Why is There a Wealth Difference?

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Why is there a Wealth Difference?

Why is Ypsi poor while Ann Arbor is rich? Why can you only afford to get a job in Ann Arbor but not live there? Why do you have to spend so much time in traffic to work countless hours a day for little pay? This is because of gentrification—rich people moving into and taking over poor neighborhoods and displacing the residents through rent hikes. It’s no coincidence that Ann Arbor has all the money while Ypsi is drained—in fact, Ypsi is broke because Ann Arbor is rich! As the rich kids move in with their coffee shops and cupcake stores, rent in the area increases, and you have to pay the consequences. Gentrification is modern-day settler-colonialism: white people and their corporations move in, take the land of poor Black and Latinx people, and make money on the backs of the oppressed. Gentrification means you have to go work for rich white kids in their city and go back to your apartments under the constant threat of eviction due to rising rent prices. Gentrification is a disease, and unless the disease is wiped out, it will wipe us out.

Where Does Gentrification Come From?

Gentrification is caused by the capitalist profit-drive. Since rent is relatively cheaper in impoverished areas, businesses move there in order to make the highest amount of profit. Real estate companies also have a lot to gain from buying out the places where poor people live and selling them for higher prices. This shit has become so ingrained in our culture they even make TV shows about it and glorify it! If only they would show the other side—the evictions, losing jobs, being forced away from family and friends. But of course not—the ruling parasites will never show the suffering they’ve caused us.

But why are these places poor to begin with? Racism, colonialism, and imperialism—in a word, because of the capitalist drive for profit and the resulting exploitation of the masses. There’s a reason why Black and Brown people in amerikkka have a high rate of poverty. Their homes are taken from them at gunpoint and they’re forced into ghettos and slums. When they fight back, they’re thrown into jail for not complying with the terms of their oppression. And after all of this, pigs and politicians will say that we chose to be poor!

What about imperialism, how does that relate to gentrification? When businesses are large enough, they shut down their factories here and ship them overseas for the cheaper labor of Black and Brown workers in the Global South. So, when factories are moved overseas, people here in the cities become unemployed and fall into poverty. We get things like the Rust Belt, where the entire landscape of places like Detroit are filled with abandoned factories and, as a result, broken homes. This is the stem of our social problems.

How Do We Stop Gentrification?

For every social disease, there is a social cure. If gentrification is caused by capitalism, then capitalism must be crushed and replaced with a new system that serves the people. Of course, we can’t overthrow capitalism overnight: to fight gentrification, we must first see it as it is—we must see it as the natural product of capitalism, and we must connect up our struggles together—we must see that the exploitation by our slumlords is not very different from the exploitation by our employers or the oppression by the pigs. We must see capitalism as the disease it is, and we must recognize the parasites that cause it. When we realize this, we will also realize our own place in society as the oppressed class.

But more importantly, by seeing our place in society, we will realize that we are the ones who keep society running; the slumlords, employers, and pigs rely on the workers for their living, but the workers don’t need those parasites for shit! By understanding this, we understand that we are the makers of history, and as the makers of history, we are the ones who can change history—we are the ones who can wage revolution and end our exploitation. These struggles have already been taken up across the nation in places like Boyle Heights in LA and Austin, Texas. Through revolution we can smash racism, colonialism, and imperialism. We can destroy capitalism—the underlying cause of our misery—and replace it with a system that is run by the people and that serves the people. From the ashes of capitalism we can establish socialism!

Where Do We Come In?

Our organization—the Revolutionary Youth Alliance—is a mass organization based in Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Our goal is to work alongside the workers in the struggles they’re facing to help them resolve their problems. What kind of problems can we work with? Almost anything—whether it be your employer, your landlord, pigs, abusers, etc., our goal is to serve the people and help them in their day-to-day struggles. We adopt your problems as our own, and we do whatever is in our power—and whatever you’re down with—to resolve the problems. Why do we do this? Because we also realize the dangers of capitalism—frankly, if the system doesn’t change soon, none of us really have a future given the rate of global wars, environmental destruction, and climate change. We realize that the workers are the one who must change the system, and so that’s who we center in our actions. We by no means place ourselves above the workers or assume that we know more—quite the opposite, we are often ignorant while the workers are knowledgeable!

