Applied knowledge, its connection to revolutionary movements and strategy
The project of creating new ways to understand the world without the aim of changing it is bound to fail. Indeed, the failure of the current knowledge production system is because it is divorced from action. At the same time, if the spontaneous revolts of the past few years have shown us anything, it is that trying to change the world without understanding it has only limited impact. Organizing must be an extension of theory, or as Lukacs said, "theory must explode into praxis." One without the other is of little use to a revolutionary struggle.
First, our action must be guided by the need to move beyond capitalism, not just in the U.S., but on a global scale. While actions are most often confined to local levels, it is necessary that they be guided by an understanding of the centrality of imperialism. The labour movement in the US is an example of how predominantly white workers benefited from capital but also actively participated, and continue to participate, in US imperialism. Anti-imperialism was central to the Black Panthers, who developed the theoretical concept of revolutionary intercommunalism to situate their struggle in a global scale.
Second, we must make structural analyses. In the age of global finance and American imperialism, building power locally in the US has consequences not only nationwide, but often even internationally. The question must always remain in our conscience- “Who are we building power for, and how does this connect to the larger structural struggle?” One can see the importance of this, for example, when we look at organising done by the big national unions. Directing our resources into building for them without attempting to change their structure often means supporting the Democratic Party, and the numerous anti-poor decisions of the corporatized unions.
If we recognize the need to move beyond capitalism, then action and tactics will be set by that goal in mind. This does not at all mean that we do not participate in action unless we directly see it as dismantling capitalism, this is a distortion of what it means to recognize the ‘actuality of revolution’. It is a distortion that is particularly convenient for academic and intellectuals. What we are challenging is the task of just doing day-to-day organizing without thinking about our role in larger struggles, or in creating revolution. The possibility of such a revolution may not be immediate, may not be evident, but it must always remain in the imagination. However, the value of day to day organizing which is not glamorous or rewarding must not be underestimated. We believe that long term, sustained, local building is key to building power.
Third and finally, we think that it is extremely important to study history and learn from it. Partly, this must involve an inter-generational dialogue which we see as missing. It is telling that several of the critiques of contemporary movements led by the youth come from older revolutionaries who have been part of movements in their own time. Such critiques are an opportunity to learn. Our movements should be based on a critical understanding of these past movements.