Category Archives: Raw Reflections

On Race and Revolution: An Ongoing Discussion

The comment below serves as a brief reflection on the debate that has been initiated by the Fire Next Time network.  As we have noted before, the role that race plays in marxist revolutionary analysis and organizing is severely limited. Rather than dance around the issue, it is important that we tackle it head on.  This analysis takes positive steps in this direction. Scroll down to read the original post by Will.  As always, feel free to join in on the debate!

I think the white left thinks it knows it all and does not bring the knowledge to help make leaders in working class communities of color. They keep the knowledge of liberation to themselves and argue their points over the internet . They make what they’re doing the center of everything and try to click up against you if you challenge them.  So they have an informal hierarchy set up in their organizations . They pretend that their system is egalitarian in the discussion of revolution. All I see is a white male or female point of views posted online and at meetings! Example: Occupy Wall Street broke in two because the blacks and people of color (POC)  felt their voices or their problems weren’t being addressed. It shows the lack of understanding by the left in how to deal with the problems plaguing POC communities. Even though I think some things in the Occupy movement were effective, like trying to cross links with the working class port workers and pointing out the social problems in society, they could not bridge with communities of color. Occupy Oakland is in one of the biggest POC communities in the USA, and they couldn’t build a base in these communities. I think to some of these fools it’s a video game because they have a choice to which side they can line up on.

Even though these problems exist in the white left, there are people playing positive roles trying to change the culture left behind by the old left. They recognize the changing racial and gender demographics of the working class. Also just like the white left the people of color have fell short of building a strong base in POC communities because of the past mistakes of the left like patriarchy, racism, state capitalism, and the lack of women and people of color in leadership roles or just being out of touch with the working class. I hope the new left learns from past mistakes so it can grow into a fighting force for liberation.

Part 2 of Developing Militants: the Left’s Minstrel Show and How College Educated Revolutionaries of all Colors Keep the Working Class Shucking and Jiving

Introduction

The White revolutionary left is largely college educated young people. Whether they work at a cafe, wash dishes, teach in public schools, or drive trains, they share the common experience of a college education. Their experiences in college have profoundly shaped their politics in a variety of ways.  Two particular sets of politics are race relations and relationship to revolutionary theory.  These White College Educated Revolutionaries (WCER) have never broken from the experiences in college.  Worst of all they unknowingly impose their particular college experiences on the revolutionary movement and particularly the working class whites and working class People of Color (POC)[1].  Lastly, People of Color College Educated Revolutionaries (POCCER) have played a crucial role in working with WCER in unknowingly preventing any working class leadership from developing.

emory-douglas-08This has resulted in a devastating consequence for potential POC working class revolutionaries.  They are denied the very intellectual benefits which WCER have received.  While WCER have all the best intentions, this is objectively white supremacy in motion. This results in the control of most organizations by WCER.  The POCCER in particular are rarely in genuine leadership because of this dynamic and their own contradictory relationship to education and revolutionary theory.  This results in a minstrel show where authenticity is defined by lack of knowledge of the past and the romanticization of someone’s experience.  Fundamentally it says that theory, writing, and education is not for POC.  White college educated revolutionaries control the movement and usually forefront only their experiences and expect POC and white working class people to conform to them.

I will expand on these points in this essay.  This is one of the many crises of the revolutionary left today. Sadly, much of what I describe is done under the best of intentions.  While it might sound like it at times, I do not believe there is a coordinated and evil plot to keep down working class people in the revolutionary left.  I do not believe any of these WCER are white supremacists.  They are serious revolutionaries.  But they are revolutionaries who are the product of the general historical moment and their particular life experiences. Regardless of what they say and think, I am most interested in the objective results and process of their actions.

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Students, faculty, and community members occupy City College of San Francisco!

On Thursday, February 21st, City College of San Francisco students, faculty, and community folks began a day of action against the privatization of their school at the main Ocean campus by rallying, holding signs, and listening to speakers. This comes after weeks of organizing and outreach work by the SaveCCSF coalition which sprung up to rally students against this major attack. After the rally, folks marched into the Chancellor’s building to meet with the Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman and present their demands, just as she promised. To no one’s surprise, she was nowhere to be found. In addition to this, Board of Trustees representatives and lackeys waited at the stairs next to police officers to prevent students from climbing upstairs to confront the institution’s ruling class. This is because William Walker, the Board of Trustees Student Representative, snitched to the police about the plans to occupy the building, even after the student coalition allowed him in their meeting a few days before and called for the plans to remain confidential. Walker remained at the occupation throughout the night, sitting with the other admin henchmen and pigs,  acting like he’s on our side during the occupationists’ discussions by promising our voices would be heard during Board meetings if we emailed him.

