Two months ago, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta Temitope Oriola predicted that the United States is "at risk of an armed anti-police insurgency." I only just found out about Oriola's analysis, but in the weeks since then, there have appeared global developments in the class and anti-colonial struggles which can help inform us on the potential implications of this coming insurgency.
Following the last decade's beating back of Colombia's revolutionary guerrillas, irrepressible uprisings have appeared within the country that have given new hope to the holdouts within the country's remaining armed Marxist-Leninist rebel circles. Despite extreme police, military, and paramilitary repression where dozens of unarmed demonstrators have been massacred, the revolt has continued, and has begun majorly diminishing the capitalist state's military advantage in the process. Protesters have sacked 60 police stations throughout Colombia, meaning they've subdued dozens of miniature military bases. Because of this breakage of the illusion of the state's invincibility, many Colombian dissidents who had previously been trying to flee to Argentina have been returning home.
This revolt has such power behind it because this last month has been the historical moment""set off by attempted tax hikes on the poor and healthcare privatization during the pandemic""where Colombia's masses have become ready to mobilize behind unprecedented actions against neo-colonial rule. As the writer Fernando Rubio has described, the strike is the integral part of this power shift:
For the first time in the history of the nation, a general political strike focuses on paralyzing the economy and ceases to be a marginal protest phenomenon, to challenge and strike at the central core of oligarchic domination. This process puts in a strategic place the working class and the rest of the mass of workers who""allied with the youth, the Indigenous Minga, the middle classes and the peasant masses""have focused the current movement on the terrain of the dispute for power to dislodge from the vital points in the regime of domination, the oligarchic clique that appropriates the national wealth.
It's these organizing advantages that we're going to need to cultivate in the leadup to when the U.S. undergoes the armed insurgency Oriola anticipates. As Oriola assesses, the social factors are falling into place for an armed insurgency against the U.S. police state whose vanguard exists within the impoverished African (as well as Native and brown) communities which live under the tyranny of an increasingly militarized and deadly de facto military occupation. These factors include the transgenerational oppression of the colonized peoples, and a strong sense of injustice among the victims of this oppression. Another criteria, he says, is:
the availability of people willing and able to participate in such insurgency. The U.S. has potential candidates in abundance. Criminal records""sometimes for relatively minor offences""that mar Black males for life, have taken care of this critical supply. One study estimates that while eight per cent of the U.S. general population has felony convictions, the figure is 33 per cent among African American males. Some of these men may gradually be reaching the point where they believe they have nothing to lose. Some will join for revenge, others for the thrill of it and many for the dignity of the people they feel have been trampled on for too long. Although 93 per cent of protest against police brutality is peaceful and involves no major harm to people and property, there is no guarantee that future protests about new police killings will remain peaceful.
The logical conclusion of this intensification in the violence of anti-police state protests is an outbreak of guerrilla warfare. Such an intensification is becoming ever more likely, given how military equipment aid to police departments is still accelerating despite a year of demonstrations, how more militarized police have beenproven to kill unarmed people more often, and how Israel has been further increasing the levels of racist law enforcement violence by providing apartheid-style repression training to U.S. officers.
At a certain point, those living under this endlessly tightening effective military occupation will resort to drastic measures to attain relief from the brutality, in the same vein as how the Oglala nation's inhabitants militarily occupied their homeland in 1973 to try to escape their egregious conditions.
In that armed revolt""known as the Wounded Knee occupation""the contradiction that provoked the masses to act was a dictatorial and deeply corrupt neo-colonial tribal government, one which reinforced the tribe's position as one of the poorest places within U.S. borders. The fact that this government was led by the part-Native Dick Wilson showed that throughout the anti-colonial struggle, blood or skin color aren't necessarily the determiners of who should be supported; it depends on which side a given leader takes in the fights between the exploited and exploiter classes, and between the illegitimate occupying government and the First Nations which are fighting for regaining full jurisdiction over their lands.
The equivalent of this horizontal fight within the country's African community, describes Oriola, will be one where the militants stir up righteous resentment against the bourgeois black leaders who will inevitably call for "nonviolent" solutions: "The U.S. government will seem to have a handle on the insurgency at first but will gradually come to recognize that this is different. African American leaders will likely be helpless to stop the insurgency. Anyone who strongly denounces it in public may lose credibility among the people. Authenticity would mean developing a way to accommodate the insurgents in public rhetoric while condemning them in private."
In this scenario, a paradigm shift will have occurred within the consciousness of the masses, or at least the colonized masses. The idea of violence as a means to fight injustice will no longer be viewed with apprehension, but as a moral necessity that's prompted by the failure of reformism and peaceful protests to stop the police state's reign of terror. As Oriola predicts, the actions that manifest from this public mandate for guerrilla warfare will be carried out in a way which maintains people's support for the effort:
Any anti-police insurgency in the U.S. will likely start as an urban-based guerrilla-style movement. Attacks may be carried out on sites and symbols of law enforcement. Small arms and improvised explosive devices will likely be weapons of choice, which are relatively easy to acquire and build, respectively. The U.S. has the highest number of civilian firearms in the world with 120.5 guns per 100 persons or more than 393 million guns. Critical infrastructure and government buildings may be targeted after business hours. The various groups will initially seek to avoid civilian casualties, and this may help to garner a level of support among the socially marginal from various backgrounds. The public would be concerned but relatively secure in understanding that only the police are being targeted. Escalation may ensue through copycat attacks.
We don't know when this insurgency will break out, though the Pentagon's prediction about U.S. living conditions deteriorating into a country-wide power grid breakdown by 2040 give us a hint of when the masses will be ready to get behind such a resistance. But we know that as poverty grows among U.S. residents of all colors, the police state perpetually redesigns itself to carry out increasing provocations against the colonized communities, and a fascist movement grows which is determined to make our political system completely adverse to addressing Black Lives Matter's demands, the state is gearing up for when colonialism's victims start waging war.
Just look at the 2016 U.S. Army War College document that speculates about inequality leading to armed uprisings within U.S. borders, and that recommends the military occupy urban areas Iraq-style in response. Or the 2016 Pentagon training video that says the military will need to "drain the swamp" of non-combatants within the poor neighborhoods so that special operations forces can engage these anticipated near-future guerrillas in "high-intensity" combat. Settler-colonialism's evils are soon to blow back at it like never before, and the settler state aims to use all of its imperialist tactics from abroad""such as bombings, extreme censorship against dissenting journalists within the occupied zones, drone strikes, massacres of civilians, and paramilitarism""to try to stamp out the coming resistance.
We've seen many of these tactics be used against liberation fighters in the U.S. already. Wilson and his federal backers responded to the indigenous resistance effort by forming a paramilitary organization that terrorized his political opponents, and in 1985 the Philadelphia police bombed an entire city block to snuff out a black liberation group. If we in the Marxist-Leninist movement build up cadres within our local areas while reaching out to the anti-colonial resistance movements, we'll be able to help advance the insurgency towards a point where it's not just trying to get the government to abolish the police.
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