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The insidious counterinsurgency the state is waging against revolutionaries, & how to overcome it

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I don't believe gangs are viable revolutionary vehicles, but in my experience, studying them is valuable for figuring out how to have a revolution survive the state's counterinsurgency. This applies to the lessons they can teach us both on which destructive traits to avoid, and on which positive organizational traits cadres can take example from.

In my quest to find out how to navigate the obstacles which revolutionary organizers face in the imperial center, I've encountered a communist former gang member who's come to this conclusion. He's argued that gangs are fundamentally military governments which seek to gain access to the black markets, and therefore active or semi-active gang members shouldn't be allowed into organizing. But he's also recommended that cadres take on many aspects of the ways gangs operate: having members learn endangered languages so that law enforcement can't intercept their communications; creating point systems so that members are incentivized to take on challenges; establishing ranks so that members function in a quasi-military system before the conditions necessitate that they become more disciplined; getting uniform pieces of clothing, such as bandanas or colored shirts, so that members can discreetly identify each other.

Should the state's repression intensify to the point where all active communists must go underground, or should cadre members be prompted by their conditions to carry out the kinds of clandestine activities detailed in Che Guevara's guerrilla works, these measures will prove necessary. We live in a surveillance state that's made every aspect of our communications, save for the ones we engage in without any electronic devices present, monitored. Therefore should anyone discuss underground matters, they must do so after putting everyone's devices in the fridge, or going into a private outside area with no devices present. At a certain point, all within the movement may need to radically change their way of operating, ceasing any online presence and making all organizing secret. In the environment where such measures will be necessary, those kinds of gang-inspired regimentation systems will become indispensable for continuing our work.

If one has studied the history of anti-communist repression, they know the warning signs that will appear beforehand should our conditions become that dire: widespread incitement for paramilitaries and vigilantes to kill communists; developments indicating a coup, or a drastic power consolidation perpetrated by a ruling fascist party or military junta; already existing widespread violence against political dissidents with the sanction of the state. These things were what led up to the implementation of the Jakarta Method, the program for counterrevolutionary terror that Indonesia's military regime carried out after the country's 1965 CIA coup. At least a million people were killed during the extermination campaign, wiping Indonesia's communist party from existence despite it having been among the globe's largest communist organizations. Then the U.S. empire carried out numerous other coups throughout the globe, and replicated the Jakarta Method under dictatorships like the Pinochet regime. In Latin America, this violence was collectively called Operation Condor, wherein thirty thousand were disappeared, sixty thousand were killed, and four-hundred thousand were imprisoned.

If they could do this to such powerful Global South anti-imperialist parties and movements, what will they be able to do to the (currently) disorganized left in the United States? We already see aspects of those warning signs for a political extermination campaign. The rise of fascist U.S. paramilitaries, the January 6th attack and the state's use of it to target social movements, the normalization of far-right rhetoric that glorifies past political extermination campaigns, and the legalization of right-wing vigilantism with Kyle Rittenhouse's exoneration all indicate a growing risk of that level of violence. What we must do is learn from previous repression to find out how to sufficiently strengthen our organizations, enough that they can survive the purge and defeat the state.

The biggest lesson we can take away from the Jakarta Method is that when a communist party doesn't have an arms program among its members prior to when the state intensifies its repression, it will far more likely meet the fate of Indonesia's communist party. That party declined to arm its members, then was left defenseless. Today's communists have the opportunity to avoid this mistake. Leading U.S. communist organizations like the PSL judge the current conditions to not necessitate the formation of a people's army, and they may be right for the time being. But the members of any cadre can get the tools and training for this kind of defense, so long as they don't act in adventurist fashion or violate their party's democratic centralism. Which is where security culture comes in.

In organizing, you will encounter wreckers, people who seek to sabotage you before you can carry out the delicate dual tasks of gathering support from the masses and forming a trained inner circle. Whether or not these wreckers are actual paid agents shouldn't matter to you; if you've picked up on the red flags that they're a wrecker, you need to eject them from your party, and cut them off from your personal relationship network should they seek to influence you on a more individual level. Their goal is to manipulate others into splitting up the given party, engaging in reckless actions that will only bring down the state's fist and alienate the masses, and embracing ahistorical ideas which go against scientific socialism.

"Gangs are essential revolutionary vehicles" is one of these ideas that I've encountered in my struggles with wreckers, but there are countless others. Invariably, their purpose is to convince you that there's a theoretical basis for the undisciplined, organizationally divisive, and dangerous actions that wreckers push. And naturally the ideological poison that wreckers sell has an ultra-leftist nature, whether this manifests in fetishizing gangs, arguing it's okay for men to pay for sex, or viewing hard drugs as an acceptable lifestyle choice rather than as a disease. According to my ex-gangster friend, the actions that go along with these ideas include letting people into organizing spaces when they're addicted to drugs; letting men with ulterior sexual motives use an organization as their vehicle for sleeping with women; enabling men who engage in abusive and misogynistic actions, like buying sex; and letting otherwise harmful conduct slide for the sake of peace and friendship, as Mao warned against doing in Combat Liberalism.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=11988744

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