SETTLERS ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS

Statement and criticism of the “Immigrants March” in Ann Arbor

If we have shortcomings, we are not afraid to have them pointed out and criticized, because we serve the people. Anyone, no matter who, may point out our shortcomings. If they’re right, we will correct them. If what they propose will benefit the people, we will act upon it.

The duty of every revolutionary is first and foremost to serve the people heart and soul. We believe that criticism is a gift that if used correctly will help us rectify errors and be more efficient in our work. We want to approach the struggle against oppression scientifically without holding back, pointing out errors so we don’t repeat past mistakes, and encourage criticism and self-criticism on the part of all who want to serve the people. We are interested in uniting with anyone who genuinely wants to work in the interests of the people and hope that they will adopt a similar attitude.

It is for this reason that Revolutionary Student Alliance, Ann Arbor has drafted this statement and criticism of the Immigrants’ March that took place this Saturday. A few RSA members were in attendance, and we noticed that many aspects of this march, which was supposedly intended to support the people most endangered by the increasingly reactionary Trump administration, in reality reinforced white supremacy and imperialism.

When we say “immigrants’ march,” who are we talking about? Going off the signs held by many of the people in attendance at this march, “America” (stolen land) is a “nation of immigrants.” Imperialist American flags were being flown and settler chants like “this is what America/an immigrant looks like” were repeated with glee. One person even held up a sign with a picture of a Muslim girl with the imperialist American flag draped around her head—the same flag of the country that has been bombing and destroying majority Muslim and Arab countries for decades while closing its borders to them.

Let’s be very clear: “America” is not a nation of immigrants. This narrative erases indigenous people from the reality of the settler-colonial “United States.” Furthermore, white settlers are not immigrants. Equating European settler-colonialism with the actual problem at hand completely whitewashes the issue and covers up the dangers faced by actual immigrants at-risk of deportation, especially Arab, Latinx and other non-white immigrants who risk being racially profiled because of their appearance or accent. Settlers are not immigrants—they stole this land, carried out a horrific genocide against its indigenous population, stole millions of Africans and enslaved them here, and now have the audacity to claim this is a “nation of immigrants.” The pilgrims were white terrorist colonizers, not immigrants being persecuted by a fascistic state. Their settler flag doesn’t belong at a march for immigrants unless it’s on fire.

Furthermore, the imperialist actions of the United States and western Europe are what’s causing immigration influxes in the first place. Nobody wants to leave their home unless they’re forced to, thanks to the imperialist wars in the Middle East, imperialist exploitation of South America, the Latin American debt crisis in the 80s, NAFTA in the 90s, overthrowing of democratically elected governments and leaders like Salvador Allende, installation of fascist dictatorships like those of Pinochet; the list goes on.

At one point during the rally on the Diag, a group of people began to sing “This Land is Your Land,” claiming ownership to the very land their ancestors stole from the indigenous population, once more asserting their dominance over the scene. An RSA member and a young black woman called them out and shouted them down, putting them in their place. We have no affiliation with this person and others who joined in, but applaud their resistance and encourage further actions like this.
“America” is not for white people
We understand that the organizers of this event couldn’t have known what kinds of signs people were going to bring to the march, but they should have made the politics behind the march clearer to avoid white supremacy entering this space. The target audience for a march like this is not white people who think the march is about them, it’s the most oppressed strata of our society who need our support now more than ever.

This settler influence made the march look more like a white pride parade than a militant demonstration of the power and rage of the oppressed. These marchers were not taking the deportation crisis seriously. There was a complete lack of militancy at this march: signs that read “Make America Kind Again,” lukewarm chants like “This is what democracy looks like,” and worst of all, collaboration with the pigs. The organizers of this event got a permit for the march and obediently led the protesters through the street, being careful not to disrupt anything. The solutions to ICE tearing families apart were to call your representatives and attend city council meetings—legalist strategies that appeal to the oppressors, without a broader perspective or an “or else” to intimidate the ruling class.

What are these kinds of tactics going to accomplish? The state and other bourgeois institutions are only going to become more reactionary over time. We know full well that legislators and pigs don’t give a damn about the people—pigs beat, murder, imprison and deport millions of black and brown people while upholding the law or getting acquitted despite breaking it. A true protest must be a show of force, antagonistic to the system it opposes. Getting a permit and nicely following the rules isn’t going to change anything. The state is destroying homes right now—the people can’t afford to sit on their hands and wait.

The worst part was when one of the organizers gave a pig apologist speech encouraging pigs to get more involved in the community, coming into our schools, coming into our spaces so they can “start a conversation.” This is dangerous and can get people killed. This is an anti-people pig line that puts the masses more at-risk. The police descended from colonizing slave patrols, they’re foot soldiers of a white supremacist capitalist-imperialist state run by corporations and rich white men. These are the people we want coming into our communities? Why, so they can profile us, beat us, interrogate us, and deport our people if they don’t have documentation?

