The USA has ~320 million people.
In order for the working class to seize the means of production, in order to constitute a new social system based on the ordinary people in our society throwing off the command and control of their superiors and taking ownership and management of things upon themselves, we will need a vast faction of that 320 million people on our side. The stronger the majority the better.
The idea that our existing scenes, cultures, and organizations will accomplish this is folly. It is instead the cyclic economic, political, and cultural crisis spontaneously inherent in capitalism which repeatedly create historic eras of popular mass mobilization and class struggle on a huge scale, in the tens of millions.
The forces which will overthrow capitalism are not our existing cultures, scenes, and groups. They are 100% completely, totally unrelated forces – forces which have yet to emerge whatsoever.
This means that the cultural tendencies, the activist subculture, the jargon, the vocabulary, the attitudes, the assumptions, you have picked up as being part of a leftist, have nothing to do with the revolution.
It is just a subculture or a lifestyle, like any other subculture or lifestyle. You might as well be really into NASCAR or UFOs.
Every even semi-successful phenomenon that has emerged has completely flatfooted the usual socialist organizational commentators.
Occupy Wall Street came out of Adbusters magazine. Many organizers on the Left thought the idea that an encampment was worth attempting or would blossom into a mass movement was pie-in-the-sky idealism.
The Bernie campaign seemed impossible. It pushed class consciousness, and reinforced and gave voice to a previously-existing silent mass faction, in an enormous way bigger than even Occupy had accomplished, though without Occupy Sanders would not have been as powerful.
All these things emerged against doubters and naysayers. They all emerged outside of the constraints and predictions of dominant socialist organizations (both Occupy and Sanders), Leftist principles (Sanders running as a Democrat), or identitarian political correctness which says placing class as the central focus is somehow morally wrong (both Occupy and Sanders).
The next wave of class struggle, of mass working-class activation and mobilization, which I believe will be even larger than either Occupy or Sanders, will again be something completely beyond the predictive powers, and against the approval, of the self-appointed socialist authorities, and the Leftist political correctness police.
What is our job, then, as leftists?
To become the wave.
And, possibly, to then build a mass organization out of it after the fact.
But I’m not sure I trust the incoherent mess that is the existing Left culture with that task.
It will instead be the people who are forged by the chaos and activity of the action itself who are worthy of the task of building the mass party.
Is it possible for the rare group to actually be continuous with the revolution – for its work, over decades, in forging a small socialist nucleus to actually mean something in the moment when mass mobilization occurs, and for that group to bloom and massively expand?
Yeah, sure, it’s technically possible, but you’d have to have some really advanced level of organizational purpose and self-awareness and intentionality, and also pragmatism, virtually every group and even most people I’ve encountered simply don’t have. Most of these groups are basically posers, full of followers, full of people living an edgy identity, not reflecting critically on what they’re actually doing or how it links up with any plan to actually succeed, nor insistently, rigorously perfecting the details of that plan and practice as much as needs to be done.
But I’m willing to be surprised.