The Virginia Worker recently published an article by the Communist League of Richmond (CLR), and a response by Shama Bismas, the latter of which contained harsh criticisms of the Shenandoah Socialist Collective (SSC). In the interest of fairness, we are publishing a brief response by SSC.  SSC’s statement also includes some structural criticisms of the Virginia Worker (VW) and we feel the need to keep readers up to date concerning VW’s direction. 

In the time since VW first published CLR’s article, we have formed an editorial board and are constructing editorial policies and arriving at a more consolidated political vision for our publication.  Polemics and ideological disagreements are one aspect of the struggle for socialism and we cannot avoid airing political criticism if we really want to be an asset to the working class. Having said that, our editorial board is not only planning on releasing polemics, but reports into workers’ struggle throughout Virginia and beyond, analyses of problems facing the working class, dives into working class history, and more.  We aim for the Virginia Worker to be a venue for high quality discussion and to be an effective tool in the class struggle.

On December 28th The Virginia Worker published an article titled “Proletarian Internationalism and ‘Anti-Imperialist’ Harringtonism Cannot Co-Exist”, which criticized Shenandoah Socialist Collective for our stance on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

The author’s accusations are false and could have been cleared up had the author simply reached out to us rather than purporting to have knowledge of ours or CLR’s organization.

This unnecessary attack based on a single tweet made over three years ago by someone with no connections to either Communist League of Richmond or Shenandoah Socialist Collective illustrates the disorganization and lack of discipline present in the Virginia communist movement.

Since 2019, the “Virginia Left” has engaged in nothing more than naval-gazing exercises meant to give the appearance of legitimate organizing. There are no points of unity between any of these groups, no unified line, and far too many contradictions in what is presented to the public as the vanguard of the Virginia working class.

In its current form, The Virginia Worker is yet another instance of putting the cart before the horse: doing the bare minimum to organize the working class while prioritizing grandstanding.

SSC has committed to focusing its energy on organizing tenants, houseless communities, and workers in the Shenandoah Valley and we are proud of our comrades across the Commonwealth who tirelessly work to build a better world.

There is a necessity to finding common ground between our organizations so that we can more effectively work towards achieving our goals. Starting The Virginia Worker off by publishing silly and unproductive polemics is producing the opposite effect and until the Worker establishes an editorial board, the publication of bad faith, divisive, and pedantic polemics is sure to continue unabated.

The Central Committee of SSC acknowledges the necessity of The Virginia Worker and an organized Virginia communist movement but in its current form, it produces more harm than good by diverting energy from actual organizing to producing overly verbose, sectarian screeds. There is too much work to be done for this sophomoric level of discourse to take a priority.

-From the Central Committee of Shenandoah Socialist Collective

The basis of unity Shenandoah Socialist Collective proposes:

We are revolutionary socialists

We understand capitalism as inherently exploitative and reject all notions that it can be merely reformed. Those who own as private property the means of production steal the wealth produced by wage workers in the form of surplus value. As socialists, we advocate the abolition of the bourgeois state.

We are anti-imperialists

We uphold the right of all nations to self-determination and recognize that in the United States the national liberation of Black and Indigenous peoples must be prioritized in the struggle to overthrow capitalism. We focus our anti-imperialist criticism on “our own” bourgeoisie and their campaigns of brutal repression and violence against colonized people and the international working class.

We are materialists

We are committed to studying and participating in the development of a scientific understanding of class struggle on the basis of dialectical and historical materialism. “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” We hold as essential the practice of self-criticism as our understanding grows.

We reject white supremacy, patriarchy, and ableism

We recognize capitalism’s role in perpetuating the violent institutions of white supremacy through anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, Orientalist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic racism; of the patriarchal institutions of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia; and of the systematic exclusion of disabled persons from economic and social life. It is essential to combat the ideological components of these systems within our movement and among the working class even while working to overturn their material base.

We are environmentalists

In their determination to accumulate capital by any means, the capitalist class has brought humanity to the brink of extinction with the destruction of the global climate. The socialist struggle necessarily includes a commitment to ending climate destroying practices and replacing them with ecologically responsible policies in the interest of the working class, humanity, and all life.

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