[Beginning with this issue, Dave Jette will share his view of possibilities for urgent collective action to confront the threat of fascism and the collapse of human habitat. Dave has been involved with Works in Progress since its beginnings, writing an early column and recently contributing occasional articles. He is the author of A Reformation of Dialectical Materialism, which incorporates feminist theory into a traditional Marxist framework (available at www.lulu.com).]
Our civilization is at a crossroads, with the threat of fascism both in our country and throughout the world, as well as that of the collapse of human habitat due to global warming. The seriousness of the situation facing us cannot be overestimated. It is imperative that we have a solid grasp of what is going on and how we can (and must!) reshape the future.
In “Looking Forward” I intend to inform readers of the possibilities for and necessity of effective collective action to save our civilization. Along with my own views, I will relate the insights and analyses of progressives similarly concerned about prospects for the future. I recently joined the (national) socialist organization Solidarity, and I will elucidate how socialism offers the only humane alternative to the manifold depredations of capitalist society.
In this column, I’ll cover topics that provide a grounding for the current situation as well as topics that concern ways in which people can work together to affect the necessary new social relations. The primary purpose of this work will be to facilitate people taking this transformation into their own hands to build a multi-faceted democratic mass movement.
Below are some topics I will address over the coming months:
- To what extent is what Donald Trump is promoting in our own country, as well as new authoritarian governments elsewhere, really fascism (or “neofascism”)? What is the relationship of the capitalist class to these movements, and to the full implementation of fascism?
- What “socialist” organizations are active in the United States? Some examples are the Green Party, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) with some 60,000 members; and Socialist Alternative which has placed and twice retained one of its members, Kshama Sawant, on the Seattle City Council? I shall provide information about who they are, what they stand for and what they do, for the benefit of persons who may be interested in working with them.
- What should be the relationship of socialist activists to the Democratic Party, which for untold decades has functioned to enfeeble and absorb progressive struggles?
- What are the critical environmental issues facing us, and what organizations are vigorously addressing them? How can people (nonviolently) support legal and extra-legal struggles against environmental devastation?
- Who is strongly against LGBT rights? Although in the United States many Catholics support such rights, the Catholic Church gives them only lip service. In Africa the Church stands in the forefront of opposition to equal rights for LGBT persons. In the US white Evangelical Christians are adamantly opposed to LGBT rights. How can progressives turn many of these people around?
- How can socialists help unite people in an informal coalition to overcome white supremacy, while vigorously promoting socialism as the only solution to our society’s fundamental ills? What is the relationship of (economic) class to the promotion of white supremacy?
- What will happen if Trump refuses to leave office, either after conviction in an impeachment trial or by losing the 2020 election? Trump has said that he may be forced by his followers to remain in office even if he loses re-election. How can progressives help organize mass struggles to overthrow Trump’s installation as an outright dictator?
- What organizational forms can be effective for convincing Americans to support the full range of socialist measures? Is it true that the more disciplined and structured an organization is, the better will be its chances to build a progressive democratic mass movement? How useful is the Leninist concept of “democratic centralism?” (It is arguable that the involvement of any disciplined organization is antithetical to building a mass movement.)
- What are the prospects for the indefinite continuation of capitalism in its present form (“neoliberalism”), and are other forms of capitalism currently possible? Capitalists’ control of our political system enables the increasing level of exploitation that capitalism needs in order to survive. The destruction of our environment is due overwhelmingly to our economic system in its present form.
- What does genuine socialism entail and what is its relationship to social democracy, as espoused for example by Bernie Sanders? “Socialism” is a broad term for a system of social relations supplanting capitalism, and it is important to understand what is possible and necessary in advocating for a transformed social system.