Socialists running for city council in Seattle and Minneapolis

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Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
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Oct 12 2013 05:57
Socialists running for city council in Seattle and Minneapolis

So, there's two Socialist Alternative candidates for city council that have what seem like real chances of winning. Kshama Sawant in Seattle and Ty Moore in Minneapolis. Haven't seen much of this talked about on the anarchist/communist left, other than a short article on WSA's ideas & action site and the following comic on Great Moments In Leftism:

There's been way more coverage of Sawant's campaign in Seattle than Moore's in Minneapolis probably because she came 2nd in a 3-way primary in August, is running against a 16-year incumbent and the campaign between her and the other person has gotten pretty nasty. In contrast, there was no primary for the seat Moore is running for in Minneapolis, his main opponent is not an incumbent, and it hasn't really gotten nasty.

Sawant got endorsements from AFSCME (mostly state workers), IBEW (electrician's union), CWA (call centers, phonce companies etc), and APWU (one of the 3 main unions in the post office) locals,while Moore got the endorsement of the SEIU state council. I'm not sure when the last time socialists affiliated with an explicitly socialist organization got endorsements from AFL-CIO unions, but it seems like probably a while.

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Oct 12 2013 08:16

Soshalizm in Seattle would be a good thing probly actually cause socially soshalists are pretty nice ppl & nhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh black bloc is allowed more stomping grounds not that I like the black bloc that much right now but then again they do have good taste in fashion but I think shoshalizm is viable on the municiple level because though capital is nationally protected the black bloc in seattle would eviscerate it in its visicals since shoshalizm is pretty much allowing the black bloc more say in the political theatre and all that down by the man on the street eatin his cornchips and baloney.

Ablokeimet
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Oct 12 2013 12:54

Socialist Alternative in the US is an affiliate of the Committee for a Workers' International. The International's political leadership is basically the Socialist Party in the UK. Readers in Britain might be familiar with the story of Liverpool Council. That was them. They were inside the Labour Party at the time and called themselves Militant.

The CWI's Australian affiliate is also called the Socialist Party and they've had a councillor on Yarra Council for some years now. And he's massively popular. At the local elections last year, the SP Councillor got the highest vote of any candidate in any ward in his council.

If you want to be a reformist, do it like the SP, because I've never seen it done better. If you think the case for workers' revolution is convincing, however, you should steer well clear of them.

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Serge Forward
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Oct 12 2013 13:15

This is the US section of the CWI-CIT, the UK version being SPEW (Socialist Party of England and Wales). If they're anything like the organisation on this side of the Atlantic, they'll be fucking horrible. Although to be fair, SPEW are a lot easier to get along with than their previous incarnation as the Militant Tendency, who, as deep entrists into the Labour Party, actually managed to gain control of Liverpool City Council and had a number of MPs in the 1980s.

Edit: Ha, Ablokeimet, I posted that before reading your message embarrassed

Spikymike
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Oct 12 2013 13:50

The politics of the Socialist Party of England and Wales (ex Militant tendency and not to be confused with the WSM-SPGB) along with it's other CWI affiliates is that of left wing Social Democracy and a weak form of Trotskyism, perhaps novel and newsworthy in the USA context though not in the UK. I thought the WSA article which seemed to treat them as misguided fellow socialists rather than opponents and advocates of a form of state capitalism a bit odd.

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Oct 12 2013 14:07

So we look more sane if we denounce as future overlords, small left groups that might on occasion gain a city councillor from time to time? Sorry, but I think i'm with the WSA on this one.

Spikymike
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Oct 12 2013 14:39

leomarinus,

To criticise left-wing groups and to draw a clear distinction between pro-revolutionary libertarian communist politics and those of the capitalist left is essential and less emotive than to ''denounce'' in some moralistic way. This is not to deny some shared opposition to aspects of the way we get treated in capitalism nor to regard individual members of left groups as 'the enemy' rather than capitalism itself, but it is to recognise and expose the political programme of 'the left' as a false opposition to capitalism.

Of course the WSA may wish these 'socialist' candidates 'the best of luck' but they are presumably not out working to get them elected as such so that's no real support anyway.

Ablokeimet,

I'm not against all reforms but recognise as you do that the politics of reformism is a never ending treadmill which leaves capitalism the root cause of our problems intact. How though does the SP 'do reforms so well'? I can see from experience how they are able in a rather opportunist way to propagandise in favour of potentially attractive reforms or opposition to obviously harmful ones, but can they actually deliver anything of substance in practice?

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Oct 12 2013 16:31

they are also doing this in boston for a while

https://www.facebook.com/votewhelan.org

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Oct 12 2013 16:35

also it is the opinion of one author on the WSA's I&A not of the WSA...

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Oct 12 2013 16:35

would be worth to discuss to what degree the high results socialist candidates received in some areas (not only CWI candidates, last year, a SPUSA member got elected on a school board in sub-urban New Jersey on a platform which declared that change can't come through parliament, this year, Chokwe Lumumba, a veteran of the NAPO/Malcolm X Grassroots Movement became mayor of Jackson/Mississippi) are a genuine expression by parts of the working class wanting real change or mere protest votes by people who are disgruntled but would also vote for a candidate of the Libertarian Party (which got high results in some areas during last years congress elections) ... the CWI is in my experience - albeit many nice members - as an organization a very sneaky bunch not shy to rip off other orgs or movements to acquire material resources or members

syndicalist
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Oct 12 2013 17:24
klas batalo wrote:
also it is the opinion of one author on the WSA's I&A not of the WSA...

