Over the past decades, several changes have taken place on the terrain of class struggle. Without going into detail, while the material conditions for revolution have improved, the subjective conditions (i.e., people’s understandings of social conditions, the state of oppositional political cultures, and efforts to congeal revolutionary movements into independent institutions of the oppressed) have not kept pace or have worsened.
There are no revolutionary superheroes, and revolution won’t pop up from prophecy. Instead, we must individually and collectively step up our commitment to shaping contemporary subjective conditions in favor of revolutionary struggle and advances.
Instead of brandishing fantasies about starting another International tomorrow or forming an all-encompassing revolutionary organization this year, it is important to step back and question what conditions are necessary for these strategic goals the be accomplished. What is the state of people’s movements, including its most advanced sections, and what must be accomplished to produce the broad revolutionary movements the world so desperately needs if its to escape the current trajectory laid out by capitalist-imperialism? What can and should we be doing, given the conditions we operate in, to accomplish these situational goals to advance the revolutionary subject conditions of class struggle?
Obviously, there are things many people are doing today, namely studying with dedication; contributing and creating original theoretical analysis, propaganda, writing, and other media; and attempting to carrying out progressive though limited work amongst (and often in competition with) existing ‘left-wing’ First Worldist movements. These efforts are all mostly good and should be stepped up.
In particular, comrades should be working feverishly to step up their own efforts in studying and contributing intellectually and culturally. Creating a diverse intellectual climate supportive and contributive to proper understandings of global class dynamics is a central task. It is important that all comrades in the First World develop a few central intellectual focuses and gain a fairly comprehensive understanding of these topics and their related issues; challenge themselves by engaging in new, sometimes contradictory material; and incorporate as utility demands all intellectual tools available. 1 Much of the responsibility for this political development will rest on the individual’s shoulders. However, this Fall we are launching an online study group focusing on Marxist theory and further historical materialist understandings of capitalist-imperialism. We will release more information on this study group over the next months.
Along with studying, comrades should begin to contribute directly to a political culture supportive of a correct understanding of global class dynamics. There is no white proletariat in the sense of a stable historical class that is agent to internationalist revolution. Even oppressed nations in First World countries may not be formally exploited except in tertiary ways in respect to their overall oppression. These points, besides properly describing and hence explaining a whole lot, are the basic foundations for creating lasting revolutionary internationalist unity. This model of global class dynamics, which draws on numerous separate but similar intellectual strands, is not based on some crazy revenge fantasy (though a healthy amounts of spite for parasite culture and ideology is appropriate). It is the basis of understanding realistic possibilities and limitations in the long road of social revolution. Ultimately, our desire to effectively express and instill into people’s movements a correct understanding of global class dynamics is part of the project to strengthen the subjective forces of revolution.
When we ask people to contribute, we ask for people to engage in intellectual and practical work foremost. Rarely, if ever, do we ask for monetary donations. The reason for this is simple. An individual can easily throw down some cash for the cause. While this may help specific projects others are engaged in, it does nothing the lead to substantive political and intellectual development on the donor’s part. Writing, or doing graphic design, or laying out text for pdf and e-readers, or any number of things helps one develop in a way that cutting a check can’t.
Writing itself comes in many forms and takes time to develop. Long before I co-founded the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (an activist/organizing group that was the predecessor to this website), I spent considerable amount of time not just reading, but writing politically. What was I writing? Not culture, movie or book reviews, nor original news analysis articles, nor well-researched and decently written essays. I was writing on Internet message boards, both in private ‘MIM-Thought’ ones and ones that were permeated by die-hard First Worldist Trotskyists. When I did finally take up the initiative to write original public articles, my first writings took a great amount of effort and in retrospect were not that good. They were stiff, dogmatic, poorly written, and full of grammar errors. It wasn’t until RAIM was in full swing, after much practice, that my writing began to improve. The articles I publish at this website today are the culmination of years of practice. If you don’t practice contributing, you will always be stuck at the sidelines. Any skill is developed over time. I suggest comrades make a habit out of contributing in various ways. If you want to stand up and be an agent for revolution, it is imperative you start somewhere.
All of that said, I want to add a few caveats. This proposition of revolutionary understandings and political cultures is inherently based on Marxism. Call it what you will (Maoism, Maoism Third Worldism, Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, MIM-Thought, Yeshilelianism, Leading Light Communism, etc.), the method is essentially the same: a historical-materialist conception of social realities in service to proletarian revolution. A few basic notions underpin such an understanding: historical and social development is the result of social antagonisms centered around the production and accumulation of wealth; today we can speak of a capitalist-imperialist world-system, in which value is primarily produced in the Third World and transferred at large rates to the imperialist First World; that the contradictions of capitalist-imperialism may set itself against various classes at different times, but ultimately it is the central demands of the proletariat, those from whose exploitation the system rests, which provides the basic program for the abolition of class society as we know it today; it is the modern task to unite the popular classes under the leadership and direction of this international proletariat and its advanced sections; the end goal is the smashing of capitalist social relations and the states which serve them, carried out through the seizure of power by the proletariat; and any seizure of power must be followed by continued class struggle. At this point, I assume people get the gist.
What we should all be asking ourselves is how do we get from where we are today to our endgame: the seizure of power by the proletariat? Consequently, each of us should be asking ourselves how we can better strengthen the subjective forces of revolution.
Stand up. Take the long road with us. Self-development, contributing original analysis, applying theory, and building unity around various points of struggle are all things which comrades can do today to strengthen the subjective forces of revolution. Don’t put these tasks off for later or pass them off to others. There is no revolutionary moment around the corner. Instead, only through the dedicated, focused work of revolutionary cadre can such revolutionary moment be created and power seized.
1What does this mean? Myself, my main focus is ‘history of social struggles in the 20th century,’ specially focused on US, Black, and Chinese history; and radical theory focusing on Marxist political economy, Chinese Maoism, and World-Systems Analysis. As far as new, contradictory material goes, a quote by Mao seems pertinent: “Nothing is worse than a stagnant pond.” Ironically, bourgeois education, an ideology-building and status-certification apparatus, is a great way to expand in this arena. History, philosophy, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, international relations (often the most reactionary of them all), anthropology, women’s, and ‘ethnic studies’ departments operate in an ideological manner by separating different field of social understandings. In the bourgeois academic environment, part of the challenge is to bring all aspects of social life together into a coherent understanding that is oppositional to the partial manner in which these various fields understand them. Finally, I’ve recently began to dabble more in psychology, communication, and creative writing, specifically to enrich my capabilities for the movement. Other comrades I know focus on Latin American revolutionary history, Chicano history, or US militarism, or encounter more opposition in day to day work amongst First Worldist movements. Others dabble in or take up quite seriously in self-defense, various languages, computer programming, art, or music, all of which can be applied for the movement.