As always the feeble found refuge in a belief in miracles, believing that the enemy has been vanquished when they have only conjured it away in a fantasy, sacrificing any understanding of the present to an ineffectual glorification of the future in store for them, and of deeds that they had in their hearts but did not want to bring to fruition just yet. They are the heroes who try to deny their proven incompetence by offering each other sympathy and banding together…
–Marx Later Political Writings (p.35)
Relates to my post: Falling in love with ourselves.
Communists have been further criticised for wanting to abolish the nation and nationalities. Workers have no nation of their own. We cannot take from them what they do not have. Since the proletariat must first of all take political control, raise itself up to be the class of the nation, must constitute the nation itself, it is still nationalistic, even if not at all in the bourgeois sense of the term.
–Marx Later Political Writings (p.17)
Relates to my post: Claiming and Contesting Meanings and Symbols of the Nation.
And how does the bourgeoisie surmount these crises? On the one hand through the enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other through the capture of new markets and a more thoroughgoing exploitation of old ones. How exactly? By preparing more comprehensive and devastating crises and diminishing the means for preventing them.
–Marx Later Political Writings (p.7)
One of my classes this semester is called Marxist & Post-Marxist Theories of Politics. Dylan Riley is teaching the class. I’m going to post choice quotes from the readings and probably short blurb reflections here — with the tag #marxtheory.
This week’s reading: Marx Later Political Writings.
I started this blog as a place to sketch out rough notes about half-baked ideas. I publish my more developed articles at BeyondtheChoir.org, among other places. But somewhere along the line I started writing longer, more formulated posts here. And then when I didn’t have time to write longer posts, I stopped posting altogether.
That’s about to change. This post is to announce the return of the short, half-baked blurb. Henceforth, this blog is a perfectionism-free zone. This week I’m starting a sociology PhD program at UC Berkeley. I’ll be reading an intimidating number of pages daily. Surely, I’ll have lots of initial thoughts and reflections—many of them half-baked—and I’m going to try to jot some of them down here; to use this blog as a kind of public-facing internal monologue. We’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned.
I’m always interested in how some activists throw around the words “organize” and “organizer”. The words are often used as mostly undefined buzzwords. As Matt Bruenig Tweeted today, “If I didn’t [know] better, I’d think some people are in it for social status, and attaching the label ‘organizer’ boosts status.”
I think that’s part of it. But sometimes there’s just an honest lack of clarity. Many mistake event-planning for organizing. To organize, in the political sense, is not to organize an event or even a protest. It is not just a creative project. Political organizing may very well involve all of the above activities, but its essence is not itself these activities — all of which can be carried out without necessarily building or being accountable to a substantial social base.
Organizing, in the sense we mean here, is to organize a social bloc into a political force. It is to name, frame and narrate the formation or progression of a group; to articulate its goals, grievances and targets; to move it into strategic action; to align other social forces in a common direction; and to leverage this force for political ends.
Organizing is not a call out for individual self-selecting volunteers. Organizing entails starting with what already is (as opposed to trying to build everything from scratch) and engaging with people as they are.
Organizing is a mess, not a refuge.