Remembering the Real Dragon- An Interview with George Jackson May 16 and June 29, 1971

George Jackson, murdered by prison guards Aug. 21, 1971

[Part of our series on military strategy in imperialist countries.  Originally posted here.]

Interview by Karen Wald and published in Cages of Steel: The Politics Of Imprisonment In The United States  (Edited by Ward Churchill and J.J. Vander Wall).

Karen Wald: George, could you comment on your conception of revolution?

George Jackson: The principle contradiction between the oppressor and oppressed can be reduced to the fact that the only way the oppressor can maintain his position is by fostering, nurturing, building contempt for the oppressed. That thing gets out of hand after a while. It leads to excesses that we see and the excesses are growing within the totalitarian state here. The excesses breed resistance; resistance is growing. The thing grows in a spiral. It can only end one way. The excesses lead to resistance, resistance leads to brutality, the brutality leads to more resistance, and finally the question will be resolved with either the uneconomic destruction of the oppressed, or the end of oppression. These are the workings of revolution. It grows in spirals, confrontations, and I mean on all levels. The institutions of society have buttressed the establishment, so I mean all levels have to be assaulted.

Continue reading “Remembering the Real Dragon- An Interview with George Jackson May 16 and June 29, 1971”

Stalin: Armed Insurrection and Our Tactics

Stalin's secret police mug shot from 1908.

[Part of our series on military strategy in imperialist countries.]

July 15, 1905

The revolutionary movement “has already brought about the necessity for an armed uprising”—this idea, expressed by the Third Congress of our Party, finds increasing confirmation day after day. The flames of revolution are flaring up with ever-increasing intensity, now here and now there calling forth local uprisings. The three days’ barricade and street fighting in Lodz, the strike of many tens of thousands of workers in Ivanovo-Voznesensk with the inevitable bloody collisions with the troops, the uprising in Odessa, the “mutiny” in the Black Sea Fleet and in the Libau naval depot, and the “week” in Tiflis—are all harbingers of the approaching storm. It is approaching, approaching irresistibly, it will break over Russia any day and, in a mighty, cleansing flood, sweep away all that is antiquated and rotten; it will wipe out the disgrace called the autocracy, under which the Russian people have suffered for ages. The last convulsive efforts of tsarism—the intensification of repression of every kind, the proclamation of martial law over half the country and the multiplication of gallows, all accompanied by alluring speeches addressed to the liberals and by false promises of reform—these things will not save-it from the fate history has in store for it. The days of the autocracy are numbered; the storm is inevitable. A new social order is already being born, welcomed by the entire people, who are expecting renovation and regeneration from it.

What new questions is this approaching storm raising before our Party? How must we adjust our organisation and tactics to the new requirements of life so that we may take a more active and organised part in the uprising, which is the only necessary beginning of the revolution? To guide the uprising, should we—the advanced detachment of the class which is not only the vanguard, but also the main driving force of the revolution—set up special bodies, or is the existing Party machinery enough?

Continue reading “Stalin: Armed Insurrection and Our Tactics”

Lenin: Marxism and Insurrection

Red Guards in Moscow

V. I. Lenin: Marxism and Insurrection, A Letter to the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.)

Written: September 13-14, 1917 
First Published: 1921 in Proetarskyaya Revolutsia No. 2

One of the most vicious and probably most widespread distortions of Marxism resorted to by the dominant “socialist” parties is the opportunist lie that preparation for insurrection, and generally the treatment of insurrection as an art, is “Blanquism“.

Bernstein, the leader of opportunism, has already earned himself unfortunate fame by accusing Marxism of Blanquism, and when our present-day opportunists cry Blanquism they do not improve on or “enrich” the meagre “ideas” of Bernstein one little bit.

Marxists are accused of Blanquism for treating insurrection as an art! Can there be a more flagrant perversion of the truth, when not a single Marxist will deny that it was Marx who expressed himself on this score in the most definite, precise and categorical manner, referring to insurrection specifically as an art, saying that it must be treated as an art, that you must win the first success and then proceed from success to success, never ceasing the offensive against the enemy, taking advantage of his confusion, etc., etc.?

