Old and New Project

     
Click here to go directly to the "Old and New" declaration below
       
Click here to go directly to the Table of Contents below
     
Click here to go directly to the poem "The River Will Not Testify" by Martín Espada
     

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New:

 

Special Feature:

Centenary of the Russian Revolution
(October 2017)

"One Hundred Years"―Poem by Steve Bloom

Click here for the text of the poem

We are debuting  this poem on October 7, 2017, as part of a collaborative on-line project with the following websites around the world: stevebloompoetry.net; Links, Australia; International Viewpoint; Ecosocialist Horizons; Lalit, Mauritius;  Radical Socialist, India Socialist Party, Sweden xspiritmental.com Jozi Book Fair, South Africa janinebooth.comWorkers Liberty, Britain Marxist Study Group, Namibia; Solidarity, USA.
     
     

     

          
     
     
"I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don't see any American dream.
I see an American nightmare"—Malcolm X

     
     
     
"The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought"—Emma Goldman
     

     



                                                             
     
                                             
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Old and New—A Declaration of Intent


                                     
   



       
     
"The ones who close the path for peaceful revolution,
at the same time
open the path for violent revolution"—Hugo Chavez

     
          

    
Policies of this website
(submission guidelines):

This is a moderated website. We will consider your contribution based on the following criteria, along with the principles spelled out in the "Old and New" declaration itself:

1) We welcome the  participation of everyone. In that context the editors are mandated to make sure we do not overprivilege the contributions of white men.

2) We share the  goal of displacing and dispersing the imperial bourgeois state power and replacing it with an institutional reality based on alternative social forces. In other words, we seek discussion that places itself in a consciously revolutionary framework.

3) We will give priority to articles and comments in which the author is clearly engaged in active listening and a search for commonalities or convergences, in contrast to those which primarily restate already well-established views (though  restatements that are particularly clear, or that raise new issues in the context of a particular conversation, will be given consideration). The overall goal of our project is not just to recapitulate pre-established ideas but to transcend them if/when we can in order to pursue a stronger collective synthesis of revolutionary thought.

4) We understand that a purely intellectual exchange cannot achieve the goal outlined in point 3 above. Our intellectual exchange has to be combined at some point, when we are able to move to the next stage of this process, with a level of collective practice that can then feed back on and help to shape the intellectual exchange. In the meantime, as a step in this direction, we offer links below to activist-oriented websites which promote goals we believe in. We will also give priority to written contributions which offer creative approaches to collective action in addition to useful thoughts about revolutionary theory and history.

    
     
     


Activist Links:
   
Free All Political Prisoners
    thejerichomovement.com
   
Ecosocialism
    ecosocialisthorizons.com
    systemchangenotclimatechange.org

Labor Notes
    labornotes.org
     
 
     

     
Old and New 2016 forum series in New York. Watch the video:

MARCH 2:
“Old Left and New Left – Key lessons for Today” 

     
APRIL 13
(in three different segments):
Here, Here, and Here
“New Left to Next Left – Paths for Future Victories”

MAY 22 (video pending)

The Next Left: Leadership for Tomorrow
     
     
     
     

Can you identify these individuals from revolutionary herstory and history?




(Original portraits by Carlito Rovira)
     
Click Here to Take the Quiz


     
  
     
"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground"—Frederick Douglass
     
     



I would like to subscribe
to this website

         

1) Background and motivation

March 2014The anticapitalist revolutionary project has been in crisis for some time. The anticapitalist revolutionary left exists today only in the form of scattered tiny groups, each competing with all of the others and none wielding any significant influence in active struggles. A consciously anti-capitalist mass movement has all but disappeared. Occasionally phenomena like Tahrir Square or Occupy Wall Street flare up. But even these fail to pose a meaningful threat to the power of the global corporate establishment or those state institutions which serve it.

Yet there remains a great legacy of past experience, along with a wide range of current struggles (inspired by national self-determination, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender and sexual liberation, communism, anarchism, radical green consciousness, prison abolition, and more) that have helped shape the consciousness of multiple generations and will continue to do so, stimulating ideological discussions and developing thousands of conscious revolutionaries.

