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(en) US, Bring the Ruckus is a new revolutionary political organization-in-formation- update

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.illegalvoices.org/ruckus/)
Date Thu, 19 Dec 2002 05:54:06 -0500 (EST)


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It's an ?organization-in-formation? because while the
basic politics, strategy, and structure of the group have
been put in place and local chapters are
forming, it is not yet a fully established organization.  This will
take place at our founding meeting in the fall of 2003.  The
purpose of this new organization (sometimes referred to as a
?cadre group? on this site) is to encourage the development of a
revolutionary working class movement in the United States that
can participate in the struggle for a free world.  The role of Bring
the Ruckus (BTR) is not to start the revolution-that can only be
the work of millions of the oppressed.  Nor is it to lead the
revolution-history shows that vanguard parties destroy freedom
rather than preserve it.  Instead, our role is to analyze,
understand, describe, and participate in attempts to shape the
course of history.  BTR is a group of committed, politically
active, non-sectarian revolutionaries with a common politics
who come together to develop revolutionary thought and
practice and to test it out in struggle.

The origins of Bring the Ruckus lie in the Ruckus collective, a
small group from Phoenix, Arizona, that has existed since 1997.
(Neither the Phoenix Ruckus group nor BTR are associated with
The Ruckus Society.  BTR will soon change its name to
eliminate any confusion.)  In the summer of 2000 this group
began studying various revolutionary organizations and social
movements with the goal of drafting a proposal for a new
revolutionary organization in the U.S.  (Some of the
organizations and documents the Phoenix group studied can be
accessed by clicking on Study).

The result was the document ?Bring the Ruckus,? published
in April 2001.


by the Ruckus collective, Phoenix

Over the last few years there has been a growing
discussion among revolutionaries of the need for
a national or continental antiauthoritarian
revolutionary organization.
This discussion has emerged from several contexts,
including the death of the Love and Rage Revolutionary
Anarchist Federation, the anti-globalization protests that
began in Seattle in 1999, and by criticisms of the
whiteness of the American left made primarily by
revolutionaries of color. World and national events also
seem to justify such discussion: globalization, the
persistence of the American racial order, and the
bankruptcy of reformist movements from the left, right,
and center. Yet if talk about the need for a new
organization is abundant, steps toward building it have
been awkward. Much talk is simply recycled debate over
violence and organizational structure, while other debates,
such as over strategy, have been largely overlooked.

It is with the intention of furthering debate about a new
revolutionary organization that this document was written.
The Ruckus collective (no relation to the Ruckus Society)
formed in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1997 to discuss
revolutionary politics at a local and national level and to
develop a revolutionary praxis. Our main contribution
locally has been the creation of Phoenix Copwatch, which
has been patrolling the streets since early 1999. Several
months ago we began talking about the need for a national
or continental revolutionary organization. This led us to
embark on a program of study with the goal of creating a
proposal for a membership-based national or continental
revolutionary federation. During this time we studied a
number of past revolutionary groups, focusing particularly
on their politics, program, structure, and strategy.

The principles outlined below express the conclusions we
have reached so far in our study. This is by no means a
complete manifesto or political statement. It is simply an
outline of principles we believe should be embraced by a
new revolutionary organization. It is our hope that this
document will not only add to the debate on the structure
and politics of a new organization but help to push the
development of such a group to the next level.

Neither the vanguard nor the network

A revolutionary organization for the 21st century needs to
forge a path between the Leninist vanguard party favored
by traditional Marxist parties and the loose "network"
model of organizing favored by many anarchists and
activists today. The purpose of a revolutionary
organization is to act as a cadre group that develops
politics and strategies that contribute to mass movements
toward a free society.

It is not a vanguard group. It does not seek to control any
organization or movement, nor does it pretend that it is
the most advanced section of a struggle and thus has the
right to act in the interests of the masses. Instead, it
assumes that the masses are typically the most advanced
section of a struggle and that the cadre perpetually strives
to learn from and identify with the masses. At the same
time, a cadre organization does not pretend it doesn't
provide leadership for larger movements, nor does it
pretend that leadership is inherently authoritarian. A cadre
organization does not seek to control any organization or
movement, it aims to help lead it by providing it with a
radical perspective and committed members dedicated to
developing its autonomous revolutionary potential. A
cadre group should debate those politics and strategies
that best imagine and lead to a free society and then fight
to enact them in mass-oriented organizations and
movements.

