J20 (January 20th, Presidential Inauguration Day for the pigs and fascists of the world, Inauguration Day of Revolution for the people of the world) was marked by militant and advanced demonstrations in several major cities, including the belly of the beast itself, Washington DC. Trump’s inauguration crowd was dwarfed by protesters, of whom many were ready and prepared for deep and heavy struggle. Comrades embracing all sides of the left ideological spectrum, but mostly anarchists and communists, blockaded checkpoints, engaged in physical struggle with the police, and made traffic unmanageable. Several dozen comrades were mass arrested and charged with felony rioting, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In Seattle, a comrade protesting the presence of the fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at a local university was shot in the stomach by a fascist, and we have reached out in solidarity to the IWW of which he was part, expressing our outrage and unity with them at this atrocious act of fascist violence. In Kansas City, comrades from PYO-KC and other revolutionary organizations led a successful, large mass demonstration on the steps of city hall. We stand with and support all comrades who have been arrested, attacked, or brutalized as a result of their daring to struggle.
It is the duty of mass organizations that take militant, revolutionary anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-police, anti-misogynist, anti-queerphobic, and anti-racist theory and practice as our guides to maintain a concise and correct political line, and practice the mass-line method of leadership. January 20th, 2017, in Saint Louis divided into two. On one hand, there were advanced actions and interventions, led by PYO-STL members, anarchists, and advanced segments of the masses. The first was a demonstration outside the Old Courthouse, chosen because of its significance and visibility. The Old Courthouse was where the landmark Scott v. Emerson case, in which an enslaved Black person named Dred Scott sued for his freedom, was brought in 1847. The initial plan was to burn a large American flag outside the Courthouse, however, we committed an error in that we did not adequately mobilize the broad masses for this demonstration, and this led to us being outnumbered by the police at least two to one, who saw fit to continue to try to intimidate and hound us by citing burning ordinances and threaten us with arrest. Non-men members of our bloc correctly pointed out the lack of legal support if we had went on with our plan to burn the flag anyways, and we did not do so. Saint Louis is a city where nonmen routinely turn up dead (murdered) in jails, particularly if they are known as political activists or democratic elements, and we agreed that we were not willing to put our comrades into the clutches of the pig-police to be disappeared. We did desecrate the symbol of white-supremacy, genocide, and capitalism-imperialism by stepping on it, and burned several smaller flags that comrades had brought along. This was met with support from working class people of all races who saw us and saw fit to join us for a brief time, and harsh opposition from petit bourgeois/bourgeois/backwards white people who were on their way to work in their high rise office buildings, to drink, or to lunch. Some stopped to attempt to threaten, fight with, or intimidate us, along with the police, but we stood our ground, prepared to defend ourselves and our comrades, and did not run away or hide from the pigs in or out of uniform. None of our contingent was arrested or harmed. As Trump was sworn in, we were rebelling. The second part of our J20 action took place at Saint Louis University, which many of our members attend or have attended in the past. There was a liberal “Love Trumps Hate” demonstration called by liberal organizers on the campus. We had a megaphone, and we still had our large flag, which we used to intervene and inject some struggling spirit into the lazy, take “selfies”, “see and be seen” atmosphere of college “activism”. An aldermanic candidate was invited, and put forth some pathetic “change by voting” line. We are not “activists”, we are militant mass organizers and revolutionaries. One of our members approached the clocktower, stood on the flag, and began criticizing the liberal nature of the demo, particularly the “love trumps hate” line. He also criticized the acceptance of American imperialism under the Obama regime. This was met with visceral rejection from many of the liberals in the audience, who could not handle such tough facts and objected to the desecration of the American flag. Many told him to shut up, and several older white women approached him and began attacking him with ridiculous slogans such as “love trumps hate”, mentioned the white womens’ rights movements of the 1900s which excluded black women, accused us of hijacking the protest, appealed to how many times they’d protested in Ferguson, and even were so bold as to shout “Black People Matter” at a black revolutionary. The comrade didn’t move, and treated this farcical display of white chauvinism with all the attention it demanded. A woman of Indonesian descent who, so she claimed, had “protested dictator Ho Chi Minh”, approached the comrade and demanded to speak. The comrade allowed her to do so, where she proceeded to praise America. Speaker after speaker used our megaphone to put forth their own incorrect views, we weren’t outraged or upset, however. We had changed the character of the demonstration, what was at first a display of defanged liberalism and weakness, sitting around holding signs and talking quietly to each other, became a mass space and an area where all were free to criticize, air their views, and discuss freely. Several people came up to us afterwards looking to discuss revolutionary theory and practice, and expressed interest in our organization and our work. Debate and struggle were encouraged, and we shut none down. At the end, we were once again prevented from burning the flag by the presence of at least 15 police officers who moved in and were ready to attack us, once again, and the liberals were ready to assist them. We did succeed in cutting up the flag with a pair of bandage shears that a comrade of ours had brought. Our most critical error that day was insufficient mobilization of the masses in popular neighborhoods for our demonstration, one that we have learned from and will rectify in practice for future mobilizations. Later that evening, there was another advanced demonstration downtown, led by individuals who had become politically active during the Ferguson uprising and local anarchists, whose willingness to sacrifice and lay down their bodies for struggle is commendable and admirable.
