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An Introduction to Dual Power Strategy

Brian / NHSS | 16.09.2002 01:34

The great task of grassroots dual power is to seek out and create social spaces and fill them with liberatory institutions and relationships. Where there is room for us to act for ourselves, we form institutions conducive not only to catalyzing revolution, but also to the present conditions of a fulfilling life, including economic and political self-management to the greatest degree achievable. We seek not to seize power, but to seize opportunity vis a vis the exercise of our power.

"The proletariat needs state power, a centralized organization of force, an organization of violence ... to lead the enormous mass of the population ... in the work of organizing a socialist society."
--V.I. Lenin
Bolshevik Party

"We wish not to seize power, but to exercise it."
--Subcommandante Marcos
Zapatista Army of National Liberation

There are two dualities at work in the modern strategic concept known as dual power. First, there is the classical notion of the relationship between (1) the current establishment and (2) the second social infrastructure pitted in opposition to it.

Here the status quo consists of a market capitalist economy, an authoritarian republic, patriarchy, adultarchy, judeo-christian eurocentricity, white supremacy, etc. These are the ideologies and institutions which make up the oppressive system according to which our society operates. By necessity, then, our oppositional dual power, our alternative infrastructure, must be based on decentralized socialist economics, a participatory democratic polity, feminist and youthist kinship, and a secular yet spiritual, intercommunal culture. Those will be the building blocks of our new society, and the masonry has already begun.

The second duality is between (1) the creative force of forming new social institutions and transforming oppressive ones into liberatory, and (2) resisting or destroying what is useless and oppressive to us in the current establishment. In other words, we need to approach revolutionary social change with constructive and a destructive tactics in our toolbox. We cannot build until we make space, but our alternative social infrastructure will not make itself, so we must establish it on the ruins of the old order, in the shadow of that order.

Dual power is a relatively generic strategy, as we have seen. Not only is there great contention between the leninist version of the strategy and the contemporary, grassroots approach, but there are also a number of tendencies within the latter framework. Essentially, the most popular alternative to the strategic outlook detailed in this book is known as libertarian municipalism. To differentiate, without coming up with a snazzy name like that, we'll call this version holistic dual power because a main tenet of the approach is that we need to form alternative and resistance infrastructure in all spheres of social life (where libertarian municipalism only focuses on political dual power).

Revolutionary Conditions

Contemporary marxists insist that the objective conditions necessary for social revolution exist today in North American societies, and throughout the industrialized world. These conditions, they assert, are the technologically advanced forms of production which place the ability, just not the authority, to meet all people's material needs in the hands of the workers. In other words, if only the workers were to rise up and seize control of the means of production, revolution would be at hand, as they could reorganize allocation and finally do away with a contrived scarcity of material goods and services. The missing element today, marxists assert, is the subjective condition of revolutionary consciousness. That is, the people need to become revolutionary in mind.

Marxist ideology, as disseminated by modern "communist" parties (self-proclaimed vanguards in a premature state), is the vehicle allegedly capable of instilling this revolutionary consciousness among "the masses." Such belief is why contemporary marxists tend to organize ideologically, spreading propaganda, instead of practically, as in establishing the grassroots organizations necessary for fulfilling the immediate and future needs of the people, including popularized political and economic self-management. For them, dual power comes about when their party establishes the strength and wherewithall to reorganize and run society from the top down.

Marxists generally deny the necessity of popular, grassroots organization, precisely because they believe the vanguard method is the path to follow, despite its historical record. At least, they claim, vanguardism has accomplished something, whereas the spontaneous methods attributed to anarchism have gotten us nowhere. Regardless of this claim's in/accuracy, it can be easily exposed as a product of marxists' basic fear of empowering "the masses" with more than ideological allegiance to marxism and the vanguard party of their choosing. The party will "provide the necessary leadership" to guide the revolution and rebuild society in the wake of insurrection. It is not imperative, then, to build grassroots institutions and form a democratic framework in the pre-insurrectionary period. Nor is it important that the people, seen as "masses," develop the skills required to self-manage even one's own life, much less an entire society. For marxists, dual power structures are limited to the Party itself. Everyone else should go about their normal business, while supporting the party and awaiting further orders.*

