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Support and Improve “Our Revolution”


In just three days some concerned supporters of the Sanders Campaign and of “Our Revolution” prepared a petition and assembled an impressive list of initial signers including, for example, Noam Chomsky, Karen Bernal, Bill Fletcher, Frances Fox Piven, Kathy Kelly, and Norman Solomon. You can see the full petition and a list of its the initial signers here.

My own reasons for working on and signing the petition, and for ZNet providing prominent support for it with a top page overlay, are quite simple.

The Sanders Campaign revealed deep and broad desires for progressive policy and “political revolution.” However, an almost continuous criticism of the Campaign has been that electoral campaigns for Democratic Party candidates never generate lasting, effective, radical organizational gains. Indeed, the Sanders campaign and Sanders himself agreed that to be worthy campaigns must produce lasting effective radical organization. Then the Campaign set up an organization called “Our Revolution.” Will it last? Will it be effective? Will it be radical?

That “Our Revolution” exists doesn’t guarantee it will be effective, much less that it will sustain and multiply the radical momentum the Sanders campaign revealed. And then “Our Revolution” got off to a rocky start. It raised concerns. It elicited silence, doubt, and even dismissal from many potential participants.

So now what? Should we who favor progressive and radical change and who know the importance of sustainable new radical organization watch from the sidelines, rooting for a good outcome, but fearing a bad one? Or should we try to constructively help attain the good and avoid the bad?

But how can one constructively help? Those involved with the petition to “Support and Improve ‘Our Revolution’” felt one way to help would be to seek a productive public exploration of possibilities around three troubling issues. We want “Our Revolution’s” program to prominently address international relations, U.S. foreign policy, pentagon spending, and war making. We want “Our Revolution’s” structure to reflect and facilitate democratic values and progressive aims. And we want “Our Revolution’s” electoral strategy to inspire, train, advocate and aid candidates who will pursue progressive agendas whatever their party affiliation may be. And so we developed the petition “Support and Improve ‘Our Revolution’.”

If 10,000 people sign the petition and alternative media raises the same issues in venue after venue and we all respect what has been accomplished but make known our desires for what ought to be refined, will “Our Revolution” successfully address the concerns the petition raises? Will it require 20,000 signers plus lots of debate and organizing? The point is, the potential of “Our Revolution” is far too great for those who want to sustain and expand the Sanders momentum to watch from the side. One first modest step to provoking change is this petition. Another step could be joining “Our Revolution” and making known and pursuing one’s desires for it.

The petition designers assume that all those moved by the idea of a political revolution and all those hopeful that the election process would yield radical activism beyond the election, will agree on the need to ensure “Our Revolution” is fully engaged with all sides of life including international relations, is fully committed to democratic participation, transparency, and accountability including regarding its own structure, and is fully committed to electoral and also extra electoral activism each solely in light of winning lasting movement gains without obeying the dictates of any single party.
Hopefully with some refinements achieved, “Our Revolution” will attain great success. Let’s go on record with our desires as one modest step toward making it so. If not, who will?

You need only click this link – Support and Improve “Our Revolution” – and then fill in your name and information to Sign The Petition.

8 Comments

  1. avatar
    Michael Lesher September 1, 2016 11:53 am 

    Every popular movement has to start somewhere. The Sanders campaign did start one, and — if you ask me — anyone who has been proclaiming for years the need for popular movements to transform the United States would be foolish not to try working with this. There’s no guarantee of success, of course, but the surest road to failure is to refuse a golden opportunity when fate delivers it.

    • quaid hutchinson September 2, 2016 8:38 am 

      “the surest road to failure is to refuse a golden opportunity when fate delivers it.”

      Jill Stein

  2. avatar
    Michael Albert August 31, 2016 6:56 pm 

    Really, as you know I worked on IIOPS more than anyone for a long time, arguably, most of my life, actually, and in fact, writ large, it is still precisely what I am working on, all the time, including when generating a petition like this – and there is simply no reason to say what you say here. Sanders had, assuming he even knew it existed which I doubt, no good reason to relate to IOPS and far far more reason to ignore it than any of us have to ignore Our Revolution.

    David, I don’t know, after all, what you know, or what your experience is, but do you really think this set of people has in mind legitimizing democratic capitalism – which others call sheep herding people into system support (not kindly to the herders of the people), or that we are stupid? If you think neither of those, then don’t you think it would make sense to try to understand what we are saying a bit more before dismissing it all in such ways?

    As to the board of directors – look at the petition. Why not raise the points, debate, try to win over people, try to get better results? Do you only engage when people agree with you before you engage?

