I’m a veteran of imperialist wars who woke up after separating from the military, so I’m already depressed for my “military service” in that regard. Now that I’m an activist and an organizer, I try to look towards the future. I look towards the future because the past and the current situation is dire, sad, and overwhelmingly depressing. Most of us avoid the current reality, but our collective will to avoid criticism will be the death of us. We need to wake up out of our dream and confront reality full on. So the rest of this post will be a criticism of every group I can think of that might be considered important.
First, there is a concept developed in 1942 called, “Unity, Criticism, and Unity” (UCU). I won’t tell you where it came from until the end of this post because you would most likely dismiss it if you did know who it came from. I will describe its process in short as follows. This process is described as a democratic method of solving contradictions among the people. We must first understand we live in the nation (the USA) made up of factions, or groups with different interests and worldviews. These worldviews compete with each other for different outcomes. So in order to move forward to a more agreeable outcome that might benefit all, or at least most, these factions can use the UCU method to reach a consensus. To elaborate on UCU, it means starting from a desire for unity, then resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle, and then arriving at a new unity on a new basis.
Now, I’ve said we need to wake up out of our dream and confront reality, because our future depends on it. This is my way of showing my desire for unity. Next I will go into criticism, which will make up most of this post, and then I will end with unity again.
It is necessary for us to be critical because without criticism we cannot progress. Like Frederick Douglass said,
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress”.
This is a huge issue because we in the Western world, specifically citizens of empire within the United States of America, are the spoiled children of the world who avoid any criticism whatsoever of themselves. This is most likely because they’ve been raised with ideologies of American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and so on and so forth. It’s too easy to be critical of the ruling class, corporations, and politicians but can be be critical of ourselves? Of course we can and I’d argue it is necessary. So let’s begin.
The American working class, despite living in the wealthiest nation the world has ever witnessed, suffers from the worst levels of ignorance the world has ever seen. Most of which is not due to their own fault but due to the environment which they were raised: the poor inadequate public education systems, lack of opportunities, misinformed mainstream media outlets, lying dogmatic politicians, and much more. So let us realize this first and foremost because without accepting that we are ignorant, we then can not learn to move forward on a new basis.
Now within the American working class there are factions who believe that they are the rightful leaders to push this nation forward. Each faction believes they have figured out the right path. Each faction refuses to compromise their ideology or worldview because it threatens their own superiority. This leads to each faction to not open their minds to new ideas from other factions. Ideas of which could be good and help us all progress to a new basis of unity.
I will start with my own community of military veterans, more specifically my generation of veterans of the post 9/11 era. I can not tell you how many veterans I’ve met who are completely illiterate in US foreign policy history and even contemporary issues. By the way, US foreign policy (USFP) is just another fancy way of saying imperialism. I’ve met veterans who are leaders in organizations who have no idea about the Asia Pivot, a major shift in USFP when Obama announced it in 2011. I’ve met veterans who don’t understand the true history of the US military when it comes to things like the genocide of Native Americans or the imperialist adventures in colonizing the Philippines. I know veterans right now who claim to understand the military-industrial complex yet can only name 2-3 weapons corporations. And right now, most veterans are unaware of what the US military is currently doing in places like Africa, East Asia, or Latin America (otherwise known as the Global South).
With this kind of awareness, or should I say unawareness, about the world in which we are all living right now many of these veterans believe they understand militarism just because they’ve participated in a war or two. Hell, most veterans of the Iraq War don’t bother learning how to pronounce the word ‘Iraq’ properly, let alone learn the history of that country. For some reason, most likely because of neoliberalism, my generation of veterans refuse to look beyond our borders but only focus on themselves and their own communities. Although it is important to do local organizing and to understand the US imperialist state from within, they’re are billions of people on this planet who depend on hearing our voices. Post 9/11 veterans are never going to make any fundamental changes unless they open their eyes and ears to the working class of the world. This kind of ignorance makes me lose hope.
