Tag Archives: revolutionary organizing

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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Van Jones’ Resignation Helps Save Obama’s Credibility with Racists

Big L writes:

So, Van Jones resigned and took one for the team by backing down from his position as “green jobs czar” for the Obama

Van Jones & Obama: representing the pitfalls of the left in 2009

Van Jones & Obama: representing the failure of "leftist" strategy in 2009

administration.  This is happening after Glenn Beck, reactionary Fox News anchor, smashed on him and called him out on his show for being a “communist” and part of STORM.

Interestingly, Glenn Beck’s right-wing, reactionary red-baiting actually contains some useful, truthful facts about Van Jones’ strategy.  Specifically, Beck’s racist-ass (and let’s be clear, this dude is completely reactionary) brings up the way that Van Jones saw his work alongside Obama as the way to be a “more effective revolutionary.”  Van Jones, and many in the non-profitized left, see this “inside/outside” approach as the most effective way of organizing (and as we’ve seen this includes many post-STORM nonprofit organizations.)

What lessons will we draw from Van Jones’ effort to infiltrate the system and change it from within?  Is it possible to have an “inside/outside” combination approach to revolutionary organizing (where we work within bourgeois electoral circuits, and outside of them) like the one that Bill Fletcher Jr. advocates for?  This Van Jones example is yet another strong sign that it doesn’t work.

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Unfortunately, many self-proclaimed revolutionaries see this type of strategy – basically, working within the system – as the only way to engage in day to day struggles: fighting budget cuts means working mostly within the existing student government/organizations and teacher’s union; battling exploitation on the job means working within the official union which is  supposed to represent a particular group of workers interests.  Etc, Etc.

Perhaps revolutionaries should consider taking the road of building autonomous organizations as vehicles capable of challenging budget cuts, exploitation on the job, police brutality, and other forms of capitalist oppression and exploitation.  These autonomous organizations may relate to unions, student organizations, etc, but maintain ideological and organizational independence at the same time.  This independence would allow revolutionary minded folks to actually create a magnetic pole of radicalism; providing space for individuals who are ready to take the system on more militantly, and also serve to pull existing organizations like unions and student orgs leftward.

These are some of the most burning questions revolutionaries should be discussing.