Will we need to make the country “ungovernable?”

I watched some of both conventions, especially the final acceptance speeches. I’m voting for Biden as a strategy to better maintain democratic spaces in order to organize the working class for fundamental change. But I don’t remember a single thing he said in his acceptance speech. Trump was brilliant. I know that’s not an adjective usually associated with this seriously disturbed man. What was most brilliant was giving the speech at the White House in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Yeah, they weren’t social distancing nor were many wearing masks. Some of them may die. Doesn’t change the effect of having people cheer you as opposed to being met with the stony silence of an empty room. Biden could have assembled a crowd fully socially distanced and masked and had a much more effective performance.

I’ve been debating the neverbidens, bernie or bust/vest on the level of strategy as outlined above. However, part of their position seems to be proving correct in one aspect, that it was a major strategic error for the Biden campaign to focus on winning back the center-right instead of embracing or at least accommodating the left. Bernie’s and AOC’s inclusion on task forces seems to have been largely tokenism.

The pols don’t understand movements. Movements have the energy behind them to make change – and they’re the only thing that does. Trump has a vigorous white supremacist movement behind him – one that has now gotten away by and large with killing three of us in the left movement, which is being led by Black Lives Matter.

The left has had two primary movements, Black Lives Matter and Bernie/AOC democratic socialism. These movements work in parallel, coalescing most significantly in the ongoing uprising spawned by the George Floyd murder. This united movement will be the determining force in the coming period. No matter how strong we may think Trump’s movement is, no way could it put 25 million people in the street over a two month period like we did (New York Times numbers).

That these movements didn’t coalesce during the Democratic Primary is a prime reason why Bernie was defeated. While some BLM leaders did endorse Bernie, others endorsed Warren. But BLM wasn’t engaged by Bernie’s campaign itself. Bernie’s working-class unity brand of socialism decries “identity politics” even if they can’t say so any more. Prominent socialists of Bernie’s ilk – Jack London and Eugene Debs – were out and out racists. Bernie’s antiracism is stuck in the early MLK period before Black Power took the movement to a new level of understanding and militancy. But this is a subject for another blog.

My point here is that despite some left and BLM unity supporting Biden, it may not be enough to make up for the enormous energy deficit. It’s appalling that the DNC couldn’t even put Medicare for All in the platform despite it’s overwhelming popularity – and the well-known fact that no one pays any attention to the platform after the election anyway. In other words, can’t the DNC even see the value of faux progressivism? Or are they just too worried about not getting the contributions from big pharma and big insurance companies? A little short-sighted.

So the election is a 50-50 toss up right now, which really favors Trump because of his willingness and capacity to cheat, and the fact that his movement has more energy. We need to prepare for a Trump victory, or more likely, “victory,” with the right wing supreme court settling the election in his favor. It worked before with a more liberal court. Why re-invent the wheel?

In the battle against apartheid in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) was fighting an entrenched, fully fascist regime. The ANC had an advantage in numbers, but the apartheid forces had the advantage of ruthlessness and armaments to express it. The most effective strategy of the ANC was to make the country “ungovernable.”

We have been experiencing a “pilot” of this strategy with Portland, and other cities. The “violence” of these uprisings that the right is trying to terrify us with is not violence at all. Violence is injuring and killing people, and as far as I know, no one has been hurt by the demonstrations other than those hurt or killed by the police and their white supremacist allies. Trump brought his federal army to Portland explicitly to staunch “anarchist violence: graffiti.” Graffiti is not violence: it’s art. Looting by Black people is not violence: it’s a tiny down payment on reparations. Breaking windows is not violence: it’s an insurance claim. I’ll condemn the burning police cars when the police stop killing Black people.

Tactically, however, what is construed as “violence” is counterproductive in that it gives Trump and the white supremacists an excuse for their far more lethal counterviolence, and arguably helps his re-election on the law and order platform.

Since our movement is currently being led by Black Lives Matter, the vandalism perpetrated by white hotheads without Black approval needs to stop immediately. I don’t know how much there is of this. The reports are all biased. In any case, white activists should never put themselves in the position of endangering Black people. This will be true even after the election, or “election,” or coup in November.

But we need to seriously consider a post-election strategy of making the country ungovernable. One-two-three many Portlands (or St. Louis’s or Minneapolis’s) as we said during the Vietnam war: one-two-three many Vietnams. And we need to disseminate discussion on this strategy far and wide leading up to the election, raising fear in the ruling class that a inconclusive result in the election favoring Trump will ignite this strategy and threaten to make the country ungovernable. This could become deadly, but maybe it has to. It might be time to re-examine our position on the second amendment.  

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