We have argued that Trump’s election represents a deepening impasse in neoliberalism, and that this impasse results from a systemic crisis in capitalism. As capital works to counteract falling profit rates by contracting social reproduction, it faces a growing problem of legitimacy. Delegitimation deepened slowly but steadily for years and fractured the consensus below the neoliberal order. Now the rise of Trump represents a sudden expansion of these fractures, which extend, like cracks in a windshield, deep into the state. Continue reading Morbid Symptoms: Conclusions
Members of Unity & Struggle and other comrades collaborated on this piece, which challenges us to reflect on the strategy and tactics of revolutionary anti-fascism. Originally featured on Lifelong Wobbly.
Written by three members of the Atlanta General Defense Committee
“Outside Agitators” – but who’s agitating?
The scene in Auburn, AL when we showed up was one of the most bizarre we’ve ever seen in a political context. Neo-nazi spokesperson Richard Spencer had just been allowed to begin his speech in Foy Hall, after a local judge negated Auburn University’s decision to cancel his event. The live stream showed a packed audience, though some were opponents. Outside, there was a large crowd of students and onlookers. Standing in the crowd, looking to our left and right, it was often impossible to tell if our neighbors were spectators, trolls, anti-Spencer Auburn students, college republicans, or fascists. We were able to identify some people in the crowd as fascists due to their MAGA hats or giant American flags, but they did a much better job of blending into the crowd than many of the anti-fascists did. Many of the anti-fascists were dressed in black and were armed in helmets and other aspects of the “uniform” that made them stand out from anyone from Auburn. The most visible fascists themselves were already in the auditorium, which meant that for the next several hours, the only visible “outsiders” for the crowd were the anti-fascists. For people in the crowd, anti-fascism looked like a specialized thing, while the fascists themselves were abstract and out-of-sight.
Before we talk more about what happened, let’s talk about Alabama and Auburn. It seems unlikely that many anti-fascists were familiar with Auburn before Spencer’s speech was announced or had ever spent time in Alabama.. We don’t mean to score cheap points here. Obviously, most of us have not been to most parts of the US, and may not have heard of every city. However, we think that the US left simultaneously ignores and scorns the South in general and the “deep south” in particular. Furthermore, Auburn – home to one of Alabama’s two main universities – has its own particular culture and significance within Alabama. Think of the biggest deal you can imagine people making of college football – double that, and add a little more for good measure. That’s how important football is for Alabama, and Auburn is their number two school. To say the town’s culture revolves around football, and the state’s culture revolves around the football of the University of Alabama and Auburn University, would be an understatement. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been called “the most powerful man in Alabama,” and that’s probably not an exaggeration. Indeed, it seems that one of the biggest missteps Spencer took in Auburn was to speak against black football players and berate people for supporting them – attacking Auburn football may have galvanized the school and the town against him in a serious way.
There is a dominant stereotype that white people in the Deep South are ignorant conservatives. This stereotype comes from liberal institutions (think of the character Kenneth on 30 Rock), and it carries over into the left if it is not consciously challenged (which it usually isn’t). Of course this contributes to a hostile or skeptical attitude from Alabamians when there is any engagement. There hasn’t been any meaningful Left presence in Alabama since the 70s, and very few attempts by contemporary left groups to engage seriously with Alabama. When the US left spends decades ignoring the deep South, we are telling ourselves and the rest of the world that we don’t believe there’s any meaningful organizing to be done there. The right wing doesn’t make the same mistake. In Alabama, groups like “The League of the South” have open meeting halls, billboards by the highway, and have announced the formation of a “Southern Defence Force”.
This is important because it heavily influences how we approach a situation like this. For those of us who believe in a mass-based, working-class-oriented anti-fascism, it comes down to some central questions. Can we imagine a mass anti-fascist movement in Alabama? Can we actually imagine that large numbers of Alabamians would agree with our program and strategy for fighting fascism? Or do we basically think that mass anti-fascism might theoretically work elsewhere, but not in a place like Alabama? Continue reading Tigertown Beats Nazis Down: Reflections on Auburn and Mass Anti-fascism
As an interlude while we prepare the next installment of “Morbid Symptoms,” we’ve uploaded a short talk and reading list below. We hope these will help U.S. revolutionaries to analyze the phenomena of fascism and the Trump regime, and develop anti-fascist strategies on the ground that bring us closer to freedom.
Further reading on fascism and anti-fascism:
- Beetham, David. (1984). Marxists in the Face of Fascism. Totowa: Barnes & Noble Press.
- Guerin, Daniel. (1994). Fascism and Big Business. New York: Pathfinder.
- Hammerquist, Don. (2002). “Fascism and Anti-Fascism.” In Confronting Fascism. Montreal: Kersplebedeb.
- Passmore, Kevin. (2014). Fascism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Payne, Stanley. (1983). Fascism: Comparison and Definition. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Sakai, J. (2002). “The Shock of Recognition.” In Confronting Fascism. Montreal: Kersplebedeb.
One year has passed since the streets of Baltimore erupted in rebellion after the police murder of Freddie Gray. While people will recall the dramatic footage of a CVS on fire and rebellious youth dispersing police lines in the streets like leaves in the wind, we look deeper to understand the full significance of what occurred. What follows is a book review of the sharpest account of the Baltimore Uprising to date, and we invite readers to join the discussion and share their own reflections in the comments section.
