A core feature of any successful political strategy is a policy of alliances that draws together various social and political constituencies around a shared political objective. Going it alone, experience teaches us, is a fool’s errand. It’s the playbook of suckers. Nothing good will come from it.
This is the case today. The trifecta of a deadly pandemic, a consequent economic implosion, and an upcoming election where the fate of democratic rule (and much else) will be decided will only find a humane, democratic and just resolution if an expansive, multi-class, people’s coalition of tens of millions further congeals and acts with great resolve in the weeks and months ahead.
I learned the value of alliances not only through observation and participation in one or another social struggle over many years in which the breadth of the coalition made the difference between victory and defeat, but also in my reading of Marxism.
Take one example. and I could cite many more. Lenin, the leader of the Russian revolution in 1917, insisted that the only path to democratic rule and socialism in Russia rested on a durable and deep strategic alliance of the Russian working class with the peasantry of that country. Stalin, who succeeded Lenin, wasn’t of like mind and went on to bludgeon this core principle of Lenin. The resulting costs to the Soviet people and socialism due to this violent and bloody rupture in alliance relations between the Russian workers and peasants are incalculable and long lasting.
Nearly a century later, and in circumstances that are vastly different, a policy and practice of broad social and political alliances has lost none of its resonance. Indeed, they are more, not less imperative. They have become, in fact, an existential necessity if we hope to arrive on the other side of our current challenges with our humanity elevated, our democracy expanded, and our fragile planet able to sustain itself.