The Trouble with the Socialist Alternative Running Sawant's Council Seat

Comments

1

The only thing less interesting than Mudede v. Mass is Mudede v. Rantz.

2

Is "Alexandra Ocasio-Cortex" a typo or a weird nickname?

3

DSA only has 1,000 members? How the fuck are like, 5 of my friends always harassing me to join?

4

Blarp. I can't read. Same dif. 55,000 is fewer people than went to the most recent Seahawks game.

5

"those who voted for Sawant have a second-rate representation"

And that's on a good day.

PS--Charles, does it ever occur to you that your pedanticism makes you ridiculous rather than authoritative?

6

"This is its optics: those who voted for Sawant have a second-rate representation, and those in the party have a first-rate one."

I see it more as, those in the party are the only ones with representation. Those who live in District 3, regardless of who you voted for, are not represented at all.

7

SA has 200 members "locally"? Meaning in Seattle? How many in Sawant's district then? 100? 80? 60?

9

What a silly article. The Council Member is the only one legally empowered to make these decisions. If a CM wants to have an advisory committee made up of local political party members, that’s hardly news; it’s politics as usual.

If the CM wants to consider their vote as binding on her course of action, she can do that as well. She remains the only person with legal authority to act.

This is all a fsncy way of saying CM Sawant is too lazy to run her own office, and has party members do it for her. Again, nothing new here; she’s not the first, and won’t be the last.

10

Grund. Grund grund grund Grund grund. Grund grundgrundgrund grund. Grund. Grund.

11

This corresponds exactly to what a political friend of mine told me. When he expressed interest in joining, he was shown a binder full of position papers and told "this is what you will be expected to believe, subject to change by the party leadership", but was not permitted to look inside until he said yes.

12

“We learn there was a recent split within the party, which has only 200 members locally and 1,000 nationwide.”

So which one is the Judean People’s Front?

Seriously, thank you, Charles. Rantz calling out Sawant means nothing; having folks a little closer to her politically means something.

Good to see Fnarf at 11 is alive and (hopefully) well, and making an excellent point, as usual.

13

I am still a Sawant supporter, but this does seem a little disturbing on it's face. Sawant serves my district (the 3rd) and I would like to think if I, as a citizen, needed something addressed, I could make my case to Ms Sawant, and have just her to convince to give me her support in whatever matter I needed addressed... and not the party of which I do not belong.

That said, she generally votes in directions I approve of, so I am not sure how I feel with her delegating decision making authority to her party. It does however, confirm for me that I would not want n Socialist Alternative candidate winning a mayoral race. A good solid Progressive, yes (not Durkin). But an independent progressive.

14

There is no need for all this excess verbiage, no need to roll like a dog in Hegel's trash-heap.

The words you are looking for, Charles, are "Single-Party State."

"Democratic Centralism" is very much of this world, and has been for a long time: it is the old Marxist-Leninist euphemism for single-party rule. It was the basis for Lenin's Soviet system. It is the ideological cornerstone of the Communist Party of China today. It is very much alive and well.

This is the key distinction: that between pluralistic socialist democracies, vs. single-party states. The difference between Scandanavian systems and Soviet systems.

Some leftists prefer one type, some prefer the other. But there is no need to avoid the clear and simple terms, to concoct elaborate word-castles of avoidance. The difference is easily stated, and easily grasped.

15

@13: How fully do you 'support' Kshama Sawant? Have you read the available 'Socialist Alternative' literature? Have you listened to Sawant's speeches extoling the Bolshevik Revolution, available on YouTube? Do you know that the Bolsheviks enslaved and killed more people than Hitler? Have you ever read anything by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn? Are you aware that no country implementing Sawant's idealized policies has ever functioned without an extensive system of internal spies and violent suppression of dissent, running right up to murderous slave labor camps? Do you ever wonder why no country, having once experienced the Nirvana that Sawant promises she'll deliver, has ever gone back to Communism as an organizing principle? Have you ever read about how cruelly, cynically and hypocritically the leaders of Communist regimes lived? (Sawant has a BMW; Lenin had a Rolls.)

It might be worth your while.

16

@14: Great post. Charles does seem to have a deep need to rub peoples' in his wonderfulness.

17

@16:

peoples' noses.

