This was the very first essay ever written for Attack the System. It dates to circa 1999/2000 CE/AD. It will be left up to the reader to determine how well it holds up under the test of time.
American Revolutionary Vanguard
While many contemporary American revolutionaries consistently bemoan the apparent apathy displayed by much of the American public, evidence exists that the winds are in fact beginning to blow in our direction. Polls taken in recent years indicate that nearly forty percent of Americans believe government to be a serious and immediate threat to the liberty and security of the people. Indeed, many of these polls show that approximately three percent of Americans now feel that armed struggle against the state would be justified. That may not sound like a lot when viewed on its own but a look at the historical evidence provides some interesting insights.
When the American colonists declared independence in 1776 (the actual war of revolution had begun a year earlier), only five percent of the two and a half million colonists actually favored secession from the British Empire. By the time independence had been won seven years later, nearly a third of the people had come to favor independence with another third remaining loyal to the crown and yet another third being neutral. Only sixty thousand persons, about two and a half percent of the population of the colonies, actually participated in the revolutionary effort itself.
The situation of the colonial revolutionaries was not unlike that facing Americans of today.
The British Empire was the dominant world power and was regarded as the most advanced, prosperous and enlightened state of its time. It was one of the first nations to informally implement religious toleration and was a leading nation in the crusade against slavery. The typical British citizen enjoyed greater personal liberty than residents of other nations of the time and British political and legal culture had begun to absorb some of the liberal ideas that had emerged from the Enlightenment. Indeed, England had comparatively strong libertarian traditions reaching as far back as the Magna Carta and Anglo-Saxon common law.
Today, the United States is the dominant world power, possesses the strongest military force in history and is also the most technologically advanced nation and one of the wealthiest. The United States also has, for the time being, relatively high levels of individual freedom and probably possesses the strongest libertarian traditions of any contemporary nation. Like ancient Rome in its latter days, the United States is a great but decaying and dying civilization in the process of being eaten away by the cancer of internal corruption. The similarities between the incompetent leaders of latter day Rome – Caligula, Nero, and others – and many current American leaders (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Rudolph Guiliani, Edward Kennedy) are all too obvious.
The United States is rapidly degenerating into a tyrannical police state. Twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners are located in American penal institutions and the American state’s “War on Drugs” has begun to mirror the early days of the Nazi pogrom against the Jews. A massive prison-industrial complex, a pernicious program of civilian disarmament, widespread police terrorism, the gradual establishment of paramilitary police forces as an occupational army, growing use of the regular armed forces in domestic “law enforcement,” and other related measures are planting the seeds for a full-blown American fascism. Meanwhile, the process of globalization promises to create an even narrower concentration of absolute power into the hands of political, economic, media, and military elites.
Resistance has emerged from a variety of sources in recent years. The anti-globalization movement staged the largest confrontation with elite power in three decades during the Battle of Seattle in November 1999. The massacre of the Branch Davidian religious community in April 1993 has become the contemporary equivalent of the Boston Massacre that was so pivotal in the events leading up to the American War of Independence. The 1992 uprising on the West Coast was the largest since the Civil War era. The recent Texas prison break demonstrated that the prison-industrial complex is not quite so invincible as it might appear. An avowed separatist was elected governor of Alaska and an elected New Hampshire state representative openly endorsed armed struggle against agents of the state.
The remainder of this essay will outline a comprehensive strategy for resistance to the current American state towards the ultimate goal of carrying out a second American revolution for the purpose of liberating the peoples’ of North America from both the increasingly tyrannical domestic regime and the emerging global regime ruled by megaconglomerates and commonly referred to in some dissident circles as the New World Order. Three basic points are argued:
Emerging resistance elements represent a wide variety of trends originating from entirely different sources and with widely divergent motivations but with nearly identical enemies.
Effective resistance to the common enemies can only take place if a united front is maintained by resistance elements in spite of serious cultural and ideological differences and increased efforts by elites at cooptation, disruption, and repression.
A common program involving large-scale organization towards common ends with the use of radical decentralization as a means of working around major internal differences and resisting external repression is absolutely vital to the ultimate success of the resistance effort.
The first of these points is to some degree the product of the heterogeneous nature of American culture. Whether one is speaking of ethnic minorities brutalized and terrorized by urban police thugs and herded into the prison-industrial complex, rebellious middle-class youth drawn to resistance activity as a result of both natural youthful idealism and restlessness and the expanding attacks on youth by the state, rural and small-town militiamen feeling encroached upon by federal tyranny and globalization-generated dislocations, or simply persons from all walks of life fed up with business as usual, the voices raised universally condemn the same primary targets-centralized political and economic power, media and academic institutions that serve as mouthpieces for elite propaganda, and the creeping fascism finding its way into every area of life.
Thus far, resistance has been brewing in a number of camps yet no determined effort has been made to sew the various threads of discontent into a quilt of a unified resistance alliance organized around a comprehensive revolutionary program. It appears that resistance is emerging from four basic population groups. These include both working and privileged class youth, traditional working people from the sparsely populated areas of the United States, the urban poor and minorities, and lastly, conventional “outlaw” elements or, as the Marxists like to say, the “lumpenproletariat” consisting of gang members, ex-convicts, prison inmates, various drug cultures, the homeless and other street populations and the like. How would a new political paradigm aiming at the organization of these diverse elements into a resistance front be constructed?