Just to be clear, we are not activists and we do not associate ourselves with the student/activist culture on campus that reeks of the predatory behavior reproduced through capitalism. We don’t organize to put shit on our resumes—frankly, what we’re down to do wouldn’t help us get a job anyway. When we say we want to serve the people we mean it, and if you think we aren’t, we want to hear your criticisms of us so we can improve.

Email us at revyoutha2ypsi@pm.me or message us on Facebook @revyoutha2ypsi to give us criticisms or let us know of any problems you’re having & we’ll do our best to resolve our problems.

 

“The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history”

Exploitation And The Workplace

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Exploitation and the Workplace

Don’t like working long, repetitive hours for low pay? This is the heart of the relationship between you (the worker) and the owner: an exploitative relationship. The only reason you’re hired is to keep the business going. Since the business is competing with other companies, your employer pays you as little as possible for the longest number of hours to get you to work. Think about this—if you need $80/day to survive, the owners can decide to pay you $20/hour for 4 hours of work, or they can pay you $10/hour for 8 hours of work. Of course they will pay you less if they can because their business operates to maximize their profits at the expense of their workers! This is called wage slavery—the modern-day form of slavery where workers are forced to work just to survive. Think of how much of your paycheck goes to food, rent, and other bills. Think of how little of your paycheck you keep for yourself! And how much does the CEO of the business make? How much profit—the product of your work—goes to the CEO? But this isn’t limited to your relationship with the owners—this is your relationship with the entire ruling class: bankers, loan companies, insurance companies, politicians, pigs, etc. All of the ruling class & their servants feeds off your time, your money, like parasites. And at the end of the day, after they take your time and your money, these parasites go on T.V. saying that they represent your interests! Well, we don’t want their bullshit, and we don’t want to be exploited—we want a system that is made by us and serves us!

Why is there Exploitation?

You probably already know the answer to this question—the reason there is exploitation is to make the owners richer and to keep you poorer. Where there is an accumulation of wealth on one hand, there is an accumulation of misery and poverty at the other. The reason part of your wages is taken by the owners is because they compete with other businesses and so they have to expand the business as fast as possible to stay ahead in competition. But why do businesses have to endlessly compete? Because this is the key characteristic of the system of capitalism—businesses endlessly compete to get higher and higher profits, which they in turn use to develop their businesses more, and so on. So, as long as capitalism exists, there will be competition between businesses. And as long as there is competition between businesses, there will be exploitation.

What Can We Do Now?

Since capitalism is characterized by the mass exploitation of workers by a handful of owners, it’s clear that the only way to end this is to end the system of capitalism. Small changes within the system can temporary alleviate the problems workers are facing, but essentially they are just that—small, temporary changes that are bound to be revoked as soon as there is a crisis (like back in 2008) and the government or employers need more money. The only real way to end the exploitation of workers is to end the system that causes it. However, we obviously can’t get rid of capitalism tomorrow—the struggle to destroy the old and create a new system in its ashes is going to be a long process. The central aspect of this process is to show the workers that they can win against the owners—whether those owners be their slumlords or employers—and that through revolution, a new world is possible—a world where the owners and the workers are one and the same. At the end of the day, the workers are the ones who make everything, and without the workers all progress would stop. The same can’t be said about the owners—in fact, quite the opposite of the workers, the world would be a much better place without this parasitic class! Since the workers develop society, and since all of society relies on the workers, we say that the workers are the makers of history. Since the workers are the makers of history, it’s time that we take control of our own destiny rather than allowing an owning class to direct our destiny for us!

Where Do We Come In?

Our organization—the Revolutionary Youth Alliance—is a mass organization based in Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Our goal is to work alongside the workers in the struggles they’re facing to help them resolve their problems. What kind of problems can we work with? Almost anything—whether it be your employer, your landlord, pigs, abusers, etc., our goal is to serve the people and help them in their day-to-day struggles. We adopt your problems as our own, and we do whatever is in our power—and whatever you’re down with—to resolve the problems. Why do we do this? Because we also realize the dangers of capitalism—frankly, if the system doesn’t change soon, none of us really have a future given the rate of global wars, environmental destruction, and climate change. We realize that the workers are the one who must change the system, and so that’s who we center in our actions. We by no means place ourselves above the workers or assume that we know more—quite the opposite, we are often ignorant while the workers are knowledgeable!

