An introduction is in order….
I am starting this as an unofficial blog for the organizing efforts of myself and my comrades that are seeking to build an independent left political party from the ruins of the Green Party in Rhode Island.
In the 1980s to the 2000s, the late Peter Camejo, a Green Party activist and frequent candidate for office, argued a rather impressive (and in my opinion, correct) case for organizing methods and messaging of the American Left. After getting burned-out by the various neuroses associated with Leninist occultism, Camejo came to the conclusion that successful radical movements worldwide had adapted themselves effectively to the nuances of each individual country they were built in. China used images of the Forbidden City and the Stars of Heaven, Cuba invoked the name of José Martí, Nicaragua invoked the name of Sandino, and, in a slightly different formation, Venezuelans invoked the name of Simón Bolívar. Camejo wrote:
Symbols and terms borrowed from other revolutionary experiences are often completely misunderstood by the people, and socialists have often used them in ways that are counterproductive. An obvious example is the famous Russian symbol of the hammer and sickle. In 1917 they symbolized workers and peasants and their need to unite to fight for their common interests. However, to wave a flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle in the United States does not bring to mind thoughts of workers and peasants. To most it evokes the Soviet Union and is equated, as a byproduct of anticommunist propaganda, with dictatorship and governmental abuse. Yet some of our truly infantile ultralefts love to bring the hammer and sickle to demonstrations. Such “radical” acts usually serve the ruling class by confusing the issues and undermining the actual struggles that the ultralefts allegedly want to support…
During the movement against the Vietnam War and in the more recent movement against intervention in Central America, various banners and flags have appeared at demonstrations. In the large demonstrations of the late sixties we often saw the appearance of the stars and stripes with thirteen stars. What impact did this have? It drove home the contradiction between the accepted support for self-determination and the present policy of the US government. Others would carry red flags or flags with the hammer and sickle. What did such flags mean? Did they help the Vietnamese, or our movement — or did they merely satisfy the egos of those who like to fantasize that they are super-revolutionaries?
In practice, Camejo said that the American Left should reclaim the heritage of the American abolitionists. In the decades since he first articulated this argument, further scholarship on the antebellum period has demonstrated a clear strand of anti-racist, anti-imperial, and anti-patriarchal politics was present in the abolitionist milieu, reinforcing the validity of Camejo’s point.
And so I suggest utilizing the title of Frederick Douglass’s periodical, The North Star, which Camejo also did during his efforts.
You must log in to post a comment.