It's here, and it's growing: the self-assembling Coalition of the Radical Left

  • Posted on: 9 March 2015
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From IWW Ecology - by Alexander Reid Ross

In January, I went to the Oregon coast to get away from the city, clear my mind, and have some fun. While walking down the beach, though, we noticed a horrible sight.

Thousands of dead young birds, called cassin's auklets, littered the sands, strewn amongst the bottles and random plastic like so many discarded dreams.

Scientists are baffled as to the reason for the die-off. National Geographic called it "unprecedented... one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded." Between 50-100,000 birds as of the end of January.

The most direct explanation is simply starvation. The natural food of the birds has gone away this season, and it fits in with a larger trend of mass die-offs on the Northwest coast. It could be that ocean acidification is creating an ecological collapse, a lack of oxygen in the water, perhaps, but the main theory places the blame on the warming oceans.

It is climate change that is causing this death, just as climate change induced drought have led to the wars in Syria and Mali. It is killing our young; the entire planet is in grave peril.

Something must be done. But what?

The political party in power in Greece is called Syriza, an acronym meaning Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás (Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς) or 'coalition of the radical left'. Their organization is not what one could possibly call a conventional political party: it is more of a work of rethinking politics and its relationship to the state.

They formed in 2004 as an anti-establishment party, and surfed into power on the waves of riotous discontent incumbent on austerity programs and police repression. Although they have found turbulent times amidst negotiations with global financial institutions, Syriza has shown the North Atlantic the possibility of taking hegemony from the core economic and political powers of neoliberalism.

In the US, we are way behind the times. Would it have been possible to formulate an organized political response to neoliberalism during the antiwar movement that surged into existence during 2003? Instead, the tangled ball of anti-war sentiment unraveled in sectarian provocations.

A friend of mine who joined some anarchist black bloc protests during that era recently recalled an example that illustrates this reality.

We talked about a panel where an audience member asked, "Why did the anarchists continually co-opt the anti-war protests?" The audience member went on to site a specific protest, to which my friend replied, "We were one of the groups that organized that protest."

Over a century on the front lines of radical change

Anarchists are often attacked as the destabilizing force of left politics par excellence, yet when we approach politics from an anarchist perspective, we see these to be misconceptions. Anarchists bled and died for the eight-hour workday in the 1880s. The Magónista Liberal Party raised the banner of 'Tierra y Libertad' (Land and Liberty) in the fight for the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s.

The anarchist-syndicalist party, the National Confederation of Labor (CNT), joined the Spanish Popular Front during the 1930s. Anarchists played a driving role in the 1960s antiwar movement, the alter-globalization movement, and organized the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Today, the Kurdish PYD in Rojava (Syria) is motivated by the formulation of ideas condensed through the meeting of minds between Abdullah Öcalan and libertarian municipalists Murray Bookchin and Janet Biehl.

The goals remain the same: mutual aid, solidarity, justice. There is no reason why, today, the left cannot or should not band together to form political institutions around these tenets to confront the current global threats of climate change and the police state. In fact, there is every reason to perform and encourage such an act through radical new organizations.

Power bases are being built already. In Seattle, City Councilor Kshama Sawant has taken her seat under the party Socialist Alternative (SA). SA is not a conventional political party, nor is Sawant a typical candidate. An immigrant woman of color, she is the first socialist elected to City Council in Seattle since 1877.

Her forward momentum helped carry the $15 minimum wage into effect and inspire a like-minded organization called Right to the City in Portland, Oregon.

Nature in the blast zone (and us too)

Convening around issues of climate change and economic justice, Right to the City is one of several groups developing out of the Occupy movement that gets a sense of purpose from articulating a transformation of the relationships between private property and urban spaces.

The group will be supporting independent candidates in the coming city council elections with the platform of increasing the minimum wage, shutting down industrial polluters, and promoting free access to safer and more diverse public institutions.

The creative application of alternative networks and spaces is emerging with a new way of thinking labor policy in the US. In the Pacific Northwest, the climate movement and labor movement have joined together to shut down the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Longview in light of proposed fossil fuels terminals. Climate and labor activists are currently joining on the picket lines against refineries in the Pacific Northwest, as well.

The oil train derailments are rising at breakneck speed. On Thursday, an oil train derailed near the Mississippi River in Illinois, adding to the several other derailments already this year.

Because we are all in the blast zone, nature is in the blast zone, the environmental group Rising Tide posted an average of a blockade per month of fossil fuel infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest for the last half of 2014, and there is more to come.