Just to be clear, we are not activists and we do not associate ourselves with the student/activist culture on campus that reeks of the predatory behavior reproduced through capitalism. We don’t organize to put shit on our resumes—frankly, what we’re down to do wouldn’t help us get a job anyway. When we say we want to serve the people we mean it, and if you think we aren’t, we want to hear your criticisms of us so we can improve.

Email us at revyoutha2ypsi@pm.me or message us on Facebook @revyoutha2ypsi to give us criticisms or let us know of any problems you’re having & we’ll do our best to resolve our problems.

 

“The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history”

Political Line of RYA, 2018

We, the Secretariat of the Revolutionary Youth Alliance (RYA), have developed a new political line that is a synthesis of our past experiences from 2017, the year we were founded. We will begin physical and ideological training by means of self-defense classes, study groups, and antifascist work. We will focus our work to heighten antagonisms for the primary and fundamental contradictions in order to recruit and develop people into communists, as well as popularizing Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. In the long-term once we build enough capacity, we will begin conducting mass work at Washtenaw Community College and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsi.

Popularizing MLM

RYA is guided by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM) principles, and we need to show that these principles and the tactics that come from them work. MLM offers strategies for organizing that have been tested through application—it’s an effective way of “doing communism.” We will make it a priority to popularize MLM through our work through education and action, and we will struggle against dominant politics, which won’t lead to the change the people need. Working class students are relatively few and scattered at U-M, where we started our organization. The temporary residence of the student body (many who will only be in Ann Arbor for four years or so), compounds this issue. While conditions right now for doing mass work are quite poor, the inclination toward activism is strong. Propagating MLM will manifest in all of our work going forward, which will help us create new comrades and train together to do better work wherever we go.

Liberal practices are overwhelming popular in U-M’s political organizing, and they lead to ineffective and unsustainable tactics. It leads activists to be closed to criticism, to fight each other for social status, to focus excessively on individual identity over collective struggle, to act as shepherds of the masses rather than fully engaging them, and cooperate with bourgeois elements like elected officials and business owners. Liberalism will kill any progressive movement before it can get off the ground because it forces it to work within the existing system rather than taking a truly radical course of action. For example, ceding power to the university administration. The admin is not sympathetic to marginalized students—it is in fact antagonistic to their needs. Instead of orienting toward the admins, we can find real solutions among the people themselves. They have the answers, not some rich suits in a conference room.

U-M’s organizing also suffers from rampant postmodernism. Postmodernism is antithetical to materialism, as it relies on a subjective understanding of the world rather than one based on a clear understanding of the material conditions that drive events and a scientific method of fighting for change. For example, the use of “diversity of tactics” is dangerously short-sighted. Revolutionary politics is all about the process. Growing a movement, building up people power, heightening contradictions between the oppressed and their oppressors—these can’t be done with an “anything goes” attitude.

The fundamental contradiction at universities is between proletarian students and the bourgeois university administration. The class interests of working class students (and students taking a proletarian class stand) are directly opposed to what the bourgeoisie wants, and the working class as a whole has an interest in taking control over education and using it for its own needs. This is a class struggle that takes place in many ways—one of which is through a struggle over ideas. Bourgeois politics and philosophy are disseminated directly through the University but they are further reinforced by the postmodernist “radical” politics rampant on college campuses. We see this struggle against liberal and reactionary politics, hegemonic postmodernism, and revisionism as our main trench of struggle due to our weak subjective conditions.

Physical Development

Currently, we are experiencing the start of a rising fascist movement. Fascists unapologetically advocate for violence, and the only way to combat this is by building a broad movement that is capable of responding equally with violence. With this in mind, we must place great emphasis on the importance of training ourselves physically and involving all those who face violence from reactionary elements of society. Physical education is not greatly understood amongst large sectors of the community, and so we see our task as developing our knowledge in physical education and educating the broad masses that have an interest in it. To this extent, we plan on starting self-defense classes and other activities geared towards physical improvement and self-defense.

