Three Interlocking Strategies
Getting From Where We Are to Where We Ought To Be
James Herod, July 1970
If we can agree that the end toward which we are working is the massive, decentralized take-over of the productive forces of society by the people of this country and the establishment of an egalitarian, just, humane, democratic, libertarian, socialist society, then our problem is how we get there. It is clear that the revolutionary movement is spreading – college students, high school students, Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, Indians, GIs, welfare mothers, women, and increasingly, white collar and blue collar workers. Even so, we have a long way to go. We are no longer just a few thousand people; there are tens of thousands of us. But we are still relatively impotent. We must strengthen the movement. This is the imperative task.
There are three ways that this can be done: by working harder ourselves and making better use of the people who are already in the movement, that is, by getting ourselves together; by winning more people to our side and expanding the movement numerically; and by putting up more effective resistance to the policies of the ruling class. These possibilities suggest three interlocking strategies that can guide our actions at this point: (1) a strategy of institution building, for getting ourselves organized; (2) a strategy of consciousness-raising, for relating to people who are potentially with us; and (3) a strategy of resistance, exposure, and disruption, for dealing with the ruling class.
The Strategy of Institution-Building
(for getting ourselves together)
It is difficult to build new institutions right ``in the bowels of the monster.'' Nevertheless, significant efforts along these lines are underway, and should be supported. There are four things that CRV can do in this area. (1) We can continue to improve the structure of our own organization, trying to make it reflect the principles of our movement (e.g., one suggestion in the air is to create an egalitarian collective to staff the national office; another is that more of our membership should perhaps be living now in CRV communes where possible). (2) We can encourage other movement people to organize themselves into relatively small cohesive autonomous groups. If the thousands and thousands of people who are already in the movement were actively engaged in a collective effort in their own cities, the revolution would be significantly closer. I believe there are far too many isolated, individualistic revolutionaries floating around. This reflects the extreme atomization of the society that has been instituted under capitalism. Overcoming this atomization is a prerequisite to further revolutionary advance. (3) We can support, as much as we are able, the innovative collectives that are emerging – LNS, Liberated Guardian, AIM, NACLA, Newsreel, and so forth. The attempt to develop non-hierarchical forms of association and work, where jobs are rotated and dirty work is shared equally, is an important part of our struggle (i.e., the creation of `liberated zones' in the sociological sense). (4) We can and must continue to devote a large part of our energy to a `politics of support' or `politics of solidarity', so to speak, toward other more oppressed groups who are struggling to build institutions that serve their needs. CRV's participation in efforts to oppose the war against the Indochinese, our Panther support activities, and our participation in the Venceremos Brigade are crucial activities.
The Strategy of Consciousness Raising
(for relating to those who are potentially with us)
Most of the tactics employed so far in the movement have been consciousness-raising tactics: teach-ins, leafleting, marches/rallies (when they move beyond merely petitioning the ruling class), picketing, writing and distributing literature, guerrilla theater, radio programs, films, and conferences. I think we have tended to neglect an important tactic of this same type, however, namely having a conversation with a person. We must distinguish of course between the people and the ruling class. It is useless to talk to the ruling class. But we should make every effort to talk to the people. Most of the above tactics are in some sense impersonal; they are one step removed from direct, face to face communication. CRV has done very little with either of the two major tactics for reaching out to people – community organizing and workplace organizing, partly of course because we do not share a common community or workplace. This does not mean however that CRV cannot serve as an organizing catalyst to get people in communities, factories, and offices who are against the war to organize themselves to take effective action. For this to be effective though we would have to have an idea of which groups are most likely to swing over to the anti-war movement next. Toward whom, precisely, should we direct our energies? Does anyone know, for example, what groups shifted to our side during the recent upsurge of opposition following the invasion of Cambodia?
The Strategy of Resistance, Exposure, and Disruption
(for dealing with the ruling class)
We have failed in this area more perhaps than in any other, and this reflects the continuing isolation and immaturity of the movement. The revolutionary act we are attempting to build toward of course is the physical occupation by workers of their own factories and offices, explusion of the governing elites, and the defeat of attempts by the ruling class to recapture these productive forces. The tactics used so far by the movement – sit-ins, occupation of buildings, etc. – are a start. They begin to get ideas into the air about what has to be done. They would be much more effective if they were more massive. Massive sit-ins in the streets or in buildings, i.e., massive insubordination, is what we need more of, not less of. CRV can do some small actions of this type on its own, but really effective resistance – wildcat strikes, rent strikes, general strikes, massive sit-ins, and occupations of communities and workplaces, require a larger movement. This is why we need to focus at this stage on pulling several more sectors of the population into the movement, encouraging them to organize, and acquainting them with ideas like workers councils and community control. Meanwhile we must resist ruling class power as effectively as we can. CRV's disruption of the Peace Corps offices and its exposure of Gulf Oil are obviously actions that must be duplicated elsewhere.
(This article was published in the Liberated Guardian.)