The devastating consequences of "going along to get along"


John Reimann
 

I was one of the founding members of a small socialist group called the Workers International Network (WIN). Its founding concept was original and excellent. However, as this article shows, there always was a tendency to being unwilling to stand against the tide within the socialist and even the working class movement - an unwillingness to both support a workers movement while also taking an independent position. A side effect was establishing an atmosphere in which free and open discussion was discouraged, as this article shows. The result was they ended up fronting for Putin. I, myself, was pushed out of the group. There are many lessons to be learned from this, because it is not unique. 

https://oaklandsocialist.com/2022/11/24/go-along-to-get-along-a-cautionary-tale/

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Walter Lippmann <walterlx1944@...>
 

How many members did this grouping have?
When it was founded and when you left it?
When was it founded? Does it still exist now?


John Reimann writes:  "I don’t see a major tendency by workers to assert their independent political role in society as a whole." 

"Major tendency"? Sorry, but there isn't even a MINOR "
tendency by workers to assert their independent political role in society as a whole." 

Lots of encouraging trade union activity is going on today, but ZERO "
tendency by workers to assert their independent political role in society as a whole." 

Any explanation?

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California
November 24, 2022


Charles Rachlis
 

In John’s run down of the points of R.B.  Promoted by WIN in the SLN there is one point in particular which is not addressed that being : For the dismantling of NATO.   Is there a reason why John does not address this point?  Is dismantling NATO the position of Oakland Socialist or has John gone so far down the rabbit hole as to abandon this essential piece of the revolutionary program-uncompromising opposition to imperialist military blocs.  To counter NATO and Moscow John never advocates the socialist revolution against the war and for an independent Soviet Ukraine.  I have not seen this as part of the program of the Socialist Solidarity with Ukraine Committee.  Am I missing something or is John building the popular front with NATO to entrap the Ukrainian workers in defense of capitalism, the Zelensky regime and the unmentioned Azov and right sector brigades?

Charles 




On Thursday, November 24, 2022, 4:23 AM, John Reimann <1999wildcat@...> wrote:

I was one of the founding members of a small socialist group called the Workers International Network (WIN). Its founding concept was original and excellent. However, as this article shows, there always was a tendency to being unwilling to stand against the tide within the socialist and even the working class movement - an unwillingness to both support a workers movement while also taking an independent position. A side effect was establishing an atmosphere in which free and open discussion was discouraged, as this article shows. The result was they ended up fronting for Putin. I, myself, was pushed out of the group. There are many lessons to be learned from this, because it is not unique. 

https://oaklandsocialist.com/2022/11/24/go-along-to-get-along-a-cautionary-tale/

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Michael Pugliese
 

Re : "WIN, following its central organizational and theoretical
leader, Roger Silverman," Henry on Partido , sent this , "Who is Roger
Silverman? Originally an associate of Ted Grant:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/grant/1967/bureaucratism.htm "


Mark Baugher
 

https://oaklandsocialist.com/2022/11/24/go-along-to-get-along-a-cautionary-tale/

Thanks for posting this.  There is little about the groups organizational norms and principles, which sounds like a group run by a clique.  Can it be otherwise?  

The organizing principle of "democratic centralism" is supposedly effective democracy  for a revolutionary party in the Leninist/Trotskyist tradition. But "The Revolutionary Party" has proven easy to corrupt.  The idea sounds good:  Vigorous, free, and majority-rule democracy followed by a decision that the entire organization then executes.  

In practice, there are ways to undermine democratic centralism.  Certainly, a member of a democratic-centralist organization wouldn't make a counter proposal to a party decision before an external group, in a coalition or united front.  But what about in an internal meeting?  Can the decision even be discussed among members as relevant events happen? What about academic explication of the issues?  Historically, US Leninism has an anti-intellectual bent compared to Europe, Cannon's SWP did not welcome "armchair marxists" ruminating over topics rather than implementing the party line.  What about discussing an issue over a drink with members who are friends?  That has been forbidden by some democratic centralists.  Regarding non-members, some "Leninists" prohibit or strictly limit fraternizing with non members, say at your child's birthday party.

Besides "centralism," what about the "democracy" part? I learned that Leninist democracy means free, open and comradely debate during discussion periods, such as before local decision-making meetings or national conventions.  But some leaders keep a troop of trolls around the organization to piss in peoples' ears with negative innuendoes about those with opposing views or competing ambitions.  They mobilize arguments against the person rather than the political position, and they share a human bond with one subset of the organization that opposes others.  Those aligned with those in power get camaraderie and careers. In one organization with Leninist roots, a small group of leaders got to not only speak for the organization but also got control of the the assets like a publishing house and valuable real estate, they controlled it for decades and hand-picked the board that signed the checks.   

A tightly-controlled centrally-led group invites rebellion in regional centers where charismatic local leaders foment factionalism and eventually splinter the group.  And Leninist groups do splinter whereas others like the DSA are great big tents and stand for everything.  There needs to be some type of focused socialist organization that can check the negative human impulses behind cults, splinter groups, corrupted democratic processes, and centralism to the point of thought control.