We acknowledge the necessity of revolutionary violence in order to overcome the reactionary classes that defend capitalism. Peaceful and non-threatening actions will not challenge the bourgeoisie, and the only way to bring the revolutionary class of the proletariat to power is through violent revolution. These are positions that have been developed and verified in their validity throughout history. We are the continuators of history, and we will advance the struggle of the proletariat based on the necessity of their development, as opposed to a false, subjective analysis of conditions that is so often promoted on college campuses. Through revolutionary training for self-defense, we hope to take the first step in this direction.

Ideological Advancement

Ideological study is a critical aspect of training aspiring revolutionaries. By studying revolutionary theory, we learn from the past struggles of the proletariat to move past capitalism, learning the most advanced methods of struggling for revolution and overcoming past errors. Our main method of ideological training takes the form of group study and discussion. Group study makes ideological learning into a communal activity, forging unity and accountability between comrades and allowing us to help each other overcome our weaknesses. Discussion within study groups allows everyone to air their opinions freely and struggle for what they believe is correct. Group study therefore serves to bring the struggle between proletarian and bourgeois politics into the open and draws a line of demarcation between ourselves and organizations with politics we think are incorrect. Our group study informs every decision we make and determines the success of every action taken by the organization.

The struggle for a correct political line embodies the struggle between a proletarian world outlook and a bourgeois one. Within the University of Michigan, ideological study is one of many forms of struggle against ineffective or outright reactionary politics. The bourgeois class character of the University makes it a breeding ground not for only fascism but also for faux “radical” politics that provide empty solutions and sugar-coated bullets to our class, ultimately strengthening the rising fascist trends in the US. Ideological study exposes the liberalism of post-modernist politics and reveals the weaknesses of reactionaries.

Mass Work

Mass work is the primary means of politicizing the workers and engaging them directly in class struggle against the oppressing class. It is the method of reaching out to the oppressed masses of people, learning of their problems and struggles in their daily lives, and working with them to come up with revolutionary solutions and solve their problems. This serves the long-term interests of building a revolutionary movement by showing the correctness of MLM–not just in theory, but also in practice. We refute any claim of being “armchair activists” as we struggle for the necessity of combining theory and practice, not ignoring one side for the other as is common in “radical” organizations on campus. Chairman Gonzalo from the Communist Party of Peru holds that “no one must ever doubt the masses, fighting those who are blind and deaf to the voice of the masses, listening to their faintest rumor and attending to their daily, concrete problems.” We strongly uphold this position, and we will put this into action by conducting mass work and attending to the needs of the oppressed people.

One major roadblock stands in our way for carrying out mass work–the fact that masses are not present on our campus. Based on our experiences organizing at UM–as well as statistical data about the students who attend UM (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/university-of-michigan-ann-arbor)–we concluded that there is not a significant amount of masses present to organize. However, in the neighboring colleges in Ypsilanti–specifically, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College–there is a substantially larger proletarian population. Although neither of these locations are key places for the proletariat given that they are colleges and inherently geared towards the upper classes, they are still significantly better for conducting such work. Since conducting mass work is essential to communist organizing, and since we are a student organization, our work must be concentrated on college campuses that have proletarian populations. This way we can organize where the people are, not where those with reactionary interests are.

Because of the importance of mass work, we would like to begin as soon as possible. However, given our conditions and limitations, we are forced to wait until we build a larger base, as we currently lack the capacity of conducting mass work at either of these locations. Many of our organization’s members don’t have cars or available schedules, and so we are forced to wait to conduct mass work until we develop such a capacity. So, in order to conduct mass work, we need more available members. Because of this, we plan on conducting mass work in the future, when our capacity permits such work.

In the words of Chairman Mao, “The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.” Mass work must be conducted to properly lead the masses against the oppressing class by furthering class war under the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, strengthening their condition and revolutionary potential to overcome the oppressors and seize power.