First, it must be recognized that each of these constituencies, regardless of their various differences, have essentially the same enemies – government, police, socio-economic and corporate elites, and the forces of globalization. Second, a program must be developed whereby these differences can be separated from one another in order to strengthen the common effort. The primary differences are cultural. Rural and small-town farmers and workers attracted to the militia movement are primarily white, Christian, socially conservative, and culturally homogeneous. The urban poor are primarily ethnic minorities with a wide variety of religious orientations, including a growing Islamic presence, and frequently exhibit a matriarchal, extended family structure naturally resulting from the incarceration of so many urban poor males as part of the state’s program of repression. Youth attracted to revolutionary politics seem to be primarily, though not exclusively, white and from more privileged sectors than their rural or inner-city counterparts. Lastly, the so-called “lumpen” elements frequently originate from the lowest rungs on the socio-economic ladder and are viewed with suspicion and mistrust even by other disenfranchised sectors.
It is essential that a serious revolutionary movement adopts a profoundly decentralized structure in order to accommodate the diverse elements within its own ranks. This can be done if each element fights on its own “turf” in a separate but mutually supportive way towards the aim of realizing a few common goals – eradication of central power, elimination of the domestic police state, and withdrawal from the globalization process. Geographical separation becomes the key to making this process work.
A comprehensive revolutionary program must have a political, economic, social, cultural, and military dimension. A parallel infrastructure, reminiscent of the old Wobbly concept of “building the new system within the shell of the old,” must be established. Institutions developed by the militia/patriot movement in recent years may provide some guidance here. The initial motivating factors for the creation of the militia movement were the federal killings at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the threat of repressive federal “gun control,” or civilian disarmament, the dislocation of millions of farm families in America’s heartland region at the hands of the government and agribusiness, land seizures and other forms of repression, and growing fears about the totalitarian nature of the globalization process. In the process, the militia/patriot movement has created a subculture organized around a wide number of alternative institutions and activities. These institutions are worth taking a look at because they provide a splendid example of a working-class resistance effort created by working-class persons solely on their initiative (Author’s Last Name). Included in these institutions are military, legal, political, educational, media, and economic activities.
The militia is the military arm of the movement. These groups are highly decentralized with no central command structure at all. Some militias are open and public, and march and train in public view, sometimes even in the presence of television cameras. Others are secretive and are generally organized into small, tight-knit three-to-five man cells. The most common difficulty faced by these groups has been the avoidance of infiltration by informants and government agents and the succumbing of careless persons to government entrapment schemes resulting in “illegal weapons” prosecutions.
The legal arm of the movement is organized around the so-called “common law courts.” These are essentially an effort to create a parallel legal infrastructure in opposition to the state’s legal system. The nature of these courts is highly diverse, influenced by such divergent sources as the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, the Magna Carta, the Uniform Commercial Code, old English common law, the Bible, and others. The “laws” of these courts are typically quite libertarian, usually rejecting all laws except those prohibiting aggression against other people and their property, although some fringe elements within the movement throw in aspects of Christian fundamentalism or white supremacy as well.
Some patriot elements have also organized an alternative political system usually centered around the idea of a “sovereign township,” which is a decentralized community independent of conventional federal or state authorities. Hardcore participants typically refuse to obtain driver’s licenses or social security cards or display motor vehicle tags. They also refuse to send their children to state-run schools, and home schooling is very big among these people.
Patriots have also developed a fairly large alternative media culture consisting of shortwave and pirate radio programs, websites, and other forms of internet communication, “underground” magazines and newsletters, and public access television. In addition, an economic aspect of the movement exists, consisting primarily of self-sufficient rural and mountainous “survival” compounds, various types of appropriate technology and do-it-yourself medical treatments and energy sources, and even alternative forms of monetary currency.
It would be highly beneficial for a similar effort at the creation of an alternative infrastructure to begin among other population groups as well. An urban revolutionary movement needs to develop as a complement to already established rural alternative institutions. An urban militia system might form, inspired partially by the patriot militias and by previous urban armed struggle efforts such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, the Young Lords, the Brown Berets, the Young Patriots, the Chinese Red Guards, etc. Groups of this type might operate paramilitary training camps in secret locations in the outlying areas around cities while maintaining a decentralized cellular model of self-organization. In addition, alternative “courts” might be set up in urban communities for the arbitration of disputes without involvement from the state’s legal system. A parallel political infrastructure, based on the idea of a federation of sovereign neighborhoods, might be established along with alternative, non-governmental schools, assistance programs for the needy, alternative media, cooperative enterprises, businesses owned and operated by radical and community organizations, tenants unions, claimants’ unions for recipients of public assistance, consumer information services, free clinics, neighborhood patrols, guilds for the defense of the homeless, addicts, runaways, prostitutes, and other populations with special needs, urban gardens, squats, and the like.
