Report Back: Denver Throws Down for #J20

From Denver:

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On January 20th, DC was on fire. Bold and beautiful comrades from across the United Snakes made their way to the streets of so-called Washington D.C. to loudly and fiercely set the standard for the coming 4 years. Barricades were erected and fires set to protect the permitted marchers from trigger happy riot cops, those who deployed all manner of chemical agents, flash bangs and concussion grenades. 230 comrades were arrested, many facing unprecedented felony charges and are threatened with up to 10 years of jail time. Please support their legal fund here.

Meanwhile, Denver was also unwilling to let this transition pass peacefully. Starting from the emergency march called the day after the election, and boasting nearly 2,000 attendees, to the call for action on inauguration day, we aimed to let it be known that the fight will not and does not end here.

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Comrades began to assemble in Civic Center Park starting at 8:00 am, merging with the permitted demo at 9:00am following the arrival of nearly 150 high school students. While speakers reminded the growing crowd that their event was to be “peaceful” and free of any agitators. Some of us “agitators” began to quietly call for the formation of a black bloc. As the march began, the bloc took to the front, quickly moving the still steadily growing group off of the sidewalks and into 15th St. Marshalls tried repeatedly to move the march back to the sidewalk, making contact with and complaining to police at several points, to no avail. About a quarter of the way through, anarchist comrades dropped a banner from a nearby parking garage reading “No More Presidents #Howbowdat,” inciting a roar of approval from the hundreds of teenagers and meme happy comrades below.

Before changing directions and heading towards 17th St, the bloc came into it’s first contact of the day with the vile cowards in Bikers Against Radical Islam. When confronted by the bloc and dozens of irate students, and while spewing hate speech and waving their small plastic ameriKKKan flags, the roughly ten bikers were quickly protected by those equally disgusting sounder of swine; the Denver Police Department. A small scuffle ensued, allowing several comrades to land blows before moving forward and avoiding arrest after cops moved in on all four directions.

Towards the end of the march, at the intersection of Broadway and Colfax, we were again met with the lewd and incoherent ravings of these bigots on bikes. Not willing to let up a second time, members of the bloc rushed forward to confront them and provide a line of protection for the contingent of high school students passing behind. Again, a scuffle ensued, prompting the pigs to attempt to trap protesters between SUV’s, a line of pigs on bikes, and the raving bigots. After several minutes of confrontation, and realizing the lack of reservation in police posturing, folks left the area to regroup for a second set of actions.

Actions continued around the city throughout the afternoon, including another demo and march through downtown held by a contingent of anti-fascist, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist comrades, as well as a banner drop from a pedestrian bridge above I-25 in the rapidly gentrifying north-side in support of the ongoing pipeline resistance in North Dakota and against all borders, pipelines and the fascist creep towards normalization.

At 6:00pm cops already had OC canisters and rubber ball guns as they circulated the few people who showed up on time. At 6:45pm around 200 people started marching through Marvin Booker plaza and onto 15th Street. Headed west down 15th towards Champa, the march quickly accumulated numbers on the way. After turning left onto Champa Street, the crowd made way to Speer Boulevard. By this point the march had grown significantly.

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More so than usual, the march was heavily populated with new blood; new faces ready to #DisruptJ20. Moving northbound on the southbound side of the Speer Boulevard against traffic, which effectively erected a barricade to block police vehicles from following. Someone in a SUV attempted to drive through protestors with no success.

