[SUT.14.1.19] The Way Forward

The Way Forward:
Only the Conscious Proletariat Can Bring an End to Racism and Violent Repression
This blog post is also available as a pamphlet in PDF format which includes a section criticizing civilian review boards, a demand raised by several in the left. You can download the pamphlet HERE.

  1. Cops are a Tool of the Rich Man’s Rule
  2. Bourgeois Class Rule Can Only Be Defeated By a Critical Mass of Conscious Workers
  3. Partial Demands Will Keep the Struggle Moving
  4. Political Backwardness Anchors the Movement
  5. We Must End the Period of Non-Partisanship
  6. Notes (Online Only)

Cops are a Tool of the Rich Man’s Rule

In the wake of the insulting grand jury sham in Ferguson Missouri, thousands of American workers took to the streets to protest the appalling injustice carried out under the protection of the racist, bourgeois state—a state controlled by the capitalist class. This surge of activism was partly inspired by the actions of the people in Ferguson, despite the combined efforts to contain their anger by forces sworn to protect the rule of the rich, like the capitalist mass media, the politicians, the National Guard, 100 FBI agents, scores of cops from across Missouri, the KKK, and the ultra-nationalist Oath Keepers militia [1].

When the police profile, race, gender, and sex are major determinant factors of what side one is on. Mainly, this is because it is the most important priority for the police to maintain control over the poorest, most 10645081_10202299998896426_7810124192026898421_ndisenfranchised and rebellious domestic populations. The powerful culture of racism that the American ruling class built and reinforced is a part of police culture because of this underlying need: to keep us, the rabble, divided and under control. There is a way that we as workers can overcome the racial oppression, the homophobia, the sexism, and the cops that strangle us. We must take aim at those who use these tools of control, the ruling class, the 1%, the bourgeoisie.

Unlike the bourgeoisie, the working class, also known as the proletariat, still needs to become self-aware and aware of the other classes. It needs to become a class for itself, acting in its self-interest as a class, in order to overthrow the system of bourgeois rule and take control of society. One still asks, “How can they embrace their destiny when most are clearly backward?”

Bourgeois Class Rule Can Only be Defeated

by a Critical Mass of Conscious Workers

Like many atrocities along racial lines, the bourgeois media was quick to demonize, discredit, and marginalize an enraged population. In this case, it was the black communities in Ferguson and across the US. The bourgeois spin machine kicked into high gear, and the majority of workers who get all of their news, information, and culture from the bourgeoisie; being not politically trained; and not class conscious– repeated the bourgeois media in one form or another. This is a natural pattern, as it is the bourgeois media’s job: to create confusion, and drive a wedge between these backwards workers and elements of consciousness. Case in point, the bourgeoisie propagandized some workers to denounce “rioters” and ignore the ruthlessness and terror that was carried out by the military police and defended by the US Department of Justice.

Militants seize the opportunity in Seattle: to denounce the cops, the trade union leadership, and reformism.

Militants seize the opportunity in Seattle: to denounce the
cops, the trade union leadership, and reformism.

Some activists on the left have become discouraged by the backwardness of many white workers, but despite the backwardness of many of these workers, they are a part of an international class that they share material interests with, and are psychologically connected to [2]. Moreover, white workers make up an estimated 70% of the US working class [Table 1]. There is no doubt that there are varying degrees of political consciousness that fall between racial lines [3], but the inability of activists to raise the consciousness of the workers is a reflection of the backwardness of activists themselves.

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On the ILWU Picket Line: A longshoreman bravely faces off heavily armed cops with a bat at the 2011 EGT lockout in Longview, WA

Class struggle activists, should do their best to help these workers to understand that if they stand idle while the bourgeoisie and police weaken sections of the class by politically, economically, and physically attacking and crushing minorities, the class enemy will be emboldened to weaken and crush the class as a whole [4]. By remaining apathetic to minority oppression, the class as a whole loses a great deal of the fighting effectiveness needed to maintain and expand its economic and political gains.

If we as class struggle activists are serious about replacing the existing state and abolishing racism, we must raise the consciousness and gain the participation, the respect, and the enthusiasm of as many workers as possible. We must work relentlessly to help the backwards workers overcome their prejudices and unite as a class against the bosses. If we write off the backward workers, we also write off revolution in the United States. This is because we will need every hand and every mind we can muster to challenge the most powerful, secure, experienced and sophisticated ruling class in modern history. We cannot afford to underestimate our class enemy.

