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(en) The Agitator Index - Bring the Ruckus receives questions about our political work and/or analysis.

Date Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:42:05 +0300

Dear Bring the Ruckus.... [Occasionally, Bring the Ruckus receives questions
about our political work and/or analysis. We publish here brief exchange on
some commonly asked questions about Bring the Ruckus: why we
focus on anti-cop and anti-prison work, and why we structure our
organization nationally as opposed to regionally.]
These are some basic and general questions that may not be easy to
answer, but I have been mulling them over in studying your
thoughts and wanted to lodge them.
Why anti-police and prison work? Specifically I am thinking that if
race is seen as a/the crucial link in building a revolutionary
movement there might be other strategic areas to pursue. For
instance, immigrant workers occupy strategic positions in the
economy, and the privilege system that meets race/immigration
status is massive and crucial. Why not attack white/national privilege
at that point? Such a point would lie at the intersection of
globalization, race, class, etc. By focusing on attacking privilege
within the global economy it is easier for me to see how the
movement could be more easily transnational and connect with
struggles abroad. I don't have the experience or knowledge about
much of these issues, and am launching these questions from true
curiosity, as I think having a strategic orientation is crucial and
unfortunately singular to you all.

Likewise how does a national organization meet issues arising out of
globalization and human migration? Not that "regional" organization
solves these issues, but how can an organization attacking race
through targeting specifically national institutions move beyond a
national framework. This seems important to me also as BTR is an
anti-statist organization, how does a national anti-statist organization
orient itself towards revolution accordingly? Is revolution a national

These are not critiques, because I'm not there yet :) These are
questions because I am interested. Thanks for taking the time if you
have it.

Solidarity, Todd


Thanks for your thoughts and questions. The response that follows
is from me as an individual member, though I don't think it makes
any particularly controversial points. I'll post it to our internal list and
let you know if it elicits responses that indicate otherwise.

You ask "why anti-police and prison work?"

BTR is an organization formed at a particular time and place in US
history. A group of revolutionaries in Phoenix embarked on a course
of study and concluded that anti-cop and anti-prison work are
strategically imperative at this point in history. People every bit as
reasonable and committed in another place could easily have come
to different conclusions from the exact same course of study. I look
at BTR's commitment to certain types of political work as subject to
the test of historical reality. We believe that our conclusions are the
best we've got, for now. The next few years could prove us wrong,
and if so we will be obliged to draw new conclusions from current

Now, I am not backing away from anti-cop and anti-prison work as
the touchstones of potentially revolutionary work. I believe that in
this we are correct. But I want to be clear that I believe this not in the
way the faithful believe in god, but more in the way a researcher
continues to operate under her best hypothesis until she is forced to
reject it by conditions of material reality. I believe that when we\ look
at the prison system and systems of policing in this country, we are
looking at systems of social control that buttress white supremacy
and capitalism more directly than any other. I am sure you are
familiar with the impact prisons and cops have on communities of
color, including revolutionary movements that have come out of
these communities. Most people are aware of this. However, that
doesn't keep white people from accepting the legitimacy of these
systems, by and large. So in attacking these system, we seek to do at
least a couple of things: diminish the ability of the state to make war
on the most potentially revolutionary sectors of the working class, as
well forcing white people to take a side regarding these institutions. I
am not aware of other areas of society where the current human cost
is greater, where people are more directly oppressed, or where loyalty
or opposition to the state is more directly correlated with race.

