I am a communist because I want to end alienation. Alienation means different things in different contexts, but as I use it I mean a division from an essential human capacity, the capacity to be otherwise than what we are as workers. Capitalist exploitation and other coercive processes rob you of this human capacity when they rob you of your time. Under capitalism, you spend all day submitting to the demands of a boss and toiling to their specifications in exchange for being allowed to keep on living. Every hour you spend in this state is an hour that will never return to you. The damage that your body accrues from the contortions of your job will never disappear. In the statistically likely scenario that you never smuggle your way into the capitalist elect, you will work until you die or you will work until you are very nearly dead and then you will die.

It is true that despite all of this, life is still worth living. This is because capitalism allots every worker some non-alienated time for the sake of maintaining their animal functions, i.e. surviving and creating more little workers for capitalism to abuse. As a worker you get to pick what and how you eat, and you get some control over what kind of place you live in and can fill it with art and creature comforts. You also get to have a social life and a love life and a sex life and a family if you want. In securing these things for yourself, you might get some glimpse of your real, unlimited potential as a human being. But this is not a certainty: alienation also strikes in the home, and in the archetypal family model, the woman leads an alienated domestic life, toiling for the maintenance and reproduction of the man’s life in exchange only for the right to keep on living. Friendship, love and consumer fantasies are nevertheless the most cherished and venerated aspects of capitalist society for what glimpse of non-alienation they do provide.

Much of alienated labor is necessary; it reproduces and develops our strange and vibrant human world; it secures for us the things we need to live. However, alienation is not necessary. Capitalism is not necessary. Systems built on coerced and exploited labor are not necessary.

A struggle is liberatory if it attacks alienation in any form. Struggles against hunger and houselessness attack the “punchline” of alienation, the buried threat of death and/or torment that motivates all capitalist labor, by assisting the targets of this torment. Feminist struggles attack domestic alienation under the patriarchal family as well as the capitalist alienation of proletarianized women. National liberation struggles, like those of Palestine or Kurdistan, attack alienation because capitalism owes its dominant position to a global genocide , and to attack one is to attack the other.

This genocide merits further attention, as no understanding of capitalism is coherent without an understanding of the genocide. Its basic motion is the disassembly of a society and the dispossession of its members of their land, culture, possessions and selves by military power. Its atrocities include European colonialism, US chattel slavery, US-backed coups and the butcherous regimes of US-backed dictators in the 20th and 21st centuries, Israeli apartheid, the War on Terror, and the forced-labor internment of the Uyghur people by the PRC, among many others. It is best thought of as a single continuous process. Slaves provided capitalist society with tobacco and textile matter; Guatemalan laborers provided it with bananas and coffee; interned Uyghurs provide it with cell phones and TVs. But to call capitalism the benefactor of the genocide is incorrect because the genocide is always ongoing. To call it the orchestrator of this genocide is also incorrect as capitalist ideology has no uniformity, and at this point has played every part. Generally, capitalism serves as an extension and mediator of this genocide. Capitalism does not need the genocide for the incidental free stuff, which never serves the bulk of capitalist need. No. Capitalism needs the genocide for a much better reason. You cannot be robbed of your time before you are robbed of everything else. You cannot be forced into the capitalist contract if you have another option, another society with its own supports and obligations. Essential to national-liberatory rhetoric is the notion that this other society awaits if only you build it.

Alienation has never been eliminated on a national scale. Furthermore, it has not been reduced, in any communist or national-liberatory state project, to the extent that they cannot be compared to the accomplishments levied under capitalist development. This fact, like the fact of alienation, is incoherent without an understanding of the genocide that generates these state projects. No communist party has ever seized state power in an advanced imperialist country. No seizure of state power by a communist party has occurred outside the purview of the genocide, i.e., without as its revolutionary subject a national body of workers straining against a genocidal force. A state born against the genocide is born at war. Furthermore the new state must prioritize industrial development, as it is hardly self-sufficient after years of extraction, exploitation, and managed dependency. As it takes on the tasks of the bourgeois state (military defense and industrial development), it becomes a bourgeois state. If/when it takes on different tasks, it will stop being a bourgeois state and become something else. This has never happened.

