Tag Archives: tactics

I just can’t get away from these cow metaphors. I grew up in the country and worked, for a while, in a dairy. You can learn a lot from cows.


But what I’m actually trying to wrap my mind and yours around is how to deal with the difficult political situation we’re in. The question came up because of one of my earlier posts. It drew a comment, more or less, to the effect that one of the major tasks confronting progressives is re-educating or replacing our union leadership.

I Used To Be a Lot More Intelligent Than I Am Now

Long ago, I was a member of an organization that didn’t like the union leadership. In fact, I don’t think we liked any leaderships. Not in the women’s movement, not in the civil rights movement, not in the anti-war movement, not in any of the progressive movements. It’s not that we were anti-leadership anarchists, it’s just that we thought we alone knew best. We only liked one leadership, ourselves. Everybody else, everybody in leadership of any organization, was just wrong. We were the smart ones!

The result was that we almost always got into squabbles with the leadership of any organization we tried to relate to. We had a reputation for it, and knowledgeable activists didn’t look forward to our company.

Build Up Our Side, Don’t Tear it Down

I don’t think that we need, at this time, arguments with the leaders of the unions or of any progressive organization as a way for the progressive movement to go forward. I can’t say that I actually agree, point-by-point, with the leaders of any of the organizations that are doing so much and moving so many people into action right now. But I’m sure glad they are building the movement!

We should be deliriously happy to see so many people starting to get active, and we should encourage it in every way possible. When it’s appropriate, we can make our suggestions on program, on tactics, on strategy, or even on broad ideology. But we should do it in a friendly helpful cooperative way, not an argumentative or confrontational way.

Arguing and confronting are what we do to our enemies, not our friends.

How to Get Cows to the Right Place

Cows tend to meander along. It’s kind of hard to figure out why they go where they go, what influences them, who they look to for leadership, what they try to avoid. We’ve all seen the stampedes in the western movies, where some poor old cowboy gets killed while trying to “turn the herd.” Death by stomping.

It’s mighty hard for a cowboy to do it. But it’s even harder for a single cow. And in this metaphor, we aren’t cowboys. We’re cows, stampeding right along with everybody else. It would be inadvisable to get in front of a mad stampede and try to argue. We’d get stomped and maybe hurt some of the other cows, too.

We’ll be more effective if we go along with the herd and do our best to nudge one here, poke one there, moo loudly when appropriate, moo softly if it will work better, and try to get the herd over where we all need to be. That’s leadership in a cow stampede. Also in a mass movement.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on and 89.3FM in Dallas every Saturday at 9AM central time. If you want to know what I really think, click here.

I’ve been investigating the various strategies for dealing with the upcoming Trump government.


Rowlett activist Kenneth Williams

The best was the simplest: “Get active, because leadership will emerge from the struggle!” Kenneth Williams said that on my radio show, “Workers Beat” Saturday at 9.

Another guest on the show, historian Max Krochmal who was talking about his new book, Blue Texas,  offered a lot of encouragement when he pointed out that Texans have organized successfully under much more difficult circumstances than we face today.

Here’s what Franklin Delano Roosevelt advised in the depths of the Great Depression, “Do something. If it turns out to be wrong, do something else. But, above all, do something!”

Several Strategies Are Being Offered

So far, I’ve had opportunities to check out strategies offered by the Communications Workers of America, Our Revolution, Indivisible, Democratic Socialists of America, Communist Party USA, and just about everybody I know. I like all of them and none.

A Union Idea

The CWA held a webinar on the topic of the upcoming Senate confirmations of Mr Trump’s cabinet nominees. They explained how terrible they are, of course, but we knew that. Their idea is to get the Democrats to delay the confirmation while we use our union networks, social media, and informal communications to rouse the population. In the short term, it sounded pretty good.