Also, we should recognize that present day projects intended to disseminate information, popularize social critiques or raise consciousness are limited. This is especially true when their thrust is biased towards offering the oversimplified (not to mention dangerous) solution of mass alignment with political parties or vanguards. Revolutionary media and propaganda must be intrinsically tied to struggle. Without the practical, day-to-day projects which build toward revolution, in the meantime providing essential living space and protection from the effects of oppression, our propaganda is baseless. It is simply false to claim the solution to our collective woes can be found in turning to elites and leaders as our "activism," whatever their ideological persuasion or their power.

The essence of a grassroots dual power strategy is captured in the above quotation from EZLN leader Marcos. It illustrates the very different concept of revolution professed by the Zapatistas, and beginning to be understood by radicals in various movements throughout the world.

As we discussed in the last chapter, the social power of "the masses" is currently on loan -- rented by elites. We forfeit our prerogative to manage our own political and economic lives, defaulting to the role of passively accepting the established manner of social functioning. The limited access to politics afforded by the status quo, such as voting and petitioning, amount to nothing more than reaffirmations of our consent to be ruled, to have our political power handled by elites in our steads.

Nothing short of refusal to participate, in any way, in the dominant society, by everyone from workers to bureaucrats to police officers, will result in the overturning of the status quo. Indeed, even passive acceptance of the status quo, when coupled with participation in everyday social functions as defined by that same status quo, is still active support of it. Even in the case when a new, alternative political force seizes power at the top, the relationship of authority and subordination persists. Only when people actually participate in an alternative social arrangement does the old paradigm become dissolved.

This essay is about basic democracy. I am not introducing a radical new ideology, I am talking about building a social framework, or infrastructure, which is responsive to the actual will of the people. I will say nothing herein about morality, nor will I share my opinions on the issues of the day. What I am proposing is a system whereby decisions of social policy and economic relations are made by those affected by them: citizens and workers. This strategic idea is still a threat, of course. It does take a stance against the inordinate amounts of authority presently reserved for politicians and their private backers. It does call to task the hierarchical arrangements of the workplace, the family, the school, the church, and so forth, which directly contradict and resist the exercise of power by common people. But it makes no claims as to how those people ought to use their power, once acquired. I make few specific suggestions regarding what issues need to be decided, much less which conclusions should be favored, in a democratic society, or a society aspiring toward real democracy.

Such is the essence of grassroots dual power. It is foremost a revolutionary strategy, the procedure by which we can sustain radical social change during and after insurrectionary upheavals -- even to manage those upheavals; but dual power is also a situation we create for ourselves as communities. Whether the insurrection happens in the next decade or takes 3 more generations to occur, we can create revolutionary circumstances now, and we can exercise power to the greatest possible extent. Dual power recognizes that waiting until after the insurrection to participate in liberatory political and economic relationships means postponing our liberation; it is as senseless as waiting until after the insurrection to begin reorganizing society. We do not require that the state and capitalism collapse before we can begin living relatively free lives.

The great task of grassroots dual power is to seek out and create social spaces and fill them with liberatory institutions and relationships. Where there is room for us to act for ourselves, we form institutions conducive not only to catalyzing revolution, but also to the present conditions of a fulfilling life, including economic and political self-management to the greatest degree achievable. We seek not to seize power, but to seize opportunity vis a vis the exercise of our power.

Thus, grassroots dual power is a situation wherein a self-defined community has created for itself a political/economic system which is an operating alternative to the dominant state/capitalist establishment. The dual power consists of alternative institutions which provide for the needs of the community, both material and social, including food, clothing, housing, health care, communication, energy, transportation, educational opportunities and political organization. The dual power is necessarily autonomous from, and competitive with, the dominant system, seeking to encroach upon the latter's domain, and, eventually, to replace it.

