Lately I've been writing many articles which warn about the violent crackdown that the ruling class is preparing to carry out. These articles are meant to instill a sense of dread in their readers, and it’s right for me to put out such dire messages; police militarization, growing fascist militias, and preparations for a domestic military invasion should all be discussed by those in the anti-capitalist movement, and in fact I advocate for all the members of this movement to become armed and trained to defend from potential violence against them.
But we should also recognize that the ruling class has created this military vanguard because it feels very threatened by the socialist revolutionary movements that have the potential to upend the world throughout the next decade or so.
Amid the worst American economic inequality in a century and a level of global inequality not seen in 200 years, the industrial world is at its greatest potential for social unrest since the 1920s and 30s. During that time, as runaway inequality and a subsequent global depression made living standards suffer, the labor movements rode to prominence on a wave of discontent. By 1931, when high levels of unemployment and limited benefits started causing large amounts of poor families to lose their homes, the victims respondedby protesting throughout many suburbs. From the U.S. to Scandinavia to Central Europe, this raw anger at the ruling class resulted in growth for pro-labor and communist organizations.
The response from the capitalists was either to support fascist movements of the Hitler/Mussolini strain, or to preserve the capitalist and imperialist power structure by implementing social democracy. The latter thankfully turned out to be the ideology that won out between the two, but in the case of both fascism and social democracy, the systems of imperialist violence and capitalist exploitation were preserved while the socialist movements were crushed. This inevitably gave rise to neoliberalism in all of the capitalist welfare states, and then to the fascist paradigm that’s now emerging out of neoliberalism’s rotting shell.
We can’t let the ruling class again bargain its way into a reformed version of capitalism, both because of these long-term structural flaws in social democracy and because social democracy’s embrace of capitalism makes it unable to confront the climate crisis. By the time this period of social unrest is over, capitalism will need to be defeated in all the places where it held on throughout the last wave of pro-worker movements.
This requires building socialist movements that don’t become co-opted by the insidious forces of capitalist influence. Socialists must not disavow existing socialist states like China, Cuba, Nicaragua, and the DPRK because of the deceptions about these countries that they’ve heard from imperialist propagandists. They shouldn’t try to reform capitalist institutions like the Democratic Party. They should work to direct the growing lower class discontent towards increased involvement in genuine socialist parties like the PSLand the PCUSA, and towards mass civil disobedience actions like street blockades and general strikes.
If we build up this momentum-which could receive a boost next year with the 2020 May Day general strike-people will know where to turn when they reach their breaking point with capitalism. And make no mistake, a lot of people in America especially are soon going to come to this breaking point. With the gargantuan economic downturn that’s expected to happen in the next year or so, so many will lose their jobs, homes and funds for daily necessities that countries like the U.S. will enter into the same kind of unrest that France has recently experienced.
When this unrest comes, the actions from the ruling class will be brutal. After seeing how the French police killed and injured Yellow Vest protesters this year, we know the authorities in America and other countries will carry out violence that’s as bad as or worse than this. “We’re already seeing the censorship, wholesale surveillance, militarized police, explosion of our mass incarceration system,” said Chris Hedges in a 2017 segmentof his show On Contact which focused on the state’s response to the coming uprising. “How do you think they’re going to react?” Hedges asked the socialist David North.
“I think they’re going to react violently,” answered North. “And I think they’re going to react with repression. “I think they’re going to try to target-I think one should take very seriously that if you find in The New York Times statements such as ‘socialists should be killed,’ that’s to be taken seriously. There has been this repeated statement that socialism is a threat, is a threat, therefore that’s a danger. But I think on the other side, I think history also shows us that the growth of a mass movement can overcome those dangers. I think workers can draw their conclusions.”
History has shown that our way to overcome those dangers runs through building up socialist organizations, commitment to solidarity with the existing socialist states, and tactical intelligence in when it’s necessary to use violence as a method for resistance (i.e only when violence is needed for self-defence). The political scientist Erica Chenoweth has written that these have been the factors which have brought movements to victory amid violent repression. Writes Molly Wallace of Waging Nonviolence about Chenoweth’s analysis:
Chenoweth also discusses how activists (and their allies) can improve the ability of nonviolence to respond to and persist amid violence. One important way they can do this, according to Brian Martin whom she cites, is to be strategic in the way they represent and publicize the actions of the movement in contrast to the actions of the regime to highlight the regime’s repressive methods. Second, she suggests that communities and movements build their organizational capacity — and strengthen civil society institutions more broadly — as those that have greater capacity are more likely to be resilient. Finally, because security force compliance is so instrumental to a regime’s ability to carry out violent repression, including mass killings, she urges foreign governments to help facilitate security force defections by making escape from the country less risky for those wishing to defect.
As capitalism continues to collapse, we’ll need to make it easy for people to understand that they need to apply these activism principles in relation to the socialist movement. The aspect about making alliances with sympathetic foreign governments especially shows the importance of Marxist-Leninism in the fight against capitalism, because it’s the Marxist-Leninists and not the Trotskyites who embrace the world’s existing socialist states.
The fact that these states largely make up the countries which are being targeted by U.S./NATO imperialism further shows why it’s crucial for global socialists to stand with Venezuela’s Chavistas, China’s Xi Jinping Thought followers, the DPRK’s Juche socialists, and the others who are defending their nations from capitalist aggression. If World War III breaks out in the next decade, it will effectively be a war between capitalism and communism, since the capitalist world’s provocations towards world war are motivated by the desire to destroy China’s geopolitical standing.
Therefore, the current struggle against imperialism is in every way related to the struggle against capitalism. To win, global socialists will need to work to counter the war propaganda campaigns against the socialist countries while building up the movements that seek to defeat capitalism in additional nations.
Through international unity and the proper strategic actions in the face of repression, the next wave of worker’s revolutions will emerge victorious even after all the obstacles that lie in front of it. The forces of capitalist reaction are not the storm. We are the storm.
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