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Reader Responses to Eight-Point Platform for Making a Major Breakthrough on 'Left Unity'

Previously Portside posted the 'Draft Proposal' - Think Paper by Bill Fletcher, Carl Davidson and Pat Fry. This has generated some discussion in progressive, left and socialist circles in our country. Here are some of the comments made by Portside readers. At the bottom are links to the related posts that have appeared on Portside in the past.

`Left': a reliable U.S. political term,Oxford Dictionaries

Draft of an Eight-Point Platform for Making a Major Breakthrough on 'Left Unity' was originally posted on Portside on Feb. 20, 2014.

Here are responses from, in order of submission: Seymour Joseph; Ted Cloak; Martin Morand; Victor Grossman; Tom Edminster; N'Tanya Lee, Cinthya Muoz, Maria Poblet, Josh Warren-White, and Steve Williams on behalf of the LeftRoots.


What is actually being proposed in the "Eight-Point Platform" is a federation such as the AFL-CIO, and, in fact, the good old United States. The difference, of course, is that this federation would be of the left, and while addressing the pressing needs of the day, it would have socialism as its lodestar. Such a development is long overdue. The sticky part of it, however, is implied in the introduction: "But all would be striving in common to help the overall project succeed."

How is the "overall project" determined? By whom? And would this "overall project" sit well with the various organizations? It's the old contradiction between central leadership and individual freedom. It will be a rocky road, but I wish this endeavor success.

Seymour Joseph


The very biggest crisis facing the Millennials is the coming Climate Catastrophe; yet there's no mention of it here. How come?

Ted Cloak


A Very Good start.

When, where might there be an opportunity for a live (and lively) exchange with the authors (and among others??

Martin Morand


Hurrah and congratulations! What Carl Davidson, Bill Fletcher and Pat Fry suggest warms the aging heart of this old ex-pat, living in Berlin. It seems to me exactly what is needed, desperately needed!

Two comments: I think they are quite right about electoral politics. No possibilities should be ruled out, even supporting candidates of the two main parties when they act in a progressive way, like those courageous ones who will stay away from the Netanyahu speech or who vote against war credits (in the great tradition of Karl Liebknecht in 1914). But the main direction would be to support every sensible effort to break out of two party strictures and move toward an alternative, new party, or more correctly, a movement with a party. I took part in the attempts to do this in 1948 with Wallace and the Progressive Party. It was a giant, wonderful effort and then a heart-breaking failure. But it was at a very difficult time, all the odds were against it. No time is easy, and any such road is rocky - but so what!

The only other change I would agree with is that there should indeed be rather more stress on environment - but always tying it in with the other problems!

As for whether to call for socialism or not; I think that should depend on the situation and the sentiments of the people one wishes to reach and move. It involves the old but ever present balance between not making demands which are much too radical for large numbers of working people to digest - but also not lagging behind, but perhaps to have the courage to point out new ways - not with slogans (and especially not with wild and woolly revolutionary slogans) but with down-to-earth explanations and demands which move things and people forward and away from a system which has proven to be corrupt and unjust.

(I hope to publish as soon as I can a book based on my experience with socialism in the GDR - not ignoring or prettifying the bad sides, which have been publicized all too superficially and distortedly at great length, but also to point out the major, even wonderful benefits won by working people when profits were ruled out!) To sum up; I am grateful for these proposals and wish them lots of luck - as quickly as possible!

Victor Grossman

PS. On March 18th the "Blockupy" movement here in Germany (the name derived of course from Occupy) will beholding a big day of demonstrations and meetings in Frankfurt/Main in connection with the opening of the new European Central Bank skyscraper on that day. Last year the Frankfurt police clobbered Blockupy in an extremely nasty, violent way - and went too far, as it turned out. This time the plans are to involve not only people from all over the country, including a strong contingent from the LINKE party and from many other groups and movements as possible, like last year, but also busloads of people from many other countries as well. This, it seems to me, is in much the same spirit as what Davidson, Fletcher and Fry are calling for. Of course I'll report on this event for portside.


