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Violent direct action without proper education and agitation of the masses is counter-revolutionary.

Submitted by sudo in lobby

Every action that a communist takes should be done with the intention of moving towards a revolution. Every communist should also understand that a revolution cannot be successful unless the majority of the proletariat in that country supports it. These two theses should make it obvious that education and agitation of the masses must come before violent direct action.

Why? Because if violent direct action is undertaken first, the masses will turn against the communists who participate in the action.

The classic example of this is the Reichstag fire. One month after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, a Dutch communist set the Reichstag (German parliament building) on fire. There are some theories that this was a false flag attack that was carried out by the Nazis in order to blame the communists, but for now, let us assume that it was legitimate. Had the German masses been properly educated about communism, then this action could have served as a rallying point to inspire more people to take up arms against the German state. But, since the masses were not educated about communism, Hitler exploited this situation by claiming it was a communist plot to take over Germany, which turned public opinion against the communists. This meant the attack had the exact opposite of the intended effect - it turned people away from the communists, instead of turning them towards them.

A more recent example is Micah Xavier Johnson's attack on police officers in Dallas, Texas. This one seems to have been a knee-jerk reaction done purely out of spite. Regardless, it turned public opinion against the Black Lives Matter movement, because the masses of the United States were not properly educated about communism, and the necessity for revolution. Communists probably celebrated behind closed doors, but overall, this was disastrous for the revolutionary movement.

For an example of this happening on the other side, take a look at the murder of Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. This one was probably also a knee-jerk reaction by the driver of the car, but even more so, because he probably only decided to drive through the protesters a second or two before actually doing so. The result was a massive backlash in public opinion against neo-nazis and the "alt-right." Had they done their education and agitation properly beforehand, then this could have worked in their favor, but it didn't (and many of them probably recognize this, and wish their people would have more self-control).

It always seems to be anarchists who advocate for immediate direct action like this. When I give this argument to them in real life, they usually say things like, "But we have to do something to fight capitalism!" These people evidently don't understand long-term strategy. Some of them go on to say, "You just don't want to do violent direct action because you're a coward," or, "Anyone who opposes violent direct action for any reason must be a liberal or a fascist." These last two are beneath comment.

There is a time and place for violent direct action. Once proper education and agitation of the masses has been carried out, violent direct action can serve as a rallying point to further agitate more workers, and bring the revolution closer. But in nearly all capitalist countries of the world, these conditions have not been met, so doing violent direct action now would turn the masses away from communism, and set the revolution back. So have some self-control, be patient, and get to work on educating the masses.

Comments

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16

Tequila_Wolf wrote

I have a bunch to say in response to this but I’ll just say this -

Sometimes, though, violent direct action is itself educating the general population and bringing them closer to your position. Sometimes they don't even know that people like you exist, or that the things that you do are possible, and direct action shows them - it shows that direct action gets the goods, that other worlds are possible.

Appealing to the general population happens at many levels. Sometimes you don’t need everybody to agree with you immediately. Sometimes your actions are a call to those who have similar politics to you to join you. Punching the cop might not appeal to the liberal, but there are whole portions of the population who will at least intuitively understand why you might do that - enough to engage more in what you do.

Direct action occurs in many different ways and with different aims, and I don’t think you can even begin to speak about it as a monolithic thing. I think your case would have been stronger if you had limited it to specific cases - but, as you’re probably aware, the paradigm cases you seem to be drawing from (the murders of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ era) are no longer commonplace.

Violent direct action may also never reach the public’s ears. Maybe you and your crew know where the local fascist is, and you give him a visit. Fascist never tells anybody and neither do you, but maybe now he isn’t going to be organizing in your town anymore.

This is not to say that people shouldn’t think long and hard about any violence they bring upon others, and that it often isn’t a good idea to do one. It may well be the case that doing violence is dehumanizing for the doer in most cases.

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Enkara wrote (edited )

I'm really glad I don't talk like this anymore... One tip to improve your rhetoric: applying antique marx-derived words and condescending phrases like "educate the masses", "agitate more workers", etc. comes off as really creepy and condescending to normal people. If your goal is to appeal to regular folks and not just radical-lefty weirdos like us you should speak like one when discussing your politics.

As for refuting the content of your post, I think others have already done a better job at that than I would.

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sudo wrote

I agree, the masses don't understand theoretical speak. But I'm not talking to the masses right now, I'm talking to anarchists and communists, who understand what those words mean.

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RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

I don't see why it should be an either/or thing. Can't we both educate the public and carry out direct action?

I have mixed feelings on the use of violence, but even Gandhi said that if you're ever in a situation where your only options are violence or cowardice, you should choose violence. Both are sins, but cowardice is the far greater one.

But what irritates me about so many Anarchists who are obsessed with violent direct action, is that they fucking suck at strategy. We are up against the State which has massive amounts of men and resources to throw at us, so we are working with a very small margin of error. As such, we need to plan and act carefully. However satisfying Micah Xavier Johnson may have found his attack on the Dallas cops to be, the truth is strategy-wise, he didn't accomplish much. He knocked off a few cops, but there are plenty more to step up and take their place.