Regardless, a core of about 20 students ended up gathering blankets, sleeping bags, and food to remain in the building throughout the night and into the morning. Different media outlets showed up to interview occupiers and police officers. Supporters arrived with pins, food, and other support materials. Several times, occupiers made a circle to discuss their feelings about the actions, talk about why they loved CCSF and joined the struggle, and share anecdotes about their history in this institution. In the intervals, music played, students danced and sang, and debated political approaches to the developing struggle.

The next major event is scheduled for a rally at the SF City Hall on March 14th where SaveCCSF will present its demands to politicians. The forces resisting austerity against CCSF remain very small and  much work needs to be done to build that support by winning over students, faculty, campus workers, and community members. In the weeks prior to rally at City Hall, teach-ins and other forms of outreach are scheduled in order to counter the ideological war the San Francisco Chronicle and the local bourgeoisie wage against the movement, claiming that something is fundamentally wrong with CCSF that requires an accreditation commission to “fix it” by gutting its programs, department, teacher and campus worker pensions and positions, and busting its unions.

The issue for revolutionaries , however,  is not simply how we numerically increase an anti-austerity movement, as important as that is. We need to develop a politic that seeks to expose the reactionaries allied with the privatizers, administrators, and ruling class servants and align school workers, students, and supporters with a militant, uncompromising line when it comes to defending CCSF. Our analysis needs to identify the structural and historical causes of this capitalist attack, and why only unified student and worker (including teacher!) unity can win against these attacks and make gains that increase the scope and resources for CCSF, in addition to implementing measures for them to increase their democratic control over the running of the school.

The Problematic of the Union in the U.S. – What is to Be Done?

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(Editor’s Note:  The 2nd piece in this post has been updated on a separate blog post.  The original piece was a late draft.)

The Advance the Struggle Collective is currently engaged in high level discussion around the central political question of the unions and how revolutionaries interpret its history, its present, and how communist intervention can help develop a much-needed revitalized labor movement. The experience of the Chicago teacher’s strike, the battle in the Northwest over the fate of the ILWU, and the mass uprising of public sector workers in Wisconsin stresses both the need to defend unions from bourgeois offensives and the limitations of rank-and-file activity within actually-existing unions; on the other hand, the struggles of Wal-mart, Mi Pueblo, Hot & Crusty, and fast food workers reveals a strong rank-and-file desire for the unionization that might provide some dignity, security, and a greater platform from which to organize and increase rank-and-file confidence against the bosses. What’s the analysis and what’s the program?

In light of this, we are providing two separate pieces on unions written by AS comrades. We don’t pretend to have a uniform line on this important question yet, but we believe that by public, transparent debates we can create a healthy culture of revolutionary debate and dialogue, embracing differences while striving for higher levels of principled unity through our practice in the school of class struggle. 

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Raw Reflections: East Oakland People’s Library

books packed up once over 40 police officers descended on the people’s library at about 11:30 on 8/13/12

Comrade Mara & The Fish write:

Today’s library occupation, like the Lakeview Occupation of July, demonstrated a powerful tactical approach towards building radical connections outside of activist circles.  In both cases, radicals initiated bold actions without asking permission but from the beginning were organizing to involve the folks directly affected.  Even in the first day of the Victor Martinez library, parents were already dropping of their kids to garden, a family from two blocks away donated crates of books, and curious people from the neighborhood were dropping by to show support and borrow literature.

Here are some of the basic components of what went down: folks occupied the library, erected banners, and brought in palettes of  radical literature.  But this wasn’t all they did in the brief time of the library’s new existence; in addition to these basic logistical tactics, the organizers also put out a press release, went door-knocking in the neighborhood to inform and invite the community, and built a gardening program that invited youth to come and develop the blighted space.  Without the support of the folks around, there’d be little defense against the constant narrative onslaught from the bourgeois media that radicals in Oakland are isolated and dwindling.  Instead, the Lakeview Occupation and today’s Victor Martinez library show a strategy that defends against that attack, building strength in radical unity with people’s hostility to austerity measures.

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