Within “America” There Isn’t a Coalition for a Working Class Movement

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Following Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, we’re hearing a lot– far too much, we might argue– about poor whites and working class whites.  The white-controlled media, the white-controlled Democratic Party (including Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been given a platform only on account of the Democrats), and many other whites on the political left, are placing a great deal of focus on poor and working class whites.  Liberals seem to view this as a groundbreaking departure from what they believe is their normal plan (which has something to do with arugula, Subarus, and Hollywood); however, the (not so) new focus of liberals on blue-collar whites (hardworking, decent folks who drive pickup trucks and wave guns and Confederate flags) is, in fact, the same old ritual held every four years that Barack Obama hasn’t won a presidential election.

Democrats are entirely concerned with maintaining power (or regaining it), for which they cannot be blamed.  Power is the most important thing.  The problem with this intense focus on working class whites is that it reeks not only of desperation on the part of the white left, but, additionally, it has the all-too-familiar stench of white supremacy.  Because power in the United States– a settler colony of Europe– has continuously been a matter of addressing the interests of the so-called white working class.  That’s nothing new.  It’s just plain old genocidal and colonial racism.

Throughout the history of this settler colony of Europe, the white working class has been a potentially revolutionary force against the oligarchical rule of rich whites.  George Washington was not only the nation’s first President, he was its first millionaire.  And he was far more successful putting down rebellions among dissatisfied soldiers of the colonies than defeating the British redcoats.  The Shays Rebellion is an early example of restlessness and violence among whites who had fought against England in the interests of the white ruling class.  And George Washington showed extreme disapproval toward this rebellion by veterans of the bourgeois “American Revolution” (a similar situation played out following the imperialist crisis called World War I, when 43,000 members of the Bonus Army marched on Washington, and were shot at by the police, before their shelters, and everything in them, were burned down by the military of the United States).

Just as the system of capitalism was created by Europe for property-owning white men (typically cisgender, heterosexual and able-bodied), the United States of America was formed as a national expression– a political entity– in the material interests of the bourgeois, white supremacist, transphobic, homophobic, and ableist ruling class.  In order to create such a nation, it was necessary for this racist, patriarchal ruling class of Europe to have 1) land (stolen from Indigenous peoples), 2) labor and capital (the stolen work and lives of enslaved Africans) and 3) an influx of whiteness– that is, white people– who would defend the interests of this bourgeois hierarchy, motivated by patriotism, or (more practically) by our own interests of comfort and security.

President James K. Polk addressed these interests of the white working class in his “First Annual Message” of 1845:

“It is submitted to the wisdom of Congress to determine whether at their present session, and until after the expiration of the year’s notice, any other measures may be adopted consistently with the convention of 1827 for the security of our rights and the government and protection of our citizens in Oregon. That it will ultimately be wise and proper to make liberal grants of land to the patriotic pioneers who amidst privations and dangers lead the way through savage tribes inhabiting the vast wilderness intervening between our frontier settlements and Oregon, and who cultivate and are ever ready to defend the soil, I am fully satisfied.”

Working class whites– or “patriotic pioneers who amidst privations and dangers lead the way through savage tribes”— were a necessary human force, supported by the systemic violence of the military, for the “American” colonization of Oregon and the West.  In exchange for their eagerness “to defend the soil” (which belongs to Indigenous peoples), whites were empowered by colonial capitalism to enjoy the material benefits of whiteness, and to be elevated as a class, or as our citizens in Oregon” (not them– brown people– but us).

President Polk added that it becomes the duty of Congress to consider what measures it may be proper to adopt for the security and protection of our citizens now inhabiting or who may hereafter inhabit Oregon.”  Our citizens obviously does not refer to Indigenous nations, nor does it refer to Africans/Black people, who were banned from living in Oregon in the first Constitution of this state– on the threat of being publicly flogged if they did not leave.

The “security and protection” of working class whites has been a priority of the capitalist class from the beginning of Europe’s imperialist invasion of Africa and the Americas.  Working class whites, like the white bourgeoisie, have shown no interest in overthrowing the colonial domination of occupied territories outside Europe.  The white masses, no matter how impoverished, have continuously turned to the white capitalist class in order to gain access to the systemic power that is necessary for life itself, a power that is based on the colonization and subjugation of Africans, Indigenous peoples, and most of humanity outside Europe.

So, of course, it is in the interests of the Democratic Party– which is one wing of the white-controlled, bourgeois ruling class– to reach out to working class and “poor” (or impoverished) whites.  However, any effort to appeal to white workers in the U.S. is simply a question of preserving power for the ruling class, and is anything but a departure from the usual aims of the capitalist system of the United States.  And workers, in turn, are required to pledge loyalty to the white bourgeoisie– as well as allegiance to its flag and military– in order to receive a share in the benefits of colonial exploitation and the racist subjugation of the global proletariat.

This unstable arrangement of power means that, at certain times, the masses of white workers in the U.S. settler colony run to the Democratic Party for the material advantages of racist, capitalist oppression, and, at other times, run to the Republican Party.  During neither time does the white working class organize for a total redistribution of land, wealth, and power among Indigenous peoples, Africans/Black people, and (in general) “people of color,” who make up the majority population of the globe (and soon the United States as well).

The Democratic Party and white liberals rely on a coalition of gays, women (feminists), “minorities,” entertainers, and academics, who are treated as distinct groups with separate interests rather than as overlapping identities– where all but one is white by default– in order to label themselves as “progressive.”  However, the Democrats’ power lies in the support of working class whites: European colonizers across a continent stolen by the U.S. from Indigenous peoples through genocidal violence.  Without the support of working class whites, the Republican Party alone would determine how the wealth of the capital-owning class is to be accumulated through the continuing colonial domination of North America (and Puerto Rico and Hawaii) and the neocolonial domination of the rest of the world outside Europe.  Democrats belong to the capital-owning class too– Democratic politics are merely an alternate expression of bourgeois interests and ideology– but one of the contradictions between “representative democracy” and oligarchical rule is that the masses still determine who (between the two parties) will rule us for their own benefit.  And so white people must be appeased.

The Democrats are desperate to find a path toward the magic number of votes– from the electoral college, not from actual voting people– and so the coalition which they wish to build must add up to a decisive majority.  But there isn’t any way for Democrats to reach the greater number of electoral votes which will sustain (or regain) power for them, while, simultaneously, representing a working class movement that is truly progressive.

The map of the electoral college represents colonial genocide: vast territories of land stolen from Indigenous peoples.  And this land means power— electoral votes.   Whites in rural areas align with the Republican Party because this wing of the bourgeois ruling class (as opposed to the subtly racist Democratic wing) is more blatant in its efforts to uphold whiteness as a class interest, and whiteness is the one ticket to the wealth of capitalist colonization, which is based on the occupation of Indigenous land, fueled by the property value and productive force of enslaved Africans.

For this reason, a coalition of marginalized identities (including minoritized people of color) along with working class whites, when drawn in the context of racist, colonial “American” rule, cannot be the basis of a progressive movement against the wealthy oligarchy (“the one percent”).  In order to seriously challenge the rule of the oppressive bourgeoisie of the United States, the white masses of European colonizers must reject “America” itself.  A coalition of working class whites with “the gays, the blacks, and women” may add up to an electoral victory for the bourgeoisie (as in the case of Barack Obama’s two terms as President), but such a coalition simply does not add up when it comes to a principled movement against inequality, systemic violence, and capitalist oppression.

If we want to build a coalition of identities who will work toward the establishment of a system of power based on egalitarian principles, it seems absolutely necessary for white progressives to look outside the “American” identity, which is synonymous with white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.  The coalitions we should be looking to build are with organizations of African revolutionaries (in Africa, in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world), Indigenous revolutionaries, and working class movements in the nations of Latin America and Asia.  Within the illegitimate borders of the U.S. settler colony, and, furthermore, within the bourgeois ideology of American exceptionalism, there are neither sufficient numbers of people nor consistent principles for the creation of a truly socialist movement toward equality, peace, justice and freedom.

The white working class and “poor” whites are not the answer– not for a global revolution against the forces of imperialist rule.  Impoverished and working class whites are only the key, or the answer, as they have always been, to the further subjugation of people and planet by the white supremacist, patriarchal system of capitalism: its government, its businesses (big and small), its schools, media, and even its churches.  For the entire system of the United States depends on the allegiance of European colonizers (whites) to its institutions and structures, and (perhaps more importantly) to the very ideal of “America” itself.

The framework of “America” holds together a coalition of reactionary forces whose only source of power can be found in the image of Europe superimposed on Indigenous land and people (folded over a continent like a giant white sheet), and in the unpaid wages (reparations) for an empire built through the colonial subjugation of Africans.  Within this framework– within “America”– there isn’t sufficient revolutionary energy, and there just aren’t enough people with proletarian consciousness, to create an effective movement against the racism, patriarchy, greed, and violence of the capitalist class.

Any mass movement against capitalist oppression in which Europeans (whites) play a significant and beneficial role should begin by rejecting the “American” identity and re-imagining ourselves in globalist, anti-colonialist, anti-neocolonialist, and anti-white terms.  The generic (white) working class is a dead-end road for any movement among Europeans that truly aims to qualitatively change the current power structure and redistribute its wealth.  Any movement that centers working class whites within the framework of the “American” identity is just another Oregon trail, another bourgeois “American Revolution,” that will have been paved over the land and lives of Indigenous peoples and the colonized masses of the globe.

A principled, effective challenge to the racist, patriarchal, economically oppressive and violent system of wealthy, white, cisgender, heterosexual men must be re-framed in anti-colonial and anti-neocolonial terms, with objectives that center the basic survival and the revolutionary consciousness of the global proletariat– both inside and outside the illegitimate borders of “America.”  The borders of “America” (literally and figuratively) create the monstrous shape of a racist, patriarchal, colonial system of violence, and hold in place a coalition of reactionary ideologies, along with the people who– through our “American” identity and our whiteness– embody and defend them.