We criticized this organizer after the rally, expressing our concerns, but this person continued to uphold the pig line. This is an egregious error on the part of the organizers of this event who should have made sure not that they did not engage in pig apologism and put the masses in danger because of their march. Pigs are murderers and class traitors. We don’t talk to police, we don’t work with police, we don’t call the police and we don’t argue with our oppressors.

At the rally, a member of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), the youth wing of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), gave a speech. We believe the harmful nature of this organization deserves comment. First of all, this person’s speech was class-reductionist workerism that erased the actual struggles of non-white immigrants by saying the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration were an “attack on the entire working class.” Were they? Are white workers really the target audience here? This is erasing the entire issue at hand—this march isn’t about the “entire working class,” it’s about some of our most vulnerable people needing support and solidarity at a crucial time. This person took some time to prattle on about the Russian Revolution and other issues totally unrelated to the immediate concerns of the masses while continuing to preach their reductionist line. Secondly, the Socialist Equality Party tried to claim the murder of Trayvon Martin was fundamentally not about race (https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/04/pers-a05.html) and has on numerous occasions apologized for rape, for example by defending human filth Brock Turner (https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/06/11/stan-j11.html). This organization would sooner side with the Klan than with the people—it has no business at any ostensibly pro-immigrant events. SEP is a racist, sexist organization and no organizers should be working with them.

The march ended sooner than the listed time and people began to disperse. We were not aware of this at the time, but One Michigan for Immigrants Rights, an immigrant-led organization based in Detroit, was scheduled to talk before the rally ended. They were not informed that the rally had ended despite having drove from Detroit to speak and were greeted by an empty Diag with no rally in sight. This put members of this organization and actual undocumented people at risk, wasted their time, cost them money, and completely disrespected them. When a member of One Michigan called the main organizer, Brad Adam, they were confronted with chauvinism and poor allyship on his part. Brad claimed there was nothing he could do and instead began to argue with One Michigan, failing to comply with the very people he claimed to support. He apologized but would do nothing else, not realizing the harm he had caused. It wasn’t until One Michigan confronted him with this issue that he switched sides and offered to reimburse them—after claiming he couldn’t, of course. This poor leadership and chauvinist behavior is alienating and puts people at risk. The organizers of this event should have sought the guidance of immigrants and immigrant-led organizations who have direct experience with this issue, rather than chauvinistically acting as though they know better. On the phone call, Brad even said he had never even been to a march before, and yet felt he was in a place to organize one. People like this should not be organizing events—they have no business organizing or advocating for people who they are incapable of standing up for.

There are a number of areas that we could improve in as well. We failed to use this time to conduct agitation and hand out propaganda. A revolutionary must always have the mass line in the forefront of their mind, and always be looking to gather the ideas of the people and hear their concerns while raising their level of consciousness. We did not interact enough with oppressed—nationality people and actual immigrants in the march, and in the future we must always think of new ways to serve the people. We should have gone further in calling out and confronting the more egregious white supremacist and imperialist signs we saw at the march, and we should have arrived with revolutionary chants in mind to further agitate and push the demonstration in a more militant direction. We also could have given our criticisms to the leadership of the event sooner and more comprehensively, while also looking for a basis on which we could unite to further the cause of the people.

Fight ICE with fire!

Revolutionary Student Alliance
Ann Arbor, MI
March 28, 2017
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PROTECTION NOT POLICE!

Statement Announcing RSA Winter 2017 Campaign

PROTECTION NOT POLICE: Burn All Paper Tigers!

 

INTRODUCTION

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” — Antonio Gramsci (loosely translated)

U.S. capitalism-imperialism is in decline. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been essentially no recovery for the vast majority of the U.S. working class, and the empire is struggling to maintain its stranglehold on the world. When the ruling class struggles to rule in the same way, a resurgence of reaction arises in the absence of a revolutionary movement to counter it. The neoliberal Democratic Party ran a campaign without any appeal to the people and there was no legitimate solution to their problems. At the same time, the Republican Party went even further to the right and propped up the proto-fascist Trump, who is himself a symptom of growing fascist trends in the United States.

On our campus, and in the country more generally, we have seen many spontaneous actions opposed to these reactionary trends and the new administration. At these protests, and outside of them, we noticed a serious concern expressed by students for their safety. But if the police choose to collaborate with ICE, a Sanctuary Campus standing alone is useless. In the Revolutionary Student Alliance, our goal is to serve the people, and all of our work follows the formula “from the masses, to the masses.” In response to these concerns, we have decided to launch the following campaign to oppose reactionary and fascist events and institutions at the University of Michigan, including the increasingly reactionary police, and to build avenues for community self-defense.

