A New Kasama: Mixed Results

Recently, comrades at the Kasama Project, an organization which I have been a longtime supporter of, have launched—yet another—new website; this incarnation is decadently more drab than the previous versions. After a “National Conference”, something which I was not even aware existed, the decision was made to dramatically retool the website. The “Social” element? Gone! Which means no more posts from users engaging one another in principled debate and conversation. Additionally, and what may, at first sight, seem erroneous, the democratic element has vanished: there is now, according to the Kasama website, a “legitimated leadership”, one which will post official communiques concerning the group’s position on happenings, both political and social.

The rationale for the new website is as follows:

Just over two years ago, we attempted to upgrade our website from a fairly simple blog format to an ambitious platform of original content, largely unmoderated discussion, reader contributions, and a Kasama-based social network that mimicked Facebook albeit on a smaller scale. We hoped to win back from bourgeois social media some of the daily discussions among radicals that are so important to reimagining a vital revolutionary movement. The new website that launched at the beginning of 2013 had its positive and negative aspects, but ultimately was not sustainable.”

It should be stressed that this was both an ambitious undertaking as well as one which was dramatically needed on the revolutionary Left. However, it is precisely as they say—from the beginning it was unsustainable; between the reactionary attacks on the website to the technical issues which came as a result of having such a dynamic interface, to the mere problem of simply finding funding for such an endeavor, the effort was—unfortunately—doomed to failure from the get-go.

For this reason it is why this third incarnation of Kasama is for the “carry[ing] out the basic tasks of an organizational website”, which means, that Kasama is no longer—apparently—interested in carrying forth regroupment discussion on the same level which they had been previously. As I said in an earlier blog post of mine, this was something which I viewed as detrimental to the organizational as a whole: that, after years of discussion and planning, Kasama had only been able to reconceive on the most basic level and, as remarked by Mike Ely, didn’t even “know what [they] believed”. With this new orientation I do think it will result in a more solid organization but I would be lying if I did not express apprehension concerning how this decline in open discussion, combined with this swing towards solidification, would affect the overall efforts of what had been previously described as creating a “communist pole”. For this period only time will only tell.

Kasama has said that they will still accept submissions from supporters, which they will post from the (bulky) archive, and that media is still an important cornerstone of their efforts (as the Revolutionary Student Media Project has shown, tiny though it may be). So the basics seem to be still functioning: so why I am apprehensive?

I suppose it is because of the death of the social element. Provided: in Kasama’s first manifestation there was no social element; the social was something which came within the second phase, and yet, it had a powerful allure on activists, theorists, and newcomers. Debate was easily encouraged; it was easy to simply say, “if you wish to continue this discussion with the community at large, then feel free to make a thread on the kasama website!” in order to promote debate. This element is now gone and, instead of it even being replaced with the original conception of open submissions, this open submissions is within a context of centralization: my idea was always that Kasama would create a sort of “living ideology” which, while gradually being cemented, would be open to change as the materiality of bourgeois civilization shifted. So this is to say that I always conceived Kasama as developing a position while being open to expansion and alteration of existing points of unity. Of course, this is not to say that Kasama is not interested in as much, but that with the new focus on centralization, this kind of living ideology would be much harder to maintain.

At the end of the day, this seems like a retreat treated as progress. Although it does, as my own previous thoughts have indicated, appears like a blessing, the disguise hides something more problematic: the centralization concealing a slide into dogmatism (my penultimate fear). Everything seems to point in that direction: the new website, indicative of—perhaps—a decline in donations, which means a decline in regroupment interest, precipitating a gradual shift into archaic theory.

Time will tell. Time will tell.

-Regroup & Reconceive; everything for everyone; a living ideology for the masses.