Fragments Of Comprehension

(semi-internal) Our consciousness and humility must reflect, refine and redeem every scattered fragment of the material world

Archive for January, 2015

► Work on Leaflet Against Police Murders – [FoC.14.01.02]

Posted by Ben Seattle on January 2, 2015

(below is email I sent to Art, who is working on a leaflet)

—–Original Message—–
From: Ben Seattle
Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2015 8:44 PM
To: ‘Art Francisco’
Subject: RE: The Pamphlet I have been working on..
Hi Art (and also XX),


I have a number of thoughts about the pamphlet, and will attempt to list some of them here:

(1) The leaflet draft is good. It still needs a lot of work.

(2) What is the scope of this leaflet project?

► I believe you should aim for distribution at the Jan 19 MLK march. That date puts a hard deadline on what can be done. There will not be time to make the leaflet perfect (or even close to perfect) but there should be time (if we are focused) to make it “good enough”. I think we should consider printing at least 200 copies (at 4 and a half cents per page on a 6 page leaflet, that would cost $54 + tax, or about $60 total).

► Distribution at the “Selma” movie might also be considered, although I don’t know when that might be showing in Seattle and whether it would be showing at a theater which would lend itself to leaflet distribution (ie: where the theater is next to a public sidewalk–unlike Pacific Place or any kind of mall).

► “Doing this right” would also involve giving other activists we know the opportunity for input before you put out the final version. You current version (draft 9.0) is good enough, in my view, to send to X, Y and Z.  You and I should meet this Sunday, Jan 4 […] and we should invite all the above activists to an additional meeting a week later, on Jan 11. I doubt that any of these activists would actually show up. But “doing things right” would require that we at least invite them. For similar reasons, I would like to make drafts and comments public on our lower blogs. No one really knows about our lower blogs–but we should get used to using them for these kinds of projects.

► I am not necessarily expecting that anyone will like or appreciate the large amount of work you are putting into this. But you are developing the basic line that connects all struggles for partial demands to the strategic aim of the proletariat of overthrowing the class rule of the bourgeoisie–and for this purpose the need of the proletariat for a mass democratic organization that it will use to, so to speak, connect every part of its mind–and (in the long run) mobilize millions. The experience of developing this line, of learning how to talk about this line, of learning how to think about this line–is worth its weight in gold.

(3) Formatting issues

Formatting, of course, is minor in relation to content. However I believe it is worthwhile to give this thought up front. Poor formatting is a distraction (just as words that are spelled wrong). More significantly, good formatting is part of the connection we want to make to thoughtful and serious readers. We use formatting to send a message to readers that we respect their time and are interested in earning their attention. I am including a PDF where I have reformatted (without changing any words) just the first page–where the “real estate”, so to speak, is most valuable. Please take a look at it and observe some of the changes I made.


(4) social democracy and black misleadership

The section on social democracy requires work. In many ways, this will be the most important section. You deal with bourgeois billionaries like Hanauver (which is good–excellent even) and the fraud of civilian review boards (also very good) –but have nothing about the black misleadership (such as Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton). I think this deserves at least a mention, particularly in light of the growing recognition in the movement that identity politics are leading to a dead end. The (much shorter) CVO leaflet deals with this in a few sentences. If necessary, it is perfectly fine to crib their sentences and give the CVO a footnote.

Also (this is a general note) a great many of the formulations in the CVO leaflet are quite mature and represent a great depth of class perspective and a great economy of words and ideas–and are deserving of greater study.

(Also–a quick comment on XX’s email: “elected community committees of public safety” will inevitably be understood as another form of a civilian review board. The black panthers did not get involved in electoral work until people like Fred Hampton were dead and the organization had degenerated. So I think XX’s view on this is weak.)

(5) our organization must be democratic

This is the big question that I believe we must better explain.

XX raises this in his comments:

[comments are not shown here pending permission from XX]

I will have more to say about this (I hope) soon. But I believe XX is mistaken. If the party is not a revolutionary party–then it will not be a workers’ party: it will be a social democratic party on a bourgeoisie leash. If, in these circumstances, we call it a workers’ party, or we call it independent–then we are engaging in fraud–and we need to ask why we are engaging in all this hard work in order to pour shit down the throats the of the working class.

But XX raises an excellent point–that social democracy will be able to establish its own weight within this organization–and will skillfully and energetically throw its weight around for the purpose of undermining the fundamental character of the party (its mission and independence). Hence the need for the party to be democratic. This is not just a word (“democratic”) that we can throw around as if we understand it. It is fundamental. It is life and death. If the party is based on mass democracy–then the revolutionary pole will be able to win the struggle for influence (the model and proof of this is the Occupy movement–where the militant core won influence against the reformists in battle after battle in cities like Oakland and Seattle–and we should say this openly). If the party is not based on mass democracy–then the voice of the militant section will be shut down and cut off from its membership under a thousand excuses about making the party more powerful by means of “winning allies”.

So the democratic character of the organization is not just a nice idea–it will prove, on a thousand occasions, to be decisive–because this will make it possible for the revolutionary core of the organization to win a thousand battles against the reformists (and their external allies) for influence of the organization’s membership–and the working class as a whole.

The question of democratic character also comes up in the section dealing with a super-organism (such as ants). Your comments on this are completely correct–but this idea will never be able to win support unless it is understood in the context of the kinds of democratic principles that will make it possible for the revolutionary core to effectively fight to defend its independent and working class character.

And the principal principle here is political transparency. Political transparency will allow the struggle for the soul of the party to take place on terms that will allow the proletariat as a class to maintain control of its organization.

We should also mention (at least a sentence or two) the need for an information infrastructure (facebook alternative or public news and discussion forums) that will make it essentially impossible for members and supporters of the party (and the public at large) to be kept in the dark concerning the inevitably intense struggle within the party to defend its independent and working class character.

All the best,

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