A cadre is not an umbrella organization. It does not
participate in any and all kinds of progressive social
activism. Instead, a cadre group seeks out, helps develop,
and supports those forms of agitation that undermine the
rule of official society and that in some way prefigure the
new society. In other words, the organization would not
actively support any kind of activism but only those
struggles that hold the potential of building a dual power.
We imagine that such a revolutionary organization would
be to contemporary movements what the FAI was to the
CNT in Spain or the First International was to the
European working class movements: a membership
organization of like-minded persons committed to
developing and encouraging the autonomous
revolutionary tendencies in our present society.

A democratic structure

In the proposed organization, all power and authority
should be transparent, accountable, distributed
democratically, and effective. We believe the structure for
a new organization should be based on the following
principles:

1. Direct democracy. All members should have an equal
say in those affairs that affect the organization. Unlike
democratic centralism, this would include the right to
freely express disagreements with decisions made by the
majority. This type of democracy doesn't mean that a
minority faction can disrupt the decisions of the majority,
which tends to occur in loose network structures (i.e.
consensus processes).

2. Membership. The organization should be a membership
organization. Only members ought to make decisions
about and act on the behalf of the organization. The
organization should be controlled only by those who
commit themselves to it. Criteria for membership should
be clearly established, along with criteria for suspending or
expelling members who violate the organization's
principles. Membership criteria should include both
political and financial commitments to the organization.

3. Local branches. The group should be organized into
local branches. One criteria of membership would be to
join a local branch or to form one if one doesn't exist.

4. Effectiveness and accountability. A democratic means
of making decisions and carrying them out should be
established. Members who do not meet their
responsibilities should be held accountable for failing to do
so.

Against the white race

The proposed organization's priority should be to destroy
white supremacy. White supremacy is a system that
grants those defined as "white" special privileges in
American society, such as preferred access to the best
schools, neighborhoods, jobs, and health care; greater
advantages in accumulating wealth; a lesser likelihood of
imprisonment; and better treatment by the police and the
criminal justice system. In exchange for these privileges,
whites agree to police the rest of the population through
such means as slavery and segregation in the past and
through formally "colorblind" policies and practices today
that still serve to maintain white advantage. White
supremacy, then, unites one section of the working class
with the ruling class against the rest of the working class.
This cross-class alliance represents the principle obstacle,
strategically speaking, to revolution in the United States.
Given the United States' imperial power, this alliance has
global implications.

The central task of a new organization should be to break
up this unholy alliance between the ruling class and the
white working class by attacking the system of white
privilege and the subordination of people of color. This is
not to say that white supremacy is the "worst" form of
oppression in this country, nor is it to imply that if white
supremacy disappears then all other forms of oppression
will magically melt away. Instead, it is a strategic
argument, based on an analysis of U.S. history, designed
to attack the American death star at its weakest point. The
glue that has kept the American state together has been
white supremacy; melting that glue creates revolutionary
possibilities.

Against the state

The proposed organization should be anti-statist. The
function of the state is to 1) perpetuate the rule of the
oppressing class and 2) maintain its own power. It
therefore has nothing to do with a free society and should
be abolished. A revolutionary strategy seeks to undermine
the state by developing a dual power strategy. A dual
power strategy is one that directly challenges institutions
of power and at the same time, in some way, prefigures
the new institutions we envision. A dual power strategy
not only opposes the state, it also prepares us for the
difficult questions that will arise in a revolutionary
situation.

The organization should also support the principle of
self-determination, or the right for people to control their
own life and destiny. Movements for self-determination
have often assumed the politics of nationalism. Anarchists
have traditionally rejected nationalism as a tool of
oppression. We recognize that anti-statism and
nationalism are often contradictory tendencies, since
nationalism often supports the creation of nation-states.
However, nationalism has also been a liberating force in
world history, particularly in the struggle against
colonialism. Thus, despite its contradictions nationalist
struggles cannot be rejected out of hand by
anti-authoritarian revolutionaries. The task is to develop
anti-statist tendencies within nationalist movements, not
to denounce the struggles of oppressed peoples because
they assume a nationalist form.

A feminist organization

Any new organization should be explicitly feminist, in
several ways. First, a revolutionary organization should
have a radical feminist analysis of our society that
challenges male dominance, compulsory heterosexuality,
and the bipolar gender system that forces humans into
"male" and "female" and "masculine" and "feminine"
categories. Second, its internal operations (organizing
structure, allocation of positions of leadership, meeting
procedures, debating habits, etc.) should ensure women's
participation and be strongly aware of practices that tend
to favor men's voices over women's. Third, it should be
committed to feminist political work, particularly those
kinds of agitation that connect struggles against sexism
with struggles against white supremacy. Finally, a
revolutionary organization needs a feminist vision. It
should imagine a world not only without sexism or
homophobia but one in which gender relations are
completely transformed. Toward this end, it should
encourage resistance to masculine/feminine gender
borders and encourage people to critique and explore their
desires rather than repress them.

Strategy

The proposed federation should recognize that political
theory, no matter how strong, can accomplish little if it is
not combined with effective strategy. The actions taken by
the organization, its involvement in mass movements, and
its public statements should all be determined on a
strategic basis. The focus of our work should be involving
ourselves in movements and activism where there is the
potential to work toward the building of a dual power.
Social reforms won by progressive movements may be
important, but if they do not work toward a dual power
they are not the concerns of a revolutionary organization.
For example, animal liberation is a worthy cause.
However, it is difficult to imagine how a campaign for
animal liberation could threaten state power and
foreshadow a new society. Thus, while a revolutionary
organization may applaud animal liberation activities, it
would not devote energy toward animal rights. On the
other hand, a program to develop local Copwatch chapters
could represent a dual power strategy, since monitoring
the police undermines state power by disrupting the cops'
ability to enforce class and color lines and also
foreshadows a new society in which ordinary people take
responsibility for ensuring the safety of their communities.

Thus, campaigns developed by the organization that do
not contribute toward the building of a dual power should
be abandoned. If a popular protest movement has little
hope of building a dual power, it is not one we should be
collectively involved in. We may morally and politically
approve of such movements but as a small group with
limited resources, we must reject the liberalism of reform
activism and concern ourselves with revolutionary
strategy.

Vision

One of the great failings of modern radical organizations
has been the failure to provide a strong vision of a new
society. We are able to say what we are against but rarely
what we are for. One purpose of a revolutionary
organization is to provide people with a vision of a world
worth fighting for. Lack of vision is one of the reasons why
radicals have historically failed to win the working class to
their politics. Unfortunately, the fascist right has not failed
in this task; they offer a clear vision of the world they want
to create. If we continue to fail to offer a vision of our own,
we cannot expect to win people over to revolutionary
politics.

Bring the ruckus

This proposal is the product of our readings and
discussion on various radical organizations and
movements over the past year, ranging from works
produced by the Black liberation struggle, women's
liberation, the abolitionists, and both classical and
contemporary revolutionary anarchism. The praxis
addressed within is also based on our experience with
grassroots political work, particularly in Phoenix
Copwatch.

To see our archive of some of the documents we have
read and studied, go to
http://www.illegalvoices.org/ruckus. If you are interested
in the politics of this proposal and would like to discuss it
further, we encourage you to contact us. We understand
that there are several conferences scheduled throughout
the States and Canada this summer that will be addressing
some of the issues in this statement. We hope that this
statement will be of some value at these meetings. We will
make our best effort to send representatives to these
conferences as well.

Bring the Ruckus
P.O. Box 1543
Phoenix, AZ 85001
602-241-6353
ruckus@illegalvoices.org


The document was distinguished from other
revolutionary perspectives by a combination of three things: 1)
its rejection of the Marxist vanguard party and anarchist
network structures, 2) its insistence that the aim of a
revolutionary group is to help build a dual power, and 3) its
argument that the best way to build a dual power in the U.S. is to
fight institutionalized white supremacy.

