BOYCOTT THE VOTE!

It is election season again, and we at Red Guards – Los Angeles have been diligently reviewing the plans and policies of the two performers presented to us as viable candidates to head up this project of US Empire. We must admit, the differences between these two circus clowns are vast: Donald J. Trump, for example, is moderately taller and has a tinge of “autumn spice” to both his toupee and his skin color. He claims that Mexicans are thieves and rapists, and has presented the plan of building a “wall” to keep them out. Hillary Clinton, on the contrary, has a decidedly “barnyard straw” color to her hair, no apparent toupee, and a plan to summarily deport Mexicans back to Mexico rather than throw her weight behind a “wall” to keep them out.

On the issue of terrorist pigs who patrol our black and brown communities with itchy trigger fingers and the imperative to generate profits for a complex of private prison interests through policies of mass-incarceration, our orange candidate Donald J. Trump insists we must restore “Law & Order” to our communities. We must protect them from hoodlums and thugs who deserve to see the insides of prison cells. Hillary Clinton, appealing to a more liberal, college-educated demographic, prefers not to use the terms “thug” or “hoodlum” but the more SAT-friendly term “super-predators” instead. She speaks of “restoring trust” between the communities preyed upon and murdered by the pig-system daily, and their predators in the police departments.

On the issue of American Empire abroad is where the differences between our two candidates really shine—Hillary Clinton has demonstrated that she has a wealth of experience and know-how: her time in the State Department allowed her to manage with cunning the affairs of US-Empire, choreographing regime change, supporting right-wing terror squads in Latin America, deftly maneuvering imperialist interventions in Libya and Syria, and ensuring with great skill the vampiric interests of the American capitalist ruling class all across the world. In this area we could hardly deny that she is a far more qualified executive than our orange candidate, Donald J. Trump. In this arena, Trump’s rhetoric (and his potential actions) are more bombastic and less subtle—where Clinton might use her connections in the CIA to funnel money into local death-squads and paramilitaries in order to destabilize foreign countries and instigate coups against “unfriendly” foreign leaders—Trump may chose to simply carpet bomb them. He is old-fashioned in that way. Where Clinton may employ the tried and true tactic of economic sanctions and embargoes to cut-off the supply of essential goods and service to foreign populations, thereby generating social unrest that could manifest into “popular” rebellions against local governance that would be easily exploitable by American ruling-class interests, Trump may simply chose to challenge foreign leaders to a duel or a street fight—who could say, really?

Upon careful consideration of the stark differences between these two colorfully painted puppets, we here at Red Guards-Los Angeles have determined that there is no conclusion to be drawn other than: FUCK THEM BOTH. Until “guillotine” makes its way onto the ballot, we see no reason to participate in this bourgeois spectacle.

With that said, we wholly endorse and support an active boycott of these elections, and stand in solidarity with our comrades in Red Guards- Austin, Red Guards- Philadelphia, RATPAC-ATX, Serve the People- Austin, and others who have already begun to lead the way in this. Given the absurd nature of this election cycle it is easy to dismiss the entire thing as a bad joke, but in reality the maneuverings of US Empire are a deadly serious affair. We recognize that the only course of action it is conscionable to advocate is halting the entire forward progress of the American capitalist war-machine—the elections sponsored by this machine will never allow for that outcome. For this reason we reject the logic of “lesser-evil” voting. We reject the idea that the American system is in any way a “democracy” for our working class communities and therefore reject the logic that we have a “voice” in this system with our votes.

The totality of the American state—the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary, the Presidency, and the state and regional variations of the same—is nothing but an enormous bureaucracy for managing the affairs of bourgeois society. The politicians who occupy space in this bureaucracy are the friends and relatives, business associates and golf-partners of the exact same corporate, capitalist interests that stand directly opposed to the interests of our working class communities. The system of US government has had this class character since its foundation following the American counter-revolution of 1776, where a collusion of wealthy landowners, slave-holders, politicians and businessmen fought to wrestle control of their settler-colonial affairs from the hands of one grouping of rich white men and put it into the hands of another. There was no concern for “liberty” or “democracy” for the nearly two-million enslaved black people whose labor was stolen to establish the economic prestige of the newly founded “United States of America”. There was no pretense of “democracy” for the millions of our indigenous brothers and sisters who were slaughtered so that this settler government would have the land to exist upon.

