I have a personal history that inclined me to being anti-authoritarian. My entire life I’ve been confronted with the fact that the authorities that I have lived under abused and neglected me in a variety of ways. Whether we are talking about my parents, my peers parents, the JW cult, school teachers, administrators, and bus drivers, employers, and the US regime I live under, my experiences led me to believe that it was authority itself that caused them to behave and treat me that way for a long time.
It wasn’t until I started reading history written by authors who aren’t trying to uphold the values of Western Empire, or defend its legitimacy, that I began to see that it isn’t having power and authority alone that is the corrupting factor in the equation. Rather, it has to do with WHO is wielding the power and acting with authority and WHY. Ironically, one of the things that helped me understand this was a scene from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the film Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). In it, Dr. Abraham Erksine explains to a pre-serum Steve Rogers why he was chosen to receive it:
- “The serum was not ready. But more important, the man. The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great. Bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.”
So it matters who is wielding power – someone informed by their experiences of having no power in the system, and what it is like to live that way, is going to wield authority differently than someone who has always held power. When one acts with authority in order to use that strength with the understanding of what it is like being on the other side of it, when someone willing to abuse that power is using it against you, and rejecting that in favor of an empathetic approach that considers the needs of all, but particularly the weakest, results in very different (and better!) outcomes than corrupt top-down authority.
Pay Attention To How Your Ideas Develop
If you’re anti-authoritarian, consider you’ve likely only ever lived under the authority of oppressors. So your understanding of “authority” is itself tainted, and this informs your understanding of the world. But if you’re familiar with revolutionaries and history, you know that’s not the only way authority can be used; revolutionary authority has been used successfully to overthrow corrupt governments and run nations in way far more just than what we’ve experienced in the US. Authority can be used to oppress the people or it can be used to achieve goals to benefit the people. But those of us living in the US Empire have been deliberately conditioned our entire lives – for generations – to view Capitalism as the only acceptable authority in our lives…by the Capitalists who control our social order, including our schools, entertainment, communities, and who have attempted to prevent us from learning anything that shows us that’s untrue. They’ve used indoctrination and propaganda that has habituated most USians to distrust, fear, and loathe any anti-Capitalist rhetoric and to reject anything that sounds like it resembles Socialism or Communism on the basis that it will be used to oppress people. The irony of course, is that this is a complete projection of the qualities and outcomes of Capitalism onto states struggling to become Post-Capitalist collaborative body politic run by workers instead of the owner class. This is another example of the US Empire’s usage of the propaganda technique “Accuse the other side of that which you yourself are guilty.” Inevitably, that indoctrination has USians (and others) describing the conditions we live in under Capitalism when they are asked to elaborate on why they hate Socialism. It’s happened so many times in front of my eyes, both in face to face conversations and electronically, I stopped counting years ago.
Revolutionaries require the authority to make revolution. We are authorized by the needs of the oppressed to do so. We must protect revolutionary gains with authority, and be authorized by the will of the people to pursue additional gains on behalf of them (and because we’re part of the collective, ourselves).
“But Birb!” You might say, “Look at Cuba/China/USSR/etc, their lives are terrible there, that’s what Socialism does!” But most of these objectors have not investigated any further than a biased source, whether it’s someone they know or a news story, to determine the veracity of the information they’ve been given by those sources. They rely upon the same regime that has allowed the pandemic and economic depression to kill its own citizens, put them out on the streets due to lost jobs and illness, and has made homelessness literally illegal in cities like Los Angeles. LAPD pointed assault rifles at homeless people living in tents on Venice Beach. The cruelty is deliberate, because the Capitalists who rule this regime see themselves as above the rest of us, and believe our lives are disposable, according to their needs and whims. Why would we believe what they are telling us about other governments? Why would we, to paraphrase Assata Shakur, be foolish enough to let someone else tell us who our enemies are, particularly when that entity is responsible for causing so much suffering around the world?
It is important that USians learn history beyond what this capitalist regime has inculcated us within school and popular culture, because that which they’ve withheld, twisted, and flat out lied to us about is life-altering in content, impact, and understanding for anyone with their humanity intact. Without accurate historical context, extra layers of opacity are still in place for anyone trying to analyze the behavior patterns of the US regime, because they are operating with fraudulent narrative that doesn’t represent the actions and impacts that materially occurred in the past. This makes evaluating the present and future difficult to impossible, depending upon how much CORRECT historical context a person has availed themselves of since realizing how much they’ve been lied to in order to protect the authority of the upper class of the US regime.