The two problems I am interested in tackling are that of power (how do communists seize state power or otherwise gain control of our situation, particularly in the imperial core, where that has never happened?) and societal transformation (how do communists use this power to end alienation?).[1]


A great if casual fervor for leftist organizing has erupted among the broader liberal population of North America since the mid-2010s. This is not inherently a good thing, but it is an opportunity. The nodes that most readily lapped up this boon were tenant unions, labor unions, mutual aid orgs, and the DSA.[2]

The DSA’s growth is exciting in many ways, but its aims are categorically different from communist aims; it seeks fair and rational redistribution of the American wealth created by genocide and alienation, not the end of genocide and alienation. This is not to say that you shouldn’t join the DSA, or that we can’t make use of and engage the new resources and fronts for politicization fomented by its experiments. The DSA has held a conflicted and at times compromised orientation with regard to the genocide and attendant conflicts, but has made some progress towards a workable internationalism in the past few years, dithering this way and that at times.

The movement comprising tenancy, labor, and mutual aid organizations runs on many of the same internal contradictions as the DSA. Anarchists, communists, and liberals all inhabit the same new or newly bolstered orgs, and maintain their differences by focusing on immediate needs and circumstances and by avoiding political discussion beyond disavowals of capitalism and the far right. Such an ideologically overloaded org swims with contradictory slogans, stigmas, and concepts that coexist only through their inability to be applied with any rigor. This creates new and exciting failure points.

Tenant unions, labor unions, and mutual aid projects can all be defined as defensive strategies. They form to defend against a specific attack by capital on its own poor (and thus, curiously, on its own capacity to reproduce itself). Tenants are under threat of homelessness, or people of all types are under threat of hunger and deprivation, or workers are unable to secure their own livelihoods on their wages, and defensive strategies erupt to repair this condition. Often defensive strategies frustrate communists, as they do not take the political as a starting point.[3]

One illustrative 20th century failure: the Citizens’ Committee for Milton Parc (CCMP) formed to defend against attempts by six developers to demolish most of the six-block Milton Parc area of Montreal and replace it with new housing in 1968.[4] A new front appeared at a stroke, as the tenants had a common grudge and six common landlords between them; they united and at once began to mount stigmatizing tactics. They “knocked on doors, signed petitions, demonstrated in the streets, marched to City Hall”; they founded healthcare, daycare, and food co-ops; they occupied empty buildings slated for demolition, and occupied the offices of the developers themselves.[5] Over the next two decades, the demolition project sputtered and died, partly due to the CCMP’s obstruction as well as inflation caused by the 1972 oil crisis and the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Eventually the city bought the land and sold it back to the co-ops, who continue to manage them communally.[6] This is success by every measure. The political character of the community is now quite liberal. It is lovingly nestled in a web of charities and advocacy groups in Quebec’s NGO ecology. This is failure.

But it was always liberal; it always lacked a coherent politics. It formed reflexively out of six blocks’ worth of random people; it would be strange if all those people were already communists. Their mode of organizing was transparently survivalist, not political. This makes them very different from the politically overloaded defensive projects of today. Often the people organizing today’s projects are doing it so they can “do politics,” or “make a difference,” and don’t benefit from their own hard work. This is immediately dangerous (as it means persistent lack of familiarity with the conditions you are trying to alleviate) and doesn’t even necessarily mean you’re starting with something more “radical,” but it can be worked through productively.

The 2020 self-crit document shared by For the People: Boston (an autonomous group formerly of the Maoist Communist Party) on their “Serve the People” mutual aid program outlines several issues:

  1. Ideological overload;
  2. Distrust of hierarchies, leading to a sort of de facto hierarchy as decision power is siloed within subcommittees which must seek out their own oversight ad hoc;
  3. Focus on helping people as an end in itself;
  4. An inability to talk politics with the people you serve, or make the short-term goal of “we need food” intelligibly connected with your long-term political program;
  5. As a result of all of the above, segmentation of the org into pre-political people who need help vs. politicized people who want to offer it, a client-service model resembling charity.[7]

Note how badly this scales. As you take on more tasks, you need more subcommittees, leading to more and more points where peer-to-peer deliberation is necessary, all self-directed and thus very labor intensive, so decisions get more exhausting at a geometric rate. As your project reaches more and more people, if none of them join to share the workload or even understand that they could/might want to, everyone already in the org is going to have to keep putting in more work until they can’t anymore. These are self-limiting tendencies.