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Within “America” There Isn’t a Coalition for a Working Class Movement

Although Love Is the Answer, Hate Isn’t the Problem

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Kwame Ture at the “Free Huey Rally” in 1968

“We must first develop an undying love for our people.”Kwame Ture (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael)

If “Hate” were a person walking down the street, it might be an easy thing for us to grab a gun and shoot him, and put an end to all the troubles in the world.  But it’s not so easy as that, because hate is an emotion; it’s not a person, a building, a place, a nation, or a system of power.  And the sad thing is, even if “Hate” were only an individual who is responsible for terrorizing the world, liberals would still say that we should be nice to him, and show him love– believing love will prevail.  Maybe love will prevail– someday, someway– but long after the hateful forces of systemic oppression have wiped us out because we didn’t defend ourselves from them.

It’s true that there are many hateful people in this country, and that they have been emboldened since Donald Trump’s “victory.”  But if we argue that their motivation is “hate” then what we’re really saying is that the people who are being terrorized by Trump and his supporters also shouldn’t feel any hate, or any negativity, towards those who are trying to destroy them.  And if we actually believe that, then our belief may be on account of the fact that we enjoy a more comfortable and secure status within the hierarchical class structure of a white supremacist, bourgeois society.  It may be that we are European colonizers (whites) who have the “privilege” of feeling only loving, positive things– as we live off the stolen land, resources and labor of Indigenous peoples, Africans/Black people, Latinxs, and the majority of humanity.

European colonizers haven’t been stealing all these things from colonized Indigenous peoples and Africans just out of hate.  We do this because we are empowered by a system that not only allows us to behave hatefully (whether we call it “hate” or not), but actually requires this behavior on our part for the sake of our own survival.

But this isn’t an argument to absolve whites from our moral responsibility for a system of colonial genocide.  The argument here is that Europeans (white people) are empowered by capitalism to behave hatefully because all the power we have as individuals comes from a hateful system that whites continue to support.  And we don’t support imperialist capitalism out of hate.  We support it because the system is set up to give us access to the resources that we need in order to survive.  And it’s this system– capitalism– that is designed to exploit, rob and kill colonized peoples (Africans, Indigenous peoples, “people of color”) so that the white colonizer may enjoy the material benefits of this systemic violence.

Any system that is based on committing violence against one group of people for the benefit of another group is going to bring about conditions of hate.  When one oppressive class, empowered by a system of colonial exploitation, is pushing down on all the classes below it, a hateful reaction is unavoidable.

We can leave it up to colonized communities (people of color) to tell us their own views of this situation, but why is it that white people are so hateful when the system is set up to benefit us?  Why do we end up hating the people whom we oppress?

In terms of our class consciousness, the parasitic white identity is constantly aware of the possibility that we may lose the material advantages that we have gained through the colonial subjugation of the masses.  We’re more than happy to love colonized peoples– who are the “host” in this dialectical relationship where the European colonizer is the “parasite”– as long as the subjugated masses do not mount a serious challenge to the existing political, economic and social arrangement that benefits us.

So the white colonizer is forever monitoring “race relations” and expressing anxiety (sometimes shedding tears) over any threatening level of “anger” (especially from Black women) that we perceive.  And the white capitalist system of colonial rule is forever rewarding those members of the colonized masses who tell their people to love their oppressor and to show us forgiveness and understanding.  This colonial relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed– a forever unequal relationship– must be maintained because the white identity depends on the land, labor, resources, culture and lives of all other– or “other-ed”– identities for our own existence.  If you don’t believe me, just look down (if you’re able) at whose land you are sitting on or standing on right now (in the settler colony called the “United States”).

And, if we’re being honest about this colonial situation, we have to admit that people of color (colonized identities) show a great deal of patience and even love toward us.  But let’s not attribute to colonized peoples any superhuman causes for their ongoing patience and love.

The reactionary checks or forces that move against any perceived threat to the current arrangement of capitalist power begin with fragile white tears.  But even these shiny tears, running down the colonizer’s face, reflect the image of the giant, gray machine that is capitalist power.  White colonizers are empowered to ignore the suffering of the masses that sustains our lifestyle.  We’re also empowered to shed tears for their suffering, but mostly for our own anxiety that they may challenge this arrangement and end their own suffering.  That part of our attention which may have been devoted to surviving colonial domination is shifted to the part which allows us to focus on our own hurt feelings.  And so it’s this part of our class consciousness which absorbs the perceived blow from colonized peoples whose hostility threatens the colonial relationship which is responsible for our very existence.

A white woman cries (or lies) at a perceived threat from the colonial subject and, soon after, the giant, gray machine of capitalism leaps forward with its entire legal system, its police, even its military, and, all too often, the result is the lynching of an African, a false arrest, ejection from a grocery store, termination from a job, or suspension from a school.

So it isn’t on account of any superhuman or saintly quality they may have that colonized peoples do not express a greater amount of hate than we should expect from them in response to a system that daily terrorizes them–it’s due to the fact that the current system (capitalism) will crush them at the slightest hint of any so-called hateful expression.

