The American Left
Putting aside the “ultra left” tendency, which Lenin rightly called the “infantile disorder”, there are currently two major “disorders” among the American left:
Most, among the radical or revolutionary left, who understand the concept of classes and the need to eventually wrest the state power from the ruling capitalist class in a revolution and subsequently ensure that the defeated class does not come back to power, suffer from a strong case of sectarianism. They often refuse to cooperate and work in coalitions with other groups and organizations that they may have a difference of opinion with. Internally, some of these organizations take only the second part of the idea of democratic centralism, tossing out the first. Leaders are often permanent and don’t get reelected in elections. People are often recruited to do footwork, without being given the opportunity to participate in real decision making, which is almost exclusively made at the top. While understandably, it takes a while to trust a new member, as too often FBI agents have infiltrated these organizations, a new member is always viewed with suspicion and kept on the periphery. Membership and membership rights seem arbitrary. Those who don’t question the internal authority and leadership and their positions are favored and encouraged, while discussions and questions that don’t exactly fit the party line are discouraged.
The sectarianism keeps the group tightly knit like a close family, but, it also turns the group into a clique and keeps them mostly talking to themselves, cut off from the outside world, distrusting and shunning others with opinions different from theirs, instead of finding common ground and working with others towards organizing at the grassroots level and educating to raise class consciousness, which most of these rather small groups believe in doing and should be doing.
The other major disorder is the opposite of the first: that of too much “inclusion”, as they like to call it. This is basically a liberal mindset, which although sides politically with the working class and is anti-imperialist and anti-war in worldview and largely even considers itself anti-capitalist, it suffers from liberalism in their thinking. What they lack is a clear understanding of class, class war and class enemy. In fact, they don’t like or don’t believe in the notion of “class war” or “class enemy” and try to avoid such terms. Instead, they believe in “inclusion” of “everyone”, including the ruling class, in trying to build a better and fairer future, not questioning why the ruling class that holds all the power would want to change anything or give up any of their power or influence.
They also, as a result, reject the idea of a revolution, often pointing to the ones which failed in the past or did not go as they would have liked them to go, and fearful of what may come after. They also point to the fact that revolutions are usually violent and destructive, even though the violence is always imposed by the rulers. Most of them do believe in grassroots organizing, but only to pressure the politicians serving the ruling class to serve the people, instead. Some see the problem only in the existence of too much money in politics and elections or in corporate lobbying or that corporations have too much power and exert too much influence. Their organizing usually involves campaigning for a more progressive candidate, including those who call themselves socialist. Some even think that progressives should join with right wing libertarians to unseat the politicians of the “corporatist state”, from the top and without the need for a movement. Some among this group even take a moralistic and religious approach, preaching changing ourselves first or being good to and inclusive of everyone, regardless of class or status to make a fairer, better and more peaceful world.
Their views on a post-revolution society (such as Cuba) or one which is going through one (such as Venezuela) are also naive, as they advocate inclusion of the apologists and ideologues of the capitalist class in public discourse, allowing them to continue their propaganda through their broadcasting networks with “equal” opportunity to express, organize and agitate, as in a “free and fair” competition, as if the whole endeavor, including the sacrifices made or to be made to get there, is some kind of game to be decided through competition and “equal time”, disregarding and ignoring all the brainwashing that have gone on before and overlooking the continued unevenness in power and resources that exist now and will continue to exist for some time after a revolution. Above all, they forget what the real point of the revolution is: the uprooting of the exploiting class, their unequivocal defeat and building of a new social order, rather than playing “fair”, as they understand it and want to impose on suffering masses. Building of the new starts with the destruction of the old. That’s what a revolution is about, whether or not it involves any actual act of destruction or violence, which incidentally, is always imposed on those wanting real change.
There are two things that stop this group from supporting a revolution: their own interest in the current system and the status quo and fear of losing those benefits and interests, on the one hand, and the fear of the new, on the other. That’s because this is largely a middle class intellectual group with middle class intellectual fears and apprehensions. Those who have nothing, also fear losing nothing. They, unlike the intellectual middle class, know that they can only gain from a fundamental and structural change. And, that’s why they’re the ones who can be relied upon to create and push forward a mass movement, leading up to a revolution, leaving it up to the liberals to join or not. Revolution is not some outdated last-century idea. Simply put, it’s the wresting of state power from the dominant class of super wealthy by the working class and doesn’t have to involve violence, although, it always does because the class of billionaires that’s in power will not relinquish that power, voluntarily. To reject the idea of a revolution is to reject empowering and liberating people from the persistent poverty and exploitation, no matter what the excuse – psychological, religious, whatever.