Tuesday, December 12, 2006

POLITICAL ORGANIZING (Harnecker)

POLITICAL ORGANIZING
APATHY AND CONFUSION- The most active and powerful political party is the party of indifference. This represents a victory for the ruling party. In addition to this, the right wing has unscrupulously hijacked the language of the left, distorting words and phrases like "politically correct" sexual harassment" " hate speech" "feminism" to serve its own reactionary uses. There is always the danger that an elected left government limit itself to administrating the crisis and allowing the right to set the agenda even when it is out of power. FREEING THE SOCIAL FORCES- The left must work to create a new balance of power in the correlation of forces, using what is progressive, and strengthening that. It must include all people exploited by capital----permanent workers and temporary workers, contracted or subcontracted, union or non-union, along with all the other social sectors that have been damaged by the neoliberal system. This means building social force at the same time, not only against the economic exploitation of the workers, but also against the diverse forms of capitalist oppression and destruction of humans and nature. It is about the radical and transforming political potential that exists in all of these struggles, to articulate its practice into a single political project, at the same time generating spaces so that the different social problems can recognize each other’s needs. A social force is not a given, but rather has to be built, and the ruling class has strategies in place to prevent it from coming into being. There is a tendency to ignore the knowledge that is acquired in this manner by the dominated sectors. This winds up leaving the analysis of reality in a handful of intellectuals. DIVIDE AND CONQUER- A society divided into different minority groups is not capable of building itself into a majority that can challenge the hegemony of the ruling class, and that is the best formula for the reproduction of the system. THE VANGUARD- The "vanguard" considers politics as the only way of knowing the truth: The party is the conscious element, it holds the key to knowledge, and the masses are the backward sector. This leads to authoritarianism and verticalism. SPONTANEOUS ACTION- Where the poorest urban masses have risen up and under no particular direction and in spite of their massiveness and their combativeness, they did not manage to destroy the ruling system in power. SECTARIANISM- Each organization fights for the title of the most revolutionary, the most just etc.; What is important is the sect, the outward appearance, and not the movement. This leads to the tendency to pile up many leadership responsibilities on a few people to control everything from above instead of going through the process of patiently working with the base. What comes out are agitational politics and sloganeering, which do not contribute much to the popular social forces. There is no concrete analysis of the concrete situation, but a confusion between tactics and strategy. DEMOCRACY- Democracy has three basic aspects: 1.-The problem of representation and citizen’s rights. People go to the polls and vote2.- The problem of social equality. Promises may be kept, but can also be dismantled in the next election.3.- The role of people’s participation and the people as protagonists. The people control the politics and the economy. The people are the real protagonists in the building the new society; without trying to make them submit to the party or to the state. Popular participation must be welcomed, and the method of arriving with pre-established schemes must be abandoned. Our role is that of orientator and not a matter of taking over. We must learn to listen, synthesize that which can be unified and can generate action, and fight against pessimism and ideas of failure. At the same time, one must avoid falling into an ultra-democratic deviation, where more time is spent in discussion than in action. THE MAJORITY AND THE MINORITY- In order for a democratic political system to reflect the interests of the majority, the interests of those who are opposed to it have to be limited for the benefit of the people. The widest popular democracy holds the right to force the majority interest to be respected, if not, one would go against the very concept of democracy . Ruling class democracies are actually ruling class dictatorships, because they express the supremacy and dominion of the minority ruling class. However, the minority must not be crushed nor marginalized, it must be respected. The minority can be right, and attempts to crush them leave only one option: The formation of an opposition splinter group. Better results are gotten in general meetings where different ideas by quality presenters can be addressed, where they have profound debates in which they defend their ideas so that others can continue forming their own criteria. There is no democracy with people who are unequally informed. DIVERSIFICATION- You don’t always have to have for example, the same group of people who have the same position in terms of the role of the state in the economy, coupled with those who have the same position on the role of women in the economy. There can be many differences around many things, but there has to be a consensus on the program. There can be many tactics but only one strategy. There are forces that add and forces that subtract, and there are those that multiply. Ignoring this fact and demanding a uniform militancy is to limit and weaken the political organization. Trying to box in the members into a single form, the same for everyone, twenty-four hours a day in seven days a week, is to leave all the rest outside, and to ignore their potential. It is necessary to have a strategy that includes forces that operate in the great world power blocks, and to establish multilateral relationships with each one of them as a way of dislocating the political concentration of globalization. It is necessary to checkmate capitalism in all areas.INDIVIDUALISM- To fight against individualism