Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Missing Ingredient

by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against
Racist Terror (ARA-LA/PART)

What is the recipe for a revolutionary transformation of this society?

The need for such a process should be as evident as the nose on our
faces. The evidence is in the melting glaciers in the Himalayas and
the vanishing polar ice cap in Greenland, where the indigenous tell
us that the water is now running out from under the ice even in
winter. The evidence, as Derrick Jensen eloquently tells us, is in
the disappearance of the salmon (not to mention the frogs, the bees,
and the fish in the sea). The evidence is in the city of rat-infested
cargo containers piling up outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long
Beach, because of every 10 containers of imports that come into that
busiest port complex in the U.S., only one goes back out with
exports. Not to mention that much of what the US physically exports
these days is cardboard, scrap metal, toxic electronic waste for
"recycling," and old clothes.

The evidence is in the pervasive panopticon of surveillance,
counter-intelligence, and domestic espionage that scans every email,
biometrically identifies every face, and sanitizes the results of
every search on the Internet. The evidence is in the robot soldiers
being developed by DARPA. It's in the drones that practically fly
themselves along the US-Mexico border as well as the 'tribal' regions
of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it's in the coffins that keep coming
out of those regions, as well as Iraq, where President Obama has
declared the war is over.

The evidence is in the schools of every city in the country, where
enrollments are rising but teaching and support staff are dropping.
One of the "anomalies" of the recent economic contraction and jobless
"recovery" is that it is the first one in which the loss of
employment opportunities in other fields hasn't meant an increase in
people opting to be teachers. Recent figures show a 50% drop in first
and second year teachers, the result of massive layoffs and
'reductions in force' at many school districts. LA Unified may
pretend to be worried about "drop-outs," but the teacher shortage
would be insurmountable even with the planned class size increases,
if 50% or more of Black and Mexicano/indigenous high school students
were not being tracked into the prisons or the grave before they finish school.

The evidence is in the mortality and morbidity statistics for the US,
where life expectancy is falling, and the country with the highest
total and per capita spending on "health care" has the worst health
in the industrialized world. The evidence is in the coming
"double-dip" in the housing market, with a new round of foreclosures
imminent. The evidence is incarcerated by the millions in the US
gulag of jails, prisons and juvenile halls, augmented by those on
parole or probation, those underemployed or disenfranchised because
of their prior convictions.

But if the evidence is so clear, why is the population so docile? Why
is the only sign of animus or agitation apparently on the mostly
white Right, in the Tea Party, the neo-Confederates, and those who
have moved beyond 'respectable' white nationalism to neo-fascist and
neo-nazi formations? What happened, in the US, to the in-the-streets
anti-war movement, or the anti-globalization movement before it? Like
Oswald the Rabbit, Disney's first creation now lurking in Wasteland
in a new video-game featuring "Epic Mickey" Mouse, is there a shadowy
place where outrage and resistance have gone to lick their wounds?

Actually, the name of the place where throttled and neutered social
movements go to die is widely known. It's the corporate Democratic
Party, where the corpse of environmentalism can dance with the ghost
of feminism. There a toothless labor "movement," like a zombie
reanimated by a new generation of "Communists," can consort with a
gay "liberation" movement that fights for the right to enter into the
marriage contract and to serve in the imperial armed forces. There,
the children of those who, in return for the perks of government
office, sold out the dream of equality and freedom of the civil
rights movement can encounter the children of migrant workers, whose
DREAM of a path to citizenship through assimilation and loyalty to
the Empire (at the university or the military) died stillborn. US Out
of Iraq, have you met SANE/Freeze? Clean for Gene, I'd like you to
meet Change We Can Believe In.

But we cannot blame the Democratic Party for failing to deliver on
its campaign promises or our illusions, anymore than you can blame a
scorpion for biting you when you give it a ride across the river. The
fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

The yeast that is lacking in the loaves that keep coming out of the
oven flat is clarity and audacity. Clarity about the nature of the
system we live within and are part of, and about the enemy we
confront. The US is and always has been a settler colonial empire,
the bastion of reaction domestically and internationally. Behind
every one of the problems we confront -- hunger, homelessness, police
abuse, mis-education, rape, catastrophic climate change, poverty, ill
health -- stands an implacable enemy whose lifeblood is the profits
that flow out of each of those problems.

Unemployment, war, militarism, and environmental devastation are not
policies that can be changed or ameliorated through enlightenment or
education. That's why Obama's foreign policy, domestic policy and
Constitutional interpretations differ so little from those of Bush.
They are not "policies" at all. They are systemic. That's why
Democrats and Republicans can compromise so easily while they profess
to hate each other. That's why the Democrats voted under Obama to
maintain the same pro-super-rich tax policies that they originally
voted for a decade ago under Bush. They are part and parcel of a
system of colonialism and capitalism that must be uprooted and replaced.

Any effective action we take or change we make will be met with
repression, so it must be central to our movements to build the
capacity to resist and fight back in the face of repression. And bear
in mind that cooptation is a form of repression, the carrot that
dangles from the stick. The system has centuries of practice of
substituting bourgeois "liberation" movements for revolutionary ones;
based on class collaboration and identification with the Empire and
the oppressor, it can stock the ranks of bourgeois women's movements,
replace conscious hip-hop with materialistic gangsta-glorifying rap.
It's always ready to offer a New Deal or just a big deal, the best
deal we can get. It's time to say, no deal.

Audacity, because despite all its might and wealth, the Empire has
feet of clay -- not only an irreconcilable contradiction with its
subjects, the people it exploits and oppresses, but an irremediable
contradiction within itself. A system based on stolen land and labor,
whose operations destroy the land, the sea and sky, whose growth is
inevitably consumed by collapse like the seven fat cows eaten by the
seven lean cows in the Pharoah's dream, cannot endure. The Empire is
aware that all its wealth and power come from the people it exploits
and oppresses, and whom it cannot do without. The Market knows full
well that all of capitalism is a colossal Ponzi scheme, and fears the
scales falling from our eyes, the awakening awareness that Property
is theft, and that we and the planet are the source of creativity and
wealth. They know that they need us but we do not need them. The
growing rigidity and repressiveness of their system is a measure of
their fear. Their need to colonize every inch of bandwidth, to
colonize the human genome and the germinal power of every seed, is a
measure of both their insatiable greed and their inevitable
vulnerability. It is we the people who must realize our power, who
must renew our understanding that, as Huey P. Newton said, the
people's spirit is greater than the man's technology. We need the
audacity to struggle relentlessly by every means necessary, to "use
what we got to get what we need." Key to this is recognizing that,
though a new world is possible, it is not a new U.S. that is
necessary. The imperial structure of the US, a prison house of
colonized nations and peoples, must be shed, as a caterpillar sheds
its chrysalis to emerge as a butterfly. Time to break the chains that
bind us to our own oppressors and our own destruction, and take flight!

The above editorial appears in the new issue of "Turning the Tide:
Journal of Anti-Racist Action, Research & Education," January-March
2011, Volume 24 Number 1, available from ARA-LA, PO Box 1055, Culver
City CA 90232. A sample copy is free; one-year subscriptions (four
quarterly issues) are $16 for US individuals ($26 foreign, $28
institutional) payable to Anti-Racist Action at the above address.
You may call 310-495-0299 or email for
a sample copy.

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