We have two types of content here:
1) theoretical texts from our political current, and
2) applications of our theory in various forms: analysis, culture, news.
The menu of topics in both categories is on the right.
We have two types of content here:
1) theoretical texts from our political current, and
2) applications of our theory in various forms: analysis, culture, news.
The menu of topics in both categories is on the right.
The root of the disease was political. The treatment could only be political. Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid. But in general, welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us, subjugating us, and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political, and cultural affairs. We chose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being.
Class Struggle and International Solidarity
As soon as people heard of the ravages done by Hurricane Mathew, mostly in Southern and Northwestern regions of Haiti, many were volunteering to send support. Some even posted online what they perceived as reputable NGOs. But for us, whether or not some NGOs are reputable, the point to ask is whether or not sending money to NGOs, even reputable ones, is in the best interest of the Haitian popular masses. This is especially the case after the earthquake of January 2010, in which millions of dollars poured in for the same reasons of support and Haiti today remains in even worse shape. We hear the arguments that quick-fix support is important for the immediate survival of people, but we face the facts already proven in previous catastrophes that, for the long term, those quick fixes have become part of the problem and only represent a bail out for the Haitian dominant classes, the State Apparatus and imperialism.
As those catastrophes continue to occur internationally, other dominated and exploited classes from their respective societies will also manifest their spontaneous need to support and be interdependent with the most affected victims, with a total spirit of abnegation. This solidarity is a precursor, although limited, of the need for solidarity and internationalism, which under the leadership of conscientious social classes could become a powerful force underpinning the construction of new societies. But to realize this positive spirit of interdependency, progressive and revolutionary forces must promote a correct conception of internationalism and of solidarity based solely on the interests of the popular masses. We must demarcate ourselves from bourgeois conceptions that finally end up bailing out the dominant classes, the state apparatus and imperialists. Under capitalist direction, humanitarian aid is a bourgeois conception that inevitably serves bourgeois interests.
Haiti is Not a Poor Country
Haiti is a rich country. Much of our wealth has been stolen or is being stolen. The Haitian dominant classes should not be viewed as part of the popular masses in any scientific or materialist class analysis. In any social formation, the capitalist class and feudal classes are not part of the popular masses. Their nationalism is based solely on the interests of the power block exercising its class dictatorship over the popular masses, especially the proletariat.
Humanitarianism supports a parasitic form of capital accumulation
In fact many fractions of the capitalist class, especially the bureaucratic bourgeois and imperialist institutions such as NGOs are using the donations of well-intended people as a parasitic form of capitalist accumulation. This has even been documented as a growing trend of “disaster capitalism.”
Humanitarianism Promotes Dependency
We are not arguing that acts of solidarity, even humanitarian, are not warranted. On the contrary, they are necessary, but not under the dictatorship of capital. Capitalism only uses them to create a condition of dependency. Effective solidarity needs to be practiced within a revolutionary perspective of self-determination: COUNTING ON OUR OWN STRENGTH. In the response to the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there was no attempt to promote self-determination. The politics of misery were used to guarantee capitalist accumulation. Aid, even humanitarian aid, has become one of the central forms of accumulation for the reproduction of capitalism in Haiti. As Thomas Sankara said of Western aid: “The root of the disease was political. The treatment could only be political. Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid. But in general, welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us, subjugating us, and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political, and cultural affairs. We chose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being.”
A Quick Overview
It would be irresponsible and ultra-leftist not to ask for aid. We do support the need for donations. But the devastation of nature can’t be uncoupled from the reactionary political line of Haitian capitalism and imperialist domination. The way we deal with the devastation of nature must be determined in the field of class struggle, and now in the field of class struggle, capitalism is calling the shots. Haiti is a social formation that is rotten to the core. The inter-class struggles among the ruling classes in Haiti are secondary contradictions that provide no solution to the degradation of Haiti’s social structures. As long as capitalism is in control, as long as the policies of capitalism dominated by imperialism are in effect, exceptional crises caused by nature and the perpetual ongoing crisis caused by the anti-national and anti popular policies of the power block, the social formation will continue to deteriorate and reach a barbaric state in which the unacceptable becomes the norm of the day.
What Is to Be Done?
Although support is necessary at this time, progressives and revolutionaries must always denounce the role of the anti-national, anti-popular politics of capitalism in Haiti and demarcate themselves from the alternatives given to us by capitalism and imperialism. We must offer our own alternatives. Haiti is a failure of capitalism and imperialist domination. Our alternatives should be based on two aspects:
1] International solidarity and internationalism should start with progressives and revolutionaries organizing against their class enemies in their respective social formations, especially in the belly of imperialist social formations. Our future, in all social formations, can’t be based on whom we vote for but rather on our own capacity to organize in our interests and under the perspective of classes that have the most interest to rid humanity of capitalism.
2] Identifying organizations and movements we can support, from the perspective of unity and collective struggle for the conquest of popular democratic rights and the elimination of capitalism and feudalism. The more we organize and struggle in our own social formation, the more our vision of international unity and solidarity and internationalism will sharpen and consolidate. The more we demarcate from populism and opportunism the more our international unity will consolidate.
In Haiti, the MayDay Batay Ouvriye Federation of unions is a combative movement of laborers and workers that is organizing to struggle for the conquest of popular democratic rights. Batay Ouvriye [BO] is organizing workers and has worked to set up to unions in the garment industries in Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Ouanaminthe and Caracol. BO is also organizing poor peasants in rural communal sections of Haiti as well as agricultural workers. Most recently, the Organization of Laborers and Landless Peasants [OPTST] held its first general assembly. Under the leadership of the most advanced workers, BO is constructing a combative path to conquer popular democratic rights battling feudalism and capitalism.
Compounding ruling class repression, Mathew has hit BO as a movement among the popular masses. Some of our members in rural areas have lost their homes and the means to sustain themselves. In the face of this crisis, we urge progressives and revolutionaries to extend their solidarity directly to BO in support for the continuing struggle for popular democratic rights.
The devastation Hurricane Matthew left behind is yet another proof of the anti-national and anti-popular nature of the Haitian ruling classes, their state apparatus and imperialism. As global capitalism fuels growing environmental disasters, dominated and exploited masses all over the world must organize to build political organizations and movements to confront directly the mother of all catastrophes and disasters: CAPITALISM.
Both the Republican and Democratic conventions are now over. It is time for some additional reflections. First, as per the period of McGovern, the rainbow coalition, Jesse Jackson’s attempt to run and now Bernie Sanders, the reformist and populist left is left holding an empty balloon, deflated by promises to build a movement or a political revolution. These promises are nothing other than demagoguery. Some of these people will hibernate till the next election, hoping that we forget this election experience. Some will hop on the bandwagon of other insignificant candidates, still pushing their opportunist/populist political line.
Most workers in the world don’t know the date of March 8th is of the greatest importance for them. And many of those who do know it don’t realize what the date really represented in history. For us, conscious workers, for whom the struggle is our daily life, it is absolutely necessary we know our true history, the various battles waged by our class and the lessons we should draw from them.
