Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Borgs: Opposing Unity Caucus is Futile - You Will be Absorbed or Marginalized

So what is do be done? With no organizing goal with the idea of building a counter organization to Unity, what are we left with? Often flailing away and spitting against the wind. Some people love to get spittle in their faces. 

The idea of a real opposition is dead. So what next? Abandon the UFT altogether? Maybe. There are many places to do political and social justice work. Why even bother in the UFT?

There has been a paradigm shift by a number of long-time activists involved in decades of "opposition" to the UFT/Unity Caucus dominance. The state of the union has been a topic of discussion. There is general agreement that the actions of MORE had pretty much decimated hopes of challenging Unity. A faux opposition made up of ideologues with an agenda to use a quasi-caucus as a mechanism to push their ideology will never have a serious impact but will always be a block to forming coalitions.

Some hard conversations about the state of the UFT have been taking place by people I consider as rationalists - mostly on the left -- call it rational leftism. They see the real world, not some idealistic notion. People who spent decades trying to build caucuses and coalitions that could one day challenge the Unity leadership.

I include former opposition who have decided to run with Unity in order to maintain some influence even if vastly diluted. Given the state of the opposition, they felt there was little alternative and didn't want to join the ranters and ravers. I'm not in that camp but don't condemn them for the choices they made. They made a rational decision from their point of view.

Some say they have been Borged - maybe they have.

Maybe I have been Borged when the people running the union seem preferable to some of the people I know who are ostensibly opposition.

You can't sit at UFT Ex Bd meetings and hear all the wonderful things Unity people do and not enter the realm of the Stockholm Syndrome. (a condition which causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.)

I do see signs even in me when there is no alternate narrative or a group that is serious about analyzing the problems with the Unity leadership and what needs to be done to challenge them.

There are cures -

The rationalists don't connect with the lone wolves bitching and whining on blogs about how bad the union is and why they want to stop paying dues but hide behind anonymity - and use that to cover their own racial attitudes - you know, those poor white guys crying about how bad they have it.

Now don't get me wrong. None of us thought we could ever defeat Unity in an election, especially due to the election rules, the use of retirees and the control over most functional chapters. That would be pie in the sky irrationality - magical thinking.

But we did think that a highly organized group could create a serious challenge at the school levels - to replicate the success in the high schools over the past thirty years - (at least until the 2019 elections when MORE helped blow up even that base. Don't get me started.)

We always felt that we could win the middle schools if we had sources in enough schools. As for the elementary schools, an organized effort at the district level had potential. And once the division levels were won there was an argument to be made that non-teachers were in control of the UFT and that would lead to further challenges. And from 2013-2016, I actually believed there was that potential for MORE to build the kinds of coalitions that could challenge Unity deep into the schools. Stupid and naive me - it became clear that all too many MOREs had no such intention but only wanted to use the guise of a caucus to push their ideology.
The 2019 election outcomes proved that point and killed the idea of  imagining a change of leadership in the UFT.

You will still see people blowing  smoke and trying to sell the myth of an opposition.

Beware! They are their own version of The Borg. 

Is there a third way?

We'll explore what may still be possible in a future post --- hint: not much.

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