“Capital eschews no profit, … just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 percent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 percent certain will produce eagerness; 50 percent, positive audacity; 100 percent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 percent, and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all that is here stated.” (T.J. Dunning, quoted in Marx’s “Capital”)
* Capitalists control all the world’s governments.
* Reliable workers and a complacent public are the basis for steady profits. So every government policy that can be enacted to placate workers or prevent outrage that doesn’t overall hurt profits has already been passed.
* Thus, any change to the status quo that would genuinely benefit workers or the environment would hurt profitability—or else it would already have been passed voluntarily by the capitalists. If such a change happens anyway, it creates a “profit vacuum.”
* The first corporation or bloc of corporations that figures out a way to “bust in” to this vacuum and subvert this change will profit just as surely as it would from discovering a massive new oil field or gold deposit. The more effective a social change is at alleviating pain or environmental destruction, the larger the profit to be gained by subverting this change.
* Thus, the more effective a movement is at overall changing the world for the better, the more violence is used against it to destroy the movement and reverse whatever changes it made.
* This is why u.s. intelligence agencies have attacked dozens of countries between 1945 and the present day, no matter how peaceful their efforts to improve their citizens’ lives were.
* If you accept this, you must conclude that any movement that intends to end all oppression and exploitation must be armed, disciplined, and planning on eventually fighting and defeating all standing armies in the world.
* for some thoughts on how this might be done, read about the political-military strategy called protracted people’s war here.
or, to put it slightly differently:
when we talk about the history of revolutions, what we’re really talking about is systems for exploiting labor.
for instance, feudalism was a system where labor was exploited because serfs were tied to the land, and knights came around and collected some fraction of the harvest, and if anyone didn’t pay up, the knights beat them or killed them.
slavery was a system where labor was exploited where slaves were tied to an owner, and those owners paid overseers to make sure the slaves kept working, or else the overseers beat them or killed them.
in capitalism, the system of control has been refined. some people own so much wealth they never need to work a day in their lives. the overwhelming majority of people have nowhere to run–they live in cities where there is no arable land. they must either work for someone and have their labor exploited, or else starvation and disease are the knights/overseers who will come kill them. that or they end up on the streets and become pariahs who make the police “fear for their lives” and then the police murder them and no one bats an eye.
when movements begin to collectively pool resources to start to give people options–alternatives to working for a capitalist and having their labor exploited–every single time, the system uses violence to destroy these movements once they disrupt profit beyond a certain point.
we must understand the civil rights movement, for instance, as a movement that intended to give black, brown, and indigenous people *more resources* so that they could have more to fall back on and fight harder to get *less* exploitative (but still exploitative) arrangements. and that faced fierce, brutal, murderous opposition the bigger it got.
when this movement became even sharper and more militant and sought to completely overturn the colonial relationship between white people and black, brown, and indigenous people, in the Black Power movement, the American Indian Movement, and so on, the violence became even more deadly.
the rate of exploitation for black, brown, indigenous, and poor white working people was *not* changed by those movements, nor has the oppression that makes that exploitation possible ended. the exploitation and oppression did not change because they did not succeed in destroying the oppressor’s ability to do repressive violence.
this book, “Killing Hope,” describes dozens of times a poor country somewhere in the world stood up and decided it wanted a slightly better, less exploitative life for its people, frequently insisting on using pacifistic methods to try to bring about this change–and the united states overthrew its government, frequently installing fascist governments who used death squads to exterminate the people who had been pushing for a slightly more decent society: anticapitalismfaq.com/kh/
never once in history has such a system of exploitation been overturned without violence. the more a movement disrupts profit, the more violence is used against it.
again: the more a movement disrupts profit, the more violence is used against it. there are no exceptions in all of history.
only movements that were prepared to use *revolutionary violence* in order to destroy the oppressor’s ability to do *repressive violence* have ended exploitation and the oppression that is its shadow.