Oh, why doesn't the Stranger provide editing capability?

18

Time for one of those nice bloody internal party purges that commies love.

19

Yes, @14, "democratic centralism" is a euphemistic red flag, if ever there were. Kshama Sawant is capable and intelligent, to be sure, but she is also dogmatic, self-important, and hypocritical. It wouldn't be a tragedy were she to be re-elected, but I am positive some in the Third District could serve more constructively and attentively than she has. Many, though, quietly feel intimidated by the socialist label, as if it represented the integrity of "real progressive" courage--whereas so-called "moderates" appear to them to weakly, apologetically tinker with a few social justice concerns. Yes, many fear speaking up in progressive circles for fear of being labeled a sell-out, a coward, a corporate shill, a gutless "moderate." But there is discontent with Sawant's self-exalting sanctimony. And many moderates (so-called) are not wimps and sell-outs. They have learned life is complex, and solutions often take much time and research and testing to implement. Recipe-book denunciations of "the rich" and "the ruling class" might sound courageous, but underneath the bravado is often fearful refusal to address an issue in the fullest breadth, to open up discussion to include empathetic consideration of what "opponents" believe. And making everything worse is the understandable resentment provoked by President Trump and his cult-like following, who in equal or greater measure resort to dogmatic blaming and intimidation. Sawant hates moderates and Democratic Party loyalists. And progressives' fear of her and her supporters' disapproval is still a powerful current running through Seattle politics. But that may be changing. Sawant has been overindulged and enabled--but it will not go on forever.

20

@15

The CPC is repressive today, but far less so than it was under Mao. Under Single-Party rule, it's lifted half a billion people out of poverty and achieved unprecedentedly rapid industrialization. Whether they're "really Communist" or not is beside the point here-- they indisputably run a Single-Party state deeply rooted in the Soviet political model.

Like it or not, if we're to make an honest assessment we'll have to note that not every Soviet-style Single-Party State has imploded moments after inception or spiraled into ever-increasing repression-- just as we have to recognize that most of them have done exactly that.

21

@20 Yes, funny thing is it took capitalism and not socialism to lift 800 million (World Bank number) Chinese out of poverty.

22

On social media, that is, on the one site where people must use real names, there is almost zero chatter from her supporters. Their enabling silence says more than anything else.

23

@21

Like I said, the CPC is inarguably running a Soviet-style single-party state, regardless of how you prefer to characterize that state's economic system.

The top four levels of management of every bank in the country are hand-picked party members. Call a system like that whatever you like, the CPC will still have it very much under their control.

24

@23 State capitalism, like Singapore.

Sure beats state socialism anyday.

25

@24

OK, but I honestly don't know what moral victory you've won there.

Why not just go back to Monarchy and be done with all the fuss and bother, as long as it's Capitalist Monarchy? Works for Saudi Arabia, doesn't it?

If your political philosophy is really that narrow then so be it, but dang man there sure are a lot of other aspects of states and governments that people have seemed to care about over the years.

26

From reading the article I thought that SA members only vote on the chairs of the committees but then those committees get to make the decision without votes...

27

“It boils down to two rules: all institutional bodies are elected by party members (the “democratic” part), and all decisions of those bodies are binding on all of their party members and any subsidiary organizations (the “centralism” part).“

This doesn’t sound like each member of SA gets a vote on each vote CM Sawant makes. It sounds like a group tha the central leadership has a large say and tries hard to recruit those who will believe what the central leadership already believes.

28

@27

Sawant is a party member, and as such she is obliged to carry out any action the party's Central Committee (or other controlling committee) orders her to carry out. That's how any Marxist-Leninist organization built on this model works.

I for one didn't realize SA was this far down the rabbit hole, even most self-described communists these days tend to tiptoe around the old Soviet organizational relics rather than embrace them.

Each member of SA doesn't get to vote directly on Sawant's every action in the City Council, and SA's central committee doesn't necessarily take an interest in every City Council issue, nor issue orders to Sawant for every vote. Not even Our Bumbling Mudede is suggesting as much. But that's not what has people worked up.

What's got the talk radio guys in a lather is the news there's this Party Committee out there that can order Sawant to do whatever The Committee has decided upon, when The Committee chooses to take an interest.