The creation and implementation of this second power marks the first stage of revolution, that during which there exist two social systems struggling for the support of the people; one for their blind, uncritical allegiance; the second for their active, conscious participation.

Aside from revolutionary upheaval, the very formation of a dual power system in the present is in fact one of the aims of the dual power strategy -- we seek to create a situation of dual power by building alternative political, economic and other social institutions, to fulfill the needs of our communities in an essentially self-sufficient manner. Autonomy and relative independence from the state and capital are primary goals of dual power, as is interdependence among community members.

And, again, while a post-insurrectionary society which has generally surpassed the contradictions indicated by the term "dual power" is the eventual goal of this strategy, the creation of alternative social infrastructure is a desirable end in itself. Since we have no way of predicting the insurrection, it is important for our own peace of mind and empowerment as activists that we create situations in the present which reflect the principles of our eventual visions. We must make for ourselves now the kinds of institutions and relationships, to the greatest extent possible, on which we'll base further activism. We should liberate space, for us and future generations, in the shadow of the dominant system, not only from which to build a new society, but within which to live freer and more peaceful lives today.

But where does the role of resistance fall among all this construction? During the dual power phase, it is not only important to build the foundation of the new society, but also to diminish the strength and capacity of the old system. We must first make space within the still-dominant system in order to have room in which to build society anew. Therefore, not only must we form alternative institutions, but also counter institutions (XIs) to resist and assault the status quo. Counter activity includes everything from protest to direct action, but is defined as activity which actively opposes the status quo. The intricacy of analysis demanded by the kinds of activity counter institutions engage in forces us to deeply reassess what have become common, almost default, practices among radical activist groups. Successfully melding the counter activity of XIs with the proactivity of AIs requires a new level of strategic and tactical comprehension and coordination.


For our purposes, community refers to a self-defined group of consciously active individuals located in local or regional proximity (that too self-defined). The main tasks of community development are (1) the internal development of alternative and counter institutional structures within the community; (2) the expansion and diversification of the community itself (popularly, not geographically); (3) the subjective (personal) enhancement and education of community members; (4) constitution of a sovereign municipality (having reached a "critical mass" of stable, participatory support); (5) the identification of the community within the context of a world-wide revolution.

We'll handle the last directive first. Once we have generally identified and defined our community (and this is an ongoing, unending process), we must recognize it, and have it recognized from without, as part of a larger, essentially global revolutionary struggle. Communities revolting in isolation will fail. And while dual power will develop at different rates in different societies, regions and localities, all dual power projects must be autonomously affiliated.

We are trying to revolutionize society, but to do so on a scale with which we can grapple. Direct democracy, at this stage, lends itself best to the community or smaller unit. A single city may have to be divided into several dual power municipalities, depending on its size and the wishes of its residential members. It's generally inconceivable that a unit larger than a city (ie, state, region, etc) could function as a directly democratic dual power community, where face-to-face interaction and the potency of an individual's impact on pertinent decisions is imperative -- at least at any early stage.

The problem of scale is a simple one, but one without easy solutions: we want to radically reorganize all of society, but in a decentralized manner. This means there can be no central committee on the national or continental or global level which dictates or directs the development of individual communities. The revolution must come about from the bottom up, from the outside in. If there are to be institutions and associations which extend beyond the neighborhood and community, they must be put together after the autonomous units (ie, neighborhoods, municipalities, etc) are defined.

Should we decide to set up an elaborate system of strata (eg, neighborhood, municipality, county, state, region, nation, etc), each unit must come about, from smallest and most intimate, first. And then we can affiliate with other so-developed units to form networks. For example, we organize our neighborhood into a dual power network, and that neighborhood association seeks out nearby neighborhoods and develops another network to form a municipal network, which networks with other local municipalities to form a city or county dual power, and on up the list.

