I saw Philly Socialists as placing far too great an emphasis on empowering specific individual leaders at the cost of creating collective group conversations in order to generate the group ideas and strategies. I saw the group as over-oriented towards having finished answers and getting to work instead of being engaged in an open-minded, open-ended, never-ending process of brainstorming open to all members and voices that is the nature of a genuine democracy. I saw its culture as not having solved the problem of creating welcoming channels of participation for new or peripheral members to participate who would otherwise feel too unimportant or intimidated to make a real or challenging or critical statement.
The leadership either just disagreed with me that my objections were important, or claimed that my objections were already addressed by the group’s functioning, and I disagreed. You may think that my analysis of Philly Socialists is incorrect, but I think it’s at least thoughtful, and not something to just swipe away. Even if you think it’s incorrect, well, I guess part of a democracy is having the right to an opinion that people might think is wrong. Also part of democracy is people having different opinions about what democracy is, and different opinions about whether the entity’s democracy is good enough – that got me in trouble too, especially with Mara Henao and David Thompson.
The political disagreement was obviously further embodied by classical political-factional disagreements, insofar as chair Tim Horras is a Maoist, one of the most militaristic and authoritarian “forms of socialism,” and I am a libertarian socialist somewhere between an anarchist and a post-Trotskyist if you had to label me. If you think this is an insignificant difference, Tim literally once said to me, “well I think state capitalism is socialism.” Well, I think it’s a class society (hence why it’s called state capitalism, though I’ve moved onto other terminology) that is the fundamental enemy of socialism like any other class society.
Some people think those kinds of political disagreements have no place in a multi-tendency organization; I think they still do in fact have a place and should be discussed, even and especially in questions of selecting leadership personnel. I ran against Tim for chair, Tim was the group founder and the only chair until just now with this Congress in March 2017, making me the group’s only-ever chair opposition candidate and not coincidentally only-ever expellee.
I gave a lecture at a joint event where I pretty heavily criticized the history of the People’s Republic of China and I think this definitely sets the tone for a great deal of the political conflict as well.
(I’ve lost weight since then, I can feel you staring.)