[Not So] Open Revolt
Chris Hedges had a column in Truthdig and Truthout this last week on rebellion. And true to form he lists various references to notable authors like Lenin and Marx and Kropotkin and even Emma Goldman. Quoting significant parts of their works while also eviscerating those who cling to the current status quo with a death’s grip.
Vladimir Lenin placed his faith in a violent uprising, a professional, disciplined revolutionary vanguard freed from moral constraints and, like Karl Marx, in the inevitable emergence of the worker’s state. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon insisted that gradual change would be accomplished as enlightened workers took over production and educated and converted the rest of the proletariat. Mikhail Bakunin predicted the catastrophic breakdown of the capitalist order, something we are likely to witness in our lifetimes, and new autonomous worker federations rising up out of the chaos. Pyotr Kropotkin, like Proudhon, believed in an evolutionary process that would hammer out the new society. Emma Goldman, along with Kropotkin, came to be very wary of both the efficacy of violence and the revolutionary potential of the masses. “The mass,” Goldman wrote bitterly toward the end of her life in echoing Marx, “clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify!”
Also speculating on what revolt here might manifest itself as.
This makes our struggle different from revolutionary struggles in industrial societies in the past. Our revolt will look more like what erupted in the less industrialized Slavic republics, Russia, Spain and China and uprisings led by a disenfranchised rural and urban working class and peasantry in the liberation movements that swept through Africa and Latin America. The dispossessed working poor, along with unemployed college graduates and students, unemployed journalists, artists, lawyers and teachers, will form our movement. This is why the fight for a higher minimum wage is crucial to uniting service workers with the alienated college-educated sons and daughters of the old middle class. Bakunin, unlike Marx, considered déclassé intellectuals essential for successful revolt.
It is not the poor who make revolutions. It is those who conclude that they will not be able, as they once expected, to rise economically and socially. This consciousness is part of the self-knowledge of service workers and fast food workers. It is grasped by the swelling population of college graduates caught in a vise of low-paying jobs and obscene amounts of debt. These two groups, once united, will be our primary engines of revolt. Much of the urban poor has been crippled and in many cases broken by a rewriting of laws, especially drug laws, that has permitted courts, probation officers, parole boards and police to randomly seize poor people of color, especially African-American men, without just cause and lock them in cages for years. In many of our most impoverished urban centers—our internal colonies, as Malcolm X called them—mobilization, at least at first, will be difficult. The urban poor are already in chains. These chains are being readied for the rest of us. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread,” W.E.B. Du Bois commented acidly.
Then listing what has failed in his opinion with OWS and even the Keystone XL pipeline protests. However I’m more of the opinion that was has failed and what will fail is thinking we have a country here that is ours when in fact we are an occupied region. Not unlike France under the Nazis or even the biblical Middle East or present day Palestine. That we need not just the logistics Hedges mentions. But a real sustained solidarity among those involved with a common purpose and willingness to push on regardless.
There was a case or situation back in the 1980s where Ken Rex McElroy was, killed in broad daylight and to this very day no one — not a single soul — has said one thing. It remains unsolved as to who did it, even though it was witnessed by a large number of people.
I am also reminded of the solidarity of the French resistance during WWII and even the Vietnamese Villages that harbored and helped the Vietcong. Those unwilling to cooperated with those in charge. As well as the helping as best they can those who are resisting this occupation. Even simply by not speaking. Giving assistance, support, housing, hiding and health care. Not unlike the underground railroad during the civil war.
Most of all any resistance need to be unorganized in a way that identifying those involved is very difficult. Meetings of any kind need to be small, short and generally unknown to all but those immediately involved.
People in these kinds of activities have a small advantage in that the military and even the police are organized to fight organizations. But not outright resistance. This is our why military we has failed from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
When we have enough of the population refusing to cooperate with TPB and authorities, then we will see revolt.