Building Urban Base Areas (Part II)
Building nascent urban base areas can’t be done without knowledge of the specific terrain of each area in question. Detroit is not Saint Louis, New York is not Portland. Each has its own specific characteristics, culture, demographic makeup, history, laws, etc. Without knowledge of and taking into account these specifics and constant study of the history of one’s area you will not be successful in laying the foundations for a thriving mass organization in this area. In Saint Louis it is legal to open carry firearms without a permit. In Chicago, it is not. Knowledge of these things is literally life and death, not just for you, but for the people you organize. Investigate the concrete needs of the lowest and deepest proletarian and semi-proletarian masses of your area and work with them to not only address and meet their short term material needs but avoid economism (exclusively focusing on these short term needs) by explaining through propaganda the rationale behind these actions and connecting different issues — for example a clothing distribution can also be used as a venue to collect complaints regarding landlords and police in the area and conduct other social investigation activities. Someone should be elected/designated to collect contact information and notes and ensure that follow up is maintained. Each person you organize is a potential communist and mass organizer. We must maintain contact with everyone. Friend them on Facebook. Follow them on twitter. Give them your organizational phone number. Invite them to activities.
Revolutionary culture should be developed in neighborhoods and mass/intermediate organizations. Every interaction and activity sows the seeds of the order we seek to build. Communal meals, group range days for shooting practice, public group exercise sessions and unarmed self defense training, study groups, gardening days — all of these things strengthen personal ties between members of the organization. When we involve the broad masses in our movie screenings and cultural/political/production activities, we demonstrate Communist values and have opportunities to interact with them and discuss things impacting their day to day lives with them. This is all part of swimming among the people like a fish. Likewise, we should take part in the social activities of the masses. Go to their parties, get to know their kids, parents, etc. Break down the barriers that you construct in your mind and become part of the social life of the neighborhood. If there’s a community newspaper, regularly read it and get a feel for the basic life of the community. If there’s an independent “street news” organ, engage with and submit things to it. If there isn’t one, start one.
Actions that one can take to remedy issues take various forms depending on the law and mood of the masses. If all you’re good for is getting people arrested, they’re not going to like you. You should know the ins and outs of things so that our actions are on point and actually accomplish things of tangible benefit to the people. Of course, our task as Communists is to consistently push the envelope further and further left and sow the seeds for the masses themselves to become fighting revolutionary communists. But this can only be done once they themselves have shown their teeth and have taken things into their own hands (not appealing to arbitrators and mediators) on several occasions and have won a few victories. If you come out acting as if you’ve already kicked off the PPW, you’re going to get your feelings and ego hurt. Victory is addictive. Once you get one, you’ll get new recruits and people will become very interested in what you’re doing. Make the police back down off someone by mobilizing a dozen people for copwatch, make a landlord buckle through a series of phone calls and demand letters, make a boss pay back wages they’ve stolen. Make a store stop selling K-2 and NyQuil shots through constant picketing. This is what people want to see and what makes them want to join you. When you get these recruits, put them to work. Everyone should have things to do every week, whether it be making propaganda, sorting clothes for a distribution, or applying their own unique skills to enhance and develop the organization. Don’t write off people with specialized skills or connections — use them creatively. If someone works at or has family that owns a restaurant, that’s food for your distribution. If someone owns a building in the neighborhood, that’s meeting space. Be constantly on the lookout for things that can help grow and develop your organization, sharpen your membership’s skills, and bring more and more people into the fold of the mass/intermediate organization.