Your write: "there might be other strategic areas to pursue." I don't
think anyone in BTR would disagree, and again, we welcome
questions such as yours as well as outright challenges and criticisms
to our strategic orientation. We certainly do not believe the key to
revolutionary change lies within this organization. We do believe that
to be most effective, revolutionaries need organizations with political
coherency that make specific strategic choices. Strategic choices of
necessity involve de-prioritizing or rejecting some types of work. We
strive to make BTR a coherent organization and our commitment to
anti-prison and anti-cop work is just such a strategic choice. We
hope our work, with its inevitable mistakes, will teach us and the
broader revolutionary milieu something about the way forward
toward revolution. Other organized groupings pursuing a different
strategic path will likewise have much to teach all of us. As you
acknowledge, there seem to be unfortunately few organizations in
this country truly interested in political coherency and making
strategic choices. We certainly don't relish the position of being one
of the only ones, and the sooner there are more, pursuing a
multitude of trajectories, the better.

You continue: "immigrant workers occupy strategic positions in the
economy, and the privelege system that meets race/immigration
status is massive and crucial. Why not attack white/national privilege
at that point?" I wouldn't disagree with your two assertions about the
position immigrants occupy in this country. At the risk of being
flippant or glib, to your question I would say "because we have
decided to attack white supremacy by attacking the state directly, as
it manifests itself in police and prisons." Again, this decision is not
one that is above critique or debate: there is a tendency within BTR
doing work around new forms of worker organization. There is also a
tendency of exploratory work focusing on border and immigration
issues directly. At our recent national meeting, reports on the recent
widespread wildcat activity within the trucking industry and social
conflict around the southern border indicate that these areas of work
are both strategically important and may rival or eclipse our two
current areas of focus at some point. We attempt to stay abreast of
developments in other areas of political work, and I think the state of
development and debate within BTR around workplace organizing
and border work are positive and fruitful.

You also raise the point that focusing on immigrant organizing
would better allow us to "be more easily transnational and connect
with struggles abroad." While you may be correct in this, I believe
that at this point our movement has tragically little to offer the rest of
the world, either in terms of inspiration or material support and
solidarity. While it would be fairly easy for BTR to "connect" with
the global movement by initiation conversation with organizations or
movements in other countries, attending global conferences,
affiliating with the World Social Forum, etc, I believe that this would
actually be wasteful and even offensive until such time as a true
mass movement exists in this country. I have attended international
gatherings of revolutionary social movements, and it is truly
remarkable to meet people who have traveled far from their villages
and legitimately represents tens and hundreds of thousands of their
comrades. It is just as remarkable that there is not a single
organization or even movement within the US that has achieved
such a degree of coherence or success.

I believe that the peculiar conditions that exist in the US (including
but not limited to: our brand of white supremacy and its attendant
class of super-exploited African-American labor, an unrivaled
cultural system of hegemony, vast material resources—-including
land--obtained through genocide and distributed to large parts of the
white working class, and relatively high degrees of social mobility)
require analysis and forms of organization that cannot be imported
from abroad. To participate as true comrades in the global
movement that thrives in much of the rest of the world, we
desperately need to get our shit together and build a movement in
this country. A small organization like BTR, or the smattering of
individual activists who have global "connections" are not doing
anything to create the conditions in this country that can aid
movements elsewhere in delivering the deathblow to global
There is a global movement, but it was built from organizations
working in national contexts. I hope that someday we are ready to
tackle your question of how to move beyond a national framework,
but quite frankly, we have our work cut out for us in developing
analysis and activities that are capable of affecting the national
situation. I hope it is clear that I am not advocating isolation, or
arguing against acting in solidarity with struggles abroad. My point is
that we have a long way to go before our small numbers themselves
cease to be a source of isolation and before we are capable of
exercising meaningful solidarity. These are both ways of saying we
must build power and be capable of forcing changes in this country
before we have much to offer the rest of the world.

I realize I did not quite get to all of your questions, and probably did
not treat any of them with the depth that they deserve. At this point,
I would like to turn the questions around somewhat, and respectfully
ask a bit about you and your work. Where are you located? Are you
active in immigrant organizing? Do you not agree that anti-cop and
anti-prison work have revolutionary potential, or do you just believe
that other types of work have more such potential?

In solidarity,

Clayton Szczech
Member of BTR

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