The NAM trajectory & now more relevant than ever. Have been member of NAM from '74 until merger, then DSA, since founding, (& CCDS, since founding). BUT I only recently felt more modest hope in (youthful influence) a return to 'democratic radicalism,' inside DSA, without its having lost sight of "the war of position" in this culture & the need to build counter-hegemonic solidarity: easy task in this culture w competitive individualism, white settler heritage, etc.. I was a supporter of #CrossRoads magazine, an earlier attempt at cross left dialogue & analysis, launched by Frontline Political Org, the post M-L form of 'Line of March'

I find Ethan Young commentaries & efforts very instructive..&.He also turned me on to Canadian Socialist Project, who seem wise & insightful on contemporary socialist politics. Also, Portside, has been a good venture: very rich collaboration in analysis & information-sharing, largely shed of past obstacles.
DSOC & later DSA's "realignmnent" orientation foundered on 'alliances at the top," but did serve to re legitimize socialism as a public value; & the current healthier DSA (shed of bureaucratism & older anti-communist vestiges) seems to be more vital & able to contribute to common fronts w the aforementioned political forces ...& in popular struggles for justice, equality, democracy...

Tom Edminster
(re-posting with permission of the author. This was originally posted on the New Anerican Movement Facebook page.)


LEFTROOTS: Towards a Transformational Strategy

By N'Tanya Lee, Cinthya Muoz, Maria Poblet, Josh Warren-White, and Steve Williams on behalf of the LeftRoots Coordinating Committee

December 19, 2014

We are living in times of great instability and crisis. Everywhere there are troubling signs of collapse: mass shootings; widespread unemployment; potentially irreversible ecological devastation; and the consolidation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands. The interpenetrating crises within the economic system, the ecological system, and the system of empire are pushing the 1% to implement massive austerity programs, militarization, and further disenfranchisement of oppressed communities. But not everything is gloom and doom. In the face of the ruling class' savage attacks, heroic struggles are breaking out around the world against the manifestations of imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

While these crises have called the legitimacy of ruling class hegemony into question, it is by no means guaranteed that popular forces will succeed in rescuing the world from the tyranny of the 1%. We are living in a period in which, as Antonio Gramsci once observed, the old order is dying while the new phase is still struggling to be born.

Even though the ruling class faces instability and internal strife, they are armed to the teeth and are committed to holding onto power at any cost. What happens in the next period of history will determine the future of the planet and humankind.


In response to the worsening conditions in our communities, and driven by a deep desire to change the systems that have made conditions so bad for our people, many social movement activists have taken up the work of organizing resistance. This work is critical. But it's not enough. We need our fights to add up to something beyond resistance.

So often activists in reform fights say, "I don't think that we'll ever achieve liberation, but I want to do what I can." The problem with this attitude is that it closes us off to seeing and seizing opportunities to take unimagined leaps forward. After all, who would have dreamed in the beginning of 2011 that by the end of the year people across the country would be occupying public space denouncing the tyranny of the 1%? Or that fast food workers across the country would be walking off their jobs to demand a living wage? Or, that undocumented youth would be intentionally getting detained so they could organize resistance inside detention centers? Or that there would be a well organized national mass movement against police violence growing out of another police murder of a Black youth?

Holding onto the hope that we could win, that we could radically transform society is difficult, but vital. That hope and audacity can change the way that we organize, fight, and build movements. The problem is that it is almost impossible to keep hope alive if we don't have a plan to win.

Read more here.


There is already considerable discussion on this posting on a number of websites and listserves, particularly here.

Portside readers are encouraged to participate in this discussion, and Portside will assemble and re-post this discussion. Portside in the past posted similar posts which provoked considerable reader response:

Whither the Socialist Left? Thinking the "Unthinkable" (March 6, 2013)

Whither the Socialist Left? Round 2 (June 27, 2014)

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