Jack Kinzler, Rise! Magazine
Maoists and Marxists are generally conflicted on how revolution towards communism must take place. Maoists would suggest that the third world must first throw off the shackles of imperialism, thus crippling the industry of the first world and forcing the complacent people of the first world to take action against capitalism as well. While Marxists suggest that instead, a revolution can come within the first world where the people have the economic edge to be able to institute socialism. There’s a growing trend of individuals now who feel that revolution can’t even come from the people at all, as it must come from the top 1% and other model capitalists. From celebrities to act as figureheads, to politicians who are already “in the system”, and the entrepreneurs who have supposedly single-handedly built America; there are those who feel revolution must come from this class. The enlightened and experienced elite are the only ones with the mental capacity to pull American people out from the dirt.
Softening the Revolution
Despite being entirely detached from the struggle of the working class and the problems with which the workers handle daily; this mentality is also a massive disservice when these bourgeoisie soil the very ideal of revolution. Their emphasis lies on secondary political issues such as civil liberties of special groups, while never rallying the people under one common interest and the persistent advocacy of nonviolence, which detracts from our real goals and the real issues plaguing America (ie. Capitalism). While the idea of nonviolence is certainly a well meaning sentiment, the touting of such only serves to limit a movement if it’s pushed to the point of necessitating retaliation.
While it’s certainly not the prerogative of protests to react with unfettered violence, we shouldn’t completely shy away from destructive means of retaliation if the situation calls for it. Police abuse should be matched in protests with a necessary level of self defense in order to preserve the rights we have to assembly, no matter how the ruling class and their arm of the law feels about it. While it’s certainly does no good to fellow workers when shops are trashed during riots, we can unleash destruction at more appropriate government and bourgeois infrastructure which would hold a much more meaningful message. Places like commerce centers, banks, and businesses which profit from the abuse of the worsening state of capitalism (pawn shops, Cash 4 Gold, and title loans) deserve to be requisitioned and occupied by the people, if not destroyed outright. I disliked the looting of Ferguson, as it gains more media attention than the protesters themselves, but it was pleasant to see that a TitleMax location burned to the ground. If anything, that should be the target of outrage.
Despite the redirection of protesters behaviour into something which wouldn’t challenge the bourgeoisie, there’s an even greater issue which plagues these advocates of rich intervening into the struggle of the working class. That issue would be the worship of these individuals as “champions of the people” by the working class and the Social Democratic liberals. Much like the rich, they too feel a misplaced interest in protecting the status-quo, since any real action would cost them their well-being. For them, they feel superior to others in the working class since they’ve managed to fight and struggle for their measly allowance. The acquisition of luxuries like large televisions, the latest $1000 phone, a mid-range car, and the security of having just enough money in the bank to pay for a fraction of the medical costs they’d accrue in an accident all feel like wonderful victories. Sure, you can’t afford the best doctors and any injury would bury you alive in debt, but it wouldn’t be nearly as bad than if you didn’t have any money at all. Although they still imbibe the mentality of the working class and wish to help in some way, they only go as far as their interests allow. In order to support the working class they back the same individuals (the bourgeoisie) and wear the veneer of being class conscious revolutionaries.
Maintaining an Image
Finally, the illegitimacy of these pseudo-revolutionaries who for the most part are simply anti-revolutionary reformists (reforming only so much as to maintain their public image while keeping their game afloat). Are they class conscious though? Absolutely; which should be a major concern for you and I. These class conscious elite understand exactly what is at stake for themselves and how much they can afford to concede to the working class. These baby steps made under the supervision of the elite will only go as far as they will permit and absolutely zero top CEOs will ever advocate radical transformation such as establishing living wages voluntarily and instituting a democratic workplace. We’re playing in a system rigged against the working class, we can’t expect any real transformation if we continue playing by their rules.
While it may certainly feel nice to throw in some dollars for the campaign of one of these rich people to support the working class, it’s ultimately pointless. An employer will only concede as much as would still allow for them to surpass you, you’re always being undersold. So why would this sentiment be any different when those same employers try to lead the revolution of the working class? Actor/Comedian, Russell Brand may be about supporting the rights of the people, but under his guidance a movement would never truly push the envelope or threaten the existing status quo. Even the supposed revolutionary, Mr. Brand has stated that interest in the “idea” of revolution supersedes his innate feeling for carrying out radical civil disobedience against the power mongers.
This romanticism of armed people rising up in the streets and taking over cities against the forces of fascism, lofty intellectuals taking refuge behind the fortifications of their comrades, and the systematic destruction of the bourgeoisie; it trivializes the real phenomenon. Individuals like Brand only serve to push the ambitions of protesters into the realms of idyllic fantasy. He’s much better off spending his time binging on Che Guevara documentaries and polishing Kalashnikovs rather than attempting to hijack the last viable method of worker retaliation to fulfill his own fantasies. There’s no room for the struggle of the proletariat in the wake of a celebrities inherent need to satisfy their own ego. If celebrities like Brand can do any good for the people, take it with a grain of salt and remember that our fight comes first, no matter what they say to drive us towards apathy.
A Double-Edged Sword
There’s an argument to be made both in favor of celebrity endorsed leftism though, as it does certainly bring awareness to individuals about everyday problems that the working class faces. Not only does the Average Joe see their favourite celebrity spouting leftist sentiments against capitalism, but they needn’t look any further than their own lives to see examples of the destructive forces of capitalism. While the escalation this can cause in class consciousness is a benefit, we’ve yet to see if this will simply be a trend of leftism. If it’s just the current trend to be a leftist to follow in the footsteps of your idols, it’s quite easy to fall out of that undeveloped leftist thinking. A lot of these individuals don’t take the time to further read into socialism and communism, meaning that they can become easily disenfranchised from the movement if they stop receiving stimulation from a particular figurehead. As soon as the celebrity forgets socialism, so do they. As socialists and communists, now is the time we should reap the benefits of having exposure towards our movements. Sure the movement is springing up from celebrities and a fickle interest in revolutionary leftism, but we can use that as a hook to further educate people and build real revolutionaries.
Despite this, I’m not particularly compelled to shoo away any celebrities or rich individuals who would donate vital resources to keep an uprising strong. Such a person willing to dig their own grave would have to be kept anonymous and surely they’d hope so as well to not draw suspicion from their own crowd. Not all the individuals on the opposing side to us are terrible monsters, but I can’t stress enough the importance of disallowing these individuals from becoming figureheads for our movement. We need actual members of the working class with a vested interest in a revolution. If the rare bourgeoisie see ethical errors of the society which they prop up, we on the other side could use resources to help organizations on our end. We certainly have a need for their donations as the struggle now lies in informing the broad public of the ills of capitalism. We may not be in the midst of a physical war but there’s certainly a great deal at stake over the minds of the working class and building platforms to both educate people and to give them a voice against capitalism. A revolution against the system is something entirely feasible and we shouldn’t stick a price tag on revolution, but particular organizations can use money effectively right now. All the current leftist websites run off the donations of others, so their operations are usually constrained to a small budget. It should go without saying that well-off individuals donating to a leftist website would be a huge benefit towards creating better content and allowing for the spread of socialist ideas to combat the prevailing capitalist mindset.