     
So even if anti-capitalist revolution might seem like something off in the distance to many activists, we believe there are prospects of leftist renewal that could transform this goal into something far more credible once again.

     

2) Joint declaration

We remain among those who continue to recognize the need to overthrow capitalism and create an egalitarian world. The crisis of species survival (including our own species), brought about by human destruction of our planet's ecology, some elements of which are now acknowledged even by capitalists themselves, has emerged in recent decades to compound the previous imperative for revolutionary change.

But there seems to be a strong, perhaps even overwhelming, tendency for the anti-capitalist/revolutionary left to divide into two camps:

those who declare that a new world reality changes everything today and that the revolutionary project must therefore be invented anew;

those who declare that nothing fundamental has changed about capitalism and exploitation, that the laws of social development and revolution therefore remain unchanged as well.

In our judgment the basic premise of each camp is unassailable. The task is to reconcile them.

In our experience, however, there seem to be very few who are willing to acknowledge and act on both of these truths at the same time. If they affirm one it is considered an exclusive and sufficient truth, to be used as a bludgeon against those who embrace the other. This is a false counterposition, however, which severely undermines our ability to generate the kind of revolutionary project humanity needs today.

The most central problem facing those presently seeking revolutionary social change is one that has been confronted repeatedly during the last century and a half: A mass movement can spontaneously arise to challenge the current political regime, creating the social basis for a meaningful alternative. But if no alternative power is actually put in place, if the old state power is not dispersed, the previous social relationships inevitably re-establish themselves, perhaps using different political formsthe problem in South Africa and Egypt, for example. Whether and how to respond to this truth was a key element in the differentiation of diverse ideological trends during the previous century. It remains as a reality that we have to respond to today.

At the same time everything now exists in a context which is entirely different from what it was during most of the last century―ranging from the relationship between various potentially revolutionary social forces to the strength of imperialism and the destruction of our planet's biosphere. We must deal in a way that is completely new with questions that did not exist for, or (perhaps better) were never properly acknowledged by, revolutionaries during the 19th and 20th centuries, realities such as patriarchy, heteronormativity, social reproduction in addition to wage labor as a key element in the creation and survival of capitalism, etc. The finite nature of planet earth is a reality which always existed, but until very recently egalitarian projects did not even begin to consider how this must affect our vision of what revolutionary change is going to look like.

One very significant difficulty has been the development, in many sectors of the revolutionary left, of theories and proposals for struggle that root themselves almost exclusively in a European experience and/or discourse. More schematic versions of Marxism are, clearly, among these problematic ideologies. (Some would argue that Marxism as a whole is inevitably flawed in this way.) But Marxism is not alone in suffering from such tendencies.

There is a rich history and tradition, going back to the earliest days of resistance against colonial conquest in the Americas, in Africa, and in Asia. Further, it should be obvious that the pre-conquest cultures of these continents can provide us with essential insights into the kinds of social relationships a modern-day egalitarian society must strive for, thereby providing a concrete demonstration that "another world is possible."

Signers and supporters of this statement identify with more than one historical tradition. Something we share in common, however, is an understanding that whatever tradition or trend each of us might identify with, there are aspects of its ideology which must inevitably be discarded as historical relics at the same time that other aspects need to be affirmed and carried with us into the future. Our objective in this conversation is to figure out which is which―based on a broader collective assessment of history than any one current can achieve by itself, combined with present-day experience.

In our search for a new synthesis of revolutionary thought we consider it essential, therefore, to consider the insights that can be provided by a wide range of historical and contemporary trends, including anarcho-communists, autonomists, council communists, ecofeminists, and those who are or have been engaged in revolutionary-nationalist or indigenous struggles―in addition to individuals or groups who might self-identify as Leninists and traditional Marxists. The only requirement we insist on is that the ideology or trend in question represent a genuine quest for human liberation through social revolution.