The Bernie Sandinistas

For over the weekend of January 7, I sat through about 7 hours of education, planning, and organization with Our Revolution in Dallas. I missed the first 5 hours. I was a little bit surprised to hear them talking almost exclusively about winning elections and conducting successful lobbying campaigns. Only one person mentioned street actions, and I actually had whispered the idea to him before he spoke.

I don’t think it’s because they were excluding street actions, I think it’s because lobbying and election work are what originally brought them together and, for many of these young activists, it’s the only kind of political work they’ve ever had.

At the end of the second day, I asked if I could make a proposal. I proposed that we support activities around the coming MLK birthday. It passed unanimously, enthusiastically, and with no discussion. Then they went right back to talking about elections and lobbying.

The Bernie people, where I live, are the largest, youngest, and most optimistic group in local politics. I was delighted to see them setting up a regional structure and electing officers. I understand that we’re going to be something of a model for organizing Our Revolution nationwide. I have high hopes.

“Indivisible” Plans to Copy the Tea Party

I saw some of this on Rachel Madow, and there were two guys at the Our Revolution meeting promoting a pamphlet and web page called “Indivisible.” It is apparently made up of former congressional staffers who had firsthand experience with the obstructionist tactics of the Tea Party during the Obama years. They recommend that Democrats do the same thing to Mr Trump.

One of the presenters said, “If we want to preserve what we are used to, our top priority needs to be… Use obstruction and delay to minimize the damage that we know is coming.” He explained that the one thing the Tea Party had going for them was the fact that they were organized.

One could drive a truck through the hole in this argument: Tea Party success came from their access to big money, not their organizational genius.

Our role in this strategy is to lobby the Democrats to get them to act like Tea Partiers. I’d  say it’s a whole lot better than doing nothing.

Democratic Socialists Are Fired Up

The Democratic Socialists of America, an offshoot from the old Socialist Party during the Vietnam War, have always wanted to take over the Democratic Party. They still do. Bernie Sanders got them close in 2016, so they are growing in numbers and enthusiasm today. If Bernie’s, and labor’s, candidate to lead the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, gets the job, it will add even more credibility to this venerable political strategy.

Meanwhile, DSA activists are moving faster and with more certainty than just about anybody. Whether or not one agrees, long term, that the Democratic Party is going to transform into a working people’s party, anybody who craves action would do well to follow DSA.

Communist Party, USA Has Been Changing

I read a series of articles on People’s World, which is “sort of” associated with CPUSA, and sort of not. The writer recommended fighting the Trump government on all fronts and with all strategies. That makes a tremendous amount of sense, but doesn’t winnow down the opportunities very much. If you recommend everything, is it very much different from recommending nothing?

But CPUSA and its worldwide network justly claim to have more experience fighting fascism than anybody. Their basic text, Dmitrov’s “Against War and Fascism,” is the best exposition of what fascism is and how to put together a united front against it. Those are lessons from the 1930s, of course, and not directly applicable to today. I don’t think CPUSA thinks fascism has come to America, but they point out that there are certainly trends in that direction.

Historically, the communists would have put a lot more emphasis on workers and the working class. They would have had a clear aim of eventually taking power through class struggle. Nowadays, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between them and the larger, more socially acceptable, less red-baited, legitimized-by-Bernie, DSA. Both of them say what Kenneth Williams said at the beginning of this article: “get busy!”

My Two Cents

I’ve been thinking through this strategy thing a lot. It’s the reason I started this blog.

I think there are things missing from all of the suggestions above. They don’t start with a solid analysis of what’s wrong, they are basically short-term solutions, and they tend to pine for the “good old days.”

What’s actually wrong is that American capitalism is at the end of its rope. It can’t deliver the goods any more, hasn’t been able to for some time. It isn’t fascist yet, but it’s going that way and the only thing that can stop the process is you and me.

The good old days weren’t that good, and nobody but nobody wants to go back to them. Americans want to go ahead to something better and they won’t settle for anything less.

Voters haven’t turned racist or backward, they’re just desperate. A lot of them voted for Trump for the same reason they voted for Obama — anything other than what we have!

