Revolution #276, July 29, 2012
False Paths and Dead Ends:
Why “Stop the Violence” Can’t Work
The following is excerpted from "The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need," Revolution Issue #144.
People say: “You can’t talk of fundamental change while the people are all caught up in killing each other. First we have to stop this violence among the people, and then we can talk about making bigger change.”
The violent situation in many Black and Latino neighborhoods all over the country—where parents watch young children shot down in crossfires and kids grow up haunted by nightmares of gunfire, sure they won’t make it past 18—is a horror for the people. But the logic that the people must first somehow “fix themselves” as the necessary first step, before they can change the larger conditions people find themselves in, reverses cause and effect and, regardless of intent, directs people’s attention away from the source of the violence among the people—the capitalist-imperialist system which has created these conditions in the first place. The violence people commit against each other is not at root due to “bad choices” that need to be “solved first” but is due to the ways in which this system has confined people in a position where they are set against each other to survive.
People like Bill Cosby—as well as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—not only go so far as to blame Black people for the horrendous situation into which this system has shoved them, with its dead-end set of “choices,” they do so with a phony pose of concern for Black people. These snakes do tremendous damage to Black people’s ability to understand the problem and to change the world accordingly, and they also justify all those racist lies in the minds of white people.
Yes, people do need to change—but they’re only going to transform themselves, fundamentally and in a liberating way, in the process of confronting the actual source of the problem and radically changing their conditions. This happened in large numbers in the revolutionary movement of the 1960s, when many former gangbangers and prisoners got out of that life and into making revolution and serving the people, making the rupture from “criminal-minded” to “revolutionary-minded.”
The factors that especially young people are responding to today—the fact that these youth really have nothing to lose under this system—are the very same driving forces that could impel them in a whole other direction if they could be ruptured with that “gangsta” outlook and if their anger, alienation, and rebelliousness could instead be channeled at the source of the problem, and tempered and transformed with revolutionary science and a morality of liberation. But this will only happen based on FIGHTING the power, and not “working with it” or “within the system” to somehow keep a lid on things. We have to abolish the system that causes and enforces these conditions, bring into being a new society and new conditions in which such violence among the people will no longer have any basis, and will no longer take place. And it is in this process—of making revolution to change the larger circumstances while learning about the underlying dynamics that give rise to those circumstances—that people can, and must, transform themselves.
Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!
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