The primary goal of this declaration is to find others who are willing and able to act on this need for both a continuity of revolutionary understanding and a revolution in that understanding at one and the same time, referencing a wide range of ideological/theoretical inputs in order to achieve that goal, so we can begin to gather ourselves together into a coherent and meaningful political project. We recognize that this is a global need, and we do not exclude the possibility of individuals from other countries participating in the process we have begun. But for now it is a big enough task to try to gather together individuals from across the USA, so that is where our attention will be focused. Such a project needs to start with the affirmation of certain fundamentals, implied above but which we make explicit in closing:

a) We must be open to a reconsideration of old ideas, including those which may, in fact, turn out to be prejudices flowing from the ideological dominance of Marxism as the prevailing (and for some the only possible) revolutionary paradigm for the last century and a half. Obviously those who still identify as Marxists are welcome to contribute their ideas and thoughts to this process, as are all others. But they should do so understanding that the assumptions made historically by self-identified Marxists are not necessarily shared by everyone engaged in the present conversation.

b) At the same time we do agree that there can be no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory. We require a deep and meaningful theoretical conversation in order to sort through the relationship between the old problems and the new ones, establishing in this way common reference points that might constitute the basis for a renewal of the revolutionary movement.

c) There is, it should be obvious, no great leader who will resolve all questions for us. We reject any form of sectarian or cult-based organization (the belief that my group and my group alone has a franchise on “the truth”) along with the “struggle for hegemony” by any one current―over other political forces or over the mass movement. There may come a time when revolutionaries in the USA will need to struggle for hegemony again. Whether and when this might be appropriate in the future is one conversation we ought to have. But now is, clearly, not that time. Our project does not seek to be in competition with existing groups. We invite participation by members of such existing left groups and desire close friendly relations with any group that is willing to establish such a relationship with us.

d) To reach the collective solution we seek will, therefore, require that we listen to each other with respect―even (especially) when at first we seem to be quite far apart in our assessments or conclusions. The search for commonalities and points of convergence should have at least an equal weight in our practice with the struggle over our differences.

     

3) Process

If you agree with point 2 above please add your name as a supporter of this declaration. (Point 1 only provides a context.) When we have reached a critical mass (at least 50 people from across the USA reflecting a diversity of ages, genders, and nationalities) the original signers pledge to propose ways in which we might generate a further discussion of next steps.

We also welcome comments about our declaration. These comments will be posted in this space―after review to be sure they meet the four basic criteria just cited. We plan to make other discussions available on a similar basis.

          

Signed (Click here for bios):

loren anderson, Steve Bloom, Joaquin Bustelo, Theresa El-Amin, Deborah Engel-DiMauro, Salvatore Engel-DiMauro, Kate Hibbard, Matt Hoke, Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, Tekla Lewin, Ana Lopez, Thano Paris, Carlito Rovira, Meg Starr, Sean Sweeney.

   


Submit a comment about this declaration


   
Please add my name as a supporter
   

I would like to subscribe to the "Old and New" website


   
              
     
Note from the editors:

On Historical Context

During our initial work to develop the "Old and New" declaration we attempted to include, in part 1, some historical background. Discussion went through several rounds as we sought language that might represent a consensus. But it turned out to be impossible and we abandoned the attempt. Still, our conversation did produce some useful insights. It seems appropriate, therefore, to continue an exploration of the relevant questions as part of the discussion we hope to promote through this website. 

Below find a link to the last draft of the historical background text, which is then followed by a comment suggesting what some of the difficulties were as we attempted to reach a collective understanding. It seems clear that we are dealing here with multiple layers of truth working both with and against one another, relating in ways that are interesting, important, and extremely complex. We believe that this exchange points to the kind of critique we should be open to as we seek a new revolutionary paradigm.

     
We welcome others to also contribute their thoughts.