First of all, since many workers in Haiti and throughout the world, especially in the maquilas and free trade zones, work in the textile industry, we should know that the mobilizations held on March 8th, 1908, were carried out precisely by textile industry workers. Despite this, presently, most workers in this branch know nothing of this part of our history.
In 1975, the United Nations proclaimed March 8th “International Women’s Day”. Once more, this was a recuperation of the international ruling classes to distort the real significance of our battles. In this way, they have attempted to wipe out the collective memory of the real working-class mobilization that occurred on this date, turning it into a wide-ranging, limited celebration completely void of class content, in which all women partake, including totally anti-worker and reactionary bourgeois women. In this way, the nature and logic of our battles are obliterated. Our own history is robbed from us.
What was March 8th?
March 8th is a historic date! Doubly so. First of all, on March 8th, 1857, a large number of factory workers in the United States took to the streets to demand their economic and political rights. The owners called the police who arrived immediately and opened fire, engaging in blind repression… Later on, in 1908, the same date of March 8th was once again a memorable date of struggle. On this day, capitalist bosses in Chicago set fire to a textile factory where over a thousand women worked. A very large number was terribly burnt. 120 died! This heinous crime happened simply because the workers were demanding that the legal 8-hour work day be respected, as well as substantial ameliorations of their work conditions since they were working in a hellish environment in which their very dignity was constantly and totally denied. In this factory, however, the workers refused to cower. They fought daily. And having reached a certain level of organization, they held protests, work stoppages and strikes… On this day of March 8th, 1908, instead of obeying the law and satisfying the workers’ legal and legitimate demands, the factory owners decided to bar in this way what they called “the rising disorder”.
INTRODUCTION TO TEXT FROM HAITI from Feb. 7, 2016
(The leaflet, in English and Kreyol, follows this introduction)
February 24, 2016
The Haitian masses have been mobilizing in the streets for the past 6 months or more to derail the sell-out alternatives of the Haitian dominant classes to imperialism. The most recent political election was derailed by massive popular mobilizations. The Haitian masses thwarted the imperialist plan under the slogan “WE WILL NOT OBEY”—even if only for a short time.
Unfortunately, the combativeness of the masses has been limited, and has been mostly co-opted by various sectors of the petit bourgeois linked to a consortium of the capitalist power bloc, against the political sectors represented by the anti-popular and anti-national government of the bourgeois bureaucrats’ Martelly, linked as well with a consortium of the capitalist power bloc.
There is an intense competition within the Haitian ruling classes. Cliques of petit bourgeois elements, ranging from left to right populists, are offering their services to sectors of the Haitian dominant classes and imperialism. That is the main plot of the political crisis surrounding these failed and trumped up elections. These cliques are offering themselves as either a new potential bureaucratic bourgeoisie (rural and metropolitan petit bourgeois) or a recycled bureaucratic bourgeoisie (represented by the “Fanmi Lavalas”, the political party of Aristide, or the Duvalierists, former “macoutes”). But the masses, even under the leadership of those forces, are still coming up with their own demands.
by Jan Makandal
January 21, 2016
76 years ago, Trotsky correctly observed that trade unions were progressively degenerating and fusing with imperialism. That gradual degeneration has, at this point in time, reached its maturity point—institutionalized forms of organized labor have become capitalist organizations, even with workers and laborers as members.
The bureaucratic bourgeoisie—a fraction of the capitalist class—has historically developed within the leadership of organized labor. The problem is not a simple issue of bad or corrupt leadership. The issue lies with the entire structure of organized labor that has now been absorbed—institutionalized— into capitalism. Trotskyists, viewing the process of degeneration as static, will never see this reality.
Institutionalized labor is now a historical form of capital accumulation. Dues, corruption, strike funds, retirement funds, and government stipends are all forms of capital accumulation. Although dues-paying members are currently the principal form of accumulation, it is important that we also point the finger at corruption.
Corruption is a common form of capital accumulation by the capitalist class. Many think that it can simply be corrected by anti-corruptive measures. This reformist conception reduces corruption to the act of stealing, and ignores the fact that contemporary capitalism is an historical form of accumulation rooted in mercantile capitalism (trade).
In most cases, under capitalism, corruption becomes a material condition for the development of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie. This problematic fraction of the capitalist power bloc shares a lot of tendencies with fascism, and functions in contradiction with some foundational elements of capitalism, such as competition. Setting moral boundaries for corruption represents the inter-class struggle among capitalists to limit, control or advance the constitution of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie.
by Jan Makandal
January 19, 2016
First, to avoid any futile debate, let us demarcate from the theory that no work should be done inside the existing unions. This is not our position. In fact, we disagree with that political line and the practices that emerge from that theory—total absence and unilateral abstinence of presence inside these unions. For us, that would be ultra-leftist, the inversion of a right-wing deviation.
We do agree with Trotsky on his conception of the degenerated nature of organized labor [institutionalized unions]. The concept of degeneration is a dialectical concept, implying a phenomenon that is in a process of decaying. We do not think that they could be still at the same stage of decomposition as they were 76 years ago. To say that we are in the same stage is not only intellectually lazy, but is also a dogmatic approach.
Dogmatism is one of our biggest enemies in the theoretical battlefield of dialectics. Dogmatism asserts permanency in phenomenon—dynamics frozen in time. But the only thing actually permanent in a phenomenon is reproduction.
We agree with Trotsky about the degenerated nature of unions that existed 76 years ago. Furthermore, we also think that today’s unions have totally transitioned to their highest form of decay, into capitalist organizations among the working class. These unions, far from being the instruments of working class power that they started out as, are in fact playing a pre-emptive repressive role among the working class, in the interest of capitalism.
by Jan Makandal
January 15, 2016
This is a response to a Trotskyist who asserts that contemporary institutional labor unions in the U.S. currently represent working class interests, rather than having mainly been co-opted by the capitalist class (through various violent and legal means) into instruments of the pacification of workers. He quoted Trotsky in his argument (as indicated below) but we interpret his position to be actually non-correspondent to Trotsky’s. We are posting this as a distinct piece because his application of Trotsky’s position is not uncommon, and others may find it a useful contribution to the general debate.
It is always a danger in our movement to turn the position of any revolutionary, whether proletarian or non-proletarian, into verse—statements frozen in time. Such an approach is dogmatic, and dogmatism is always coupled with sectarianism. “Trade Unions in the Period of Imperialist Decay” was written by Trotsky 76 years ago. It was a theory for the elaboration of a political line, based on the conjuncture and context of that epoch.
Any theory, especially in the social field, is contextual. But it can also give us a foundation to understand the progressive development of the reality it is interpreting. The progressive development of that reality can either: a) force us to totally question that theory, even if it was correct at time of its elaboration, or b) show the need for the theory to be consolidated, while adding needed footnotes to the original theory because our practice and current objective reality demand that we do so.