Revolutionary Youth Alliance A2/Ypsi, Secretariat
​​​​​​​01-03-2018


Glossary:

bourgeoisie: also known as capitalists, the class that owns the means of production
political line: a position or understanding of something that informs political decisions
postmodernism: a philosophy built around the idea that everything is subjective and a
mere matter of interpretation
fundamental contradiction: the main conflict that drives the development of a process (e.g., the struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie drives the development of capitalism)
proletariat: the social class whose only means of survival is to sell their labor
power(their capacity to do work) for wage or salary

Jerusalem is the Capital of PALESTINE!

 

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Text from an RYA pamphlet passed out at a protest on December 11

JERUSALEM IS THE CAPITAL OF PALESTINE!

President Trump’s despicable move to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is an attempt to solidify even further the US’s support for the Israeli occupation and to erase the existence of Palestine. RYA stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle against the Israeli apartheid state and its horrendous oppressive violence.

AGAINST ZIONISM

Zionism is a colonial project, rooted in the belief that anti-Semitism in the West cannot not be overcome and that there must be a Jewish ethnic and religious state settled somewhere in the world. The founders of the Zionist project were not really particular about where—they had considered settling in various parts of Africa that were occupied by the British Empire.

Zionism is the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homeland in order to make room for settlers. The ultimate goal is the complete ownership of all Palestinian lands. It is certainly not about co-existence. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, more and more land has been taken, and more repressive measures have been put in place to create what is now an apartheid state that heavily polices Palestinians.

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U.S. SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL

The United States has been giving Israel $3.15 billion per year in military aid since 2013. Last year, the Netanyahu and Obama administrations made a deal in which the US will give Israel’s military $38 billion over ten years. The US and Israel are very close allies, and that support is bipartisan. Trump may have taken a big leap by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but Republicans and Democrats support Israel (and other imperialist ventures) in equal measure. Even the darling of the so-called “progressives,” Bernie Sanders, supports Israel and Zionism.

IMPERIALISM & SETTLER COLONIALISM

Imperialism is a term we use a lot, but what does it really refer to? It comes directly out of capitalism, and the two are inseparable. As monopolies inevitably form, the largest, wealthiest, most powerful capitalist nations must divide up the world in order to preserve and grow their finance capital. Industrial capitalism cannot keep going and making profits while limiting itself to its own borders, so it extends elsewhere. The scramble for global influence, control, and supremacy ensues, bringing along with it exploitation and violence.

On the part of Israel, what we see is settler colonialism. Settlers came into Israel and displaced the indigenous population in order to establish their own state. Settlers are not immigrants. They’re invaders. And the Israeli settler colonial state serves capitalism. Israel is a client state of the US, helping protect American interests in the region. Not only that, but there is money to be made off the Israeli apartheid. Security companies like G4S and military hardware makers like Lockheed Martin and HP profit directly from it.

Imperialism leads to other forms of oppression like systemic racism. It’s much easier to convince people it’s okay to exploit another country if they don’t value the lives of the people living there. Our struggles against racism, imperialism, and capitalism are bound up in each other. We must tackle all of these problems together to make a better, more just world. The self-determination of Palestine exemplifies this struggle. That is why we resolutely, unashamedly declare our support for Palestine and denounce the Israeli settler state.

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REMEMBERING THE FIRST INTIFADA

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the First Intifada. Intifada refers to a mass Palestinian uprising and resistance. The First Intifada lasted from 1987 to 1993 and was in response to Israeli encroachments on Gaza and the West Bank. It was marked by a brutal backlash by the Israeli authorities, including violence against Palestinian children. This grass roots, popular movement included protests, strikes, and boycotts, and eventually armed resistance. 1204 Palestinians were killed, compared to 179 Israelis. The First and Second Intifadas represent the power of the Palestinian people, who, fighting together, have faced their oppressors head-on. Revolutions do not just exist in the vague future. They are happening right now. They may be slow processes, but the power of the people is immense.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Revolutionary Youth Alliance A2/Ypsi
Interested in joining? Send us an email at revyoutha2ypsi@protonmail.com

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“Support Our Troops”

This Veterans Day, we remember those who have fought against imperialism and capitalism, rather than those who have perpetuated it. We salute these heroes who sacrificed so much in their struggles against occupation, settler colonialism, racism, poverty, and genocide.

