Rest in Power George Floyd, you will never be forgotten.
We’ve all either seen the news or have been to the frontlines. We are seeing a rebellion the likes of which this nation has not seen for generations. This could very well be the beginning of the revolution that we have waited for.
As long as we don’t get in the way.
When I say “we” I mean the gatekeeper activists. The professional organizers and lifestyle activists, such as myself, do in fact represent an old guard of revolution at this point. There will be people of our kind who will say, don’t join a protest unless you have a plan, or a bailfund set up, or use this tactic but not this tactic, and you should coordinate like this but not this and etc.
This sort of gatekeeping is what stops every revolution before it starts. Instead of elevating the voices of the oppressed who now rage against police and capitalist properties, we end up silencing them because people feel it is more important to flex their own ideology.
Those who have studied revolution know that revolt in a nation-state goes through phases, a demonstrable example, though cliché for a socialist blog I will admit, is the Russian Revolution.
First there was the over throw of Tsarism, the February Revolution of 1917. In this revolt the police tried to suppress demonstrations and uprisings, and much like how the National Guard is called in for George Floyd protests the Cossacks and Russian army was called in as well. The army was however unable to help the police because the citizenry would outnumber the military and soldiers would refuse to fire on civilians.
This is the first step in a true revolution. The uprising of the people and the failure of the police to suppress it and insubordination in the military all eventually forced the Tsar to abidcate.
The longer it takes for Donald Trump and the liberals to take back control, the more likely he and his kind will be taken out of office.
What is most important about this phase of revolution is the structurelessness. Trotsky notes in the History of the Russian Revolution that no single organization was calling for the strikes and demonstrations that eventually led to the Tsars abdication.
However the lack of structure left a power vacuum that enabled the provisional liberal government of Alexander Kerensky to take hold.
The liberal bourgeois elite of the provisional government in Russia refused to met the material demands of the working class, so inevitably in the October revolution the Bolsheviks were victorious.
We are in the phase of revolution were if we, the old guard, allow the new revolutionaries who have been born out of this crisis to thrive, to take down the mechanisms that oppress them and offer them any support they need, then the new world can be built from the ashes of the old.
I am not saying we step in amidst the chaos, I refuse to perpetuate a savior narrative. I am saying that if we avoid reductionism of these protests and avoid intellectualizing reasons not to get involved, then the flames of the rebellion will flourish.
Do not let our old guard, gatekeeper activism, and sense of professionalism as organizers prevent an oppressed mass from speaking out.
What I see when I take to the streets is truly revolutionary. Organizers of these protests are giving space and a voice to people who have been ignored and oppressed their whole lives. There was structure and resources such as masks to prevent covid and security tips and know your rights trainings. But the most revolutionary thing was that when the marches started it was initiated by the masses, the people, not the organizers, the organizers of the action themselves said, “We respect a diversity of tactics. We are not going to tell you how to protest.”
That is how you let a revolution flourish. When a people finds its voice it has a lot to say, so let them say it. What will this rebellion yield? Who is to say, but now is not the time to get in the way.