Revolutionaries Highjacked by Capitalism
“That is to instill a psychological sense of self-worth, without actually altering the material conditions that actually cause the lack of self-esteem in the first place, nor do they attempt to alter the conditions” - Power to New Afrika (1)
I agree with Comrade Triumphant. I would just like to add a little and ask a question. This quote – if I’m not mistaken – speaks to those Black bourgeoisie who led the masses to believe that pro-Black capitalism was progress. It is said that the achievements and rewards gained from jobs, hustles and labor wins the respect and dignity from their peers and society. That status in society is what the people seek and this is what instills that psychological sense of self-worth. But before they reached that status they had a lack of self-esteem because of their lack of material goods. They were comparing themselves to those that had and recognized that they themselves had not. So in comparison, they were less than because they had less than.
Once wealth and status is accomplished the conditions that created the “lack of” in the Black Nation remains, therefore continuing its destructive effect on the people of that nation. This destruction is both on the objective and subjective level: the people’s revolutionary spirit gets high-jacked by Black capitalism. Individualism gets promoted instead of unity because of the competition that comes along with it. We then see ourselves as enemies fighting over crumbs at the lower levels of this capitalist society. Now those that make it out of the poor communities ride high on their psychological sense of self-worth and disregard their communities. They get big-headed and become bourgeoisified. And the only time they reach back is either training the people to be entertainers, drug pushers, or funding politicians who favor reform – from which we all know are just tools of pacifying the people.
This is a major problem with trying to revolutionize the people. First because we must show that we can produce in a capitalist society. Nobody wants to hear from someone who has no money how to run their lives. So the revolutionary may start with intentions on gaining influence and persuading the masses to revolutionize, but if to do so they must participate in the same thing that extorts from the people – that’s a contradiction and a bit hypocritical. Not to mention it’s a slippery slope. That psychological sense of self-worth becomes a high, then the Black capitalist begins to chase that trying to stay relevant. And to do so – more money must be made, more material things must be bought, and more of our brothers/sisters/friends from our own nations and other oppressed nations of world imperialism will be exploited and manipulated as a result. So my question is how to do that without falling victim to embourgeoisfication: the desire to have, so once the proletariat has, how does he not become bourgeoisified?
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: The premise presented here by Melo X is that nobody will listen to someone without money, so we must make money to succeed at revolution. Ey goes on to assert that to succeed at making money traps us in a life of chasing money. I would challenge both of these premises.
The first premise is one that i’ve heard many times. I’ve even received feedback from the masses that i was not presenting myself in a way that garners respect. There are countless organizations that use the dress up approach to get respect in the hood. The Black Panthers even did this to an extent with their uniforms and black leather jackets. Many thought this looked cool. But they did not present themselves as having wealth, they were mostly kids, often with no job, no hustle, living in cramped conditions. They merely presented themselves as being organized, disciplined, powerful.
The point that Triumphant was making in that article is that we can present and assert power in ways that are not how capitalism teaches us to do so. And in fact we must assert power in these ways in order to actually meet our real needs, as Melo X recognizes.
The second premise, that chasing money is a trap has a lot of truth to it. It is often a necessary evil. But not because we need to be rich for the masses to follow us, but because we must fund our projects. We must demonstrate to the masses how to be effective. A strong mass-based movement should have diversified sources of resources coming from the masses themselves because they see its effectiveness. Our mass base in prisons has been growing in the form of financial support over the last few years, which we see as a success. Yet most of our funding comes from comrades working at jobs outside.
Having to work is about survival and basic functioning in our society. If you don’t have stable housing and basic needs met, it is hard to be consistent in organizing work. For most of us at this time, working is a necessary evil. And it will eat up a lot of our time and energy. As such it will affect our consciousness as well. But it is not so addictive that we will become slaves to the dollar. We should all strive to find ways to get the money we need for our own sustenance and the sustenance of the movement in a way that best allows us to serve the people. In a high-cost, highly monetized society this is a challenge that we must approach strategically.
If you are an individual just trying to do good for your people in this society, yes you will most likely become bourgeoisified as you succeed in this society. It is by putting politics in command, using Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as our guiding ideology, that can keep us from failing into that trap.
SunWukong of MIM(Prisons) adds: Another aspect of gaining respect from the masses is through mass line. We can learn from history on this aspect - namely the Black Panther Party’s (BPP) serve the people programs and the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) people’s war. Whenever the Chinese communists first entered a village and started setting up a base area, it surveyed the material needs and subjective wants of the local masses. Many of these problems included backward irrigation methods and agricultural practices that have been used in China for centuries, and because many of the Chinese communists came from an academic/intellectual backgrounds, they were able to gain knowledge of more “modern” and developed agricultural methods of the advanced imperialist countries. Once the mass line is set up, the peasants would even offer their sons and daughters to the People’s Liberation Army to fight for the revolutionary cause. Green fatigues and red stars didn’t have much cultural aesthetic clout in semi-feudal China, but it was the implementation of the mass line and building the proper relations with the masses that gained the CPC so much respect to where peasants were fine with their kids joining a guerrilla army.
Notes: (1) Triumphant, August 2022, Power to New Afrika, MIM Distributors.