When we ride on our enemies is the third part in the four-part series The Specter that Still Haunts. Part four will appear in kites #4. Originally written in 2015 and published in Uprising (which was a theoretical organ of Revolutionary Initiative’s), the whole series can be found at revolutionary-initiative.com. Click here for a printable PDF of this article.
The (communist) movement is in its very essence an international movement. This means…that an incipient movement in a young country can be successful only if it makes use of the experiences of other countries. In order to make use of these experiences it is not enough merely to be acquainted with them, or simply to copy out the latest resolutions. What is required is the ability to treat those experiences critically and to test them independently. He who realises how enormously the modern (communist) movement has grown and branched out will understand what a reserve of theoretical forces and political (as well as revolutionary) experience is required to carry out this task.”
-Lenin, What is to be done?1
Since the death of Mao Zedong and the subsequent capitalist restoration in China, communist people’s wars became, to one degree or another, contenders for power in the Philippines in the mid-1980s, in Peru in the early 1990s, and in Nepal at the beginning of the new millennium. The people’s war led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) was deemed by the Indian Prime Minister in 2005 to be the country’s greatest internal security threat, and the CPI(Maoist) has made great strides in its military capabilities and organized mass base over the last several decades. While none of these people’s wars reached the level of strength necessary to launch an all-out assault aimed at seizing power nationwide, in at least two instances the communist-led revolution became the phenomenon most impacting those particular countries—the subjective factor, more than anything else, began to determine the objective situation.
In the 1990s, aside from militant protests and a willingness to go head-to-head with riot police perhaps best exemplified in the 1999 protests that shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, anarchists also carried out their own forms of social programs intended to meet people’s needs. When the black bandanas came off, 1990s anarchists in the US were growing vegetables in “guerrilla gardens” and offering vegetarian meals to the homeless through local chapters of Food Not Bombs. The guerrilla gardens never seemed to bear fruit when it came to establishing connections with and providing food for the communities in which they were located (and nowadays city governments often fund official community garden programs). Food Not Bombs varied considerably from city to city, but some chapters did forge connections with homeless people, and its actions politicized the question of hunger and access to food.1
Founded in 1980 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Food Not Bombs was guided by a simple but compelling political message concentrated in its name: military funding in service of imperialist wars was enormous while, even in the imperialist heartland, people went hungry. This political exposure of hunger and imperialism was delivered alongside an effective method of providing food for the homeless and anyone else who needed it. Food Not Bombs chapters collected food from friendly local supermarkets (often co-ops or other hippyish places) and bakeries that would have otherwise been thrown away due to its impending expiration date, cooked hot meals with it in a donated space (someone’s house, a church, etc.), and made this food available in a public location outside once a week or more. The food was all vegetarian, partially because collecting and cooking meat that was past its prime would have sooner or later resulted in gastric disaster, and partially because many participants in Food Not Bombs were vegetarian. Food Not Bombs made its food available without the typical “server” and “served” distinction and without securing permits, and turned its food distribution into political events.
In the future, hopefully 2020 will go down in history as the year of squandered possibilities for revolutionary advance in the US. We say hopefully because the other possibility—2020 as the year when all the signs of impending catastrophe were present, but those who claimed commitment to ending injustice failed to find a way to stop the catastrophe—is all too likely.
For 2020 was a year of deepening and multiplying crises in the US—wildfires, hurricanes, and other climate-change-driven disasters breaking all previous records; COVID-19 laying bare the inability of the capitalist-imperialist system to provide decent healthcare, employment, or basic necessities for many; police brutality and the oppression of Black people leading to waves of massive nationwide rebellions and protests; and deep divisions in society, including among the bourgeoisie, expressed in a bitterly contested election and the ability of Trump to trample on the normal functioning of bourgeois politics. All of these crises present the possibilities for communists to expose the workings of capitalism-imperialism to millions; to organize the proletariat, rebellious youth, oppressed people, and those in the petty-bourgeoisie willing to betray their class into a revolutionary people; to wrest leadership of the resistance movements away from opportunists and reformists and divert resistance towards revolutionary objectives; and to repolarize class alliances in society in a way favorable to the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie.
Author’s note: As a reader of kites,I’ve been inspired by the guidance and leadership your journal provides to conduct social investigation into the wave of protest and rebellion that has swept across the country since the murder of George Floyd. While the findings are not necessarily representative of national (or even proletarian) sentiment, they offer some insight regarding the rebellion that I hope can be of use to the OCR, RI, and all other readers of kites who are committed to developing and implementing revolutionary theory through practice.
I began the work of writRening out these positions over the course of 2018 and 2019. But these ideas, like all ideas, are social in their origin: they’re the outcome of significant effort among proletarian revolutionaries working together for many more years in study, discussion, and in the practical collaboration of proletarian class struggle.
These ideas were first presented by me in late 2019 to a large group of comrades with common or overlapping struggles who were brought together to discuss the deepening crises of capitalism-imperialism, the emergence and proliferation of existential threats, the nature of class struggle today, and the necessity of developing a program for socialist revolution. In the first half of 2020, a convergence of crises that an earlier version of this piece had began tracking have exploded onto the world, making all the more urgent the need to find our bearings and throw ourselves into the present and coming fights.
This piece’s declarative style – summary assertions and sharp lines of demarcation – is intended as a means of posing as clearly and bluntly as possible our analyses and positions on the subject matter: namely, the nature of capitalist crisis and the realities of class war today, particularly in North America. Admittedly, many of these positions require further research and elaboration. And it’s with that goal in mind that I submit them to the wider scrutiny and interrogation of the comrades and readers of kites.
The progression of bourgeois society is simultaneously its further decay
Following the protests and rebellions ignited by the police murder of George Floyd, calls to “defund” and “abolish” the police have grown in popularity, mostly among the activist/Leftist crowd and the progressive petty-bourgeoisie. Some elected officials have given their endorsement to these calls, and the Minneapolis city council intends to make a considerable overhaul of its local repressive state apparatus. The exact meaning of “defund” and “abolish” the police varies considerably, but usually means shifting money away from the police and into social service and community programs.
A series of outrages and the protests and rebellions that followed them have laid bare to a new generation, to white people willing to listen, and to the whole world a cold but potentially liberating truth: White supremacy and the oppression of Black people are fundamental to the foundations and functioning of the United States, and the rulers of the US, no matter what they as individuals think or feel, cannot go a day without inflicting brutality on Black people. These brutalities will only end when the system that needs and perpetuates them, together with the class that rules that system and those who enforce it, are forcibly overthrown and destroyed.
Things done changed is the second part in the four-part series The Specter that Still Haunts. Parts three and four will appear in kites three and four respectively. Originally written in 2015 and published in Uprising (a previous theoretical organ of Revolutionary Initiative’s), the whole series can be found at revolutionary-initiative.com.
Finance as Fantasy and Reality
The bourgeoisie is not a monolithic class of industrial capitalists all directly profiting from the exploitation of the laborers they employ. Instead, the bourgeoisie is divided into various factions, including financiers, renters, merchants, industrialists, and landlords. Among these factions, the surplus-value created by human labor is split and appropriated. But while the capital that different factions of the bourgeoisie accumulates has its origins in the production of surplus-value, the various forms of capital and the processes these forms undergo are different.1 With the transition from capitalism to imperialism came the ascendance of finance capital to a position of primacy within the overall accumulation process. Lenin wrote that the “concentration of production; the monopolies arising therefrom; the merging or coalescence of the banks with industry—such is the history of the rise of finance capital and such is the content of the concept.”2 David Harvey clarifies that rather than a power bloc in opposition to other capitals, finance capital is “a circulation process of capital that centers on the credit system.”3
Thefollowing Manifesto of the Organization of Communist Revolutionaries (OCR) is our indictment of US imperialism and the entire capitalist-imperialist system it is part of; our conception of the goal of communism and the socialist transition to get there; and our strategic thinking on making revolution in the US. It is not intended as a replacement or update of previous great works of communist theory and strategy, such as Marx’s and Engels’ Communist Manifesto; it is our attempt to apply such theory and strategy to the contemporary US. We welcome debate and discussion of this Manifesto and hope to learn from others who are attempting to figure out how to make revolution. We hope this Manifesto can provide inspiration and guidance to all those who hate the injustices of the present order and dream and struggle for a better world. And to those who agree with this Manifesto in whole or in part, we call on you to put these principles into practice, and to consider joining the Organization of Communist Revolutionaries.The OCR can be reached by emailing ocrev (AT) protonmail.com.