I don’t usually talk a lot about politics here, mostly because I think politics is a topic best discussed face to face or in 400 page books, as well as I don’t really think it fits with what I want to do with this blog (that is talking about depression and stuff). However this has been on my mind a lot lately since some conflicts in my organising circles has caused me some psychological distress so I guess this qualifies after all. Anyway:
Over the past few years, the question of left unity has been on my mind a lot. I don’t think I will ever arrive at a complete and whole truth in this matter however here are the conclusions I’ve arrived at so far.
There are some things every leftist can agree on, that we can organise around and work together to achieve mutual goals. Things like:
- Aiding refugees and the homeless
- Workers rights
- Environmental issues
Just to name a few. I gladly organise and work together with leftists of all flavours, even liberals as long as they can respect the radical tendencies in those spaces, organisations, initiatives etc. All lefties also can agree that capitalism sucks and needs to be dismantled. An other world is possible. Etc. Great. Every radical conversation that is held contributes to seeding the idea amongst “the mainstream” that we can break the status quo. However, when time comes to build an anti-capitalist movement, radicalising your workplace, friends and family, when we start to mobilise, go on strike, piece by piece break down the oppressive structures of capitalism, every pretence of left unity goes out of the window for me.
Sure, all (or at least most) leftist share the same end goal. Communism aka a classless, stateless society where every individual is equal. However the difference in how we get there is to great between authoritarians and libertarians. If authoritarians seize power, anarchist organising will be deemed counter-revolutionary. After all, anarchists would view the vanguard party as just an other oppressor to overthrow, and the party in power would do everything in their power to stop them along side the capitalists from hurting the revolution.
If an anarchist revolution would succeed, well, a similar story would develop. Anarchists would exclude authoritarians from their communities the same way they would with capitalists, or at least keep them in check, preventing them from organising.
Now, as an anarchist (and here is where my biases start showing), I believe that should an anarchist revolution succeed, authoritarians would not need to organise because we would have already arrived at the classless, stateless society (or at least be so close that building up the state again would just be silly), however should an authoritarian revolution succeed me and my anarchist comrades would be no closer to communism (power corrupts and all that) and we would be no safer than we are today, arguably even less so because historically communist states have been way more happy to persecute anarchists than liberal states (at least according to my limited knowledge of history).
I know that none of my authoritarian friends would want to harm me or my anarchist comrades. They are all great people and I am very happy to have had the opportunity to get to know them and work along side them. But I also know that they probably won’t be the ones making out the top of “the party”. It will be the most ruthless that climb to the top. Just like in any other hierarchical structure. And those would not bat an eye before ordering us to stop our anarchist organising, forcing us to go underground. They would not bat an eye ordering our persecution, imprisonment and in the worst case, execution.
In conclusion: For short term organising around immediate issues, left unity is great. Long term, in a revolutionary sense, not so much.