or, one other way to put it, also worded slightly differently:
here is as accessible a piece as i am currently capable of writing, offered as part of an ongoing discussion about the question of violence in pursuit of liberation.–
when it comes down to it, the question of violence in history is always fundamentally a question of *stuff*–the stuff people need to live, and the stuff they need to thrive. the question of violence in history is always fundamentally a question of who makes stuff and who consumes it. it is a question of economic control and economic exploitation.
why did europeans carry out slavery in the americas? it wasn’t because of racism, which was invented after the fact as a justification. it was in search of *stuff*. it was in search of wealth.
when the masses in north america decided slavery was to end, why did the slave-owners fight back? was it because they had deep ideological disagreements about the truth of their racist theories? not at its core–it was over control of stuff–who made it, and who consumed it.
when the 13 colonies that came to constitute the united states wanted independence, was it merely terms of names? was it a question of whether the king had power *in name* over the colonies? no, it was a question of *stuff*–who would consume the stuff being produced by the slaves and the other working people in the colonies–would it be consumed by the ruling class of britain, or the ruling class in the united states?
when the people of Haiti wanted independence from France, was it merely a question of names? was it was it merely that they couldn’t stand the idea that France controlled their country *in name*? no, the heavy French consumption of the products of Haitian labor meant the Haitian laborers were starving. it was a question of *stuff*–who makes it and who consumes it.
what was Nazi Germany after? was it just a sudden furious dislike for the rest of the people of the world that overcame them? no, more than anything it was that the country as a whole had suffered a great loss of wealth as a result of the terms of the end of World War I, with the broad masses of German people suffering far more greatly than the ruling/capitalist class of Germany. it was principally this desire for stuff in the broad masses of the German population that had literally been made very hungry.
when the civil rights movement finished, did black, brown, and indigenous people control who would consume the stuff they made? no, that stuff continued to be consumed predominantly by the white population in the united states and especially by the white ruling/capitalist class.
when the civil rights movement finished, did black, brown, and indigenous people cease to suffer systemic violence at the hands of the people who consumed the stuff they made? no, that violence continued at the same rates that it had before.
perhaps this is why the civil rights movement came and went–achieving more than anything changes in law rather than changes in ways of living for the broad masses of nonwhite people in the united states–and did so with nonviolent methods being most salient in that movement.
when the independence movement in India finished, did the broad masses of Indian people control who would consume the stuff they made? no, that stuff continued to be consumed predominantly by the English people and by people in imperialist countries generally, especially by the ruling/capitalist classes of those countries.
when the independence movement in India finished, did the broad masses of Indian people cease to suffer systemic violence at the hands of the people who consumed the stuff they made? no, that violence continued at the same rates that it had before–though it was now carried out by Indian officials upholding a government that ensured that the people in those imperialist countries continued to be able to consume the products of Indian labor at the same rates as before.
perhaps this is why the Indian independence movement came and went–achieving more than anything changes in law rather than changes in ways of living for the broad masses of the Indian people–and did so with nonviolent methods being most salient in that movement.
when the American revolution finished, were the rulers of America any longer subject to the systemic violence of the British? no, their violence had destroyed the British ruling class’s ability to carry out that violence.
the violence at Standing Rock right now is about stuff. the people there are denying the ability of the u.s. ruling/capitalist class to amass stuff, and violence is being used against them.
the police violence in black, brown, indigenous, and poor white working-class neighborhoods is about stuff. these people will not keep producing stuff for the u.s. ruling/capitalist class unless the violence is consistently applied. if it were not, people would soon find ways to eat and thrive without working at exploitative wages for horrible bosses.
the imperialist violence against the six countries the united states is bombing right now is about stuff. those countries will not keep producing stuff for the u.s. ruling/capitalist class unless the violence is consistently applied. if it were not, the oppressed nations of the world would soon find ways to eat and thrive without working at exploitative wages for horrible bosses, and without shipping their precious resources overseas at heavily reduced prices.
wherever we see systemic violence, we should look to see economic exploitation–systemic economic exploitation casts systemic oppressive violence like a shadow.
and systematic economic exploitation has never once in the history of the world been ended without those who were being exploited using *liberatory violence* to destroy the ability of the oppressor/exploiter to use *oppressive violence*. never.