And yet the hateful attacks are coming from Trump’s supporters instead– from the white, colonizing population of the United States.  The boot of capitalism is already on the throat of colonized peoples, but it is the colonizer who continues to attack.  This would seem to be mysterious behavior, even after the audacity shown by Black people to protest that their Lives Matter, and any other recent actions by colonized communities that we perceive as “angry.”  But if we get to the root cause of this hateful behavior by Trump and his supporters, what we may recognize is that the class consciousness of white people is under great duress at this time.

For many decades, white people were empowered by capitalism simply to ignore the genocidal violence that is responsible for the standard of living that we enjoy.  Of course, many whites never enjoyed much of a standard of living, but from the richest billionaire at the top all the way down to the homeless person on the street, the white population on this continent only exists through ongoing colonial violence against Africans and Indigenous peoples.  Whites are not impoverished on account of the power that colonized peoples have, but, instead, on account of the capitalist system that requires an unequal distribution of resources among the white colonizing population.  And all access to these resources is made possible only by the colonial rule of European capitalism– whether this access results in the wealth of Trump, or in the economic anxiety of his most impoverished supporters.  And throughout most of the history of the U.S. settler colony, access to the labor and resources of Africans and Indigenous peoples was fairly easy for white colonizers to get, as the racist, capitalist power expanded across a stolen continent, benefiting from an empire built on the commodification of Black lives and the products of their brutally enforced labor, and then the neocolonial domination of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

However, it has grown increasingly difficult for capitalism to provide white people the same access to resources that we previously experienced.  And since it’s not in the interests of capitalism for white people to know the material basis for the crisis it is going through, the ruling class tries to convince us that the reason we are struggling is brown people: “blacks” and “other minorities,” “illegal aliens,” Muslims [of color], and all the “thugs” and “terrorists” who “hate” us.  There may be too many words in quotation marks in that sentence, but it’s because the entire message that capitalism is sending to the colonizing white population is a huge lie.  The truth is: the white ruling class is richer and more powerful than ever, and is simply consolidating this wealth and power before the inevitable collapse of its top-heavy rule.  That’s the reality of a globe dominated by G4S, drones, detention centers, the prison industrial complex, gentrification, assassinations of world leaders, killer cops who walk free, and genocide against trans women of color.  The white ruling class is cutting off access to resources, as it has done from the very beginning in its war against Africans and Indigenous peoples, only now white people are feeling some of the pain.  Instead of growing angry with the racist, patriarchal capitalist system that is responsible for our struggles, whites take the side of the reactionary forces, and react by behaving hatefully toward identities who are already marginalized.  We play right into the hands of the white supremacist system of power.

And hate isn’t the reason for the rise of Trump and his emboldened supporters (the “alt-right,” the “white nationalists,” the “white supremacists”– whatever they are called, they are still the enemy of humanity).  Hate does not create power.  Hate and hateful acts are an expression of power.  It takes a hateful, machine-like system based on inequality, oppression, and violence in order to empower hateful acts– it takes capitalism.  And the hateful behavior of Trump and his supporters– as well as “Bernie Bros” on the left and a great deal of the white population– is rooted in our increasing anxiety that we are losing our grip on the colonized masses of the world.  White supremacist, colonial capitalism is struggling to win the same support from the white masses of the U.S. as it did before, when it was able to use the “Declaration of Independence,” “Manifest Destiny,” and the post-World War II era of “upward mobility” to gain our loyalty.  And so capitalism is trying to win our loyalty today by telling us that colonized peoples are to blame for our struggles.  And its messenger of hate is reality TV star, and President-elect Donald J. Trump.

We aren’t acting out of hate– whites are acting out of the basic need to survive.  Whites believe that our very survival depends on the further marginalization of so-called people of color and other minoritized groups.  And so we’re angry with them, rather than with the system that is growing wealthier and more powerful while we struggle, because it used to be so easy for white colonizers in the U.S. to live that “American Dream.”  Back then, we didn’t have to worry about multiple genders, and Black women on Twitter who unapologetically call out our reactionary behavior.  It’s not so easy anymore.  We feel that we are losing our advantage.  And, as always, whites are empowered by colonial capitalism to express hate, in its many forms, from violence against Muslim immigrants on subways to not-so-subtle, racist remarks that we make to Black coworkers.  The white identity is in a panic, and since we don’t like this feeling, we’re taking it out on the people who have the least power in this oppressive, capitalist system.

Yes, love is the answer– an undying love for the people.  A revolutionary love for the people.  But the power to love is the same as the power to hate– it comes from the level of the masses, not the level of the individual.  And until European colonizers (whites) recognize that colonized peoples should have the power to love themselves, and to struggle for self-determination, then we can call it whatever we want but it’s not love– it’s still an expression of the white supremacist ideology of capitalism.

It seems to me that whites shouldn’t worry so much about colonized peoples loving us, and forgiving us, but should concentrate instead on changing the relationship of power that leads to hateful behavior– primarily by us, the white colonizer.  And it takes a great deal of love on our part to say we are going to challenge the current system of power that gives (or steals) everything we have as white people through its colonial domination of everyone else.  If we want love, that’s love.  As Assata Shakur wrote: “R/evolution is love.”

