Thursday, June 7, 2012

Winning Plutocracy -- the Juggernaut

One of the more remarkable aspects of the "Nonviolence" Wars -- or rather, the argument, it never came to blows after all -- was the apparent urge many of those in the "nonviolence" community had to make common cause with the Oppressor, in the immediate case with the Po-leece, but down the road, with the Plutocrats and Oligarchs that rule us.

Somehow, we were supposed to believe, being "nonviolent" would lead to the Police changing sides, and it would lead to the Overclass doing the right thing for once in their worthless and exploitative lives.

On the other side of that fabulist coin is the notion that if things only get bad enough, the people will spontaneously rise up and destroy the Ruling Class once and for all.

But that's not quite how it is working out. Nor do I think it has ever quite worked out that way.

Instead, what we have is the relentless march of Power and Money on a Juggernaut crushing all in its path, which has no consciousness of "doing the right thing" or making common cause with the masses, or even with some self-appointed "nonviolent" elite among the masses. It simply isn't happening.

(Not being an X-Men fan, I had no idea there was a character called "Juggernaut" that behaves pretty much like Our Rulers...Oh. My. :-0. Live and Learn.)

How do you make common cause with that?

The fact is that the Plutocrats and Oligarchs are interested in rule over the rest of us and they use their militarized police as shock troops and enforcers. It is striking how very little "changing sides" there has been. It has nothing whatever to do with how the forces of resistance resemble or fail to resemble GhandiKing. Nothing. It has to do with the simplest facts of Power: Power concedes nothing without the demand, and right now  and for some time past, there has been no demand Power has chosen to listen to or fear.

In Olden Days, it seems like you could always count on someone in the Ruling Classes or among their enforcers to break ranks and side with the People, and they simply aren't doing it now. If anything, the ranks are closing tighter and tighter, much more so than ever before.

And those who have from time to time appeared to be on the People's side aren't.

It's as solid a phalanx of Power and Money arrayed against the People as there has ever been, and they concede... nothing.

A lot of those engaged in the struggle and resistance against them -- and there are many millions world wide -- seem to think that persistence can win concessions, and it isn't happening. Persistence leads to ever greater levels of frustration and despair, not concession at all.

The other day I posted the video of Bella Eiko at the Public Safety Committee hearing of the Oakland City Council. She expresses her extreme frustration with the City administration and particularly with the Committee chair in no uncertain terms, at length. Her point of view, her anger and her frustration are shared by many in Oakland, and if people are honest with themselves, many more people would share her outrage at the blind indifference of officials to the ruin they spread in their wake. Bella Eiko was not polite in her outrage, and many would say she was engaged in "violent confrontation," but that would be a complete misreading of what was happening. She isn't violent, any more than Chris Moreland was violent when he was arrested in retaliation for sassing the Oakland police chief. She's furious -- as so many of us are -- at Power's complete indifference to the suffering they cause and perpetuate in service to... itself.

The lack of any concession by Power at all after months and years of growing need, protest and demand is one of the most striking aspects of the post-Soviet world we live in. Not only is there no concession, there are constant, growing, and often totally outrageous demands of the People by Power.

The Plutocracy is winning; the Plutocracy has won.

Recognizing that the Plutocrats and Oligarchs have won is not to concede to them, however.

I saw a comment the other day over at Digby's from someone who posts as CupOJoe, someone who I believe is the same online advocate for workers rights and a better life for all who has been posting on these topics for many years (the problem with Digby's comment section is that there is no way to be sure whoever is using this or that screen name is the same individual who has historically used the name). He said with regard to the Wisconsin Debacle in part:

Politics is a long, slow slog through the mud and we have not yet begun to fight in earnest.

and I was just kind of gobsmacked by it. Well, when to we start this fight "in earnest?" Digby has been writing about this struggle "in earnest" for over a decade now, and so has Joe, if CupOJoe is the same Joe I'm thinking of (I forget his last name right now, memory synapses are going haywire and all, but for a time, he had quite a prominent place on the advocacy side of the left-o-sphere.) I've had this blog since 2007, but I've been an activist online and in the field much longer than that going back to the ancient days of the 1960's. When therefore does the fight start in earnest? I'd really like to know.

And what constitutes fighting in earnest?

I've said, and I still believe, that Occupy represents "The Revolution," insofar as an actual Revolution is possible under the circumstances. It is by nature a nonviolent resistance campaign -- whether or not a random or purposeful window is broken or a raging citizen angrily confronts and denounces Power. This is the only way a Revolutionary action (especially on a global scale, as the Occupy Movement is) can proceed in the world as it is. The fight is very much "in earnest" and with an enormous number of moving parts.   It may not be as well-coordinated as one might wish, but no vast Movement of this sort ever is. Even the most adept of military campaigns are far less well-coordinated than legend might suggest. 

