Across the world and at home, we are learning how to improve our societies. At a breakfast meeting Sunday, November 17, we discussed the present situation and went over some of the lessons of the past.
The United States had more workers on strike in 2018 than in any year since the crackdown against the working class began in the 1970s. Working families in Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Iraq, Iran, Spain, and Greece and other nations are holding massive protests. The progressive movement is far broader, that is that more disparate individuals and groups are practicing solidarity, than in recent history.
How do we make sense of it all and decide which of the many opportunities most merit our resources? We posed some interesting questions that, for most of us, are not easy to answer:
- Why are there so many arguments in the progressive movement? What are some of the major divisions in the progressive movement today?
- What is happening in Bolivia? In Hong Kong?
- Are all the world’s protesters working toward similar goals?
- Would you defend the right of the Ku Klux Klan to recruit members in public places?
- Would you defend the right of American armed forces to recruit members in public places?
- Would you defend the right of ISIS, Middle Eastern religious fighters, to recruit members in public places?
- Would you defend the right of your local police department to recruit members in public places?
- Would you urge police associations to join organized labor federations?
- Does America really need a revolution?
Will revolutionaries be elected into power?
Were the Bolsheviks correct in taking power in 1917, or has history shown that the Menshevik gradualists had a better understanding of their situation?
One would like to think that all progressive activists would agree, even on difficult questions. But the truth is that arguments have always racked and divided the movement. Our group tried looking at the time-tested ideas of great thinkers of the past. We were looking for guidelines, not specific directions.
For guidelines and to initiate discussion, we used the automated learning modules in the “ABC” section of the Little School at http://lilleskile.us/school. I am its author. So far, we’ve looked at the first nine lessons. The next one will be on trade unions. Some people finish a module in five minutes.
Here are some of the main points we’ve discussed so far:
- Activists need to study in order to become more unified and effective
- Almost everything we have been taught has been filtered by reactionaries
- Of the two main branches of philosophy, idealism and materialism, materialism is the best guide
- In general and in the long view, the human condition has improved
- People’s views are strongly affected by their station in society
- Different classes of people have strongly divergent views
- Everything, including societies, is constantly changing
We plan to get together again on the morning of December 1. Let me know if you’re interested