Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Revolutionaries, real & fake

May Day, this "Democracy Now" broadcast about it as the day began, and the news that Tomas Borge had died the day before all prompt me to share some news and muse.

Here in New York City, it was a glorious day of solidarity in action. We rallied all afternoon in Union Square, we marched down Broadway, we stood with the Transport Workers Union in their contract struggle with the MTA, we stood with immigrant workers, and great numbers of Occupy Wall Street youths stood with the workers and oppressed, with labor organized and undocumented, in a mass demonstration of unity. The marchers numbered somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000, which made it the biggest May Day manifestation since the vast uprising of immigrant workers in 2006.

S.E. photo
Meanwhile, the working class of Nicaragua mourned on May Day, lining up in the thousands outside the National Palace of Culture in Managua to file past Tomas Borge's coffin. Borge, who died April 30, was one of the leaders of the Sandinista revolution that overthrew the hated U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979. The U.S.-based bourgeois news reports of his death defile and defame him—naturally, for here was an actual revolutionary—but it was those crowds of mourners that told the real story. Borge wrote several books that are worth revisiting, and just last year when asked whom he most admired he responded: "First, Fidel Castro. Second, Fidel Castro. Third, Fidel Castro. Fourth, Fidel Castro. Fifth, Fidel Castro."

In contrast, there's a fake revolutionary of the sort Borge would easily recognize, for they called them contras in Nicaragua, a guy who's been going around trying to diminish the Occupy Wall Street movement, seizing every opportunity to publicly denounce and divide it—all the while, of course, claiming to be all for it. This is Chris Hedges, writer and journalist beloved of social democrats, one of the leaders of the anticommunist left-liberal loyal opposition, those trying to reign in what they call corporate capitalism, as if there were any other sort, as if some extreme corporate takeover has sullied the system and can be rolled back to a kindler gentler variety as if that ever existed and ever could. This fellow throws around the word "revolution" a lot, positioning himself as a proponent, yet if you listen closely much of the time he's actually extolling counterrevolution. As in yesterday morning's "Democracy Now" broadcast, when he was given lots of air time to continue his crusade of the last couple months, excoriating the "Black Bloc" tactic sometimes used by some activists. For me, the tipoffs, if any were needed beyond his actual argument, are in his reference to the German "revolution" of 1989—better known to any actual revolutionary as the counterrevolution that overthrew the German Democratic Republic and opened up eastern Germany for capitalist ruination—and his quoting of Vaclav Havel, scion of a rich family who organized toward and eventually led the counterrevolution in Czechoslovakia, bringing his own class back into power and henceforth functioning as a puppet of U.S. imperialism.

As you'll hear if you listen to the program, Hedges' case is that somehow wearing black bandanas is an inherently counterproductive tactic and that this specific tactic somehow invites intervention by agents provocateur. This is not merely nonsense on a logical, logistical, political and every other level. It is not merely oppositional contrarianism, precisely the opposite of the support Hedges professes. It is itself a perfect example of the kind of undermining destructiveness he claims to be worried about. The so-called journalist, in other words, is himself the agent provocateur. It is he himself who's working hard to break up this exciting young movement, trying to turn activists against each other while he masquerades as an ally. That is the objective reality. Hedges fails the Which Side Are You On test. It's a shame he got yet another opportunity to do the ruling class's dirty work on May Day morning.

Luckily, Teresa Gutierrez of the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, who was also on the program although given scant air time by host Amy Goodman, managed to get in a clear counter to Hedges' baiting. The real foes, she said, are the cops. The cops are the ones to worry about, not various militant forces using various tactics. It's the cops who attack, try to divide marches, isolate groups, and so on. They're the ones to watch out for. 

As a comrade of mine noted the other day, I've never seen an OWS activist of any stripe beat someone with a nightstick or pepper spray someone or throw someone in jail. This the cops do. Their work is made easier by contras like Hedges.

Our work is to keep fighting. For real revolution, by the workers and oppressed against the bosses and bankers, their government and military, media stooges try as they may to slow our way.