And the progress of the Juggernaut is not as well-managed and inevitable as it may appear. 

In fact, the Juggernaut can be stopped in its tracks much more simply than we may sometimes think. The Juggernaut doesn't think. It can't; it's inexorable. Thinking is not part of its nature. Nor actually is doing. In fact, all of its "doing" has to be done by those crowds eagerly surrounding it and pushing and pulling the cart forward. The Juggernaut cannot move on its own. The Juggernaut is mindless and relies entirely on worshipers for motive power.....

Bob Avakian of the Revolutionary Communist Party offered this insight a decade ago:

Stopping the Juggernaut and Making Revolution

A fundamental and essential question poses itself: Is it actually possible to stop this whole juggernaut without carrying out proletarian revolution? Well, we'll learn that in the event, as things actually develop, but certainly we can't say at this point that it would be impossible to stop this juggernaut without achieving the actual overthrow of the whole system--that only through revolution, to put it simply, could this juggernaut be derailed. Now, that may turn out to be the case, but that's not something we can determine at this point. So when we put forward the objective of actually stopping this juggernaut, it's not a gimmick; it's not a way to get people on a train, an express train with no local stops that goes only to revolution. It's an orientation toward actually uniting with people with a real objective in mind. We're not promising people that this is going to happen one way or the other, or pretending that we know the whole outcome of this. What we are saying is that we must have this as an objective--to stop this juggernaut--and we're serious in seeking to stop it, even if it means that it gets derailed short of revolution, because that will contribute greatly to revolution in any case, besides the fact that in terms of the two 90/10s*, and particularly in terms of the interests of the people of the world and their revolutionary struggles, it's important to stop this juggernaut.

But, at the same time, if we're not bringing forward, through the course of all this, the need for proletarian revolution, if we're not showing in a living way how this juggernaut is rooted in the very nature of this system--that it's one particular, concentrated expression of the nature of the beast and why we need to do in this beast--then we're not meeting what we need to be meeting in terms of the needs of the people and in terms of our revolutionary objectives. So this is another contradiction we're going to have to handle, once again, not in a linear or mechanical way but in a dialectical way, in accordance with the complexity of how these contradictions play out.
* The "two 90/10s" refers to a formulation in the Draft Programme of the RCP, in the section on building a united front under the leadership of the proletariat (UFuLP), where it speaks to the importance of seeking to win over the great majority of people within the U.S. itself (the "90 percent") "while doing this in unity with the `90 percent' internationally , the great majority of the people of the world who suffer exploitation and oppression under the domination of imperialism and its allies and puppets."

Interestingly, Avakian's statement (from this essay) strikingly prefigures some of the conceptualization that characterizes the mostly anarchic Occupy Movement, yet the RCP play essentially no role in the actions of Occupy.

What's necessary to stop the Juggernaut in its track is something Gandhi and King understood very well: noncooperation.

Noncooperation is a concept many people still have trouble grasping -- let alone doing. It's always difficult to say "no" in the face of implacable Power. Much as I admire the grit and fortitude of people like Bella Eiko and Chris Moreland when they confront Power directly with their rage and outrage, I also caution: "You're feeding Power when you do that." Ultimately, denunciation won't work because Power loves the attention -- positive or negative, it doesn't matter, the attention itself is what Power desires and demands. So. Ultimately, to stop the Juggernaut, you have to stop pulling and pushing it. Step away.

And it STOPS. Just. Like. That.


  1. Non-cooperation was one big thing I took away from Gene Sperling's book. That is what it's going to take to make any real change happen. The main problem of course is people are scared shitless to do it. It means essentially no income, no food etc. This may sound stupid but I've learned a bunch about foraging for food. It's fun and I believe will eventually be extremely useful.
    Oh, I'll be in the Land of Enchantment in couple weeks. I'm looking forward to the big sky and great food.

  2. Noncooperation is one of the simplest -- and one of the most difficult -- paths to take.

    Little acts of refusal and sabotage are going on all the time. Always. It doesn't take crisis to induce noncooperation.

    It's only a matter of scale now. And finding which parts of the Machine are the most vulnerable.

    As for NM, I've scheduled the next two weeks out there myself. On the road again....

  3. Small scale non-cooperation is an interesting idea, targeting key areas. I guess my mind goes to the big enchilada; all or nothing. Mmmmm enchiladas, I can't wait. Have fun on the road.