Theses on the Uprising

Dangerous Times

June 2, 2020

Black Lives Matter.

 

We stand with the uprisings against the police, without qualification.

 

We oppose these violent police thugs who roam the streets.

These terrorists who suffocate and torture Black and Brown people by the thousands each year, instilling terror and exhaustion in everyone left behind. We denounce the brutal cops who kidnap migrant children and their parents, who disappear trans sisters, who leave bodies unnamed in mass graves at the southern border. We oppose the police and the cult of hero-worship that enjoins us to celebrate those tasked with keeping us in our place. We condemn ICE and the Border Patrol, who shoot our neighbors in their homes and chase workers in the fields and arrest students in our schools, as if they were prey in a rigged hunt. We oppose them in Minneapolis, in Los Angeles, Louisville, and Detroit; in Ferguson, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, and New York; in Atlanta, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Memphis; and yes, in every city and town where they are free to shoot and kill without repercussion, which is everywhere, always. These forces are now and will always be enemies of the working class, everywhere in the world.

 

We condemn the looters.

The police departments that consume city and state budgets with ever more requests for artillery, for radios, battle armor, surveillance equipment, tanks, and tech while they strangle unarmed men with their bare hands and knees, while they strangle public services, leaving the living without stipend, security, or support. They leave us with no alternative but to fight. We condemn the looting bosses who take advantage of that desperation, to steal what we create, who rob us of our time and energy, of our sleep, and of our lives. We condemn the landlords who claim and control the houses immigrant workers build and maintain, who entrench segregation by race through discrimination, who throw workers, our families, the unemployed, and the disabled out onto the streets to die, who bankrupt us, who tap us dry.

 

We oppose those who block ambulances and make safety impossible.

The for-profit insurance schemes that make us terrified to call an ambulance for fear of destitution, that rob us exactly when we are most vulnerable. We oppose the “health care” industry that profits by denying care and firing workers, nurses, doctors, janitors, PAs, and techs in the midst of a pandemic when—or because?—this is exactly when we most need help. We denounce a health care system that routinely neglects those in most need of care, a system that brazenly devalues Black lives. We condemn this militarized security scheme known as “policing” that, at its most generous, shrugs off and, at its most honest, colludes with openly genocidal fascist vigilantes, this security scheme where a police badge is a permit for racist murder, where a blue uniform provides immunity from justice.

Disruption can be life-saving and life-affirming. It, too, is essential work.

We support all demonstrators, who, fully aware of the risks, put themselves on the line anyway.

If the far-right protests were an act of pure contempt for other people’s lives, the social rebellion that is now setting the country ablaze is an act of collective love in the noblest sense. The capitalist “reopen” protests called for sacrificing workers to “the economy.” But this uprising today reminds us of Marx’s distinction between “making sacrifices for society” and the drive to instead “sacrifice existing society.” Sacrificing capital, rather than ourselves, would thus become “the common cause of all people who have outgrown the bourgeois system as a sacrifice that they make to themselves.” Our forces willingly put themselves on the line; their forces would like to sacrifice us against our will: the frontline workers constantly exposed to the pandemic, the poorest workers without adequate shelter or food or care. Their forces include fascist vigilantes, who have openly celebrated the deaths of Black people from COVID-19; they have attacked patients and the nurses who care for them, who fight for them. Black Lives Matter protests are nothing like “reopen” protests. These uprisings of society’s most vulnerable are a conscious struggle for survival. Fighting back is the only defense we have against death by cop, COVID, and capital. Rebellion is the most essential work of all.

 

We defend the burning of police precincts.

Police precincts are the vanguard of the prison-industrial complex. They are fortresses on the battlefront of the class war. Our forces take them over, make use of them, and empty them. Then redistribute the state’s ill-gotten arsenal, igniting celebratory fireworks along the way before burning the whole motherfucker to the ground.  This expresses the always-present-but-usually-hidden power of the working class to control its own destiny despite the overwhelming force arrayed against it, against us. Because these tactics anticipate the revolutionary destruction of the state as a whole, they open a new horizon of freedom for all to see and imagine. We support hacking cop radios and playing “Fuck the Police” through every handset. Not only does mocking them undercut their ability to feel righteous in their brutality, but it interrupts their communications, making it harder for them to control us, to injure, maim, and kill even more people than they already have. Disruption can be life-saving and life-affirming. It, too, is essential work.

 

We welcome the redistribution of goods to the people who need them.

Whether those goods be food, medicine, diapers, clothing, or electronics. We remain confident that the workers who make flat-screen TVs don’t mind if they fall into the hands of people rioting against state-sanctioned murder. We stand with the Target workers who defended the riots while a Target store in Minneapolis burned to the ground. Target exploits its staff and has exposed them to the virus needlessly and regularly, contemptuous of their lives. In this particular city, Target donated a third of a million dollars to the city’s police department in order to install surveillance cameras in a forty-block radius of downtown. They funded a forensics crime lab on their own “campus,” creating high-res images from the data obtained from the cameras. It’s no wonder our forces cheered as the building was engulfed in flames. They systematically underpay us, leave us to fend for ourselves, stealing our labor-power and calling it profit, and then they have the audacity to give this money to those who harass us, beat us, spy on us, and kill us?