And though the years have passed and the struggles of our black, brown, and white working-class communities have led, in some ways, to loosening the grip of this bourgeois, settler-colonial society over our lives, it’s fundamental character and reason for existence remains the same. Nothing of import has ever been won for our class through elections, but only through struggle. The chains of slavery were not voted away. The gains of the labor movement were not made through bourgeois elections but on the threat of rebellion and revolution. All of these hard-fought gains were paid for with the blood of our comrades, martyrs in the struggle for liberation, and we will not allow liberals who yammer on about the bills and laws and policies “passed” by elected “progressives” to take credit for the victories that were earned by our comrades in this struggle and only reluctantly signed into law by the likes of them when their house of cards was at risk of collapsing. The masses make and move history, not liberal lawmakers, and this is a universal law of history these liberals and revisionists would do well to understand.

There is no “lesser-evil” in the management of the affairs of US Empire, there are only two evils with different faces. The sword and the shield of US Empire—two manifestations of the same ruling-class power. Our people have been led blindly down the path of “lesser-evilism” for decades and to what effect? Our mothers and fathers are being deported in record numbers, our black brothers and sisters are being murdered by the pigs daily and elected officials offer us no solutions other than that we should “restore trust” between them and our community. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are stalked and bombed with drones, shot dead in the middle of the night with impunity, all with missiles and bullets that we are forced to pay for, to the benefit capitalist weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, and the stooge politicians who keep the gears moving in this War on Terror. At home they are profiled and harassed by the police and white reactionary groups with hatred fueled by the rhetoric of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Where is the lesser-evil in this scenario? From what detached, privileged, and coddled position could you possibly make the claim that one hand or the other on this beast of US Empire represents a “lesser-evil”? Even when we are sold not on a “lesser-evil” but on a “great savior” of this system like Barack Obama in 2008, we are rewarded with nothing but an intensification of the United States’ systems of death. We cannot continue to entertain the “pragmatic” notion that we must plug our noses and vote for a lesser evil until one day, somehow, spontaneously, a movement will emerge to deliver us from US Empire. No such thing will happen if we do not make it happen, and making it happen entails that we first offer a firm denunciation of this system, including a refusal to participate in its spectacles and circuses.

We cannot support any forays into electoral politics under the current conditions of US ruling-class hegemony, and we likewise reject the efforts of organizations like Socialist Alternative (SAlt) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) to run candidates for office under the guise of bringing “visibility” to our struggle. Running candidates in bourgeois elections in the complete absence of any semblance of dual-power in our communities is a fool’s game and serves more to lend legitimacy to the institution of bourgeois elections than it does to bring visibility to our struggle for revolution. Revolution is not possible at the ballot box, fueling the notion that it is by running candidates is a dangerous mistake. Revolution will only come when we have made a clean break with bourgeois ideology, and any attempt to bring people into electoral politics is a reproduction and reinforcement of that bourgeois ideology. We prefer to build revolution outside the circus of bourgeois politics and will encourage the masses to do the same.

This election season, we say that the nearly 50% of Americans from predominately working class, black and brown communities, who already chose not to vote have the correct idea. They already understand better the nature of US electoral politics than the petit-bourgeois activists and liberals who would shame them for their decision not to vote. To these communities we offer the affirmation of their correct ideas, and we offer the alternative of rebellion and revolution. To this end we must take up the hard task of building a network of working-class institutions that will offer a meaningful challenge to the ruling capitalist-imperialist system. We must get organized, and we must prepare ourselves to fight.

There is no pragmatic choice to be made this November outside of organizing ourselves for this fight. There is no lesser-evil to manage US Empire. There is only ourselves, our working-class and oppressed nation communities, and our limitless capacity to rebel. We encourage anyone and everyone who sees through the sham of US electoral politics to join us in this struggle. Let us show that we are voting for boycott and pressing for revolution , and let us do the groundwork of building revolutionary, militant, working-class institutions that will give teeth to that threat and lead to the downfall of the entire capitalist-imperialist system. Let us dare to struggle and let us dare to win!

