Against the Empire
What is the current position of the socialist project in the United States of America, how can it be revived, and what are the steps that must be taken at this juncture in our historical development?
In order to answer these questions, we must first articulate our goals. Therefore, we ask, what are the long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals of communism? The long-term goal is, of course, to establish a classless, stateless, society. Here we have no dispute, and any serious “leftist” worthy of the identification is in agreement. The mid-term goals are to bring about a situation in which it is possible to begin socialist construction: the dismantling of the settler-colonial empires. The short-term goals are rebuilding a base among the working people and preparing for immediate unrest and revolution.
Can we revolt today?
No. A revolt today, scattered and atomized as the U.S. communists and other like-aligned leftists are, would be disastrous. It is pure adventurism. Even if every communist and fellow traveler armed themselves tomorrow and prepared an attempt to seize the state by the end of the week, the result would be mass slaughter of the left, military governance of the United States, and the institution of an immediate fascist counterrevolution. Thus, while certain types of violence do serve an instructive role in preparing the ground for the final stage, it is currently impossible to dismantle the United States by violent action from within.
What is to be done?
In order to answer this question we must make an unflinching examination of the conditions in the United States; we must catalogue our weapons and the tools at our disposal, measure up our current position against the position we need to be in to attack and destroy the United States Empire, to articulate a plan, and to spread that plan amongst like-minded fellow-travelers. Professed positions within the left are meaningless unless they align, more or less, with the plan we adopt. As seen below, I advocate for a broad cross-spectrum alliance amongst socialists, scientific and otherwise, based on a number of agreed-upon common points. Those who cannot agree to the necessary common points to pursue the program should be treated with extreme suspicion; they may be worked with at arm’s length, but never joined in cadre.
I. The Position of the “Left”
II. The Position of the Empire
III. The Program
I. The Position of the “Left”
The so-called left in the United States is far from a unified, or even coherent, field of players. However, within that loose amalgamation there is a general division between the actors and the thinkers. This division is unmarxist, unwarranted, and extremely deleterious to the progress of socialism. As a ground-level principal, those who do not act are not socialists at all; we are not idealists, and care only for the material effects of belief, not for its subjective, internal values. Those who act but do so without theory are adventurists, who just as often endanger the socialist project as advance it and cannot distinguish the one from the other.
Of course, the most obvious action for anyone to take is immediate, violent, revolt. This is felt in our very bones. This is the natural course for anyone oppressed by a faceless, all-powerful system like that established by capital. This form of spontaneous outcry is the natural result of any pressurized system that lacks relief. As pressures build and the dialectic accelerates, more and more spontaneous outbursts of violence will occur. Any person caught in the machinations of the destructive and inhumane system of capital who is pushed far enough may find themselves spontaneously ready to revolt. Yet, what greater social good have figures like Christopher Dorner, the Ted Kaczinsky, or Marvin Heemeyer accomplished? Far more often, they have admixed regressive, reactionary elements with their ideology and their adventurism has done little material good.
Theory is required to separate useful, progressive actions from useless, regressive ones. But without action, theory is itself a toothless agent of reaction urging passivity and attempting to satisfy the need to express real violence as wordy term-papers and position statements.
The same can be seen in Paris where, weekly, protests rock the French capital. Yet, the Communist parties in France have been unable to help direct these protests in a universally helpful direction. We also have the example of the Spartacists to look to. To put it simply: Spontaneity, unaided by preparation, leads, at best, to some minor awakenings of class-consciousness when it is defeated, and at worse to fascist counterrevolution.
The U.S. “left” has been cabined into the spontaneists and the theorists, and never shall the twain meet. Some efforts are being made by notable groups, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Nor, should it be said, are these divisions sharply along professed lines of ideology. There are adventurist Marxists and theorist Bakuninists all contained within the same admixed body of the so-called left.
The academic left must be discounted; no action will come from the academy. To the extent that academics will enter the field of action, they will do so by exposure to action. Proselytizing to class-enemies is a waste of energy, and academics are members of the petit-bourgeois class through the ownership of their training, which gives them some proletarian, but many bourgeois, class-features.
II. The Position of the Empire
The empire is currently at its apogee. It cannot currently expand, but is rather poised at high tide between the anti-imperial projects in the East and the natural gravity of its bulk in the West and South. It finds itself in prolonged and sustained crisis at every turn. However, while the catastrophe is certainly in its nascent stages, the Sword of Damocles has not yet fallen.