This is what dogmatists and sectarians refuse to do. The consequences of that refusal are the ossification and stagnation of that theory. Reality is advancing at its own pace, and dogmatists refuse to understand that advancement. Usually that refusal is also due to a mechanical conception or a total denial of class struggle.
I am assuming you are a Trotskyist, but Trotsky was not. He didn’t know about Trotskyism, and his position in the first paragraph of his analysis proves that.
He argued, “…the degeneration, of modern trade union organizations in the entire world: it is their drawing closely to and growing together with the state power. This process is equally characteristic of the neutral, the Social-Democratic, the Communist and ‘anarchist’ trade unions. This fact alone shows that the tendency towards ‘growing together’ is intrinsic not in this or that doctrine as such but derives from social conditions common for all unions.”
Proclaiming to be a Trotskyist is not an automatic immunization from opportunism, nor does it make one absolutely and permanently correct. Trotksy’s point, which we agree with, is independent of your doctrine. The social condition, the objective reality—including you as a Trotskyist—is not only independent of your doctrine, but needs to determine the way your doctrine is to deal with that reality.
So, being a Trotskyist, a Maoist, or an anarchist is irrelevant to the fact that these lenses don’t dictate the reality. They can only provide the basic tools and concepts to give an interpretation to that reality. Mao, Trotsky or any other individual are unavailable to further our thought process in the appropriation of that reality. In this case, the tools provided by Trotsky are a good foundation, with his identification of the degeneration of the trade unions in his time. Rather than ask for proof, we have to consolidate that theory in our time. Proof, by the way, is part of the contextual material conditions that are right in front of us, and our interpretation of it will be based on our political line. On this point, I confirm my assertion that it is not about anyone being a Maoist, a Trotskyist, etc. What really matters in the final analysis is our political line.
By Robert Allen, railroad engineer, Iowa, USA
December 25, 2015
Many workers today are confused about a key concept of historical materialism, the idea of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” It is a very literal English translation, it means exactly how it reads: the idea that workers should have political power, instead of the bosses, corporations and landlords—essentially the exact opposite of what we have today. We live under the “dictatorship of Capital,” where everything is reduced to exchange values and commodification, even people.
It is fashionable these days to reject the notion of “taking power” as “authoritarian,” and many young Leftists are attracted to Anarchism or “identity politics,” where one gets to be radical without taking on the responsibility of a real fight for working class rule, which would require a disciplined combat party or similar structure. Even those who call themselves “Marxists” have fallen under the spell of “gradualism” or incremental reforms, and speak of “political revolution” in place of a real fight for power, that is, a real proletarian revolution. Some of these folks have lengthy academic credentials they can point to, to bolster their claims to a “Marxist” heritage, while claiming that they have deduced some new theory that better fits “our time,” etc., that the need for “revolution” has been supplanted by a more civilized “progressivism” that will overcome capitalism through gradual mass acceptance of liberal “reason.” Workers cannot afford to be misled by these “theorists,” regardless of their CVs and sophistry.
In any contest between two “rights,” force decides. That is, if I say I have a right to health care and a decent home, and someone, say, a conservative, disagrees, whomever can muster the most force will decide the issue. Or, simply put, it is a question of class power, class forces. The working class must develop a “nose for power,” must assert its will in the contest with imperialism, and it can only be done by mobilizing itself to take power, “dictate” its terms to the enemy. The opposing force, the ruling class, knows no polite “gradualism,” no aversion to exertion of raw violence to meet its ends; these are the bare stakes of the struggle we face.
For more on this topic, please see:
By Jan Makandal
December 8, 2015
[This was written as part of a debate about defining the working class].
I will argue that the definition of unproductive worker is quite a secondary point, since all will have to be organized in the struggle against capitalism. For us, whether an unproductive worker is considered a worker or a petit bourgeois in the social category of laborers, either way they need to be organized under the leadership of the productive workers—because the surplus value produced by productive workers is the source of all capital.
Our only difference in this case will be which class among the social category of laborers (or which fraction of the working class) is to construct that leadership role, and which class (or fraction of class in the social category of laborers) will be the fundamental allies of the proletariat. We have seen such orientation in Russia and China. It requires an analysis of the social formation we aim to radically transform.
A very interesting thing happened in Vietnam—due to a lack of working class presence in the Communist Party there, the party changed its name from the Communist Party to the Party of Labour, and then later went back to the Communist Party. Ho Chi Minh pointed out the irony of a Communist Party with no workers.
A synthesis of past practices, either of socialist revolution and/or national liberation movements, is enough to construct a theoretical framework that takes into consideration the limitations of these struggles and revolutions, at least so far as to determine the central role of the working class, and the role of intellectual petit bourgeois radicals and the need for their objective transformation into proletarian revolutionaries. One commonalty of those struggles is the heavy role played by petit bourgeois radicals, with a lesser role of leadership played by the workers (or no role at all).
We want to learn from these experiences in their respective social formations. In Russia, the Bolsheviks conflated leadership with control. And Mao attempted to introduce the working class into a party dominated by the rural petite bourgeoisie [sectors of the peasantry] in the revolutionary transformation of China. Only dogmatists will take these experiences as cast in stone, and will refuse to see the need to learn from them for the future. In fact, this is why we identify this moment as a moment of stagnation and ossification of proletarian theory. This period will continue as long as the petite bourgeoisie thinks they are Marxist.
by Jan Makandal
November 29, 2015
Marxism reduced to a dogma is no longer materialist. It becomes a deformation, a deviation and is no longer capable of being a revolutionary guide for the future. In fact Marxism reduced to a dogma, such as being presented as a compilation of verses and quotes, is not Marxism.
Marxism is a materialist approach of interpreting the objective from the interest of the proletariat for the realization of proletarian dictatorship. Most proletarian revolutionaries will argue that studying Marxism in a study group and understanding class struggle are not the criteria to be a Marxist. Even if some intellectuals do contribute to Proletarian Theory [Marxism], their contributions remain very limited in the absence of their immersion in proletarian struggle and in the active participation of organizing productive workers and their fundamental allies: fundamental laborers. Marxist/proletarian revolutionary is not a title indicated by a red star pin on a lapel; that would be simply a fable. Marxism is the immersion of one’s self in the struggle for PROLETARIAN DICTATORSHIP.
We can find in Marxist theory many variations of the definition of the state apparatus. But in our time, to think the state apparatus is only a tool for the oppression of one class by another is a quite limited conception and vision that can only lead to a reformist political line. This definition of the state apparatus by Marx, Lenin and others was correct in their time, but even than it was a very limited definition in need of deepening. Now it is correct to stay the state apparatus is not only an instrument of oppression. The oppressive nature of the state apparatus is one effect of the antagonism between classes, but really the state apparatus is the organization of a class, or a bloc of classes, as a dominant class.
