Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 27, July 18, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Upsurge of Resistance in the US

The People Must Rely on Themselves Not the State to Bring About Change that Favours Them

Voice of Revolution

People in their millions across the country are demanding that the broken liberal institutions of governance be replaced with modern institutions which are in accord with the needs of the times. To contend with this growing resistance, one aspect of the rulers' disinformation campaign in the United States is that the only role for "the people" is to appeal to the state, and its governments in place at any particular time, to bring about the changes the polity requires. People are to limit their battles to pressuring those in power to do what is right and just. However, the culture of resistance evident in the US, present and past, actually reveals the opposite: it was the enslaved people themselves who were the heart of winning their liberation at the time of the US Civil War, fighting alongside working people south and north to eliminate the slave power and for their right to participate in the political life of the country.

The movement today with African-American workers and youth and working people from all walks of life playing a main role is also not satisfied with reforming the old order. It is demanding fundamental changes and beginning to define what they are. Many actions are being taken in communities across the US to inform and mobilise people to give expression to the changes people want. The people are relying on their own organised forces to bring about changes that favour them.

So too Indigenous peoples continue to defend their lands and fight for the recognition of their rights. Trump chose to speak at Mount Rushmore, which sits on unceded Sioux land. Wounded Knee, site of a US massacre of hundreds of children, women and men in 1890, is only about 75 miles away. It is also the site of repeated FBI organised raids in the 1970s against Native Americans demanding that their rights be upheld, including the killing of dozens of people. Organiser Leonard Peltier was framed for murder during a 1975 raid. He remains today one of the longest serving political prisoners in US jails. Peltier was deported from Canada despite evidence that he was being framed under the hoax that the US demand for his extradition met the requirements of the Canada-US extradition treaty. The US state refuses to release Peltier because he will not renounce the struggle of Indigenous peoples and continues to join in organising efforts. [1]

The more recent struggle of the water protectors at Standing Rock, joined by people from across the country and even the world, is yet another example of the determined and undaunted quality of the resistance of the Indigenous peoples in the United States and the demand for the recognition of their rights, as defined by them, not the genocidal US state.

For New Relations and a Modern Democracy

The conceptions that the state determines society, and the constitution determines democracy and the democratic institutions, and that these are the best in the world and eternal, are promoted by the rulers to hide the ensemble of social relations between humans and humans and humans and nature. They hide what these relations reveal which is the need for people's empowerment in order to open society's path to progress.

It is society, with its ensemble of human relations between humans and humans and humans and nature, that provides the basis for the state, not the other way around. The claim is made that the state is separate from and external to what goes on in our lives. In fact, the rulers established a state which comes out on top of everyone's life and enters every aspect of life, as is abundantly clear today. Nonetheless, on the basis of the self-serving conception of the neutral, external, perfectly conceived state, the human relations existing in society are ignored. People are instead supposed to look to the state, its governments and institutions and the Constitution as the source of change.

What needs to be looked at is the direct relation people have to producing their way of life, their relations with nature and with all humans. These relations are revealing that the existing relations of power that keep the people out of decision-making must change.

The outcome of the current battles will depend on how far the people see and grasp this necessity for change, the necessity to bring about the deep-going transformations demanded by history. Trump, the elections, the disinformation that the state determines the citizen and the rights of citizenship, are designed to block even looking at this necessity for political power and for fighting for decision-making in the here and now. It is up to the people to determine what is needed, in both content and form, to provide equal membership in the body politic. Membership by virtue of being in that body politic is sufficient to be a citizen, to be that person who enjoys equal rights and duties in that body politic.

The necessity for change means that the people must arm themselves with their own way of looking at the world and all its human relations, their own outlook, politics and institutions. Only in this way can they see and bring into being a bright future for themselves as an integral part of humanity itself.

1. Peltier has been part of current protests as have other political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose presence in the current movement sweeping the United States is felt in myriad ways. Abu-Jamal is a journalist and political activist framed in 1982 for the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia. He was convicted for murder, sentenced to death and after concerted struggle, condemned to life in prison. Many people, especially women, in Trump's detention camps have also expressed their support and demands through hunger strikes and other means.


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