Outlining a response to potential social revolts

Objective conditions and popular anger continue that could bring revolts in some parts of the population, and possibly generalized protests in the right situation. The shifts of the past few years have caught revolutionaries off guard and led to many mistakes: revolutionaries propping up militant reformism, leftists mixing with the radical right in some places, rigid dogma insulating against activity, and being too anchored to the terms of conflict from prior situations.

Struggle is likely; though the best attempts of predicting where shouldn’t be trusted, and even when correct often don’t help revolutionaries in the positions of trying to figure out what to do. Today we should be trying to prepare for future disruptions by cultivating the capacity to act in real time; having a revolutionary practice capable of adapting to a plurality of different situations. What follows are just rough outlines of pieces of thoughts, nothing formed enough to go beyond notes. Still the lack of discussion around these issues and potential for things to unfold rapidly necessitate dialogue, even in a rough and fragmented form. To open up this discussion, it’s worthwhile to outline some key points likely to come up in the next few years.

  1. Immediate new protests are reasonable to assume as popular discontent has only partially cooled and a long period of austerity adds kindling to an already tenuous situation. The world political environment is one of change and interconnectivity; a context where weak links can set off waves of struggle particularly as the crisis deepens and both the responses of power and resistance have hardened and shifted.
  2. The main responses to the crisis to watch so far have come from militant forms of reformism (largely right and left populism and social democracy), ruling class austere capitalism of large scale decline of living standards and widening inequality, neofascist movements built from elements of the left and right and not necessarily centered around race, and a growing popular support for insurgent forms of anarchism and communism.
  3. We should anticipate support within the left and right for all these forces, and not assume that the divisions of today will persist when struggle gets in motion. Some on the left today will likely move in response to social pressures to positions to preserve capitalism or implement new class orders against movements for liberatory societies.
  4. There is no certainty that this is the crisis, and no guarantees reformism is not possible. Capitalism is adaptable. We should assume the worst, that it can find solutions to its crises, and prepare accordingly. Of course we can hope for the best along the way.
  5. Objective conditions are never enough to carry a project that requires huge numbers of people to literally build a new world. An active anarchist conception of social transformation is a key aspect of overcoming capitalism, and should be put at the front and center of the day to day work of revolutionaries working against exploitation and oppression.
  6. In popular revolts revolutionaries should focus on generalizing struggles and issues, and finding programmatic ways to advance and demonstrate revolutionary politics in direct struggles. Without that we fall into support for social democracy or worse nationalist populist movements, and leave many militants floundering in otherwise positive situations. With an eye towards social revolution as the total transformation of social relationships, we need to forge the path from the context of today towards a people motivated by the desire for another society engaging in immediate struggles through to insurgent opposition to capitalism and the State.
  7. Immediately, we should experiment and attempt formulate our revolutionary practice in terms of the impinging crisis in our lives: at work, in housing, police repression of communities, sexual violence and domination, and other symptoms of the social decline and change associated with this moment.
  8. Putting social transformation of struggle at the top of our priorities reinforces the need for seeing mentorship, political dialogue, and engagement with developing militants as a priority. Specifically we need to be working to ensure militants have the capacity to act independently, without instruction or structures of command, and with creativity in real time to carry forward revolutionary politics in an unstable and unfamiliar terrain.
  9. The state of fragmentation, decades old alienation from politics in the US, and unfamiliarity with struggle puts up large barriers to the development of cohesive organization. Both attempting to build bases and political sects run into difficulties lacking the ground to nuture such attempts that come out of times with more revolutionary cognition and activity. We need to concentrate resources in a unitary field where we can develop our ideas, carve out a program in practice, organize day-to-day struggles, and mentor at all levels of commitment and development across time. Our point of intervention should be to unify that political work within struggles, development of ideas, strategizing, and libertarian education.

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