Since white colonizers are struggling more and more to survive in this system, we might ask ourselves: what have we got to lose by choosing the side of colonized peoples?   Right now may be a good time for us to act out of love for the people, and stop siding with the hateful capitalist system.  Because its days are numbered.  Colonized peoples, who are the majority of the global population, are rising up against the capitalist oppressor– not out of love or hate– but just to breathe, to live.  Whether it’s in our own political interests, or out of love– or maybe both– it may be a good time for white people to love ourselves and the rest of humanity enough to overthrow the hateful system of capitalism.

Although Love Is the Answer, Hate Isn’t the Problem

Organizing for Armed Struggle, Step One: Defining the Terms of Struggle

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Kwame Ture

Kwame Ture (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) said, “Those who can define are the masters.”  But it should be obvious that, if we love peace, we do not wish to be the masters of people.  As Huey P. Newton said, “It is incorrect to seek power over people.  What we seek … is not power over people, but the power to control our own destiny. … For us the true definition of power is not in terms of how many people you can control.  To us power is the ability to first of all define phenomena, and secondly the ability to make these phenomena act in a desired manner.”

Capitalism is a system in which the people of one class are the masters of people in all other classes.  Kwame Nkrumah wrote, “Capitalism is a development by refinement from feudalism, just as feudalism is a development by refinement of slavery. … Capitalism is but the gentleman’s method of slavery.”

The ruling class of the capitalist system has the power to define all the classes that it controls.  In other words, capitalism exerts its power by objectifying the classes whose domination is the basis for the existence of the ruling class.  This creates a dialectical relationship between the classes: a unity of opposites.  The oppressor and the oppressed are locked in an ongoing struggle for power.  As long as the oppressor is able to objectify the oppressed, this dialectical relationship between the two remains qualitatively  unchanged.  However, the oppressed class, in order to survive, is forced to become the subject of its own struggle for power.  The object becomes the subject.

This struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed is based on a fight for resources.  The class that controls the production of resources that are necessary for life is the class that has power.  So this dialectical relationship– this unity of two opposing forces– has a material basis.  And the material struggle for power between the oppressor and the oppressor is also based in history, in the evolution of society through class antagonisms or the contradictions within the class structure of society.  The dialectical struggle for political power is both material and historical.

Historically, Europe has been the oppressor in the global economic system, while Africa, the Americas, Australia, Asia and all territories outside Europe have been the oppressed.  These territories and their populations have been the objects of European imperialist domination.  Through Europe’s imperialist invasion of Africa and the Americas, beginning six hundred years ago, European society was able to progress to the next stage of development: from feudalism to bourgeois (capitalist) democracy.  The European identity and the white identity, and, eventually, the “American” identity, were defined by the capitalist domination of Africa and the world.  So definitions of race, racism and whiteness grew out of this historical and dialectical struggle between the European oppressor and the oppressed peoples of the globe.

Europe’s attack on the world is responsible for the white identity, because whiteness is defined only in relation to the “other”– the objectified.  Whiteness, which is the subject of capitalist domination, is based on the objectification of oppressed identities, and, of course, this objectification represents an unequal relationship of power.  The white identity was born out of inequality and the subjugation of one “race”– or many “races”– by another: whiteness.

The revolutionary struggle for peace is not so much a struggle against “racism”– a byproduct of capitalism, as Fred Hampton stated– but a material struggle to redefine the terms of political identity.

You may have read arguments against the use of “identity politics” to drive movements for justice.  But these arguments don’t make sense to me because everything is about identity.  If we’re not fighting for ourselves, and for our interests, who and what are we fighting for or against?

The Combahee River Collective Statement taught us that “the personal is political.”  People don’t struggle to survive for objective reasons.  People don’t fight for reasons that exist beyond our identity; the fight is for our survival, the survival of us.  And this is always a political struggle.

Jamil Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown) wrote:

“Every action that we are involved in is political, whether it is religious, artistic, cultural, athletic, governmental, educational, economic or personal.  There is no separation between church and state, art and politics, or politics and individual beliefs.  Everything is inherently political.  The only division occurs around the question of whose political interest one will serve.”

Politics is the organization for power by a group of individuals who share the same interests, and who then become a class.  This class expresses its interests through the institutions that it creates in order to serve its material needs, and these institutions, together with the people who depend on them to survive, form a community.  Huey P. Newton wrote, “A community by way of definition is a comprehensive collection of institutions which serve the people who live there.”

The United States and the “American” identity, and its many institutions, were created by the white class to serve the needs of the people who live here– the white people who live here.  The ruling class of the United States did not create its institutions to serve colonized Indigenous peoples, colonized Africans (stolen from their land) or any identity in the world but whiteness.  And for white people, the continuing existence of these institutions is a matter of survival.

