Revolution #244, August 28, 2011
Sharing Our Orientation Going into Hurricane Irene
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2011
Friday afternoon, a hurricane bigger than Europe was moving up the East Coast. At that point, it wasn’t clear what impact this would have; the news media was running a 24/7 all eyes on Irene, and the ruling forces were planning an unprecedented shutdown of public transit in NYC – an international hub of finance. As it turns out, the worst did not happen though the full impact of the storm has yet to be entirely determined (lives were lost and many people are still without power as this is being written).
After we’d finished our food shopping and secured our water and flashlights, a couple of us revolutionaries started thinking about how to approach a situation like this that could have turned into a major crisis. We've seen all too often what happens to the people in natural disasters when you have a system that is oriented to maximizing capital. This often results in great suffering that was otherwise preventable. Such disasters over the last decade have revealed the unequal and oppressive relations of this system as well as the systemic and global problem of capitalism-imperialism laying waste to the environment. And we've seen how the dominant relations in society get re-asserted through force and violence directed towards the masses.
As the storm was barreling north, the governor of New Jersey bellowed that if you do not evacuate now, we will not save you. And, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference before the storm: “We are not evacuating Riker’s Island,” one of the largest prisons in the world that sits on a low-lying island in the middle of one of the key areas of expected flooding. Meanwhile, he was announcing a host of extreme measures including the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from similar low-lying areas.
While Hurricane Irene turned out not to have created all the havoc it could've, we did want to share with Revolution’s readers our orientation going into this. We reviewed the Revolutionary Communist Party's statement On the Strategy for Revolution and Bob Avakian's summation of what happened in relation to Katrina. (See "Overcoming Obstacles and Limitations, Mobilizing All Positive Factors” in "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, Part 2: Everything We Are Doing Is About Making Revolution".)
There are times when the prevailing social relations are thrown asunder and the masses of people cast aside normal constraints and work together to help each other and when the necessity and possibility for a radically different social order can be revealed to millions. Revolutionaries need to be with the masses, leading in such situations, exposing the prevailing oppressive and repressive relations and fighting for a humane and just outcome. Through all we do, pointing to the potential for a radically different world and making known the revolutionary leadership we have.
At this point, it seems people are coming out of their houses, picking up the debris and figuring out how they're going to get to work and school, so we're returning to our big plans to “wake up and shake up” the campuses, having a major impact with this special issue of Revolution, joining with what could be a festive post-storm spirit among the masses and continuing to monitor how any after-effects of the storm unfold.
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