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Pigs and Running Dogs

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MensajePublicado: Dom Dic 02, 2012 3:06 pm    Título del mensaje: Pigs and Running Dogs Responder citando

Pigs and Running Dogs

In some sectors of the mainstream left at the centers of capitalism there seems to be a bizarre fixation on the military and the police as possible sites for organization and agitation. Indeed, my recent post about "running dogs" encouraged a surprisingly significant population of self-proclaimed "Marxists" or "socialists" to complain in an unexpected manner––only one of whom bothered to register this complaint in my comments section. While my post was mainly concerned with what I took to be the problematic and pseudo anti-imperialist slogan of "bring the troops home", some people seemed [strangely] distressed by the fact that I did not see soldiers or cops as potential revolutionary recruits and were angry that I was dismissing the supposed necessity of incorporating them into a revolutionary movement. Hopefully, this bizarre fixation on the imagined need to politicize and recruit soldiers and cops for the revolution is a minoritary trend amongst the left, whatever significance it possesses limited to on-line forums––I would assume that people who have spent years organizing with the the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles in the real world would have necessarily learned––through a long history of militant experience––that the pigs and running dogs are not their friends… But maybe I'm wrong!

Perhaps this entire pig and running dog love is a logical corollary of the default opportunism that hampers the left at the centers of capitalism. One day you have self-proclaimed leftists arguing that participation in bourgeois elections is tantamount to a sacred duty, and the next day these same leftists are arguing that the "special armed bodies" (in Lenin's words) that protect the bourgeois order might be our friends! After all, directly following an electoral victory supported by supposedly "pragmatic" leftists, the Obama administration unapologetically backed the Israeli offensive in Gaza… is it any wonder then, that in this context, some "leftists" on the odd INTERNET forum were actually arguing that we needed to politicize and recruit members of the IDF? It is here that our default opportunism proves that it is ultimately liberal: the tired "why can't we all get along regardless of class struggle" refrain was oddly popular amongst people who should have known better.

In any case, what are we to make of this desire to treat the military and police as politically useful sites of organization and agitation? For when those of us who know better make anti-military and anti-police statements, others who should know better raise their hackles and dig in their heels. When we say that you should never trust a pig and that such trust is tantamount to class collaboration, these others are offended and try to articulate their offense as some sort of principled revolutionary position; it is like an entire century of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles no longer matters.

Look, it's our proletarian friends ready to shoot other proletarians in real proletarian style!

One of the most common––and most lazy––arguments regarding the radical potentiality of the military/police is that they are proletarian. Leaving aside the fact, as noted in the aforementioned post about running dogs, that the so-called "economic draft" only accounts for a very small percentage of the military, this argument is far from marxist. There are people in the military and police who come from a working-class background, yes, but one's background does not determine one's class: this is class essentialism––which means not a proper understanding of class as something that is made and not found as if it is a Platonic form––and is as uncritical as claiming that a capitalist who came from humble beginnings is secretly proletarian. What matters is the material position one occupies in capitalism and the police and military at the centers of global capitalism occupy a very specific position: the maintenance and expansion of the bourgeois order. Under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie the police exist to defend the persistence and reproduction of this dictatorship; under global imperialism the military of the imperialist states exist to defend the persistence and reproduction of this dictatorship's economic hegemony. Their position, function, and structural meaning does not make them proletarian because not only are they at any point of production (let alone the most exploited, the proletarian "hard core"), their labour is to reproduce bourgeois class rule.

Then there is the supposedly more sophisticated argument regarding the military/police that treats them as some sort of revolutionary necessity. If the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie can only be broken by a military offensive, this argument goes, then we need to focus on the recruitment of soldiers and police officers who have some experience in military matters. And yet why would people who are ideologically trained to serve and protect the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie––to expand its hegemony––ever be interested, while they are serving as pigs and running dogs, in what they structurally understand as "criminal" and "treasonous"? And why should we waste our organizational time trying to "convert" these people––many of whom have been trained to put down uprisings––who want to kill us? And they do want to kill us, or at least lock us up in prison, because they have only stayed soldiers and cops because they believe in the ethos of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Former soldiers and former cops are another story, but this "let's recruit from the ranks of the pigs and running dogs" discourse is not about jaded veterans and ex-police––it's about how we need to win the entire structure of the military and the police over to the anti-capitalist side! (This is similar to saying that we need to win a white supremacist organization over to the anti-racist side, so we should organize in KKK spaces, or that we need to win mens rights activists over to the feminist side, so we should organize in MRA spaces.) And we need to win them over, apparently, because we need them to make revolution.

If anything, this argument, due to its insurrectionist understanding of revolution, proves one aspect of the universality of Protracted Peoples War: without their own army, the oppressed masses have nothing. Most importantly, though, the oppressed masses need their own autonomous military movement that possesses a revolutionary class consciousness, the opposite of the police and military whose class consciousness is devoted to the bourgeoisie. Those who focus on the theory of insurrection, however, who think that after a protracted period of legal struggle the untrained proletarian forces––following a general strike––will arm themselves and defeat a very well trained capitalist military, have to bank on the possibility that large sections of this well trained military will join the revolutionary cause. This is because they are overly focused on the October Revolution where soldiers did join the Bolsheviks; they forget that the soldiers in the Russian army were performing mandatory service––that they were essentially draftees––and not at all like the soldiers who are part of a military that has been perfected by capitalism.

