My Bourgeois Tendencies

By Isaiah Halley-Segal


It was just last year. I was fourteen and having become interested in socialism, walked into Revolution Books. For those readers who are not familiar with Revolution Books, a small sectarian Maoist group called the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), runs it. At any rate, I walked in and began a conversation with the store clerk. At one point in our conversation I mentioned that revolutionary armed struggle wasn’t feasible and she responded by declaring that my views have bourgeoisie tendencies. That was my introduction to the socialist world.

I define sectarianism strictly as anti-cooperation dogmatism with a tendency for viciousness. This is what these socialist sects tend to do. Even when engaging in coalition efforts, they will try to steal members from other groups to theirs. This is the exact opposite of what is needed for a coalition of the Left.

Specific types of sectarian politics I find especially frustrating. The intense arguments over the Soviet Union — The Soviet Union is DEAD. Gone. Irrelevant. I have no problem with examining the past but when it can consume an ideology with a fight over whether or not a country was a degenerative workers’ state or a capitalist state is when I have a problem.

One of the main problems to solving sectarianism is in the very attempt to solve it, even when trying to just define it. For example an article in the Socialist Worker defines sectarianism as referring “exclusively to erroneous attitudes to the class struggle.” That definition is already sectarian, as then anyone who disagrees with you is sectarian or bad because they do not have the perfect ideology in relation to the class war. The whole socialist atmosphere can be very sectarian at times.

We cannot afford, as members of a tiny political movement, to be this divided and to have this much infighting. We need to be the opposite of sectarianism, we need to be cooperative, understand that our views are never perfect and not be dogmatic purists. We are not going to attract much sympathy by being dogmatic purists. What is needed is a coalition among the leftist radicals AND progressives.

At any protest you go to there are guaranteed to be 5 different communists groups claiming to be the vanguard of the working class. You will also have 15 different pamphlets pushed at you to take. The funny thing is all these groups have very similar names. You have your Freedom Road Socialist Party and your Freedom Socialist Party. You have your Workers Party USA and you have your Workers World Party. You have your Communist Party and your Communist Party USA. At least the working class has a lot of options for their vanguard party.

Isaiah Halley-Segal is a first year at LaGuardia High School in New York City.

Showing 2 reactions

commented 2015-07-22 08:48:56 -0400 · Flag
Thank you so much for pointing out the fatal dangers of dogmatism. What you’ve described is much closer to religion than any sort of real world politics. But in the one and a half century history of socialism purist dogmatism has proven disastrous. I myself was caught up in it a half century ago.

The bumper sticker on my car says “Don’t believe everything you think.”
commented 2015-07-18 21:08:22 -0400 · Flag
There are some thoughtful Marxist tendencies out there that offer some excellent resources for a socialist education. I simply don’t see a political future for myself within such organizations, when I think of all the other things I could be doing for the working class in my lifetime, while still carrying the revolutionary torch to the next generation.

Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
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Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)