Democracy in our movements
DOUG SINGSEN provides an excellent tactical critique of “the insurrectionists" in his piece "The debate in our movement": "They want to leap immediately into occupations without bothering with the annoying task of building a movement."
He also makes the political point that "the insurrectionists" don't "observe the principles of mutual respect, accountability, open organizing and democracy."
The last point really needs to be hammered home. The politics of impatience; the politics associated with a minority disparaging the majority for not being advanced enough--for not being "revolutionary" enough--is a politics that is inherently undemocratic. It is undemocratic because it demands that individual satisfaction be placed above the collective needs of the movement.
Above all, this is shown by the contempt "the insurrectionists" have for "'boring' rallies and 'boring' meetings, and listening to 'boring' speeches." Only a politics that is fundamentally anti-democratic in outlook could find a base opposition to sitting (or standing) with other activists in a space where ideas are debated out and where the opportunity to convince others of a way forward is treasured.
Only a politics that is fundamentally anti-democratic in outlook could disparage a rally--where there are always new people who may not have politically engaged at all previously, and where there are always people who have sacrificed time and effort to try and reach out to get others involved.
By virtue of the fact that it is undemocratic, this political outlook is--ironically for those who hold to it--non-revolutionary. As Raymond Williams noted, "To be truly revolutionary is to make hope possible." True hope is forged out of a sense of real power; and real power comes through active participation. People come to participate through genuine engagement, not by being spat on for not being "revolutionary" enough (whatever that actually means).
"Insurrectionist" politics is the extreme edge of liberalism--radical elitism. It is a dead end for anyone wanting to see real change--rather than those just wanting an "exciting" night out with themselves and those who already agree--because it disparages the majority as a political impediment.
Those who fight for real change recognize that it can be delivered no more by an enlightened few senators than it can by an enlightened few activists. Our power comes from the fact that WE are many and THEY are few--not the other way around.
Ben MacInerney, Melbourne, Australia