Neither Hillary nor Trump!
Fuck the vote!
It is right to rebel!

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REBELLION IN BOYLE HEIGHTS

ANTI GENTRIFICATION, CAPITALISM, AND THE NEED FOR A REVOLUTIONARY PARTY

On Saturday evening, the community of Boyle Heights came together to give a simple and direct message to the art galleries, their owners, and their patrons who are currently invading the community with their hideous bourgeois art: GET THE FUCK OUT. You are not welcome here.

This confrontation has been a long-time coming and will be only the first in a long line of such confrontations if these galleries do not heed the demands being made by the community. Members of Red Guards- Los Angeles have been active participants in the Defend Boyle Heights coalition that was formed earlier this year in order to confront the rapidly approaching gentrification of the community of Boyle Heights. Our time organizing among the residents of this community has been humbling for us. We have been inspired by this community’s willingness to stand together in the face of bourgeois developers, speculators, and gallery owners with far greater access to capital and the repressive machinery of the State than this working class, largely immigrant community will ever have while this land remains the dominion of capitalists and their pig footsoldiers. And despite the glaring imbalance of power, this community remains defiant and steadfast in its goals.

The anti-gentrification struggle in Boyle Heights makes abundantly clear to us the Maoist principle that has been instrumental in guiding our work: the masses of people, and the masses of people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history. The unified resistance of this community is powerful enough to move mountains, and will prove itself powerful enough to push back the forces of gentrification that have begun to show their faces as art galleries and other businesses which cater to the wealthy, with callous disregard for the destruction of community and culture which they leave in their wake.

The recent tactics of direct and hostile confrontation with these forces of gentrification demonstrate that the community itself—the palateras and palateros, the immigrant families, the senoras who overcame the scourge of gang violence within their communities, the muralists who have enriched their community with the colorful paintings and street art that adorn every wall and building in the neighborhood, the youth, the punks with their backyard-show scene—this community understands very well that the only reliable factor in this struggle is themselves and their ability, when unified, to resist even the most well funded galleriests, landlords, and investors seeking to rip the community apart.

This Saturday’s action was not a pleasant experience for those on the receiving end of it. There was no pretense of openness to dialogue or conversation with the gallery owners and their patrons. There was no coddling of the white liberal sentiment of “support” for the “message” but “disapproval” of the “tactics”. There was no willingness to dilute or defuse the righteous anger that was directed at the galleries like a shotgun blast. Standing side-by-side were older senoras who boldly denounced the presence of the galleries and detailed the material effect these galleries have on rent prices, with young, masked militants who made abundantly clear just how unwelcome the community at large feels the presence of high-priced art galleries, funded by west-siders and outsiders, to be.

Gallery attendees were harassed and harangued, pelted with water and bottles and an endless barrage of verbal assault. They were stopped in their tracks, surrounded, chased back to their vehicles and out of the around Anderson Street and Mission Road where the majority of these galleries have begun opening up. The galleries themselves were surrounded while members of the community banged on their windows, entered their galleries to smash bottles, and continued the barrage of verbal assault. The initial expressions of smug amusement turned into palpable fear from the gallery attendees as the confrontation continued to escalate with no signs of winding down. The gallery owners rushed to their doors to lock them and pull down the metal barricades over their windows. The community succeeded in shutting down several openings that night, ran many dozens of yuppies and rich hipsters out of the neighborhood, and undeniably birthed in many more an unwillingness to ever step foot in Boyle Heights for a gallery opening again.

So what does this confrontation teach us? We have learned that this community recognizes the importance of taking matter into its own hands. This community knows instinctively and through experience that politicians, city councils, and electoral politics will do nothing to come to its aid, and will in fact stand behind the very forces of gentrification that want to break the community up and sell each piece of it to the highest bidder. There is an awareness, sometimes spoken and sometimes unspoken, of the shared class interests among these politicians and the investors, speculators, and gallery owners currently driving much of the gentrification in Boyle Heights.

