Group Dilemmas: Mini-Oligarchies vs. Ineffective Democracies

Part of the Socialist Strategy in the Trump Era Series


So who does have the time to do the organizing?

Students, whose frequent lack of experience as full-time workers gives them a massively distorted consciousness leaning towards liberalism and identity politics.  The line used to be, “when you get out of college and get into the real world, you’ll drop your liberal bullshit and be a Republican.”  Now it’s, “when you actually have a job (or don’t) and have to start paying your student loans instead of just accruing them, you’ll drop your liberal bullshit and be a Marxist.”

Also paid staffers.

The only organizations that actually get anywhere in getting anything done are the ones with paid staffers.

The ones that don’t have paid staffers may have great democracies, and may do a great job listening to everyone, but they never actually get beyond a small circle in terms of recruitment, numbers, or the organizing work they do.  Think SPUSA, IWW, various independent solidarity network projects.

And all the organizations with paid staffers are horribly undemocratic top-down bureaucracies with power and decision-making concentrated in cliques and factions at the top.  Think the more professional socialist sects, the more mainstream unions.

The third group who has the time are fanatics who sacrifice their social lives, turning themselves into rootless people without strong networks in family or friends outside the movement.  They paradoxically make themselves less useful the more they struggle to become useful, by disconnecting themselves from their organic connections to the working class.

So if you don’t have staffers, you get nothing done, and if you do, you’re part of the problem.

What is the alternative to this Hobson’s choice?

There’s two ways to get people to get involved.

One, if we pay them.  Let’s not do that.

Two, if we party.

Next section: Politicized Socializing: Nihilist-Leninist Party-Building & Partying


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