THREE-PRONGED ACTION

1. Pressure the University administration to defund its police and invest in scholarships for undocumented and proletarian students.

2. No platform for fascists: militantly oppose and silence fascist and proto-fascist activity.

  • Disrupt events held by reactionaries
  • Tear down and counter reactionary propaganda
  • Shut down fascist and proto-fascist talks and rallies
  • Protests must bare the teeth of the working class
3. Build avenues for community self-defense
  • Personal self-defense (workshops, lessons, teach-ins, etc. — fascists or right-wingers NOT ALLOWED)
  • Community organizations (a system for people who suffer the most from capitalist oppression to walk with comrades who will protect them, antifa response team, rapid response network, etc.)

WHY OPPOSE THE POLICE?

“The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker.” — Leon Trotsky

The police as an organization of professional, armed actors of the state did not exist until the emergence of capitalism. The original function of the police was never to “protect and serve” as liberals like to say, but to crush working class unrest in urban areas without martyring people (Whitehouse, 2014). Any actions that the pigs do to protect the people is incidental at best—their main function is to protect private property and to preserve “order.” But the preservation of order in an unjust and violent system is just the reinforcement of oppression, and the pigs are going to be the ones carrying out the racist, sexist, fascist policies of the Trump administration. The pigs are the ones who keep black people and people of color in ghettoized communities and enforce gentrification. They execute and harass black people on a daily basis and face no repercussions. They deported over 2.5 million people under Obama and will continue to deport more. The pigs’ union endorsed Trump, and they have a history of collaboration with fascists and nationalists.

They are enemies of the people.

All pigs enforce this oppression and uphold a white supremacist patriarchal system. Therefore, we are calling on the University to divest money from its police force and use it to fund financial aid services for undocumented and proletarian students.

We will not collaborate with or talk to the police, and our demonstrations must militantly oppose them. The purpose of a working class demonstration is to bare the teeth of the working class, not to obediently abide by the rules of the state and keep ourselves under control.

WHY NO “FREE SPEECH” FOR FASCISTS?

“If fascism could be defeated in debate, I assure you that it would never have happened, neither in Germany, nor in Italy, nor anywhere else. Those who recognised its threat at the time and tried to stop it were, I assume, also called “a mob”. Regrettably too many “fair-minded” people didn’t either try, or want to stop it, and, as I witnessed myself during the war, accommodated themselves when it took over … People who witnessed fascism at its height are dying out, but the ideology is still here, and its apologists are working hard at a comeback. Past experience should teach us that fascism must be stopped before it takes hold again of too many minds, and becomes useful once again to some powerful interests.” — Franz Frison, holocaust survivor

Fascism is capitalism in decay, the open terror of nationalist reaction and imperialism. It is not to be debated with, it is to be smashed. We already know the effects of fascism: genocide, war, destruction, and the all-out terror of reaction on the people—except this time, Auschwitz won’t be in Poland, it’ll be in Ferguson or Baltimore. The rights of the oppressed are not up for debate, and the growing fascist trends in the United States (and elsewhere!) need to be stopped in their tracks. It’s one thing to convince a Trump supporter they’re wrong; it’s another thing when the so-called “alt-right” Neo-Nazis are openly advocating for the ethnic cleansing and genocide of black and brown people. We reject the liberal idea that the only way to handle the recent wave of reaction and fascism in the United States is to debate nicely. We will work to shut down any platform for fascists to spread their violent ideas.

WHY ADVOCATE FOR COMMUNITY SELF-DEFENSE?

“The policemen or soldiers are only a gun in the establishment’s hand. They make the racist secure in his racism.” — Huey P. Newton

We can’t rely on the University and the bourgeois state to enforce laws that serve the interests of the people. As we’ve stated earlier, the point of the police isn’t to protect the people but to suppress them. Instead, it’s up to the oppressed masses and proletarian students of Ann Arbor to protect themselves. Workers and proletarian students need to be organized to best carry out this task.

What good is it to make our school a Sanctuary Campus if it can be repealed at any time? The only solution is to reject the power of the state and build community self-defense. We don’t need the pigs; they need us.

CONCLUSION

“Everything reactionary is the same: if you do not hit it, it will not fall.” Mao Zedong

Our goals with this campaign are twofold: to serve the people and act in accordance with their needs and desires, and to increase the level of class struggle in our environment. By pitting ourselves against the pigs and fascists, we are drawing a clear line of demarcation between ourselves and the enemy. Between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, there can be no compromise. The interests of these classes are irreconcilable; the only resolution to this contradiction is the overthrow and eradication of the bourgeoisie and the complete political rule of the proletariat. All of our activity works to this end and seeks to advance the primary motor of social change and revolution: the class struggle. But we are sure to make mistakes in fighting on the side of the oppressed if we act from our own subjectivity and not from the needs of the masses. Correct ideas come from the people, not from our subjective wishes and desires.

