Monthly Archives: July 2009

Bring the Struggle, Advance the Ruckus (Bring the Ruckus response to Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?)

We’re posting the first serious engagement and response to our pamphlet Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity? by comrades in the Oakland chapter of Bring the Ruckus. The response further develops the analysis of the pamphlet and poses further questions and challenges. We appreciate the response and look forward to discussing and debating the important questions of revolutionary praxis found within.


Bring the Struggle, Advance the Ruckus 

Bring the Ruckus, Oakland (BR-OAK) welcomes the release of the new pamphlet by Advance the Struggle (AS), entitled “Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?” In the spirit of comradely and productive critique, we offer the following comments, which we hope will both build upon ideas developed in the pamphlet, and also provoke further reflection on where to go from here.

      Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?” seeks to critically assess the “organizational tools” available to those who took to the streets in January of 2009. According to AS, these tools primarily consisted of:

  1. The Coalition Against Police Executions (CAPE) a hastily-assembled grouping composed largely of nonprofit sector leftists, and
  2. “a self-labeled revolutionary communist organization” (i.e. the Avakianite Revolutionary Communist Party, or RCP) (p. 2).

The major contribution of this pamphlet, we believe, lies in this double-sided critique of two elements, two “organizational tools” which on the surface share very little, but whose subtle similarities could be further developed. While CAPE spent much of its time attempting to restrain the energies of the rebellion and channel these down reformist paths, young RCP cadres were consistently in the streets inciting further mobilization. AS is correct, nevertheless, to highlight the underlying compatibility that both sectors shared.
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Students as Positive Proletarian Actors (Fresh marxist analysis of student movement)

In light of Tuesdays announcement of a 20% increase in CSU stuent fees, we

Students resisting CSU fee increase at Trustee meeting in Long Beachfelt it’d be appropriate to post some original writing on the role of the student movement. Is it a middle class movement as some have argued? Or is it part of the struggle against capitalism?

For what seems like the past decade, California students have been taking busses to Sacramento to lobby legislators to stop gutting and gentrifying university education. These efforts have been spearheaded by organizations like the faculty union CFA and student government officials (ASI) from various schools.

These efforts have achieved very little in terms of battling against Sacramento’s cuts.

While there have been glimmers of more confrontational, militant resistance coming from groups like SUP in San Francisco, and similar organizations at other campuses, they have not spread throughout universities or gained enough of a foothold at their campuses in order to challenge their local administrations and the power structure in Sacramento yet.

With this in mind, check out Esteban’s analysis of the relation between students and the class struggle. In light of the most recent failure to stop pushing out working class students of color from the university system, we should take a moment to re-consider our strategies and perspectives on what a student movement is.


Students as Positive Proletarian Actors


students are workers. the logical implication of that fact is that students should organize as workers and with the rest of the working class. i think the success of a working class movement (ultimately culminating in total victory, ie, socialism) is largely based upon the extent to which students/intellectuals facilitate the process of workers becoming students/intellectuals. this seemingly obvious and simple fact is neglected by the great majority of established campus organizations including socialist and ethnic ones – both of which are products of the last round of historically relevant student struggle in the era of the “new left.” students have a crucial role in developing the class struggle, but those who fetishize workers in terms of some one dimensional blue collar fantasy as well as those who sideline class (let alone class struggle) in favor of cultural, national or other ascribed identities refuse to see this fact. this is a huge opportunity that is being thrown away and the working class as a whole suffers for it. below are some thoughts on how students can be positive proletarian actors.

the attack on public education is just one facet, one symptom, of the capitalist crisis in this acute stage

Ssangyong Factory Occupation Against Riot Police

Class war update from G:

***Strike Update***

(as of late a.m. hours Monday morning, July 20, 2009; from translated reports from Korean-language open source news website OhMyNews, and the ChamNews website)

Company refused to allow food and medicine to “illegal strikers.” Representatives from Pyeongtaek court sent to factory to attempt to serve legal documents demanding the strikers leave the factory (see photos below).

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Justice For Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?

UPDATE: You can donate to our efforts of spreading this analysis to Oakland youth by using the donation button on the right of the page (email us your name and address if you want to receive pamphlets by snail mail). Every single dollar helps since we’re not sponsored in any of this. If you’re interested in distributing, please continue to email us at so we can get in touch. ¡Orrrale!

This is Advance the Struggle’s analysis of the Oakland rebellions of January

Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?

Click here for pamphlet.

’09 and the crisis of leadership which accompanied them. The piece speaks for itself, so I’ll leave you with a link to the graphically designed PDF version, as well as a text-only version in this post.