Partial Demands Will Keep The Struggle Moving

The nature of law is simply the codified common practices agreed to through the course of struggle. Legal principles are generated as groups fight each other on the basis of how much power they have. And, the legal system itself serves to codify and keep track of who won and who lost (based on who had more power), as well as maintaining the treaty that emerged out of struggle, until a new balance of power makes it necessary to rewrite the laws. Therefore, the “justice system” will always be unjust in order to serve the needs of the ruling class. As of late, it is becoming more clear to the masses as a whole that this system seems to be fairly unconcerned with actual justice. Consequently, the state itself has become the target of a thousand different general partial demands and proposals for reform–for the most part, demands that preserve the power of capital.

Partial demands that do not undermine or seek to remove the foundation of the ruling class most often preserve that foundation. Often, there is nothing wrong with supporting these kinds of general demands, but there is a danger of becoming confined to these kinds of demands. It is necessary to be somewhat preoccupied with these general partial demands to secure the economic and political victories needed continue to drive the struggle forward. However, it is critical to also agitate for the class demands that will remove the foundations of bourgeois rule. And most importantly, we must agitate for the ultimate aims of the proletariat: the overthrow of capital. In summary, partial demands are necessary to keep the ball rolling, but they are not sufficient. It will be up to class struggle activists to promote and popularize the ultimate aims [5].

Another contradiction arises, class struggle activists come from a dozen trends, and a hundred different study groups and organizations. Often there are conflicting views on the most important demands to raise, and how best to promote those demands in their sharpest, most concentrated form. Furthermore, the masses are even more divided and confused than these activists. How can we hope to make demands effective if the would-be champions of these demands are in disarray?

Political Backwardness Anchors the Movement

The proletarian movement is dominated by two main forces, social democracy and cargo cultism. Both of these forces dominate the movement mainly because the overall level of consciousness and organization remains low. Therefore, their domination of the movement can be seen as a symptom of a deeper problem.

The Social Democratic Opportunists:

For over a hundred years the American working class suffered from the deception of social democratic opportunists. The trend of social democracy is vast, and the followers are many. But the worst in this trend are the professional politicians such as figures in orbit around the Democratic Party, “progressive” non-profits, trade union leaders, and “progressive” pundits [6]. One asks, “what exactly do they all have in common?” In order to best understand who these opportunists are, we must understand the strategy at the core of the social democratic trend. This strategy is based on the conclusion of the bourgeoisie, that it is better to bend, than to break.

Whether social democrats realize it or not, the strategy of social democracy is to reinforce the class rule of the bourgeoisie. This requires the willingness for shrewd, tolerable reforms to shore vital bourgeois institutions; with the purposes of placating the masses and ensuring social peace between classes. On occasion, these reforms are even called for by a section of the bourgeoisie more inclined to making concessions for the purpose of maintaining social stability. The billionaire venture capitalist and social democrat Nick Hanauer expressed the concern of rebellion well when he said that continuing income inequality would result in, “mayhem in the streets, Ferguson at large..Ferguson everywhere.[7] ”

Russellsimmons

Social democrat and hip hop media mogul Russell Simmons, is a great example of the black bourgeoisie strengthening its ties with the white bourgeoisie. Black, brown, Asian or white, when you’re super rich you need a strong repressive state to protect your wealth. “Hating police brutality + respecting the police are not contradictory impulses.” -Russell Simmons via Twitter

Additionally, many people of color in the bourgeoisie also embrace social democracy. As the black, brown, and Asian bourgeoisie matures, they strengthen their ties with the much stronger white bourgeoisie. While the origins of white, black, brown, and Asian bourgeoisie are different from and sometimes even antagonistic with each other–it is important to note that all of the bourgeoisie arose through exploitation of the masses, and share mutual class interests and world views; and all would prefer to enrich themselves politically and economically [8] [9] .

In our understanding of the strategy of social democracy, we know that this bourgeois trend opposes the interest of the masses. But how is this core strategy carried out? It is carried out through the promotion of:

1. The ideology that we live in a “democracy”, that the economy and the state provides us with institutional tools and support needed to change society. Thus, two main lines of thought develop:

A) There is nothing better than capitalism, and whether locally or nationally we can adjust it to fit our needs;
B) And/or, we can gradually reform the system into something fundamentally better.

2. The reliable, racially and socially diverse base of politicians, organizers, and intellectuals who either consciously throw their allegiance in with the ruling class, or lend it tacitly.

This reliable base developed a set of political customs, traditions, and tactics which keep the more conscious and independent elements of the proletariat, as well as the masses themselves–isolated, divided, poorly equipped, ineffective, and confused. Their main tactic is to build an alliance between unhappy dissenters and the social democratic wing of the ruling class dependent on the concessions made by the dissenters with the major aims of:

A) Undermining their independence
B) Watering down the message of dissenters

The social democratic opportunists will be in close proximity to much of the work that revolutionaries do, and so we must err on the side of caution–with the full understanding that these are our political opponents who aim to prevent us from carrying out our most critical work: raising the political consciousness of the working class. Our attitude towards social democrats must be to take full advantage of the principle it rests on, the willingness of the bourgeoisie to bend—only we must constantly push the far limits of its tensile. Whereas compromises on occasion can and must be made in order to achieve demands, concessions to moderate the independent character or the essential message that the interests of the working class are completely opposed to the interests of the ruling class—must never be made.