All five of these issues were mentioned by Nathan Eisenberg in their history of TANC’s (Tenant and Neighborhood Councils, a Bay Area tenant union formed from an inquiry by a DSA caucus) organizing challenges over the past three years. As of 2019, TANC was a largely informal series of meetings and self-initiated projects; in January 2020, it cohered and ratified a formal democratic structure, but, as Eisenberg notes, this was a committee structure with no elected coordinator or delegator positions. All effort was still self-directed, which often means, in the tradition of group projects, that it all falls on one or two exceptionally responsible people. At this point, COVID hit and a flood of worried tenants joined TANC. The onboarding committee set to work getting these people up to speed, politically educating them, and offering them responsibilities within the union. Some new tenants “got it,” got integrated, and added to the capacity; some did not. The process of continuing to reach out and “cultivate a deeper relationship” was not squeaky lean yet. Over time, the divide appeared, between the “I lost my job and can’t pay rent” tenant councils and the politicized[8] organizers of TANC. This divide was a client-service divide, where TANC was understood as a sort of remote liaison offering resources. TANC identified this divide as an issue by summer 2020 and since then has worked at integrating the councils more thoroughly, with some success; there is of course endless work yet to be done.[9]

The 2020 polemic “Malcom X Didn’t Dish Out Free Bean Pies” by Kenny Lake attacks the client-service model of organizing by situating it within a broader history of social programs employed in revolutionary organizing. Despite its precious antiwokery and preference for zingers over serious critique, I think it’s a key read, partly because it defends the necessity of making defensive tactics offensive, and shows how it can be done. The Young Lords did not only sweep trash off the streets; they also piled it in the middle of a heavy intersection and set it on fire. The Black Panthers did not crowdfund stale donations from kindhearted local businesses to fund their breakfast programs; they bullied, picketed, and boycotted the ones that didn’t offer food and labor. Outside these explicit uses of mass work in the service of a party, the anarchists of the Food Not Bombs movement set up their free kitchens in places they were obviously not allowed to be, and ended up in scraps with the cops.[10] These confrontational tactics, if done well, will make your politics intelligible as an act, win the respect of the community, and advance your project beyond the site it defends. (If done badly, they will rapidly exhaust your energy, scare the community, and bring the eye of the state on you at a premature stage. Don’t be stupid.)

The logic of purely defensive organizing as a tactic is often something like: capitalism doesn’t provide folks with enough to survive; let’s do the job ourselves and slowly take over its functions, “building the new world in the shell of the old.” This is tied to the false notion that capitalism is unsustainable. While it is true that capitalism is laughably inefficient at sustaining the laborers that reproduce it, it still basically gets the job done.[11] If you find a situation where this isn’t true, understand you have found a chink in capital’s armor, not a sign of the machine winding down. Unless violently confronted by those interested in its abolition, capitalism will continue to replicate itself on the brains and bodies of the available humans for as long as there are humans. In this sense the suffering that capitalism has the potential to induce is infinite. It is true that capitalism produces an unsustainable relationship to the natural world that ultimately wreaks havoc on capitalist society, but this is not terminal for capitalism: at most, we can hope that the massive increase in suffering and death in the coming decades will lead to the rise of a new revolutionary body, and that is a spurious and pitiable hope.

The good news is that these self-critiques exist and these problems are being acted out, understood, and overcome in real time. There is still an essential task of making our failures intelligible and planning out solutions. No amount of arguing or theorizing can match the shock of experience, but if the essential analysis is not done, people will be just as bad at learning from their own mistakes as from those of others.