Mark


John Reimann
 

I noted the original replies to this post. It is interesting to me that none of them commented on the central thesis of the article, the one about which we really have to think a lot more. That is the point about how revolutionary socialists - Marxists (which we on this list supposedly are) - relate to a broader movement, and in particular to the leadership of such movements. Since even in this era in which "socialism" has lost much of its stigma but socialist groups have made little or no headway, I'd say it's a question that should be seriously considered, no?

John Reimann

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Mark Baugher
 

On Nov 26, 2022, at 1:20 PM, John Reimann <1999wildcat@...> wrote:

I noted the original replies to this post. It is interesting to me that none of them commented on the central thesis of the article, the one about which we really have to think a lot more. That is the point about how revolutionary socialists - Marxists (which we on this list supposedly are) - relate to a broader movement, and in particular to the leadership of such movements. Since even in this era in which "socialism" has lost much of its stigma but socialist groups have made little or no headway, I'd say it's a question that should be seriously considered, no?
Well, I thought that my rant on American Leninism did just that. Leninism, after all, is a doctrine for "leadership of such movements" - as you put it, and I noted that Leninism in the US has led to authoritarian cults, perverted democratic norms, and splintering often around charismatic local or national leaders. The point I was trying to make is that this may at least partly explain why "socialist groups have made little or no headway" - as you put it, John.

Mark


Michael Meeropol
 

One other important question -- why was there no replication of the success of DEBS'. Socialist Party in the early 20th century?   

Why didn't SDS remain a mass left movement after 1969?   (was the split the cause or the result of its failures?   === or was its failure(s) inevitable???)

Those are also very important questions --- 

On Sat, Nov 26, 2022 at 4:45 PM Mark Baugher <mark@...> wrote:


> On Nov 26, 2022, at 1:20 PM, John Reimann <1999wildcat@...> wrote:
>
> I noted the original replies to this post. It is interesting to me that none of them commented on the central thesis of the article, the one about which we really have to think a lot more. That is the point about how revolutionary socialists - Marxists (which we on this list supposedly are) - relate to a broader movement, and in particular to the leadership of such movements. Since even in this era in which "socialism" has lost much of its stigma but socialist groups have made little or no headway, I'd say it's a question that should be seriously considered, no?

Well, I thought that my rant on American Leninism did just that.  Leninism, after all, is a doctrine for "leadership of such movements" - as you put it, and I noted that Leninism in the US has led to authoritarian cults, perverted democratic norms, and splintering often around charismatic local or national leaders.  The point I was trying to make is that this may at least partly explain why "socialist groups have made little or no headway" - as you put it, John.

Mark

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Mark Baugher
 

On Nov 26, 2022, at 2:56 PM, Michael Meeropol <mameerop@...> wrote:

One other important question -- why was there no replication of the success of DEBS'. Socialist Party in the early 20th century?
The left wing went into what would eventually become the CPUSA where it was soon corrupted by the COMINTERN and served the national interests of the USSR. The rest became the reformist party of Norman Thomas and eventually Michael Harrington. Two or three generations of the best US radicals were wasted by the CPUSA.



Why didn't SDS remain a mass left movement after 1969? (was the split the cause or the result of its failures? === or was its failure(s) inevitable???)
In 1971, I would have said that it lacked the organizational norms of a cadre organization and an anchor in the traditions of the US workers movement. I'd claim that the SWP had those advantages when it was leading real mass movements. Besides organizing the largest demonstrations, the SWP remained quite small compared to the tens of thousands of (mostly casual) members of the SDS, the 100k or so of the CPUSA and the 50k of the SP. Today, I'd say that many of the SWP's organizational norms were incompatible with a healthy socialist organization, one that would not have the same central leader for 15, 20 or 60 years.

Mark


Those are also very important questions ---

On Sat, Nov 26, 2022 at 4:45 PM Mark Baugher <mark@...> wrote:


On Nov 26, 2022, at 1:20 PM, John Reimann <1999wildcat@...> wrote:

I noted the original replies to this post. It is interesting to me that none of them commented on the central thesis of the article, the one about which we really have to think a lot more. That is the point about how revolutionary socialists - Marxists (which we on this list supposedly are) - relate to a broader movement, and in particular to the leadership of such movements. Since even in this era in which "socialism" has lost much of its stigma but socialist groups have made little or no headway, I'd say it's a question that should be seriously considered, no?
Well, I thought that my rant on American Leninism did just that. Leninism, after all, is a doctrine for "leadership of such movements" - as you put it, and I noted that Leninism in the US has led to authoritarian cults, perverted democratic norms, and splintering often around charismatic local or national leaders. The point I was trying to make is that this may at least partly explain why "socialist groups have made little or no headway" - as you put it, John.

Mark

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