The Power of United Front Mass Action vs. Anarchist Pretensions

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Here we reprint key sections of Socialist Action’s 2020 Draft Political Resolution now under discussion in the party’s ranks as it approaches its December 2-6, 2020 National Convention. The complete will be published soon on our website. Readers interested in joining Socialist Action should email: socialistaction@lmi.net


So massive and widespread were the anti-racist Black Lives Matter mobilizations that few dared to characterize them as the violent deeds of small groups of looters, anarchists or other marginal elements. To the police and Trump charges of violent antifa [anti-fascist] outside agitators and window breaking looters, the broad movement easily retorted that Blacks have been looted for centuries, that the prime source of violence is systemic racism, police brutality and murder and social inequality across the board. The sheer mass character of the mobilizations broke down myths of a society fully capable of rendering justice for all, of a nation where hard work and dedication will raise everyone’s status, where racism, sexism, LGBTQI+ discrimination and immigrant oppression can be remedied with the passage of a few bills or a change of guard in the Congress and White House. The mass character of today’s movement has done more to fundamentally raise political consciousness than a thousand election-time promises. 

The past several months of intensive struggle highlight as never in recent memory the inherent power of coordinated mass action wherein those who previously considered themselves non-actors in society came to realize their power – understanding that they were indeed the majority and their minority oppressors were the defenders of a system where the few rule over them. Again, this dramatic example of the power of united front-type mass mobilizations lies at the center of our revolutionary socialist tactical and strategic orientation. In this case the unity consisted in the most often Black-led, indeed Black women-led, multi-racial working class mobilizations that in turn fundamentally altered the political and social consciousness of the vast majority, at least for now.

Crisis of leadership

Had these mobilizations taken the form of consciously and democratically planned and organized actions by a politically conscious leadership emerging from and integrated into these mobilizations, the potential for a major break with capitalist politics would have appeared for the first time in the modern era. Yet, no such leadership exists today; hence the inevitable, present, and in our view temporary retreat of the struggle into reformist, that is, Democratic Party-oriented  channels as with the recent online Black National Convention, the Movement for Black Lives (M$BL) organization and the August 28 Al Sharpton-led initiated March on Washington. M4BL today states on its website, “BLM’s #WhatMatters2020 is a campaign aimed to maximize the impact of the BLM movement by galvanizing BLM supporters and allies to the polls in the 2020 U.S Presidential Election to build collective power and ensure candidates are held accountable for the issues that systematically and disproportionately impact Black and under-served communities across the nation.” All of these formations tout mobilizing for the 2020 elections to “Dump Trump” as their primary solution to today’s multiple capitalist crises.

Power of mass action vs. small scale “direct action”

Nevertheless, the example of the power of the mass action united front has not been lost on our revolutionary nucleus and on millions of others. We have been a minority in championing independent united front mass mobilizations, while our reformist and ultra-left opponents counterpose either subordination of the movement to electoral politics, that is, the Democratic Party, or engagement of small groups in small scale “direct action” or similarly small scale minority anarchist-like actions to “fight the police” and/or to vandalize a handful of police or corporate headquarters, if not small scale local businesses. Make no mistake, it is exactly when these small scale and almost always counterproductive and isolated actions take place that police agents and tiny organized rightwing forces find opportunities to participate with the objective of discrediting, via violence-baiting, the mass forces in motion that aim at demonstrating majority power.

The power of the united front   

Our united front method is fundamentally aimed at engaging millions in action that allow for the physical demonstration of this majority’s power as opposed to the anarchist schemes aimed at substituting the tiny few for the power of millions to fundamentally challenge capitalist power. Our orientation is aimed at educating in action the masses in motion to understand that the capitalist government itself represents the tiny minority, the infamous “one percent.” Today, this can only be accomplished with the ongoing organization of massive peaceful mobilizations. Any projected violence-oriented mobilizations today can only result in the mass exclusion of the very forces in society with whom humanity’s future rests. The most oppressed groups, such as immigrants, Black communities systematically targeted by police, LTBTQI+ people, and women (especially those who are caretakers), cannot afford to get arrested and are much less likely to participate in violent demonstrations. It can only result in the violent ruling minority’s increased capacity to portray itself as the defender of “peace” while characterizing the emerging movement as the source of violence.

It is by no means excluded that future united front formations will be based on the coming together of a variety of fighting formations including organizations that coalesce from the present anti-racist struggles and new ones that emerge from victories won by class struggle union fighters who have won their stripes in re-building and democratizing the trade unions and removing the present reactionary bureaucratic misleadership.

Capitalist Reform vs. Socialist Revolution

We live in unprecedented times where capitalism’s simultaneous, deep-seated and multiple crises have already taken a great toll on the broad working class, with no end in sight. Few believe that the election of Democrat Joe Biden to the White House will change anything other than the crude, ugly and racist face and public demeanor of capitalism’s accidental president, Donald Trump. Whether under Obama or Trump, however, and now no doubt Biden, the policies adopted aim at serving the interests of the corporate elite, whether it be in imposing massive social spending cuts, ever gifting the billionaire class bailouts in every form, ever increasing war spending and ever threatening catastrophic climate and environmental disaster to the planet.

The difference between today and yesterday rests in the massive and public exposure of capitalism’s inherent and deadly contradictions. It can no longer hide its systemic racism, two words that are today inextricably connected. It can no longer deny a climate crisis that threatens life on earth itself, nor back off from its daily infliction of misery and poverty in all their forms on the great majority. 

Today, as never before in the modern era, the future of humankind is and will be in the streets as the system itself drives increasing millions to fight for their very lives at a time when real power can be exercised for all to see to advance the life and well being of the most oppressed and exploited and indeed for the 99 percent. That unity, expressed in action in the broad working class, is the heart and soul of our optimism for the future. That unity will render impossible the ruling class promoted and imposed divide and rule scapegoating scenarios. That unity will open the door wider than ever, with no exaggeration, for revolutionary socialists to build a deeply-rooted mass revolutionary party capable of playing a decisive leading role in putting this diseased system out of business forever. Today, as never before, our revolutionary program stands in sync with the aspirations of the vast majority for a fundamental reorganization of society – for socialism. Join us! Join Socialist Action!

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