The proletarian state apparatus is the organization of the proletariat as a dominant class to achieve its own political objective: the abolition of classes. Without the state apparatus no class will be able to exercise its dominance [dictatorship] over other classes, especially the currently dominated classes that are in an antagonist relation with the bourgeoisie. Historically most state apparatuses [slavery, feudalist and capitalist] have been for the reproduction of dominancy of classes. The proletarian state apparatus is for the proletariat, using its domination, to gradually strip all capital and concentrations of capital away from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all labor instruments in the hands of the state apparatus (meaning in the hands of the proletariat), for production to be organized by the popular masses under the leadership of the proletariat by counting on our own strength, and most importantly in that process to transform the social relations of production for the objective of a classless society.
By Kiki Makandal
November 18, 2015
Since 1986, after the popular uprising that led to the ouster of Baby Doc Duvalier and ended the 29-year Duvalier totalitarian regime, there has been, at times, a widely held position in “left” political tendencies in Haiti that elections under imperialist domination should be denounced and opposed because they could only serve to impose a pro-imperialist political solution to the political crisis in Haiti. Even Aristide and the Lavalas movement once held those positions. But, as election dates have drawn closer, inevitably, this consensus has fallen apart as populism and opportunism have teamed up to engulf the majority of these “left” political tendencies.
2015 is no different, although anyone with any sense of objectivity could easily draw conclusions from the failures of earlier attempts and realize that the objective conditions are even worse this time around. This time, the ruling faction in power is openly taking its directive from the American embassy, it has managed to gain control of the electoral apparatus, particularly in terms of vote counting and tabulation, and its armed thugs are brazenly beating down and killing political opponents. Never mind that the OAS, the “Core Group” (US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain and the EU) and the UN MINUSTAH occupation forces have the final say in validating election results (that they have financed).
With a voter turnout maxing out at about 25% and rampant brazen ballot stuffing, only those completely sold out can lend any legitimacy to this masquerade. The low voter turnout makes the manipulation of results even easier.
It is not hard to understand how “left” populist opportunism predictably makes a recurring resurgence around election time, particularly in Haiti. With about 70% unemployment, job opportunities for petty-bourgeois intellectuals are limited mostly to NGOs and government jobs. Elections are like a desperate mating ritual for the few available positions of political patronage that depend on personal connections to winning candidates. How many so-called “left” militants have we seen jump ship to take on government positions, from minister to president? This is a class phenomenon of political opportunism, and government jobs are one-time opportunities to make a racket.
The Haitian popular masses have paid for their election lessons in blood: in 1988 massacres put an end to the first attempt at elections after the ouster of Baby Doc. In 1991 a violent coup and subsequent massacres put an end to the first Aristide populist government. In 2005, the popular masses once again showed their ability to thwart the most openly right wing pro-imperialist candidates by voting in Préval, only to see this Préval government enact the same neo-liberal reforms they had voted against… The 25% voter turnout shows how much disdain the Haitian masses have learned from these experiences of massacre and deception.
November 15, 2015
I woke up to a ton of French flags on my Facebook newsfeed. The recent attacks in France from terrorist organizations are very real, as real as the terrorist attacks of the French imperialists around the world, as real as the attacks of the French bourgeoisie against the French proletariat every day, as real as the capitalist and imperialist attacks against workers and the masses of people every second around the world.
Why are my friends photos hidden behind a French flag today? Because people are outraged and rightly so. They are also well-intentioned and lack the presence of a progressive and revolutionary alternative to transform those good intentions into concrete steps towards building an alternative. What happened in Paris was a brutal attack. But let us not be fooled, massacres and terrorism happen on a daily basis all over this world, fueled by feudalism, capitalism and imperialism the world over.
We live in troubling times when capitalism/imperialism is driving this planet to its first ever great extinction led by an animal which calls this planet home. But it is not the whole species of this animal responsible, but certain classes. The environment is being devastated. The working class is sweating daily, under the brutal exploitation of the capitalist class. From the sweatshops in Haiti, China, Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, etc, to the favelas of Brazil, from the projects in East New York, to the slums in New Orleans, from the caserios in Puerto Rico, to occupied Gaza, from the industrial parks in Poland, to the prisons of North Korea, terrorism is our daily visitor.
November 15, 2015
Some assert that the Bernie Sanders campaign is helping the struggle to fight capitalism or to construct a combative mass movement. Can anyone explain how this is the case? Did we already forget (as usual), that the Rainbow Coalition had the same ambition? And what happened to that, were no lessons learned by the farce of the Rainbow Coalition? Now some are saying we should now embark on a new scheme to build a mass movement by tailgating a bourgeois politician, a political militant of the capitalist class. To hope that this new quest will give us a different result is ludicrous. This is opportunism at it lowest. Hopping on the Sanders bandwagon in a quest to build a mass movement can only to give the same result already given by the Rainbow Coalition.
How is Bernie campaign helping the genuine progressive movement? To argue that Sanders’ campaign is helping our movement even without a clear political line or coordinated practice among all involved, including Sanders himself, is pure demagogy. So far, there is nothing in Bernie’s rhetoric that gives a hint, even a minute hint, that he is helping our movement.
In the recent debates and forum, Sanders articulated his own brand of capitalist and imperialist line to make US imperialism work better. He appeals to the workers to join the petite bourgeoisie [middle class], to break from conservatism and live peacefully in capitalism. Forget about you being exploited; forget that your labor power is being violently expropriated.
November 14, 2015
All terrorist acts, whether from the left or right, are in the final analysis a reactionary political practice. Terrorist acts are blind populist isolated acts in which an enemy is not well defined, and all are being terrorized.
Genuine anti-imperialist progressives need to denounce them, since these acts usually benefit the dominant classes, who recuperate them to serve their interests and justify narrow nationalism (another version of right populism). Proletarian revolutionaries also need to denounce them since they are not in the interest of the proletariat, and ultimately benefit the capitalist class and imperialism by giving them ammunition to intensify their internal acts of aggression.
The most recent acts by ISIS should be exposed and denounced along with all such isolated reactionary acts like the planting of bombs by the freedom fighters and the CIA in the port of Nicaragua, the planting of bombs in Israel, and the occupation of Vietnam by a minority force.
The isolated acts by ISIS in the imperialist social formation of France should not be considered progressive simply because they happened in the belly of an imperialist beast. The popular masses in imperialist France are being terrorized sporadically by these acts while being simultaneously dominated and exploited daily by their dominant classes. Those who commit these isolated acts do not seem to make a fundamental distinction between the masses and the dominant classes. This is why they are populist. All classes are dealt with as a potential enemy. Any unity with the popular masses of France becomes impossible since they too are targeted as a potential enemy.
To think that the struggle against terrorism should be directed against Islam is very limited, and is only looking at a tree but not the forest. Islam, like many other religions, is a sub-ideological component produced by a mode of production, mainly feudalism. As a sub-ideological component of religion, Islam, unlike Catholicism, is one of the few tendencies very difficult to adapt to capitalism.
