Left Inside/Outside Project
The Left Inside/Outside Project first announced itself in a letter, titled “The Left We Want to Build: Breaking Out of the Margins,” published on the FRSO-aligned website Organizing Upgrade on June 9, 2017. Its motto is “One foot in the institutions, one foot in the streets."
The letter laid out a bold plan by America’s leading communist groups to massively expand their collective influence both inside and outside the Democratic Party. In the wake of “the ascent of authoritarian white nationalism to the White House and the GOP’s headlock on 25 state governments and Congress,” the letter called for “building a left trend—an alignment of organizations and individuals—based on strategic unity.”
Further: “We believe that … only determined, long-term, energetic efforts to break out of the margins based on a common view of how to engage in our electoral system, while also building mass protest, offer a chance to make the left a force in U.S. politics and, eventually, a contender for power.”
The letter went on to propose better coordination among America’s largest Marxist organizations, to increase infiltration of the Democratic Party, and to further pressure it from without, through mass protest action:
“The fight against the far right is strongest when it is energized by an inspiring vision for economic and social justice. Campaigns for openly socialist candidates and progressive challenges to neoliberal Democrats must all be part of the political mix. And the opportunities for broadening the reach of progressive and left forces will be greatest when they both struggle within and work in tandem with the larger anti-Trump or anti-right front.”
The letter described this proposed communist–socialist alliance as a “left trend.”
“All of the organizations and networks we belong to have important strengths, but also very real limitations in terms of size, demographics, or geographic or sectoral concentration. None of them, in their current form, are capable of playing the strategic role we believe the left must play in the next period. A left trend might have that potential—the ability to reach far beyond the existing left to create a force that can move us from defense to offense.”
The letter was signed “In unity and struggle” by key leaders of America’s most powerful Marxist organizations, CPUSA, FRSO, DSA, and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).
On Tuesday June 30 2020 project issued an update:
We're at a crossroads. Social movements on the left and the right are on the move, in the midst of a global pandemic, an unrelenting economic crisis, the threat of ecological collapse, and growing attention to the institutional brutalities committed against Black people. The Trump administration is steering the U.S. towards a precipice, doubling down on white supremacy and the aggressive protection of capital. The left, with all of its gains over the past several years, is wrestling with how to orient to the 2020 electoral races in general and the Biden candidacy in particular.
Join the Left Inside/Outside Project and Organizing Upgrade in a discussion with radical electoral organizers Sendolo Diaminah of The Carolina Federation, Kristian Hernandez of Democratic Socialists of America, and Sochie Nnaemeka of Working Families Party to take stock of the rapidly shifting political terrain and how it should inform the left's electoral strategy.Co-sponsored by CCDS, CPUSA, LeftRoots, Liberation Road, and the People's Advocacy Institute.
Democratic Socialists of America
- See also: Communism
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has 600 comrades in the Twin Cities who work closely with Antifa aligned groups. On May 27, 2020 the Twin Cities DSA issued a call on Twitter asking comrades for supplies at the same intersection where the Auto Zone was burned to the ground kicking off the nationwide riots. Later that evening the Marxists tweeted,
"Want to help out your comrades protesting at the 3rd precinct? Here's a good list of much needed supplies."
On May 30, journalist Andy Ngo tweeted:
“We are witnessing glimpses of the full insurrection the far-left has been working on for decades. Within hours, militant antifa cells across the country mobilized to aid BLM rioters. The first broken window is the blood in the water for looters to move in. The fires come next.”
Ngo later added:
“Media, politicians, public—all of us—have underestimated the training, purpose & capability of left-wing extremists. Every part of the rioting has a purpose. Fires destroy economy. Riots can overwhelm police & even military. All of it leads to a destabilized state if maintained.”
In Marxist–Leninist and Maoist theory, a United front is a coalition of leftist organizations that collude for the purpose of taking over a government. In the 116th Congress, the Committees of Correspondence for Democratic Socialism, Democratic Socialists of America, Liberation Road (formerly Freedom Road Socialist Organization}, and Communist Party of the United States formally created a united front of the nation's four largest Communist organizations to take over the Democratic Party. As of 2018 the umbrella group is known as the Left Inside/Outside Project (“One foot in the institutions, one foot in the streets.”) consisted of 57,000 community organizers. At its August 2019 convention the DSA passed a resolution to form a
“National Working Group to help drive collaboration and resource sharing to support our antifascist organizing.”
Law enforcement authorities found evidence of pre-planning. The Minneapolis Star/Tribune reported:
state officials said several caches of flammable materials were found both in neighborhoods where there have already been fires and “in cars we’ve stopped as recently as this morning,” said John Harrington, state public safety commissioner. Some of the caches look like they may have been planted days ago and some only in the last 24 hours or so, he said. Police are also finding stolen vehicles with plates removed that are being used to transport the flammable materials. Looted goods and weapons also have been found in the stolen cars, he said.
The Sunrise Movement, with established groups in several major cities, has heavily recruited activists from the DSA and Liberation Road affiliated groups, such as the Pennsylvania Student Power Network. Sunrise founding activists are all current trainers with Momentum Community, which is a training workshop funded by millionaires and billionaires to “incubate” supposed "grassroots" organizations such as Sunrise and the Movimiento Cosecha (Harvest Movement). Democrat millionaire donor and former 2020 presidential election candidate Tom Steyer's NextGen America is also tied to the Sunrise Movement, and according to the New York Times, the two groups “strategize” together.
The DSA itself as of 2020 has 66,000 members nationwide and locals in almost every state. Other communist groups such as Communist Party USA, Liberation Road, Socialist Alternative, Workers World Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Unity Party, and Revolutionary Communist Party and their allies in Black Lives Matter and Antifa can mobilize tens of thousands of militants and organizing cadre at short notice. The American Left has the power to start race riots in nearly every major U.S. city. DSA branches in Memphis, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Louisville, Philadelphia, and Richmond are raising funds for “George Floyd Uprisings Nationwide.”
Party for Socialism and Liberation
The Marxist-Leninist pro-China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia, Party for Socialism and Liberation has chapters in about 30 states. They also seek to exploit the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police, referring to this time in history as an “absolutely critical period” to impose their vision of a communist revolution:
“The police will always fulfill their role of being shock troops for white supremacy and capitalism as long as it exists in this racist state. “In this absolutely critical period, we sharpen our resolve to build organizations capable of waging militant class struggle against the racist state and their ruling class. … Amidst the deep crisis, the racist killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. and Sean Reed in Indianapolis, Ind., make it clear that the protests and fight back must continue and intensify.”
Revolutionary Communist Party
The Revolutionary Communist Party used the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police to call for “a movement for an actual revolution.” They issued communique #6 titled, “Police murder after murder after murder… To YOU who are sick and tired of the madness, and ready to be part of a movement for an ACTUAL REVOLUTION”:
“If you’re sick of watching video after video of these murders by police … you need to … join with a movement for an actual revolution, to prepare for a time when it will be possible to lead millions to bring this system down, and replace it with a new society based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.”
“I don’t know if we took the meeting today. We were meeting with his main advisor on impeachment...Tom Steyer’s been retweeting some of our stuff."
Zee said the group was hoping to raise $2M to $5M to organize massive protests in major cities against President Trump. “You’re actually going to sustain millions of people, hundreds of thousands on the streets in certain cities,” Zee explained.
Workers World Party
Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party (WWP) wrote an article May 28, 2020 titled, Against police violence and capitalism, to rebel is justified:
“Workers World salutes all the brave protesters in Minneapolis, currently ground zero against police terror. We also salute those activists in Los Angeles, Memphis and other cities who are organizing protests and braving the pandemic to be in the streets or in car caravans to show solidarity with the demand: Justice for George Floyd and all victims of police violence.”
Moorehead goes on to quote WWP founder Sam Marcy’s defense of the 1992 Los Angeles riots—in which 63 people died:
“In times when the bourgeoisie is up against the wall, when the masses have risen suddenly and unexpectedly, the bourgeoisie gets most lyrical in abjuring violence. It conjures up all sorts of lies and deceits about the unruliness of a few among the masses as against the orderly law-abiding many. “Marxism here again cuts through it all. The Marxist view of violence distinguishes between the violence of the oppressors as against the responsive violence of the masses. Just to be able to formulate it that way is a giant step forward, away from disgusting bourgeois praise for nonviolence. It never occurs to any of them to show that the masses have never made any real leap forward with the theory of nonviolence. Timidity never made it in history.”
The Left We Want to Build
"The Left We Want to Build: Breaking Out of the Margins" was a letter published in Organizing Upgrade Friday, 09 June 2017.
- The election of Trump has upended US politics. Across the political spectrum, activists and organizations are reckoning with the ascent of authoritarian white nationalism to the White House and the GOP’s headlock on 25 state governments and Congress. All of us feel it: the urgency to think and act in new ways, to expand our vision and take risks.
- The questions of power and scale - how will we develop a base large enough to contend for power? - have moved to the top of the left’s agenda. The existing left, made up of unaffiliated activists and organizations with real strengths but also significant limitations, cannot meet the challenges ahead. We need a leap.
- We believe that building a left trend - an alignment of organizations and individuals - based on strategic unity is key to making that leap. The current fragments that make up the left are agreed on many things, such as: being rooted in oppressed communities and the working class, and the need for grassroots social movements. We understand that elected officials, regardless of party or political belief, are pushed and pulled in many directions, making vibrant, disruptive social movements necessary to any project for social transformation.
- But the left is badly divided on how to relate to the country's political system and engage in electoral politics. This won't work. Only determined, long-term, energetic efforts to break out of the margins based on a common view of how to engage in our electoral system, while also building mass protest, offer a chance to make the left a force in U.S. politics and, eventually, a contender for power.
- Based on this thinking, a number of left organizations and activists have begun discussing the possibility of creating a higher level of political alignment based on an inside/outside political strategy.
- "Inside/Outside" means organizing both inside and outside of electoral politics, and building power inside and outside the Democratic Party. We believe this strategy offers the best opportunity to build a force that directly fights back against white nationalism and the far right, while also working steadily to challenge the neoliberals in the Democratic Party. We also think this strategy is the only one that will set the left on a path to grow with the surging activism that takes civic engagement seriously, the large numbers of leftists and progressives deciding to run for office, and the increasing pull of an inside/outside perspective across the social movements we're immersed in. The alternative, we believe, is to be consigned to the political margins at a moment when everybody else left-of-center is embracing the fight against the right wing at all levels, including in the electoral arena.
- Engaging in elections and inside the Democratic Party will be crucial to political strategy in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Let's look, for instance, at the 2016 presidential election. We understood that a Trump victory would mean the emboldening of white supremacist organizations, a ramping up of state terror in communities of color, an assault on basic democratic rights, and - given GOP control of the House and Senate - an opening for the far-right to push a maximum policy agenda.
- The presidential election was not unique. Although the Democratic Party leadership has been heavily influenced by neoliberalism since the 1990s, the polarization of the electorate according to ideas about race, gender, and religion, the growing organizational capacity and communications apparatus of the most reactionary sectors of the GOP, and the Republican Party's links to sectors of capital most staunchly opposed to environmental regulation, drives very real differences between the two parties. In elections around the country, stakes is high.
- All this means something for our political work. The utter ruthlessness with which the right-wing wields power - look at the states where the GOP controls the state legislatures and the governor's office - means that ignoring elections, or seeing them primarily as opportunities to propagandize, puts our movements perpetually on defense.
- And although working-class alienation from electoral politics is real, most civic organizations and politically engaged folks - especially union activists and people of color - understand that the outcomes of elections will have serious consequences for their lives. Most activists who care about progressive change, for instance, reasonably feel that defeating Trump in 2020 is an absolute priority, as is defeating Republican rule at the state and Congressional level in 2018 (while also challenging neoliberal Democrats in primaries). And electoral politics in general is one of the few ways the left will be able to engage with people at the scale we have to.
- The fight against the far right is strongest when it is energized by an inspiring vision for economic and social justice. Campaigns for openly socialist candidates and progressive challenges to neoliberal Democrats must all be part of the political mix. And the opportunities for broadening the reach of progressive and left forces will be greatest when they both struggle within and work in tandem with the larger anti-Trump or anti-right front. That is, we have to “walk on two legs” by building the movement against the far right, while also challenging pro-corporate neoliberal hegemony within the Democratic Party.
A Left Trend
- A left trend is an alignment of left organizations and organizers that self-consciously share a political analysis and strategy, and pursue some collaborative work. We see the left inside/outside trend as one crucial piece of the progressive alliance that we hope will lead the anti-Trump fight. This trend has an indispensable role to play in the anti-Trump front: strengthening the anti-militarist wing of the progressive alliance, projecting a vision of economic and racial justice, and elevating an intersectional feminist politics. There is also a conflict within the Democratic Party over which voters to outreach to and what its political vision will be; we don't believe the left can afford to sit on the sidelines as those questions are settled.
- But in order for the left to seriously tackle these challenges, it must do two things. First, it needs to find a way to connect with the tens of thousands of newly active people who may identify as part of the broad and ideologically diverse social justice left but who do not see themselves as part of a collective left project. This social justice left encompasses, as Bob Wing has written, "socialists, radical anti-racists, nationalists, and feminists, liberation theologists, strong social democrats, labor militants, pacifists, anti-imperialists and everyone else" who will fight against corporate and concentrated power. A stronger and more cohesive left depends upon connecting with the social justice left to develop a new sense of the "we" who are working towards fundamental social transformation based on a shared strategic perspective; this will be much harder to accomplish without a left trend.
- Second, the organized socialist left needs to balance out the strengths and weaknesses of its different organizations and activist networks. All of the organizations and networks we belong to have important strengths, but also very real limitations in terms of size, demographics, or geographic or sectoral concentration. None of them, in their current form, are capable of playing the strategic role we believe the left must play in the next period. A left trend might have that potential - the ability to reach far beyond the existing left to create a force that can move us from defense to offense.
- Having an alignment of left organizations and activists will allow us to move political discussion past the current debates - as important as they are - about whether or not to engage in electoral politics, whether or not to engage with the Democratic party. Instead, we can measure our ideas against our most exciting and inspiring victories, as well as draw lessons from our efforts that come up short. We can debate the questions we confront in our on-the-ground work: how do we build a winning majority while advancing the struggle for collective liberation? How do we scale up from local or state-level efforts? Through our dialogue, debate, and organizing work, we can build a deeper strategic unity (and clarify our differences) around the left's role in electoral politics and U.S. politics more generally. To do that, we need to create a venue for frank discussion across organizational and other boundaries, and a way for activists to communicate about and summarize their work.
- The current lack of a left inside/outside trend has created real weaknesses. To take one example, racial justice organizers operating mainly through 501c3's have done important work with some of the most marginalized communities in U.S. society. But the constraints of working in a c3 means that, with some very important exceptions (you know who you are), our deep organizing has not translated into political power. At the state level, this has meant that even massive street protests such as the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina could do little in the face of a scruple-less right-wing with complete control of the state government. Nationally, this meant we could not provide an effective counterbalance to Clinton's machine in communities of color during the presidential primary, nor (besides some key protests) were we able to effectively shape the Sanders' campaign's program around racial justice.
- Today, more and more 501c3's are asking questions about the limits of their work and how to move beyond it, looking to those community organizations that have made serious gains by integrating civic engagement work. A strong left trend with deep links to racial justice organizing could accomplish much; it could, for instance, shift local or state-level politics to push for effective civilian oversight of police, decriminalization of poverty, and funding basic social infrastructure in communities of color. All of those demands require both the hard, patient work of grassroots organizing and the willingness to use elections to move the political center-of-gravity in legislatures.
- The 2016 presidential election marked an historic failure of the left; despite some important efforts, we were unable to unite in leading the fight to defeat Trump and the far right, to stand alongside the oppressed and the exploited. This has made it even more urgent to throw down in the struggles ahead that will shape the future of U.S. politics, to move the left out of its narrow silos towards the scale that can create collective liberation. The left we want to build is all of us.
- In unity and struggle,
- John Bachtell, Communist Party USA
- Calvin Cheung-Miaw
- Sendolo Diaminah, Freedom Road Socialist Organization
- Adam Gold, LeftRoots
- Harmony Goldberg
- Shuron Jones, St. Louis Workers’ Education Society
- Judith LeBlanc
- Timmy Lu
- Chauncey Robinson, Communist Party USA
- Joseph Schwartz, DSA*
- Thomas Walker, Freedom Road Socialist Organization
By October 19 2017, these names had been added.
- Rishi Awatramani, LeftRoots
- Christine Riddiough, Democratic Socialists of America
- Tina Shannon, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
- Janet Tucker, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Organizing for Action
- See also: Obamunism
When former President Barack Obama said he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests, he was sending a message of approval to his troops. Troops? Yes, Obama has an army of agitators — numbering more than 30,000 — who will fight his Republican successor at every turn of his historic presidency. And Obama will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.
In what’s shaping up to be a highly unusual post-presidency, Obama isn’t just staying behind in Washington. He’s working behind the scenes to set up what will effectively be a shadow government to not only protect his threatened legacy, but to sabotage the incoming administration and its popular “America First” agenda. He’s doing it through a network of leftist nonprofits led by Organizing for Action. Normally you’d expect an organization set up to support a politician and his agenda to close up shop after that candidate leaves office, but not Obama’s OFA. Rather, it’s gearing up for battle, with a growing war chest and more than 250 offices across the country.Since Donald Trump’s election, this little-known but well-funded protesting arm has beefed up staff and ramped up recruitment of young liberal activists, declaring on its website, “We’re not backing down.” Determined to salvage Obama’s legacy, it’s drawing battle lines on immigration, ObamaCare, race relations and climate change.
While Obama worried that Trump was now president, he left enough swamp rats in DC to keep his operation running. Still, he was forced to have a more hands-on approach to OFA than intended. The article continues:
Obama is intimately involved in OFA operations and even tweets from the group’s account. In fact, he gave marching orders to OFA foot soldiers following Trump’s upset victory.
“It is fine for everybody to feel stressed, sad, discouraged,” he said in a conference call from the White House. “But get over it.” He demanded they “move forward to protect what we’ve accomplished.” “Now is the time for some organizing,” he said. “So don’t mope.” Far from sulking, OFA activists helped organize anti-Trump marches across US cities, some of which turned into riots. After Trump issued a temporary ban on immigration from seven terror-prone Muslim nations, the demonstrators jammed airports, chanting: “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!” Run by old Obama aides and campaign workers, federal tax records show “nonpartisan” OFA marshals 32,525 volunteers nationwide. Registered as a 501(c)(4), it doesn’t have to disclose its donors, but they’ve been generous. OFA has raised more than $40 million in contributions and grants since evolving from Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America in 2013.OFA, in IRS filings, says it trains young activists to develop “organizing skills.” Armed with Obama’s 2012 campaign database, OFA plans to get out the vote for Democratic candidates it’s grooming to win back Congress and erect a wall of resistance to Trump at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
- Organizing Upgrade, The Left We Want to Build: Breaking Out of the Margins Written by Left Inside-Outside Project, Friday, 09 June 2017
- CPUSA The left we want to build: Breaking out of the margins, THE LEFT WE WANT TO BUILD: BREAKING OUT OF THE MARGINS OCTOBER 19, 2017