Another left on Auraria Parkway and then cut through the Auraria campus. Soon the march faced off with Auraria police who politely asked protesters to take a different route. They were told to “fuck themselves” and the march carried on! They knew they were out-numbered. At this point the march reached the Colfax bridge, an entrance to take Interstate I-25 and shut it down. A large number of people quickly dropped off as the demo made its way up the bridge. At about 100 feet from the on ramp, a line of riot pigs had formed and shut down both sides of Colfax, Below, a gaggle of bicycle cops. On the Colfax bridge a 15 minute stand-off ensued that clogged up one of the cities main arteries. Over the loudspeakers the police declared the assembly “unlawful” and threatened everyone with arrest.  After some helicopter spotlight the cops started moving in to physically force protesters off the bridge. With numbers low, A tactical decision was made to march back downtown. As the tall buildings neared, the size of the march grew significantly large again. Cops scrambled to maintain control of the streets and folks stood off at several points, as snowballs, rocks, a hubcap, and other random shit was thrown at the cops. In this chaos, while crossing 15th going back to 16th street mall, the cops were able to split the march in half and arrested one person.

At 16th street mall the march dispersed and masked up comrades disappeared into the busy crowd, changed clothes and lived to fight again. Disrupt J20 was the most successful and largest radical march in Denver for years and that momentum seems to only be building.

Bo Brown, Forever Activist, Forever Survivor

From Bo’s Brigade:

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UPDATE January 29, 2017:
We are writing to talk to you about Bo Brown, ex-political prisoner, forever activist and dear friend. Some of you may have heard that in the summer of 2016, Bo was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia confirmed by two neurologists. Lewy Body Dementia is a brutal terminal neurodegenerative disease with daily deterioration of the mind and body. It is marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. It is an unrelenting combination of the cognitive components of Alzheimer’s dementia and the physically punishing aspects of Parkinson’s disease. Bo is fighting as always, but the disease has had a significant impairment on her mind and body. The disease affects Bo’s memory, attention span, decision-making, planning and organization on top of the loss of balance common with Parkinson’s disease. Bo’s other current symptoms include visual hallucinations, a sleep disorder, repeated falls and seizures. On many nights Bo wakes up disoriented and she does not know that she is at home and safe and loved. Lewy Body Dementia is currently the second most common form of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, impacting an estimated 1.4 million people.

While the severity of Bo’s symptoms has changed daily, her condition was mostly manageable until recently with Bo’s community stepping up to spend a few hours of the day with her while Etang, her partner of 17 years, went to work full-time at MetWest High School. Bo had another fall, seizure, loss of consciousness and an emergency room visit on January 4th. Fortunately, Etang was still at home. Etang is anxious about Bo’s safety alone; the severity of this constant stress, fear and worry has been debilitating and isolating. As difficult as it is to ask for financial assistance, Bo now requires full-time support; a higher, more intentional level of care is needed for her safety, comfort, calm, peace, and well-being.

This fundraising is to support Bo and Etang to shift from a survival, struggle, and grief mode to living as fully as possible given this trauma in their lives. They deserve to live fully. Let’s help them find some ease through this tragedy and help them create as many moments of life-affirming joy as possible right now. The funds raised will be used for ongoing and long-term expenses:

  • paid caregiving for Bo for 40 hours a week while Etang is at work during the school year
  • medical bills not covered by health insurance
  • medical supplies
  • acupuncture
  • bodywork
  • other homeopathic, alternative and healing treatments and supplements
  • therapy for both of them

    This financial assistance will also enable Etang to make informed and clear medical decisions for Bo as often as possible rather than from a place of crisis.

    Bo was a member of the George Jackson Brigade and served eight years of federal time as a political prisoner. She has worked with lesbian groups, butch groups and prisoner groups for over 30 years. In 1988, one year after she was released from prison, she helped to found Bay Area-based Out of Control: Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners. She was a part of Critical Resistance and she is currently a board member of the Prison Activist Resource Center. Bo has said, “I want to be struggling until the day I die, cause then I will know I’m alive.” Today, Bo is fighting every day and says, “I am still here. I am alive and I want to live at home for as long as possible.”

    In these times, we must have a collectivist mindset and hold each other up. It is so important that we support our comrades. Though Bo is disappearing in many ways, we can’t drift away from her.  We need to show up for Bo to help her live fully.

    Thank you in advance for your continued support and positive thoughts. Please share this with your community.