Ideological overload can be exposed and resolved through conscious discussion. Organizers are often afraid to express their views in detail. They are afraid because they think they’ll be exposed as fools or bigots, or cause unproductive fights to erupt among their comrades. For a lot of reasons, politics are tied closely to ego in the overloaded leftist milieu: being wrong is a source of deep shame, and contentions among different leftists can become hysterical dick-swinging matches. Education (reading theory, interrogating biases, etc.) is understood to be an internal, individual process that was completed sometime in the past; essentially, it’s a mask, and everyone is straining to keep up their mask. The only way to dissolve this tendency is through the regular creation of good-faith dialogues where comrades work together to bear out ideas, critique those ideas, and build consensus on the best points and strategies. This is not a wan plea to end sectarianism and cancel culture. What I’m prescribing is very easy to do in an organizing setting; people there are already working together and at low guard. Normalizing an unabashed discussion of politics among your comrades is an aspect of social investigation at this early stage (and helps you practice social investigation for other scenarios); your comrades are the masses.


Because the party-form has been put in opposition to defensive organizing, and I have just spent several pages characterizing the state of defensive organizing in a manner that is ultimately sympathetic, it may seem like I am amassing weapons for an attack on the party-form. In fact, I like the party; I am quite aware that two of my examples budded from parties. I stay loyal to the utility of the party as “a strong node in the organizing ecology, vertically integrated, establishing continuity of struggle over time, with deep roots and awareness of multiplicitous social struggles.”[12] Not every party (and possibly no party in the US today) is worthy of that descriptor; serious work of corresponding with the root organizations in every local site of struggle must occur. But ultimately the sort of organizing I am talking about cannot take place without a central power to aid local struggles and advance them beyond their initial domains.

How is a party (or whatever you want to call it) to be held accountable to its vision? In theory, the same mechanism that propels it should keep it steady: as the party develops and supports the capacities of local nodes, those nodes transform it with the same force with which they transform broader society. The objective of the party then should be to see the liberatory potential within smaller organizing contexts and “help it along” through processes of collaboration.

In the broadest sense, every representative agent (i.e., every group that purports to stand in for a larger group) is sutured to its masses by a set of social relations. These social relations can include democratic constructs like voting and term limits, as well as specific behaviors like the Maoist technique of social investigation. They exist not for their own sake but for the sake of some social good, such as peace or common prosperity. Representatives must understand and execute the will of the people they represent, not because “people deserve a voice,” but because people have the most genuine understanding of their own situations and social problems. This is a symbiotic process: these representatives necessarily sculpt the popular will even as they attempt to capture it. For example, a general referendum on whether to install a wheelchair ramp in a space makes an empirical claim on the rights of people with disabilities as an object of discourse and popular whimsy before any vote is even cast. Whatever else this sculpting process may be, it is unavoidable and the essence of consensus-building. The trick then is to engineer those social relations that tend ultimately towards the liberation of all people.[13]

There is, of course, no golden set of social relations that guarantees this trajectory in all contexts. Worse yet, contexts change over time, and what is liberatory in one context may become ossified and tyrannical later on. From the onset, then, a party’s democratic social relations should be adaptable and subject to change, which, practically speaking, is the same as saying they should be set up as a site of contention and struggle for future members.

At the end of The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir said that she was not a feminist, because “the problems of women would resolve themselves automatically in the context of socialist development.”[14] By the early 1970’s, however, she was calling herself a feminist and actively working with feminist movements. Her transformation came about in part because she had visited the Soviet Union several times in the 20-year interim and concluded that, though the socialists there had indeed transformed the means of production, “they had not achieved the kind of socialism that transforms mankind, which was Marx’s dream.”[15] Some feminist progress had been made as a direct consequence of the new economic system: “almost all Russian women work,” and they thus “have real political and social responsibilities and a real sense of those responsibilities.”[16] However, women were still excluded from leadership positions and “serious” professions, and their introduction to the workplace did not result in any shuffling of household gender roles: they still had to do all the chores, they just worked double time now.

“The overthrow of capitalism would create more favorable conditions for the emancipation of women at a stroke. But there would still be a long way to go to achieve it.”[17] Ergo the clear need for a feminist struggle waged “in association with the class struggle, but independently of it as well, without making the changes they strive for totally dependent on changing society as a whole.”[18] This is the best mode of activity for a struggle caught in a broad ecology of allied liberation struggles: advance within capitalism, advance with other struggles to forge a structure that will advance beyond capitalism, retain enough autonomy to advance within your new structures after capitalism.