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Veterans are always used by American patriotism to drum up unconditional support for the US military and its imperialist projects. It’s a celebration of military strength and global supremacy, and it’s sickening. The US military carried out genocidal campaigns against Native peoples. It dropped the only atomic bombs ever used in world history on Hiroshima and Nagaski, Japan as a show of force against the Soviet Union. It demolished every city in North Korea, killing millions. It used extensive chemical defoliants, napalm, and bombs on Viet Nam. It supported the vile Taliban in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union until 9/11 then settled in for a long occupation of that country. It participated in the bombing of Yugoslavia that has caused widespread cancers in the civilian population. It invaded Iraq once it could no longer control Saddam Hussein. It has carried out drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, and Algeria, and possibly others, many times choosing to kill innocent people at funerals and birthday parties in order to hit their targets. “Fighting for our freedom?” Of course not! But they’ll tell us to at least support the veterans themselves, even though this holiday, with its parades and flyovers and barbecues and mattress sales, makes them irrelevant. It’s just another way to normalize imperialism and pretend it’s apolitical and righteous.

Instead, let’s celebrate the militaries and organizations that have actually fought for a better world, or because they had to defend their countries and peoples against imperialist aggression. This Veterans Day, if you’re on the U-M campus, we hope you’ll see these posters with just a few examples of the world’s great resistors and revolutionaries and feel hopeful and proud.

No war but people’s war!
Revolutionary Youth Alliance, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti

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Fuck the Bicentennial: Take Back the Universites for the People!

RYA Bicentennial Poster

This year, the University of Michigan celebrates its bicentennial. U-M repeats its usual narrative of tradition and achievement. Missing from this narrative is how U-M has oppressed people of color, women, the working class, the disabled, and virtually anyone else who weren’t like its wealthy, white, men who founded and lead it. One might think U-M’s colors weren’t supposed to be maize and blue, but instead lily-white and spoon-silver. True, U-M did look into some of its worst moments last year with a series of art installations, but these were framed as “stumbling blocks,” as if these were isolated mistakes and not related to the oppressions integral to universities place in the capitalist system. It’s well past time to take an honest look at U-M’s 200-year history of oppression.

Let’s start at the beginning: the so-called Native land “gift” in Detroit, the University’s original location, which was later sold to fund the Ann Arbor campus’ endowment. The university was founded on land granted through treaty between the US government and Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi peoples. U-M would love to have us think this was an act of friendly cooperation, but treaties from the early 1800s were anything but. They were coercive, and they came with the threat of violence. And, the whole reason these treaties were made was to force Native people out of the Great Lakes region, the infamous policy of “Indian removal.” The treaty mentions the tribes’ wish to have their children educated at the public university on the land, but no indigenous students were admitted for one hundred thirty more years. The land gift is a lie.
For more info: https://mystudentvoices.com/rethinking-the-native-american-land-gift-to-the-university-of-michigan-64e0a972e2b8

Moving right along, we have U-M’s storied history of involvement in eugenics. Three buildings on campus are actually named for eugenicists: Victor Vaughan, John Harvey Kellogg, and, of course, C. C. Little (president of the deeply racist and ableist American Eugenics Society). For decades, Michigan passed laws facilitating forced sterilizations of the mentally ill and disabled and others labeled with the dehumanizing catch-all “degenerate.” This truly evil practice was used as a tool of white supremacy, with Black people and other people of color—and overwhelmingly women—were highly targeted. These sterilizations happened right here in Ann Arbor, at the U-M hospital, for decades.
For more info: https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/MI/MI.html

Even now, U-M is engaged in oppression. Its regents include real estate moguls participating in the gentrification of Detroit, plus a Trump campaign donor (Ron Weiser). Last year, the Central Student Government voted down a divestment proposal seeking to stop the University from continuing its investments in companies involved in Israeli occupation. Palestinian students should not have to have their tuition money go toward oppression of their families and their homeland. On top of that, the divestment movement was openly painted as anti-Semitic and somehow related to the rise in neo-Nazi visibility in the wake of President Trump’s election. Then, after real violence was committed against Muslim students, U-M President Mark Schlissel took it upon himself to condemn both the racist attacks and white students having their racist views challenged, as if these are at all equivalent.