    And to make it a bit personal, do you really think you are committed and by your life’s work have evidenced it, to ending private ownership – and I would add much else – in ways that the people signing are not?

    Folks, there is nothing wrong with disagreeing about things, but it really gets very tiring when people do so by assumning that others are either lying about their convictions, or fools – and that is exactly what you are saying, albeit more civilly.

  3. Tom Johnson August 31, 2016 4:00 pm 

    Despite an impressive list of signatories on this petition, it does not make a lot of organizing sense to me. Like Bernie Sanders himself, OR has become a captive subsidiary of the DLC-controlled Democratic Party.

    In an attempt to improve the flawed (and now corrupted) OR, it seems many long-time U.S. leftists are now directing their energies to reforming the unreformable in the name of radicalism and revolution.

    I fear that OR is going to be a success, just as the Democratic Party has been a success — as a vital co-optation tool of neoliberal global capitalism and imperialism.

    I wish the originators and signers of this letter luck, but what little organizing time, resources and energy I have will go to supporting Stein/Baraka (a truly radical ticket) in the near term, and then continue with the non-electoral work that I am and will be a part of.

    Solidarity,

    Tom Johnson
    Saint Paul, MN USA

    • avatar
      Michael Albert August 31, 2016 6:45 pm 

      It is very strange to me how quickly people assume failure is inevitable even when what we are talking about is an organization that defines itself as trying to advance sociial change, and even when it is far from defined, unless, of course, all those with different views than those that are most likely, back off…

      Look at what you are saying I and all these other folks are trying to reform the unreformable – we don’t understand such matters – but you do – and we are making the most elementary of mistakes. I assume you mean the democratic party. Fair enough, except none of us are trying to reform that – and even that, while incredibly unlikely, can’t really be called impossible. But OR – what OR is, so far, is mainly an idea that is good, and some ideas that that are not so good. Why do you assume, however stacked in some ways the deck may be, that nothing can be achieved? Why do you assume an organization that can currently talk to hundreds of thousands of people who were attracted to very progressive policy and even more progressive rhetoric, should just be, what, ignored.

      As to that little time you have, I assume you are spending it well. Great. But signing a petition takes about five minutes. I doubt there is anyone who will not sign this because it takes too long. You say you hope something good emerges, yet you will just watch and hope. Did you identify with any of the description in the article?

      • quaid hutchinson September 1, 2016 10:34 am 

        “Why do you assume, however stacked in some ways the deck may be, that nothing can be achieved? Why do you assume an organization that can currently talk to hundreds of thousands of people who were attracted to very progressive policy and even more progressive rhetoric, should just be, what, ignored.”

        You mean, just like you’re ignoring Jill Stein?

        • avatar
          Michael Albert September 5, 2016 3:54 pm 

          Hi Quaid –

          How have I ignored Jill Stein, or more to the point, the Green Party? For one thing we routinely publish what they send us, mostly agreeing, sometimes simply because they deserve the respect.

          As to the election, which I suspect you may be referring to, again, from ignoring, I have repeatedly said I think it is wise to vote for Stein, the Greens, in what is likely to be about forty states, and hopefully more.

          I have also said I think her asking folks to vote for her even in states that Trump might win and needs to win is counter productive for her, for the greens, for social change prospects, and for the world… I won’t go back over all the reasons.

          Somehow, for you, I guess that is the same as ignoring her, and the Greens. I apologize, but I cannot see how…

          All that said, this piece that you are commenting on isn’t about any of that. If you favor Stain because you favor developing organizational means to reach out to wide audiences in ways that will inspire activism aimed at change, as I assume is the case, then it is hard for me to see how signing ap etition trying to get a new organization that is potentially able to address a very large proportion of the population to be more included and better designed to do just that is something you would not favor. Perhaps you can explain to me why you wouldn’t…

  4. avatar
    David Jones August 31, 2016 3:00 pm 

    You say Sanders wanted the campaign to produce a “lasting, effective, radical organization” yet I don’t remember him joining IOPS, or even mentioning it. But maybe radical means “progressive” and revolution actually means reform. Mere words, right, and who cares about strict meaning? Used interchangeably we can have a “productive, public exploration” of how to save “democratic capitalism” from its own excesses, making sure it isn’t de-legitimized in the eyes of the masses.

    Is this what re-imagining society has come to? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who the Board of Directors chooses to support when an eco-socialist candidate runs against a “progressive” Democrat. Call me a nattering nabob of negativity but I have seen this movie (more than once) and unless you are committed to a principled stand against private ownership of the means of production in these “discussions” you will end up back at the beginning and CO2 levels will continue to rise. Just the way it is.

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