A United Socialist Organization

This is Appendix F of Beyond Classical Marxism.

a. The United Socialist Organization (USO)

1. This paper proposes the creation of a United Socialist Organization (USO) composed of various socialist organizations and of individual activists who consider themselves to be socialists.

2. The political character of the USO is defined in its political points of unity outlined below in Section c.  This is the basis on which membership in USO is offered to organizations and individuals.

3. The term “socialism” needs to be used rather loosely, emphasizing that it means the end of economic and political control of our society by the 1%.  There are various views on what socialism must entail, and at this stage it isn’t useful to try to agree on exactly what it should mean.  Nevertheless it is mandatory that we explicitly call our new organization “socialist”, to distinguish ourselves from social democrats and liberals.

b. Activity of the United Socialist Organization

1. One purpose of the USO is to facilitate communication among its members (organizational and individual) in order to strengthen their participation in progressive mass struggles.  However, the USO is not meant to limit the freedom of action of its member organizations, which remain independent.

2. Another purpose of the USO is to present to the public a coherent view of an alternate society (“socialism”) which ties together the various progressive mass struggles as necessarily being components of the common struggle for human liberation.

3. The USO itself may call for mobilization of particular mass struggles, functioning as the “voice of socialism” in those struggles.  However, it isn’t the function of the USO to try to organize or control these struggles, which must involve a much broader constituency to be effective.

4. The USO may involve itself in electoral politics, while realizing that fundamental transformation of our society can be achieved only through mass struggle.  Electoral work can nonetheless play a critical supporting role by actually electing to office people who can implement progressive demands to some extent at least, and by tying together (ideologically) the various progressive struggles, so that people see the need to address all these issues as a whole, for their own liberation.  For the purpose of funding progress electoral work, the USO may want to create a PAC.

c. Political Points of Unity

1. Underlying all our political work must be the struggle against White Supremacy.  We must identify and combat all aspects of this debilitating ideology, including within ourselves.  We must shut down, through mass mobilization, all attempts to promote White Supremacy.

2. Following is a suggested list of concrete political points of unity, which may need to be augmented.  It should be emphasized that these political points define the character of the USO, and must accepted by any organization or individual joining the USO.  (If you’re anti-abortion, for example, we don’t care how much you hate capitalism, you still can’t join us.)

3. (a.) Single-payer health care.

(b.) Environmental protection, mitigating climate change.

(c.) LGBTQ rights.

(d.) Reproductive rights.

(e.) Drastic reduction in the military budget.

(f.) U.S. troops out of the Mideast and Afghanistan.

(g.) Support the BDS Movement and end all military, economic, and diplomatic aid to Israel so long as it continues its outrageous oppression of the Palestinian people.  Also, support the Palestinians’ “right of return”.

(h.) End repression of undocumented immigrants.

(i.) Support Native American struggles for implementation of treaty rights.

(j.) Support Black Lives Matter and other struggles against white supremacy.

(k. Support public education, oppose charter schools.

(l.) End the bogus “War on Drugs”, eliminate the prison-industrial complex.

(m.) Rescind the Taft-Hartley Act and “right-to-work” laws.

(n.) Overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, get big money out of elections.

4. Point (g.) above illustrates our approach to politics.  Requiring acceptance of this point may turn off some people who would support most progressive struggles but cannot bring themselves to fundamentally criticize the “existential” action of Israel toward the Palestinian people.  White liberals can be quite adept at throwing people of color under the bus when they feel that compromises must be made.  But we must be uncompromising in standing up vociferously for what is right.

d. Relation to the Democratic Party

1. The USO will have no formal relationship to the Democratic Party, but its members may decide to work with, or within, the Democratic Party, according to their analysis of how most effectively to advance the (eventual) goal of socialism.

2. The Democratic Party has always functioned as the servant of the capitalist class, particularly (now) of the 1%.  For untold decades its role has been to absorb and emasculate progressive struggles, and attempts to “reform” it or to take it over have always ended in failure.  Recognizing this fact, some members of the USO may decide to have nothing to do with the Democratic Party, except as necessary to stave off the imminent prospect of outright fascism.

3. Other USO members may choose to run in elections as Democrats for tactical and/or strategic reasons.  In primary elections, their opponents (mainstream Democrats} should be fought unrelentingly by progressives, as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have demonstrated to substantial extent.  The challenger should not hold back in offering a progressive alternative to what the mainstream Democrat stands for, even if so exposing the mainstream Democrat may weaken her/his chances in the general election.  (A dubious, self-serving claim to make!)  The progressive may even pull off an upset victory over the centrist, as has happily started to happen, but the point is that we must not water down our progressive politics when we have a mass forum for expressing them.

4. Furthermore, after the progressive (presumably) loses in the primary election, it no longer is the time to continue the attack on the mainstream Democrat’s politics, for what then becomes foremost is the need to fight against the right-wing onslaught.  So the progressive may endorse her/his opponent’s campaign and even use her/his campaign organization to get out the vote for that person, but only in the context (expressed publicly) that it is important to vote for the Democrat in order to defeat the Republican, not because the Democrat’s politics are now beyond reproach.

5. In any case, the crucial point regarding relating to the Democratic Party is to avoid submerging progressive struggles to the needs of building that organization, as has occurred so often in the past to the acute detriment of the progressive movement.

e. Implementation

1. This paper is not a call to immediately set up a United Socialist Organization, but rather it is a preliminary proposal seeking feedback and appropriate modification.

2. Such a call will hopefully be made by organizations and individuals in general agreement with a modified version of this paper.

3. To create the United Socialist Organization, it will be necessary to hold a convention which will adopt a set of political points of unity, adopt a set of governing bylaws, and elect a Steering Committee consisting of national organizations, politically outstanding individuals, and officers.  The convention may also set up committees for certain aspects of national work, particularly for internal and public communication.

4. Perhaps the USO will one day evolve into a real socialist party systematically carrying out mass political work.  For this to happen, it will be necessary for current socialist organizations to decide that for the success of the Revolution it will not be so critical that everyone follow their lead.

5. It will appropriate here to quote a portion of the conclusion of “Neo-Fascism in the White House” by John Bellamy Foster in the April 2017 issue of Monthly Review (p. 26):

An effective resistance movement against the right thus requires the construction of a powerful anti-capitalist movement from below, representing an altogether different solution, aimed at epoch-making structural change.  Here the object is overturning the logic of capital, and promoting substantive equality and sustainable human development.  Such a revolt must be directed not just against neofascism, but against neoliberalism – i.e., monopoly-finance capital – as well.  It must be as concerned with the struggles against racism, misogyny, xenophobia, oppression of LGBTQ people, imperialism, war, and ecological degradation, as much as it is with class exploitation, necessitating the building of a broad unified movement for structural change, or a new movement toward socialism(Emphasis in original.)