Like the white identity itself, the institutions of capitalist “America” are based entirely on the unequal relationship between the colonizer and the colonized.  Our survival is based on the ongoing subjugation of Indigenous peoples– the “othered” objects of white colonial rule.  Without the dialectical and historical relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, Europeans in the U.S. would lack land, as well as access to most of the products of exploited labor which are the basis for our enjoyment of wealth and power.

If we want to live in a world of peace, justice, equality and freedom, European colonizers (whites) must begin to recognize the violence, injustice, inequality and oppression that are inherent to our identity.  An armed struggle against the reactionary forces of white supremacy by white people– by “white allies,” “white accomplices,” “European revolutionaries,” or whatever else we wish to call ourselves– starts with the recognition that whiteness, capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism and the “American” identity are inseparable from who we are.

And so what exactly are we fighting for?  And who are we fighting against?

In order for a white person to be truly “anti-racist,” it seems we would have to move against ourselves: against our own identity, and even our own survival.  By fighting white supremacy, whites must come face-to-face with … us.

In the struggle of humanity for power– for control of the resources that are necessary for life itself– whites become the objectified identity, and so-called people of color become the subjects of their revolutionary movements: the tables have been turned.  Whiteness depends on the objectification of colonized identities– “people of color.”  The white supremacist institutions of white people– within the U.S./European system of power– sustain our survival, and elevate us as a class, at the expense of everyone else.   Whites may oppose the more overt and violent forms of white supremacy, but we logically and subjectively cannot oppose our own existence.  Who wouldn’t enjoy living in a safer neighborhood, or going to a better-paying job, or not being brutalized by the police, not having their hair touched, not having their land stolen, not being attacked in the dark by a cisgender man, not being skipped over once again during Oscar nominations, not being pushed out of non-profit organizations, not being colonized?

Therefore, in an effort to join movements against the white supremacist system that gives us all these material benefits of colonial rule, whites run into this contradiction that is inherent to our identity: that who we are is based on white supremacy.  In this contradiction, our subjective experience (as all experiences are) moves in the opposite direction of our wish to be “anti-racist.”  This is the unity of opposites– the dialectical relationship– that is exposed within the behavior and the identity of anti-racist Europeans (whites): we want to dismantle racism, but who we are is based on racism.  Do we dismantle ourselves?  Is that the answer?

If it is the answer, it’s not a revolutionary one.  Self-destruction would seem to be a negative reaction to the contradictions within the white identity.  So, in our struggle to “not be racist,” it seems the first step for Europeans is to revolutionize our identity.  I believe the struggle should not be against racism, which is an almost nonsensical goal at its core, but, instead, should be a struggle for a new identity– a transformation of the European identity.

Whites are racist.  I’m racist.  I benefit from the white supremacist system of capitalism, and that makes me racist, with or without my approval.  My very existence is based on the racism that is inseparable from capitalism.  Perhaps it’s time for Europeans (white people) to move beyond the framework of “racial justice,” focusing less on being “anti-racist” and more on being … something else altogether.  Perhaps we need to re-define who we are first: who we are fighting for and what we are fighting against.  Revolutionary Europeans need definitions of ourselves– and of our enemy– that liberate us from an identity that is based on our attempt to objectify Africans/Black people, Indigenous peoples and the majority of the people on the planet (as well as the planet itself).

It seems to me that, at the very outset, our struggle to redefine ourselves should be about how our identity relates to all the identities around us.  An identity doesn’t exist in isolation.  It exists in relation to the many identities that come into contact with it.  We can’t really define ourselves until we understand how we can relate to identity in general.  This means that we begin to recognize (rather than erase), and also begin to respect, the subjective experiences and lives in the communities around us.  We pay attention to who they say they are.  We learn their definitions of identity.  And this first step may empower us to stop our parasitic attempt to control and define who they are.  By learning to recognize, and name correctly, the terms that colonized communities use as subjects of their own struggle for power, Europeans may no longer depend on the objectification, the other-ing, of humanity for our own identity, and our very existence.

So it seems to me that our very first step, as we organize to create a system of peace through armed struggle, is to pay attention to the identities, ideas, and lives who are oppressed by the current violent system– by white supremacist capitalism.

If we’re not even taking the trouble to center the voices of individuals in communities whose ongoing subjugation is the basis for our own identity, then we are just reinforcing the unequal relationship of white supremacy which is already in place.

And since we are receiving a political education from colonized people that may help us to transform our own identity into one that is not racist, and not reactionary, it seems we should not only pay attention to people in colonized communities, but we should also pay them money: REPARATIONS.

If Europeans (whites) want to join the struggle against the inhumane, racist system of colonial capitalism, we can’t join by taking center stage.  Again, this would only reinforce the unequal relationship that already exists today, and is still responsible for our existence.  By paying money to organizations and individuals in colonized communities, and then taking the time to learn the terms that they have created for their struggle, European colonizers may gradually change our identity in relation to theirs, until– finally– a complete transformation has been achieved and we have truly joined the global revolution … by joining humanity.

