Anti-racist struggle: In defence of autonomous struggle
The Volcano is publishing a series of excerpts from documents prepared for Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism‘s 2021 Winter Assembly, where we reflected on our successes and failures in 2020 and articulated visions and strategies for the coming year. Among the strategy documents, there are a number of theoretical pieces that expand on Red Braid’s vision of multiplicity. Find them all here.
Our struggle for freedom is not about equality with whites, inclusion in white supremacist institutions, or a more diverse representation of colonized and racialized people within capitalist, colonial, and imperial civil society; rather, we aim for the abolition of whiteness, which is the social relation that oppresses us. While we welcome the participation of white, anti-racist fighters who are interested in dis-alienating themselves from the global working class by fighting white race power, the project of white abolition can only be actualized through the autonomous activity of people oppressed by white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism.
Autonomy is organized self-activity that seeks to sever, rather than reform, the social relations that oppress and exploit us. In asserting that only the autonomous activity of Indigenous people will end colonialism, and that only racialized people, through our own self-activity, can end white supremacy, we are arguing that no other actors can substitute themselves in these struggles. While white people can join the fight against white supremacy, its abolition depends on those oppressed by it to rise up together. Recognizing the revolutionary value of self-activity means supporting and creating space for the autonomous struggles of Indigenous and racialized people both within our organizations and in the movement as a whole.
We insist that the participation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized leaders in broader struggles be recognized as inalienably part of those struggles…
However, the poor and subaltern amongst us who are pressed into unity with poor whites in order to survive the compressing attacks of powerful, external forces like cops, bylaw officers, social workers, and business owners complicate a predetermined, organizational schema for supporting autonomous anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles. Sometimes, our self-activity is about leading the charge against our common enemies, on the basis that an attack on our kin and comrades is an attack on us. While there are limitations to this self-activity, in that it produces a subjectivity that is more conscious of the common experience of poverty rather than the particular experience of, for example, settler-colonialism and imperialism, it is also an expression of autonomous resistance. For subaltern Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian people to become leaders, they need to exercise autonomy both from middle class civil society as well as subaltern whites. In subaltern places where whites outnumber Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian people, the former can appear more immediately necessary than the latter.
For autonomous charges to develop into their fullest possibilities requires long-term investments in building both the power of subaltern working class and Indigenous communities as well as the integral power of Indigenous, Black, and racialized leaderships as part of those communities. We insist that the participation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized leaders in broader struggles be recognized as inalienably part of those struggles, without ignoring the ways in which white subaltern people can exercise and sustain white hegemony.
A world free from whiteness is a world where Indigenous and working class people have smashed capitalism to liberate our spirits…
Political struggle is truth-making. That imperialism has equalized the precarity, poverty, and alienation of masses of people around the world, across the designations of core and periphery, or global north and global south, is a material truth, but it is not yet a political truth – a truth that is felt, understood, and acted upon collectively. The goal of revolutionaries today is to develop a praxis that can make true the political reality that in order for humanity to survive, we must wage a global war against capitalism – including its deranged co-systems of colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism.
A world free from whiteness is a world where Indigenous and working class people have smashed capitalism to liberate our spirits and unleash new panoramas of human activity and creativity, founded on many, non-alienated economies and cultures. Our movement is against the totalizing force of capitalism and against the totalizing socialist vision of a global, unitary proletariat. For those oppressed by colonialism and imperialism, the struggle through and against our particular experiences and oppressions will break open an insurgent universe and carve out a path of many paths, toward a future that is multiple.
Resolution: Develop our autonomous Black and people of colour organizing
In order to develop the organizational forms we need to mount a working class anti-racist struggle, we should prioritize holding Black and people of colour (BPOC)-only meetings in our campaigns when it becomes possible, and form a BPOC strand within Red Braid that can develop ties with a BPOC social base.
BPOC-only meetings need to happen in order for us to better investigate the conditions and struggles of racialized working class people. We resolve to hold meetings with racialized members of our social base in campaign areas in order to do this preliminary work, which will help focus the energies and directions of the autonomous BPOC strand.
No war on China!
Fight anti-Chinese racism! Reject Canadian nationalism!
With some leftist thinkers pronouncing the death of “imperialism” as a useful analytic, and others implying an ahistorical symmetry with an “all imperialisms are bad” line, Red Braid continues to affirm the reality of US hegemony and our strategy of revolutionary defeatism. Revolutionary defeatism means that we never side with Canada against its perceived enemies, no matter how much Canadian imperialists insist that the alternative buttresses the power of enemy states.
In 2020 we held two info-pickets opposing the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei who is currently being detained by Canada at the request of the United States, on the basis that she allegedly violated US sanctions against Iran. We did so not to defend China or Meng specifically, but to oppose Canadian imperialism and Canada’s role in escalating the US-led war on China. The alternative – doing nothing – would have ceded the theater of Meng’s extradition to the racist and white nationalist forces that have made sinophobia so commonplace that critiquing Canada’s aggression toward China automatically solicits charges of “tankie” and “Chinese Communist Party spy” from across the political spectrum.
Red Braid is committed to anti-imperialist politics, meaning that we absolutely side against Canada, the US, and their western imperialist bloc in any form of war, including inter-imperialist war. But we have not yet formed a position on the class character of the Chinese state.
Therefore, Red Braid resolves to:
- Oppose war on China and reinvigorate our collaborations with our Chinese contacts to combat sinophobia when COVID-19 dies down, with a long-term goal of base building mainland Chinese migrants.
- Carry out research on China, imperialism, and the state with the goal of characterizing the class character of the Chinese state in relation to the Belt and Road Initiative, Uyghur oppression in Xinjiang, and domestic class struggles
- Develop and deliver a popular education workshop on sinophobia
- Revisit our practice of having at least one internationally-focused discussion a month at our member meetings