    Bo’s Brigade

    —-
    Initial Campaign September 26, 2016:
    Long time revolutionary , and former Political Prisoner, Bo Brown’s health is declining.

    Bo was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that is not as well known as but very similar to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s however it is very likely that this will soon lead to Parkinson’s. Some of the unfortunate features of Bo’s medical condition are falling due to a lack of awareness, fainting, and then there’s the seizures. Bo has had eight seizures since January of this year. Also, Bo has made it very clear that she’d like to live at home for as long as possible. The current shower at her house is a bath tub, shower combination, and the tub has a high wall, so the need for a new shower to suit Bo’s needs is now an urgent issue. With the unfortunate news of Bo Brown’s diagnosis and all that comes with it, there are plenty of individuals doing what we can to support Bo through these tough times. There are medical expenses that the funds here will be directed to as well as the very specific shower that is more conducive then her current one to her condition.

    It is so important that we support our comrades through the tough times.

    Bo Brown has worked tirelessly against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and has brought awareness and attention through all means to the plight of the prisoner. She hasn’t forgotten about the Political Prisoners either and we definitely should not forget about the current Political Prisoners or the former. Prison is a tough road to travel , and then there’s the weeks , months and even decades that pass in the post prison period, but the prison experience doesn’t ever leave. From growing up in Klamath Falls to the federal prison time in Alderson , WV to the current struggles that she now faces in Oakland CA where she resides, Bo has been fighting all her life.

    Help us show Bo the kind of support that she deserves.

    Thank you so much! We’re going to need all the help we can get!

 

Chris Monfort’s passing – #RestInPower

From Puget Sound ABC:
christopher-monfort-ripOn Wednesday, January 18, I received a call from the devastated mother of Chris Monfort. She told me he’d been found dead in his prison cell that morning. Department of Corrections pigs at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla said that he was found unresponsive at 7:45 am, cause of death unknown. I am so glad I found out through his mom, instead of the police-worshiping, people-hating mass media. In terms of friends, Chris was about quality over quantity, and very few people had his back when he transitioned from “civilian” to “citizen.” That said, I am writing this so you can find out a little bit of who he was in the words of his friend…rather than the police-worshiping, people-hating mass media.

Christopher John Monfort was a complicated man. He was the son of a hardened Black father he barely knew, and a white mother who loved him as dearly as any mother could. He grew up in violence. He was bullied by Native youth in the land the colonizer calls Alaska. Then, he was bullied by crackers in a small Indiana town that was once the headquarters of the Klan (and in which he often found himself the only Black persxn). Finally, he was bullied by other young Black men in his Denver, Colorado high school. He idolized the “founding fathers” of this country. He also idolized Malcolm X and Che Guevara (and toward the end of his life, Huey P. Newton and George Jackson). Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” was a favorite book of his, and “Tropic Thunder” was one of his favorite movies. He loved music, and played the guitar… not giving a fuck how good he did or did not sound, but immersing himself in the sheer joy of jamming out with an instrument. He loved Rage Against the Machine AND Radiohead, and I had the honor of singing the song “Reckoner” to him, through the glass of a King County Jail visiting room, as he’d not heard any music in 6 years by that point…

He loved fighter jets, yet hated war (he was initially politicized through protesting Bush and the invasion of Iraq). He also loved cartoons, beer, weed and video games. Handsome and charismatic, he had his fair share of lovers, but was equally happy in the company of his two cats (with whom he would turn on colored lights, fire up the stereo and have dance parties in his apartment). He was hilarious, and had the most scathing sense of humor I’ve encountered. He was a great friend, and would give you the shirt off his back. His modest collection of buddies will attest to this even today, despite their feelings about “what he did…”

He worked as a truck driver, security guard and a host of other odd jobs to make ends meet, though his final career aspirations were in the realm of juvenile justice (he volunteered as a counselor, and threw himself completely into the work) and, eventually, law. He excelled in his classes and had a bright future, even if he got a bit of a late start in life. Academically and otherwise, he was brilliant.

