The movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968)
Since my last posting, “Future Focus,” I have received several letters from activists raising concerns about the development of a National Coalition for a Changed America. Obviously, coalition building is an essential organizing tool to bridge differences between several activist organizations addressing the needs of poor and oppressed peoples. As an organizing tool, one of the principle objectives of coalition building is to concentrate resources and personnel, uniting in uniformity to a specific demand and goal. Seldom will a coalition last longer than the specific task of the coalition’s origin. However, the usefulness of a coalition as an organizing tool serves to strengthen activists’ belief in their abilities to challenge corporate or government wrong (read: oppressive and/or repressive) actions, and overcome obstacles in the service of poor and oppressed peoples.
Therefore, while there are thousands of coalitions in cities across the country, very few address national issues, as proposed in Future Focus. Therefore, allow me to share some thinking on the development of a National Coalition for a Changed America.
There are approximately 20,000 American families (plutocrats) who control 99 percent of the wealth of this country. That means 20,000 families, through their various corporate and government institutions, dictate the socio-economic destiny of over 300 million people. Furthermore, subject to the corporate government foreign policy, this same number of families influences and dictates human conditions in the world, via international forums, i.e., Bilderberg Committee, Davos, IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc., notwithstanding China’s growing influence in this arena of geopolitical power. Given this reality, it is incumbent on those interested in the development of the National Coalition for a Changed America to come to terms with specific aspects of the ruling class capacity to function and to oppose any substantial change. The principle factors of the ruling class security are based on these conditions:
- The means from which the ruling class continues to propagate its ideas, philosophy and culture through the various media;
- The maintenance of class divisions, national oppression, the struggle between nationalities competing as wage earners in the labor market, and the struggle between laborers and managers of the means of production. This is essentially the struggle between the poor with middle class aspirations, and middle class struggle to maintain its level of subsistence, while the rich continue to hoard the majority of wealth;
- The maintenance of the threat or use of force by the police bureaucracies and judicial process, the power to take life and/or liberty, when the bourgeois ruling class laws are threatened.
These three essential aspects of the 20,000 families’ security can be aptly understood in similitude to the power to persuade, manipulate and coerce the oppressed masses into control. Thus, the building of a National Coalition for a Changed America must comprise organizations with the capacity address each of the three above aspects of ruling class security and maintaining of power. Needless to say, in order for poor and oppressed peoples to wrestle power, demanding redistribution of wealth and restructuring of the social contract and institution of governance, will require an arduous and formidable revolutionary determination for change. Any national coalition organized to bridge ideological and political differences between the various activist groups, must come to terms with the primary objective in the service of poor and oppressed peoples. Evidently, the ruling class has differences, for example the issue of climate change; however, they are united on how they accumulate wealth, and continue to maintain class and nationalistic divisions. These points of contention must be addressed as part of consolidating and unifying the national coalition, just as they are addressed on local political and institutional levels. Yet, these concerns are questions of leadership development in the course of coalition organizational development.
“The coalition-alliance leadership is usually comprised of members of several different organizations, in principled working relationship, unified under the banner of the masses’ struggle for social change and justice. Such leadership must be capable of subordinating their individual group’s political aspirations to the unified goals of the coalition-alliance. In this way, the collective purpose of the coalition-alliance determines the relationship of the coalition-alliance with the masses’ struggle. Its leadership must be capable of maintaining principled and congenial relationships under the guiding principles of democratic centralism, as these principles affect any member body of the coalition-alliance. It is important that the leadership recognizes the points of unity and the differences between each member/body of the coalition-alliance and secures the working unity based upon goals common to each member/body.” (read: We Are Our Own Liberators, pp. 73-96)
Hence, the specific objective must be spelled out in no uncertain terms in direct relationship to the masses’ struggle:
- Seek to establish the Coalition in direct relationship with the masses’ struggle, to ensure the Coalition’s goals become the masses’ political aspirations to achieve;
- Keep politics in command. The political program subject to the above three areas of concern challenging the ruling class ability to govern, demand strategic objectives become the basis from which to secure internal discipline within the Coalition. This is to prohibit and prevent liberalism and opportunism from subverting the prospects of the Coalition from achieving its goals. It further builds principled and congenial working relationships between the various components of the Coalition, forging a progressive and revolutionary future;
- To seek greater unity and working class relationships amongst other political groups and activists. Combat and dispel revisionism and sectarian manipulations by other groups and activist, broadening the base of support for the Coalition.
It is this quality of revolutionary leadership the Coalition must seek to achieve as part of the overall process of building substantial institutional change in America.
In closing, I offer these insights in furtherance of what was proposed in “Future Focus.” I sincerely hope this will continue to deepen the dialogue and debate suggesting the building of a National Coalition for a Changed America.
We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?”
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968)
Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators!
In fierce struggle,
Attica, March 2015
Write to Jalil:
Anthony Bottom #77A4283
Attica Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 149
Attica NY 14011-0149