Making change. Coalitions and populism

Reader KN in the comments to my John Rich “They’re Shutting Detroit Down” post refers to a World Socialist Web Site article on Rich, saying it has an interesting take on the song. I’d say it takes a standard doctrinaire Marxist view, which is that since Rich is right wing all this must be suspect and thus should be attacked.

But then WSWS says something which I think is much closer to the truth.

A curious mix, all in all, of left and right.

Precisely. Populism, and anger against a privileged class who clearly has been looting the country is something that spans the political spectrum. For us to be effective, we need to come together in genuine coalitions that span tired old party divisions. These need to be real coalitions, which means people don’t agree on everything but are working towards common goals (and not pretend coalitions such as front groups controlled by tiny Marxist grouplets with concealed agendas.)

Real coalitions mean, well, John Rich and Kris Kristofferson working together on a video about how the workers in Detroit are getting shafted while others unfairly and unjustly get rich.

The left makes a point of wanting to organize the working class. Well, there’s a zillion of them now losing jobs, homes, and pensions. Lots of fear and anger too. I’d call that the organizing opportunity of a lifetime and more importantly, a chance to help people who could use some about now.

When Saul Alinsky organized Back of the Yards in Chicago in the 30’s, he did not go in telling them what to do and think. He listened, helped them set up organizations and then – this is crucial – let them run them, something which, I think, shows a genuine belief in the power of the people.

Common struggle means forming genuine coalitions and working across political divides. That’s what we need to do.

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