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Listen, Platformist!

Fragments of a Twenty-First Century Manifesto

Shane Burley

These old libertarian socialist maxims have become so cliché that they can be an indicative street sign indicating for you to take a detour around whatever post-left jargon that comes next, but we can try to delve a little deeper. Many people dove into the Occupy Movement with the kind of fervor that can only happen when your politics are validated in an incredibly clear and material way. The financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent housing crisis in 2010, was felt so personally amongst an entire range of people that the waves of deregulated capitalism are splashing hard enough to stop us from finding our heads above water. We were treated to a second collapse when our response, the diversified and shockingly quick faces of Occupy, also crumbled in a pretty predictable fashion. A movement built on anarchist principles and vision fell apart for lack of cohesive structure, as well as a media betrayal and enough liberal guilt to go around. In the shadow of that fallen statue many are looking forward to create an anarchist structure with a little more staying power, which means looking backwards and trying to find a series of patterns that illustrate what success can look like. What this means is a much more intentional project, what Mark Bray calls a more "big A" anarchism as opposed to the "small a" variety that often permeates radical circles. The ideas of solidarity, mutual aid, and direct action have been solidified in the activist mindset and we want to make a step forward with an ideological organization that allows us to both build our own internal world view as well as push these radical ideas in the movements around us. For those inclined towards this "big A" anarchism, the trajectory is usually towards both American and European Platformism and the Latin and South American Especifismo, who bring a generally similar perspective on what it means to have a consistent anarchist organization that can create a revolutionary impulse in working class movements.

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False Gods

The Truth About BRICS (An Interview with James Corbett)

Devon Douglas-Bowers

Who is contending that the AIIB or the BRICS' New Development Bank is in any way competitive with the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF/World Bank)? Certainly not anyone involved with any of these institutions. In March, IMF chief Christine Lagarde pledged IMF cooperation with the AIIB. In June, World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim issued a statement congratulating the AIIB on its formation and calling it an "important new partner" for the Washington-led development bank. In July, NDB (New Development Bank) President K.V. Kamath returned the favor, conceding that the NDB and the IMF/World Bank are complementary institutions, not rivals. Also in July, the AIIB and the World Bank signed an actual cooperation agreement, promising to identify projects for joint financing later this fall. No, these institutions do not view themselves as competitive. It is only various media pundits who have speculated that these new banks are in fact some sort of challenge to the so-called "Washington consensus." What none of these experts has bothered to report (for obvious reasons) is the remarkable fact that the Vice President of the NDB is also an Executive Board member of the IMF , who then went on to pledge cooperation and joint action between the NDB and IMF. Also missing from this narrative is the fact that the NDB's chief, Kundapur Vaman Kamath, is a former staffer of the supposed NDB "rival" Asia Development Bank. Or there's Jin Liqun, widely tipped to be the head of the AIIB, who also happens to be a former Vice President of the Asia Development Bank and alternative Executive Director of the World Bank. In fact, the only sign that these Beijing-backed development banks pose any challenge to the existing order whatsoever is that the NDB has already confirmed that their first loan will be denominated in yuan, not dollars, and the AIIB is considering a basket of currencies, including the yuan. But even this is not as much of a challenge to the Bretton Woods institutions as it appears...

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Socialism and Electoral Politics in the US

An Interview with Mimi Soltysik

Devon Douglas-Bowers and Colin Jenkins

The campaign I will be running will not be about votes, will not be about ballot status, and will not be about revenue raised. It will primarily focus on the unique media opportunities that are presented during a general election. Given the Bernie Sanders candidacy, it may be reasonable to expect that any candidate from a democratic socialist organization might see enhanced opportunities to discuss socialism from an explicitly anti-capitalist perspective. Failure to take advantage of those opportunities in this general election would be a crucial mistake, in my opinion. I am not a fan of respectability politics. It doesn't resonate with me or many of the others who I have spoken with throughout my time as an organizer. Frankly, in a fairy-tale situation where a democratic socialist would actually take the White House, my belief is that the candidate would have to need to fire herself or himself the moment victory was declared. Why? In this electoral system, a democratic socialist would have to so thoroughly compromise and/or concede her or his beliefs, beliefs that inspired the votes leading to victory, and would be so incredibly beholden to corporate interests, that she or he would be completely unfit to govern once taking office. I am not here to play nice with those who support our money-driven electoral system. I also believe this is an opportunity to take a few dramatic shots at capitalism and our current electoral system, to convey a radical message, and to stress revolution from below. Much of the messaging will focus on what folks throughout the country can do to swiften the revolutionary pace, helping in any way possible to connect the people to existing social movements. Finally, I believe that the campaign can be a unifier, offering support to local socialist campaigns throughout the country. This is an opportunity to smash sectarian walls where they exist while still maintaining a democratic socialist identity.

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Questioning the Left

An Interview with Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker and Michael J. Thompson

Devon Douglas-Bowers

We agree that the problem is not solely with the academy. It is important to look at the academy because the kind of work that is done in the academy is, in part, often a reflection of what people think they can achieve on the ground. The main issue seems to be that moral revulsion has supplanted the critique of social mechanisms that produce the problems that outrage people. It is also important to stress that moral revulsion is not a substitute for, nor an equivalent of, political action and political strategy. The key, as we see it, is to understand that politics is about shaping not only the mentality of citizens and the norms of culture, but more crucially about organizing the legitimate power of the state to enforce laws that prevent social injustice and expand the horizon of social justice. This requires understanding the mechanisms of politics, of elections, of the law, of constitutional interpretation, and so on. The contemporary left has abandoned these concerns and has instead decided to view them as attributes of a system that needs to be rejected. This is simply absurd and, in our view, anti-political. We also think that there is a problem with what theory has become. The only reason that a cleavage has developed between theory and practice is because the function of theory has been abandoned. It is important to recognize that what is now touted as theory is not actually theory. Theory plays a vital role in diagnosing and critiquing concrete political problems. People like Zizek and Badiou do not have theories. Their work is so convoluted and self-referential that there is no link to the concrete. It masquerades as theory. They are able to create their own fan clubs and say whatever they want because they purposefully construct so-called theories that allow them to evade critical evaluation. Esotericism has become a virtue unto itself. From this standpoint, the aversion to theory is understandable. So-called theory has become..

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