There is satisfaction to be found in petty revenge, but its accomplishments are short-lived; the State easily cleans up the mess and continues on as usual. Read up on strategy regarding both violent and nonviolent resistance, learn what bottlenecks are and how to exploit them to your advantage. As always, play smarter, not harder.

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DeathToAmerica wrote

This is basically just a rant about how we should strive to appeal to liberals. Fuck liberals. Fuck public opinion. Burn this motherfucker to the ground, whether it creates a change in management or not.

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DissidentRage wrote

If you don't care about whether you actually affect meaningful change as a result of your actions I don't know that you can be trusted to act in good faith toward that end. This isn't appeasing liberals, this is trying to not get snuffed out in the early hours of our renewed struggle. The left needs numbers, and just going out doing stuff with no consideration for that aim is short-sighted and does a disservice to the rest of us who actually care about affecting meaningful change.

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sudo wrote

That won't get you anywhere.

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DeathToAmerica wrote

Where will your approach get you? So you convert a few liberals to your wishful ideology and they convert a few others. Meanwhile, 99% of the country remains wilfully ignorant just as long as they get to drive their gas guzzling cars and suck down those brews.

Americans will never mount a communist revolution. They'll only sabotage others' attempts to do so.

Revolution can only come from the third world. Placating American imperialists will result in exactly nothing. Americans are not fit to fight for freedom. They've no desire to even learn what freedom is.

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sudo wrote

So you convert a few liberals to your wishful ideology and they convert a few others. Meanwhile, 99% of the country remains wilfully ignorant just as long as they get to drive their gas guzzling cars and suck down those brews.

I'm not talking about converting a few liberals. I'm talking about converting the majority of the population.

Americans will never mount a communist revolution.

Don't confuse difficult with impossible.

They'll only sabotage others' attempts to do so.

You mean their government will.

Revolution can only come from the third world.

That's where it's most likely to happen, not the only place where it can happen.

Placating American imperialists will result in exactly nothing.

The only true imperialists are those in power. The masses have been tricked into believing in imperialism, but they can be cured of this.

Americans are not fit to fight for freedom. They've no desire to even learn what freedom is.

As of now. That's why American communists have to educate, agitate, and organize their fellow workers. They have a more difficult job to do, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. If an American communist looks at the task ahead of them and gives up, then that's defeatism.

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DeathToAmerica wrote (edited )

The majority of the population would sooner see you shot for threatening the status quo than join you. The propaganda from the state is too embedded in their skulls. Their self interests are too dependent on the success of their military's genocides. Only downtrodden outsiders that can barely keep a roof over our heads are willing to embrace dangerous thinking like communism.

Their idea of revolution is for Bernie/Hilary to give them more benefits or for Trump to build a wall. That's as far as 99.9% of those wretched souls are willing to go.

The only militias being formed are far right. They're the only people that have the numbers and the will to swarm the king's castle. To make things worse. The American left was wiped out nearly a century ago.

Americans are a lost cause. Their labor and tributes prop up the most violent totalitarian empire in history. They willingly prop up an institution that slaughters children for oil and calls it liberty. The inaction of the people is deliberate. They couldn't care less what their gov does to the rest of the world. They only protest when their own blood-soaked privileges are threatened. The cries of brown children buried under rubble don't even register to their ears.

America is the problem. It's complete collapse is the only chance the rest of the world has for survival.

Luckily, that new tax plan has just ended the empire's reign. It's only a matter of time before the bricks begin to twitch now.

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________deleted wrote

You're basically hoping the American people will suffer. That's fucked up. Hoping we all lose what little we have and not be able to rise up in this world because academia has been defunded? Screw you buddy.

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DeathToAmerica wrote

Every American's success fuels genocide. All your things, all your rights, are paid for with blood.

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sudo wrote

What part of "The people aren't responsible for the crimes of their government" don't you understand?

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DeathToAmerica wrote

The paper trail shows otherwise.

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sudo wrote

Do you mean, "Americans are responsible because they voted for an imperialistic president?" In that case, they didn't have a choice - every presidential candidate that has a chance of winning is imperialist. It's why communists criticize their democracy as bourgeois democracy, because the people can only choose between capitalist A and capitalist B.

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DeathToAmerica wrote (edited )

Americans are responsible for burying their heads in the sand and not even lifting a finger to protest as their state turns entire countries into rubble. Your inaction is as bad as anything your state does to us. And you pleading with us not to fight back unless it causes communist revolution is even worse than inaction.

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sudo wrote

Americans are responsible for burying their heads in the sand and not even lifting a finger to protest as their state turns entire countries into rubble.

A lot of them aren't aware of the secret drone wars the US is engaging in. For other things, like the Iraq war, a lot of Americans did protest it. But the US government's "terrorist" rhetoric meant that a lot of Americans ended up supporting the war, when they wouldn't have otherwise.

Your inaction is as bad as anything your state does to us.

I never said I was American. But if a bunch of Americans do protest, what of it? That won't stop the wars, unless it's something like the Vietnam War protests that almost lead to a revolution.

And you pleading with us not to fight back unless it causes communist revolution is even worse than inaction.