Because of imperialism and capitalism, the feudalist mode of production (which is totally antagonistic to the capitalist mode of production) is in a process of decomposition. In many social formations this is a deformed process of decomposition, in which we will find the co-existence of two antagonistic modes of production. This inherently creates a constant contradiction: reproduction alongside and inside the dynamic of that decomposition. One of the effects of that complex problematic is constant political instability. One must appropriate that complexity in order to offer a solution that will not become feudalism or capitalism.
by Jan Makandal
October 24, 2015
The left’s coup de grace certainly did not originate with Sanders. Its degeneration is the result of persistent and long-term opportunism and populism. Bernie Sanders is simply one additional element accelerating the debacle of today’s petit bourgeois radical left, a pertinent effect pushing it into an abyss of its own creation.
This radical petit bourgeois left is expert at quoting dead proletarian revolutionaries, tuning their valuable contributions into verses frozen in time. But they are totally inept at using these quotations as a guide for the future.
They refuse to acknowledge or use proletarian theory (Marxism at its core) as a science. Marxism can’t stand still in time, but is in a constant mode of rectification and consolidation. The insistence of using quotes, making others speak for them, is not a sign of political unity with these previous revolutionaries, but is instead an exemption freeing them from elevating the quotes to a theory which can eventually guide them in their own practice.
For proletarian militants, practice is a validation of theory, whether it proves a theory is incorrect (indicating the need to rectify the theory) or correct (from which follows the need to consolidate). But we can observe that even when these petit bourgeois radical leftists cite quotes, their content is far apart, very far apart from their own political practices. In other words, for them there is no dialectical relation between theory and practice. Instead, these quotes become ossified and inevitably contribute to the stagnation of proletarian theory.
October 20, 2015
Marxism is not a self-contained, complete system resting on a philosophical base. Rather, it is a theory that has no absolute beginning and is constantly incomplete in its elaboration, as a whole or in any of its aspects (for example the economic aspect as elaborated in Marx’s Capital).
This doesn’t mean Marxism is non-scientific or non-systematic. It clearly defines objects of study in order to explain their objective necessities, establishing its systematic characteristic of analyzing the different forms of class struggle, and the connections between these struggles.
Marxism argues that the history of any society is the history of class struggles. This doesn’t mean that class struggle is merely the principal phenomenon that we can observe in history; instead Marxism asserts that all historical phenomena are diverse and complex historical forms of class struggle.
When a self-defined revolutionary organization pretends to define the “ABCs of Marxism,” it is not only assigning a false beginning to something that is perpetually incomplete, but it is also assigning a false permanency to an interpretation of a reality that is in a constant mode of evolution. Such an approach can only realize dogmatism. It is a reversal, a reduction from an unfinished science to a finished one.
The “ABCs of Marxism,” a series of graphics with texts, or memes, by the International Socialist Organization (ISO) display that erroneous approach. Marxism, with its periodization, cannot be learned by rote. It is to be applied, reinforced, and most importantly it is to be in a constant mode of rectification.
In one of the “ABCs” series, headed “Exploitation,” the ISO attempts to define surplus value this way: “All workers create more value at work than they receive in wages. The extra ‘surplus’ value goes in the boss’s pocket as profit.” [See graphic at end of this piece for reference].
In a paragraph of text added to the graphic in a Facebook post, the Chicago chapter of the ISO developed a technical mechanism to get that money back: “When we say ‘tax the rich’ we’re really just saying ‘give workers back what the bosses stole.’ And once you start thinking about it like this, it becomes obvious to ask whether it’s possible to simply do away with the original theft—the exploitation—itself.”
But confining our goal to simply doing away with exploitation opens the door to reformism, to alternatives other than revolution. Under this conception, the creation of a Labor Party would be another possible route, since presumably if elected they could tax the rich and return profit to the worker. Lowering the cost of labor reproduction through increasing relative surplus value (taxing the rich to fund social programs) would be yet another possible route for the ISO. Whether the ISO advocates a revolution or an electoral or a legislative path, this conception will not be able to lead to a radical transformation of the mode of production from capitalism to something totally different. It cannot possibly realize anything more than a “system upgrade” or a reformed capitalism.
September 24, 2015
The concept of “democratic socialism” is a metaphysical “system creation,” or capitalist upgrade with a bit of Marxist flavor. To be more blunt, it is an attempt to strip Marxism of its proletarian content by ignoring the antagonistic relation between capital and labor. It serves the interest of the petite bourgeoisie, who want more equality, but ultimately will not break with the capitalist class. “Democratic socialism” doesn’t challenge or overturn capitalism, and is therefore not socialist. It is in fact in the interests of capitalists. At best, it is a slightly reformed capitalism with a few “socialistic tendencies.”
Marx and Engels first demarcated from these kind of utopian schemes by clarifying that proletarian science is not political economy. This was a warning that it would be totally impossible and undesirable for proletarian science to fix capitalism or make it work better. The sole purpose of proletarian science, which is based on historical and dialectical materialism, is to analyze all the different forms of capital accumulation for the defeat of capital, by realizing the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is Scientific Socialism.
Scientific Socialism is the general foundational concept of the proletariat to defeat capital and capitalism. It is the only socialism that exists. It is the application of the science of the proletariat, in any specific social formation, to destroy all forms of concentration of capital and, in the process, construct a higher form of societal organization: Communism.
The working class, the proletariat, is the only class in society that can achieve this goal, by leading an alliance of other dominated classes. Other dominated classes cannot, by their struggle for emancipation, lead society to socialism. Slavery transitioned [not mechanically] either to feudalism or capitalism, other exploitative forms of societal organization. Feudalism transitioned to another exploitative type and form of societal organization under the leadership of the capitalist class, even if it was an objective advancement.
Today, the only class within capitalism that can end that vicious cycle of transitioning to new types and forms of exploitative systems is the proletariat. The proletariat is the only class that produces the foundation for all forms of concentration of capital: surplus value. The surplus value extracted from the labor power of workers in the production process is what allows capital to reproduce.
Since that extraction is in a relation of antagonism, the proletariat has no interest in its reproduction, but rather seeks its abolition. By achieving this, the proletariat will achieve the most historically advanced form of society, making possible the breakdown and elimination of all class divisions, along with their many wretched consequences.
September 20, 2015
System Creation vs. Proletarian Revolution
Lately, due to the structural crisis of capitalism, the radical left petite bourgeoisie has increasingly been in the business of initiating system-creating schemes. While most of these creations are totally absurd, none of these models are historical, or even reflective of actual tendencies in the existing contradictory processes of the capitalist mode of production. They exist only in the wild imaginations of certain sectors of the radical petite bourgeoisie, those who are in a race against the working class to produce a new mode of societal organization.
The petite bourgeoisie, in particular the most radical sectors of that class, is attempting to offer its own alternative, and even to claim Marxism (albeit with a myriad of sectarians definitions, as branding) and Marxist-flavored theories. They are driven to do so because as a class, they are dominated by capitalism. For the petite bourgeoisie (in contrast to the working class), this domination is not antagonistic, but it still weighs them down, leading them to struggle to become a leading force among all the popular classes for a societal alternative.