Those who spend their lives behind these windows stocking and bagging these commodities for minimum wage would of course want to shatter these barriers.

Windows will be smashed; we expect this.

They aren’t our windows. It’s no surprise that those looking in from the outside, those who struggle to afford basic necessities and the meager pleasures offered under capitalism, would want to shatter those barriers. We’re constantly bombarded with images of commodities until we actively desire them; yet even though we produce them ourselves, we can’t afford them. Those who spend their lives behind these windows stocking and bagging these commodities for minimum wage would of course want to shatter these barriers. When people are excluded from collectively sharing in what they produce, they have no interest in protecting what has long been stolen from them. Here’s to smashing these barriers to bits.

 

We demand justice.

We demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, Mike Ramos, Tony McDade  and the many hundreds of Black people murdered by police this year, the many thousands murdered this decade, and the many millions murdered since the beginning of this American project, a project founded upon looted land and labor. We know justice doesn’t come with the incarceration of one killer cop. It doesn’t come with the incarceration of all killer cops. Justice comes when we end policing as such and abolish the system of private property and exploitation that cops exist to defend.

 

We’re fully conscious of the fact that we may lose battles as we fight to win this war.

But we are certain that in this moment of crisis, the rise of both coordinated and spontaneous activity—hundreds of wildcats, thousands in the streets, millions on rent strike—is forging multi-racial, cross-sectoral solidarity while concretely demonstrating the power of organized, working-class people. Independent of the outcome, we’re part of a vibrant struggle the likes of which we haven’t seen for generations in the United States. As Rosa Luxemburg put it shortly before her assassination, “Because of the contradiction in the early stages of the revolutionary process between the task being sharply posed and the absence of any preconditions to resolve it, individual battles of the revolution end in formal defeat. But revolution is the only form of ‘war’—and this is another peculiar law of history—in which the ultimate victory can be prepared only by a series of ‘defeats.’”

 

We support the disorder of life over the capitalist order of death.

Police murder has exacted a grim refrain that COVID has only intensified: “I can’t breathe” have been the last words of far too many people to count, though we never stop counting and they’re always on our minds, always in our hearts. This uprising will not be over until we can all breathe: no boots or knees on necks, no hospitals without PPE, no polluted, carcinogenic air, no holding our breath waiting to hear from loved ones and comrades who are in the streets, who are sick, or who are merely coming home from work or out for a jog.

When we decide that we will decide, a new epoch is on the horizon.

We know that it is dangerous to fight back, but we also know it is more dangerous not to fight back.

We understand the National Guard is descending on cities as we write. We know the only way out of the crisis of capitalism and the COVID-19 death trap it has built for the world’s working class is through mass revolt, through class struggle, and the spirit of solidarity we see in the streets when protestors distribute masks, when bus drivers refuse to aid and abet arrests or transport police, when wildcat strikers shutdown deadly plants, when workers repurpose their tools for the tasks ahead. When we decide that we will decide, a new epoch is on the horizon. And we must decide soon because we don’t have any generations left to stave off an environmental catastrophe that threatens to end all species on this earth.

 

We believe that “you can never tell.”

In a eulogy for his murdered mentee Walter Rodney, C.L.R. James paraphrased Lenin and quoted Marx. The eulogy is so ruthless that it almost seems an effort to criticize Rodney back to life: “On 22 January, [Lenin] cautioned that he might not live to see the revolution. Yet in March it was there. I wonder if you get the significance of that. That is what happened to Lenin. You never can tell. Marx phrases it like this, ‘The revolution comes like a thief in the night.’ And [Lenin] had studied this all his life. Now Walter did not quite get that. He was not aware of that.”

 

We know that the Spectre of working-class power, of communism, is always a “thief in the night.”

And a looter, a rioter, an illegal striker, a border-jumper, a gender-fucker, a sex worker, a person lacking documents or pedigree, a traitor to her nation, to whiteness, to power and privilege. She’s a detainee, seeking refuge, a transgressor of place and station, disrespectful to rank and title, a disgrace to respectability of all kinds. We know revolution is only ever made with the working class as it lives, as it breathes or fights to do so, as it becomes something new, in conditions we would and could never choose.

In our pages, we will make space to document, to think through and struggle alongside all the fighters and organizers, activists and leaders, trends, theorists, and readers looking to turn dangerous times into a new epoch, one in which Black lives will not only matter, but thrive, one in which police are no more than a dusty diorama in a museum of historical tragedies. We commit to comradeship with sincere militants who struggle for the future free society and to solidarity in the face of what is yet to come.

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HELLO, COMRADE

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