I recently wrote in L.A. Progressive an article about consolidating the politico left wing:
“The Party for Socialism and Liberation says about itself: We are united in our belief that capitalism—the system in which all wealth and power is held by a tiny group of billionaires and their state—is the source of the main problems confronting humanity today. It must be replaced by socialism, a system where poor and working people have power and the wealth of society is used in a planned and sustainable way to meet people’s needs.
I have seen the PSL, the Communist Party USA and the Socialist Workers Party all identified as the communist party. However, they appear to be separate and functioning. To me, it would make sense that all of these groups, however big or small, would have a meeting (via ZOOM) and try to share their beliefs and see whether they might have a coalition started in 2022.”
Eventually, the Coalition could be expected to displace the Democratic Party and absorb that party’s left wing, creating a party that was not beholden to corporations and large businesses.
Not being one who just sits around speculating, I’ve written two sets of letters out to about 20 groups to see if there were interest and received back 5 encouraging responses.But I also received this note from a friend who has worked in this area for years:“Good luck. It is a great idea. But I find everyone wants to lead an organization more than work together. The left is doomed.”To my follow-up letter, she said, “I have tried this many times just with issue groups in CA. I don't think it will work. And I don't want to devote time to things that won't work. I am trying to coordinate all the different movements working on rent strikes.”
I know her, and she does work very hard trying to coordinate groups that agree on a particular issue.So – is the problem in trying to get groups to work together that the leaders want to “lead” and not cooperate?
According to emeritus professor of economics, Barry Clark, "[leftists] claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated."It seems obvious that all socialists and most progressives believe in this.But if the people who start a party are more interested in their own status as a leader than in sharing power with others, it would be difficult to achieve the cooperation needed to achieve a movement.
Perhaps the best way to try to solve this problem would be to leave the local structures of the various parties as they were.For example, the Socialist Workers Party has 16 local chapters.Its headquarters are in New York City.Its presidential candidate lives in Dallas, works at Walmart there, and has been the presidential candidate twice as well as a candidate for mayor of Dallas.Its national secretary lives in New York and has held that post since 1972.Democracy for America has its headquarters in Burlington, VT., with 23 branches spread throughout the U.S., each one a separate organization.SWP and DFA have separate branches in New York and other cities and might find it economical and easier to manage if the separate New York branches were combined.
Most of these groups have more than one local chapter. Ifthere were a Coalition, each local chapter could retain its local name or names, plus a name as a Coalition chapter, and continue to operate pretty much as it had before.There could be one or several headquarters of the Coalition.The only issue would be who would be the titular head or heads of the Coalition.
Fortunately, in our modern age, it is fairly easy to communicate between an organization with many offices.If, for example, the members of the Coalition were the DFA, the SWP, and ten other organizations, the principal decision maker could be a “parliament” consisting of 12 people, one from each of the member organizations.They could meet weekly or monthly via ZOOM and make decisions that affected the Coalition as a whole.There would be a head officer of the parliament (like a prime minister) who would hold office for a year.Each of the individual 12 organizations would be like states, and they would continue to function as they had before.
Over time, the Coalition could solidify some of the local offices and make sure they operated efficiently.The Coalition would decide its overall programs and ideas.Of course, the individual “states” would each have a say in that.The “Constitution” of the Coalition would be written at the very beginning by borrowing from the principles of the 12 organizations.My own thinking is that these organizations have similar goals and that a Constitution should be relatively easy to fashion.
These groups, even though some of them run presidential candidates, receive very few votes.Consolidated, however, they would have much greater power in local elections and in national elections.Eventually, the Coalition could be expected to displace the Democratic Party and absorb that party’s left wing, creating a party that was not beholden to corporations and large businesses.
Michael T. Hertz