He believed in the US Constitution, and was a Left-leaning Libertarian (which led to many a spirited discussion between the two of us). He said he wished he’d learned more about anarchism when on the outside. He believed strongly in Jury nullification, and in the role of police, judges and even the highest level elected officials as “our” employees, who must take direction from us… or else! When he witnessed on video the brutal beating of 15 year old Black womxn Malika Calhoun by one police pig, while the other stood by watching, he knew the time for “or else” had arrived…

He took up his role as “citizen” with professionalism, aplomb and no reservation, yet he abandoned the plan for which he spent months preparing because he would not risk creating unintended casualties. His need to act overtook his better judgment, and his final act of guerrilla war against the police resulted in his near assassination at the hands of the state, and, ultimately a paraplegic life in a cage with no hope for release.

Atheist, and hyper-pragmatic, he did not fear death, nor did he expect to survive his “hunting” mission. He very vocally intended to end his own life, rather than live a sub-par existence of constant physical pain and restricted movement, but would not let the state kill him, on general principle. We have yet to determine if he died by his own hand. I take consolation in that he (unlike many Black Panther and Black Liberation Army warriors in whose steps he somewhat followed) did NOT know more years in the cages than outside of them, and that he does not have to endure any more years of pain.

Though I set out supporting him because of what he did, I came love him like a brother for who he was as well… and he told me countless times how mutual the feeling was. I came to know so much about him, unfortunately, through invasive trial proceedings than his own desire to be candid about his past. Regardless, the man I came to know over the course of three years was so much more than a “cop killer,” though he took pride in this act even in his final days… and wanted only to see more citizens “speak to the bullies in the only language they understand.” He was able to express genuine remorse for taking a father away from his child, without regret for doing what needed to be done. Like I said, Chris was complicated.

He was the brother I never had, and the reality of his death has yet to truly hit me. In my heart, I am still looking forward to renewing his “Combat Aircraft” subscription, and playing RISK with him next visit, even though the rational part of my mind knows this will never happen. But Chris wouldn’t want any of us to be inconvenienced by his death, nor spend time dwelling on it. So I will close by saying this: Chris loved Emma Goldman, and thought her “a great American.” If there were more “Americans” like Chris himself, this country would be worth the lives people like him have given to make it truer to it’s supposed ideals.

Rest in Power, citizen.

“Fire and Smite,” as Chris would sign off,

J.”g.”J.

ProLibertad’s Statement on Oscar’s release!

From ProLibertad:

artboard-t-shirt-colorThe ProLibertad Freedom Campaign is proud to announce the commutation of Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera’s sentence.  Oscar is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.  We assume that his first stop will be Chicago before returning home to Puerto Rico, but we will confirm those details later.

As this statement is being written, we are overwhelmed by this incredible victory.  A victory 35 years in the making!  A victory of the people, who protested, marched, recited poetry, wrote letters, made phone calls, tweeted, emailed, picketed, marched in parades, and keep hope alive through militancy, action, and consistency.  This is a well earned victory, yet we must be vigilant.

It’s not over until Oscar walks out of Terre Haute:
We must keep our eye on Oscar’s case and make sure that we respond in kind if incoming President Donald Trump tries to impede Oscar’s release.  Despite the fact that Presidential pardons and commutations are difficult to undue, Trump and his cronies can try to block Oscar’s release, we must be united and focused in our response, if Trump attempts anything.

Oscar will need our support now more than ever:
We must begin fundraising for Oscar’s return to “freedom.”  ProLibertad is going to be setting up a crowd sourcing fund, organize several events, and implement other means of raising money for Oscar’s transition out of prison.  We’ re challenging our allies and supporters to help us raise $5000 between now and May.