If a party cannot empower and incorporate surrounding members of its organizational ecology, it will never be relevant, never mind tyrannical. But it must go beyond the bare minimum and create formal routes for other organizers to intervene in it and change its social relations. These routes must themselves be deliberative and democratic. The “ecology” enfranchised by these routes should be wide but not so wide to allow reactionaries, capitalists, or other opportunists access to this process.

Mao’s concept of investigation is indispensable here. No group should serve as mere muscle of the party; it is the duty of every member to assess, question and possibly fight against the orders given to them; “to carry out a directive of a higher organ blindly, and seemingly without any disagreement, is not really to carry it out but is the most artful way of opposing or sabotaging it.” Democracy itself must be a conversation, a series of “fact-finding meetings” bringing together representative samples of all the people the party might affect; it is not a series of reports or polls. Mao ultimately failed to realize his dream of creating the kind of democracy that can categorically transform society; socialists in this century can yet succeed.[19]

Social Transformation

The orientation of the communist party must be towards the end of alienation, not the seizure of the state or any other second-order objective. In our investigation into mutual aid we saw the danger of treating a means as an end. If your goal is to “help people who are struggling,” your organization will grow to resemble an NGO charity — possibly without as much corruption and paternalism, but also without the considerably better staffing and funding. If your goal is to take and defend state power, your organization will grow to resemble a bourgeois state — possibly without certain laissez-faire dysfunctions, but also, historically, without the boon of accumulated wealth attended to by genocide (though as Stalin, Xi, and others show us, there is no need to rely on Western genocide if you can make your own).

This is of course an oversimplification; I’ve already said that the client-service model emerges as a result of many other factors, and I’ve also said the bourgeois state model results from many other factors, including the need, in the context of global genocide, to prioritize military defense. One way to cut through the mystification here might be to ask, “what does the party do to end alienation for good if it does not have state power? State or not, how does it defend itself from the genocidal processes of other states if it does not have a military?” This is a welcome question. I will answer it in a somewhat roundabout way, and begin by trying to estimate what party-state victory in the imperial core could look like practically.

Any sober assessment of the situation in the US shows that military struggle with the state is a bad idea. It will remain a bad idea even if we claim many more victories over many more decades. As long as military struggle is your plan, your situation in the imperial core will remain hopeless. I have tried to convince myself otherwise many times. It is true that the US military has seen some defeats in the past 50 years. Those defeats happened because 1) the US military, for various domestic and diplomatic reasons, was unwilling to attack at full strength, and 2) the US was fighting for nothing, either for nominal strategic advantage in a war that was not a war or for the sake of some state intervention that it saw as altruistic, and its enemies were fighting for everything. Neither of these would be true in the case of a domestic incursion. The US state would be fighting for its life. It would have no qualms about drone-striking and massacring its own civilians if they proved actually ready to attempt insurrection.

Electoral struggle with the US government will be impossible for all the same reasons military struggle is impossible. In “Getting Beyond Regime Change,” Jehu describes the dichotomy as not “military vs. electoral” but as “political tactics including armed struggle vs. political tactics short of armed struggle.”[20] Hopefully this framing makes the issue obvious. Just because we choose not to use violent tactics does not mean the state will return the courtesy. The state has proven willing to use assassination and targeted police violence against nonviolent threats to its supremacy time and time again. The suspicious and violent deaths of many key Ferguson activists in the years since 2014 should alone show that these barbarisms are not some relic of the 1960s.[21] Even without state violence, there are all the tactics of capture within the electoral system, including the two-party regime, the electoral college, and relatively autonomous bodies like the Supreme Court. All these technologies are meant to make the US government resistant to extremism and sudden change, and they are just as methodically advanced in their arena as the US military is in its arena.

Even if a communist movement captured the hearts of two-thirds of the USA, even if that two-thirds was willing to vote for it, even if that two-thirds was willing to struggle and die for it, it would still be defeated in the military and electoral fields by the far more advanced technologies of the minority that controls the US state. However, a communist movement with two-thirds of the USA on its side has already won. This is because society is reproduced through labor. Cops and capitalists still need the labor they abuse. They need food, medication and other basic amenities and have no way to get these things except through the labor-power of the proletariat. The wage-relation that the capitalists use to secure this labor-power relies on its mystified form as a voluntary transaction for its survival; workers can withdraw this labor and destroy this transaction, but only all at once.