Today in Pacheco, California, the IWW [as well as Communities for a Better Environment, Forest Ethics, Movement Generation, National Nurses United, The Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club, the Sunflower Alliance, and others] is joining with union workers at the Golden Eagle refinery to protest fossil fuel expansion. This confluence marks one of many ways that people are moving forward in defiance of conventional politics, bringing remarkable energy toward rethinking education, food distribution and production, energy and power.

Race, poverty, injustice

While productivity has increased, there has been a decline in median income since 2000, and rents are rising across the country. The poverty rate for African-Americans is nearly triple that of whites, and the environmental injustices related to real estate and inadequate health care mean that people of color are more likely to die of cancer than white people.

The fact that more than two-thirds of African Americans live closer than thirty miles to a coal-fired power plant translates to heart diseases, birth defects, and asthma.

To enforce de facto segregation, overwhelmingly white police departments are commissioned to disproportionately incarcerate and kill people of color. Although data is often sketchy, USA Today disclosed that between 2006 and 2012 a white police officer shot and killed an African-American every three and a half days.

That is saying nothing of the black sites maintained by the Chicago Police Department, for example, under the watch of the Democratic Party machine.

This is nothing new, and it only scratches the surface of the economic hardships experienced in the US. Being denied the meeting of basic needs, Native peoples continue to be dispossessed by land grabs from Peabody Coal in Black Mesa to Resolution Copper in Oak Flats.

Latino/a farm workers are exposed to the terrible crisis of industrial farming, from chemical fertilizers and poisonous pesticides to disproportionately low wages. With climate change-induced droughts, many will be forced to flee the Central Valley and Central Coast area of California, perhaps heading north to the Pacific Northwest.

A grand coalition of the local and grassroots

Something will have to compensate if a collapse in agriculture continues apace in California's once fertile valley. According to the UN, sustainable compensation of food production can only come from local family and community farming. We will need to reformat the coding system and transform relations between urban and rural, farm and market in order to produce enough food for everyone - but it can be done.

The enormity of the problem is, perhaps, dispiriting, and manifests one reason left movements spin out into sectarian and fracture - after all, one lesson of left politics is that much can be done on a grassroots, local basis. But what if the groups organizing on a local basis joined together to form a Coalition of the Radical Left to confront these major dilemmas on a horizontal basis?

A primary place for such an entity to enter into existence would be the Pacific Northwest, as Portland and Seattle are both among the fastest growing and fastest gentrifying cities with climate refugees to come in the future.

This is how we rise up. It is how we return to our reason for being on this planet in order to overcome the despair, take and share power, and stop the die-offs.

Because when you look the cyclone of famine and drought in the eye, it looks like our own young will be the next to wash up starving on the shores of politics if we don't seize the moments, the opportunities to stand for our right to live on this earth - a right that we won't have if we don't live up to the hard demands of liberation and dignity.

In direct opposition to the neoliberal agenda of the corporate political parties that brought about the financial collapse, a horizon of creative, local activism can be cultivated. This coalition, bringing together ideas of groups like Right to the City and Socialist Alternative, would have an eye to global relations, stopping free trade agreements that have proven to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

But it would also maintain accountability to grassroots activity for social and ecological justice on a local level - from switching agricultural production to a local level, as insisted upon by the UN, to transforming the daily relations of patriarchal and racist power associated with the police state and its capitalist agenda.

Is this the 'coming together' that Naomi Klein is asking for?

The Coalition of the Radical Left, or what might be called CORAL, would be able to dispose of the cancerous institutions of climate change and their power mongers on a regional level, replacing the dialectics of the city with ecologically sustainable and resilient regional networks.

Through this horizontal organization emerging out of the union of Occupy and Black Lives Matter, among other movements, the left could break down the sinister land and water politics that are exterminating native species and exhausting aquifers, acidifying oceans and choking the skies. We could galvanize opposition to capitalism, and generate power to be shared by all people.

Warming oceans, rising sea levels (four inches in two years, according to recent studies on the Atlantic seaboard), catastrophic droughts. They are destroying the complex diversity that the web of life requires to maintain an integral balance.

The coral reefs are an excellent metaphor for what is happening. Based on a diverse amalgam of life and calcium carbonate ecosystems built by groups of animals, the coral reefs have for a long time symbolized the dreamland of Aboriginal life.

Australia's Indigenous peoples for centuries have mapped out their knowledge of the reefs' systems through the composition of intricate artworks and musics that translate the vitality of those systems into a lived reality.