Again, these are not mere incidents, mistakes, or “stumbling blocks.” We need to ask ourselves, how does the university function, and primarily for whose benefit? Capitalism has to actively maintain itself. Much more than the actions of individual actors, we have class interest to blame for the way things are. One of the ways that higher education—and for that matter, all schooling—operates within capitalism is to allow elites to create the next generation in their own image.

When the university talks about “opportunity,” this is an invitation into the system. To become the next round of bankers, politicians, businesspeople, etc. who will keep capitalism going. Who will exploit the labor of workers domestically and abroad for profit. Who will wage imperialist wars against countries under false pretenses to affect global markets in the US’s favor. Who will report and analyze the news through only the lens the ruling class taught them to use. This opportunity is definitely not available to all—top-tier universities’ admissions skew extremely in favor of students from wealthy families. U-M is among the worst for its class diversity. The median family income here is $154,000. Here we see how working-class high school students tend to be funneled into vocational training, lower-tier colleges and universities, or directly into wage labor. That isn’t to say trades and so-called “unskilled labor” aren’t good. Quite the opposite is true—a janitor does a lot more benefit to society than a stock broker. It’s just that Capitalism views this kind of work as inferior, and the education system is rigged against the working class to stay in their position while the rich get richer off their exploitation.
For more info on U-M’s economic diversity: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/university-of-michigan-ann-arbor?mcubz=0

What can we do about it?

Revolutionary Youth Alliance is a mass organization that seeks to unite the broadest section of working class students and youth to overthrow capitalism. We are a revolutionary organization first and foremost—we have no illusions that capitalism can be overcome through reforms alone. As a youth organization our primary trenches of struggle are schools, colleges and universities where the ruling class seeks to mold us in its own image. But the spirit of youth is one of rebellion and revolt, we don’t want to be assimilated into the University of Michigan’s centuries-long tradition of oppression and poison, we want to destroy it.

Revolution has two aspects: constructive and destructive. When we declare that the University of Michigan is a site of struggle for us, we mean that we want to break down its ivory walls that separate it from our communities and take it back into the hands of the people. We need to build our own systems of support and community and start constructing the new society within the shell of the old, and defend it from the pigs and ruling class lackeys that want to keep us obedient and exploited. Our task is to replace the University as it currently exists with educational institutions in service of the people and our class, the proletariat. We want to arm the people with knowledge and skills that will allow them to bring class society to an end and reach its historical conclusion: a new world without oppression, exploitation, and class distinctions.

This practice of building new institutions is a concept known as dual power and it’s happened in every successful revolution throughout history. A revolution is impossible without a base of support for it. We build this dual power based on a method of work called the mass line, where we take the people’s correct ideas from their struggles against capitalist violence and oppression and use them to guide our work, acting on the ideas of the people, strengthening the masses’ power, learning to fight alongside them, and creating these new systems to meet the needs of the people. If the people care deeply about a reform that needs to be won, we should not ignore their struggle but join and fight alongside them, seeing the reform as part of a broader revolutionary process. When the masses come into conflict with their oppressors the violent nature of capitalist society is brought into the open and we gain a sharper idea of how we can bring it down.

Though the University of Michigan has been a driving force of class rule for 200 years, what we’ve listed here is only the tip of the iceberg. The world is plagued by needless abject poverty, homelessness, starvation, and imperialist war; the rapidly changing climate threatens to destroy human civilization; we have seen fascism on the rise domestically as the United States’ grip on the world has weakened as well as increased violence against immigrants, women and non-men, and oppressed nations at home, and cities like Detroit gutted by capital flight. As we approach another financial crisis the conditions are only going to get more and more severe; we have no choice but to fight. As the Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh once said, “Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the… toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites.”

It is right to rebel! Join us and fight!