Karl Liebknecht predicted the rise of this properly capitalist military; he understood that the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie could only secure its hegemony through a military and police force that was beholden to its class rule; he was charting this transformation from military that were feudal to military that were properly capitalist; he glimpsed the fact that properly capitalist military were not and could not be sympathetic to revolution. Since, according to Liebknecht, "[t]he class-conscious proletarian therefore not only frowns upon the international purpose of the army and the entire capitalist policy of expansion, he is fighting them earnestly," then the bourgeoisie cannot defend its dictatorship with a military composed of conscripts [unless, Liebknecht recognized, it was a colonial army of racist settlers] or draftees. Instead, the history of capitalist militarism is defined by a trajectory whereby the conscript army needed to be transformed into an army with a class consciousness devoted to bourgeois rule so that it could become "a weapon against the proletariat in the political struggle." In this sense, the militarized spaces of the police and standing army have "comprehended [their] chief task, that of protecting the capitalists."

Thus, the active police and soldiers in capitalist states are not proletarian, even if their background is working class, because their consciousness is intrinsically anti-proletarian; they are necessarily devoted to the rule of the bourgeois dictatorship. And though it is true that there are always exceptions––there are always refuseniks, people who will switch sides, individuals whose consciousness is not so robotically conditioned––this does not mean that the police and military institutions are defined by these exceptions. Social being defines social consciousness in the last instance; the social being of a soldier, of a cop, produce a social consciousness devoted to the rule of capitalism and imperialism. We do not organize based on exceptions; we organize primarily at the point of advanced proletarian consciousness.

Moreover, Lenin, whose party succeeded in recruiting draftees (who are not the same as professional soldiers of a standing army), did not think that the strength of the October Revolution rested on this recruitment. When he wrote State and Revolution he was clear that the police and the military were structures primarily devoted to class rule; he never treated the sites of the military or the police as possibly revolutionary; he did not conflate the overall structure with the exception of the draft. And yet those who still imagine that we have to concentrate on soldiers and cops as extremely important sites of politicization always use, as aforementioned, the October Revolution as the basis of their argument because draftees and conscripts were politicized. Liebknecht's analysis of the transformation from feudal to capitalist militarism notwithstanding, it was not as if the Bolsheviks thought that the Tsar's standing army––those men responsible for the Winter Palace massacre in 1905, for example––should be agitated amongst. That is, the ideology and class consciousness of the Tsar's standing army is the normative ideology and class consciousness of the police and armies of today.

Still, if we are not to count on police and soldiers––with all their military experience––to help us in the event of a revolutionary moment, then how is a revolutionary movement ever to attain victory? Obviously we aren't all going to rush out to Walmart, arm ourselves, and hope to defeat a military trained at putting down insurrections. And while it is true that not everyone who endorses an insurrectionary strategy thinks that we need to rely on the suddenly reproletarianized cops and soldiers in order to achieve victory, those who think we need to "convert" the police and the military tend to rely on an insurrectionist theory of revolution… But we might as well rely on philanthropist CEOs to finance the revolution for all the good this ridiculous belief in the possible politicization of running dogs and pigs will do us; in each and every attempted insurrection after the October Revolution, the police and standing army, as a whole, have crushed the revolution.

Hence Mao's argument for a revolutionary peoples army to oppose the standing army of the reactionary state; hence the reason for a theory of protracted peoples war: there needs to be a process, no matter how protracted and messy, where the people produce their own revolutionary army capable of producing the dual military power necessary for dual political power. Perhaps this army could benefit from renegade military specialists, but these people will always be those who have broken ranks with capitalism and imperialism––the jaded veterans, the exceptions to the institutional rule––but you don't find them by advertising your existence in police and military spaces, and you don't imagine that simply because they exist the entire military industrial edifice is like a factory filled with proletariats! In fact you shouldn't be trying to search them out at the expense of searching out people in actual proletarian spaces who are primed for politicization.

Again, it is worth wondering why some anti-capitalists––Marxist or otherwise––are so interested in defending the need to recruit cadre from the ranks of the police and military. On one hand they will pay lip-service to the claim that the police are primarily devoted to the defense of private property and bourgeois rule, and that the imperialist military is about the expansion of imperialist hegemony; on the other hand, they will argue that these structural features do not matter because cops and soldiers come from the ranks of the working class. Since when, however, should Marxists ever ignore the structural meaning of a given institution and what this means vis-a-vis class consciousness? Apparently, when cops and soldiers are involved, some Marxists would have us abandon communist principles. Even worse, they try to find a communist justification for such an abandonment.

Taken from http://moufawad-paul.blogspot.in/
"... Ustedes saben qué hacer. ¡Simplemente tomen el poder en toda Venezuela, absolutamente todo, barran a la burguesía de todos los espacios políticos y económicos y profundicen la revolución!"
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