Radical youth clubs should be established on high school and university campuses and in suburban and upper-class communities as well as working-class and poor ones. These clubs would engage in ordinary cultural and recreational activities centered around youth fashion, music, art, etc., but would provide sound political education and firearms and civilian defense training as well. The gang structure built up in many urban communities provides a number of special challenges. There are approximately thirty-one thousand gangs active in the United States today with a combined membership of nearly one million. These people are armed, angry, and have the correct enemies. Successful attempts to politicize urban gangs have occurred in the past. The Young Patriots and Young Lords were originally street gangs, and the Black Panther Party recruited heavily from the urban gang culture, as has the Chicago-based New Black Panther Party. A number of major gangs have become politicized in recent years, including Los Angeles’ Bloods and Crips, with a truce implemented between these two previously warring gangs, and Chicago’s Gangster Disciples whose political arm, Twenty-First Century Vote, has become active in city politics.
Prison gangs that could be mobilized in direct opposition to the prison-industrial complex would be a tremendous asset to the struggle. During his stay in California’s Folsom Prison in the 1970s, Dr. Timothy Leary formed an alliance of the Mexican Mafia, Black Muslims, Hell’s Angels, Aryan Brotherhood, and other California prison gangs around the issues of prisoners’ rights and prison conditions.
Ultimately, the goal would be to create a nationwide federation of popular organizations representing a huge variation of interests and activities. At the local level, each city or county would form an alliance of local radical, community, and defense organizations, perhaps coordinated by a council consisting of one delegate each from every participating neighborhood association, economic enterprise, union, cooperative, activist group, church, street gang, militia, anarchist group, separatist group, etc. Each council would then send a delegate to a regional and then national federation of similar type. The purpose of the national federation would be mutual defense and support. Each local alliance would be expected to gain political control of its own “turf.” This could be done by economic methods such as strikes and boycotts, political methods like running for and obtaining positions on city councils, state assemblies, school boards, zoning commissions, or direct military action through armed insurrection.
Once the revolutionary forces became dominant in enough areas, the next step would be to declare an independent confederation of sovereign regions, townships, villages, city-states, communities, tribes, republics, kingdoms, etc., combined with the total renunciation of the state-corporate political system, the dismantling of state political, legal, and judicial systems locally and regionally, the freeing of prisoners, occupation of industrial facilities, and seizure of military bases.
Of course, central power would never step down without a fight, so armed conflict would inevitably result. On one side would be civilian militia organizations, paramilitary forces, and guerrilla armies organized on geographical, cultural, ethnic, religious, ideological, economic, biker, gangster, etc. bases. On the other hand would be the forces of the state – primarily regular military connected to Pentagon interests, federal paramilitary forces, and metropolitan police. Probably at least some National Guard, regular army, and rural sheriff’s departments would defect to the revolutionary side. The state’s armed forces are not as invincible as they may seem. Many different efforts occurring simultaneously and in support of one another would be very difficult for the state to suppress, particularly if the resistance forces were receiving substantial amounts of economic, political, diplomatic, and military assistance from foreign sources.
The modern world has seen examples of small guerrilla-militia movements successfully resisting modern industrial states. The Viet Cong won their independence by defeating the most powerful military force in history. The Afghan resistance effectively defended themselves against Soviet occupation for eight years and eventually drove the Soviets out. The Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the African National Congress have waged successful struggles against the nations of Great Britain, Israel, and South Africa, all modern industrial states. The Finnish militia system repelled a Soviet attack in the early days of World War Two, and the Swiss militia system deterred a potential invasion by Nazi Germany. A well-coordinated civilian revolutionary force would be able to fight the federal regime to a standstill.
The post-revolutionary North America would be a profoundly decentralized collection of small, independent political units, perhaps forming a voluntary confederation for the purpose of continental self-defense. Each group would choose its own political and economic system according to local needs, customs, and preferences. The state-supported corporations would collapse in favor of smaller enterprises, worker-run businesses, cooperatives, collectives, municipalized industries, self-employed ventures, farmers, family businesses, guilds, kibbutzim, communes, barter networks, intentional communities, and more. Police and prison systems would be eliminated, and dangerous individuals would be banished to segregated areas. Anti-poor, anti-worker, anti-youth, and other repressive legislation and policies would be scrapped. Media would be decentralized into the hands of community organizations, and education would be a partnership between teachers and students. Many other positive changes could be made to create a society based on principles of liberty, justice, and equality.
The American Revolution of 1776 effectively eliminated the monarchy, the aristocracy, and the established church. The next American Revolution would aim to eliminate state and corporate privilege as well. It would be a transformative struggle to reclaim power and autonomy for the people, challenging the dominance of centralized authority and oppressive structures.
The prospects for a revolutionary alliance between left and right in the United States rely on recognizing the shared enemies and uniting diverse resistance elements around a common program. By embracing radical decentralization, overcoming cultural and ideological differences, and fostering large-scale organization towards common ends, a formidable force could emerge to challenge the current domestic regime and the emerging global regime. It is through such a collective effort that the goal of liberating the people of North America from tyranny and creating a society based on freedom, justice, and decentralized power can be achieved.