Realistically, we have to expect that dual power networks will first form at the community/municipal level, at least in most urban zones, and will then break up into neighborhoods, or however the strata will be defined by those involved. This approach still lends itself to direct democracy. However, we cannot form a Continental Dual Power Network, for instance, and then divide it down. We would be spending too much time traveling to meetings to develop our own communities!

In any case, scales will be experimented with, and communities will define themselves variously. This will cause a lack of uniformity between various communities, even among communities which "border" each other as defined; it will even cause confusion and conflict, or so it can be assumed. But if the alternative is centralization and loss of democratic control, we will have to go it the hard way, which is after all the grassroots way.

The question when it comes to scale and association is not whether the revolution should be world-wide vs. community-wide. Of course it must be global, as critics of most grassroots organizing projects constantly insist. The real question is how we are going to develop the elaborate social system(s) necessary for ground-up, popular self-management of revolutionary struggle. Therefore, without precluding -- indeed recognizing! -- the need for over-arching, inter-networking organization of the revolution, we insist on an organic, grassroots process by which "umbrella" structures can come about, forming holarchies in place of hierarchies.

Here we run into an unusual but very simple concept. A holarchy is a model of organizational structure which provides various levels of social strata for administrative purposes, but not various levels of authority. Abstractly speaking, it is a hierarchy without differentials in the amount of decision-making power the various levels of the "pyramid" have at their disposal. In the current, republican model of federal government used by the United States, there are several levels of authority. The president, at the top of the pyramidal hierarchy, obviously has inordinant amount of power compared to everyday citizens. And there are various levels of power in between.

In a holarchy, which is still shaped as a pyramid with fewer "officers" manning the top "ranks," as you go up model from citizen to the higher levels, decision-making power (ie, authority) decreases as administrative function increases. That is, those at the "top" are charged with merely implementing, not choosing, the desired course on any given issue. Voters at the bottom (in their neighborhoods or workplaces, for instance) make the decisions, and at some levels (eg, regional, industry-wide, etc) "representatives" are mandated to vote again, proportionately representative of their "constituents'" wishes.

We will see more examples of holarchical organization when we discuss the specifics of economic and political dual power. For now, the abstract concept is important to introduce a fresh way of looking at large scale democratic action.

The most obvious reason to network local dual power institutions and define our dual power communities (thus forming a second power) is so they can form community-wide institutions, the second stage of internal development (the first being the formation of alternative institutions and counter institutions). Community-wide institutions such as an alternative economy and political forums, and programs like policing and sanitation, are an enormous step, but a vital one if our communities are to become anything more than loose amalgamations of collectives and co-ops.

The dual power community must grow. It must accumulate more and more members and form more institutions to serve the expansion. The community can only grow, however, as a result of individuals and organizations willingly deciding to participate in the community. We cannot, like traditional union organizers, approach an organization and ask it to vote on whether to join us or not. We must use a far more organic approach, and participation must be based on consensus. Unenthusiastic members are valuable only as numbers, at best as means to an end, and this is simply not how to go about making revolution.

Furthermore, the openness of the community must be limited. There should be a clearly-defined mission, and structures which ensure the community's consistency with the mission. The mission should be explicit about it's desire to change society structurally, and not just to provide a comfortable alternative to the dominant system. This will certainly limit the number of people enthusiastic about joining. Most of the yuppie types now affiliating with food co-ops will shy away or even be opposed. This is where class divisions will become more obvious, and those content with leftist lip-service will duck out. Those less interested in rhetoric but eager for practical change and action will take their places, hopefully several-to-one.

This obviously implies that existing AIs and XIs which consider becoming official member institutions of the new dual power community will often undergo internal strife themselves. But this is a necessary stage in the development of revolutionary organization. Those members which would opt not to become members of the new community, or would not have their organization become part of it, are choosing either a different revolution, or no revolution at all. Unfortunately, not every alternative or counter institution will be at the appropriate point in its development to embrace the dual power and become an integral aspect of it. Some institutions will split, certain factions opting to move on to the dual power, others maintaining the current direction.

