SAIA Recoils--then Liquidates itself

                 The liquidation of SAIA
                 and the struggle to create
                 a revolutionary channel

          Ben Seattle -- July 7, 2002

The Seattle Anti-Imperialist Alliance (SAIA) [-1-] was formed in
October 2001 in response to the failure of the local liberal
pacifists to call demonstrations against the U.S. bombing of
Afghanistan.  The work of SAIA was a breath of fresh air at a
time when "public opinion" had been whipped up to support
stepped-up U.S. military aggression in the Caspian basin, the
Middle East, the Philippines, Colombia and elsewhere.  SAIA
organized a small street demonstration against the U.S. bombing
in October.  More than this, over the next six months, SAIA wrote
and distributed a total of 14,000 copies of ten leaflets which:
(a) exposed the nature of U.S. military aggression overseas and
the growing police state at home and (b) made clear the necessity
of opposing the influence of the reformist leadership of the mass
movements--which seeks to undermine the independent revolutionary
character of these movements by using them as a vehicle for
promoting one or another supposed savior from within the

My own role within SAIA was minor, essentially consisting of
advocating (unsuccessfully) that SAIA take up two tasks which I
considered essential for the development of an anti-imperialist
movement capable of capturing the imaginations and guiding the
activity of activists.

What are the two decisive tasks?

a) The development of a "revolutionary communications channel" to
the masses that would _integrate_ printed agitation with email
and the web--so that activists and other readers could easily
post public criticism of our work and views--and have a place to
go where they can publically post their questions--and get good
answers. [-2-]

b) The development of theoretically solid agitation that would
allow us to answer the decisive question which in one way or
another is reflected in the minds of all serious activists:

      "What is our _alternative_ to imperialist war?"

An anti-imperialist perspective without at least some kind of
intelligent discussion concerning the _alternative_ to the system
of imperialism--is like a rifle without bullets.  But a clear
focus on this alternative requires us to give an answer to this
question that has greater depth than the usual meaningless
platitudes about "socialism" (ie: platitudes that fail to deal
with the history of the 20th century--in which feudal-style
regimes emerged in Russia and China which called themselves
"socialist"). [-3-]

SAIA recoils from revolutionary tasks

Unfortunately, the other five members of SAIA have concluded
that the anti-imperialist movement would not be served by
either continuing to work with me or by taking up these two
decisive tasks.  Instead they have recently decided to dissolve
SAIA and continue their work in the movement under the direction
of the organization they support: the Communist Voice
Organization (CVO) [-4-].

It was not unexpected that the other comrades in SAIA would see
little value in working with me--since they disagree with me that
these two tasks are decisive or even important--and because there
has consequently been a history of friction between them and me
in SAIA (and before that between the parent organization, the
CVO, and me [-5-]).  However I believe the decision to dissolve
SAIA and retreat from these two decisive tasks runs contrary to
the needs of the movement and that public criticism has become

It is imperative that revolutionary-minded activists find methods
of working together.  And, if disagreements exist concerning
which tasks are decisive, these disagreements must be placed on
the table in full view of serious activists--who will draw their
own conclusions.

I greatly respect the dedication and integrity of my former SAIA
comrades--but I believe their course is mistaken and, in
consideration of the crisis of theory which has paralyzed the
revolutionary movement (and the massive self-deception which,
partly as a result of the crisis of theory, saturates so much of
the work of revolutionary activists everywhere), I believe that
criticism of public actions (ie: such as the liquidation of SAIA)
must itself be public.  Serious activists have a right to know
about disagreements that lead to the dissolution of revolutionary
organizations.  It therefore follows that these disagreements
(the facts, the opinions) must be public--for friend and foe of
the movement to examine and to comment upon [-6-].

The party of the future

The great need of our time is for a mass revolutionary
organization which is: (a) dedicated to ending the system of
bourgeois rule and (b) is transparent and accountable to serious
activists and the masses themselves.  Only such an organization
will be able to overcome the diseases of reformism and
sectarianism that thoroughly infect nearly all attempts (whether
marxist, anarchist, etc) to create organization opposed to the
imperialist system (ie: the inevitable manifestation of the
bourgeois-capitalist order).

-- i --

This mass revolutionary organization would work to break
activists away from the influence of the reformist strata made up
of the trade union bureaucrats, poverty pimps, liberal-labor
politicians and liberal media personalities--and would instead
encourage activists to create their own organizations independent
of bourgeois influence, control, politics and illusions.

-- ii --

This organization would confront the current _crisis of theory_
in which nearly all conceptions of an alternative to bourgeois
rule--insult the intelligence of workers--by failing to recognize
the necessity that workers must have the fundamental democratic
rights of speech and association.  A theory of how post-bourgeois
society would function in modern 21st century conditions (ie:
including the emerging revolution in digital communications) is
not something that would be "nice to have".  It is an urgent
necessity--because without this activists have no way to
realistically conceptualize a modern world without imperialism.

-- iii --

"Transparency" for such an organization would mean that the
"internal contradictions" of the organization are not treated
like a state secret.  To draw an analogy from the world of
software development, the internal disagreements within this mass
revolutionary organization would be "open source" (ie: like the
Linux operating system) rather than "proprietary" (ie: like
Microsoft's Windows).  Put in simplist terms, the "internal"
disagreements of this mass revolutionary organization will be

Critics of this mass revolutionary organization will be assisted
in finding one another because this organization would make
public all serious criticism.  This is the _exact opposite_ of
the model followed by most sectarian organizations: in which the
organization speaks with a single monolithic voice (ie: the voice
of whatever internal faction controls the group) and the readers
of the group's press or website are not allowed to know about
criticism whether the criticism originates internally or
externally to the organization.

