An End to Sectarianism

glevy at glevy at
Sun Oct 15 20:17:25 MDT 1995

I agree with Louis that there are a number of promising broad-based 
anti-sectarian movements internationally, some of which Louis discusses.

Regarding the COC (the organization that Louis is a member of), I offer a 
number of criticisms:

1) I find the COC's position on the Democratic Party, and Clinton in 
particular, to be particular wanting. While the COC is (I believe) on 
record in support of a labor party, in practice it has not only given 
critical support to the Dems but has *actively campaigned* for 
Democratic Party candidates (including participating in voter 
registration campaigns). While the position of the COC towards Clinton, 
for instance is critical, they end up supporting him as the "lesser 
evil" candidate. I believe that this is a position which does *not* lead 
the working class forward in this country. It is a tradition inherited 
from both Social Democracy and the CPUSA (where most of the leadership of 
the COC emerged from). It is simply reformism -- pure and simple. 
  In NYC, for instance, the COC supported a slate of Democratic Party 
candidates against the Republicans. Dinkins, the former Mayor, was 
supported in a truly *uncritical* way (for instance, there was *no* 
mention of the massive austerity programs, the assault on municipal 
unions, the eviction of homeless people in Tompkins Square Park, police 
brutality, et al by the Dinkins administration). I find this to be 
*totally* unacceptable. 
  This does not mean that such actions were universally supported by the 
COC membership. The COC is very heterogeneous and even includes an 
anarchist caucus that publishes a newsletter called "Black & Red" put out 
by a friend of mine. Overall, though, the majority has been committed to 
supporting the Democratic Party. If this is the case, why have a COC? 
After all, there are other left social democratic organizations in this 
country. Why not merge with them?

2) In practice, I find that the COC is *very* uncritical of the mass 
movements that it supports, both in the US and internationally. Louis 
referred to a policy of the Brazilian Workers Party which was to condemn 
injustice, oppression, and exploitation in *all* forms by *whoever* is 
responsible. I wish that the COC was as consistent in this regard. Here 
again, I recognize that the COC is a political organization in formation 
and has many different political tendencies. The problem is, IMO, mostly 
with the leadership. They seem to be trapped in that old "an enemy of my 
enemy is my friend" uncritical mentality.

3) I joined the COC a few years ago and gave it a try (the only political 
party I joined since leaving the SWP in 1980). I was particularly 
unimpressed with the manner in which decisions on both the national and 
local levels are made. There is far too much of a bureaucracy and 
hierarchical structure (perhaps inherited from the political past of most 
members). In NYC COC meetings, I found the level of discussion to be 
truly uninspiring. Most people simply waited to hear what the local 
leadership proposed and then gave an automatic "yes" vote. I, especially, 
found the process that led to the support of Clinton and other Democratic 
Party candidates to be lacking in democracy. Members were basically 
presented with a fait accompli. Unacceptable -- especially for an 
organization that claims to break with the old ways of deciding political 
questions in left organizations.

Before Louis shoots me down in flames, let me add that I don't see the 
above as irreversible and I do believe that the COC is a promising 
development. Moreover, I certainly wouldn't condemn Louis for trying to 
bring out the promise and potential of the COC. Some of my perceptions 
are, admittedly, clouded by what goes on in the COC in NYC. I have heard 
that it is less rigid and more democratic in some other areas of the 
country. I would like to hear some more from list members in other areas 
about this.

BTW, I think "Solidarity", is a better choice, Louis. While the politics 
of the two groups have a lot in common, I think "Solidarity" is more 
consistent on independent political action, has more critical positions 
on mass movements nationally and internationally, and is more democratic 
(with a small "d"). On that last point, I think that the political 
background of the membership vs. COC is a large reason.

I'd like to have written a more favorable review. As Louis notes, a new 
kind of left political organization that is anti-sectarian is needed, 
IMO. I'm just not sure, though, that it's COC. I hope that my estimates 
will be proven to be incorrect.

Expecting flames ...


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