Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Reflections on the Revolution in North America

By Keith Preston

It is overwhelmingly clear that the consensus of the ruling class is in favor of cooptation rather than actual repression of the insurrection. The state and the capitalist class are acting in collusion with the usual suspects among the opportunistic sectors of the middle class and the totalitarian Left.

The objective is to exploit the race angle in order to deflect attention away from state and capital itself, and turn a potential war against politicians, corporations and banksters into a war against statues and abstractions, and fueling inter-tribal conflict while promulgating absolutely fraudulent concepts like “Defund the Police” which will, in reality, involve the creation of larger police forces (Camden, NJ), social worker cops (Scandinavia), the wider use of private mercenary police by oligarchs (Latin America), the increased federalization of law enforcement and expansion of the federal alphabet soup agencies (notice, for example, how the FBI has been reinvented as heroes among respectable liberal opinion during the Trump era). And the problem with CHAZ/CHOP is not that it is “too radical” but not radical enough. CHAZ/CHOP needs to be come Cheran, and there needs to be many Cherans.

There is also the problem of interclass and intra-lumpen proletarian conflict.

Many positive things have happened in the uprising. These include the mass participation of normies and civilians (non-revolutionaries) in protests and civil disobedience against the state, along with direct attacks on the state such as the destruction of enemy military bases (police precincts), star chambers (courts), and enemy military vehicles (police cars).

The outright assassinations of enemy troops (cops), mostly carried out by Leon Czolgosz-like lone wolves, has been unnecessary and mistaken, because we are not yet in a high-intensity civil war situation, only a low-grade uprising. The insurgents have no capacity for fighting much less winning an actual civil war at this point.

There have also been many other mistakes involving random violence against individuals, along with interracial, inter-tribal, and inter-sectarian violence. Inter-class violence has also been a problem. The direct expropriation of ruling class resources (“looting,” or what I prefer to call a grassroots economic stimulus plan organized from the bottom up and implemented through direct action) is legitimate. Places like Bank of America (neo-usurers), Wal-Mart and Target (neo-plantations), Amazon (neo-manors), McDonald’s, and Wendy (neo-sweatshops) are clearly part of the statist, capitalist, and imperialist enemy. One can argue against such actions on practical grounds (corporations write off losses as a business expense), propagandistic grounds (FOX News-like outlets use such actions in their anti-insurgent propaganda), or pro-labor grounds (employees lose their jobs if their employer is burned out). It could certainly be argued that worker occupation of such places would be a better approach. But clearly, attacks on the neo-manorial outposts of the neo-aristocracy are legitimate.

However, this does not mean that all interclass violence is legitimate. It would be a grave error, for example, to engage in arson in upper-class residential areas, or simply to attack people who seem like that might be part of the capitalist class on the street. This opens the door for a Jacobin/Stalinist/Maoist class genocide. Even more problematic is the interclass violence that has taken place between the lumpenproletariat and the conventional proletarian or petite bourgeoisie. These kinds of things have the same effect as the destruction of monuments, landmarks, temples, and artifacts, i.e. it provides propagandistic fuel that the ruling class enemy can use to its advantage.

The intra-class violence, or threats of such, within the lumpenproletariat is also a major problem. Primarily, this is the fault of the anarchists and other far-left sectors, but not for the reasons that Donald Trump would give. The anarchists, who should be the political leadership of the lumpenproletariat, have failed to build class unity among the lumpenproletariat. For example, anarchists have protested against ICE on anti-racist/pro-immigrant grounds, but have they exhibited similar zeal for defending gun nuts and militiamen against the BATF, drug users against the DEA, tax protestors against the IRS, sovereign citizens against the FBI, “white-collar criminals” against the DOJ, and, yes, urban street gangs, motorcycle gangs, Mafiosi (Bill Kuntsler was John Gotti’s attorney), cults (Charles Garry was the attorney for the Black Panthers AND the Peoples’ Temple), and (hold your nose) white nationalists and far-right extremists against the local municipal pigs, state pigs, and federal alphabet soup agency pigs? Have the anarchists adopted the mode of “defending the undefendable”? Nothing would undermine the ability of reactionary state forces to recruit the right-wing of the lumpenproletariat than efforts by anarchists and the general far-left to defend ALL (I repeat, ALL) enemies of the state as vigorously as they defend illegal migrants against ICE.

Of course, the difference is that illegal migrants are considered to be “progressive” (fueling cosmopolitanism or “diversity”) while these other sectors are considered to be “reactionary” (the modern equivalent of Marx’s “non-historical peoples”). This indicates that most “anarchists” or “far-leftists” are really just Blue Tribe fundamentalists first, with their anarcho-progressivism merely being an afterthought, and who are not yet ideologically and psychologically ready to launch a full-fledged war against the state even if they were militarily capable of doing so, which they clearly are not.

