We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Organizing for radical change beyond the ballot box

Click here to access article by Ben Reynolds from ROAR
History shows that our best hope for radical social change lies not within the sphere of electoral politics, but in building popular power from below.
The only criticism I have of this article is that Reynolds omits a major building block of any revolutionary movement: propaganda efforts to counter the massive disinformation put out by capitalist institutions. This has always been a major component of any of the movements that he mentions in the article; but when these movement died, propaganda work died with them. Because this has not been pursued by any sustained, organized movement over time in the US (and elsewhere), each generation must re-learn political lessons and real working class history that previous movements and generations had already learned. 

On the other hand capitalist propaganda issues from every pore of mainstream institutional bodies with the result that people end up misinformed and confused. The capitalist ruling class knows something that revolutionaries do not seem to take seriously: if you can capture the minds of those who might rebel from their rule, these potential rebels will remain docile and even supportive of imperial policies with the additional benefit that you don't need to use so many costly coercive measures to contain dissent.

Thus the fundamental task of any viable revolutionary movement must be to build media organizations to counter capitalist propaganda. Initially such forms can emulate anti-Vietnam War activists who spread information near army bases in coffee houses and other establishments. Nowadays, similar efforts can make use of small businesses, collectively run coffee houses and restaurants near college campuses and areas where workers and the unemployed congregate. Online anti-establishment media must make greater efforts to collaborate and share resources. Future efforts can also devote energies to teaching working class history to counter the massive programs of indoctrination that children and youth are subject to in schools. 

Finally, I must add that serious revolutionaries do not pursue careers in order to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, take-on the burden of home mortgages, and raise a family. People who do this are easily co-opted into serving the system because of the ever present threat of a loss of their jobs by capitalists or capitalist overseers who control their jobs. Because revolutionaries know that capitalism is going to be the death and ruination of the working class and indeed the planet, they dedicate their lives to the overthrow of this deadly system in order to replace it with a sustainable, life-affirming system. 

The youth of today are increasingly aware that their generation may be the last that can save humans from nuclear war conflagrations and catastrophic climate destabilization. Never before in human history has a generation faced such a monumental task: to save humans from extinction.