As I said in an earlier article, there are no long term solutions for those of us caught in this system.

That’s why we need long-term plans for fundamental change. The goals are in Bernie’s book — things like free education, decent health care, democracy, and all the many fine things he explained so well. I think Bernie has set the goals very well, the argument should be over how to achieve them. For that, we have to organize everybody, and we organize through successful struggles.

Each of us need to adopt long term goals like those Bernie set down. We need to recognize that elections and lobbying are not the only way to struggle and that, in fact, real change is more likely to come from organized economic activity than from generous politicians. That means that fundamental fights over economic benefits weigh more heavily than purely social questions. It means that workplace organizations mean more than idealistic social groupings.

We have to analyze our own resources and opportunities so we can pick the struggles we join, even if we have to skip some of them.

Then we have to get busy and organize. Leadership will emerge from struggle.

–Gene Lantz

KNON hasn’t fired me yet, so I’m still on the radio at 9 AM every Saturday. 89.3FM and If you are curious about what I really think, click here.

We can hang together or separately, as the saying goes.


We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately!


Almost everybody I’ve talked to wants to “do something” right away as concerns the anti-worker government anticipated  for January 20, 2017. For several nights after the election results were announced, thousands protested in the streets of several cities, including mine. As far as I could find out, they had a lot of enthusiasm but no program, no structure, and no strategy.

A month and a half later, we still don’t.

I’ve been asking around about inauguration weekend. So far, it sounds like there will be three rallies, one march, some people going off to the state capital and others going to the national capital. There are probably several more activities being cooked up.

The problem is that there is no coordination among them. As far as I’ve been able to find out, each of them is sponsored by one separate group of people and has demands created by and for solely that group.

Can We Afford to Stay Divided?

As far as I know, the progressive movement in my town (Dallas) has always been divided this way and that.  Every naive young innocent who ever got involved has said, “We’ve got to get together!” And of course it’s true, but I’ve never seen anybody do it.

The book I’ve been promoting, “Runaway Inequality” talks about “silos” and says that all the progressive groups are in their own silos. The solution, says author Les Leopold, is that we have to come out of our silos and start working together. He doesn’t say why we’re in those silos to begin with, nor how to get out.

The basic reason for the silos is funding. Nearly all “progressive” organizations have to raise money. In that sense, they are competitors for the almighty dollar, not partners in any real sense. No matter what high-minded reasons people may have had for creating an organization, their main purpose in life soon becomes raising enough money to pay staff salaries, not whatever they originally intended to accomplish. In a very real sense, they are exactly like churches, most of whom seem to have lost their sense of purpose centuries ago, and they have to raise money or die! How do you change that?

You have to appeal to individuals. Bernie Sanders showed us that it can be done and how to do it.

Why Can’t We Just Hit the Streets?

The main problem with “knee jerk” activism is that it doesn’t go anywhere. Witness the Occupy movement that had thousands of charged-up protesters. They had no program, in fact they deliberately avoided having a program. As a result, they left nothing behind but some really good slogans and memories. But there’s another, very serious, reason to be cautious about spontaneous street actions.

Leftists may not continue to own the streets in America. Remember, that the progressives in Germany tried to take on the better-organized, more unscrupulous, and better financed Storm Troopers in the streets, but it didn’t work out well for them!

In our lifetimes, leftists and leftist causes pretty much ruled the streets. The fascists have stayed inside the corporate boardrooms and left picketing, street rallies, and marches to the riff-raff (us). But Mr Trump regularly puts together rallies of tens of thousands of hotheads today, and he has already shown that he’s willing to encourage violence against any detractor!

I’m not saying we shouldn’t rule the streets. But we aren’t in the same situation we were in before November 8, 2016. It’s different now.

One Proposal for Unity

Progressive people who want to survive and thrive during the Trump Administration need serious strategies for coordinated activity. My proposal is a series of “teach ins,” conference calls, and, possibly, “retreats” to work on programs and to coordinate activities. At the very least, we could set up a “clearing house” function so that different groups would know what the others were planning.