The next group of people I will criticize will be the leftists, or the socialists and communists. I’m not talking about the fake democratic socialists wasting our precious time on candidate worship campaigns for elections 2-4 years down the road, I’m talking about the real communists on the left who realize the electoral political system is a game of the bourgeoisie and we can never win by playing their games. Although communists have done extremely important work, in fact necessary work, to provide a method of revolutionary change in societies, I just don’t think they understand the dire situation we are all in. I’ve met leftists who have never heard of the IPCC. Have you? It is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading body of climate scientists who provide the scientific evidence of us all dying in the short period due to environmental damage. Sure, you don’t have use the IPCC and their published documents as a way to understand the critical situation of which our species will most likely become extinct, but by not even knowing who they are shows the complete deviation of leftists on the most important issue of this century, and I’d argue the most important issue of our entire species: environmental catastrophe. This kind of ignorance makes me lose hope.
The next group of people I will criticize will be the anarchists. This group loves to criticize both the state and communists. Anarchists are exceptionally great at direct action, not waiting for approval to take action. Yet it seems many either are full of theory and no practice or they are full of practice and no theory. Theory is another word for studying, reading, analyzing, and educating oneself to become better at making change in the real world, which is practice. As a communist would say, we need both theory and practice. They are equally important for making fundamental change on societies. I see anarchists online who speak of revolution, which is quite easy to do on camera, but never hear a word about them in action, on the streets, organizing for the revolution they call for. This could also be said of the communist YouTubers and other online personalities. I also see such a huge lack of knowledge from anarchists towards military and political imperialism overseas. Both Communists and Anarchists speak of solidarity with the working class around the world yet can’t even name the countries where the US is currently bombing, of which those bombs are being dropped on the working class we should be having solidarity with. A true revolutionary would take the time, or should I say make the time, to learn about these issues. We are in the belly of the beast and we owe it to the oppressed people overseas to understand their issues. After all, their problems comes straight from our tax dollars. This kind of ignorance makes me lose hope.
The next group of people I will criticize will be the peace or anti-war movement. Typically made up of middle to upper class citizens who are liberal in their worldviews, they believe capitalism can exist in a peaceful state. What a joke. I understand their are anti-imperialists, communists, and anarchists within the peace movement but their voices have been silenced by the liberals with pensions. Liberals, or progressives (whatever that means today), have found a way to silence the leftists. These liberals love to hold signs on the streets that have meaningless phrases like, “Honk For Peace!” or “NO WAR!”. Really? That sign poses a threat to the current power structures? No, it doesn’t. It just makes the liberals feel good and gives them a reason to pat themselves on the back and say, “Good Job, Jimbo!”. This kind of ignorance makes me lose hope.
The last group of people I will criticize will be the so-called progressive movement. This group really took off when Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016. I recently watched Sanders on Fox News speaking about a resolution to withdraw U.S. troops out of the war in Yemen. He said both conservatives and progressive agree the U.S. should pull out of that war. What?! Liberals don’t exist anymore? Why didn’t he say ‘conservatives and liberals’? Sanders is good at manipulation. He gets way too much credit, as if he developed a socialist theory that led an actual revolution to overthrow the capitalists. I’d argue that American citizens were already looking outside of capitalism for answers because we still haven’t recovered from the 2008 great recession. Since then, Occupy Wall Street began, Black Lives Matter developed, and Standing Rock rose up. All of these movements are struggles against capitalism, although in isolation of each other. Since the presidential race of 2016, the liberals are now calling themselves progressives.
There is no such thing as a ‘progressive capitalist’. All capitalists are the scum of the earth. Their mode of function is based on exploitation, plunder, slavery, and genocide. Their ideologies require carpet bombings, cowardly air strikes from above, monopolies and oligarchs, financial manipulation, and exploitation of the oppressed. Capitalism, made up of both conservatives and liberals, is dependent on racism, sexism, consumerism, militarism, and imperialism. Liberals hiding under the cover of progressivism is the problem, perhaps a more dangerous problem than republicanism because liberals hide under the shadows: they trick, they lie, and they exploit.
