Coffee House Revolutionaries or Real Militants?

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 54]
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Coffee House Revolutionaries or Real Militants?

In response to a letter from MIM(Prisons) struggling over some apparent points of disagreement, we received this commentary on movement strategy and tactics.

We believe in having a political branch and a military branch. It's nothing wrong with being political, it is needed in the fight against imperialism and capitalism. So you doing public building of opinions and creating independent institutions is good. That's what nonviolent people do who are coffee house revolutionaries. It's nothing wrong with being coffee house revolutionaries. Everybody has a position to maintain. That's why I support you and a few other people we deal with support you. So do your prisoner support work and lumpen organizing. That's a good thing which I support. If me and others did not support it we would not contact you.

To my second point, I and others believe that MIMs and us can learn from each other. It's not about just what MIMs can share or teach us. It's about what we can share and teach MIMs also. It's about real uniting for a common purpose against a common enemy. We call this networking, sharing lines, etc. Not being forced to accept someone's line, but respecting it. We know war is fought using different strategy and tactics. We are not pushing anyone away who is trying to bring about revolution and establish socialism.

That's what I and some others think MIMs do when they criticize people who are socialist or revolutionaries but belong to other orgs. MIMs see their way is the only right way. Not everybody believes that. That's what Christians and Muslims believe and do and look at them, they fight each other over who is right but they have some things in common with slight differences. If you seek unity, stop criticizing other socialist revolutionaries and unite on common grounds. If something is expressed different than what you believe, you can state how you view something then leave it up to the people to decide what strategy and tactics they want to follow.

Everybody is not political, some people are militant and are about militarism. We accept MIMs being political. We want to share militarism spirit or values. For we are truly on the battlefield with weapons. People are dying and getting locked up. We come from the battlefield from street orgs, etc. We risk and sacrifice our lives every day. While some are scared to die or get out on the front lines, that's where we are at on the battlefield or on these plantations. We are not nonviolent, we are violent. We contact MIMs so we can work together not apart. We are about unity for real, not about if you believe as me I unite with you.

There are white nationalist groups called the 3% who believe that 3% of the population went to war and won the revolutionary war in 1776. These white groups form militias and are militarized. They train for war. They building a militarized institution while MIMs are being political. All we're saying is how you claim to be a vanguard and you're not training and educating people to form militarized units instead of just spreading public opinion on socialism. If y'all just going to spread public opinion okay do that. I and others think at least work with those who are working on building militarized units who fight instead of just talk and read. Everybody don't have to do the same thing.

So just so there be no misunderstanding, I and others respect your line and strategy. Keep up the good work. You're just not militant from what we can tell. People who are militant are willing to support you, why don't you support them and show some real unity? Then you can say you're a vanguard and are real revolutionaries. What's the point in being political if you have no military to enforce your laws, beliefs, etc. So that is why I write you to support you. The question is do you support militant revolutionaries or are you just a big study group who act elitist? Are you for the people or just people who are under your line and strategy?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is particularly relevant to this issue of ULK focused on movement tactics. The writer raises some good points about unity that we want to address.

First, to clarify, MIM(Prisons) does not claim to be a vanguard party at this time, which is implied by this comrade saying we need an army to enforce our laws, beliefs, etc. We recognize the need for a vanguard party for the defeat of imperialism by the communists, but the strategic defeats of the movement over the recent decades have led us to conclude that cell organizing is more effective and appropriate to rebuild the movement. However, we would not split with anyone who disagrees on this point, it is a relatively short term strategic question. We do aim to be part of the vanguard movement, with the most advanced and correct line and practice.

With that said, we agree with this writer that it is important to build unity across revolutionary organizations that are working on different anti-imperialist strategies and tactics. The question of when to take up armed struggle, and even when to build an army for that battle, is also a strategic one. This is something that is relatively longer term, i.e. you don't build an army today and disband it tomorrow. But it's definitely not a disagreement over political line: we agree that the only way to overthrow imperialism is through armed struggle. The bourgeoisie won't give up their wealth and power peacefully. We are also not nonviolent. The disagreement is one of strategic timing, not method.

So are we just coffee house revolutionaries afraid of or refusing to see the importance of armed struggle? Our analysis of recent history in the United $tates reveals the murder or imprisonment of revolutionary groups that have attempted any form of armed struggle, or even just the collecting of weapons for self-defense, even when this is done completely within U.$. laws. This study of history has led us to conclude that we are at the stage of building and educating right now. We know this will change, but we can't say when, we just need to be ready and willing to change when conditions require it.

We do not agree that militarism is to be contrasted with being political. Rather than see MIM(Prisons) as political and this comrade's organization as militarist, we call both groups political. We are both focused on fighting imperialism. The decision to militarize today or hold off until conditions are more favorable is a political decision. And it's something we should struggle over, because through political struggle we all learn and grow.

And this brings us to the point of unity. Those who disagree with us on the appropriate timing of militarizing are well within the anti-imperialist united front. And we certainly don't believe that we are the only holders of truth and cannot learn from others. Quite the contrary, we learn from our readers, other organizations that we work with, and even from our enemies. We are regularly publishing in Under Lock & Key articles explaining changes to our political line and/or strategy based on things we have learned through practice. And to be a viable political organization that survives we must always be open to learning more. But that doesn't mean we will just accept what other people tell us without struggling over the facts and interpretations if we believe they are wrong. Political struggle is not about egos, it is about learning. We look forward to learning and building with this comrade and eir organization for many years to come.

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