I never said that, either. Stop putting words in my mouth. It's perfectly fine for a country to fight back against the US military that's invading it for no good reason. Just don't go murdering innocent US civilians, because they truly don't have anything to do with it.

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phoenixphan23 wrote

This is more attributable to capitalism, don't you think? Though I do agree America is at the front atm

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mofongo wrote

Revolution can only come from the third world.

I disagree, the proletariat is international and we all have the potential for enacting revolution.

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juliebean wrote

that seems like a rather defeatist attitude. i know for a fact it is possible to bring some people around, even in a dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal hellscape like the US.

like, if converting folks ain't your thing, fine, you do you, but it's not impossible, and trying seems at least a better use of ones efforts than just sitting on one's ass twiddling your thumbs and waiting to die because you think making any kind of change is impossible.

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marlax1g wrote (edited )

In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more ‘effective’ the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes disillusionment and apathy.

The efforts of reaction to put an end to strikes and to the mass workers’ movement in general have always, everywhere, ended in failure. Capitalist society needs an active, mobile and intelligent proletariat; it cannot, therefore, bind the proletariat hand and foot for very long. On the other hand, the anarchist ‘propaganda of the deed’ has shown every time that the state is much richer in the means of physical destruction and mechanical repression than are the terrorist groups.

If that is so, where does it leave the revolution? Is it rendered impossible by this state of affairs? Not at all. For the revolution is not a simple aggregate of mechanical means. The revolution can arise only out of the sharpening of the class struggle, and it can find a guarantee of victory only in the social functions of the proletariat. The mass political strike, the armed insurrection, the conquest of state power—all this is determined by the degree to which production has been developed, the alignment of class forces, the proletariat’s social weight, and finally, by the social composition of the army, since the armed forces are the factor that in time of revolution determines the fate of state power.

Social Democracy is realistic enough not to try to avoid the revolution that is developing out of the existing historical conditions; on the contrary, it is moving to meet the revolution with eyes wide open. But—contrary to the anarchists and in direct struggle against them—Social Democracy rejects all methods and means that have as their goal to artificially force the development of society and to substitute chemical preparations for the insufficient revolutionary strength of the proletariat.

Before it is elevated to the level of a method of political struggle, terrorism makes its appearance in the form of individual acts of revenge. So it was in Russia, the classic land of terrorism. The flogging of political prisoners impelled Vera Zasulich to give expression to the general feeling of indignation by an assassination attempt on General Trepov. Her example was imitated in the circles of the revolutionary intelligentsia, who lacked any mass support. What began as an act of unthinking revenge was developed into an entire system in 1879-81. The outbreaks of anarchist assassination in Western Europe and North America always come after some atrocity committed by the government—the shooting of strikers or executions of political opponents. The most important psychological source of terrorism is always the feeling of revenge in search of an outlet.

There is no need to belabour the point that Social Democracy has nothing in common with those bought-and-paid-for moralists who, in response to any terrorist act, make solemn declarations about the ‘absolute value’ of human life. These are the same people who, on other occasions, in the name of other absolute values—for example, the nation’s honour or the monarch’s prestige—are ready to shove millions of people into the hell of war. Today their national hero is the minister who gives the sacred right of private property; and tomorrow, when the desperate hand of the unemployed workers is clenched into a fist or picks upon a weapon, they will start in with all sorts of nonsense about the inadmissibility of violence in any form.

Whatever the eunuchs and pharisees of morality may say, the feeling of revenge has its rights. It does the working class the greatest moral credit that it does not look with vacant indifference upon what is going on in this best of all possible worlds. Not to extinguish the proletariat’s unfulfilled feeling of revenge, but on the contrary to stir it up again and again, to deepen it, and to direct it against the real causes of all injustice and human baseness—that is the task of the Social Democracy.

If we oppose terrorist acts, it is only because individual revenge does not satisfy us. The account we have to settle with the capitalist system is too great to be presented to some functionary called a minister. To learn to see all the crimes against humanity, all the indignities to which the human body and spirit are subjected, as the twisted outgrowths and expressions of the existing social system, in order to direct all our energies into a collective struggle against this system—that is the direction in which the burning desire for revenge can find its highest moral satisfaction.

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sudo wrote

Really well said, though I don't agree with the social democracy parts. Who wrote this?

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marlax1g wrote

Trotsky prior to the split between opportunism and communism with the outbreak of the First World War.

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sudo wrote

Well, I guess I agree with Trotsky when he's debunking anarchism.

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zod wrote

turned public opinion against Black Lives Matter

I mean, the masses cheer on western imperialism as it murders scores of PoC. They tell black Americans that they deserved to get shot dead for disobedience. They ask why can't 'all lives matter?' Trying to curry their favour (especially when we're talking about Americans) would make us just as bad as them.

Americans aren't going to suddenly embrace communism. They'll only ever stand in its way. The only way forward is to turn the rest of the world against America.

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sudo wrote

That's exactly why they need to be educated. They only have these reactionary ideas because they're immersed in bourgeois ideology. You can turn worthless liberals into worthwhile communists with some effort, who can then go on to turn other liberals into communists, etc.