To achieve that goal, this petite bourgeoisie needs to attempt to displace the only class that does have an antagonistic relation to capital, under capitalism including in social formations dominated by imperialism: THE PROLETARIAT.
While struggling for its own leading role, the petite bourgeoisie in fact rejects, in theory and in practice, the leading role of the proletariat. But since it is based solely on a non-antagonist relation to capital, their own struggle for a societal alternative can only be external to capitalism’s fundamental antagonistic contradiction between capital and labor. Thus the only alternative it can produce is to make the living conditions under capitalism more bearable. They seek a more equitable or egalitarian society, which would involve an amelioration of the super-structure but not a radical transformation of the capitalist mode of production.
The petite bourgeoisie is very persistent and resilient in their attempt to offer their own societal alternative. This is resulting in their obsolescence. Since their alternative to capitalism is non-antagonistic, even the most radical sectors of that class are progressively being replaced by liberal sectors of the capitalist class.
August 5, 2015
Many in the people’s camp, some identifying as progressives, evoke a tactical orientation called “the Duma” to justify their participation in the electoral process. The Duma was the Russian Parliament in which the Bolsheviks saw fit to use the contradictions within the Russian dominant classes to further their political objectives. For the Bolsheviks, though it involved participating in the bourgeois electoral process, this was a revolutionary orientation.
But today this tactic is not revolutionary in the least.
Experiences, both direct and indirect, are not to be duplicated or memorized. They are to be learned from to guide upcoming experiences, other social practices. Revolutionary experiences either consolidate or rectify theory. The Duma experience was specific to the reality of Russia, a tactical line in a revolutionary project. Even though it was correct at that time and place, it’s a mistake to attempt to duplicate it now in another social formation where the material conditions, the subjective and the objective conditions, are totally different.
Some elements of the subjective conditions:
July 28, 2015
July 28, 2015 will mark the 100th anniversary of the first US occupation of Haiti. The occupation lasted 19 years, from 1915 to 1934. It was a turning point in the history of Haiti, a turning point that jolted the country into a steeper downfall under the boots of US imperialist domination. These days, because of this centenary, we have the opportunity to reflect more thoroughly on these events. While we are engaged in these reflections, as we are condemning all the aggressions, murders, expropriations, repression, exploitation, abuse and criminal injustice of the occupying forces, it would also be worthwhile to ponder what factors facilitated the occupation, how the degradation of the Haitian social formation opened the doors to the occupation: “even rotten teeth can chew soft food”.
On July 28, 1915, a squadron of about 400 marines (who had been aboard a US warship in the bay of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital) landed in Bizoton, close to the capital, and took over the country. According to Suzy Castor’s book “The US Occupation of Haiti”, the Haitian military’s resistance was sporadic and limited to just a few places. The vast majority of Haitian forces surrendered. In all, the occupation began with a force of 2,200 marines. This force was reduced to about 1,000 soldiers for most of the occupation. It was supplemented by a local gendarmerie of about 3,000 Haitian recruits under the command of US officers. This gendarmerie was the main force responsible for the US occupation.
It was the Cacos (mostly poor peasants, poorly armed mostly with machetes) under the leadership of Charlemagne Péralte and Benoit Battraville, who waged the main resistance struggle against the occupation forces. Even though there were many other fields of resistance, particularly from workers in plantations that were set up by US agro-industrial firms (Plantation Dauphin, SHADA, HASCO…), or workers in the ports loading and unloading products, and even petty bourgeois intellectuals who stood up and denounced the occupation (mostly in the cities), it was really the poor peasants who waged the strongest resistance against the occupation. Poor peasants were mobilized because they were expropriated from their land, and they were forced to work in slave-like conditions in chain gangs building roads for the occupying forces. In the South, there was the resistance of the Lamontagne and Marchaterre regions, but there was resistance everywhere against the exactions of the occupation forces. The North, the West and the Central Plateau were the main areas of resistance where the armed struggle of the Cacos was rooted.
June 2, 2015
Since the start of the 20th Century, not counting secret operations, there have been over 120 US military aggressions, an average of more than one a year. In Central America and the Caribbean alone, the US has intervened militarily: 6 times in Cuba, 4 times in the Dominican Republic, twice in El Salvador, once in Grenada, 3 times in Guatemala, 4 times in Haiti, 7 times in Honduras, 3 times in Mexico, 6 times in Nicaragua, 8 times in Panama, and twice in Puerto Rico.
There are more than 865 US military bases abroad in more than 63 countries. In 2011, 20% of the US federal budget, or $718 billion, went to defense and security-related activities, representing 41% of the world’s military budget. The US Navy is larger than the combined navies of the next 13 countries, 11 of which are US allies. The US maintains 5,113 nuclear warheads, enough to exterminate humankind a few times over. Right now, the US is engaged in at least 6 theaters of war: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Congo.
These are staggering statistics. But they only represent what many have called “the iron fist behind the invisible hand of the Free Market.” The US military is the enforcement arm of US economic policy: the composite of “investor friendly” policies, coerced, through financial crises and the accumulation of state debt, onto working peoples all over the world. These “neoliberal” policies include privatization of state services, austerity plans, reductions in wages and living standards, cutbacks in pensions, cutbacks in education, cutbacks in healthcare, cutbacks in social services, union busting, Free Trade Zones, WTO enforced free trade agreements… all ushered in under the guise of balancing budgets. The burden of state debt is being used to achieve the objectives of colonial invasions in prior centuries. These policies are being pushed through under the cover of a global war on terror, which equates dissenters to terrorists. All of this while the rich get tax breaks, global financial corporations get bailouts, giant multinationals get tax heavens, and CEOs get million-dollar bonuses.
These policies have wreaked misery on working people throughout the “third world” and are now striking workers in industrialized nations, as we see happening in Greece, throughout Europe and even here in the US. Finally, as the threat of catastrophic environmental change collides with bursting economic bubbles and rising global popular unrest, working people are becoming the targets of an increasingly repressive surveillance state.
While most of America’s population has been brainwashed into believing that the U.S. is a “good cop” worldwide peacekeeper and a defender of democracy, that “humanitarian interventions” are aimed at saving masses from massacre and disasters, and that US aid is geared to helping starving masses, the facts prove quite the contrary. For over a century, the U.S. has been and is still today the leading international imperialist aggressor. And now, with the global war on terror, drone warfare, with a joint strike force of special operations forces, signature strikes against “enemy combatants” defined in combat zones as any male over 14 years of age, secret kill lists, NSA global surveillance, the militarization of local police forces and anti-terror legislation that can be secretly interpreted in secret courts and used to detain and repress almost anyone they choose to target, the tools of repression and oppression have been honed for both inside and outside the US.
We Need a Game-Changing Strategy: Working Class Leadership
July 11, 2015
Once again the failure and the bankrupt political line of the radical left petite bourgeoisie is manifest. [The petite bourgeoisie is the so-called “middle” classes, who are part of neither of the two fundamentally contending classes in the capitalist mode of production, capitalists and workers].
