Readings: Socialist Organization
The Socialist Organization section of the curriculum is divided into four themes: History and Theory of Socialist Organization, Case Study of the 1960-70s, Crisis of Socialist Organization and Solidarity’s Founding and History. The assigned readings are:
- Rosa Luxemburg — Organizational Questions of Russian Social Democracy (abridged) (9 pages)
- Bring the Ruckus — What is a cadre organization? (2 pages)
- Nancy Holstrom and Johanna Brenner — Women’s Self Organization: Theory and Strategy (4 pages)
- Kit Wainer and Charlie Post — Socialist Organization Today (10 pages)
- Solidarity Founding Statement (12 pages)
- Ernest Mandel — The Leninist Theory of Organization: Introduction (2 pages)
- Revolutionaries and Broad Left Parties (4 pages)
- “Classics Packet” (10 pages)
- Hammer and Hoe/Teamster Rebellion excerpts on cadres (5 pages)
Readings: Reform and Revolution
There are two overarching themes here: 1)the revolutionary critique of social democracy/reformism and 2)being a socialist working in movements historically and today.
Revolutionary Critique of Reformism
- Rosa Luxemburg, “The Mass Strike, the Political Party, and the Trade Unions,” pp. 168-172 and 191-199. (7.5 pages)
- Ian Birchall, May 1968 from Revolutionary Rehearsals
- Hilary Wainwright: Response to John Holloway’s “Change the World Without Taking Power” (Draft of a Speech to the ESF-London) (7 pages)
- Bob Brenner, “The Problem of Reformism” (4 pages)
- Kathy Mcafee, “Socialism and the Housing Movement: Lessons from Boston,” pp. 8-9. 12-13, 50-53 (6 pages)
Case Studies: working in reform movements
This section will have readings but will also draw on comrades’ own experiences in or knowledge of activist movements. Comrades with particular knowledge of a certain arena/movement should be prepared to kick off discussions on each case study. The point of these case studies will be to build on the more general discussion by delving into what we as socialists bring to reform movements, what dilemmas we encounter, how we engage with activists who are not socialists, our method, our strategies, what’s worked, what’s not, etc.
LGBT movement/Marriage Equality (10 pages)
- Peter Drucker, “The New Sexual Radicalism” ATC (May-June 2010) (6 pages)
- Beyond Same Sex Marriage (executive summary) (1 page)
- Interview with Ricky Mananzala (excerpt) (3 pages)
- “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride” (video)
- Recommended: Kenyon Farrow, “Is Gay Marriage Anti-Black?” (8 pages)
Immigration Reform/the Dream Act (5 pages)
- Subhash Kateel, “Diminishing Returns” (Organizing Upgrade, September 2010) (3 pages)
- Julianne Hing, “McCain Runs Away from DREAMers as Reid Vows Senate Vote,” (Colorlines posted November 18, 2010) (2 pages)
Labor movement (13 pages)
- Kim Moody, “The Rank and File Strategy” pp. 30-35
- Mark Brenner, “A Report on the Solidarity Labor Commission’s Evaluation of the Rank-and-File Strategy” (2004), pp. 6-14
- Dianne Feeley, “Autoworkers Fightback 2009” (2 pages)
Fighting White Supremacy
Solidarity is a multiracial socialist organization with a membership that is disproportionately white, relative to the working class. Since its founding, the organization has had important experiences participating in and learning from the struggles of African-American, Latino/a, Asian-American and Native people, in both multiracial as well as community struggles. However, our attention to different theories of racial and national oppression and struggles against them are relatively weaker than those about the labor movement, revolutionary organization, and feminism.
For members of color, a deeper understanding can help with a higher level of political engagement, participation, or leadership of struggles in the comrade’s own community. For members working in an oppressed community not their own (whether white or a person of color), a more nuanced understanding of national liberation struggles – neither dismissive nor romantic – can help these comrades more effectively contribute to and learn from their activism.
As an organization, a better understanding of the relationship between the politics of individual oppressed populations in the United States, other oppressed populations, and the overal political conjuncture will help with evaluations of the objective situation and how and where to participate politically.
As a mainly white organization at its founding, Solidarity has sometimes explored dialogs and alliances with organizations that are mainly or entirely oppressed nationality. There have also been efforts to change the racial composition of Solidarity through systematic recruitment and retention of people of color. This section of the cadre school is intended to educate newer members on this history and to be a part of exploring these questions.