Defensive tactics, having secured victory across a whole society with the help of articulative agents like a party-form, play a key role in the withdrawal of labor. Fully victorious tenant unions defeat the threat of homelessness. Fully victorious mutual aid societies defeat the threat of hunger.[22] Fully victorious labor unions allow for coordination across an industry and ultimately allow for communist society to produce for itself.

There is an issue with this model as phrased thus far. It occludes the genocide. It occludes the fact that the vast majority of the labor required to reproduce US society occurs far from the imperial core, under conditions largely banished from US labor society (at least among native-born US citizens) since the labor struggles of the early 20th century. Capital’s response to the labor withdrawal we are describing would be the same as it was to those struggles: move industry to the periphery “where bosses could deal with unions by means of machetes and bullets.”[23] This self-sustaining group of US workers I am describing would have to be nationalists or sociopaths to accept this as a state of affairs.

As a corollary to this, many US industries do not actually play any role in reproducing or developing society. If everyone in the food service industry went on strike tomorrow, forever, making zero demands,[24] it would be annoying, and I would definitely miss Taco Bell and certain other venues, but most people would continue to eat and could adjust to the situation surprisingly quickly, leaving the workers to either starve or live on in a sort of giant commune depending on how well they prepared.

My answer, then, to the question of revolution without state power is that the preconditions for seizing state power in the imperial core are the same as the preconditions for ending alienation, that is to say, world revolution, and at that stage national defense becomes less relevant. All historical national communist revolutions involved a marshaling of the labor that reproduced those nations; the labor that reproduces the US exists elsewhere. “We go global or we go home.”[25]

This is not the same as saying we need to wait for the Global South to come save us. At this embryonic stage we must work tirelessly to organize and politicize workers in the imperial core. We must also connect with communist groups in other nations and coordinate actions with them so that these connections are based around shared struggle. This seems like one of the tasks that the party-form is most uniquely qualified to take on; it is nationally integrated and has greater flexibility in the sort of tasks it pursues than any other communist form. As a party in the imperial core gains power, it will better serve its ends by expanding across the globe and aiding communists in peripheral countries than by trying to ascend to the role of state leader.

The point of this is not to elide struggle with the state entirely. That is impossible. As Rodrigo Nunes notes, refusing to engage with an institution does not make it go away.[26] While the state fights most efficiently in defense of its own autonomy, it will in time reach to defend capitalist society against all manner of disorders. As communists build power, they must plan contingencies to dispatch with these violent challenges: a strategic amount of military power, a strategic level of subtlety and security, some civil or diplomatic means of intervening in state processes.


Every communist is answerable for the worst acts committed by the worst socialist regimes. They are likewise answerable for the worst acts of the worst capitalist and fascist regimes, and likewise so is everyone else. We are each answerable in our bodies and our hearts for every harm done to every one of our brothers.[27] Who will wash the blood off the hands of those who, in times of atrocity, shrank away and made an alibi of principles or powerlessness? Who will wash the hands of those who tried to take control of history but failed because they had not built sufficient power? Their situation is unmistakably the most like ours. What were their mistakes? We are each already accountable to the entire world; let us build the structures that let us act on it.


[1] These two problems, and many of the points in the paragraph prior, were said already by Josh Messite in his July newsletter and I am in his debt for his help developing this line of thought.

[2] None of these compare to the BLM mass uprising of summer 2020, which was unprecedented in size, scope, reach (every major American town), demand (abolish the police, at least at first), and makeup of participants (black and white, student and worker, anarchist and communist and liberal). But it would be odious arrogance to call BLM a site of communist organizing; communists did not organize it. No one did, really; it is just a movement, proudly leaderless; the groups that took its name capture it only in part; it has no internality; many people have helped BLM (I should hope you did), but no one ever joined it. It is better thought of as a new source of politicization and fronts for political struggle than as a political node of its own.