When we talk about forming dual power institutions, we don't simply mean organizing them from scratch, or radicalizing existing AIs. Especially where economic institutions are concerned, we are talking in many cases about transforming existing firms and entire industries. Labor organizations are good, general examples of XIs. Their job, when they carry it out properly, is to represent labor in opposition to management/ownership. A radical union seeks not only cosmetic and quality-of-life gains for workers, but also more power structurally. As bosses' control of the workplace decreases, workers' power increase. And when this can be done structurally, such as through the formation of various kinds of workers' councils, a radical change has occured. A firm undergoing such structural alteration may be well on its way to becoming a workers' cooperative, collectively managed and thus eligible for membership in the dual power community.

Finally, as has been suggested, the implementation of dual power is not merely a method of arranging objective social conditions such as institutions and the political/economic system in general, but also serves to facilitate the subjective, or personal, growth of the very individuals who will make the revolution. This is handled not only by economic and political institutions, but also by new conceptions and relationships of kinship and culture as well. A hybrid kind of institution, both political and economic in its nature, is required for this type of activism.

Outreach and Education

The cure for vanguardism is strengthened individuality. Grassroots strategy must provide education and skills development via several methods. The more formal forms of instruction and booklearning will probably not be done away with anytime soon, but we now have at our disposal a plethora of tactics more applicable to liberatory education. And, as has been mentioned repeatedly here, practice and the application of skills is the best course for their development. Activist skills can be applied in activism, in the family setting, in radical workplaces, even in cultural and leisure activities. Most truly radical activism itself is empowering and enlightening, but managerial and leadership roles are even more so.

Another major aspect of developing subjective change among people involves reaching out to the population existing outside the dual power, in the throes of the dominant system. For this reason, any dual power community must maintain its own media. Propaganda involves public critique and ideological dismantlement of the dominant social notions and institutions, as well as promotion of revolutionary alternatives. That is, the propagandist's twofold goal includes destroying the perceived legitimacy of mainstream thought and structure, plus advertisement of the benefits of membership in the dual power community. Propaganda must reintroduce the idea of revolution, this time as a desirable possibility, not a frightening, ominous ideal or a commodified buzzword.

One of the most important kinds of dual power institution is the alternative media. Parts counter institution and alternative institution, the radical media is more than just propaganda. It operates as another form of education. Dual power media must be explicit about it's bias, its intentions to foster new forms of community, etc. It must facilitate communication and help those who've become accustomed to silence find new voices. The alternative media is not about negating the status quo, but about decyphering it and demystifying the alternatives.

The Structure of Revolution

In the spirit of participatory democracy, the dual power strategy places a strong emphasis on collectivism, the application of non-authoritarian principles and practices in everyday social situations, from home and family to workplace and economy. Collectivism demands, beyond the distribution of power equally among individuals, an emphasis on participation and diversity of ideas. Therefore, not only are actors given equal weight in the making of decisions, but the options themselves are given attention. The greatest defining factors of well-organized collective institutions are: (1) the valuing (not merely tolerance) of dissent; (2) emphasis on democratic process; (3) elicitation of maximum participation from all members; (4) sense of unity and common purpose; (5) encouragement of interpersonal familiarity among members; and (6) the development and sharing of skills among members.

So the individual is the primary unit of social change, and the collective is the secondary unit. But just as the individual cannot self-actualize in a void, the collective must recognize the larger movement context and its place therein. It is for this reason that individual institutions, collectively organized if revolutionary, must affiliate with other like institutions. Toward this end, networks connect alternative institutions for purposes of communication, planning and mutual aid. At the same time, federations unite counter institutions around common tactics and objectives. Coalitions are essentially temporary federations which focus on a given issue or goal. Unlike collectives, which typically rely on limited scale for face-to-face encounters, networks and federations, while always emphasizing communication and relativity, can be based on a range of scales, from neighborhood to intercontinental -- as long as their purpose is to connect collectives which share similar intents. In the interest of remaining consistent with the principles of collectivism (and therefor of individual member collectives), networks and federations must value decentralized, democratic processes, encourage participation and dissent, and so forth.

