Going After the Sacred Cows of Identity Politics on a College Campus—Opening the Debate on Reform or Revolution

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From the Revolution Club, NYC (@NYCrevclub)

You Think You’re Woke... But You’re Sleepwalking Through A Nightmare! Intersectionality, “democratic socialism,” and all the rest of that stuff will keep you locked within the system we have now. These approaches can only lead you to bickering, begging and bargaining for seats at the imperialist table. We need a revolution—NOT reform—a revolution to OVERTHROW everything rotten and emancipate all humanity.

We brought this message to an Ivy League campus and challenged people to debate. Before we got very far, campus security freaked out and kicked us off campus. So we came back, but this time with a satirical flyer from campus security that said, “A Message From Campus Security: Do Not Talk To The Communists On Campus.” We dressed up in a police jumpsuit and the ugliest pig mask you have ever seen and handed out the flyer. A picture of our flyer was tweeted out by a writer to 47+ thousand followers, we ended up in group texts and somebody told us that we’d been made into a meme. We succeeded in flipping the repression to create a buzz on campus and some initial engagement, even as this was still on a small scale so far. But it opened up enough for us to identify at least two wrong arguments that came up frequently from students who did engage and one bullshit excuse many used to avoid this engagement.

[1] “Yes we need fundamental change but I don’t want violence.”

First, let’s be real: In not working to overthrow this system, you are allowing tremendous violence to be carried out every day. You are allowing thousands of Black and Latino people to be murdered by police, to be locked up in the hellholes of the prisons. You are allowing people around the world to be blown apart by American bombs, millions to be brutally enslaved and exploited in sweatshops in Bangladesh and beyond. You sit in a country (the USA) whose entire wealth was built on violence and this wealth is expanded today through more and more brutal forms of violence. These are ALL un-reformable elements of capitalism-imperialism. In not working to end this through an actual revolution, you are ultimately putting your stamp of approval on all this oppressive violence.

Second, not all violence is the same. The violence of a woman acting to stop her rape is NOT the same as the violence of the rapist. It’s true that when the time comes and millions are ready to put everything on the line to bring this system down and put an end to the horrors it causes, these millions will be confronted by the violent repressive force of the machinery of the state which embodies and enforces the existing system of exploitation and oppression; and in order for the revolutionary struggle to succeed, it will need to meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old exploitative and oppressive order. Would you have opposed the Civil War to end the violence of slavery?

To be clear, now is not the time to launch this revolution, but it is the time to be getting organized for it. To quote Point of Attention #6 of the Revolution Club: “We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.”

[2] “It’s not my place to talk about oppression because I’m white.”

Bullshit! Everyone of every nationality and gender is capable of and has a responsibility to understand this and fight for the fundamental change needed to end all oppression. Truth is what corresponds to objective reality; this is established through evidence, not through “identity.” For example, if a Black person says that they don’t believe that police are indiscriminately murdering Black people, this would not make it true because the evidence shows that police murder Black people at epidemic rates.

Until you learn to evaluate the CONTENT of different programs and where they lead rather than following people based on their “identity,” you will get played. You end up following people who carry out mass deportations of immigrants and drone strikes like Barack Obama did during his presidency. Or you will cheerlead for women war criminals like Hillary Clinton, who led the charge to depose Muammar Qaddafi, plunging Libya into chaos, leaving a crime scene of thousands dead and refugees fleeing the collapse of society, drowning as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

And let’s be honest, “I can’t speak out because I’m white” more often than not becomes an excuse to sit on the sidelines and do nothing as the horrors of the world rain down on the masses of people here and around the world.

[3] One Bullshit Argument Used to Avoid Debate:
“I don’t need to engage this because I talk about these issues in my ‘safe space.’”

Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about humanity first. News flash: You sit at the top of the global food chain. Every corner of this world is drenched in brutal exploitation and oppression from the capitalism-imperialism which the U.S. dominates on a world scale. It’s in the blood of the women who make your clothes, in the blistered hands of the immigrants who pick your food and the Black children who have been cast off, with a third living in poverty. A safe space for YOU doesn’t do shit about all this. The fact that people yearn for “safe spaces” shows how oppressive this society is. But to argue that you don’t want to engage with revolutionaries who have a real plan and strategy to end oppression for people all over the world because it takes you out of your comfort zone is bullshit. That is just yourself first, America first, and giving a big fuck you to the rest of humanity.

And a challenge to all:

As Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, has said,

...It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.” (from BAsics 5:11)

If the young minds of this generation feel no responsibility to debate, to think critically, to step outside of our comfort zones for the seven billion people on this planet, humanity will remain in shackles. The future is unwritten: which one we get is up to us.

So we came back, but this time with a satirical flyer from campus security that said, “A Message From Campus Security: Do Not Talk To The Communists On Campus.” We dressed up in a police jumpsuit and the ugliest pig mask you have ever seen and handed out the flyer. Photo: Special to revcom.


Have you ever noticed that the one privilege these “identity politics” hustlers don’t talk about is American privilege?—the privilege that comes from living in the USA, a country that plunders the world and whose wealth and power rests on brutal exploitation and oppression throughout the world, backed up by the massive violence of the American military. These hustlers want all they can get of that privilege. In opposition to that, what the masses of humanity need is to do away with and move beyond this whole vampire system, putting an end to all exploitation and oppression.

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