Throughout the 2010s, particularly the last two years, poor and working people have been increasingly coming together to try to take power away from the ruling class. The teacher strikes of 2018, which spread across five continents, won multiple victories against public school austerity. This has correlated with the emergence of additional worker struggles, which have most recently been prominent throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This year, strike actions in the United States alone hit a 32 year high, and the current strike of General Motors workers shows how this labor movement continues to gain momentum.
All of these events are a symptom of the half-century long campaign of neoliberal privatization, austerity, regressive taxation, and undone workers’ rights that’s made the capitalist world as unequal as it’s been in a century. A middle class no longer exists in America, and most people haven’t recovered from the Great Recession; by and large, the situation of the American people is one of ever-growing household debt and a living arrangement that’s only sustained by functioning paycheck to paycheck. For 1 on 8 Americans, there’s not even a reliable supply of food. As inequality keeps rising, and as the global economy moves towards a new downturn, a lot more people will also start finding themselves unable to access basic resources.
The super-rich, whose three dozen wealthiest members now own more money than the poorest half of the global population, don’t want to end the suffering of the global poor. They view the world’s impoverished, exploited, and colonized people the same way that the capitalist character in Marcel Cartier’s song Mr. Bourgeoisie does:
For people who poor and really have nothing,
A dollar a day really is something.
And still they complain; they’re talking change!
They lack intelligence they can never regain.
Control of their land, control of their lives,
their best option is to put their fate in mine.
They ain’t smart enough to run this shit themselves.
A rich white man needs to be at the helm.
That’s why I’m their savior. This is my burden.
Truly, helping people is what I’m concerned with.
In the hope of maintaining their power, some parts of the capitalist class seek to ease the plight of the proletariat throughout the First World. Oligarchs like Mark Zuckerberg propose instituting a universal basic income, and others like Warren Buffet would prefer that the top 1% be taxed higher. Social democrat politicians like Bernie Sanders are working to coordinate with these “reasonable” elites in enacting measures that would expand aid to the proletariat in certain areas, but would leave in place the systems of capitalist control and imperialist exploitation of the global south. They hope that by co-opting the language of socialism, they’ll stop people from taking the actions that would actually make society free and equal.
These actions consist of building revolutionary institutions that are independent from the Democratic Party and other capitalist power structures, and of using these institutions to destabilize the capitalist state. Such institutions will not include Democratic appendages like the Democratic Socialists of America; they’ll be made up of radical socialist organizations like the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the African People’s Socialist Party. They must be used to organize strikes (of both general and concentrated types), traffic blockades, and other types of civil disobedience. Their short term goal must be to pressure corporations into submitting to the demands of the workers, and their ultimate goal must be to oust the leadership of the capitalist governments and build new worker-controlled states.
If we go about this with the liberal mentality of practicing nonviolence at all costs, we’ll be crushed by the brutal security forces of the state. While nonviolent movement strategies can be effective to an extent, nonviolent activism is a luxury that can’t always be exercised. Armed struggle was a necessary part of the fight for liberation from apartheid South Africa, to name just one among countless cases where the oppressed have had to use violence to gain their freedom.
In the U.S. alone, the capitalist class has an increasingly deadly militarized police state that’s used violence to put down the protesters in Occupy Wall Street and Standing Rock, so all evidence points to such violent confrontations appearing during our own revolutionary process.
Whether it’s necessary to use violence at a given moment will depend on the circumstances. Right now, the growing armed American left-wing organizations obviously wouldn’t be able to defeat the government in guerrilla warfare. But these organizations have so far become vital resources in the resistance against white nationalism. Our task in this area is to work to keep growing these militant anti-fascist groups, and to get more members of the proletariat armed and trained. The more the state crackdown escalates, and the more bold the right-wing paramilitaries get, the more necessary it will be to have a left that’s armed.
This will be the stage of revolution that’s described in the next part from Mr. Bourgeoisie:
Oh, they have the nerve, huh? They have the nerve to organize? To come together?
I have word that my workers are organized
and guerrilla movements in the countryside.
These damn savages remain ungrateful!
It’s time for a lesson, it may seem hateful.
But fuck with my cash, fuck with my shops, I gotta have the government make bodies drop.
They call them “death squads.” A better term
is justice, and hopefully it’s only short term.
My friends in the CIA tell me it’s cool.
Wouldn’t be the first time that they had to do something like this.
India shows us what America will look like further down the line in its progress towards revolution. Early this year, around 200 million Indians went on strike against their country’s corporatist government. In May the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, which is led by the Communist Party of India, seized control of the town of Timurpalli by overthrowing the local government. Despite the lack of a major presence for India’s communists on the electoral level (which the ruling fascists are taking advantage of by progressively dismantling India’s democracy), the country’s crisis of inequality continues to stir up the popular will for class struggle.
What happened in Timurpalli is proof that no matter how much the capitalists fortify their control over India’s existing government, the people will still have the option of taking power non-electorally. India’s Maoist guerrillas may be engaged in an arduous struggle against the state, but history’s trajectory is in their favor; an Oxfam report this year on Indian inequality predicted that “If this obscene inequality between the top 1 per cent and the rest of India continues, then it will lead to a complete collapse of the social and democratic structure of this country.”
This collapse, which in ways is already in play, will bring in a lot of supporters of India’s forces for proletarian revolution. This month, the guerrillas began preparing for this by carrying out a project to radically expand their amount of new recruits and to win more territory in the process. The growing vigor of Indian communism is also apparent from this week’s thousands-strong communist rally in the town of Burdwan.
India’s situation parallels how events will develop as late-stage capitalism continues throughout other countries. In the U.S, the coming recession is going to provoke more and more of the poor and working classes towards political radicalization. Interest in socialism is inevitably going to increase in the coming years. The task of those who seek to build a serious revolutionary vanguard is to get these disaffected individuals educated about Marxism-Leninism, and thereby to make them recognize the legitimacy of the actions of people like the Indian Maoist fighters. The members of the proletariat must understand that we’re engaged not in an attempt to compromise with the ruling class, but to overthrow it-and that this fact makes drastic insurrectionary measures necessary.
America’s situation is far from matching the outright civil war that’s going on between capitalists and communists in India, and ideally such a civil war will be avoided here. But it’s essential that we prepare ourselves for all potential scenarios, because this is how we’ll assure our progress towards what’s described in these lyrics from Mr. Bourgeoisie:
Things are getting worse; the news was leaked
740s of my employees...looks like it made more rebels than that,
I think it’s People’s Army or something like that.
I fly down there for emergency talks,
government security wherever I walk.
It’s time to check out my main sweatshop (I mean factory. It’s where the bodies had dropped).
Nothing suspect here, everything looks good.
They assure me it’s business as usual.
We still got people who willing to work
and understand that a dollar is what they’re worth…
But at that stage, where the workers have by and large defected to fighting on the side of the revolution, the capitalist power structure will be too weakened to survive for much longer. It can take only 3.5% of the population to be engaged in civil resistance in order for a government to be deposed. If we build a revolutionary vanguard that manages to mobilize this proportion of society, and if we mobilize them with tact and intelligence, we’ll succeed.
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