Lessons of the Transformative Organizing Model
by Steve Williams – March 2013
Capitalism seems to have an endless capacity for transformation. It has survived economic collapse, world wars, social upheaval, and environmental degradation (so far, anyway). It has thrived in liberal democracies and authoritarian dictatorships. Time and again, critics of capitalism have predicted its imminent demise, and every time they have been wrong. Like a river flowing inexorably downhill, over and around all obstacles it encounters, capitalism keeps finding new ways to reproduce itself.
Despite its resilience, there is nothing inevitable about the continuing domination of capital. Yet capital’s opponents have not always risen to this challenge. In contrast to capitalism’s dynamism and adaptability, its opposition has grown more fragmented and stagnant. While it is true that decades of neoliberal assault are largely to blame for this state of affairs, the Left‘s responses to this offensive have often proven to be underwhelming. Some Leftists yearn for a return to the days when the industrial working class was a world historical actor, but at least in the so-called developed world, this class has shrunk dramatically in the face of deindustrialization and automation. Others have concluded that the concept of an organized labor movement is itself outdated, ignoring the many workplace struggles that still take place. Still others fancy themselves to be a self-styled “vanguard,” pretending to have all the answers to questions they may not even understand. And so the list goes on.