Phoenix Ruckus distributed the document and debated it with a
wide number of people and organizations over the next six
months.  (To read some of this debate go to Criticism and
Response.)  During this time, others signed on to BTR and began
working to build the group.  In March 2002, two members of
Phoenix Ruckus along with comrades from Portland and
Houston did a ?Fight the Power, Build the Power? speaking tour
on the West Coast.  The purpose of the tour was to lay the
foundation for an organization.

The fruit of all this effort was a meeting that took place in
November 2002 in Phoenix.  At this meeting the politics,
structure, and political strategy of this new
organization-in-formation was hammered out in rough form.
As a result of the meeting, locals in Amherst, Atlanta, D.C., Los
Angeles, Phoenix, and Portland have formed or are forming.  To
read a report on the meeting go to November 2002 Meeting
Report.

BTR is having a founding meeting in Fall 2003.  At this
meeting we will formalize our politics, structure, and strategy,
refining them in response to the political work and debate that
we will have done in the year leading up to the meeting.  Our
current aim is to nurture a culture of serious, honest and
respectful criticism among members in order to facilitate
revolutionary struggle.   To do this we publish an internal
discussion bulletin and operate an email list available to all
members.  We also have a ?Friends of BTR? email list open to
anyone who is sympathetic to BTR?s politics but does not yet
want to become a member.  We do not plan to start a paper, but
we will update this web site regularly and BTR members will
continue to write articles for other magazines.  Further, we are
also in the process of organizing another speaking tour in the
spring or early summer of 2003.

To learn more about the politics, structure, and political work of
BTR, please check out the links on this page.  If you are
interested in joining or would like more information, please
contact us.

 Statement: "Bring the Ruckus" x Work x Analysis x Study x
 Join/Contact x Home

 If you would like to contact us, please send an
email to ruckus@illegalvoices.org
top

Work

         November 2002 meeting report [coming soon]
         The Six Criteria
         Fight the Power, Build the Power 2003 speaking tour
         Fall 2003 meeting: We will be meeting in the fall of
         2003 to formally found this new organization. We will
         post updates on this event as the meeting date
         approaches. If you are interested in participating in
         this founding meeting, please consider joining.



       At our November 2002 meeting we agreed that the
       political work of Bring the Ruckus must adhere to the
       following six criteria:

       1.It must address systems that attack working class
         people of color
       2.It must attack white supremacy
       3.It must have the potential to further the development
         of revolutionary consciousness among the working
         class
       4.It must have the potential to build a dual power (i.e. it
         must challenge state power or prefigure a challenge to
         state power, it must pose a revolutionary or potentially
         revolutionary challenge to that power, and it must
         prefigure a new society in some small way)
       5.It must be consistent with a feminist praxis
       6.It should stretch the boundaries of political organizing

       All members are expected to engage in political work that
       meets or tries to meet all six criteria. (This is not to say
       that all of a member's political work has to fit this criteria,
       only that at least some of her/his work does. The political
       work that BTR takes on as an organization (at the local or
       national level) must adhere to the six criteria.

       BTR has adopted anti-police and anti-prison work as our
       two main areas of political agitation. We came to this
       decision based on our estimation that of all the political
       activism going on in the U.S., work in these two areas fits
       the six criteria best and therefore seems to have the most
       revolutionary potential.

       Local BTR chapters are free to develop their own
       strategies and ways of doing anti-police and prison work
       according to local conditions, so long as it's consistent
       with the six criteria. This work could include but is not
       limited to Copwatch programs, fighting police unions,
       halting prison construction, involvement in Critical
       Resistance, and more.

       Members do not necessarily have to do work in these two
       areas. Other kinds of work are welcome so long as they
       adhere to the six criteria.

       All BTR political work is subject to critique by members.
       We will evaluate our political work at annual meetings
       and adjust our work as necessary. BTR's goal is to
       imagine, develop, and participate in political activism
       from a fresh perspective, not to lock people into dead-end
       work for ideological reasons. The only way to do this is to
       constantly critique ourselves and the world around us,
       then revise our work accordingly.



       Statement: "Bring the Ruckus" x Work x Analysis x Study x Join/Contact x
                        Home



        If you would like to contact us, please send an email to
                 ruckus@illegalvoices.org



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