It has long ago been shown that capital must constantly expand, conquering new markets, or else it will be stricken with the inherent illness of the falling rate of profit by its own, internal logic.
As the squeeze is felt by the capitalists, the U.S. empire has increasingly restricted labor rights, reproductive rights, and the rights of marginalized groups that were most recently agglomerated to capital. The old order is now re-emerging, the “kinder” capitalism touted during the 20th century reverting to the naked use of power. The reasons for this are myriad, and include the destruction of the U.S.S.R. as a counterbalancing force, and the approach of an imminent and apocalyptic crisis. Although not relevant for this analysis, it is my contention that the survival of capitalism was prolonged by the engagement of the Cold War, using this “excuse” to destroy men and materiel and re-align the spoils of the world, delaying and delaying the internal collapse.
The empire is now attempting to solve its current crisis with the possible recourse to one of four wars, with the increase in incarceration, and with the establishment of concentration, labor, and death camps within its borders.
War. There are four potential targets for a coming imperial war. These targets are Venezuela, Iran, Russia, or China, in ascending order of catastrophic retaliation. War suppresses class contradiction and deploys fascistic nationalist principals to bolster class collaboration. Capitalist countries have historically resorted to war to destroy materiel (a nexus for profit), increase productivity, suppress class contradiction, lower wages, and lengthen work hours.
However, war also has the counterbalancing effect of weakening imperial control, diverting the attention of the managerial bureaucracy required to keep the capitalist state functioning, and denuding the effectiveness of the imperial army. A state of war represents the optimum inflection-point for attacking the imperial state.
Incarceration. As planting is disrupted by weather and the imprisonment of migrant laborers who would otherwise work for under the minimum wage, the deficit is made up by incarcerated labor.
Death Camps. The death camps repress class contradictions by opening up the field of labor that was previously occupied by sub-minimum wage marginal workers. Indeed, by increasing the marginalization of this class of worker, it empowers capital to achieve even higher degrees of profit extraction from those forced into this position, and to begin moving the national proletariat into high-extraction positions.
Thus, the empire is weakening, withdrawing, but not at its weakest point. It will become weakest at the alignment of the three forces: Once the empire is committed to a war, when incarceration’s natural tensions have reached the maximum prison population the system can allow, and when the death camps are full but have not yet begun the “pressure release” of liquidation.
III. The Program
The hour is now to begin action; we no longer have time to wait for party-building and above-ground action. The time is extremely late, and we do not have the organization required to win a revolution. However, we do have the capacity to organize as we go. That is, to make use of the spontaneous outbursts of violence that are certainly coming and to guide them with theory.
I therefore propose a two-pronged approach. The first, and primary prong, is to build mass support by entering into otherwise liberal movements that have a progressive character: protests against ICE, against the government, etc. Why must we do this? Because movements will surface spontaneously in one of two ways and we must be ready to make use of them in both incarnations. These are the lower phase of non-violent protest movements and the higher, more advanced form of violence against the state. To abandon the non-violent movements before they advance into violent movements is to lose a good portion of potential revolutionary fervor.
What do we mean when say that the lower phase is non-violent and the higher phase is violent? Not that there is a moral judgment to either of these phases, but that the masses of people will first pass through the lower phase and find it accomplishes nothing, is counterproductive, and exposes them to state violence. Then, through a straining process, the most advanced of these people will move on to the higher phase. Class consciousness must be fostered before the masses will be ready to move on to overthrow the state.
While in those lower phase non-violent movements, we must foster revolutionary consciousness and be seen to be forward, progressive, and care deeply about the issues which the masses care about. That is, we must select the most forward and progressive issues that inspire the masses and join them. Indeed, it would be best if we were to lead on those issues, but because we lack a unified Marxist-Leninist party in the imperial core, we are incapable of leading at this time. So, instead, our cadre and anyone who subscribes to this strategy must endeavor to engage in a semi-entryist course. Of course, it is impossible to be entryist without a cadre, for reasons that may become apparent (primarily because strategy must be dictated by the cadre and not by the progressive- bourgeois elements that are leading the masses).
Our second prong must, at some point, be insurrectionary, as climate apocalypse and ongoing genocide dovetail with the march of fascism. These are not separate strategies, but rather a single, coherent, strategy which should be coupled with a dedicated educational program. Actions must be coupled with theory, and those exposed to action or able to hear of it should be targeted with recruitment and theory.