[3] Cam W’s diagnosis of defensive organizing in his June and July newsletters has been very influential on my line of thinking in this section. The concept of defensive struggles originates with Louis Althusser, “Preface to Capital Volume One”, trans. Ben Brewster (Garnier-Flammarion, 1969), 85-87. Accessed here.

[4] Lucia Kowaluk and Carole Piché-Burton, eds. Communauté Milton-Parc: How We Did It and How It Works Now (Montréal: Communauté Milton-Parc, 2012), 9.

[5] Ibid, 10.

[6] Ibid, 11-21.

[7] For the People–Boston, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” (For the People–Boston; Dec. 29, 2020).

[8] Nathan correctly notes that “pre-political” vs. “politicized” is a pretty vague/condescending dichotomy. All of these people have political opinions already. “But it's more about the substance of the conversation; strategizing about this one landlord and then everything else is somewhat abstract, versus more concretely trying to think beyond the scale of a single landlord, like how you build that tenant-working class union.” If a person does not count themselves as part of an active struggle to make their politics a reality, that person is not politicized.

[9] Gracie Harris, Andrew McWhinney, and Josh Messite, “Interview with Nathan Eisenberg” (Negation Magazine; May 2021).

[10] Kenny Lake, “Malcom X Didn’t Give Out Free Bean Pies” (Kites Journal; December 22, 2020).

[11] This is especially true when an imperial capitalist state identifies its failure to provide for its workers as a threat to itself and capitalism. Kenny Lake details Nixon’s plan to defeat the Black Panthers with affirmative action and expanded social welfare as an example of this.

[12] I have cited this quote from Andrew McWhinney several times by now. It is from his July newsletter. The concept of the “organizer ecology” of many liberatory struggles working necessarily in a common context was developed by Rodrigo Nunes.

[13] I owe much of this line of thinking to Tommy McGlone’s July newsletter. McGlone himself is building on Rousseau’s concept of the general will, or collective tendency towards social good distinct from the aggregate will of individuals. “The general will does not admit of being represented… the deputies of the people therefore are not and cannot be its representatives, they are merely its agents.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Of the Social Contract, trans. Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 114.

[14] Simone de Beauvoir, interview by Alice Schwarzer, Simone de Beauvoir Today: Interviews 1972-1982 (London: Hogarth Press, 1984), 32.

[15] Ibid, 31.

[16] Ibid, 30.

[17] Ibid, 39-40.

[18] Ibid, 32.

[19] Mao Zedong, “Oppose Book Worship,” trans. unknown, Selected Works of Mao Zedong vol. 6 (Maoist Documentation Project, 2004), accessed:

[20] Jehu, “Getting Beyond Regime Change” (Google Drive; 2021), p. 19. See: Note that Jehu uses a definition of “political” that I do not agree with; as I use it, any action or thinking that takes societal scale is “political”. Jehu uses “political” to mean “concerned with gaining and using state power.” Here, therefore, he is noting that electoral and military strategies both have the same objective and would thus see the same obstacles.

[21] Associated Press, “Deaths of six men tied to Ferguson protests alarm activists” (NBC News; March 17, 2019).

[22] This is actually not true at all; Kenny Lake notes the habit of mutual aid groups to confuse distribution (what they do) for production (what workers do). A sufficiently advanced mutual aid society’s next step should be entry into the labor movement so it can integrate these productive-distributive capacities end to end. The work involved in distribution is slight compared to the work involved in production.

[23] Quinn McGarrigle, “Philadelphia’s Race Traitor” (Negation Magazine; September 2021).

[24] Jehu characterizes the real revolutionary movement as the one that makes zero demands, p. 16 and elsewhere.

[25] Ibid, 25.

[26] Rodrigo Nunes, “It Takes Organizers to Make a Revolution” (Viewpoint; November 9, 2017).

[27] “It was my philosophy professor, a native of the Antilles, who recalled the fact to me one day: “Whenever you hear anyone abuse the Jews, pay attention, because he is talking about you.” And I found that he was universally right — by which I meant that I was answerable in my body and in my heart for what was done to my brother. Later I realized that he meant, quite simply, an anti-Semite is inevitably anti-Negro.” Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markmann (London: Pluto Press, 1986), 122.