“Looking at a lot of shit different now”:
Research and Destroy’s The 2015 Baltimore Uprising
By Rosa DeLux and Chino Mayday
The story of a rebellion is usually told from the perspective of its opponents. Those who subdue the rebellion define the narrative, while the real movement of revolt––the sound of store windows breaking, the feelings of elation when cops break formation and run, the curious mix of self-doubt and bravado one encounters in the street––is lost to history. That is, until the rebels tell their story themselves. The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary tells the story of last year’s Baltimore riots from the perspective of its participants, offering an exciting, humorous and deeply provocative snapshot of young rebels in motion.
Compiled by Research and Destroy New York City, Uprising collects hundreds of tweets from the teenagers who turned Baltimore on its head in April 2015, after police murdered Freddie Gray in the back of a patrol van. Uprising is filled with their outrage, their feelings of “west baltimore making history,” and their meditations on the value of black life, and this alone makes the book required reading for anyone trying to understand where the black movement in the United States may be headed. A few reviews hyped Uprising when it came out, but this piece highlights a theme from the book that deserves more attention: how young people in Baltimore came to understand themselves as active subjects shaping the course of history. This theme challenges commentators––both right-wing and left-wing––who saw only nihilism in the riots, and it demands consideration by anyone who wants to abolish white supremacy. Yes, the rebels of Baltimore rejected our oppressive society. But they also made themselves anew in the process.
Like everybody else, Unity and Struggle members have grappled with how to address abuse and patriarchal behavior in our society, and in left organizations including our own. We don’t have easy answers, but we’ve found it helpful to study the nature of abuse under capitalism and different responses to it. Below is the syllabus for an abuse study that some U&S members and friends are currently test-driving in several cities, based on interest. We hope other groups will take up the reading list, adapt it to their needs, and use it to craft responses to abuse in our movement and lives.
UPDATE 6/5/2016: We’ve added a few more discussion questions to this study guide, to reflect some of the themes that came up as we finished reading everything.
Abuse Study Guide
1. Defining Abusive Relations.
Objectives: (1) Gain empirical understanding of the broad range of physical and emotional abuse in intimate partnerships; (2) Explore relationship between objective social relations and individual experience of abuse, consent, trauma; (3) Develop our own definition of abuse;
This guest piece deals with the growing militancy on the streets in the U.S, and where that militancy is heading. While U&S doesn’t agree with every point made below, we post it in hopes of sparking discussion.
Why Aren’t American Cities On Fire?:
Notes For A Discussion About Riots In The United States
I’m in my mid twenties. Unlike most working class people in my generation, my friend has a car, and I sometimes catch a ride with him to work, if it works out. This buddy of mine works as a welder in one of the last shipyards in the city, a high-paying job for a working class person of my age. Thus, the car.
One day I got a ride with him to work, which for me is a restaurant. Another friend, who had been crashing at my place, also caught a ride with us downtown. At the time, this other friend was unemployed, and tried to support himself through various illegal activities. We all went to the same high school together.
I have an old tape recorder, which my friends let me use to record interesting moments I have with them, and I had it with me on this day. We were shooting the shit along the ride, and the topic of riots came up, as political topics usually do in our conversations. That’s when I pressed the record button. “Imagine if we were in Baltimore when it was going down against the cops!?” asked my unemployed friend. I’m not going to write what the response to that question was, and I have since erased that segment of the recording, as I usually do with any potentially incriminating recordings. The eruption of an anti-police rebellion in Baltimore in April was still fresh in our minds.
My crew of high school friends and I have all despised the cops from a very young age, because we all got harassed by them at some point or another. In this conversation, we wondered what a rebellion would look like in the urban region we live in. After a few minutes of imagining, there was the common sense response, from my welder friend, “yea, well, call me when it happens!” To which I responded, “well, we gotta prepare for it if we’re gonna be ready when the moment comes, right?” There was no surprise that I asked this question. “Right.” I’ve known these two particular friends since I was about ten, so we were all very comfortable talking about this with each other. I pried further, “but how???” After a pause, my unemployed friend said, “practice,” which I remember he said with a completely straight face. Continue reading Why Aren’t American Cities On Fire?
Protests for the #HandsUpTurnUp day of action in solidarity with the Ferguson rebellion took place in at least 10 cities across the country last night. Unity and Struggle members helped coordinate and lead actions, alongside comrades and friends, in several cities. Shout out to Torque in ATL and the Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee for their dope cross-city coordination. Below is a brief roundup of media from the actions, with updates as we get them.
In Salt Lake City:
This is the introduction from a longer pamphlet, the full PDF is available for download here: Bloom and Contend_Chino
Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?
This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.
–Mao Tse-tung, Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society, 1926
The Chinese revolutionary experience comprised one of the great world-historical revolutions of the 20th century. It spanned the overthrow of the dynastic system that had governed China for over 2,000 years; years of rapid modernization that saw the growth anarchist and communist politics in East Asia; two decades of mobile rural warfare, leading to the triumph of a state socialist project; and finally, to a series of internal upheavals and external conflicts that brought the country to the brink of civil war, and culminated in the emergence of the capitalist dreadnought which now stands to shape the course of the 21st century. One fruit of this rich historical experience is Maoism.
The term “Maoism” is used differently by different political tendencies, to describe syntheses of the theories and strategies that Mao Zedong, and his allies in the Chinese Communist Party, developed from the 1920s to the 1970s. In its various iterations, Maoism has made a considerable impact on the U.S. revolutionary left. In the 1960s, a wide range of groups in the black liberation, Chicano, and Puerto Rican movements, and later the New Communist movement, looked to Mao for inspiration and theory. This influence continues today, not only through well-established groups like the Revolutionary Communist Party and the two Freedom Road Socialist Organizations, but also through smaller and younger groupings such as the Kasama network and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party—Prison Chapter. If any wave of social movement is to appear in the U.S. in the coming years, Maoist politics are likely to be a significant element of its revolutionary wing.