9 replies »

  1. I have never seen popular support for the police so low in my city. Last week activists pulled down two statues and the cops didn’t show up until after it had come down. They’ve largely given up on defending the city except for police precincts and jails. In my opinion, the state response is to call off the cops (except under certain circumstances) while reforms are negotiated between power brokers who are not necessarily connected to street level movements. Best case scenario my city ends up with a smaller police force with fewer weapons, an end to Safety Resource Officers in high schools, no more gang unit, no more riot unit, and an end to qualified immunity (which will discourage people from becoming cops). All of these are wins in my opinion, but they won’t fundamentally change who holds power. It’s just a part of a left of center push in US politics.

    • I think Keith’s point is if you attack the system exactly where they want to be attacked, then you might be actually doing their job for them.

      • That’s why I tend to have a very negative view of the statuephobia pandemic. Not only does it creepily remind me of the totalitarian revolutions of the past (although on a much more rookie league level), and as a historian I have a professional self-interesting in criticizing that, but far more important are two other things: 1) it fuels the efforts of ruling class propagandists, left and right, to deflect attention away from the battle against the actual ruling class through exploitation of the race/cultural aspect of the uprising; 2) it escalates the dangers actual inter-tribal warfare, which all sensible people should oppose. See the article I posted recently on inter-communal violence in India during the partition period.

        I don’t think the minorities or the political left would get the upper hand in something like that. The armed “far right” is typically more violent and dangerous than their counterparts on the far left. The conservative white working to middle classes are not going to side with people they think want to kill them. The majority of the middle class of any political ideology (or skin color) is ultimately going to side with order if their class interests are threatened. The hated “Karens” certainly so. 40% of the US military are southern whites, and they tend to make up the bulk of the infantry divisions. And the state is ultimately going to defend its own position no matter what. Don’t pick a fight you can’t win.

        • I’ve heard a saying in Chinese that goes something like “trying to squeeze the people is like trying to squeeze sand” meaning that the harder you squeeze, the more sand pours out of your fingers.

          Poor whites, blacks and browns in all counties around the world throughout time know instinctively that the system is against them and that their revolt is a daily thing of survival. This is maybe why the “great game” needs so much to play them off each other.

          I wonder if the key is actually to teach the middle class how to be generally ‘uncontrollable’ in the way the poor know how to be already. And BLM type efforts are more a way to direct the middle class into a more ‘acceptable’ form of dissent, rather than more general civil disobedience.

    • The key is to keeping pushing from the bottom up and from the outside in, and to expose fraudulent co-optation efforts by middle class sectors. Actual reforms like the ones you mention can certainly take place. Prior to Miranda, cops didn’t even have to advise interrogation suspects of their rights. Prior to 1985, cops should legally shoot check forgers who resisted arrest.

      • Middle class co-optation is in full effect right now. It’s disheartening and I fear you might be way too right about the legitimizing ideology of the ruling class moving to the left. In Portland there is an active effort to keep the safe, middleclass protests and the raging lower-class riots separated from one another both ideologically and geographically. This allows the local city officials to promote the former while condemning and outright attacking the latter with overwhelming force.

  2. One of the greatest strengths of neoliberal Capitalism (or whatever you want to call it), is its ability to absorb anything that is a potential threat against it and make it part of itself. How does ANTIFA and BLM represent “Anarchism” when their core message is now being parrotted by multinational corporations and tech giants?

    • One of the few mainstream or orthodox leftists who understands all that is Chomsky:

      See, capitalism is not fundamentally racist — it can exploit racism for its purposes, but racism isn’t built into it. Capitalism basically wants people to be interchangable cogs, and differences among them, such as on the basis of race, usually are not functional. I mean, they may be functional for a period, like if you want a super exploited workforce or something, but those situations are kind of anomalous. Over the long term, you can expect capitalism to be anti-racist — just because its anti-human. And race is in fact a human characterstic — there’s no reason why it should be a negative characteristic, but it is a human characteristic. So therefore identifications based on race interfere with the basic ideal that people should be available just as consumers and producers, interchangable cogs who will purchase all the junk that’s produced — that’s their ultimate function, and any other properties they might have are kind of irrelevent, and usually a nuisance.

      I don’t really consider ANTIFA or BLM to be anarchists per se. ANTIFA is all kinds of things, and ANTIFA-types are just as likely to identify as communist or something else as anarchist. The ANTIFA may appropriate the symbols of Marxism-Leninism and/or anarchism, but they’re not really either one. I’ve even seen ANTIFA flying Israeli flags in Europe.

      BLM seems to be a collection of actual organizations, allied or associated organizations and participants in a wider movement. I don’t think any ideological label can be pinned directly on them, although they are obviously “left” in a very general sense. I don’t think there is any connection between BLM and Antifa either, other than they both show up at some of the same protests.

      • Rank and file leftwing anarchists do not have the nuance to comprehend that Chomsky quote. Antifascist posturing has taken precedent over developing coherent strategies for taking on the state, unfortunately.

        BLM organizations and other Black activists groups run the full spectrum of allied to anarchists on the street level to being run by former or aspiring cops.

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