Now granted, that committee has to be pretty small, given SA's membership numbers, and Sawant is almost certainly a member of the committee herself, and likely the most persuasive person in the room on most days. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have to carry out the committee's decisions when they go against her own preferences.

And that doesn't sit well with people who for various reasons believe City Council members are supposed to be autonomous actors acting independently of anyone and anything other than the body politic-- the voting citizens of Seattle. And, like, maybe some lobbyists. And donors. You know, like in a middle-school civics class, approximately.

29

27

Yeah, the puppet-on-a-string thing seems a little ... tenuous.

Charles I do hope you invite Kshama over for a Rebuttal,
some time....

30

@38 thanks that makes sense! From Charles peice it sounded like the SA was voting as a group on each issue.

Honestly I don’t have a problem with this except it wasn’t made explicit when she ran for office. If her district is informed about this and still votes her in thats their choice. But seeing how the article says its a member only organization that is some what secretive, it does feel like this is very similar to what CM Sawant has called out other CM for, except instead of going to conferences with local businesses leaders, its her group so that makes it “ok”...

31

30: Can you count? Are you visually impaired? Stoned? There is no #38 comment! Oh, man, whatever drug you're on, may I have some too?

32

Sawant's actions and accomplishments are first rate in my book.

33

13 is a total tool.

34

30
So you have no problem with multiple ethics violations. Nice.

Another tool.

The biggest laugher is that some people actually think she is smart.

35

Kshama Sawant is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

36

At the end of the day, regardless of the platform she runs on, Kshama Sawant needs to be answerable to the people of the 3rd district... not to a her party (the whole reason we switched to districts instead of 9 "at-large" seats in the first place). That said, under no circumstance will I vote for someone from the Durkan wing of Seattle Politics. If I am going to vote against Sawant, it will be for a progressive.

37

Funny how some people really don't want Sawant to run on her record and positions on issues. Who cares that a group of people shares the decision making for the CCS as long as none personally profit from the matter (aren't they in fact donating their time talking shop with Sawant?). The problem with corporate politicians taking orders from their sponsors is that it is a matter of ethics and corruption, which until evidence to the contrary isn't the issue here. If Sawant and her political friends are making bad decisions, voters should look toward other candidates. For the moment, people shouldn't fall for this kind of drivel.

38

And regardless of what one thinks of Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative, I strongly recommend reading the entirety of Kevin Schofield's article. The party's secretiveness; the (alleged) retaliatory firings and harassment to keep people in line; the fierce infighting; the repression of almost all public, frank dissent; the questionable use of gmail; the utter lack of transparency regarding expenditure... I almost felt I was reading about the Catholic church or the Scientology movement. I thank Kevin Schofield for his diligent, detailed research. Socialist Alternative is certainly entitled to a rebuttal, but this seems to me a serious warning about any political organization, right or left, that assumes traits of religious cults. The worst, currently, is Trump--what with his hideous messianic delusions and the apparent void his pseudo-heroic posturing fills in the lives of his worshipers. But Socialist Alternative seems to have serious issues all of its own, and Seattle voters need to know this. Thank you, Kevin Schofield.

39

@13 I was excited about Sawant when I first heard about her on the campaign, but actually watching and listening to her, it was obvious she was an entitled bully and narcissist who cared for no one but herself and that through socialism, had found her lever to shame other people. This may be true of most politicians with ambition, but with her, it was on the surface. Anyone who couldn't figure that out by the time the votes were cast has only themselves to blame.

40

Socialism; the Poor Man' Scientology....

41

The Stranger now tolerates dissenting — even critical! — views of CM Sawant. That’s very bad news for whatever re-election chances she may have. To the extent The Stranger has political influence, it’s on Capitol Hill — right in the heart of the most liberal part of District 3. Any wavering of support there could very well end her political career.

43

Hi Charles Mudede,

There seems to be some confusion regarding “democratic centralism” and “workers ‘ democracy” — and on the other side of the barricade, “bureaucratic centralism” and “bourgeois democracy”.

So let’s dispel the confusion.

Democratic centralism is the core organizing principle of Socialist Alternative — and of our co-thinker sister parties throughout the world in the Committee for a Workers’ International.
It can be summarized as:
* Complete freedom for each member to put forward their own ideas, to criticize or oppose anybody else’s ideas, and to vote in, recall or vote out any delegate to any position.
* Complete unity in action.

