Cannon and his close associates in the ILD such as Max Shachtman and Martin Abern, [were] dubbed the ‘three generals without an army'”


Trotskyists –> generals without armies



“The production of surplus value is a social product. It’s never a product of one particular activity or person. That’s something that remains very important and valid from Marx’s work. In capitalism, value production is not ever really the product of any particular location, but its determined socially. In other words, you have a broad social assembly line (I’m using the notion figuratively) that is all necessary for the production of surplus value. Surplus value is realized of course in the sale of the products of labor. If you have a factory that produces a dozen cars and those cars are never sold, its not realized.

What I’m suggesting here is that the activities by which the wage laborer is reproduced are part of that social assembly line: it’s part of a social process that determines surplus value. Although we cannot pinpoint a direct relation between what occurs in a kitchen and the value that is realized, for example through the sale of a car or any other product, nevertheless when we see the social nature of value production, a social factory that extends beyond the factory itself.” (- Silvia Federici)


“Marx […] — “the ruthless critique of all things existing.”

Well, God knows, mainly this critique has to get directed toward capitalism. But I think it also has to be directed toward the Left movement in the 20th century. The fact that the first wave of attempts to build socialism and move toward communism got derailed by their own internal contradictions is something that needs, urgently, to be understood.” – Barbara Fields – Interview


“The history of capitalism is a long history of how the predominant ideo­ logical political framework was able to accommodate (and to soften the subversive edge of) the movements and demands that seemed to threaten its very survival. Say, for a long time, sexual libertarians thought that monogamous sexual repression is necessary for the survival of capitalism – now we know that capitalism can not only tolerate, but even actively incite and exploit forms of ‘perverse’ sexuality, not to mention promiscuous indulgence in sexual pleasures. However, the conclusion to be drawn from it is not that capitalism has the end­ less ability to integrate and thus cut off the subversive edge of all par­ ticular demands – the question of timing, of ‘seizing the moment,’ is crucial here. A certain particular demand possesses, at a certain moment, the global detonating power, it functions as a metaphorical substitute for the global revolution. If we unconditionally insist on it, the system will explode. If, however, we wait too long, the metaphori­ cal short-circuit between this particular demand and the global over­ throw is dissolved, and the System can, with sneering hypocritical satisfaction, make the gesture of ‘You wanted this? Here you have it!’ without anything really radical happening.” (Slavoj Zizek. “From History and Class Consciousness to The Dialectic of Enlightenment…and Back,” pg. 13 (of my pdf))


What do liberals, Marxist-Leninists, Social-Democrats, and (to a certain extent) Ultra-Leftists have in common?

The fact that they assume that a “synthesis” (i.e. “neutral,” or “higher”) position is available in a conflict with two or more sides. For example, liberals often like to claim that “both sides are at fault.” The solution is then “moderation.”

Synthesis, in fact, is not a synthesis of two positions in a “higher” position, but seeing that the unity is already in one of the two poles.


“The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement definitely seeks alliances with other groups, and the idea of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is to build a movement of what we call a new Afrikan people. And a new Afrikan people is the same thing as black people, or so-called “African-American people.” But it’s also to build a movement of people, period. In other words, to create a positive, progressive movement across the borders of the United States and internationally.

We fully understand that there’s no freedom for us unless there’s freedom for everybody [italics mine]. Martin Luther King said that at one point, and I think it’s very true. So we seek different kinds of relationships, and we want to spread the things that we are doing, which we think are useful and can help people in other places. Of course, people are going to have to organize and plan based on the conditions in their own areas.” (Chokwe Lumumba)


“It was less about spearheading a revolution from above than creating a climate of radical thought and experimentation that could take on dynamics of its own.”


“For the Left, a few lessons in particular should be drawn from [his time in office]. Lumumba governed to inspire movements from below, not to administer austerity. There need not be a contradiction between holding office, even executive office, and building a radical opposition.”


On the privilege of consensus-base decision-making:

“There is considerable evidence that consensus decision-making provides those who are time rich with substantially more influence than those who are time poor because of parental responsibilities and/or paid work commitments.” (Brian S. Roper)

There’s another thing to add: I’ve always had the suspicion that some people actually want the meetings to go on for longer, because it lets them take up more space (because everyone else was bored or busy and left).

[more: “There is an important class and gender dimension in this respect that Graeber fails to address adequately. He poses the question: “Is it reasonable to expect people to constantly attend fourteen-hour meetings?” His answer is that it is not and that possible solutions include making long meetings entertaining by introducing ‘humour, music, poetry, so that people actually enjoy watching the subtle rhetorical games and attendant dramas’ and having facilitators who impose tight time budgeting (pp.226-227). But this ignores the fact that for women with dependant children and men working 40 hours or more in paid employment, an important consideration given that in all capitalist societies women typically do more unpaid work than men, while men spend longer hours in paid employment, time is precisely of the essence. (Disturbingly, Graeber fails to emphasise the importance of childcare provision to ensure greater female participation in the consensus decision-making process he advocates.) In order to ensure equality of participation and influence over decision-making it is vitally important to ensure that the discussion doesn’t drag on for hours, in which case many people simply have to leave, and voting is a mechanism that enables decisions to be made within set time frames. In my experience, and the experience of many other participants in the Occupy movement, consensus decision-making is actually more rather than less alienating than voting in situations where a consensus cannot be easily reached. As one socialist activist who was involved in OWS observes: ‘While the possibility for democratic participation offered by this system has been invigorating for experienced and first-time activists alike, it also has limitations that have gradually become more evident over time, including the length of time it takes to reach a decision, the tendency to avoid difficult questions and seek the lowest common political denominator, and the ability of small minorities to overrule large majorities, which has made it difficult for the GA [General Assembly] to make many important decisions or to act quickly in situations requiring an immediate response. According to its supporters, consensus prevents decisions from being made that would alienate any members of the group, but as the debates within OWS have shown, it creates as much or more alienation as it avoids.'”