To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. That is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest. That is the third point. And these three conditions for raising the question of insurrection distinguish Marxism from Blanquism.

Once these conditions exist, however, to refuse to treat insurrection as an art is a betrayal of Marxism and a betrayal of the revolution. Continue reading “Lenin: Marxism and Insurrection”

Violence and Street Fighting: Who Says It Alienates the People? (Kasama Project)

[Part of our series on military strategy in imperialist countries.  Originally posted here.]

by Mike Ely

An anarchist wrote in a neighboring thread:

“i find it a little odd the way Marxists in the US always associate militant action with anarchists almost exclusively.”

That is a misunderstanding. I think you are talking to the wrong Marxists. The experience of the Maoist movement in the U.S. (to take just one example) is closely tied with many forms of militancy — starting with the Black Panther policies of armed self defense, and then also with the militant combativity of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). And denoucing militancy is (in my view) associated with very particular currents within the Left — whose strategic errors are closely tied up with those tactical views..

Learning and Practising Street-Fighting in 1968

Zengakuren 1967

While in high school, those of us attracted to SDS took classes at a local “Free University” in radical theory and the street fighting snake dances of the Japanese Zengakuren.

In Washington Square park squads of us practiced — using 5 foot cardboard tubing from the garment district — in how to unhorse “cossacks” sent against us. Over and over we would organize anti-imperialist feeder marches to the growing antiwar parades — and march in ranks through the main streets of Manhattan without permits, defying and confronting the cops. Continue reading “Violence and Street Fighting: Who Says It Alienates the People? (Kasama Project)”

Focoism vs. Peoples War: Problems of Exaggerated Universality (Kasama Project)

[Originally posted here.]

By Mike Ely

Tell No Lies posted a criticism of the article I wrote evaluating Che Guevara. And I think he gets at some important things.

Peru's Shining Path -- armed Maoist villagers, not special elites of "heroic guerrillas"

In this exchange, I hope to argue for  a few core ideas:

1) We should deepen our understanding of the importance of contrasting ideological and political line.

This means examining policies and ideas in terms of where they lead — toward what? Toward revolution and communism, or somewhere else?

Che was an important revolutionary figure who became a truly unique global symbol of armed struggle and internationalism. But we should pursue a critical evaluation of the LINE he represented as well.

2) We should embrace a deeper understanding of the mass line – the principle that revolution must be the act of the people themselves (and that a socialist revolution requires an embrace of communist organization and consciousness within a larger, active, emerging “revolutionary people” — an actual section of the people.)

3) We need a renewed materialist appreciation of particularity — the relative uniqueness of each moment and place. I.e. we need to be wary of that casual universalization of strategic ideas that often burdened previous generations of revolutionaries.

Continue reading “Focoism vs. Peoples War: Problems of Exaggerated Universality (Kasama Project)”

40 years of Philippine Society and Revolution

An interview with Comrade Jose Maria Sison (Amado Guerrero), by Ang Bayan.

It has been 40 years since the Central Publishing House of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) first published Philippine Society and Revolution (PSR). In the past 40 years, PSR has served as the CPP’s principal reference and guide in laying down the basic principles of the two-stage revolution in the Philippines based on the analysis of concrete conditions of the semicolonial and semifeudal system. To commemorate the anniversary of PSR and reaffirm the principles it laid down, Ang Bayan decided to interview Comrade Jose Ma. Sison who, as CPP founding chair Amado Guerrero, was the principal author of the PSR.

1. Can you relate to our readers certain historical facts about PSR? When did you start writing it? Who were involved in the research and writing? When was it first published and in what form? To your knowledge, how many times has the book been printed?

Jose Maria Sison (JMS): I wrote it soon after the launching of the people’s war and on the eve of the First Quarter Storm of 1970. I started writing and finished it in the third quarter of 1969. Some comrades in the EC/CC like Charlie del Rosario and Monico Atienza brought me the reference materials that I needed. When I finished the rough draft around August 1969, I gave it to Julie de Lima and other individuals and the members of the Central Committee to gather their suggestions and comments. Continue reading “40 years of Philippine Society and Revolution”