[Marxism] Fwd: Revolution HQ — Letter of Resignation from Socialist Alternative

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 15 08:27:16 MDT 2016

To begin, let us have a much needed discussion on democratic centralism 
in Socialist Alternative; or, rather, Socialist Alternative’s very 
strange understanding of the dialectic between the horizontal 
decision-making of democracy, and the top down decision-making of 
centralism. A common theme in the debates surrounding the expulsion 
resignation of five comrades in Austin was the question of democratic 
centralism, and the democratic centralist structures of our 
organization. The official narrative went “Austin is trying to change SA 
into a multi-tendency organization by recruiting Maoists with identity 
politics!” and that “this is not a horizontalist organization of loose, 
federative structures but an organization that practices democratic 
centralism!” Austin certainly had some political differences from the 
leadership of SA, many of them irreconcilable, but the question of 
democratic centralism is far more complicated than “if you don’t agree 
with how we make decisions then you’re a horizontalist.” (Side note: I 
do not know what the word “horizontalist” means.)

I write this letter about six weeks into my second term as a member of 
the NC. Since fall 2014, I have been one of the people tasked with 
making key decisions shaping the strategy, focus, and political 
direction of this organization; at least I was supposed to be. 
Throughout my first term, however, I noticed a trend in the NC’s 
decision-making process: it being that, for all practical purposes, the 
NC has no decision-making process. Hell, the NC is such a symbolic, 
formalistic, vestigial husk of a leadership body that the EC hardly 
bothers to actually consult it for decisions. Tactics like the launch of 
Movement4Bernie and the adoption of the “safe states” tactic seem to 
have been formulated, discussed, and decided on solely by our Executive 
Committee, released on various internet forums and announced to the 
general public, and only after that brought to the National Committee 
for any serious discussion. Kshama’s 2015 City Council campaign endorsed 
five Democrats because “we had to in order to win,” though any NC member 
outside of Seattle would be hard-pressed to tell you when this 
“necessary decision” was made. It was only through a story on VICE News 
that many comrades, my-NC-member-self included, found out that an SA 
member was sent to the DNC as a delegate, meaning that she is a 
registered, active Democrat. Whether or not these very serious 
directives with far-reaching political implications necessitated a vote 
even at the NC level—much less among the national membership—apparently 
was not considered. The only reason given for this sudden need of 
expediency is basically “the EC has every right to do this because 
democratic centralism.”


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