¡La Lucha sigue! Now it’s time to free our sister, Ana Belen Montes:
We’re focusing our energy on freeing Ana Belen Montes!  She’s the last Puerto Rican Political prisoner/prisoner of conscience left behind the walls and she needs out support now more than ever.  Ana Belen Montes is elderly and stricken with Breast cancer, which has disabled her and left her in great pain.  We need to galvanize our forces and build a mass movement demanding her freedom.

For more information on our work to Support Oscar and to build a movement to Free Ana Belen Montes, contact us.

Clemency Denied But We Will Keep Fighting

leonardBrothers, sisters, friends and supporters:

Our hearts are heavy today. President Obama has denied Leonard’s application for a commutation. His name appears on the January 18 list of commutations denied by Obama as issued by the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Leonard’s attorney Martin Garbus was also notified. (Pardon Attorney’s Letter)

Today, in an email, Leonard said, “If I should not [receive clemency] then after we are locked in for the day I will have a good cry and then pick myself up and get myself ready for another round of battles until I cannot fight [any] more. So, don’t worry. I can handle anything after over 40 years.”

It’s hard to bear such a blow, though. And make no mistake — Leonard has been hit hardest of all. But let’s not mourn so very long. Instead, let’s move ever forward. Channel your grief and anger in a positive way. Remember that Leonard still needs our help. He needs quality health care and a transfer to a medium security facility, among other things. We’ll always work towards freedom for Leonard, but these actions may help to make his life more bearable until freedom is won.

Now, we urge you to write to Leonard and help to keep his spirits up. Tell him you won’t give up, that you’ll walk the rest of the way with him. Send cards and letters to:

Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP Coleman I
PO Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521

Thank you for your hard work and determination. Blessings to all of you.

Please stay tuned.

In solidarity,

International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Please support Coyote Acabo and his family

Download PDF here and share with friends and comrades. Donate here.

coyoteCoyote is a local comrade and disabled person of color soon to be incarcerated for felony assault this February. During Lakefair 2015 Acabo defended a comrade as she was being assaulted by a white inebriated vigilante attempting to squash the ongoing Black Lives Matter protest. For this Acabo must serve time and pay significant court fees while his partner cares for their children solo on half the income. The state’s greatest weapons against us are the costly isolation of incarceration, as well as the theft of beloveds from children, family, and community. We must block the state’s efforts to punish resistance and support Coyote and his family through the hard times to come.

Donate!

Is Marxism Relevant? Some Uses and Misuses – Part 2: Revolutionary Vision

From Abolition Journal:

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This is Part 2 of “Is Marxism Relevant? Some Uses and Misuses” by David Gilbert, political prisoner (Read Part 1 here)

(1/16/2017)

Revolutionary Vision

The prospects for humanity are not as grim as our historical and contemporary problems would imply, and Marxist theory can be helpful in unlocking today’s revolutionary potential. The “Marxists” were wrong in insisting the revolution would be made by the working classes of the imperial nations. Those of us inspired by how the national liberation movements lit up the world were overly optimistic about their potential to debilitate imperialism and move quickly to building socialism. In a way both errors came from a failure to recognize how much capitalism is a world economy, even while political realities necessitated fighting these battles out on the national terrains. Today’s world is characterized by a major contradiction between the now global organization of production and the continuation of political and cultural formations on the national level.

Marx saw that capitalism was moving in a global direction. The Communist Manifesto (1848) says, “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” Capital was intended to be the first part of a series of works (never completed) projected to end with a volume on the world market.

But Marx’s own views were mixed and in flux as to what degree that globalization would bring industrialization to the peripheries or alternatively exploit them for agricultural products, as was happening to colonial Ireland. Similarly, while not uniform, much of his writing implied a vision that workers of all nations, genders, and ages would increasingly find themselves in similar situations: poorly paid and unskilled appendages to the relentless machines of industrial production, with their jobs and lives made increasingly precarious via a large reserve army of labor. In contrast, the world today is one of multiple and tremendous variations in life experiences, income, power of workers in different jobs and locations. The biggest divide is between North and South, but within each of those spheres there’s a multiplicity of divisions and fragmentations in workers’ roles and circumstances. To assess this situation it helps to first correct a prevailing, gross misconception about Marx’s theory of revolution.