There is the knowledge, firsthand, that the police forces they are told to rely on to “protect” and “serve” them will likewise stand in defense of the forces of the bourgeoisie and will do nothing to protect the livelihoods of the working class residents that characterize the community—they will enter with guns drawn and chains ready to shoot them dead and drag the ones that remain to prison under pretenses of gang-injuctions, or, in the case of 14 year-old boys like the recently murdered Jesse Romero, petty vandalism. They know the pigs stand ready to do the brutal grunt work that the delicate hands and sensibilities of the bourgeois galleriests are unwilling to do themselves.

With this near complete inaccessibility to institutional power, our community is recognizing the importance of building its own power, outside of the system, as the only effective method for serving its people and protecting its livelihood and culture. While we wholeheartedly support and endorse the actions taken by the community on Saturday evening, we know that the only long-term solution to the problem of gentrification is the formation of working class institutions of power that are dedicated to serving the interests of the people. Concessions from city and state government, deals and collusion with galleries and landlords, temporary acquiescence to the demands of the community—these things are not enough. They amount to bones tossed to us by the representatives of the ruling class for the express purpose of derailing our anger and stunting our ability to build organizations that will claim all political power for ourselves and our community. They are carrots dangled before our heads which these ruling class elites hope will distract us long enough to forget that they still retain the power to dictate the terms of our engagement with them.

These confrontations teach us the truth that all correct ideas emerge from the masses of people, and it is only through the process of engaging with our community, learning from their history of struggle and standing shoulder to shoulder with them in their current struggle, that necessary revolutionary leadership can be developed to guide them into confrontation not only with the forces of gentrification but all the forces of capitalism that exploit and oppress our people. The history of struggle within our community, the experience of struggle in the communities surrounding us which have fallen to gentrification, and our daily struggles to survive, are a breeding ground for the revolutionary ideas that are currently taking root in Boyle Heights and finding their outlet in these direct confrontations.

Just as we understand that the history of struggle within our community is the basis for their correct ideas, we must also recognize that capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and the ideological divisions they create along class, gender, and racial lines also foster the creation of incorrect and backwards ideas within our community. Revolutionary leadership entails that we encourage and develop the correct ideas within our community and that we use our understanding of revolutionary theory to combat the manifestations of the backwards ideas that likewise exist.

We must be wary of those who continue to advocate for dialogue with the forces of gentrification. We must be wary of those who continue to push the idealistic line that if we simply convince the gentrifiers of our humanity and essential goodness as human beings perhaps they will abandon their plans to seize our community—that being “too confrontational” somehow reaffirms the gentrifiers conception of us as thugs and hoodlums who don’t deserve the space to live.

These positions fundamentally misunderstand the mechanics of capitalism and its auxiliary force of white supremacy that are at play in the urban removal currently being experienced in our community. Let us be clear: the gentrification of our community is and will continue to be driven by the opportunity to profit that exists in purchasing the relatively cheap land in our neighborhood, repurposing it in a way desirable as a playground for the wealthy, and then selling it back at much higher prices to the community of wealthy people who would now desire to live here. This process is independent of ethics and morality, for the only “morality” under capitalism is profit. The racialized justifications for this process are nothing more than ideological rationalizations for the profit-driven conquest of our communities. If we were somehow able to combat the racist caricatures of our community that are utilized by those who advocate for its gentrification, the opportunity to profit from low-priced real estate would still exist and thus the motivation for gentrifying it would still exist.

We cannot fall into a trap of respectability politics or give weight to the idea that only opposing urban removal in “legitimate” and “respectable” ways will be successful: not only does this argument replicate the racist narrative of the white supremacists, but it is also entirely unsuccessful. Silverlake, Echo Park, Highland Park, and countless other communities did not succumb to gentrification because their residents failed to protest in a respectable enough manner. These communities made spectacular pleas to city and state government officials for affordable housing measures and rent control measures. They protested and lobbied city council officials, put out calls to vote for or against city council representatives based on their stance re: gentrification. They made cultural and artistic displays the demonstrated the vibrancy and artistic spirit of the community in hopes that the investors, speculators and landlords would be so moved they would be unwilling to displace the community: this did not work. These communities are currently crawling with the same yuppies and hipsters that are thankfully, mostly confined to the area around “Gallery Row” in Boyle Heights.