The second aspect of the J-20 activity in Saint Louis was that led by the so-called “legal left”, represented by the Socialist Alternative organization, a Trotskyist organization with a presence mainly on college campuses here, particularly Washington University, Webster University, and UMSL (University of Missouri – Saint Louis). They had made a call for a “student walkout” and instructed people to gather at a certain location for a march. This organization claims to be “socialist” (intentional vagueness), doesn’t much care for conducting political education and raising political level, and is a sort of “catchall” group, generating large numbers for its demonstrations not by adherence to revolutionary line and revolutionary practice or by uniting with the demands of the broadest segments of the people, but by embracing the widest swath of liberals and social democrats, calling anyone who criticizes this watered down, milquetoast, “safe” strategy “sectarian”. It claims to be a cadre organization (led by people who have a commitment to revolutionary theory and practice), but functions as a mass organization for the intermediate. We didn’t attempt to intervene in their parade, but we’re familiar with their formula, gather two hundred or so people for what is essentially a parade around the Central West End or the Delmar Loop with liberal slogans such as “Not My President”, maybe a few Bernie Sanders signs and tired appeals to form a “mass party of labor” and for “democratic socialism” of Scandinavian type, free shit but no people’s power. No militancy, same tired legal-left formula, same results. Consistent misleading of the masses down reformist, electoral dead ends. SAlt, during the election, was pulled and tossed here and there, first endorsing Bernie Sanders, then tailing the Green Party and Jill Stein, while also boosting their shining star, City Council member Kshama Sawant of Seattle. Essentially, nothing radically different from what the legal-left has been doing all along. It’s boring, and the illusion of revolutionary struggle that they have entails electing some shiny candidate, claiming credit for others’ work, and trying to isolate actual revolutionaries as being “crazy Maoists” or “sectarians”, this is par for the course for organizations like SALT and the ISO, and we repudiate them. PYO-STL is not an explicitly Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization, we have members who are Maoists and we admire and study MLM theory and make use of MLM practice to organize our communities, but we welcome members from all backgrounds, as long as they unite with the Principles of Unity laid out by our organization and accept our organization’s discipline. Our focus is on mass work and application of the mass line, which means going among the most oppressed segments of the population and working to help them solve their problems, using their ideas and desires to build actual people’s grassroots political power in the community, through mass organizations such as PYO-STL and Serve the People, STL. Elections and toothless marches behind police escorts can not help us.
January 21st marked the “Women’s March on Saint Louis”, along with Women’s Marches in other cities across the country that put over 4,000,000 people in the street. The people that marched were of course, of all backgrounds, but what struck us was the overall whiteness of the demonstration and its organizers. Particularly in Saint Louis, the organizers and those that supported the march showed an all too familiar willingness to silence voices of criticism and descent from Black and Brown women, this was unacceptable to us and we did not engage with this march after hearing that a black woman student was shouted down at an organizational meeting for daring to criticize the white organizers. The issues of trans people were swept under the rug and ignored wholesale in many instances, and our duty as a revolutionary mass organization is to listen to oppressed gender comrades and repudiate cissexist line and practice wholeheartedly. We also repudiate and criticize the fact that the organizers of the march were willing to work with and take marching orders from the police and treat them as friends, instead of enemies that kill, r*pe, and abuse black women every day in this country. When we see a movement, we must ask “for whom”, and it was obvious that this movement did not adequately center the needs and demands of oppressed nationality women, working class women, trans people, and sex workers. In short, it does not address and was not led by the most oppressed groups of women, and read more as a “reaction” instead of a revolutionary movement. While we acknowledge that this event may have politicized people and helped in the beginning of their transition to better politics, we couldn’t in all good conscience endorse it wholeheartedly as an organization. Political line is key, and we will not compromise our principles because something is large or a lot of people are involved in it.
What are we to do now? There are repeated attacks on vulnerable communities ranging from oppressed nations people to oppressed gender people to working class people to Muslims and Jews. Our task as a revolutionary anti-capitalist mass organization is to continue to develop and deepen links within these communities to enable us to develop a fighting people’s movement in our city that can not only resist or get people out for a march, but build power and bases from which we can actually defend our communities. Our schools, our neighborhoods, our community centers must and will be no-go zones for fascists, police, and all who would seek to destroy us. We are building a United Front against Fascism and a Coalition to Defend Immigrants in Saint Louis, and call all organizations and groups from within our communities targeted by Trump to join us in this endeavor. As Trump sharpens his claws, we must as well. All out for a mass demonstration led by PYO-STL and STL-RC (Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective) on February 17, 2016 to oppose fascism, capitalism, imperialism and xenophobia!
LONG LIVE THE RESISTANCE! BUILD THE REVOLUTION! DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!