Developing alternative social infrastructure is the ultimate goal of networking alternative institutions. When political organizations such as community forums, mediation councils and municipal structures, themselves based on collectivist principles, are joined with interconnected economic institutions such as worker and community cooperatives, alternative social infrastructure is on its way to fruition, at least at the community level.

There is considerable argument with regard to just how explicitly "revolutionary" the dual power project should be. First, we recognize it as a community-based program. However, it is not expected that any community will adopt a formal dual power structure, as such. For instance, there will probably never be a Syracuse Dual Power Association, or anything of that nature. And this is likely best. Dual power is not an ideology, and as a theory or strategy, it is not even a program. It may become a program if it is popularized within a given community. But by the very notion of dual power as an idea, or a set of suggestions, or a context for smaller programs, etc, instead of a blueprint or dogma, we see dual power as informal and relatively amorphous, always yielding to the demands and pressures of actual circumstance. As a general guiding idea, dual power has been relevant, in various forms, for some time now. In order for it to stay relevant, it must remain non-specific.

So far I have defined dual power generally, as I see it to be most relevant in North America at this time. Others from other societies or other points in history may find it necessary to radically alter even these basic assumptions, and in the interest of human liberation I offer my fondest wishes.

In the following chapters we will finally get down to the nitty-gritty of organizing dual power institutions, including workplaces, families, neighborhoods, media, and so forth. We will also deal with networks such as municipalities and beyond, as well as economic systems, federations of counter-institutions, and the like. Just as should be the case in real life, we will start with the smallest in each category and move outward to increasing scales. Hopefully, in the coming chapters, we will develop a more concrete, stable vision of the kind of society we are trying to achieve, at a much more intimate level.

Conflict and Insurrection

Twisting the words of Alexander Berkman, who said "revolution is the boiling point of evolution," it can be said that insurrection is the boiling point of revolution. It is a period more likely to be brought about by the state, its agents acting on behalf of all manner of oppressive ideologies, trying once and for all to reassert the old order which the dual power has wrested from its grasp. Putting the violent aspects of the insurrectionary ordeal into perspective, Berkman also wrote, "the fighting phase of [revolution] is the smallest and least significant part." Which is to say, even where the object is destruction, most of what is to be destroyed is ideological -- it is our understandings, our intentions, and so forth. Eliminating prisons and garrisons, while necessary targets of insurrectionary acts, are not what insurrection is about. Instead, the primary destruction will be that of outlived ideas and oppressive ways.

In order for any proposal for a revolutionary strategy to be convincing, it must contain a component detailing how revolutionary movements will handle conflict and, if they are sustainable, insurrection. I intend to deal with these issues much later in far more detail. For now, so that the strategy I've just described will be more believable, I am offering a cursory discussion of how a holistic dual power movement can hope to deal with conflict and insurrection.

The establishment of dual power is offensive in a very subversive sense: it seeks to encroach slowly yet fully the domain of those in authority, the status quo. And thus assaults on dual power institutions can be seen as defensive manuevers on the part of the state and its cohorts. Typically in any struggle, if defenders are well established, they have a decided advantage over their attackers. So obviously the key is to become well established.

Part of that preparation for the insurrectionary moment is weakening the enemy well in advance. This means agitating and organizing among the ranks of the agents of the old order. It means demoralizing the police and the military, encouraging them to make changes in their institutions as we are in various others. Indeed, it means encouraging them to become us. More often than not, because of the rigidity of hierarchy in such institutions, transformation will mean abandonment more than conversion. But make no mistake about it, when the violence heats up because the once-comfortable authorities recognize the threat to their status, and to the very social framework which gives rise to that status, we will not be able to beat an army that is at full strength, or police forces which are functioning smoothly. Resistance, refusal, sabotage, desertion -- these will all need to be commonplace within the armed forces, or we will have no hope of success in the insurrection.