We must also be wary of and combat the notions that gentrification makes the community “safer”, more “beautiful”, or that “gente-fication” (the gentrification of the community by petty-bourgeois, brown gentrifiers) is an acceptable alternative to “gentrification”.

1. There is nothing “safe” about the forced, often violent removal of families from their homes and businesses. There is nothing “safe” about the threat of homelessness. Eviction is not “safe”. Increased police patrols and the violence and criminalization that accompany them are not “safe” for a community preyed upon by the pigs daily. This illusion of “safety” can only be enjoyed and its benefits touted by those with the economic resources to remain in the community after rents have doubled or tripled and the original community, with all of its contradictions and socially rooted problems, are displaced violently.

2. The “beautification” of the community is not for the working class residents who currently live there. Developers and the city only make efforts to “beautify” when they are preparing the area to be sold to a new class of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois residents, so we hardly care whether or not the neighborhood is going to be made more “beautiful” when that beautification necessarily comes at the expense of the community currently living there.

3. “Gente-fication” is no different from “gentrification” and results in the exact same large-scale displacement of working class communities. The fact that some number of brown and black oppressed nationalities have been able to gain access to wealth and capital, and can thus afford to live in a “redeveloped” neighborhood, is no excuse for the fact that the majority of our people have been systematically denied this access to wealth and capital due to the collusion of capitalism and white supremacy, and will therefore experience the process of “gente-fication” exactly the same as they would experience the process of “gentrification”–evicted, displaced, removed, uprooted and erased from the community.

Lastly, we must be wary of the sell-outs and opportunists, the “radicals” of yesteryear who have long since abandoned whatever genuine revolutionary spirit may have at one time flowed through their bones. These people come to us with a facade radicalism, but when the community finds an outlet for their outrage these will be the first people to hold them back, selling out the trust they have established in the community to carve out a niche of power for themselves on neighborhood councils, city councils, or non-profit organizations.

We see this clearly in figures like Carlos Montes, neighborhood council member and leader of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) and their community front group Centro-CSO, who uses every instance of community outrage to position himself in front of news cameras, squeeze himself between grieving mothers after their children are murdered by the police, to give another tired and bland speech recycling rhetoric that hasn’t inspired anyone in 40 years. He uses his space at these events to sell the community watered-down, reformist solutions to problems that require genuine revolutionary analysis under the pretense that the community is not ready to hear the truth about the need for armed struggle and revolution, that they are not ready to rebel and engage in direct confrontation with the forces of capitalism that threaten their existence. When the storm of revolution arrives these vendidxs will be washed away in the tide, their newspapers and badges of honor from the “glory days” washed away with them.

Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) present themselves to our community in a similar manner, wagging their fingers and critiquing our actions from afar. When our community accurately identifies the influx of galleries and their wealthy patrons as a gear turning the wheels in the process of gentrification, they come to us with condescending declarations that we are too stupid to understand these galleries are just a “symptom”, our anger is misguided and misdirected, and we should be directing our activities towards the “real culprits” who, in their class-reductionists analysis, are always banks which they provide no indication of how to meaningfully target at our current level of organization. Maybe if we subscribe to their newspaper they will teach the community how to achieve this. Regardless, the positions taken by these so-called radicals serve only to defuse the anger of the community, condescendingly “correct” their mistaken ideas from a position that is removed from their concrete struggle, and offer go-nowhere alternatives to a community that is achieving far more by engaging in direct confrontation, occasionally making mistakes, learning from and correcting those mistakes as the struggle advances.

Revolutionary leadership does not come from afar, in the form of condescension and finger wagging, and it does not lord itself over the community in the form of paternalistic advice from washed up old radicals who sell the community short at every turn. Revolutionary leadership emerges from within the concrete struggles of our community, by combining the community’s most forward and progressive ideas with revolutionary theory that encourages them in their rebellion rather than holds them back or leads them into the dead-ends of reformism and electoral politics.