Mainstream political science when I went to college, and probably still today, dismissed Marx’s theory of revolution in about one paragraph. The refutation went that it was based on his prediction of the immiseration of the proletariat: capitalism’s drive to lower wages, the way advanced machinery eliminated jobs, and the periodic economic crises would all push the conditions of the workers down to bare subsistence or below. That, supposedly, was the situation that would lead the proletariat to rise up. But clearly, the professors would intone, the workers have never been better off. Maybe that has to be modified now with stagnating real wages since 1980, but most people with jobs in the U.S. are not being pushed below subsistence level, and many sectors are still living fairly well.

The standard truisms are radically untrue in two basic ways.

  1. Capitalism is a global economy, which undermines the very survival of the vast majority of workers, who reside in the Global South (along with many in the Global North)—whether small farmers and agricultural workers, laborers in mines and factories, or the hundreds of millions in the informal sector eking out existences in sweatshops or scavenging in garbage dumps. Jamil Jonna and John Bellamy Foster estimate the global reserve army of labor as 2.3 billion people.[i] Some 4.3 billion, 60% of the world’s population, live on less than $5 a day, 1.2 billion of whom are living on less than $1.25 a day. For these billions of human beings life is precarious indeed.
  2. Marx’s theory of revolution was never based simply on immiseration. If oppression were enough, it would have been the peasants who overthrew feudalism. They did have many heroic rebellions, but back then it was the bourgeoisie who led the revolution that created the new society. The reason was that new forces of production had been emerging involving dynamic trade routes and a proliferating number of commodities made in workshops. Feudalism, with power and control residing in landed estates, became a barrier to this growing trade and “manufacture” (initially meaning produced by hand). The bourgeoisie was the revolutionary class because they could reorganize society in a way that unchained this emerging commodity- and trade-based mode.

As capitalism matured, it in turn created increasingly social forces of production. Large numbers of people were brought together to work in giant factories. Since a varied number of processes had to be coordinated, communication and transportation systems were created that closely connected people across nations and continents. For Marx, the central contradiction of capitalism was between this increasingly social production and the prevailing private appropriation, the control of it all by a small minority for their own profit. As this tension grew, it got expressed in society in a range of ways—economic crises, wars, labor struggles, political upheavals. The workers who produced the wealth found themselves in increasingly precarious circumstances.

The proletariat was the revolutionary class because they were the social class; they were the ones who could reorganize society on the social basis needed to overcome the mounting crises and move forward. Even though they had to compete against each other for jobs, they were the ones brought together, in large numbers and with increasingly complicated interaction, to work together. In addition, as they faced harsh conditions, they learned to join together in collective action to form unions, carry out strikes, become politically active. In one way this emergence was qualitatively different from all past transformations: for the first time in history the revolutionary class consisted of the vast majority and the most exploited. They embodied the potential for reorganizing society on an egalitarian basis that would eventually abolish class divisions altogether.

Socialization vs. Fragmentation

Today, socialization of production has proceeded to an almost unimaginable degree. When you buy an iPhone, the coltan ore was mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; over a hundred different components were made in countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Japan; the parts were assembled in China; the apps were written in Silicon Valley; the advertising campaign designed on Madison Avenue; the financing arranged on Wall Street; and the call-in service centers set up in Mumbai. (One of many ways this arrangement is very anti-social is the environmental costs of all the global transports involved.)