As with other sessions at the cadre school, there is a limited “action” component to this section (although brainstorms, ideas and informal proposals will certainly come up in the discussion). This is because the cadre school falls immediately before the preconvention period, which is the appropriate place for action proposals. We hope that a shared educational experience of newer comrades can both help younger socialists participate more fully in the upcoming convention (in cases where older members may have a deeper level of knowledge) as well as radiate new political ideas into the entire organization during the pre- and convention.
Session 1: Guiding questions.
- What are some different ways socialists and revolutionaries have understood white supremacy?
- What are different theories about the historic and social origins of these divisions in the United States?
- How does white supremacy intersect with capitalism, patriarchy and imperialism?
- Andrea Smith, “Heteropatriarchy and the three pillars of white supremacy” from The Color of Violence
- Aaron Brenner, “Review: Michael Goldfield’s The Color of Politics”
- Adolph Reed, “Tokens of the White Left” from Class Notes
- David Roediger, “The Retreat from Race and Class”
- Michael Lowy, “Marxists and the National Question”
- Cynthia Kaufman, “Theorizing and Fighting Racism”
- Neil Davidson, “Reimagined Communities: A review of Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism”
Section 2: Racial/National Formation, Consciousness, and Self Determination.
- What does the “national question” mean in terms of the US?
- What does self-determination look like in terms of the US?
- What are some useful ways for activists of color to defeat internalized racism? What are the best ways for white activists to self-educate re white supremacy?
- How is the national identity of oppressed communities connected to internationalism?
- James Baldwin, “On Being White and Other Lies”
- Harry Haywood, “The Struggle for the Leninist Position on the Negro Question in the United States”
- Glen Ford, “Race and National Liberation Under Obama”
- CLR James, “The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the USA”
- Robert F Allen, “The Social Context of Black Power” from Black Awakening in Capitalist America
Section 3: Revolutionaries and nationality-based movements
- When and why have nationality-based movements appeared in the US?
- What is the relationship between revolutionary nationalism and the broader working class? and socialists?
- What is the legacy of the 1960s wave of nationalist organizations?
- What is the role of socialists of color, of white socialists, and of multiracial organizations in relating to nationalism?
- Clarence Lang, “20th Century Black Nationalism” (Book Reviews)
- Linda Burnham, “The Wellspring of Black Feminist Theory”
- Elizabeth Martinez and Enriqueta Longeaux y Vasquez, “Viva la Raza, Raza, Raza…” from Viva La Raza, the Struggle of the Mexican-American People
- Arnoldo Garcia, “Toward a Left without Borders: The Story of the Center for Autonomous Social Action-General Brotherhood of Workers”
- George Breitman, “How A Minority Can Change Society”
- CLR James, “The Rapid Growth of the NAACP” and “Marcus Garvey”
Section 4: Solidarity’s Anti-Racism work
- What has been Solidarity’s theoretical understanding of race and national oppression and how has it developed? Where do we need additional work?
- What has been Solidarity’s political practice and connection with struggles against racism and national oppression? What have been the strengths and weaknesses? How can this be deepened?
- What has been Solidarity’s organizational policy in relating to individuals and communities of color? Relationships with revolutionary nationalists, systematic attempts at recruitment… how have they fared?
- David F, “Where We Came from to Get Where We’re Going”
- Steve B, “The SWP and the Black Liberation Struggle: Some Notes”
- Joanna M, “Rough Outline for a Document on the Politics of Black America”
- David F, “A Note on Self Organization and Solidarity”
Suggested Readings packet, which contains:
- Betsy E and Mike P, “Instjtutionalized Racism and Class Struggle”
- Kay S and Theresa E. “Dismantling White Supremacy and Racism: Launching an Internal Discussion in Solidarity” and “Continuing the Discussion, Moving the Work Forward”
- Rob B, Theresa E, Sara M, Greg N, “DARE to organize against white supremacy and for workers power”
- Anti-Racism commission branch survey & PC evaluation of ARC
- Jose P, “Notes on the Development of a Latino Identity”
- Carolina B-M, Michael D, Michael M, Nate
F, Nnenna O, “What does it mean to be an anti-racist organization?”
Other cadre school information:
If you’re able, please pay the $180 registration cost in advance by making a check out to “Center for Changes” and mailing to:
7012 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48210
You can also pay with PayPal if that’s easier, but the cost is $185 to deal with PayPal fees: