is the first of a 7-part series that will focus on the issues in our
radical movements that I think need our immediate and ongoing
attention. I am using the ancient eastern concept of chakras for the
body as a parallel to our movement’s energy wheel. Healers
believe sickness occurs when the body’s chakras are blocked or
out of alignment. Likewise, the U.S. Left and our social justice
movements need our collective introspection, analysis and adjustments
that lead to unblocking our energy/chi points. A weakened Left, and
especially the Black Left, have been unable to provide this critical
guidance over the last twenty years. I do not have the space to go
too deep into my thinking although I have been pondering and talking
about this very subject for a few years now. I am looking to
stimulate a higher level of principled discussion about how to
energize and organize the social forces coming into play at this
pivotal juncture in history and how we can rebuild a formidable
radical movement in this country.
there is no vision, there is no hope.
thing that our radical movement is clear about: We are staunchly
anti-. We are anti-capitalist, anti-sexist, anti-racist,
anti-heterosexist, anti-ageist, anti-patriarchal, anti, anti. We are
quite articulate about the features of capitalism that we vehemently
oppose. But we are generally vague about what we are for. Vision is
the long-term view of what we want for our families, what we want
this country to be, what it should look like in the future. Vision is
what we are asking the masses of people to fight for. That vision
helps to shape and define the strategy, tactics, guiding principles
and other elements that move our struggle from aspirational to
transformational. Vision is the first chakra that our Freedom
Movement needs to blast wide open.
of the few encouraging lights of the U.S. presidential election was
the percentage of the electorate who were not just anti-capitalist
but who openly claimed to be socialist or leaning towards socialism.
No doubt, the Bernie Sanders campaign for president helped to elevate
the S word to a higher place in public discourse. Several polls
pointed out that nearly 50% of Americans favored a socialist
candidate. In other polls, as high as 60% of Democratic voters had a
positive view of socialism. These facts shout out organizing
the 1980’s the New Communist Movement attempted to bring
credibility back to the term. The Occupy Movement’s delineation
of the One Percenters and the 99 Percenters also helped to illuminate
the class divisions for a new generation of activists and organizers.
article is not to debate the merits or failures of socialism. My
point is that folks in this country are desperately seeking
alternatives to the current system of human exploitation and
environmental degradation. The intensifying state violence across
nationality, gender and religion is demanding a bold and just vision.
president donald trump is putting the country on a neo-fascist track
and daring us to stop the train.
how should we think about vision? In 20 year increments? By city-- as
in what do we want Detroit to look, act like by 2037? By region—as
in who controls the land and human resources in the Black Belt South?
By social movements as in what environmental norms should we be
re-envisioning for the next century. These are questions that don’t
necessarily take unanimity of the whole. Start the conversation.
in the day, Black Panther Fred Hampton said, “…we’re
not gonna fight capitalism with black capitalism, we’re going
fight for socialism.” I was right there with the Chairman but
maybe we shouldn’t start with advocating for a system at
all—not even a socialist system—and instead describe how
human life will be valued, protected and respected in all its facets.
What would the U.S. look like if we nationalized the resources and
profits for the greater good of the people, for the advancement of
has the authority to project a vision for our movement? Has the
movement created an atmosphere of timidity about advancing ideas
without permission? Who decides?
individual organizations in our social justice movement advance their
own group’s vision and mission. This can contribute to moving a
broader discussion around vision because at least these groups have
looked at a vision on a micro level. Visioning on a micro level is
the next logical step.
20 years ago, Angela Davis and others founded Critical Resistance.
CR’s vision is to abolish the prison industrial complex. Since
your vision drives your strategy and tactics, the group does not
engage in any work that extends the “life or scope” of
the PIC. For many, this vision seemed/s far-fetched and an impossible
goal to reach. However, we know from the research of Michelle
Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, that prior to the so-call war
on drugs the U.S. government was re-thinking the utility of prisons
because of the low levels of crime. One must wonder if our movement
had the vision and the political analysis at that time, what would
our penal system look like today. In the absence of that vision and
the work needed to actualize it, abolishing the prison system as it
currently exists is now markedly more challenging. Still, abolition
is not impossible. It takes vision to see the end game.
US Social Forum set off to provide a movement-building space to
design “what we want our world to look like and we must start
planning the path to get there,” and that it’s going to
take more than movements “stand-against” all that is
oppressive and exploitive. Some fifteen years later, I don’t
think we’ve sharpened that discussion to move closer to a
consensus vision. With thousands convening at these forums, it’s
an appropriate space to have the discussion about what “another
US” would look like. At some point, we can say we don’t
have a perfect vision that all can unify around but we do have a
vision that can be perfected as we move forward.
is important to truly know what vision is to our movement because it
presupposes that not only do we see a future, we have made a
commitment to fight for that future. It's also important because it
gives breath to strategy and tactics.
the coming months, the trump administration will throw lots of curve
balls at us. Mobilization without a clear strategy could result in
battle fatigue for the tens of thousands who are standing up to be
counted in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality--many for
the first time in their lives. When we fail to effectively and
strategically organize, our movement validates the false narrative
that the multi-racial working class can never win against the ruling
corporate elite in this country.
is sight beyond today. The future is ours to take.
Unblocking the chakra of strategy.