does not mean to negate the individual needs of each human being. Individual interests are not contrary to social ones; they are complementary . POLITICAL CHANGE WITHIN EXISTING STRUCTURES- As the left grows in power and influence, it must be ready to face strong resistance by the groups most closely tied to financial capital, who will use legal and illegal means to prevent a program of democratic and popular transformations. It is absolutely expected that the rulers will turn from ideology to violence .The new morality must tend toward the disappearance of the contradictions between social values and individual values; it needs to try to build a world of cooperation, solidarity and love. Access to the local governments by the left is a positive thing. It’s not about diminishing the role of the state, but rather about de-privatizing it, that is, to democratize it. The left needs the parliament or congress to approve fundamental reforms that will allow them to govern, for example taxes, the budget, etc. The only way to find it is by having a correct policy of alliances, something which the most radical sectors of the left do not understand. SMEAR TACTICS- This means making it appear that the party supports a policy which it does not in fact support. The left government must demonstrate efficiency if it is to survive, and for that it needs to ration and modernize services without getting rid of the functionaries. City officials have to be respected without being authoritarian, and to combine this with respect for the autonomy that social movements must have. When one is concerned about working conditions in the life of public servants, and one values their contribution to society and allows them to recover the dignity, this in itself allows the worker to increase his/her self-esteem and this in turn has positive results on worker efficiency At the same time, when there is a better quality of services, workers feel more satisfied with themselves and are more apt to receive the appreciation of the population. The local government can find a population that is accustomed to populism, to political clients and cronyism, ignorant of politics, simply ready to ask for things. In the popular assemblies, petitions can be gathered that widely overshoot the capacity of the municipal government to comply. WORKING IN THE COMMUNITY-A serious problem for these governments when they try to make contact with the population is that they only meet activists who are politicized, but badly politicized, because they carry the vices and the fundamental defects of the traditional political system; populism, bossism, verticalism, corruption and manipulation of the popular movement. What defines the participatory budget is that in this case it is not just legislators or the governors behind closed doors who make decisions over the gathering of funds and public expenses, but it is the population, by means of debates and consultations, who assigns value to incomes and expenses, who decides where investments shall be made, what are going to be the priorities, and which public works have to be developed by the government. The lack of organized control by the people is what allows corruption and the channeling of resources against the collective interest Probably the most significant achievement is to motivate citizen participation in the government of the city. The neighbors know and decide public policy in a concrete form, and this allows them to grow as human beings, because they have a newly found dignity–they are no longer beggars. They become politicized in the widest sense of the word, it allows them to have an independent opinion. They begin to delve into areas that combine representative democracy with direct democracy in voluntary participation of spaces created by the administration: culture, health, citizenship, jobs, gangs, education, discrimination and racism. Local governments in the hands of the transforming left can be a weapon against neoliberalism, showing the world that the left is better. REFORMS-1.-If reforms are accompanied by a parallel effort to strengthen the popular movement so that greater numbers of people join the struggle2.-If learning takes place as a result of an action by the left . 3.-To show a different political practice, one that does not allow left activity to be confused with traditional politics. Some reformist deviations are: 1.- The tendency to moderate programs without giving a political alternative, being content with the argument that politics is the art of the possible 2.- Calling for "responsibility and maturity" from union leaders and the working-class movement, instead of investing forces and time in encouraging the spirit of struggle. 3.- The tendency to avoid conflict, to call for dialogue and peace, instead of calling for change, while managing the confrontation–agreement dialectic.4.- The tendency to passively occupy existing institutions without trying to change them, or to change the rules of the game. CARRERISM- One of these deformations is political careerism, the idea than one must always move up, that there is something degrading about going back to being a simple member at the base, to prefer being a player. COOPTATION. This great challenge is to not allow oneself to be co-opted by a system that has thousands of threads to trap the candidates in its net, a series of perks. Rather it is about governing in a different way, showing at the local level what the left could do at a national level. 1.- The tendency to see the job as an end in itself and not as a means to serve the project of social transformation. 2.- The connection with the popular movement only at elections and for electoral reasons. 3.- Individualism and the campaigns. Funds are gathered to support oneself and not for the party.4.- The ruling class over the media can constitute veritable wall of silence that prevents reaching these objectives, and that is very difficult to breach if the left has not managed to become a significant force. See Martha Harnecker, "Making Possible the Impossible"

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