As climate change bleaches and destroys those ecosystems, the dreamscapes of the world's peoples are obliterated. Scientists have begun working with Aboriginal peoples to restore the coral, because that collaboration is the only way to re-establish a sense of the place.

CORAL would have to work as a solidarity movement with Indigenous partnerships along with communities of color. Coming together, we can rediscover how to understand and appreciate both biodiversity and human diversity, how to live together amongst both Indigenous and migrant populations, and how to embrace both the new and the ancient forms of reconciliation and resilience.

It is not an easy path, but integrity and respect never is. It requires self-discipline and practicing our ideas in good faith, passing along the wisdom of life. That is how we spin the fabric of dreams into our realities and celebrate what makes us human.

Alexander Reid Ross is a contributing moderator of the Earth First! Newswire and works for Bark. He is the editor of 'Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab' (AK Press 2014) and a contributor to Life During Wartime (AK Press 2013).

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Comments

"It is climate change that is causing this death, just as climate change induced drought have led to the wars in Syria and Mali."

You forgot about the growing numbers of prison camps, the ISIS/Al Qaeda terrorist attacks, Ebola, the leaks from nuke power plants, major earthquakes, police murders, homelessness... Yep, all caused by climate change-induced drought.

...coz you know the climate changes anyways! All the time. We just started to have winters a few years back, and... uuugh those hurricanes!!! All created by the Koch brothers and its armies of climate-deniers!

At least there is "the left" in the tags.

But our research team is still inquiring as to why this was posted here. More clues posted later... that will involve the Socialist International, Rising Tide, super-funded NGOs, Survivors and identity politicians. The plot thickens, so stay tuned!

This is interesting to any of us who think anarchist praxis involves anything besides masturbation?

I mean, trolls gonna troll but seriously, what the fuck ARE you doing if you're not developing your capacity to organize, struggle and fight alongside the allies to be found within the rest of the radical left? Be wary and skeptical, sure but unless you're secretly part of an exclusive, hardcore, nihilist cell that's actually going on the attack, you don't have much of an alternative plan, do you?

why would I want to be an ally of the radical left? This is anarchistnews, not socialistnews.
And how is reforming the state anarchist praxis? You seem very confused about the basics of anarchism... you're a wobbly aren't you?

Individual leftists are like easter eggs they have a christian exterior but they are chocolate inside, even if half-hearted, milk chocolate, sneak in to an easter egg hunt and spooge anarchist cream inside. Dont throw the cream out with the christian bath egg

It's a false Christian egg... it really was pagan, but as far as I know, Leftists are also reincarnations of the Christian puritans and their shepherds, just with some chemical white distasteful stuff instead of the Choco Godstuff at the center.

Nobody said anything about reforming the state and you didn't really answer the question, did you?

Actually the other of this piece speaks quite positively of state reformation.

author*

you're speaking to different people, but if you're looking for an answer bout "an alternative plan", it's kinda ridiculous to ask anarchists to give you a program or platform, you need to go to marxist-leninists like Bookchin for that. Anarchists will rather discuss strategies, and reformism isnt one of them, unless you're an "anarchist" that doesnt reject the state or proto-state institutions, which is not anarchist at all. The text we're discussing is pretty obvious in speaking favorably of reforming the state.

Bakunin-era anarchism was socialist, no? Perhaps you learned about anarchism from sid vicious, but i never took 'freedom' to mean "i get to hurt you however i want." Here is the US, where freedom means property rights that extend even unto slavery, the word just doesn't ring true until you throw some good will and generosity into it. Which apparently makes you squeal about socialism. Either way, read a book and get out of the basement once in a while.

Haha, the wobbly reference has hit a nerve ;)

definitely, makes it even more obvious with the infantilizing and intellectual superiority argument typical of marxist-leninists

lol... Bakunin was very clear about his stance on the socialists, that they were worthless to have any conversation with. Nice try, but the socialist were the most conservative faction of the International and were deeply at odds with the anarchists, that they excluded from the Second International. Actually the biggest rift between anarchists and socialists comes from the Bakunin era.

Anarchists are NOT part the Left, you idiot. No matter how some other Leftists and Right-wingers want to see us as such. Political negationists have nothing to do with the counter-power of the Left, that is actually these days controlled dissent more than anything else.

The belief that there are allies to be found among Maoists and socialists and social-democrats and the NGO Klimate Change cult is one of the reasons why anarchism in NA is so small and messed up, because Leftists are pathetic, moralistic, Victorian liberals with a thick skull and a tunnel vision who can't think by themselves. To an extent I fail to see who's worse between a Judith Butler and an Alex Jones, really...