The Cargo Cultists of the Left:

The term “cargo cult” comes from the description of indigenous, religious, millenarian movements in Melanesia; which developed as result of contact with colonial powers. These indigenous societies developed a fascination with the technology and power of the colonizers, imitating manufactured goods and customs with little understanding of their mechanics or purpose.

Johnfrumarmy

The John Frum Army on the march with rifles at ready: “In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head for headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.” -Richard Feynman, from his 1974 commencement address at the California Institute of Technology

Likewise, the left developed its own cargo cult movement after contact with bits and pieces of consciousness from the Russian and Chinese revolutions. Cargo cultists on the left have come to repeat loaded words and phrases, adopt organizational models, and worship the symbolism and iconography of revolutionary moments in history with at best an irregular understanding of their meaning or relevance—at worst no understanding.

Mocking Bob Avakian's RCP cargo cult in 1980: Will Cargo Cults bring us victory?

Mocking Bob Avakian’s RCP cargo cult in 1980: Will Cargo Cults bring us victory?

A local activist named Ben Seattle wrote quite a bit on the cargo cults of the left, “In the U.S. alone, there are probably more than a dozen cargo-cult groups which talk about ‘class politics’ but have no clear idea of how activists can help the working class and oppressed become conscious and capable of action on a mass scale—other than the standard cargo cult program:

1. Supporting various struggles for partial demands today
2. Joining their group and taking up their particular ideology
3. Waiting for the “big day that things get bad enough that the proletariat finally ‘wakes up’ and recognizes their great wisdom and leadership ability.”

The cargo cultists often act like they have all of the answers, but they usually hold hostage the empty promise of the information that will propel the movement forward in exchange for new blood. They have had decades to build alliances, networks, contacts, theory, and independent media, but they have little to show for it except lame newspapers, leaders more concerned about being respectable than revolutionary, a book publishing company, a coffee shop, and cadres who cannot speak, write or think for themselves.

While it is true that some cargo cults have proven themselves to be far worse than others, the primitive, leftist cargo cult ghetto as a whole is a swamp. Will we ever be able to move beyond the comfort of the left ghetto that sheltered us for decades? How do we deal with the disarray that we face?

We Must End the Period of Non-Partisanship

As it was mentioned earlier, the bourgeoisie on the one hand, is a conscious, and organized class for themselves. They benefit from the finest educational and analytical institutions which serve them as the rulers of society. They are organized into competing economic and political institutions, concerned with: consolidating power for their respective factions, and promoting their ideas on the best means and methods for maintaining class rule.

On the other hand, the proletariat suffers from a great deal of ignorance, and they have a limited amount of class awareness. They have a lack of understanding that their interests are opposed to the interests of the ruling class; a lack of understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as a class; and a lack of understanding of their long term class interests. The feeble educational programs and resources that they have available to them are carefully managed by their class enemy. Their news and information is saturated with the propaganda and spin of the ruling class. Their once heroic economic organizations, the trade unions, under the direction of the trade union leaders: support the political organizations and aspirations of the very bosses the workers struggle against. And thus, with the help of the trade union leadership, the workers have become playthings in the hands of the bourgeoisie.

1548169_440227106115912_245733312804435035_o

Ignorance keeps our class locked in the bondage of capital. Ending the period of non-partisanship will be a huge step toward a conscious class. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff

Currently, the proletariat has no truly independent class-wide organization of its own to fight for its economic, political, or class demands. With no united program, or organization to champion its own class interests, the proletariat is left with tacitly supporting the bourgeois political organizations and institutions. With the working class in such a state of confusion, the masses who tail the proletariat are left in disarray. This is the present period of non-partisanship.

Nothing fundamental can change in the class struggle, and the various struggles for partial demands; until such a revolutionary mass organization emerges. And as such an organization emerges, and gains its footing and the ability to inspire, coordinate, organize and raise the consciousness of the working class and oppressed, everything else will change. The Proletariat will be far better off with its own organizations and voice [10].

Historically, the revolutionary organization of the class has been called a party. Over time, the concept of a party has become a taboo among many in the left: associated with the failures of the Russian and Chinese revolutions at best, and the cargo cults at worst. And yet, many critics of these failures have gone to the extreme in their opposition. They have concluded that working class people don’t need their own independent mass organization or program—that they can do without. Given these points, the critics tacitly support an environment that favors the ruling class. They argue that a party will inevitably become corrupt. Such an argument is supported by history because without exception, every party which claimed to represent the workers eventually became corrupt and betrayed them. At the same time, this kind of argument fails to recognize that anything new can emerge and is fundamentally the same as the many people throughout history who argued that human beings would never fly [11].

