An End to Sectarianism
glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
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
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
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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