I didn't say we were? I mean, to varying degrees, some anarchists identify with the rest of the left more than you or I do and I personally think post-left anarchists are a special category but that's not nearly so important as this venomous reaction to the suggestion that you might have to work with other people to get anything done?

Notice how you could easily be a troll if you're not intending to be?

Why the need to end your sentences with an "?" ?

But really, "you might have to work with other people to get anything done" is such a cheap excuse for ALWAYS ending up with the same old bunch of Leftists, right?

Not that I don't agree with this obvious principle, but I'd rather be doing stuff with other people THAN the leftists, which means breaking the chains of the controlled opposition and becoming a potential for real powerful insurgency against the dominant order.

We are winning! They are losing!

Yes, comrades!!! Keep fighting to get elected as the real forces Change.

For Social... uhm... Climate Justice!!!

Obama '08 We are the change we are looking for!

Real Change finally on its way!

I guess this is what goes up here on a day when CrimethInc. didn't write anything, nobody occupied anything in Greece, and British Marxists didn't publish a critique of Graeber [two years earlier]?

i see this more as a "know your enemies" type post

kumbayah my brother

now all we need is to convince leaders of the color people so they can boss their communities into being our partners. We can promise them a special committee in the libertarian municipal confederation after we win the revolution. Also the indigenous people might serve as good allies when we hunt down the bothersome primies who'll have fled to the mountains, because they'll be in the way of our mining industry essential for our computer based logistics infrastructure and local agriculture machinery. Maybe the primies can work in the mines once we break them.

More cat pictures please!

Good grief, same old dull and ineffective coalition building crapola. I'm sure this will work out just GREAT like every other of the past 5,000 attempts at doing this throughout history. I'm sure in the end it will work out well for the anarchists who do the other groups shit work, I'm sure the unions and socialist groupings will have a lot of respect for the work you put in...

aww, does somebody want a fucking blow job every time they do any shit work? Hold your breath til that happens cupcake.

no, people just don't want to do any shit work. Mind-blowing isn't it?

While anarchists in Greece are in active revolt against SYRIZA, US Wobbly holds them up as a positive model. Historical reenactors fuck off.

Some words against SYRIZA:
- Occupation of SYRIZA central offices: http://325.nostate.net/?p=15150
- “About the new government of national salvation” by Chaos Symphony: http://325.nostate.net/?p=14976
- Riots against SYRIZA: http://325.nostate.net/?p=15024
- Nikos Maziotis on SYRIZA: http://325.nostate.net/?p=15143

The green movement is a bourgeois apologist platform which supports the State full stop!

This poster uses words like "bourgeois" and ends his posts with "full stop" because he likes to pretend he's in the SI circa 1968. But he doesn't use all caps because he's The Unique One.

But its true, don't change the subject away from green complicity? Detournement still has a tactical relevance, its not like the whole SI movement left nothing of practical use behind other than neo-engel ramblings?

Yeah the green movement is some bullshit, it's just embarrassing to wind up on the same side of any argument as people who use outmoded jargon in imitation of their influences and yet call themselves douchechill monikers like "the unique one."

Detournement will never become an obsolete mode of expression. Satire and parody of political systems is basically a tactical non-aggressive form of rebellion and protest against heavy State forces. You wanna die or party?

No it is aggressive, in the way that it is offending the established order and its institutions and received notions. And I don't see where it's wrong to go on the offensive. Unless you attack people directly on whatever personal issues, it'll always be an aggressive defense, or counteroffensive under such a regime.

"The anarchist-syndicalist party, the National Confederation of Labor (CNT), joined the Spanish Popular Front during the 1930s "

in doing so they sold out the social revolution and lost the war!
spanish popular front was fight for capitalism not a social revolution!
the loss of the revolutionary fever in the front line militants(when there union leaders chose to fight for the republic not social revolution)was as much the cause of the defeat as the betrayal of other sections of the popular front.

much in the same way that Socialist Alternative in Minneapolis betrayed anarchist with charges from occupy homes, to consolidate their power for the failed city Councilor electoral bid Ty Moore. http://www.socialistalternative.org/tag/ty-moore/

fuck SA and the rest of the left.

Could make sense!

I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. After reading it, I went everywhere around in the neighborhood to tell my friends about it then I went back home to eat some pizza, then masturbated for a moment. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before!

I want Infowars articles to be allowed to be posted here, Worker. Compared to this exploitative leftist drivel, it's equally acceptable.

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