Click here to download PDF!

Post your comments and feel free to provide critical and/or appreciative feedback!

And please email us if you would like to get physical copies of the pamphlet to distribute (they’re also available at Bay Area progressive bookstores)
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Sex, Race and Class – Selma James

young, black, female proletarians

The left itself is largely responsible for narrowly defining working class politics. Historically, some seriously problematic marxist forces have limited the definition of working class politics to issues concerning white, male, industrial workers.

On the contemporary left scene we find many forces (even, or especially, self-labeled marxists and communists) who seek to right the wrongs of previous generations. While these efforts may be honest and genuine, they often fall far short of actually re-aligning theoretical paradigms of “class” and “struggle” in a positive direction. Often times, race & gender become atomized and separated from class in efforts to develop an intersectional approach.

Selma James’ classic piece “Sex, Race and Class” represents a serious analysis of the organic intersections of the often-mentioned triad of oppression. One need only read the first paragraph to sense it contains important insights into the contemporary struggle to develop a mixed gender, multiracial working class revolutionary theory and struggle.

. . . if sex and race are pulled away from class, virtually all that remains is the truncated, provincial, sectarian politics of the white male metropolitan Left.

Capitalism and the Left have mystified the real relationships between these categories, and it’s an important task for revolutionaries, particularly in the US, to understand the poverty of our current theory in order to begin pulling ourselves out of the self-imposed silos our theories have us incarcerated in.

Sex, Race and Class
(Selma James – 1975)

There has been enough confusion generated when sex, race and class have confronted each other as separate and even conflicting entities. That they are separate entities is self-evident. That they have proven themselves to be not separate, inseparable, is harder to discern. Yet if sex and race are pulled away from class, virtually all that remains is the truncated, provincial, sectarian politics of the white male metropolitan Left. I hope to show in barest outline, first, that the working class movement is something other than that Left have ever envisioned it to be. Second, locked within the contradiction between the discrete entity of sex or race and the totality of class is the greatest deterrent to working class power and at the same time the creative energy to achieve that power.
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Unfinished Acts (Anarchist Analysis of Oscar Grant Resistance)

While waiting for us to post Justice for Oscar Grant: Lost Opportunity? (our analysis of the January rebellions and the crisis of leadership which accompanied them) check out this analysis of the January 7th & 14th Oscar Grant rebellions by some “insurrectionist” anarchists. It’s titled Unfinished Acts:  January Rebellions and is laid out as a play (hence the title, unfinished acts).  We’ll leave the comments open for criticism, appreciation, etc . . .

From the introduction:

Unfinished Acts is a collective recounting and analysis of events surrounding the shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old Black man in Oakland. Oscar Grant III was executed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers during the first hours of 2009 on the platform of the Fruitvale station. Unfinished Acts was written collectively by a group of anarchists who were and still are actively present in the rebellion following Oscar Grant’s execution.


The following pages include a few short histories of a few significant social movements to help contextualize the rebellions. This history acts as intermissions for a documentary dramatization (but factually correct!) of some of the events that unfolded in the streets during the first month of 2009. We have reconstructed the narrative and dialogue from collective stories, personal experiences and videos of the rebellions posted online. We conclude with our own analysis and lessons.

Link to low-res PDF here

Link to another way to read it here

Critique of the Black Nation Thesis – Harry Chang

Big L writes:

In light of the rich debate on the Fred Hampton: Marxist or Nationalist?

Mabel & Robert Williams (Author of Negroes with Guns) aiming the gun with precision, just as our revolutionary theory should be aimed

Mabel & Robert Williams (Author of Negroes with Guns) aiming the gun with precision, just as our revolutionary theory should be aimed

blog (which actually derails from a discussion on Fred Hampton) folks should engage in this serious critique of the theory that sees black people in the US as an oppressed nation.

While the article is credited to the Racism Research Project, it is primarily the work of a little known Korean immigrant marxist named Harry Chang. Amongst Chang’s students were Michael Omi and Howard Winant who popularized the theory of racial formation (without giving any credit to Chang in their book.)

The critique takes Stalin’s definition of a nation (A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” ) and looks at the problematic ways in which it has been applied by maoists, nationalists, marxists, and stalinists to the oppression of black people in the US, pointing out some fundamental flaws.

This should help in focusing the debate on this important question.


