Dear Editorial Board,
How do we restore the fires of revolution? Every week continues the income of murmurs in our streets, the Facebook events, and pop up art murals supporting Black Lives but the turn out has diminished massively. It has been over a month since our largest protest – when thousands of Austinites rallied at Huston-Tillotson University before marching to our Capitol and beyond. The strength of the people was apparent then. Their collective voices spoke out against police oppression, but that voice is only an echo now.
From what I have observed from the many protests that I have attended since the first days, public protests have become vividly private and full of the usual suspects. Although the mixture of various established groups – often friend circles at this point – occasionally brings new faces, it appears that they have become cliquish in nature. The embers are just hanging around. The masses who have returned to work or to cower in their homes have become compliant to the cause. Along with them has left vital support networks that protesters fighting the police rely on such as riot medics, sympathizers who bring supplies, and the occasional member of the Austin Lawyers Guild. This has caused groups’ numbers to dwindle more, making it easier for the police to prey on the small crowd. I fear with the recent arrests – including that of a journalist by the name of Hiram – and attitudes I have seen among the LEOs [police] that theses small crowds have become game, used as training for the rookie cops to sit, stare and grin as the ‘brave’ veterans dog pile on a 90lb girl for sitting on a barricade.
The protests against police brutality in Austin have become a too predicable ritual. Which will lead to people being target. We are already seeing it happen here and other places around America.
– A Citizen of Austin
First, we must demarcate between a revolution and an uprising. A revolution is a violent act in which one class overthrows another; a mass uprising is a swell of outrage, where the people stand up against their abuse and exploitation. The May Uprisings and rebellions fit into the later category. Specifically, they should be conceptualized as a spontaneous rebellion. These must be supported and defended as correct, but they cannot, on their own, bring secure an end to the system which makes them inevitable.
In V.I. Lenin’s masterpiece “What is to Be Done?” he takes on the ideas of those who seek to “bow to spontaneity,” and expresses the need for a vanguard Party of disciplined and professional revolutionaries embedded in the mass struggle. These revolutionaries look upon revolution as their very lives, bringing the mass struggles forward to the conclusion of seizing power. He led the Great October Socialist Revolution where this scientific theory was tested and proven to be correct.
As far as analyzing the May Uprisings, our assessment can only be a positive one. The people in their great numbers shook the system up, and spoke louder and in a more combative way than in all the previous rebellions in recent history. As Mao Zedong expressed, the masses are the real heroes, and the Leninist Party must mobilize them. This makes the main task of revolutionaries today the reconstitution of the militarized Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Parties in all countries where there is none.
US imperialism has entered deep and worsening crisis; it has not secured a way out of this, which is the guarantor of future and even more intense mass rebellions. Within this struggle revolutionaries find their purpose, to develop the struggle in an organized and professional way by implementing the correct method of leadership to the fight, securing the ability to surpass the limitations of spontaneity.
In the meantime, revolutionaries do not wait, they continue making contacts and joining the people’s struggles, both intense struggles and less intense ones, to create stable bodies of organizations with the people themselves to address their day-to-day needs. This extends past service programs, so we are not talking about mutual aid groups but struggle organizations. All along the way the revolutionary must expose the limitations of reforms and the role of the state in securing and defending profits for the ruling class at the expense of the people.
To comprehend the importance of the uprising we must examine its contradictions. First, the great economic crisis, made worse by the pandemic, has millions suffering from unemployment and the virus itself impacts the lives of the most oppressed working people the hardest. This creates conditions that demand rebellion. The awful things that have been happening daily since this country’s founding, such as the police murder of Black people, are like sparks igniting powder kegs. The masses, who are the real heroes in all this, rise quickly and like a tidal wave. The state in its unrestricted hatred for the people responds with inhuman ferocity, and we have all seen it.
At this point, since the masses are not a homogenous group, there are those with advanced ideas (supporters of revolution) and there are those with intermediate ideas (angry but still having faith in the system to correct itself), as well as those with backward ideas (racists and people who insist that rebellion is wrong and everyone should simply vote and talk about it); among all these there are varying degrees of people.
This poses an internal contradiction in the mass movement and the state responds in mainly two ways. The first is with state-sanctioned violence: surveillance, “less lethal rounds,” gas, batons, horses, tanks, and all other sorts of weapons to bludgeon and monitor the movement. These fall into the category of warfare, the police in essence mount a physical war on protesters to break their spirits and force them back into submission. This first type shows the police and state for what they really are, instruments against the people. The repression ultimately feeds resistance.
The second type is far more devious than the first; instead of rubber coated bullets, they fire sugar coated bullets. These come in the form of false promises, splitting the protest into the ‘good’ protesters whose only methods are those acceptable to the ruling class, and the “bad” protesters, those that rebel and use methods not acceptable to the ruling class. The enemy further mobilizes the spineless reformers and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to make interventions among the people for ‘non-violence’ and sitting at the table for a talk (which always excludes the people). Select individuals from the movement are brought under the wing of the NGO complex, given high paying jobs to turn rebellion into money and make protesting conform to the sensibilities of those being protested. This is a multimillion dollar industry.
Voting is another way to kill mass movements. The illusion of democracy and change without violence is the carrot hanging from the stick, it is when you are not chasing the carrot that the stick becomes their main tool. The police use photo ops, kneeling with protesters, and getting teary-eyed, all while singling out militants and anyone angry. This is all low-intensity warfare, also meant to kill the rebellion. The opportunist performs the role of the firefighters for the ruling class, anywhere a fire erupts and the people rebel the opportunist rushes in to put out the rebellion in the service of their masters.
Understanding all this helps us to grasp that things do not just fizzle out, at least not due to apathy among the people. What the uprisings teach us is that many people desire revolution, and find life under their current circumstances unbearable. Many believe that risking their lives and freedom is preferable to accepting the conditions forced on them. Spontaneous rebellion comes and goes quickly. They must be utilized to show people their potential outside of the system’s mud. They must be used to find the most advanced and serious among them, and to organize those people long-term. With each sequence, if the revolutionaries use correct methods, their fighting capacity improves in the interest of reconstituting the vanguard Party of the working people in this country.
With such a Party, the future opens up; things that were impossible become possible. The class has unified leadership, it develops its army and its united front, and it is then able to wage armed struggle and build itself throughout this armed struggle by mobilizing the masses, producing, and fighting. This is the hope for the people and it is really their only hope to end the system of brutal oppression and exploitation that has caused so much suffering in the world.
We understand these are not easy answers, and can only express our undying optimism which comes from the faith we have in the people to rebel and to make revolution. We insist that this is possible, we know the task at hand—develop the mass uprisings which are inevitable in times of crisis, develop revolutionaries, and make strides toward the reconstitution of the Party.
– Tribune of the People Editorial Board
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