The ongoing negotiations in Greece are not about a total abolition of the debt and for the popular masses of Greece to take their destiny in their own hands, counting on their own strength to rebuild this social formation under the leadership of the working class. They’re not for a totally new mode of production (rather than an updated capitalism) led by the working class of Greece and the popular masses, under the leadership of the working class.
Once again the radical left petite bourgeoisie has failed.
This is not particular to Greece. It is a general tendency of struggles in many other social formations as well, wherever the petite bourgeoisie instead of the working class is leading the struggle. One lesson to learn is that whenever we persist in hoping that something positive will come from petite bourgeois leadership, however radical they might seem, THE RESULT WILL BE THE SAME: A TOTAL CAPITULATION TO CAPITAL.
The experience of Greece has once again confirmed a theory developed by previous revolutionary militants that the petite bourgeoisie is incapable of challenging capital, no matter how their radicalism is manifested in their political practice. In the end, this non-autonomous class will inevitably show its impotence and capitulate to capitalism/imperialism. Over and over again, they will always offer all the popular struggles of the masses to capitalism on a silver platter—as they have done in Peru, South Africa, Nepal, the social formations involved in the Arab Spring, and many others.
The international radical left will shove these dismal experiences under the rug of their historical failure and hop onto new experiences, hoping to get lucky. But however persistent they are, we can be sure it will be another failure, another manifestation of their bankrupt line.
July 11, 2015
Losing our sense of worth and history, some succumb to the comfort of not doing anything, of being “revolutionaries” in thought online or in talk, but not actually organizing or engaging in the work it takes to pick up the struggle. Some become weak, giving in to opportunism, deceit, dogmatism, intellectualism, etc……ideologically dominated and historically forgetful. Past progressives and revolutionaries set a bar — we need to live up to it and stop deceiving ourselves and stop being dishonest to the people around us……
The domination is strong,
when you fold into the hands of your enemy,
you wrong, grimy situation of pacification,
there’s a correlation
flooded with insecurities
you find solace in a disease
the workers sing freedom songs
to carry on damn they so strong
the brains of the operation
a truly different creed
Last edited July 6, 2015
This is a preliminary presentation aimed, primarily, at building a certain level of political unity with the objective of building a Proletarian Alternative in the belly of the beast. This is in no way directed at building our intellectual capacity outside or independent of our social practice. If we did that, the result would be an association of intellectuals with no political purpose and totally disconnected from social reality.
One of the principal objectives of all our organized work is to understand the reality we are in and will struggle to transform. If we cannot appropriate this reality to the best of our ability, how can we transform it? If we do not have a scientific interpretation of objective reality, how can we begin to define the ways of transforming it or build the necessary tools needed to transform it?
Proletarian theory is a science that contains two components: Dialectical Materialism [DM] and Historical Materialism [HM].
Dialectical Materialism is a scientific philosophy, meaning that, as opposed to many other philosophies that are based on superstition or metaphysical beliefs, it strives to give a scientific interpretation, situated in human history, to every real phenomenon. DM allows us to have the capacity to reach a relative understanding of the real world, of different existing phenomena, the development of these complex realities and the interrelationships, if any, between them.
The problematic of proletarian struggle can’t be appropriated independently or autonomously from the history of the proletarian movement, through the periodic stages of its development. Those stages determined the problems, their various manifestations, and the elaboration of concepts and theory needed to apprehend this reality. This development shaped the constant, unavoidable and necessary rectifications and transformations of our theory.
Historical Materialism is the science that uses DM in order to discover, comprehend and build a theoretical model of societal development. HM, as a theory, allows us to analyze a social formation and comprehend its diverse existing internal relations and the relations between different social formations HM enables us to achieve a relative understanding of history, how different social formations develop in different periods, through different conjunctures, and the effects of these conjunctures on these social formations.
HM also allows the proletariat to develop a scientific political line to defeat CAPITAL, its fundamental enemy. The source of this science is the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat; thus it is severely limited during a low level of proletarian struggle. This theory, this philosophy is the revolutionary scientific guide of the proletariat as the gravedigger of capitalism.
July 5, 2015
Struggling for a minimum wage adjustment is a political battle at its initial point: the economic front.
Since we are talking of a political battle, one of the rules of that struggle is the relation of forces. At this moment in our conjuncture, our forces capable of forcing our class enemy to concede are weak and dominantly disorganized.
At present, the alternative to offer us a minimum wage remains in the hands of bourgeois organization and the state apparatus, and if they do so it will be for their own interest. We must admit now that the struggle for the $15 minimum wage is not an autonomous struggle of the working class and laborers. It will transform into an autonomous struggle only when the proletariat in particular owns their destiny, along with the masses under the leadership of the proletariat.
In the hands of the bourgeoisie, mainly bourgeois labor organizations [i.e.: AFL-CIO and SEIU], it is a struggle to secure their primary form of capital accumulation through the enlargement of their membership base to collect dues.
It is a struggle for them to deal with a very complex contradiction: mobilizing the rank and file while at the same time making sure that orientation doesn’t create an overflow that will push the struggle beyond the bourgeoisie’s desired limits. These bourgeois organizations are politically heavily leaning on the petite bourgeoisie’s activism, pragmatism and radicalism to not only help them realize the goal of maintaining a social base, but at the same time to keep the masses at bay. It is a very contradictory orientation since the petite bourgeoisie is dominated as well, and does have demands as well. This contradictory element is creating a constant condition for the possibility of overflowing. The bourgeoisie is well aware of that. Their leaning on the petite bourgeoisie is accomplished through the non-profit, CBO and NGO, structures controlled and funded by them, and they could terminate the lifeline of these organizations at any time.
A second orientation is that the struggle for the minimum wage is a gross marketing ploy, being presented as a moral issue capable of being brought into a legalistic battlefield, while attempting to keep all the classes antagonistic to capital at bay (since the petite bourgeoisie domination under capital is not antagonistic, they are naturally and instinctively reformist—with all their radicalism, they are the most natural allies of the bourgeoisie in that struggle).
The state apparatus is the political organizer and administrator of bourgeois democracy/dictatorship, so they too will intervene in the wage issue. They understand they have a powder keg ready to ignite with any little spark from the plurality of the political spectrum. Their decisions to reform the minimum wage or unpaid overtime are political ploys in the interest of the bourgeoisie (even if some members or fractions disagree)as a way to keep water ready to douse the powder keg. The main objective of the State in giving us crumbs is, in the interest of capitalism, to keep us disorganized.
What do we do?
At this time, though we are in a structural crisis of capitalism, our forces are weak, dispersed and dominantly disorganized. But we will not raise the white flag simply because we are strategically and tactically in a position of weakness. We should certainly not raise our hands on the air and say, “Thank you for the crumbs.” We need to understand our weakness and define a strategy to overturn the balance of power in our favor.
How do we start?
