Dialectics and dreaming the impossible

L.T. Pham

We are in a rather exciting political moment in history — positioned to take the lessons of the past and shape them to help determine the future of our class. There are, of course, many factors out of our control. But as Marxist-Leninists and dialecticians we are charged with making sense and making use of what is seemingly out of our control.

The past few months in Durham, N.C., have been an intensified period of struggle and practice of dialectical struggle for our comrades. Understanding the conditions and contradictions that led to the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., allowed us to take revolutionary action.

In a city like Durham, undeniably shaped by the legacy of slavery, tenant farming and Jim Crow segregation, tearing down the monument planted to “honor the boys in gray” was a necessary, direct and revolutionary response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and the white supremacy of this wretched capitalist system. It was an action that recognized the role of the working class as agents of revolutionary change. It was demonstrative of what our class must do — because the capitalist state will not and cannot.

In fact, the state allowed the erection of this racist statute, directly in front of the courthouse, in 1924 to send a chilling message to the Black community: that the white power structure still owned the booming tobacco mills and would fight to control the social, political and economic life of Black people in Durham.

Following the people’s removal of the confederate statue, dozens of cities across the country witnessed an upsurge in righteous actions to deface, vandalize and remove racist monuments. We could not predict that this would happen, but the conditions were ripe enough that our bold action presented to our class what could be possible in this phase of struggle.

We were able to organize the momentum of this action into a broad-based coalition united in fighting white supremacy, pulling together organizations, affinity groups and forces across the left to be in solidarity against the state’s attempts to repress organizers and sow division. This formation has pushed thousands to take actions through online petitions, national days of action and call-ins to the district attorney to drop charges against anti-racist fighters.

With new and strengthened alliances in Durham, we are now tasked with exploring what’s next — to continue to organize resistance that is in dialogue with history, accurately assess our current conditions and make calculations about how we continue to advance the class struggle.

In Durham we are beginning to build a People’s Tribunal and Commission of Inquiry to charge the state of North Carolina with obstruction of justice and conspiracy in its heinous persecution of our class. This tribunal will raise mass consciousness, connect seemingly spontaneous moments to a legacy of struggle, keep us in motion and maintain a basis for continuing to create bold, militant actions in order to offer direction to our class that points toward revolution, not demoralization or reformism.

Let’s put on trial the capitalist system and its armed men, puppet politicians and corporate bosses. What would it look like to hold a People’s Tribunal for reparations for the Puerto Rican people? What would it look like to hold a People’s Tribunal to indict the killer cops who murder Black, Brown and Indigenous people with impunity? What would it look like to hold a People’s Tribunal to expose the wealth stolen from workers through student debt and austerity? Let’s build People’s Tribunals Against Racism, Repression and Capitalism!

How we build organized resistance should be a practice of dialectical analysis and action. Our world is shaped by change, by dialectics that emerge as patterns. Through ongoing struggle, we can strengthen our ability to seize these patterns in service of the movement.

We should make it a primary objective in this period, as the contradictions facing our class intensify, to take bold militant action that can raise the stakes and propel our class to a different and, hopefully, higher phase of struggle. Anything short of this puts our class in jeopardy of being paralyzed by the day-to-day attacks under this capitalist system.

But what happens then when we raise the stakes? What happens when we sharpen the contradictions ourselves? We know what the answer is — we win; we get closer and closer to revolution; once in a while, comrades, our class gets a revolution.

We’ve seen this in the course of 100 years of socialist and national liberation movements. We’ve seen disruptive actions shift us from being on the defensive to the offensive.

If you don’t believe me, we should reflect on key moments in history — to when the Bolsheviks overthrew the tsar and established Soviet Russia; when the DPRK defeated the U.S. empire and liberated its people; when Cuba forced out [dictator Fulgencio] Batista; when Vietnam defeated the French colonizers and claimed another victory against the U.S. empire.

These shifts are possible not just elsewhere. These shifts are possible here, at home. We have a history of organizing that shows us what’s possible — from the resistance of Indigenous peoples to colonizers, of Black revolts to slave masters and the fight back of lesbians, gay men, queer and trans people at Stonewall and in ACT UP; from sit-ins, bus boycotts and community defense efforts of the Black Power movement; from strikes and picket lines, unions of all stripes; and, in recent years, the emergence of the Occupy Movement that held fire to corporate exploitation, the militant Black Lives Matter movement, Standing Rock and beyond. All this shows us that we are on par with the global history of resistance.

I hope that everyone has gotten a chance to take a look at the wonderful poster designed by our comrades commemorating 100 years of global revolution. If you follow the timeline to the very end, you’ll see that under the year 2017 it reads, “The next revolution is up to us.” It’s true, comrades.

This is what is in our control: the fight for revolution from the belly of the beast. This seemingly insurmountable task is not only inevitable; it is necessitated by dialectics and change, it is necessitated by sharpening contradictions, it is necessitated by the future of humanity.

I end with the spirit of Che Guevara, who said, “We are realists — we dream the impossible.”

(WW photo: Joseph Piette)

(WW photo: Joseph Piette)

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