“The failure to criticize the vulgar conception of racism led the Old Left to handle the race question in a schizophrenic fashion. On the one hand, racism was understood only within the limited scope of individual subjective attitudes of prejudice and bigotry, leaving unanswered the socio-economic reason for these attitudes ever becoming so widespread and sustained to begin with. On the other hand, Black people were depicted as “objectively” constituting a nation, a nationality, or a national minority by means of an argument which also made a shambles of the Marxist position on the national question. This created tremendous confusion in the communist movement in the U.S. — the race question and the national question have been weaved in and out of each other, subject to the eclectic whim of whoever was “interpreting” the line at the moment. After all, to define a Black Nation is to make use of the racial category Black and to characterize racism as the persecution of a national minority is to negate racial oppression altogether. Matters are not helped by asserting that the oppression of Black people is a “combination” of racial and national oppressions, for this is merely an admission of analytic failure disguised as a melange of analytic profundity.”

Read the article in full here

The Honduran Coup and the Limits of Hope and Change

Check out George Ciccariello-Maher’s new article:

The Counter-Revolution Will Not be Tweeted

The recent street rebellions against the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran were touted by many as the first baptism-by-fire of Twitter as a political tool. Celebratory articles abounded for a brief time, before such foolish dreams came crashing back to earth under the weight of a metric ton of misinformation, unsubstantiated rumor, and idle gossip.

…And the Tweeters Fell Silent

Any Iranian foolish to put her hopes in this most fickle of constituencies that is the Tweeter must have begun to doubt the wisdom of such an approach as short attention spans inevitably set in and, most devastatingly of all, the death of Michael Jackson stole the headlines. Ahmadinejad couldn’t have planned it better if he had offed MJ himself (in cahoots, perhaps, with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the other clear beneficiary of Jackson’s untimely demise). Indeed, the Iranian dissidents were the biggest losers of the day, suffering an even worse fate than Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Billy Mays, condemned to historical oblivion by sheer bad timing. But to this list of those suffering from the technophiles’ abandonment of their brief flirtation with the political, we must now add Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, legitimately elected president of Honduras, recently deposed in a barefaced military coup from the far right.

Zelaya, a former centrist who has recently made leftward moves, raised the ire of the entrenched Honduran oligarchy by, among other things, joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a radical counterpoint to U.S.-promoted free trade agreements. His overthrow has been followed by a press blackout, military curfew, and repression in the streets, as hundreds of thousands have rallied to the cause of their former leader, only to meet an iron heel reminiscent of Honduran military regimes of the past (dodging bullets in the street, as the magnificent BoRev puts it, “is sort of like Twittering, for poor people”). There have been mass arrests, injuries, and deaths, but some exceptions notwithstanding, these Hondurans are nevertheless, to quote one observer, “Protesters We Don’t Tweet About.”
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Bangladesh workers torch factory

Many times when we hear about militant strikes happening they’re situated in places like France and other European countries.  This, amongst other things, has led some to think of class struggle as a “European thing.”  This is absolutely wrong.  The class struggle is a world struggle of workers from all nations and ethnicities against those who seek to suck their life away in the pursuit of profit.

Check out this article about workers in Bangladesh fighting back against the effects of the economic crisis.

“About 20,000 workers, some armed with sticks and stones, were protesting on the streets of Ashulia, 30 kilometres (19 miles) outside Dhaka, when some set fire to a factory, assistant police commissioner Nur Ahmed told AFP.”

Full Article here

Fred Hampton: Marxist or Nationalist?


revolutionary proletarian internationalist

revolutionary proletarian internationalist

Big L


How can racial oppression and white supremacy be defeated?  Is it through a nationalist struggle against a colonial enemy?  Are these paradigms of struggle accurate and strategic enough in 2009?  As far back as 1969 Fred Hampton saw the struggle against racism as being rooted within the struggle against capitalism:

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you do’nt fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”

Usually the Black Panther Party is described as a “Revolutionary Nationalist” organization, but militants like Fred Hampton demonstrate clearly that some of the most important Panthers had more of a multiracial marxist consciousness. 

Fred Hampton summed his politics up clearly:

“We ain’t gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street being reactionary; we’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.

We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don’t care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gun. It flows from the barrel of a gun!

These politics represent a movement beyond simply  nationalism into a complicated, race-conscious proletarian internationalism.  Hampton’s words inspired militancy and advanced struggles in 1969, and are still refreshing today. 

An important task of marxists today is making a fresh analysis of racial/national oppression which avoids mechanically applying Lenin’s “Self-Determination” theses, while also avoiding simplistic and equally mechanical “class is more important than race” logic. 

For an important contribution towards this analysis, refer to the work of Adolph Reed Jr. found here on the A/S blog

Read Fred Hampton’s speech “Power Anywhere Where There’s People” in full: