There’s a manual for starting Arab Springs, and America needs to read it. We need to prepare the launch of an actual revolution while supporting and voting for Bernie.
How They Could Rob Bernie
The list of scenarios:
- Obstructed by the DNC
- Obstructed by the Electoral College (popular vs. electoral vote)
- Obstructed by the Supreme Court (currently very conservative)
- Obstructed by Congress, possibly by Republicans, pro-capitalist Democrats, or both
- Obstructed by government agencies refusing to implement his policies (soft coup)
- Sabotaged by massive recession (capital flight as a form of protest and resistance against Bernie by the wealthy, very common when socialist administrations are elected)
- Outspent by billionaires (least likely scenario; popularity seems to be overcoming spending)
Really these boil down into two main scenarios: Bernie getting blocked from office, and Bernie’s positions getting prevented by other branches of government, while in office.
According the mostly reliable 538, the most likely scenario is that no one wins more than half of the pledged delegates.
[Edit: 538’s prediction changed literally within 24 hours of me writing this due to candidates dropping out and endorsing Biden. I still think Super Tuesday will go well, but we’ll see within 24 hours.]
This means Bernie will get the highest number of delegates, but not more than 50% all to himself.
This is the most likely scenario, and the superdelegates have already told the New York Times that they will probably give the nomination to someone other than Bernie in this scenario. It doesn’t help that the USA still has an Electoral College, with geographic divisions preventing the actual popular vote.
The second most likely scenario is that Bernie wins more than 50% of pledged superdelegates, gets the Democratic nomination, and beats Trump, but is then obstructed once in office by Congress, the Supreme Court, and a recession caused by wealthy capital flight. The government agencies may disobey him, but that is the least likely scenario, and so utterly blatant that it would probably inspire the most spontaneous mass resistance.
On the topic of capital flight, it’s important to note that while Bernie is a dedicated fighter, his policies might not be able to handle a full recession. The only real answer is nationalizing the banking system, whereas he only wants to break up the big banks.
If he doesn’t nationalize the banks and stop the recession, socialism itself (and Bernie along with it) will be scapegoated for people’s pain under capitalism’s economic crisis and sabotage, despite the fact that anything short of nationalizing the banks isn’t really socialism.
Only Bernie Will Stop Climate Change In Time
Bernie is the only candidate whose measures address climate change to the extent required to prevent climate irreversibility in the year 2030, the date set by the UN International Panel on Climate Change.
The DNC has already stated its intentions to rob Bernie. People wishfully believe the DNC would never go through with it because there would be too much mass backlash, but the superdelegates are upper class people disconnected from the majority’s survival struggles and rage. They will try to steal the election without having any clue how much backlash could occur, until it actually occurs.
They’re not just evil, they’re oblivious: their perceptions are dangerously disconnected from reality. They will actually try to steal it because they have no idea how much backlash it could create.
The stakes are high, and everyone knows it, but so far our preparation is insufficient. If Bernie gets robbed, we can’t just have faith that the masses will spontaneously rise up.
When asked what we do if Bernie gets robbed, supporters have displayed an oblivious faith, saying things like “everyone will rise up,” or “someone will do something,” “we’ll all do something,” or the willful denial: “they wouldn’t actually do that.” They try to psychologically wiggle out of it by saying anyone worried about this is against Bernie, whereas really we are Bernie’s strongest supporters.
These are all extremely mistaken assumptions, and a form of shirking political responsibility in the face of climate change. Sometimes governments do horrible things, and no spontaneous mass response occurs.
Instead, the public depression and cynicism just get deeper.
A lot of people will tell us to just wait for the Congressional midterm elections in 2022 to give Bernie a supportive Congress, but this risks global destruction, because (1) we need to get started on climate change and immediate humanitarian relief for working Americans before then, and (2) if people are dissatisfied with Bernie not getting anything done, the 2022 elections could give Congress back to even more obstructive Republicans and corporate Democrats.
In reality, mass rebellions are organized beforehand, not purely spontaneous. There is a movie about how to do it, called How to Start a Revolution, detailing how many Arab Spring, Eastern European, and various global revolutions have been carried out.
Anyone who isn’t making concrete preparations for revolution are in denial that the election could possibly be stolen.
With climate irreversibility in year 2030, this is denial we can’t afford. We have to immediately begin organizing the logistics of launching an Arab Spring even while supporting Bernie.
How To Start a Revolution
The basic idea is to organize street demonstrations, except instead of being about this or that social issue, their main slogan, demand, and focus is the removal of the current regime. The crowd pressure then convinces the pillars of government (bureaucracy, media, police, military) to defect from the regime to the revolution.
Fortunately, one starts an avalanche. According to Coup D’etat: A Practical Handbook:
“As a direct consequence of its sheer size, in order to achieve even a minimum of efficiency, the state bureaucracy has to divide its work into clear-cut areas of competence, which are assigned to different departments. Within each department, there must be an accepted chain of command, and standard procedures have to be followed. Thus, a given piece of information or a given order is followed up in a stereotyped manner, and if the order comes from the appropriate source, at the appropriate level, it is carried out.
In the more critical parts of the state apparatus, the armed forces, the police, and the security services, all of these characteristics are intensified with a greater degree of discipline and rigidity. The apparatus of the state is, therefore, to some extent a ‘machine’ that will normally behave in a fairly predictable and automatic manner.
A coup operates by taking advantage of this machinelike behavior both during and after the takeover – during the coup because it uses parts of the state apparatus to seize the controlling levers over the rest, and afterward because the value of the levers depends on the degree to which the state really functions as a machine.”
Under a fake “democracy” like the USA, however, polarizing the question of state power becomes slightly more complicated, but not by much. Instead of demanding the removal of “the regime,” we demand the removal of Congress.
Obviously, we must denounce Congress as an illegitimate and undemocratic body, a message that publicly resonates because it’s true. We’re organizing against a corporate oligarchy. Sharp’s work has been used to fight stolen elections and oligarchies, not just dictatorships or monarchies. Now we can use it to fight capitalism.
We can simultaneously demand the installation of a revolutionary government. You can do this by forming a parallel government:
“Even while a dictatorship still occupies government positions it is sometimes possible to organize a democratic “parallel government.” This would increasingly operate as a rival government to which loyalty, compliance, and cooperation are given by the population and the society’s institutions. The dictatorship would then consequently, on an increasing basis, be deprived of these characteristics of government. Eventually, the democratic parallel government may fully replace the dictatorial regime as part of the transition to a democratic system. In due course then a constitution would be adopted and elections held as part of the transition.” –From Dictatorship to Democracy
Breaking from the Strategies of the Past
Many revolutionary leftists relentlessly attack Bernie, yet most of them fall within the Leninist ideology of waiting for the working class to spontaneously erupt in workplace mutiny and replace the government with a federation of workers’ councils. I like workers’ councils, but I’m done waiting.
The others are anarchists, who have a good general anti-authoritarian ethic, but the model of revolution ending in literally zero state is unfortunately far in advance of where most Americans are mentally prepared for. Most Americans can’t yet conceive the sustainability of having no government whatsoever, and will only support a revolution if a new and better government is prepared to take power beforehand. A radical and revolutionary form of democratic socialism is probably the best we can do, but there’s enough overlap between anarchism and democratic socialism that many anarchists accept this.
After all, anarcho-punk dirtbag leftist Bernie Bros are now the largest political faction in America.
Socialist Alternative, a group I have a lot of respect for, is proposing the construction of a third party. Admirably, they also demand a mass mobilization at the DNC, though their only plan to crystallize a revolutionary institution from this is probably just to keep building themselves. At least they’re doing something.
Proposing a third party is an interesting contradiction. On the one hand, it acknowledges the thorough corruption of the Democratic Party. We might be able to change the Democrats, but we might not, and the possibility that the Democrats cannot be changed is important to keep in mind.
On the other hand, it ignores the utter impossibility of building a third party in the USA, due to a combination of legal, cultural, and institutional barriers. For a third party to even be possible, we first need a mass Arab Spring revolt against our entire current electoral system.
Only a parliamentary system can really accommodate a third party fairly, not a presidential system. Even changing from presidential to parliamentary in the USA, let alone overthrowing capitalism, would take an Arab Spring. If you need an Arab Spring to even have a third party, you begin with the Arab Spring, not with the third party.
It consists mainly of (1) more electoral solutions (trying to vote out the DNC), which are already compromised simply by the fact that we live in material inequality, and (2) building a movement coalition that keeps fighting for Bernie’s platform, on a protest movement basis. It invokes the democratic road to power, and the theory of Nicolae Poulantzas.
The Poulantzians always claim their electoral focus is the best way to prepare a more decisive revolutionary conflict, but in reality, they never spell out how that more decisive revolutionary conflict is supposed to be fought.
When you can’t even spell out the steps of how you’re going to do something, it means you only talk about it, and when the decisive moment comes, you flounder and react instead of leading.
This means there is in practice zero difference between Jacobin’s “democratic road to power,” and the same European social democracy that has sold out to privatization and slashing social programs almost everywhere every time.
Piercing the Analysis Paralysis Through Existentialism
It may all sound a bit mad. Starting a revolutionary provisional government out of scratch, while another government holds power? Building it by roleplaying a legislature and passing the laws that ought to exist? Holding street demonstrations that aren’t about some social issue, but whose main demand and slogan is the removal of Congress and the installation of a revolutionary government?
It all sounds mad, but such are the times we live in. Reality will never match the expectations that the conventional authorities of this system will give you. When reality fails to match expectations, don’t freeze up. Discard the old worldview and improvise a new one.
It would be a mistake to think the conventional authorities have the answer, whether we mean the conventional authorities within business and government, the conventional authorities within the Democratic Party, or the conventional authorities within socialist organizations and prevailing Left commentary.
The only thing more mad than this would be not concretely organizing for immediate overthrow, especially when you literally have the manual in your hands.
Conditions are ripe for a mass rebellion. Activists and organizers should realize that the masses are already chomping at the bit for far more intense rebellion than just voting for Bernie and hoping it goes for the best.
In fact, the American majority would be thrilled with immediate revolutionary changes to society far to the left of Bernie himself, in terms of seizing wealth, collectivizing corporations under worker democracy, and tremendous changes to the electoral system.
There is a Facebook group organizing a Yellow Vest civil disobedience protest at the DNC if they rig the election against Bernie, called #BernieOrVest. There is also Occupy Milwaukee.
It’s time to commence the street actions demanding the removal of Congress and the installation of the revolutionary government, as well as radical demands like nationalizing finance. It’s time to form a revolutionary movement organization dedicated to this task.
It’s time to immediately start building the revolutionary government in the form of a self-appointed revolutionary legislature, which takes power, implements core democratic socialist minimums, and holds new elections.
It’s time to take state power.
If you need practice, play this game.