Greens, anarchism, and organizing

Peter Camejo, twice California Green Party candidate for governor and VP candidate with Nader in 2004 has published his thoughts on the current state of the GP, focusing on California where the vast bulk of registered Greens in the country live. The California GP is a dysfunctional ugly mess. Massive ongoing internal struggles that have stewed for years have now become poisonous, causing the always inwardly-focusing GP to become nearly oblivious to anything happening outside of it.

I’ve blogged before about these internal problems Camejo raises, and was directly involved in them until a few years ago when I resigned from the Green Party of Los Angeles County Council and joined the ANSWER Coalition. Instead of enduring four hour GP County Council meetings where nothing got accomplished (and virtually all of the meetings were that way, complete with endless discussion about process) I discovered that ANSWER meetings were short, fun, informative – and then we went out and actually did stuff  like organize antiwar demonstrations where 80,000 people came, that kind of thing!

The GP simply can’t organize events on that scale and it’s not because of the people, it’s because the structure of the GP virtually precludes effective organizing or things getting done quickly, if they get done at all. We are talking politics here. Sometimes decisions need to be made quickly based on inadequate information. If your command structure can’t handle that, or can’t turn on a dime when it needs to, then you will be ineffective at best.

These structural problems in the GP also exist in anarchist groups. For effective action to take place, someone needs to make decisions, and the members need to be willing to carry the decisions out. That “someone” can be an elected group with everything decided quite democratically. Both Greens and anarchists rebel against such group compliance as being proof of authoritarian buttheadedness.  Thus, members of these groups who actually want to get stuff done have to lead without appearing to be leaders. Then there’re those who will game this lack of structure for their own devious ends. The Tyranny of Structurelessness remains the classic on this.

Camejo (who I hugely respect) ends with:

The Coming Radicalization

It is my opinion that the massive radicalization we see in Latin America may be the beginning of one of those waves that seem to come about every thirty years attempting to increase democracy and freedom in the world. The Green Party is well positioned to play a critical and positive role, along with many allies. if it can develop team leadership that works well together, respects democracy and is committed to our platform by maintaining the complete independence of our party from the two parties of money. The Green Party of California is the pearl of the Green Party in the United States. Let us work together to save our party, to assure its internal democracy and to keep it independent

I agree the radicalization is coming. However, I doubt the GP has the structure, the will, or the drive this kind of major non-stop organizing will demand. If  I’m wrong, I will happily eat my words. But in the meantime, the Left needs to organize into solid groups that will greet this rising tide of radicalization with solid plans, clear goals, and most of all, hardcore organizing.