The struggle for the minimum wage adjustment is, at this time, an alternative that will benefit a fraction of the capitalist class and the capitalist class, as a bloc, even if the crumbs are good for us. We should take the crumbs if it happens, but our demands should not be restricted to what they decide we need. WE SHOUILD NEVER BE SATISFIED.
Proletarian Alternative, June 29, 2015
This is in response to a question that is fortunately getting asked more often: what are some practical ideas for organizing working class struggle?
We’re far from where we need to be, and have a lot of work to do. Conditions are ripening; capitalism is in a major crisis, and everything that the capitalist class and its representatives do to try to fix it is making it worse. In this situation, an organized, combative working class could perhaps achieve significant gains. But unfortunately we aren’t yet able to take advantage of the enemy’s weakness.
During the past decades, the capitalist class has methodically assaulted the working class on all fronts. The result is that the working class has been utterly disorganized and is heavily ideologically dominated, unable today to offer an autonomous alternative. As one worker recently put it, most workers “don’t even understand they are a class [with their own interests antagonistic to capital]; they’re caught up in the politics of democrats vs. republicans.” Most of what the masses are led to believe will make a difference, is confined within the capitalist framework.
In addition, in the US especially, the working class has been severed from its history of struggle. There is a generation gap—workers today have grown up without a frame of reference, without concepts of class autonomy, class solidarity and unity, class interests, or any experience of organizing to fight for these interests. Workers have been pitted against one another to compete for jobs (instead of blaming capitalism for unemployment), and have been conditioned to passively rely on establishment unions to wage their battles in their stead (such as they do), and to reluctantly accept the inevitability of being sold out by them over and over again. This is viewed as “the way things are,” or “the best we can do,” or “it could be worse.”
So, in the US and many other places, to various degrees, we’re starting basically from scratch. Proletarian (working class) militants need to affirm and reclaim the history of working class struggle, take our place in the continuity of that struggle, and organize to fight for our class interests. We are not “activists” who engage in endless activities that lead nowhere just to feel good about “doing something” (and who are often paid to draw others into this useless cycle). In contrast, militants act from our conscience, with a goal, and a strategy to achieve that goal.
In our practice, no matter how limited or embryonic, we are always learning. We need to be constantly sharing our experiences and our analysis so we can learn from each other. What follows are a few brief thoughts based on some experiences from different areas. We seek feedback from other militants in the form of constructive critique, insights from additional experiences, creative responses to different situations, and deeper analysis.
By Proletarian Alternative
June 21, 2015
On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, a 21-year-old man walked into a church, prayed with the parishioners, and opened fire, killing nine people. All were Black. Subjectively, he thought that African-Americans are soon going to take over an imperialist social formation—so killing nine of them was apparently for him an initial step of slowing down the process of realizing that transfer of power.
This was an act motivated by racism, but it was also more than that. We must analyze the conditions underlying incidents like this one, if we are to combat and overcome these conditions effectively, and to transform society in a way that eliminates them forever. Let us draw the connections between racism, fascism, and the current structural crisis of capitalism. Understanding the fundamental dynamics of our conditions as deeply as possible will allow us to delineate a way forward out of this US-American capitalist/imperialist hell.
In reality, Dylann Roof committed a political act. Because it was a political act, we need to interpret it in the realm of class struggle. No political act is committed outside of the reality of classes and class struggle. This is true even if one does not even recognize that his/her action is a political act, and that it is in the interest of particular classes. Each of our actions, committed over our lifetimes, usually benefits one class or another. Since our political acts are in the interest of specific classes, then they are INEVITABLY against the interest of other classes, either antagonistically or non-antagonistically.
So it would be insufficient, and very limiting, to reduce this event to the act of a crazy person or even to an act of terrorism. Acknowledging it as a terrorist act is an upgrade from merely attributing it to mental illness, but to limit our thought process even to that is in this case (as in all cases) also a political approach that will benefit particular classes, mainly the dominant classes.
by Jan Makandal
May 18, 2015
Is that specific affirmation correct? Can theory really be learned? Do we really need to memorize theory to understand concepts such as autonomy?
The first question is, where do ideas come from? Ideas, organized thought, are theories. A good point of reference is a text and a movie produced in the period of revolutionary China titled: “Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?” In fact, Stephanie’s affirmation is in unity with the line of thought in that text.
Theory is not reality, but an interpretation of that reality. That simply means that what we have inside the complexity of our brains is not reality. It is subjective thought process which can be a materialist interpretation of reality or a metaphysical (idealist) interpretation of the reality.
So far, humanity has produced two main fundamental fields of interpretations of reality: 1] a materialist interpretation 2] an idealist interpretation. The materialist interpretation is based on the attempt to interpret phenomena from their internal contradictions. The idealist interpretation is the attempt to interpret the external contradiction and confuse it with the internal.
by Gerye Proletari
(April 27, 2015)
May Day is coming upon us! Known as International Workers Day around the world, it’s a historic day commemorating the struggles of the international working class, and to honor the autonomous workers of Haymarket Chicago who were viciously terrorized and murdered by the bourgeoisie and its repressive forces as they were organizing for an 8-hour day and better working conditions.
In their brutality, the capitalists and their forces fired live rounds into crowds full of workers, their families and children. May 4, 1886 was the culmination of struggles, marked by another bloody massacre and arrests of labor leaders who were subsequently hung, committed suicide or faced prison sentences.
The working classes of the world refused to let these events fade into a forgotten history, and every year hold parades and marches commemorating the memory of workers and their struggles against the capitalists. In the US, we have been betrayed by the capitalist unions—to the extent that the bourgeoisie invented “labor day” as a holiday months after International Workers Day. More recently, bourgeois unions and NGOs have started orchestrating their own reformist May Day demonstrations financed by capitalists (by one faction or another—remember, they have their own contradictions). Though they might use fiery language and invoke serious issues affecting the working class and the masses (like attacks on immigrants and police brutality), they make sure to channel the rage into demands for a nicer-appearing capitalism, like they always do.
(April 16, 2015)
Historically, the only progress made in the interests of masses has been through struggle of the masses. All the concessions ever gotten from the dominant classes have been the conclusion of an organized mass movement and often intense and violent struggle. Spontaneity and mobilizations, as expressions of the popular rage of the masses, can be a good opportunity for the development of relationships used for the construction of autonomous organizations. As revolutionary militants, our job is to construct a mass movement. Spontaneous upsurges come and go, but organizations last throughout different stages of historical development, are capable of introducing and developing theory, and providing an alternative. Also, an organization can struggle against opportunism, populism and co-optation which are much more prevalent and take root more easily in spontaneous mobilizations.
A revolutionary organization, armed with proletarian theory, can engage in mass line and political practice to constantly develop theory, raising the consciousness and levels of commitment of the militants in the organization, and the organizations they construct.
The bourgeoisie is the most brutal and best organized class in history. Given that, the only alternative can come from an autonomous, well organized mass movement under the leadership of the proletariat, with evolving theory validated and invalidated through political practice. Spontaneity is good for mobilizations, but mobilizations without organizations will either whimper away and fade out, or be taken over by the capitalist class.