But the same example shows how capitalism has moved in the exactly opposite direction of putting workers of all nations and backgrounds into a common situation. We now have unprecedented fragmentation with a mind-numbing variety of different roles, pay levels, statuses, circumstances. Patriarchy and white supremacy provide major structural differences, but that’s not all. Each of those blocks of this prison has a number of different floors and cells within it—giving us a multiplicity of divisions and subdivisions. We’ve noted that rulers assiduously cultivate tribal, ethnic and religious antagonism. In addition, even within the working class of a given nation, there are major differences in role, pay and status ranging from high tech honchos to home health aides. In some ways the high rates of exploitation of people of color and women throughout the world support the pay and status of large swaths of workers in parasitic sectors in the centers—like advertising, finance, the military industrial complex, the criminal justice apparatus—engendering their backward sense of superiority and thereby their loyalty to the system

In the U.S., a clear political recognition of the multiple ways people are oppressed and how they intersect emerged out of the women of color movement in the late 1970s. Some critics felt that such an articulation was divisive and ran counter to the universality of all people, or at least of the vast majority who were working class. (Of course most of these women of color were working class.) Certainly what’s now called “identity politics” can be divisive if and when it shifts the focus from fighting the system as a whole to simply having comfortable cultural enclaves and when it’s centered in distinctions from other oppressed sectors. At the same time, it’s healthy and necessary for those who are oppressed to be the ones who articulate their issues and aspirations and how those different oppressions intersect in various people in a range of ways. The white and male dominated unions and political organizations were not universalist. Real unity, real universalism must be built from the bottom up. Raising those concerns isn’t divisive; what’s divisive, and perniciously so, is racism, sexism, elitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism.

Activists with this perspective have articulated that our fight is against capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy—which is a good way to capture those pernicious structures that reinforce each other. But we need to be explicit that our framework isn’t simply within the U.S.; we are fighting a global system of imperialism, which ruthlessly exploits 3/4 of humankind, while also recklessly destroying the environment.

Toward a Humane and Sustainable Future

Our situation today entails the most colossal contradiction between social production and private appropriation. We have the integration, involving almost instantaneous means of global communication, of the efforts of hundreds of millions of workers controlled by the mega-rich few who push the majority to mere subsistence or below and who wreak havoc on the earth as a habitat for humanity and countless other species. The macabre irrationality of the system is expressed in inexcusable waste alongside massive deprivation, incessant wars, periodic economic crises, the breakdown of earlier generations’ sense of community and comity, and more. Never have we had a greater ability to meet human needs; never have so many suffered.

The challenge for revolutionaries is to build unity on a principled and lasting basis. That hasn’t been achieved by denying differences. The long march to human liberation must smash through each of the many walls of oppression. Nor can we rely on economic depressions to do the job for us. History has shown that the imperial rulers can take white working class frustrations from economic stress and redirect the anger by means of fascist scapegoating of the racial “other.”

The current situation is dangerous and daunting, but not cause for despair. If we don’t fight, we’re doomed. If we do fight, we have a chance, especially given all the unpredictable twists and turns of history. As ferocious as imperialism may be, it’s also unstable and volatile. The great, if far from fully tapped, power on our side is that the vast majority have a fundamental and increasingly urgent interest in revolutionary change. I’m certainly not able to outline a grand strategy, but I want to mention a couple of key elements, some initial wisps that are potential precursors toward forming the mighty, cleansing wind we need.

Overall I don’t think we’re still in the era of national liberation. The challenges of moving out of underdevelopment may be too much for small and/or poor countries given imperial attacks and the inequities of the world market. One counter-strategy would be to build regional blocs—say much of Africa or of Latin America—to be big enough to largely replace investments and trade from the North. Given the range of political regimes and interests involved, forming such a bloc is extremely difficult. And imperialism has targeted any government that leads in that direction, regardless of whether it is authoritarian (e.g., Qaddafi in Libya) or democratic (e.g., Chavez in Venezuela).