These problems stem of a particular system called Neoliberalism. Beginning at the end of the 1970s, Neoliberalism was developed by the capitalists in order to fight back against the strong labor unions, communists, and anarchists during the 1940s through 1960s. President Roosevelt implemented social programs under the New Deal. Although he implemented them, he was actually forced to do so by the working class leftists. Those leftists threatened the capitalists with revolution, and the capitalists certainly did not want a socialist America because that would mean losing their positions of power and wealth. At the same time, the United States maintained 50 percent of the world’s economy by the end of World War 2. So the U.S. ruling class, aka capitalists, were so stinking rich it didn’t bother them so much as to share some of their wealth with the working class. But by the 1970s, the ruling class had to take their wealth back and so began the era of Neoliberalism.
This new era was the start of privatization, reduction in government regulations, and a simple handing over of power to corporate elites out of the governmental power. The more overlooked side of neoliberialism is the cultural impacts, or should I say manufactured social engineering. Instead of looking at ourselves as a collective, a nation or a community of people, neoliberalism pushed the idea of the individual. It could be called competitive individualism to paint a clearer image. Manipulating the public to begin blaming everything on themselves as individuals as to why they are poor, why they are isolated, why they are depressed, was a means for capitalists to take back more power. I can see that today everywhere.
The way in which we address climate change really portrays my argument here. The corporations and governments of the world will ask, “why is pollution and climate change such a problem?” Well, to them its your fault. You are the one using too much water. You are the one not recycling enough. You are the one buying consumer products wrapped up in unnecessary plastic containers. You are the one who is polluting our oceans. You, you, you! Here’s the sad thing about framing climate change in that way: it works! I see, particularly my millennial generation, people transforming into these over-aged hipsters, who believe that taking less showers and not washing their clothes will save the planet. They believe using less technology, some even becoming flat-out Luddites, and becoming culturally backwards is the way forward. They embody the neoliberal generation.
Even in the organizing world, I see groups of people looking inward, only analyzing their own lives without opening their eyes to the larger picture. Post 9/11 veterans focus on personal growth, always facing inward. Communists are stuck in their bubble of theory and practice disregarding the largest elephant in the room, climate change. Anarchists are completely unaware about the world outside of their borders. Peace activists who won’t bother studying strategies for social change and, dare I say it, revolutionary tactics. The American working class who continue to be racist towards each other, men continuing to exploit women through our patriarchal society, middle class citizens looking down upon the poor lower class citizens, governments criminalizing the poor for being poor, and so much more.
So let’s bring it back to the last “U” in the UCU method of resolving contradictions among the people. We need to realize we are part of the same working class. The Occupy Movement simplified this structure for us, the one percent versus the ninety-nine percent. How much clearer can it be? Rather than continuing the division among us through identity politics, race, gender, class, etc, why don’t we realize that there is no solution but class warfare. It’s the billionaires of the ruling class who are the enemy.
I was recently asked by a friend on what to do? If elections don’t work, what should we do? Well, clearly the answer is in revolution to overthrow the ruling class to expunge ourselves of capitalism. But I admit, we are not ready for that. The question is can we ready ourselves within the next decade when environmental destruction really hits the fan? Will we be ready for a revolution before hitting the point of no return? Really, after looking at the data on climate change we’ve already past the point of no return. We’ll never go back to 350 parts per million (PPM). Its now all about mitigating the damage. So, what are we waiting for?
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS!
P.S. The idea of Unity, Criticism, Unity came from Revolutionary China developed in 1942. Mao Zedong gave a speech in 1957 speaking about how this process was developed in order to resolve issues within the Chinese Communist Party during the revolution. Maybe we should listen to people who actually carried out revolutionary change since that is actually what we need right now.