From this point, we loudly declare:

All cops are bastards!

Destroy fascism!

Power to the people!

“It is right to rebel!”

Revolutionary Student Alliance
February 2, 2017
Ann Arbor, MI

Statement on the Future of Our Political Activity as an Organization – 1/1/17

This statement was originally published on our Facebook page on January 1, 2017.

For the sake of transparency, members of the former Ann Arbor chapter of Students for a Democratic Society have drafted and ratified the following message. After much deliberation, we have decided it is in our best interest as organizers to break away from the national SDS organization and become an independent, revolutionary anti-capitalist organization dedicated to political activity and study.

Firstly, we want to break away from the structure of Students for a Democratic Society which limits the organization’s activity to making demands of the University of Michigan administration. While this can be useful, we don’t think it should be the organization’s sole realm of activity. The simple fact of the matter is that we aren’t just fighting for students, but for the USAmerican working class and oppressed nations. Our activity must get out of the stuffy atmosphere of book worship and petty bourgeois ideas in the University so we can immerse ourselves in the masses. We need to analyze our material conditions in the larger community of Ann Arbor. We should care about campus and university issues, but our primary concern is not the “map” that is the University’s insulated world, but the “territory” the University actually occupies.

There are things we can provide for ourselves that the University can’t. Earlier this year, many students expressed concern for their safety following the results of the election. This is something the University can’t provide, because they can only use the police, a violent organization that is antagonistic to the people and squarely on the side of capital. We could work to create a network that could protect students ourselves as students and community members, independent of the University. There’s no demand we could make of the University that would suit this problem we learned about in our social investigation.

Secondly, we believe that real leftist political activity can only be explicitly anti-capitalist. We don’t agree with Students for a Democratic Society’s decision to remain ambiguously “radical.” We need to be open with our politics and loudly declare that our enemy is capitalism and the USAmerican ruling classes. Politics should not just be made clear, they should be at the forefront of all revolutionary activity. A healthy relationship with the masses can only be cultivated through absolute transparency in our activity and our aims. We’re here to serve the people, not lead them astray.

Thirdly, Students for a Democratic Society does not permit theoretical study. This is a serious error. Our actions must be informed by a larger understanding of the system we’re fighting against. We need to be able to understand revolutionary theory and study it together. Avoiding theoretical study because it risks scaring away liberals is useless and opportunistic. We are not interested in hiding theory from the masses, who need a method to analyze their conditions, lift themselves up, and destroy the white supremacist cisheteropatriarchal capitalist-imperialist society that keeps them pinned to the ground, we want to share it with them.

We will also comment briefly on the role of Freedom Road Socialist Organization-Fight Back! (FRSO-FB) in Students for a Democratic Society. This has been a subject of debate within our chapter for some time and we have been quiet on the issue up to this point while doing independent research and making up our minds.

SDS is often called a “front group” for FRSO-FB, which, though not entirely correct, does have some merit. The most active leadership of SDS seem to be FRSO-FB members or have close ties to FRSO-FB. It is impossible to work in SDS without also being influenced by this organization. For several years now, FRSO-FB has been the subject of accusations which have denounced the organization for harboring sexual predators/abusers and silencing critics, as well as lacking transparency on this subject. We have done investigation into this matter. To our knowledge, FRSO-FB has never issued a formal statement explaining the actions of its members or the situation at hand, much to our dismay and concern. We believe this is a serious error. A lack of transparency with the masses is opportunistic at best, and this has strained our trust in FRSO-FB. We disagree very strongly with the way FRSO-FB handled this issue. We also learned that FRSO-FB currently has a member who has received some kind of discipline for multiple instances of predatory behavior—though the precise details are not available to us—and yet this person remains in the organization. Again, this knowledge has strained our trust with FRSO-FB. We think the political activity of FRSO-FB, i.e., planting its membership into unaffiliated organizations in an attempt to guide them, is at best ineffective and we are not convinced their methods, nor their political line, are correct. We have therefore decided that we are no longer interested in working directly with this organization and this has contributed to our split with Students for a Democratic Society. We say this not to be “wreckers” but for the sake of transparency, because the reasoning behind our decisions should be known to the public.

Going forward, we are re-establishing ourselves as an independent, anti-capitalist, anti-reformist, trans feminist, anti-racist and revolutionary organization, guided by communist principles that serve the people in their fight for emancipation from capital. Anyone who agrees with our main principles of revolution and anti-capitalism is welcome to join.

“The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you. The world belongs to you.” — Mao Zedong

Revolutionary Student Alliance
Ann Arbor, MI
January 1, 2017