For instance, our country's electoral laws and regulations-winner-take-all primaries, bars to fusion candidates, etc-extremely hinder the prospects of both third or fourth parties as well as popular caucuses or factions in the dominant parties. This means we must be skilled in working in all circumstances, inside and outside of dominant institutions, partisan and nonpartisan, in the Democratic Party, in the Green Party-and others until breakthroughs can be won that make other forms of mass organization possible.
Finally, our movement must go to scale and truly have a mass base and the ability to leverage enormous resources. This goal should be constantly in our discussions as a measure of success. On the other hand, our leadership group will by definition be small and professional, open and discreet, "red" and "grey," and always persistent and patient. We must operate as a collective that has growing visibility, but also growing depth that involves many who can't or shouldn't be visible. We will be judged by what we leverage and accomplish.
Style of Work: Both Democratic and Professional
We will also have a distinctive organizational and leadership style. It will embraces the complexity of our objectives together with the most rigorous approach possible to intellectual life-research, debate, polemics, leadership, popular education and popular exposure. We will systematically pursue the education and training of those who join our ranks and support our approach. In a polite but firm way, we must develop an intolerance for the superficiality, sectarianism, dogmatism, amateurishness, and narrowness that has characterized the left (revolutionary, democratic, and utopian) for decades. On the other hand, the critique of the anti-democratic and chauvinist character of leadership in much of the left has been on target more often than not-even if the correction wasn't complete. We must demonstrate a profound commitment to democracy and participation in all aspects of our work-externally and internally-and contribute to a dynamic understanding of exactly how democracy manifests itself within our movement and in society.
The organization must consolidate its membership and leadership around a common theoretical, programmatic, and organizational vision that is superior in all respects to those we oppose and seek to replace. It must combat and reject methods and standards that are marginal, narrow, and unprofessional. We must sharply raise the prestige of those in pursuit of fundamental change so that even our bitterest opponents will begrudgingly have to respect our intellectual and organizational depth and capacity.
We propose the creation of such an organization. We need to build the road as we travel, but we definitely need to begin now. Our first step is to create a virtual network, through web sites and egroups, of those who define and share our key principles and who will systematically engage in the intellectual and practical work required to develop a comprehensive programmatic framework. This framework must profoundly reflect both the realities of social, economic, and political life in our society as well as offer clear and effective short and long term solutions. Such a combination is required as the intellectual foundation for mobilizing masses of people, as well as recruiting leaders and supporters to our ranks.
--The Web as a Collective Organizer. The Justice for All web site-Seeking the Broadest Participation: This virtual network will have a public web site: a "think tank without walls" having a few articles and debates open to any who wish to visit, with a greater range of articles and discussions to those who will pay a modest subscription fee. This can be called something like the "Justice for All" web site. The reach of this site should be as broad as possible and be the open face of our efforts. Anyone in the US or the international community can subscribe to this site, write articles, or offer commentary-of course with the guidance of editors to insure high quality exchange.
--The Where to Begin Network-a leadership core: The other form of communication will be a closed e-group only for those who share the core assumptions of this paper, Where to Begin, who regularly pay dues as described below, and who regularly contribute (at least on a quarterly basis) to the site in the form of an article, a polemic, a debate, or commentary. Members of the WTB Network must have active and regular engagement in building the intellectual life and program of our network. In this closed e-group, our network will critically discuss the theory and practice of our movement and provide a basis that defines our differences as well as points of unity with other political currents. Our shared objective is to develop a detailed program for structural reform in our society, as well as a socialist program for the US. This network will be US-based--certainly shaped by the work of the international community, but have a particular responsibility in bringing about fundamental change in the US. This will be a relatively small but increasingly disciplined network that will also organize and recruit others to this effort. The main product for this smaller network, for the time being, is the building of the larger and more public web site.
We will selectively recruit to the WTB Network those who share our key assumptions to insure a relatively high level of unity as a foundation for common work and debate. None of us have the time or interest in intellectual or practical activity that leads nowhere.
We will recruit those who already have circles of influence, including their own professional work as well as their participation in various organizations, movements, coalitions, and institutions. The role of the WTB Network is to assist each of us in being better in our work within our various circles of influence and, through us, to expand the work of these circles, raise its level, and increase its connections. The WTB Network will be a source of needed pressure on each of us-cajoling, encouraging, and pushing us to be more engaged and more effective.