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Announcement :: Organizing
Left? What Left?
09 Oct 2004
Where is the Left in Boston? I'm not joking.
This applies to virtually everyone reading this. I'm looking for a comprehensive list of ACTIVE, lefty organizations in Boston that are actually engaged in organizing, holding teach-ins, holding events, etc. I'd settle for disjointed anecdotal evidence, even.

No, seriously.

I had an argument with a good friend of mine the other day about the Boston left. He asked, right out, "Where are they?" And I know we're everywhere, doing a million things in this city - there's just no central coordination. The anti-war groups, the labor groups, the environmental groups, the peace and justice groups, etc. are all over the place, right? But for some damn reason, I couldn't answer my friend's question with any clarity. I couldn't name, say, 5 LOCAL, ACTIVE, VISIBLE left-wing groups with anything more than an ephemeral presence.

So I turn to you guys.

E-mail me. Give me some feedback. I swear I'm not some nutjob CIA agent out to cap anyone. I'm just taken aback that I couldn't answer, on the spot, my pal's simple question. I'm hoping someone else will be able to do so.

Best, Brookes.

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09 Oct 2004
We're intentionally disorganized. It keeps the feds confused.
Ask Romney
09 Oct 2004
This state or commonwealth, has lost its liberal edge. The right has made liberal a bad word. Which it isn't.
I attend many protests. Won't join any organization.
Re: Left? What Left?
09 Oct 2004
Well, the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party.
10 Oct 2004
Re: Left? What Left?
10 Oct 2004
check out it has listings of local events sponsored by all kinds of groups on the left.
Re: Left? What Left?
10 Oct 2004
That's a good question. What IS left?
No Censorship Radio (88.1 fm) has transformed and moved from Friday nights to Sunday mornings from 11-12:30... and guess what the new show is called?
"What's Left" first aired this morning, Sunday, October 10th, and will attempt to answer these sort of questions.
They had various left wing groups, from the editor of Social Anarchy, to activists in Boston in groups like Food Not Bombs, to the host of a radio show in Oklahoma, all the way to a leftwing Jewish group called the Workmen's Circle. Indymedia was discussed today too. They play music, announce events, and debate questions just like the one posed in this article. I was lucky enough to volunteer with them for most of this summer, and Linda (the host) does a wonderful job.
Re: Left? What Left?
10 Oct 2004
It's not too hard to find groups around this city, really. Maybe I've been plugged in for a while, but there are lots of groups working for immigrant rights, housing, workers' right, environmental justice, etc. Are they "left" in the sense of waving banners in the street? Many aren't. Are they selling newspapers or sporting red and black tattoos? Probably not. But they're still dinig some amazing work to build a movement that we desperately need.
Re: Left? What Left?
10 Oct 2004
Your answers have been helpful so far. I'll give it another couple of days . . . I want to see what more people think. But in the meantime, thanks. I'm getting there . . .
Re: Left? What Left?
10 Oct 2004
Here are some local lefty groups:
United for Justice with Peace, the local peace coalition. It has a ton of neighborhood-based affiliates.
BankBusters, your friendly, neighborhood anti-IMF/World Bank group
Boston Fair Trade Action, a sister organization to BankBusters, fighting "free trade" agreements like NAFTA and the FTAA
Boston Committee for Palestinian Rights. The name should be self-explanatory.
Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, a community-labor coalition.

That's five. Now whether these are what you're looking for when you say "left", I'm not sure. If you're talking about people who go about wearing their radical politics on their sleeve--well, I don't think most people in these groups do that. Some of their members are reformists, but there are also solid radicals in these groups, doing the thankless work of grassroots organizing. It's not always terribly visible, but it's necessary to lay the base for more concerted, radical action.
Re: Left? What Left?
11 Oct 2004
City Life/Vida Urbana

Also the Boston Social Forum, while not limited to Bostoners, was pretty huge. Dunno if you were around for the summer or what. Here's the list of supporting organizations, a pretty good place to start (along with the above Boston Anarchist Resource Guide):
Re: Left? What Left?
11 Oct 2004
I think this is an interesting question to ask in a lot of activist spheres. I'm posting a similar article on dc.indymedia, and referencing this one. Hope you don't mind.
Re: Left? What Left?
12 Oct 2004

“What’s left?”: I’m not just hung up on the question; I’m enthralled by it.

Between Boston Indymedia and The Student Underground crew, I got 18 different responses to that message I sent/posted the other day. I appreciate all of them. I am hesitant to claim that I’ve reached any “conclusions” per se, but I was definitely able to gather some general thoughts. Here’s 4 of them:

1. The “radical” and “leftist” banners carry an unspoken understanding among people concerned with progressive social change. Yes, these labels are intangible and ambiguous – most of us seem to realize that – but when I asked, “what’s left?” somehow we all had some idea of what I was referring to. I venture to say that we – “the radical left” - recognize that such labels are of limited use, but useful nonetheless.

2. The left’s lack of overarching coordination is not surprising and is at times rational and functional. In spite of its strengths, however, decentralization can also lead to marginalization. Thus we strive to strike a balance.

3. I look forward to checking out the Lucy Parsons Center. Five or six people have mentioned Lucy Parsons to me during this conversation – a good sign.

4. I now have an answer for my prof. And maybe some day, I’ll be able to articulate it.

I could come up with more points, but that’ll do for now.

Some people directed me to links to lists of local groups (thanks); several people rattled off a few names of specific groups in the area (and thanks); a handful offered some philosophical insight (devoid of pretension – and I like that); some people shared my sense of disconnection; some refuted it; some joked; some mused; one fella told me about the No Censorship Radio show called – heh, no kidding – “What’s Left?” (88.1 FM, Sundays 11-1230).

And I thought, hell, what would I do without you guys?

I’ve got a lot to think about, and a lot of new insight. I’ve said it before, but I mean it: I really appreciate your responses. Send more.

All the best,
mbrookes (at)
12 Oct 2004
I'm curious what DC has to say on this matter. And other cities. Let me know how that goes . . .
Re: Left? What Left?
13 Oct 2004
great... 18 different rheumy responses from the last 18 leftists still leftover in Boston; in case you're new, the city was gentified in the 80's (Mass even voted for Bonzo in '84) & politically hasn't recovered since, witness the puny protests at the DNC in July. Your prof is probably part of the problem, "education" tends to do its bit to keep kids on the straight & narrow, at least when they're not watching the tube. Which may be why they don't (or can't) "articulate" much of anything anymore, especially politically. It's no different here now, than it is in Chi, Houston. L.A. - everybody's been integated into the yuppie/consumer culture. Happy hunting!
Re: Left? What Left?
14 Oct 2004
i find your cynicism refreshing. out of the arm chair and into the ivory tower, right? christ, i hope not. i hope we're better than that . . .

i'm looking for something real - and that's why i'm struggling with this question. i'm also struggling to move past cynicsm, though, which threatens to devolve into nihilism more and more. and that shite's no good. it's useless (unless you're, say, 18 and only beginning to fully understand disillusionment.)

and i'm pretty well aware of boston's yuppified upper middle class culture-of-distraction-and-apathy bullshit, too. i was born a little too late to hang out at the Rat in a gritty, pre-gentrified kenmore square, but i know it was there. and - whether or not i've earned the right - i look back on it with a sort of appreciation for what it was worth. i look back with bitterness, too, because i never got to be there. i didn't get to know the boston of years past. instead i've got . . . whatever's here today. and that's fine. we'll work with that.

yet again, the point is to move on.

we're disillusioned and cynical and pissed off because we care, right? or at least i'll speak for myself. i'm still seeking answers . . .