Because gentrification, in the final analysis, is intimately tied to the mechanics of capitalism, we understand that only an end to capitalism will do away with the process of gentrification entirely. Only a recognition of the necessity for a revolutionary Party, institutions controlled by and in service of the working class and oppressed nations as a whole, and a revolution in the heart of the imperialist beast of America, will be sufficient to defend the livelihoods of working class people.

Our only hope in these conditions is to unite the various struggles of all working class and oppressed nationalities people under the banner of a revolutionary Party that will be capable of providing leadership and structure in a fight with the highly organized forces of capitalism, the bourgeoisie, and gentrification. Only the unity of these working class institutions, under the banner of a revolutionary Party, defended and reinforced by a People’s Army, will be capable of waging the struggle for national liberation for the oppressed Chicanx nation (and all other oppressed nations) and revolution that will deal the death blow to the forces of capitalism that destroy our families and our communities. We understand that all political power grows from the barrel of a gun, the traitors who say otherwise—be damned! Only a willingness to struggle on these same terms will lead us to victory.

In Boyle Heights we must stand in solidarity with the vigorous efforts being made to combat gentrification and to wrest control over our communities and our lives from the vulture capitalists who currently dictate where, how, and whether or not we live. The direct actions undertaken by this community on Saturday represent the initial steps towards creating that political power that in the long term will be necessary to establish control over our own communities and our own lives. We support and stand beside them in their rebellion. We respect and are humbled by their spirit of resistance. We know that it is right to rebel.

Down with the art galleries!

Down with landlords, speculators, and investors!

Down with vedidxs and false radicals!

Up with the rebellion! Up with revolution!

Defend Boyle Heights!

Statement on dissociation from the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee)

As a collective, Red Guards – Los Angeles is committed to developing our understanding of proletarian feminism, and to combating all manifestations of patriarchy and male chauvinism, especially where they appear within ourselves, our collective, and our movement.

Our own process of criticism/self-criticism, and the welcomed criticisms from other collectives associated with us, have illuminated these tendencies within our organization, have helped us to identify their sources, and have led us to embark on the path of rectifying these tendencies within our organization and its membership.

As part of our struggle against patriarchy, and the broader struggle associated with our political development as a group, we have concluded it is necessary for us to sever ties with the New Communist Party- Liaison Committee (NCP-LC), due to persistent engagement in patriarchal behavior, intraorganizational secrecy, and extreme liberalism regarding the rectification of these errors among key members and a central organization in the LC apparatus.

This decision was reached by our collective after months of struggling with the New York City-branch of the NCP-LC over our concerns, and what we perceive to be an inadequate path moving forward to address them. In the coming days we will release a document that further details our criticisms of the New York City-branch and the NCP-LC more generally. This document will also begin work towards a path for rectification by which we could envision future unity with the comrades in New York, much of whose work we still hold in high regard. But we found it important to release a statement immediately expressing our intentions.

Our criticisms are primarily focused around three issues:

1) Failure to effectively isolate a known patriarchal abuser from revolutionary spaces, endangering all women and non-men in our movement

2) The ensuing secrecy, lies, and omissions surrounding this situation, both publicly and to other organizations within the NCP-LC

3) Persistent unwillingness to rectify these patriarchal behaviors, or to address the errors in leadership that allow them to propagate so rampantly in their spaces

While the unification of advanced forces in the fight for proletarian revolution is an historical necessity, some circumstances require ruptures and disunity to push forward the process of building a genuine revolutionary party: due to the aforementioned criticisms, we believe these to be such circumstances, and therefore our commitment to building the party also dictates that we split from an organization and a mode of organizing that is detrimental to that process.

The establishment of a party-building apparatus independent of the NCP-LC will create opportunities for new political alliances and sites of struggle, and we welcome all revolutionary organizations in the United States to join us in this effort, join us in our revolutionary obligation to smash patriarchy everywhere that it exists, and join us in our historical task of building the Party!

In Struggle and Solidarity,

Red Guards – Los Angeles