At some point, likely within these next two decades, the U.S. government is going to carry out a provocation against its citizens that sets off proletarian revolution. Or at least this is what will occur should we revolutionary socialists in this country sufficiently build up our movement.
Last year with the murder of George Floyd, we saw the equivalent version to this event for our era’s conditions. In response to this atrocity, the masses within the U.S. mobilized on a scale they had never done before, bringing about the largest protest movement in the country’s history. But both due to the lack of a sufficient revolutionary organizing structure, and the lack of severe enough conditions for sufficient parts of the population to want to engage in revolutionary action, this movement hasn’t brought about the capitalist state’s overthrow. We need to make it so that when this near-future catalyst event occurs, it will actually be able to turn into a revolution rather than merely producing another wave of popular anger. The people’s anger will need to be converted into a tool for facilitating the state’s demise.
“It is of the highest necessity to stake everything on the decisive moment, whatever the odds may be,” said Engels. “There is not a single successful revolution that does not prove the truth of these axioms. It is a matter of course that, in every struggle, he who takes up the gauntlet risks being beaten; but is that a reason why he should confess himself beaten, and submit to the yoke without drawing the sword?”
Apply this to our situation in the United States, where ever-increasing socioeconomic inequality due to neoliberalism is making the country ever more inclined towards unrest, where an environmental meltdown that will inevitably get vastly worse is exacerbating these inequalities, and where escalating violence from an increasingly militarized police state is driving up the frequency of government atrocities. At some point, this dynamic of heightening class and racial tensions due to the crises of capitalism and empire will produce such a decisive moment. In 2021, the U.S. is even more of a tinderbox for social unrest than it was during the Occupy Wall Street protests from a decade ago — the record numbers of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations prove this. And the country will no doubt be even more of a tinderbox in 2031, with 2041 being even more tense than that.
The U.S. military’s domestic threat assessment analysts agree that our conditions will continue to deteriorate in addition to the declining living standards we’ve already experienced during this last half century or so, and that this will produce intensified class conflict. One 2016 Pentagon training video depicts a near future where growing slums, shrinking access to food and water, and deteriorating infrastructure create instability (or more specifically class uprisings) that will prompt the military to intervene, including within U.S. borders. A 2019 Pentagon report provides a general timetable for when these levels of destabilization will appear within the country, saying that the country’s power grid could collapse due to neglect and escalating climatic disasters within “the next 20 years.”
Since it’s estimated that 1 in 12 Americans in the southern half of the country will migrate to safer areas over the next four decades, and these population shifts will no doubt cause rapid urbanization within the settled areas that expand poverty and systemic dysfunction, these expectations for an unstable near future America are very much backed up by science. While the country’s internal climate refugee crisis won’t reach that scale until the 2060s, there are many shorter-term destabilizing factors that could throw our society into far more chaos than has been the case in this last year; pandemics worse than Covid-19 that get created by global warming, an unprecedented economic downturn from the dollar’s looming collapse, even totally natural risk factors like the prospect of a near-future power grid-destroying quake within the country’s economic epicenter California.
The social inequalities created by these disasters — wherein what’s predicted to be an unprecedented upward transfer of U.S. wealth due to disaster capitalism occurs during these next few decades — will vastly expand the amount of people in this country willing to participate in an uprising. But without the organizational structures in place to guide the discontent of the masses towards revolution, these uprisings won’t result in the state’s overthrow. In Honduras, two-thirds of the population are living in poverty, and the repeated protests against the country’s U.S.-installed neoliberal dictatorship haven’t so far resulted in the formation of a workers’ state within the country. In neo-colonies like Honduras along with imperialist countries like the United States, class liberation won’t happen until a revolutionary vanguard is built and the proper mass mobilizations are carried out.
For the uprisings in this near-future America to end in the state’s overthrow — and in the transferring of jurisdiction over stolen land back to the indigenous First Nations so that new socialist states can be built within these nations — revolutionary socialists must build cadres that are prepared to carry out this power transfer. This won’t require the recruitment of tens of millions of people into the potential vanguard parties — the Bolsheviks only had 24,000 members when Russia’s capitalist state was overthrown — but the gathering and training of individuals who can facilitate the turning over of authority to a proletarian democratic system.
This will require the building up of the Marxist-Leninist organizations, at least insofar as they can offer the masses an appealing option for rebellion when the decisive moment comes. We need to establish enough community connections, name recognition, education of the masses in revolutionary theory, and wartime supplies within our organizations for many people to feel comfortable with defecting to our side during the point of crisis. As Lenin wrote about the requirements for revolution that a given country’s communists will need to look for before going on the offensive:
We must ask ourselves, not only whether we have convinced the vanguard of the revolutionary class, but also whether the historically effective forces of all classes — positively of all the classes in a given society, without exception — are arrayed in such a way that the decisive battle is at hand — in such a way that: (1) all the class forces hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, are sufficiently at loggerheads with each other, have sufficiently weakened themselves in a struggle which is beyond their strength; (2) all the vacillating and unstable, intermediate elements — the petty bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeois democrats, as distinct from the bourgeoisie — have sufficiently exposed themselves in the eyes of the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves through their practical bankruptcy, and (3) among the proletariat, a mass sentiment favouring the most determined, bold and dedicated revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie has emerged and begun to grow vigorously. Then revolution is indeed ripe; then, indeed, if we have correctly gauged all the conditions indicated and summarised above, and if we have chosen the right moment, our victory is assured.
In these conditions where a country’s exploited and exploiter classes have reached “the final and decisive battle,” as Lenin described this pivotal moment, the spreading of communist propaganda alone won’t be able to sway the masses towards joining our side. The intensification of capitalism’s contradictions will need to have given the masses enough political experience to know to reject the state’s offers of compromise. To see that continuing to side with the state, rather than joining the revolutionary cadres which can build a post-colonial workers state in place of the current government, will only deepen the people’s suffering.
And when the capitalist state carries out the domestic military occupations, scorched-earth warfare tactics for trying to snuff out rebellions within U.S. neighborhoods, and total shutdowns of dissenting online information that the military has said it plans to resort to in response to the destabilizing events of the next few decades, this popular wakeup call will arrive. If our government starts bombing its own citizens like it’s done in the past, or massacring protesters like Colombia is doing, or invading entire urban centers like Israel is doing to Gaza, it will be met with unprecedented blowback. The question is whether we revolutionary socialists will manage to provide the realistic, practical option for rebellion that the masses will be yearning to join in on.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here.