Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Makes Direct Action, 'Revolutionary?"

We tend to think of ‘revolution’ as what happens on the street, burning police stations, running battles with the armies of oppression–but what makes these actions, ‘revolutionary?’

We need cooperative arrangements to survive–to grow food and get it to people who need it, to train doctors and run clinics and hospitals, to provide services to those who can’t help themselves. Our top-down dependent system does this, but with great advantage to some at the cost of poverty & servitude and suffering for many more. We have seen how changing “leaders” has failed to create a just society–concentrated power accrues wealth and privilege to itself to the disadvantage of others no matter how it has been gained. Incremental progress fails to change the auto-regenerating structures that institutionalize and defend injustice. Revolutionary change seeks, not only to undo existing structures of power, but to create a new and different order.

This is too easily forgotten in the rhetoric and passion of oppositional movements–that disruptive action, to be genuinely revolutionary, must be strategically and tactically related to efforts to create new orders of cooperative relationships.

Oakland sent a powerful message, not because thousands turned out and revealed the ugly brutality that the present order uses to defend its privilege, but because the street action was in defense of an alternative plan for providing services. The relationship is clear to anyone who wants to see it.

The measure for revolutionary validity of Occupy direct actions are intimately related to and dependent on all the other work being done in working groups, growing food in vacant lots, creating new models of education, our experiments in non-hierarchical, cooperative decision making & communal housing. Making these relationships clear should be central to our messaging to the world, and guide strategic objectives and tactical planning for all our aggressive and transgressive actions.

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant and really useful, Jacob. I re-posted on Occupy St. Louis and Occupy the Midwest FB pages. Occupy the Midwest is having a conference in St. Louis in the middle of March, and I know I'll be using this post as my guideline for participation in direct action. I wish you could come out here and be with us. Meanwhile, please keep sharing your wisdom and insights!