Labor, as the most responsible and most consistently progressive part of the left, needs to center itself in this process.

Everybody going their own whichaway isn’t affordable any more.

–Gene Lantz

Hear “Workers Beat” on KNON radio, 89.3FM and every Saturday at 9 CST

Click here if you want to know what I really think





Ultraleftism: Although it sounds “more left,” ultraleftism actually means making a fetish of being “more radical” on every question and activity, whether the proposed tactics would have a good result or not. That’s what it means.

Unfortunately, what people think it means is “more left” or even “more progressive.” They’re wrong.

Michael X Johnson made a serious ultraleft error on July 7 when he shot Dallas police officers downtown. He may have thought he was somehow contributing positively to the fight to end police shootings of African Americans. Instead, he set off a storm of support for anything the police might want to do while the civil rights movement was simply swept under the rug.

Several new funds have been set up so that people can give money to the police. Here is what the Dallas newspaper announced just today:

“Groups that announced donations: › RBC Wealth Management-U.S. gave $10,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › American Airlines is helping fly in families affected by the shootings and donating $50,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › Southwest Airlines is offering travel assistance to families and donating $75,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › Through the Texas Bankers Association, member banks are making donations to the Assist the Officer Foundation. PlainsCapital Bank, based in Dallas, made a $25,000 donation. Dallas-based NexBank is also donating funds.

‘The Texas Instruments Foundation board of directors approved two grants to provide immediate assistance to the Dallas police and DART victims and their families, and to support long-term relief and efforts to unify and strengthen our community. These contributions have been pledged to two organizations: ª $25,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation, which will provide immediate assistance to the injured/slain Dallas police and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers and their families. ª $100,000 to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas United Dallas Relief Fund, which has been set up to provide supportive services, including mental health resources for victims and families of both first responders and civilians, and helping long-term through the difficult time ahead.

‘Empire Baking Co. raised $4,200, which was donated to the Assist the Officer Foundation.

‘The Capps family in the Devonshire neighborhood of Dallas raised $600 from a lemonade stand to donate to the Dallas Police Association’s officer assistance fund.

‘Restaurants and breweries across the Dallas area are offering free food and drink to uniformed police officers. Some are donating a portion or all of their proceeds to groups supporting the Dallas and DART police departments.”

Another article goes over some of the things that are expected of the City Council, including getting more police officers and raising their pay. On Facebook, someone is selling T-shirts promoting Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown for President and Vice President!

Funerals and memorial services are drawing crowds of 5,000 or more. I think the 800 on the night of the shooting was the biggest demonstration we’d seen to stop police killings.

Mothers Against Police Brutality, which started in Dallas well before anybody ever heard of “Black Lives Matter,” had steadily built their support with good, well thought-out tactics. Ultraleftism has given us all a setback.

–Gene Lantz

Click here for more of these ideas


Most of America, excepting the Attorney General of Texas, is mourning the mass murders in Orlando. The motive for the killing, as of this writing, is the subject of speculation.

violencegunIf the murderer’s goal was to advance a military cause, he was certainly a poor strategist. Why shoot up nightclubs? If his goal was to oppose people’s sexual preferences, he didn’t make headway.

Gay pride parades this year will be the biggest ever. Mrs Clinton will blame Mr Trump for stirring up hatred and opposing gun control. Mr Trump will blame Mrs Clinton for being “soft on crime.” In terms of progress for Americans or for humanity, this event was a terrible setback. The only way that the murderer might have accomplished his goal would be if his goal was such a setback.

I’m betting he didn’t have any goal that makes any sense to anyone. I’m betting he was acting on his emotions. I’m betting his was guided by idealism rather than by materialism.  In other words, he was planning his actions based on some world that doesn’t actually exist except in his own mind. That’s no way to strategize.

–Gene Lantz