Click here to read more


   
   
          

   
   
     
     
     
"Only when the last tree has been cut down,  the last river poisoned, the last fish caught will you realize that you cannot eat money"—Cree Indian Prophesy

     
     
     
     
     
From left to right:
  Paris Commune: 1871  **  Geronimo and other Apache warriors: 1886  **  Mexican Revolutionaries: Mural by David Siqueros  **  Russian Revolution: 1917
     
Chinese Revolution: 1949  **  Cuban Revolution: 1959  **  Patrice Lumumba, Congolese revolutionary, assassinated: 1961  **  Paris again: 1968 (97 years after the Commune)  **  CIA Flees Saigon: 1975  **  Grenadan Revolution: 1979
     
   
More about us Browse Articles Submit an Article Contact Us

     
     
Browse All Articles
    

short excerpts from each with an invitation
to read more
 
     
     

Column:
Responding to Questions
     
Column: Daylight Time

by Susie Day
"Police Shoot Another Rich White Man"

 

Click here for previous
Daylight Time columns
    
Column: Why I am Interested
in the Old and New Project
    
     
     

A Brief History of the Black Panther Party
     
 
and the Limitations of 
the United Front

(One comment)

by Kali Akuno
and Doug Norberg
     
     
On the Trump Victory:      
My Penny's-Worth
the Day After the Election

     
by Steve Bloom
(4 comments)
     
Four Post-Election Messages
     
by Greg Saunier
(2 comments)
     

     
     
Special Feature:


   by Marta Harnecker
(3 comments)
     
Special Feature:
     
"Dragon and Hydra Revisited," 
     
by Russell Maroon Shoatz and Steve Bloom

with an introduction by the editors
     
       
Poetry of Resistance:
Imagining the Overthrow of Capitalist Oppression

     
by Lauren Schmidt
 
       
Film Review"Salt of the Earth"
     
by Deborah Engel-DiMauro
     
     
Establishing a New York City
Maroon Exchange

     
by Bryan Olamo and Lee Miscere
(1 comment)
     

The Cry of Mother Earth:
Call to the First Ecosocialist International



     

     
Puerto Rico:
New:

by Rafael Bernabe and Manuel Rodríguez Banchs*

(Spanish version here)
                  


    After Greece, Puerto Rico:
Another Crisis
Created by Capitalism
     
by Saulo Colón and Daniel Vila
for the NYC Committee
for Dignity over Debt in PR

Political Prisoners in the USA:      
Matt Meyer:


On our duty
to celebrate the release
of Oscar Lopez Rivera
 

          
(2 comments)
     
and further commentary by Matt Meyer
   
Tribute to the Families of Our
Political Prisoners
and Prisoners of War

 
by Dequi Kioni-Sadeki
(1 comment)
             

2016 Electoral Strategy: 
     

After Bernie
Electoral Strategy for the Left
in 2016

by (list of signers)


     
Glen Ford on Black
and Working Class
Political Independence
    
   
by Linda Thompson    
     
     
         
Fighting for Socialism
on Great Turtle Island—

The Struggle Against Settler Colonialism

     
by Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro
 
     
Archives    
Link to: "The Case for Reparations"


by 
Ta-Nehisi Coates
(1 comment)
     
     
     
 
 
     


I would like to subscribe
to this website
     

     
     

     
From left to right:   Protest, South Africa: 1993  **  Memorial to the hunger strikers, Belfast, Northern Ireland  **  Vieques, Puerto Rico: May 1, 2003  **  Indigenous people march in defense of their land: Bolivia, 2011
     
Zucotti Park, New York City: 2011  **  Tahrir Square, Cairo: 2012  **  Idle No More: Victoria BC, Canada, 2012  **  Palestine Protest,  Ein Hijleh: 2014 (97 years after the Russian Revolution)
     
   
   

     
"Those who do not move do not notice their chains"—Rosa Luxemburg 
     

     
Connecticut River at Turners Falls, Massachussetts
     
     
     
     
     
     
                   

     

Martín Espada

The River Will Not Testify
Connecticut River
Turners Falls, Massachusetts, 1999

The river’s belly swirls shards of bone gnawed by water.
The river is deaf after centuries of pummeling the rocks.
The river thrashes all night with the lightning of lunatic visions.
The river strangles on the dam, hissing at the stone eagles
that watch with stone eyes from the bridge.
Concrete stops the river’s tongue at Turners Falls.

The river cannot testify to all the names:
Peskeomskut, gathering place at the falls;
Sokoki, Nipmuck, Pocumtuck, many nations, many hands
that speared the flapping salmon from the rocks,
stitched the strips of white birch into wigwams.
So Reverend Mr. Russell wrote to the Council of War:

They dwell at the Falls a considerable number, yet
most of them old men, women and children. The Lord calls us
to make some trial which may be done against them.

