Fringe Socialist Groups have no concept of their own insignificance and are doomed to fail
Words by Lawrence Hull
Whether on a University campus or at a street protest, many of us have at some point crossed paths with particular groups calling for some kind of ‘socialist revolution’. What that means is in itself subject to a wide range of opinions and semantic dances. However, when I speak of ‘fringe socialist groups’, I mean those who advocate for revolution or a complete overthrow of a particular system.This idea is inherently violent, as most revolutions throughout history (whatever form they took) ended in a bloodbath. The adversarial rhetoric of these groups is at odds with the very spirit of what it takes to even lay the groundwork of any kind of political, religious, or socio-economic movement.
To lay the foundation for any movement with the hopes of achieving a particular goal, it should not be forgotten that the cornerstone of the longevity and success of a movement lies in its ability to change hearts and minds. Rhetoric, charisma and moral fortitude are the pillars of success.
Sadly, these groups have none of these attributes. They exhibit a kind of moral superiority which is as transparent as glass. Cloaked in a dishevelled manner, hurling abuse at those who disagree with their opinions, and randomly disturbing passers-by, these groups have no concept of their own insignificance and no insight into the detriment they are causing to their movement.
When we look to recent history at the success of many activists and their triumphs, we see that these came from changes within the system, not by violently overthrowing it.
When we look at the current Democratic Primary in the United States, we see what a successful movement looks like. We see a candidate who is advocating for drastic change, not violent usurpation. We see a candidate who has a history of being morally consistent. We see a candidate that has seen more individual donations received than anyone else in American political history. We see a candidate that is open to discourse and that doesn’t spit verbal bile at his opponents. We see…… Bernie Sanders. He is charismatic, his rhetoric is eloquent and articulate, and he has a history of being virtuous.
It must be reiterated that Bernie is a social democrat, which is different to a socialist. However, he is advocating for radical change, the kind of tangible change the world needs. Although the Democratic Primaries don’t look favourable to him, Bernie has succeeded in laying down a solid foundation for a working-class movement to build on. His candidacy has succeeded in shifting the entire party to the left on issues such as Medicare For All and has changed the narrative of all candidates seeking to oppose him, simply by being on the debate stage.
These modern fringe socialist movements are oblivious to the art of rhetoric as well as persuasion. Seldom does anyone look at the individuals of these groups and think; ‘I want to be like them’. They could learn a lot from Bernie Sanders.
Rhetoric needs to be used in a manner conducive to persuasion and ethical success. Hurling abuse and making people feel uncomfortable is incongruent to the viability and future progress of any movement.
These groups are doing more harm than good to the ‘Socialist’ cause (whatever that may be). Instead of indulging in Marxist literature and romanticised socialist movies and ideas, they should work on their conduct and be more self-critical. That is, of course, if they are true to what they claim (which is highly unlikely). The unfortunate truth is that these, like other extreme fringe groups, only have a will to power, not a will for true egalitarian change. They are, and will continue to be, fringe groups incapable of realising their fanciful utopian ideas.
Disclaimer: This article was written prior to Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the Democratic Presidential Primary.