It is counterrevolutionary to demand that organizers withhold criticism from other organizers who face different types or degrees of oppression

counterrevolutionaryIn the united states, the white working class can’t get free without the success of black, brown, and indigenous liberation, and by that same token, each of these liberation struggles alone can’t win unless the struggle is generalized to include all nationalities of working people, including sections of white workers. We are comrades, our struggles are connected, and they are against the same enemy.

More broadly, the success of the oppressed and exploited people of the world anywhere is a victory for the oppressed and exploited people of the world everywhere. The oppressed and exploited people of the world all have a common struggle.

In light of that, it must be said that criticism that is intended to increase clarity and reduce errors is a gift. Our stake in the success or failure of this common task gives us all the right to offer constructive criticism to anyone in this struggle, even if we do not share their specific oppression—as long as we have undertaken a thorough and careful investigation that leads us to believe that what we have to say will be genuinely useful, and then offer it respectfully.

Our respect for others fighting in other wings of this joint liberation struggle means we owe it to our comrades to make these criticisms, as long as we make them in a principled way and not for petty point-scoring or individualistic advance.

All told, it is patronizing not to offer valid criticism, when we feel we have it to offer, for fear that the recipient will refuse it because of our social position. Someone who is sincerely dedicated to liberation listens to criticism and accepts what is true in it regardless of the source. To decline to give criticism for such hand-wringing reasons is the opposite of respectful and comradely behavior.

And finally it should be said that the idea that someone who doesn’t suffer from a particular oppression cannot offer anything of value to someone who does suffer from it is contradicted by hundreds of years of liberation struggles that have overlapped and influenced each other: Baltimore to Palestine, Vietnam and the Black Panther Party, revolutionary feminism being inspired by black liberation, Leninism being adopted by anti-colonial movements, Marxism being used in the Chinese struggle against feudalism, imperialism, and capitalism, and Maoism being used to forward indigenous liberation struggles across the planet—and so on. We can help each other, and we should.

While each liberation struggle must without a doubt be led by those who endure that oppression, none of us will win if we believe that each struggle must only use ideas arising from people who share a sufficiently similar type or degree of oppression.