The river cannot testify of May 19, 1676.
The river’s face was painted blue at daybreak.
Captain Turner’s men, Puritans sniffing with beards
and flintlock muzzles, slipped between the wigwams
ghostly as the smoke from drying fish.
Their muskets lifted up the flaps of bark;
their furious God roared from every musket’s mouth.
The sleepers drenched in rivers sun-red like the salmon,
and a wailing rose with the mist from the skin of the river.

The river cannot testify about canoes skidding
over the falls, their ribs in splinters, or swimmers
hammering their skulls against the rocks,
or bullets hammering the rocks and skulls,
or Captain Holyoke’s sword lopping the branches
of grandfathers into the water, or Bardwell
counting the corpses vomited by the white cascade.
And Reverend Mr. Mather wrote:

The river swept them away, that ancient river, oh my soul.

The river cannot testify to who began the rumor:
a thousand Indians, someone yelled, a thousand Indians approaching;
so when a few dozen warriors read the smoke from gutted wigwams
and splashed across the river, the conquerors fled,
shrieking at the green demons that whipped their eyes
and snatched their ankles as they stumbled through the forest.

The river cannot testify to say what warrior’s musket
shot Captain Turner, the ball of lead thudding
between shoulder blades, flipped from his horse
and dragged off by the water to sink in a halo of blood.
His name christened the falls, the town, the granite monument
that says:
destroyed three hundred Indians at this place.
One day a fisherman would unearth shinbones
of Indians by the falls, seven skeletons
and each one seven feet tall, he declared.

Centuries gone, the fishing boats sucked over the dam,
the tendons of the bridge ripped out in the flood,
the children leaning too far and abducted by the current:
all as withered leaves to the river.
The lumber company fire that smothered the night watchman,
the cotton mill and the needles of brown lung,
the knife factory bricked shut during the depression:
all mosquito-hum and glimmer of porchlight to the river.
The Horse Thief Detecting Society that never caught a thief,
The German Military Band flourishing trombones,
The order of Scalpers with fraternity war whoops,
The American Legion dinners beery against communism,
The Indians galloping undefeated onto the high school football field:
all like the glitter of fish to the river.

Centuries from now, at this place,
when chimneys are the shadows of monsters in the river,
when collapsed spires are haunted by crows,
when graves are plowed to harvest the bones
for aphrodisiacs and trinkets,
when the monuments of war have cracked
into hieroglyphics no one can read,
when the rain sizzles with a nameless poison,
when the current drunk on its own dark liquor
storms through the crumbling of the dam,
the river will not testify of Turners Falls,
for the river has swept them away, oh my soul.

          

(Reproduced here by permission. All rights reserved.)

Visit www.martinespada.net

     

                             
       
 
"The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love"—Che Guevara 
     

         

Click Here for Bios of those listed below

                                   

Website Editorial Committee:

Steve Bloom, Deborah Engel-DiMauro, Carlito Rovira
   

Policy Council:

loren anderson, Steve Bloom, Joaquin Bustelo, Theresa El-Amin, Deborah Engel-DiMauro, Salvatore Engel-DiMauro, Kate Hibbard, Matt Hoke, Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, Tekla Lewin, Ana Lopez, Thano Paris, Carlito Rovira,  Meg Starr, Sean Sweeney.
     
(Members of this council monitor the work of the editors and vote on all policy decisions for the "Old and New" project. More information here.)
 

Supporters (list in formation):

Kali Akuno, Pete Dolack, Ezra Engel-Di Mauro, Daniel Doyle, Mike Frank, David Keil, Sandra Lindberg, Matt Meyer, Lee Miscere, Bryan Olamo, Linda Thompson, Takuma Umoja,  Gene Warren
     

(I would like to become a supporter. All supporters will be consulted and asked for input on policy decisions.)
     
     
Organizational Endorsements:
a new black arts movement
New York City Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz
Resistance in Brooklyn
     
(
My organization would like to endorse. Endorsing organizations will be consulted and asked for input on policy decisions.)

       
         



                                    
     
"I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves"—Harriet Tubman