time, resources and faith into parliamentary representatives? Blanc is an outspoken Kautskyite, but even he can only point to one example, and even his own recounting of that example has the parliamentary wing getting in the way of the more radical workers movement. The phrase growing a spine to describe the eventually coming around of the SPD leaders was his usage, not mine.

But more relevantly, Blanc does have examples of what he believes are the viability of Democratic Socialism for the modern day.

Lastly, upholding the best elements of Kautsky’s approach is important for helping leftists take the electoral arena more seriously. After decades in which apolitical movementism dominated the far left, and consistent support for mainstream Democrats defined the broader “progressive” milieu, mass working-class politics is finally back. Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other newly elected radicals have raised working people’s expectations and changed national politics. Socialists should participate in this electoral upsurge to promote mass movements and to organize hundreds of thousands of people into independent working-class organizations.

This is frankly bizarre, these Democrat politicians are not Kautskyites, and Kautsky's views are not represented by them. Bernie Sanders is not in favour of arming the people, on the contrary he has been a supporter of American militarism

Bernie became an imperialist to get elected in 1990. In August,
1990--after the Bush administration enticed Iraq into invading
Kuwait--Sanders said he wasn't "going to let some damn war cost him the
election," according to a staff member who was present at the time. So
Sanders backed the buildup in the Persian Gulf and dumped on the left
anti-imperialist peace movement, singling out his former
allies like Dave Dellinger for public criticism.
 https://libcom.org/library/why-we-are-occupying-bernie-sanders-burlington-office-1999

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez like the SPD who showed their internationalism by voting for War Credits, showed hers by voting to fund ICE a paramilitary body in the United States that torments and hunts suspected illegal migrants, on her first day in office.

https://libcom.org/news/abolishing-ice-funding-it-07012019

Eric Blanc is doing Kautsky no favours by linking him to Democrat reformers. These are just two criticisms I've picked from memory, there are plenty of very detailed criticisms of this new wave of social democrats, both in general trends and in specifics.

Most supporters of these candidates argue that they're better than the alternatives, and sure I can see the case that overall they'd pass more beneficial reforms then the other competitors etc, and maybe that's true. But bizarrely Blanc and the Kautskyites are trying to salvage the revolutionary legacy of Karl Kautsky, how is that compatible with comparisons to liberal party politicians?

Conclusion

I think its obvious I don't hold this article in high regard. I think its lacking as a defence of Kautsky's better ideas, the argument constructed is self defeating and bizarre. I'm not a fan of Kautsky, but I'm not opposed to the Democratic Marxists, outright, I think some of their work can be useful and the question of how and why democratic societies remain so resistant to moves from more Communistic movements is an important one. But this doesn't really help. On contrary what I take away from Eric Blancs own work is confirmation that a direct action approach is the most viable path to challenging capitalism, autocratic and democratic. 

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