-- iv --

Such a mass revolutionary organization must inevitably emerge
because the need for it is immense and (as shown by the current
escalation of U.S. military adventures) constantly growing.  Such
an organization is more likely to emerge from a _network_ of
activists, or from a _movement_ -- than from a so-called
"party-type" organization which imagines itself to be the future
nucleus of this mass revolutionary organization.  (However all
revolutionary-minded activists, regardless of what organization
they support, will have opportunities to play a powerful role in
the creation of this mass revolutionary organization.)

The revolutionary communications channel

My hypothesis is that this future mass revolutionary organization
will emerge from a program of common work to create a
_revolutionary communications channel_ that will connect serious
activists with one another--and to the masses--and which will
harness the energy of the masses to help resolve the inevitable
disputes between revolutionary activists.

Such a revolutionary channel will exist in both paper and
electronic form--but it will be the electronic aspect (ie: web
and email databases) that will form the _core_ of this channel
while the paper aspect (ie: leaflets and newsletters) will
represent only the _surface_ of this channel (ie: the final
delivery mechanism to many readers).

Much of the functioning of this channel will be worked out as
activists gain experience--and as necessity asserts itself.

There are already numerous projects and experiments which help to
illustrate the potential of the emerging revolution in digital
communications.  The most well-known of these projects is
http://indymedia.org (which, in fact, was instrumental in the
creation of SAIA).  But, it must be emphasized, the revolutionary
channel I describe would be different from indymedia or from any
existing project.

Such a revolutionary channel would combine:
(a) the openness, transparency and interactivity of indymedia,
(b) the more hard-core revolutionary-type outlook presently
     found only in the sectarian "marxist" or anarchist milieu
(c) reader-based rating systems and signal-to-noise concentrators
     similar to or better than those currently found in tech
     sites like http://slashdot.org [-7-].

Such a revolutionary channel would be ambitious in scope: it
would aim to process, catalogue, rate and redistribute _all_ news
that serves the anti-imperialist movement and other progressive
movements in society.  Such a revolutionary channel may emerge as
a project of one or many organizations but it may function as the
birthplace of a mass revolutionary organization with the ability
to lead the working class and all oppressed sections of society.

Finally, a note to readers: if you found this essay thoughtful or
thought-provoking -- I would like to hear from you.  These
subjects are weighty and sorting them out requires the efforts of
many people.  Write to me at: box77 (at) Leninism.org [use the
"@" symbol instead of "(at)" to create the email address].

Sincerely and with revolutionary regards,
Ben Seattle
----//-// 7.July.2002
http://struggle.net/Ben (my elists / theory / infrastructure)

How will economics, politics and culture work
when the working class runs modern society?



For reasons I fail to fully comprehend the SAIA majority voted to
delete the SAIA website at:


after a period of two weeks rather than leaving it as a permanent
archive.  Since I believe in the value of archives I have created
a fully functional copy of the SAIA website as a permanent
archive at:



Some of my own work along these lines can be seen at:


where I created an experimental proto-type of an anti-war
"microportal" designed to serve as a guide for activists to
various anti-war events, elists, organizations, agitation,
debates and controversies.  A different kind of project can be
seen at:


where I put together scripts that draw from visitors about a
hundred comments, questions or poll results each week.  An
anti-imperialist microportal supported by activists would combine
the portal features of the first site with the interactivity of
the second site.  It would also provide answers to the questions
that were asked (something that lack of time has prevented me
from doing on the communism.org site)


Some of my work along these lines can be seen in an anti-war
leaflet I wrote and distributed (about 400 copies) in February


I have also created a web site called "Proletarian Democracy"
which deals with these theoretical questions and can be seen at:


the companion elist to this site can be found at:



      Communist Voice Organization (CVO)


I wrote an open letter to a supporter of the CVO in December
1999.  It can be seen at:

      "Letter to Comrade Frank"

In the above letter I criticize the refusal of the CVO to
explicitly condemn the US bombing campaign during the 1999 Balkan
War (the CVO criticized various aspects of US imperialism's
manuevers in the Balkans--but they failed to make clear whether
they opposed the central aspect of these maneuvers--the bombing
campaign).  I also criticized what I considered the CVO's
clueless attitude toward anarchist-minded activists.
Unfortunately, readers of the CVO's journal and website have been
given no opportunity to be aware that my criticism exists.

More significantly, my major theoretical work "The
Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy" (as far as I know the first
scientific speculation on how economics and politics will
function in a genuinely classless, communist society) was
originally written (in much longer form) as "Anti-Joseph", a
polemic against the guiding theorist of the CVO.  The
Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy can be found at:



Unfortunately, the majority of SAIA, in voting to dissolve the
organization, also voted to toss aside a key provision of the
unity statement to which we had all previously agreed: "we are
committed to making serious criticisms of us public".  According
to this principle the SAIA web page (and the final email
announcing the dissolution of SAIA) would have given readers a
_link_ to the criticism you are now reading.  Since this
principle has been disregarded and a link to this essay has not
been provided--I have taken the initiative to email this essay to
that section of the SAIA email contact list to which I have
access (those SAIA contacts for which I have no email addresses
will most likely have no way of knowing that this criticism
exists--or of reading it and drawing their own conclusions).


Some technical work of mine on an experimental prototype for such
a project can be seen at:

      Project MAD (ie: Media Abstract Database)