The US regime has discouraged open acknowledgment that we live in a class and caste based social order (of their making) because that contradicts the public image of the US: the land of freedom and liberty FOR ALL. Obviously material reality informs us that is untrue, and that an elite minority of the population “strikes it rich” or is born into wealth. But when a person realizes all of this and is deprived of historical and class contexts, they are led on a wild goose chase that will lead them down a confused tangle of arguments about Why Things Are Like This And Even If You Personally Are Suffering This Is Still The Best Way For Humans To Live that have all been sorted out by past thinkers, organizers, and authors whose work is work is dismissed because they are anti-Capitalist, anti-Imperialist, and anti-Class. Those qualities cultivated in enough people mean the end of the US regime, so it’s very much in the interests of the parasites it serves at the top to keep the masses busy with work, family, and church, and when they are seeking entertainment, it’s important that it reflects the values that the dominant power benefits from, and fraudulently vilifies things that threaten it. What imperils the authority of the US Empire?
The collaboration of the masses together around a central framework built on correct ideas, that removes power from the minority of wealthy elites. The masses together then turn that power against their oppressors to dismantle the class-based empire they built, until Capitalism and the US regime no longer exist on Turtle Island.
Pay Attention To How Your Emotions Are Being Manipulated
Take some time to ruminate on the fact that our social order pushes rivalry and elitism as not only desirable in every one of our interactions, but necessary. Think about how how adversarial we are encouraged to be in all of our relationships, to divide into competing teams that built antagonisms based on what are ultimately meaningless constructs – whether we’re talking about sport teams or their fans rivalries, student science fairs, Team Cap vs Team Iron Man, #[type of girl], we don’t [do things like other type of girls], corporate ladders, reality TV personalities, or the dreaded gym day when we played dodgeball, start being mindful of where you see rivalry, elitism, and divisions beyond those based on our identities. Our social order is unhealthy for us, we know that, but it also has the potential to be lethal – not just for us as individuals – but to our entire species. Read the paragraph above and factor in all of the divisions we are expected to live under and take a side on on a daily basis. Pitting the masses against one another makes what I wrote about above very unlikely, don’t you think?
In order to help the masses recognize, acknowledge, and begin to deprogram their imperialist indoctrination, we are going to need to provide political and historical education (really the same thing but I want to be clear on what I mean.) To suggest that one has found correct ideas that are worth sharing is an authoritative act. We need authority, community solidarity, and organized discipline to help the masses, otherwise, why will they believe we have the correct understanding and organization to back up what we’re telling them? “On whose authority can you do this?” “On the authority of the people.” The people are not served by the authority of the US regime or any capitalist government. But we can be served by our own authority that we grant ourselves when we begin to build a path away from these parasitic governments and their ruling classes, in solidarity with our neighbors.
Many reject post-revolutionary authority, even saying the first act of a revolution should be to dissolve the state and declare decentralized rule. Consider that it is adventurism to accept so much risk on behalf of the people, to expect them to live in a constant war of attrition between revolutionary and reactionary elements since neither acknowledges their rival has authority. Doing this will result in more dead than Capitalism already kills with each passing year via social murder, wars, coups, hunger, extrajudicial killings by cops, pollution, curable diseases, lack of healthcare, lack of clean water, etc. Why not instead, accept a worker-led policy making and enforcing body that rules from the bottom up using centralized planning, until its policies have ensured everyone materially gets what they need, humanity has rejected and abolished class/castes so thoroughly, so no antagonisms exist, then as its policies no longer need to be enforced, it gradually withers away.
Seek Out Historical Examples Of Your Ideas Being Tested
Immediately declaring the abolition of the state has been tried in the past, in France, which many USians point to as exemplary in their revolutionary tactics, so it’s worth noting how that turned out.
It has not gone well, as detailed in the excerpt from THE DEATH OF THE STATE IN MARX AND LENIN by Hal Draper above. Decreeing abolition of the state as the first and primary act of the revolution fails to take history and the existing material conditions of the particular time and place into account. Until the US is no longer a threat to the rest of the planet, any nation or group is going to require a policy-making and policy-enforcing organized political structure to protect their revolutionary gains from this evil empire, and that is particularly true for those of us living in the belly of the beast itself.
To deny the people to rule themselves from the bottom up, INCLUDING in the workplace is deeply selfish, even if the US Empire’s culture tries to inform us such actions would be brave. The US has been selling the fulfillment of greed (especially on the part of the bourgeoisie) as bravery, freedom, and liberty for its entire existence. They lie to us about history and current events to cover up their atrocities and to make the people easier to manipulate. This is one of the reasons learning actual history is so vital.
A dictatorship of the Proletariat is rule from the bottom up, instead of the top to bottom “trickle-down” we live under now. It is using the state as an instrument to defend the people against capitalist parasites, until the classes/castes it has required in order to function are eliminated – and if humanity manages to reach that point, then the state can be eliminated. But skipping from revolution to a stateless society is not possible. So long as class exists, so does the state. It’s all a matter of who you want in authority.