Organizing for Armed Struggle, Step One: Defining the Terms of Struggle

Peace Requires the People to Organize for Armed Struggle

georgejackson
George Jackson

“We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.” — Chairman Mao Tse-tung

In order to achieve peace in a society with classes, an equal amount of violence to that which the oppressing class inflicts is necessary.  The only thing the oppressor respects is violence.  For this is how the oppressor gained everything it has– all its wealth and power.  As Chairman Mao famously said: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” 

Such a statement may sound alarming or extreme to those who are telling us that they want peace, especially white liberals.  But if we examine the current structure of capitalist society, we will find this statement written into all its institutions, its borders, and its daily systemic behavior.

In its totality, democratic bourgeois society reflects the political, economic and social ideology of reactionary violence.  Consequently, it’s not just a case of using George Bush’s logic– invading a country so the U.S. can spread peace– when we argue that peace requires that we organize for revolutionary violence.  “In order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

The United States, like any nation, was founded in the interests of its ruling class.  A nation comes into existence when a certain class wishes to impose its will on an entire territory and its population.  It’s not as if the boundaries of nations have existed since the beginning of time.  They came into existence through the violent imposition of one class’s rule over a people and their land.  And these borders that define a particular nation– after it has been violently created by the ruling class in its own interests– reflect both internal and external social antagonisms.  Externally, these newly created (and frequently expanding) borders must be defended from enemy forces that wish to seize this territory for themselves– or take it back.

Internally, class antagonisms are held together by the system of power that has been created by the ruling class of a nation in order to perpetuate and expand its own class interests.  The ruling class has this power because it controls the means by which the masses of people produce the necessities of life: food, water, clothing, housing, healthcare, education, and so forth.

For the people to survive, and gain access to these resources, they must follow the dominant ideology of the ruling class.  In a bourgeois democracy, obedience to the ruling class requires selling one’s labor to the capitalists for wages in order to buy the products of our own labor (at a higher cost than they were produced, because the capitalists demand ever-increasing profits).  And this ever-increasing exploitation is a form of violence, because the unavoidable result of capitalist rule is the inequitable distribution of resources.  Denying people access to resources which are necessary for life, or forcing them to change their behavior in order to gain access to these resources, is violence— the political power that comes from the barrel of a gun.

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said:

“Is it not violent for a child to go to bed hungry in the richest country in the world?  I think that is violent.  But that type of violence is so institutionalized that it becomes a part of our way of life.  Not only do we accept poverty, we even find it normal.  And that again is because the oppressor makes his violence a part of the functioning society.  But the violence of the oppressed becomes disruptive.  It is disruptive to the ruling circles of a given society.  And because it is disruptive it is therefore very easy to recognize, and therefore it becomes the target of all those who in fact do not want to change the society. What we want to do for our people, the oppressed, is to begin to legitimize violence in their minds.  So that for us violence against the oppressor will be expedient.  This is very important, because we have all been brainwashed into accepting questions of moral judgment when violence is used against the oppressor.”

So, what we hopefully can recognize by now, is that violence is written into every institution of capitalist society– it is “so institutionalized that it becomes a part of our way of life.”  And this daily violence of the State is not always expressed through the missiles of the military or the guns of the police.  The cop doesn’t have to pull the trigger in order to commit legalized violence against the people.  All that is necessary to make an oppressive system function is the threat of violence.

The threat of violence is essentially the same thing as violence itself.  The threat of violence, like actual violence, causes people to change their behavior and to behave in a way that benefits the person (or the class) that holds the gun.  It’s impossible to have a police officer on every street corner, just as it’s impossible to send the military to every part of every exploited country in the world.  It’s enough for there to be the threat of violence, and then the subjugated populations must obey the force of the ruling class’s power, or risk being destroyed.

The ruling class of the United States, which occupies stolen Indigenous lands, and further robs the world at gunpoint, must– beyond any other goal– “legitimize” its violence in the minds of occupied and colonized peoples, as well as the white masses who benefit the most from this oppressive system.  Once the masses legitimize the colonizer’s violence, they will largely police themselves.

The threat of violence in the European settler colony called the United States is carried out most effectively through one little, three-letter word: law.  George Jackson wrote, “The law and everything interlocked with it was constructed for poor, desperate people like me.”  The “law and order” of bourgeois, colonial society is the threat of violence against those who have less because those with more have been taking their livelihood (and lives) from them: exploiting them at gunpoint.  This constant threat of violence– which is entirely legal– locks class antagonisms in place throughout the U.S. settler colony, preventing society from taking the next step forward and evolving toward a system of power based on egalitarian rule (socialism).

Chairman Mao said, “Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power.”

The white liberal refuses to recognize that the current system of power imposes what Dr. King called “a negative peace.”  Dr. King defined “negative peace” as the wish for “the absence of tension” in contrast to “positive peace which is the presence of justice.”  Wishing for the absence of tensions in a racist, capitalist society, the white liberal argues that we should stop being so divisive, so angry, and so outraged at the injustice of the oppressor, and, instead, should focus on creating unity.