So all members of Socialist Alternative participate as equals in formulating perspectives, programme, policies, strategy, tactics, actions. — That’s the “democratic” part of “democratic centralism”.
And then all members participate as equals in carrying out those agreed-upon actions. That’s the “centralism” part.
There’s a dialectical tension between the 2 parts.

When a socialist fighter, leader, teacher like Kshama Sawant wins election to any public position, she is accountable to both her political party and her social class.
It’s a double privilege — to be loved, defended and supported by both her party members and her sisters and brothers who voted for her.

“But but but I can’t myself control Kshama’s actions, whereas Socialist Alternative does!”, howls the odd outraged conservative/liberal.
‘Fraid so, kiddo!
That’s this vile capitalist hell we “live” in, under “bourgeois democracy” — democracy for the bourgeoisie, hypocrisy for the rest of us!
Where there’s no real means of voting out a public office-holder in mid-term.

In a socialist society, where we’d have destroyed bourgeois democracy and replaced it with “workers’ democracy”, with every non-fascist party welcome to run for whatever public position it desired, such a recall mechanism would always be available:
Every household could elect their “house delegate”; Those house-delegates for one street could elect their “street-delegate”; Those street-delegates for one district would elect their “district-delegate”.
Like Kshama in Seattle District 3.
And so on for all districts in a city, all cities in a region, all regions in a country, and so on.

“But but but Stalin, Tito, Hoxha, Mao, Castro, Xi, Maduro, Ortega all support democratic centralism!”, cries the odd credulous cretin.
Nonsense — that’s “bureaucratic centralism”, and they’re all traitors, liars, enemies.

Kshama Sawant, unlike the above specimens, is a genuine socialist.
So please vote for her!
And join her election campaign — make it your own!
And donate to her party, Socialist Alternative!
Most importantly, please consider joining Socialist Alternative.
Together we have a world to win!

https://www.socialistalternative.org/

44

You dog #42 “Jeffy”,

Don’t you dare use the B-word against a woman!

It’s as vile as using the N-word against a Black person!

Call me either to my face, and I’ll call you an ambulance.

45

@20:

Let's not forget that untidy little detail called the "Cultural Revolution."

Nor should we forget that China's present success derives from it's decision to allow the capitalist world to use it as a sweat-shop.

46

@45

Did you think I was referring to some OTHER Mao in @20?

47

Updating my comment @9, because (as usual) Charles left out the important point. From the SCC Insight Link:

“Socialist Alternative also employs her husband, Calvin Priest, and sometimes pays travel expenses for both Sawant and Priest.”

While she can take advice from whomever she wants, she can’t accept anything of value from SA while also voting the way they want; her behavior thus ranges from the appearance of influence-peddling to outright acceptance of a bribe. Let’s get some subpoenas going to SA and find out.

48

@41 great point - she was gifted many inches of column space in this here paper

49

@43 - "When a socialist fighter, leader, teacher like Kshama Sawant wins election to any public position, she is accountable to both her political party and her social class."

See, this is where you start to lose me. Missing from your short list of who Kshama is responsible to, is her District. The People who voted for her. The People she is supposed to represent.

@43 Straw man: “But but but I can’t myself control Kshama’s actions, whereas Socialist Alternative does!”, howls the odd outraged conservative/liberal.
@43 Answer: ‘Fraid so, kiddo!

And it's gone.
When you describe your Utopian "Complete Freedom" and "Complete Unity" of party members to decide what Kshama does, you have effectively excluded anyone outside the party, even though you make up a tiny percentage of the 3rd District, not to mention most members are probably not in the district at all.

This sounds more like the old Soviet Politburo than a Democracy, and while I am an enthusiastic supporter and believer in Socialist principals; Without a strong Democracy backing it up (made up of all citizens) you have just substituted Out the "evil capitalist elite" for the "Socialist Alternative elite". Totalitarianism is evil in all it forms... Even Socialist Totalitarianism. I don't want to have to join the party to have a voice in my own district.

Congratulations. You have made perhaps the most compelling reason not to vote for Kshama that I have read. Time for the 3rd District to go shopping for a true Progressive candidate. Perhaps a Democratic Socialist.