I still believe, emphatically, that the front line of struggle is between imperialism and the peoples of the South. That’s where the horror of contemporary capitalism is most glaring, where the consciousness has been highest, where the confrontations have been the most intense. Although we don’t hear much about them in the corporate media, thousands of promising indigenous, women’s, environmental, food sovereignty, and workers’ (very much including China) struggles are in motion around the world.[ii] A few examples include women’s cooperatives reclaiming land for local food needs in the Rishi Valley in southern India; the Mangrove Association fighting to protect the environment in Lower Lempa, El Salvador; the democratic and women-empowering Rojava Revolution in northern Syria; the Unist’ot’en indigenous encampment resisting Canada’s tar sands and fracking projects; community efforts to develop food sovereignty in Kenya; and the Via Campesina union of peasants and small farmers from 73 countries. I don’t know how this myriad of little rivulets might come together to form a mighty stream, but they are beginning to irrigate the soil for revolutionary shoots to grow.

Within the U.S. in this period, Black Lives Matter is especially needed and exciting. We also have a range of other promising efforts on the environment, the criminal justice system, LGBTQ equality and more. We’re still grappling with how to form a vision that brings together these disparate efforts as well as with how to build organizations that are both democratic and effective, even when under intense pressure.

The two needed elements I’ll mention are that all forms of oppression have to be challenged and that internationalism is a necessary cutting edge. Whatever we can do to blunt the attacks emanating from our country can make a big difference for embattled movements in the Global South. Far from solidarity being us deigning to help them, it’s their struggles that are cutting out a path toward a more humane and sustainable world for all of us. The mounting catastrophe of climate change—mainly caused by profligacy in the North but most lethal in the South—is an issue that can unite all the oppressed against this clear and present danger.

Conclusion

Many of the examples of Marxist-Leninist formations make it tempting to echo Marx in saying, “I’m not a Marxist.”[iii] I’m not if Marxism is understood as a pat dogma, as small sects vying to claim leadership of the movement and carrying out political debates by citing opposing quotes from old texts, and especially when it’s used as a “revolutionary” rationale for continuing white and male domination. At the same time, I would encourage today’s activists not to lose a treasure trove in both method and many specifics of analysis by dismissing Marxism out of hand. Of course there are still many unresolved issues. One in particular that has divided anarchists and Marxists is form of organization. I didn’t address that above because I don’t have much that’s helpful to say, except that so far both models seem inadequate to me.

The question looming over us is how to overcome the multiplicity of stratifications, fragmentations, and antagonisms that divide the vast majority of humankind who are oppressed and exploited. This challenge requires engaged, thoughtful practice and creative thinking by all of us. Regardless of whether one is steeped in Marxism, the reality is that we face the gargantuan earthquake fault of the contradiction between social production and private appropriation. The global forces that are now in play are of such magnitude that the continued control by a few whose main goal is profit constitutes an existential threat for humanity. The challenge is to overcome the divisions. To do so in solidarity with the Global South is crucial, to make a difference in their prospects and at the same time for us to be able to advance at home.

Given how world capitalism is hurtling toward ecological crises, we can join Marx’s, “There’s a world to win” with “There’s a world to save!”

About the author: David Gilbert has been an activist since the early 1960s and a New York State political prisoner since 1981. David would love to hear your feedback. Feel free to write to him at:

David Gilbert 83-A-6158
Wende Correctional Facility
3040 Wende Road
Alden, New York 14004-1187

With big thank yous to Dan Berger, Terry Bisson, Kathy Boudin, Chris Dixon, Sara Falconer, Laura Foner, Naomi Jaffe, Karl Kersplebedeb, Vicki Legion, Elana Levy, Rob McBride, Molly McClure, Hilary Moore, Alexis Shotwell, and Victor Wallis.

Endnotes:

[i] “Marx’s Theory of Working-Class Precariousness: Its Relevance Today,” Monthly Review, April 2016. They provide a much fuller and more nuanced discussion than mine above of the concept and how it plays out in the global economy.

[ii] A number of such struggles are briefly described in the 2016 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar.

[iii] As reported by Engels, Marx said this when in the midst of a frustrating political struggle with some sectarian French Marxists.