Lessons Learned From a Year of Our Political Work and Notes on the Way Forward

In order to learn from our organizing efforts, rectify our errors and come up with our plans for the future, members of Revolutionary Youth Alliance drafted a summation of our political work over the last school year. We voted not to publish the full summation publicly to ensure the security of our members and avoid reactionary interference in our work. Instead we’re putting forward these general conclusions so that others can learn from our mistakes and have a better idea of what we’re planning to do in the future.

j20posters
Young revolutionaries in the belly of the beast

Main Problems

Most of our problems stemmed from not understanding and utilizing the mass line. We did not immerse ourselves among the masses. Our mass outreach put us in contact with some revolutionary students, but it was limited to the largely petit-bourgeois student body. We did not perform a thorough class analysis of Ann Arbor, so we didn’t know where exactly working-class community members work, live, and spend time. Instead, we relied largely on protests put on by other organizations to meet people. This error goes hand-in-hand with our failure to identify a fixed site of struggle. We tried to organize the whole school at once instead of identifying and reaching out to proletarian students or university workers. Because we did not conduct mass line work, we were also unable to create concrete long-term goals. For example, the Protection Not Police campaign had vague ideas about community self-defense, but we did not have contacts within the communities affected by state violence and fascist terror, and, importantly, we did not know what they wanted and needed. In order to stand in solidarity with the masses and elevate their power, we must be embedded with them and know them and their struggles. We did not do this, which is why our campaigns could not get off the ground.

RYA made internal errors as well. To a degree, we suffered from commandism. Decision-making largely fell to a core leadership group, contrary to the principles of RYA and of communist organizing. Not enough emphasis was made on democratic centralism, which would require all members to vote on actions, and if an action were approved, all members would be required to carry it out for a period of time, and afterward, the whole membership would assess and critique it. This issue was caused by a lack of formal structure to our meetings. A clear structure could encourage all members to consider key questions and provide their understandings.

The root of RYA’s problems this first year is simply a lack of experience. Through criticism, we are able to carefully consider exactly what we’ve been doing wrong, and then we must find specific solutions to address our errors so we can improve as an organization.

Future Goals, Plans, and Direction

Since most of our problems stemmed from not putting enough emphasis on the mass line, we have a number of ways we want to try reaching out to proletarian students around U-M and dramatically increase the amount of contact we have with them. Our goal is to locate (or create) as many avenues as we can for working-class students to gather and share their concerns collectively. In order not to spread ourselves too thin, we will work on a class analysis of our conditions in order to locate a fixed site of struggle that we can focus our energy on. To carry out the mass line effectively it’s important that contacts be created and that we establish ourselves in the community.

It is also important that general members of the organization receive training in order to carry out mass work. Before doing social investigation members should be educated on the general political line of the organization (including points of unity, platform, constitution, and some further details on the theory) and educated on the PEPSI (Personal, Economic, Political, Social/Cultural) method of social investigation. That way all members will be able to answer questions about RYA and explain our org confidently and they know what the right questions to ask are.

Last year we did not put enough emphasis on developing a revolutionary culture. We are trying to build a whole new world, which means we need a new way of thinking and interacting to go along with that. We want to foster an atmosphere of discipline and accountability, but also solidarity, cooperation, mutual aid, selflessness, and humility—the opposite of the capitalist culture we’re leaving behind. We will start holding social events weekly or every two weeks for members to bond in such an environment and help new people feel secure coming into the organization. It’s also important for students to get out of the stuffy petty-bourgeois atmosphere of the University and engage more with the community. Internally, we will put more of an emphasis on criticism and self-criticism and integrate this into our regular meeting structure.

To deal with the problems of commandism and a lack of democratic centralism it is important that we keep stack during the meetings and set goals for when we meet. It may be helpful in some cases to have people take turns speaking during a meeting to make sure everyone has a chance to speak and and feels comfortable so they can participate meaningfully in decision-making. We will also send out points to consider before the meetings for people to think about. To properly exercise democratic centralism, we’ll create a time frame for a decision to be carried out once we’ve voted on it so we can see what its effects were, then reconvene, criticize the decision, and vote again. That way we can study our actions scientifically.