Another major element of insurrectionary victory will be stealth. That is, since the insurrection will begin around the time elites discover they are about to lose the rug from beneath their feet, we must dispose of as much of that rug as possible, and replace it with our new foundation, the dual power, before they recognize a significant threat. Yes, I am saying we must actually postpone the insurrection until we are most prepared to fight, and most prepared to fill those voids left behind by our toppling of society's oppressive apparatuses. This doesn't mean pretending our new institutions are not in competition with their oppressive counterparts. No, we can make no secret of our intentions lest we forget them ourselves! Instead, we need to be careful to attack only those targets which are ready to fall, which we can replace without petitioning for permission or relying on state and capitalist hand-outs.

Reappropriation, of both wealth and political power, must be done carefully, without exposing our weaknesses. A simple example: rather than having 15% of community fully dependent upon politicized, cooperative grocery providers for all its food and such needs; it is better to have a vast majority rely on dual power institutions for a smaller fraction of its needs. Because then we could start taking more drastic steps to shut down commercial grocers, or force them to yield ownership and management to workers and the community. We will have bided our strength well, and staged a mini-insurrection in the local grocery industry. If we cause too much of a fuss by attacking an institution while we are still weak, we will be crushed.

Another key to insurrectionary success is the ability to use the attacker's strength against itself. This happens on the small scale of actual physical confrontation, and also on the larger range of the ideological battlefield. When a better-armed attacker advances on a weak opponent, the latter must somehow make use of the former's power, to turn the tide of advantage. On the ground, in street confrontations, we will use Aikido and other martial arts which rely on this concept. We will also sabotage the machinery on which the agents of order depend. When their computers and their helicopters do not function, they lose their edge over us, and in fact they begin to decay from within. When those not yet aroused to rise up see others resist nonviolently as the latter are brutally attacked by their fabled "protectors," victory for us is snatched from the jaws of defeat.

I don't know how many times I have been asked that dreadful question: "Can we win?" It's a useless thing to ponder. Most people, activists and authorities alike, think they know the answer. Most think No, a few optimists say Yes. I insist the question is without value. As Noam Chomsky always implores, "by doing nothing, we only guarantee that we will lose." The real question, then, is by what methods do we stand the best chance of winning?

That's really what we should be looking for, what we should be trying to accomplish: and the answer is in strategic and tactical outlook. If we are struggling against a weakened, demoralized enemy; if our movement size, strength and discipline are at peak levels; if our goals our clear; if we are unified in our resistance efforts; if we are massive and foreboding; then I say we stand a chance. So we ask how to achieve these conditions as our preparation for the main event. We will not win without violence, but neither will we win with violence. We will be attacked, brutally and viciously, and we will have no choice but to withstand, recover and fight back. But fighting cannot be our primary tactic in achieving any of the strategic goals discussed in this chapter. Without preparation, the fight is lost before it begins.

If you need to know you're going to win before you get involved, we won't be seeing you around anyway. However, it does make sense to know how you're going to try to win. Insurrection is the greatest wildcard. More can be said of it when we have a better idea of what it will look like. It is not coming tomorrow, but perhaps in a decade or a generation. Let us only hope we will have warning, and some reasonably better prediction of how it can be dealt with. Later on in this book we will discuss at some length the more applied elements of resistance and conflict, including how to organize for (mostly nonviolent) offensive and defensive manuevers without resorting to traditional military methods of organization or combat.

*There are several problems with these notions and the projects they breed. First of all, they repeat the obvious flaws of classical revolutionary theory. Marxists refuse to learn the primary lesson of historical revolutionary failures, instead blaming the downfall of leninist communism (and other formalized brands) on outside intervention and counterrevolution. The fact is that a population must be not only intellectually but organizationally prepared for revolution. Not only must the capacity for economic stability be in existence (not a tall order for a species which once hunted and gathered to provide for its survival needs!), but also necessary is political and economic organization capable of managing the complexities of mass scale social relations, including the allocation of resources and products equitably among entire populations.

Brian / NHSS
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