The white liberal, who is positioned within the bourgeois, oppressive and colonizing class of the European (white) identity, doesn’t want to recognize that the class antagonisms of capitalist society have existed from the beginning.  If we celebrate the Fourth of July, that’s a celebration of violence– that’s how this beloved “American” identity came into existence, through war.  If we wave the “American” flag, or stand up during the “National Anthem,” that’s celebrating violence.  If we move into an historically African/Black neighborhood and gentrify it, that’s violence.  If we buy chocolate that has been produced through the enslavement of African children in Africa, that’s violence.  If we take even one breath on stolen Indigenous land, that’s violence.  Everything about the very existence of the white colonizer is based on violence– the political power that comes from the barrel of a gun.

When we allow violence to continue, that’s the same as supporting it.  There is no middle ground.  The white liberal in the U.S. wants peace only because systemic violence hasn’t touched whites on the same level as it has always terrorized colonized peoples– Africans/Black people, Indigenous peoples, Latinxs, and the majority of humanity.  What we support as white people isn’t actual peace or justice, but, instead, is a wish to escape to some gray area between reactionary violence (which is the reason that capitalist power exists) and revolutionary violence (which is the only way we can make true progress toward socialism).

George Jackson wrote, “The power of the people lies in its greater potential violence.”  In order to get peace, the masses of the people must organize for armed struggle.  We must show that we are a real threat to the current, oppressive system of power.

We may not be required to use actual violence, but we must prove that we have real power and show the white supremacists in the U.S.– the cops who murder (and then walk free), the white vigilantes, the bourgeois politicians, the greedy businessmen, and the entire racist structure of capitalist society– that they must give up their power to the people so we can redistribute land and resources according to egalitarian principles.

The people must organize a “greater potential violence”potential— even if we don’t actually use the gun.  A racist, patriarchal, capitalist ruling class in the U.S. that has gained all its wealth and power through the genocidal domination of Africans/Black people, Indigenous peoples, and the majority of humanity, will respect just one thing: an equal force of violence moving against it.  And this can only happen if we organize for revolutionary armed struggle.

Because we want peace, we don’t want to use the gun.  But what European colonizers (whites) can’t logically or humanely argue is that people who are oppressed should show unity with their oppressors.  This white supremacist system has demonstrated over and over again that it has no regard for Black lives.  Capitalism and the “American” identity are built entirely on reactionary violence against colonized peoples.  So, while we don’t wish to take the life of any person, we should still ask ourselves: whose lives do you value more, those of the oppressed and the colonized, or those who defend the current, violent system of power?

All that it would take to bring about peace is for the people to get together– to organize– and we could bring this unjust system down.  And it’s the white liberal– and the white leftist in general– who refuses to recognize this dialectic of the colonizer and the colonized.  Capitalism doesn’t want us to recognize this material reality.  But our own identity as European colonizers also means that we believe it’s not in our interests to move against the current system of power.  So we don’t want to recognize this reality.  Essentially, we value our lives– as white people– more than we value the lives of the oppressed.

There is no gray area to which we can escape, and no “nuanced” conversation we can have with the enemy.  We simply need to ask ourselves the question: how much do we truly want peace?  If we want peace, we must fight for it.  We must show a “greater potential violence” against the oppressor than they show against the oppressed.  And then they may stop attacking.

But one person rising up here and there isn’t enough to stop the violence, except as a kind of symbolic victory, as a martyr, or as a spark for revolution.  And that can only happen when white people have any revolutionary consciousness to be sparked.  Right now, we don’t.  We need political education.  We need to pay reparations to organizations led by colonized peoples, because they are already surviving and resisting this system of violence, as they have been since the beginning.

The point of revolutionary war is to destroy the enemy, not to go out and get yourself killed or imprisoned.  The reactionary forces of the U.S. show no hesitation to kill and imprison anyone.  So we want to maximize the damage that we can inflict on the enemy, while minimizing the damage the enemy can inflict on us.  And that means organizing.  But the goal for anyone who wants peace should be very clear from the outset: the only power that the white supremacist, capitalist oppressor respects is that of an equal force of revolutionary violence moving against it.  We’re nowhere near that.  Whites don’t even want it.  But there is no other way.

On February 14, 1965, Malcolm X said,

“Brothers and sisters, if you and I would just realize that once we learn to talk the language that they understand, they will then get the point.  You can’t ever reach a man if you don’t speak his language.  If a man speaks the language of brute force, you can’t come to him with peace.  Why, good night!  He’ll break you in two, as he has been doing all along.  If a man speaks French, you can’t speak to him in German.  If he speaks Swahili, you can’t communicate with him in Chinese.  You have to find out what does this man speak.  And once you know his language, learn how to speak his language, and he’ll get the point.  There’ll be some dialogue, some communication, and some understanding will be developed.”

A week later, Malcolm X was murdered by the racist, capitalist system.

Malcolm X, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, Kwame Ture, George Jackson, and all the revolutionary organizers of the past and present have made the message clear: if we want peace, we must fight for it.  It’s only a question of which language we are willing to speak: the false words of the white liberal (who claims to want peace but mostly just wants everyone to get along under the current oppressive system) or the language of armed struggle.  And we know that violence is the only language that capitalism understands.

Peace Requires the People to Organize for Armed Struggle