Agreed.

Spikemike, I think the author was just sorta taking the "high ground" in his "good wishes" remarks.

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Oct 13 2013 01:15

I know about Whelan, but SA has run people before that don't have much of a chance. The unique thing about Sawant and Moore is that they have a real chance of winning.

Also another interesting thing about Moore's campaign is that it kind of represents the last remnants of Occupy moving onto local electoral politics. Moore and SA have been involved in Occupy Homes for a while, and there is a large amount of social crossover between staffers of the large SEIU Local 26, Moore (who is paid staff for SA) and the Occupy Homes paid staff. He has been really pushing his involvement with OH as cred, and has mobilized his supporters to foreclosure defense actions OH is still doing.

Ablokeimet
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Oct 13 2013 04:48
Spikymike wrote:
Ablokeimet,

I'm not against all reforms but recognise as you do that the politics of reformism is a never ending treadmill which leaves capitalism the root cause of our problems intact. How though does the SP 'do reforms so well'? I can see from experience how they are able in a rather opportunist way to propagandise in favour of potentially attractive reforms or opposition to obviously harmful ones, but can they actually deliver anything of substance in practice?

They have achieved a number of practical, worthwhile reforms of the sort that can be done at the local level, while combining it with local agitational campaigning, mobilising the working class in the public housing estates in defence of their local communities. Here's an example of what they do and have achieved, from the local councillor's newsletter:

http://www.yarrasocialists.net/?p=352#more-352

The Greens have become the electoral manifestation of the Left in Australia, but on Yarra Council, the SP have become the Left, demonstrating the moderation and timidity of the Greens, as well as their approach of "leave it all to the elected representatives".

What they don't do is maintain an unreconcilable hostility to capitalism and a revolutionary approach to the capitalist State. The overall approach, therefore, is implicitly one of "muscular reformism" - that the workers can make the capitalist State work in their favour by dint of large scale and continuous mobilisation.

Spikymike
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Oct 13 2013 11:19

Thanks Ablokeimet,

That seems to confirm the SP role as left-wing Social Democrats who in a minority oppositional role on the local Council will push against some of the more obvious unpopular local measures of the state and business with some success in situations where there is well organised 'community' pressure. Some of those results are clearly welcome if inevitably part of a limited resistance to ongoing capitalist trends.

Interestingly we can see that similar minority oppositions with however very different 'ideological' brands often operate in the same way and with some occasional local benefits. The liberal democrats over here have done the same in the past as part of their electoral strategy and look at them now they have government power of sorts. Similarly 'independents' and some rogue elements of larger parties have worked to achieve some local benefits. It also seems that the Green Party here as with you are rapidly taking over the lefts mantle having operated in much the same way as the SP. Individuals in these political parties are more often than not quite genuine in their desire to work on behalf of local 'communities' but non of that alters the function they perform of helping to sustaining both the democratic mythology and economic realities of capitalism. So whilst we might find ourselves in some situations alongside members of such parties in local working class resistance struggles over resources etc we still need to be critical of their political programme and aware of and critical of the limitations of such struggles.

Maybe that fleshes out some of the points I made earlier in a rather blunt way?

Ablokeimet
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Oct 14 2013 08:39
Spikymike wrote:
Maybe that fleshes out some of the points I made earlier in a rather blunt way?

Yes, it does. I'd like to reiterate, though, a clear distinction between the muscular reformism of the SP and the timid reformism of the Greens. The Greens will sometimes join in campaigns, and often supply speakers for the podium, but the SP actually goes out and organises campaigns.

wojtek
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Nov 3 2013 13:06

http://youtu.be/wA0pLypFTDs

Juan Conatz's picture
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Nov 3 2013 18:58

Election is Tuesday. I guess Ty has raised almost double what Alondra Cano, the DFL backed candidate has. Either way, we're gonna see the first Latin@ on the Minneapolis city council or the first socialist since the 1920s. The previous council person for this ward, a gay liberal DFLer, hasn't endorsed either because he says they are similar, only differing in their approaches.

Ty's thing has been pushing the $15/minimum wage meme, which has forced Cano to start talking about a city living wage, which she wasn't talking about before. And then, like I mentioned, Ty's people started a "Latinos For Ty Moore" group that has been heavily canvassing and calling in the Latino sections of the ward, as well as putting out a tons of ads on Spanish language radio.

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Nov 3 2013 20:45

The CWI always runs on a social-democratic platform. So given the craven center-right politics of the Democratic Party its not surprising that a left-Democratic/New Deal "socialist" party would find support in heavily liberal areas.

syndicalist
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Nov 9 2013 20:59

As a follow-up to the general theme, I thought folks might find of interest. I do not support the politics.

Left Third Parties in 2013: The Beginning of the Wave?
http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/4043

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Dec 3 2013 10:51

Black Orchid have put out a long article discussing Sawant's win.

http://blackorchidcollective.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/kshama-sawant-and-...

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Dec 4 2013 23:22

http://labornotes.org/2013/12/ohioans-elect-two-dozen-city-councilors-in...

Quote:
“Running independent wasn’t our first choice, but hopefully this can help bring the Democratic leaders to their senses,”

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Dec 5 2013 12:15
Black Orchid wrote:
Sawant’s election was only possible because the old systemic shock absorbers have worn thin and the ruling class has not yet reached consensus about how to build new ones. However, they are hard at work on this project, and we need to strike strategically against their prototypes as they try to build them.

I like this very much, looking forward to reading the whole article when I have time.