Nick

“Because the far left answer to this challenge [is], you know North Korea, where we all sort of turn off the lights and shiver in the cold-probably isn’t going to work” 12 -Nick Hanauer

With that said, today we have available to us two incredible things that activists did not have in the past. We have for one, the great experiences of the Russian and Chinese revolutions and their failures, and two, the great communications network: the internet. We know from these past experiences that the democratic rights of speech and organization will be essential to the long-term success of the revolution; and with the internet, it is becoming increasingly impractical for any state to block the flow of ideas and information which are the foundation for self-organization.

There are many opposing ideas concerning the kinds of work which will do the most to build the revolutionary mass party needed. Many of these ideas involve working to build a mass organization on a foundation of alliances with progressive careerists and social democrats. Such an organization is likely to eventually emerge, and it will bring us many reforms and opportunities as well as betrayal. But we should not confuse such an organization (which, by its nature would never be able to escape the limitations of its need for alliances with people and institutions connected to the ruling class) with the kind of genuinely independent, revolutionary mass organization the proletariat needs.

Serious activists, if they are persistent, will find over time that without a revolutionary party that serves the needs of the proletariat: the working class and oppressed will remain largely ignorant, and composed of isolated, unconnected elements; without the ability to either unite in struggle or think as a class for itself.

Because there will be many attempts, in the periods of intense struggle, to create organizations which pretend to have a revolutionary and mass character, but which, behind the curtain, will represent some cargo cult, or be on a bourgeois leash—we must clearly define the core principles that the revolutionary mass organization will need to be founded on. The party must be:

1. Based on the central organizing goal of the overthrow the rule of capital, understood to mean the overthrow of the class rule of the bourgeoisie, and its replacement by the rule of the working class during an epoch of transition to a classless society.
2. Independent of the control of the ruling bourgeoisie and the social democratic opportunists.
3. Open to all of the best and most serious activists who serve the working class and oppressed.
4. Democratic and based on political transparency.

The proletarian party would need to have the ability to organize large numbers, and when opportunity arises, to strike with a single fist. Despite our need for unity and agreement to maintain the level of discipline needed to do practical work, it is an impossibility to be both politically monolithic and democratic, at least so long as our society is divided by class. Political factions must be free to develop as they will inevitably develop, and will naturally come into intense conflict with one another to influence the theoretical and practical direction of the class. All factions will be free to organize, and will not be banned or silenced, even those factions corrupted by opportunism and the bourgeoisie. Revolutionary factions (who may be a minority) within the party will have the obligation to steer the party in a direction that best serves the interest of the proletariat. As a part of that obligation, revolutionary factions must expose and defeat the opportunist and social democratic factions in the public arena, while protecting democratic rights. The closest model (so far) for the internal life of this organization would be the general assemblies which emerged in key cities at the height of the Occupy movement.

chick_lightbulb_headed_god

Some activists are more interested in building a religion than a party of the masses. In their ideal organization, those who don’t drink the kool-aid will be banished.

Moreover, the program, communications, political disputes, agreements, and theory; in the present time; must be made readily accessible; with exceptions based on careful discretion as per necessity. Everyone will have the right to study, criticize, organize support for the best trajectories, formulations, and ideas, while criticizing, rejecting and organizing against misdirection, ignorance and opportunism.

It also seems clear that the organization we need will be built around the central project of an internet-based news, culture and discussion service that will connect activists to one another in common work to bring to the entire working class a conscious understanding of the need for, and inevitability of, a world without the rule of capital. Such a news and culture service would, over time, so to speak, connect every part of the proletarian mind.

Every struggle of the working class and oppressed will, in one way or another, provide experience that points to the need for a revolutionary mass organization with the ability to mobilize the masses in their millions for the overthrow of capital—and the overthrow of the class rule of the social class that is the bourgeoisie, which grows out of, and consciously defends capital. In particular, as the emerging revolution in communications makes it easier for the working class and oppressed to exchange, discuss and defend ideas, this great truth of our time can not be suppressed, and is destined to emerge, again, as the central aspiration of class struggle activists in the United States and worldwide.

The most specific and purposeful expression of political struggle between classes, is the struggle of classes politically organized for themselves. Because our society is divided by class, there can be no neutrals. The indifferent defense of the non-party principle in bourgeois society is the disguised, passive acceptance to the party of the ruling class. There should be no doubt, that ending the period of non-partisanship will be a crucial milestone in the fight against capital.

We must seize the time
and end the period of non-partisanship!

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