Be Mindful of How Your Ideas Impact Others Who Are Unlike Yourself
I asked about this on the Comrade Birb Facebook page recently, and one of the responses can be seen below, along with my reply. The author of the comment suggests that a “constant war of attrition” can be used to bypass the need for a Dictatorship Of The Proletariat.
It is unethical to ask marginalized and targeted people to support a revolution that will require them to live under a constant hand-to-mouth existence in which they must also maintain constant vigilance for fear of being victims of oppressors – that’s the lived of experience of so many people under Capitalism already! How can anyone argue in favor of doing that while also claiming truthfully that revolution has improved the lives of those most oppressed by the current regime?
Consider that it is adventurism to accept so much risk on behalf of the people, to expect them to live in a constant war of attrition, when instead we could have a worker-led policy making and enforcing body that rules from the bottom up. It only remains a constant until its policies have ensured everyone materially gets what they need, and humanity has rejected and abolished class/castes so thoroughly, no antagonisms exist. Then as its policies no longer need to be enforced, it gradually withers away.
Until the US is no longer a threat to the rest of the planet, any nation or group is going to require a policy-making and policy-enforcing organized political structure to protect their revolutionary gains from this evil empire. To deny the people to rule themselves from the bottom up, Including in the workplace, is deeply selfish, even if the US Empire’s culture tries to inform us such actions would be brave. The US has been selling the fulfillment of greed (especially on the part of the bourgeoisie) as bravery, freedom, and liberty for its entire existence. They lie to us about history and current events to cover up their atrocities, and to make the people easier to manipulate. This is one of the reasons learning actual history is so vital.
Without knowing what’s been tried, failed, and why, people tend to believe their ideas are unique, original and untested, therefore, it upsets them when they’re challenged with historical evidence to demonstrate incorrect conclusions on their part. Factor in the fragile ego US culture encourages and conditions in us (which we must actively fight, particularly if you, like me, are white) makes a good recipe for reacting irrationally, instead of calmly re-evaluating the errors in your understanding, and taking the opportunity to expand it as you seek correct, tested knowledge.
US Culture Deliberately Breeds Fragile Egos In Us Because It Makes Us Easier To Manipulate
It’s okay to be wrong. I’m not always correct, either. But I put great effort in placing my personal evolution and gaining more knowledge as a priority over my ego, which I continue to strangle to death daily. It’s more important to me that my thinking and understanding are correct than being concerned that being wrong is embarrassing, especially in an imperialist culture. We can all keep learning until we die.
We’re all treading in uncharted waters and there’s no boat coming for us all. We only have each other, and we need to build solidarity, not antagonisms, if we’re going to help each other survive. Correct, tested and proven thinking is more important than our individual opinions, which remain largely rooted in imperial indoctrination, especially when we haven’t addressed the internalized imperialism in ourselves. If one doesn’t want to read history, then they must recognize they have a weakness when it comes to analyzing conditions and must defer to trusted comrades whose expertise in people’s history allows them a wider view of the problem/issue under consideration. Failing to accept that one’s unwillingness to learn history disqualifies them from developing an informed, considered opinion that the collective should take into account in planning and implementation of revolutionary goals is individualism, and that is what led our species into the hellworld in which we’re all now residents.
The US regime is the most violent, militant, genocidal, reckless, mass-extinction causing empire that Earth has ever known. If you don’t recognize that, it is likely that you need to read some more history (see the recommended history books on our site). That is our reality – the material and historical conditions under which we live – and we must approach it realistically. It is irresponsible to believe that we can build a social order better than the one we currently suffer under without seizing the means of production – and therefore authority over those means, along with a centrally coordinated set of policies and enforcement mechanisms that are used to insure that everyone’s needs are being met. The Proletariat – The People – must be put in charge in order to reshape things from the bottom up in order to shake the foundations of the Capitalist pyramid so that it is flattened and can never rise to power and oppress anyone again.
Vital Questions For Revolutionaries To Consider
A successful revolution has historically relied upon a united front among the revolutionaries, who are seeking clear, common, coordinated goals and who have a plan on not only how to achieve those, but to protect them once they are achieved. If your ideas for revolution do not take this into account, you are putting yourself and others in danger, including those who you claim you want to help. Has your idea been tried in the past? How do you know for sure? If it’s been tried, has it worked? If it hasn’t, what factors have led you to believe that these ideas will work now? Give serious thought to these questions. If you are still convinced that we do not need a Dictatorship Of The Proletariat, please review the questions in the infographics in the album below and take some time to think about the implications.