Exactly fifty-seven years ago the Albany Movement formed to fight racial segregation in the city of Albany, Georgia. Despite the involvement of several organizations and big names such as Martin Luther King, Jr., the movement was ultimately unsuccessful. Speaking on the failure of the movement, historian Howard Zinn had the following to say:
Social movements may have many ‘defeats’ — failing to achieve objectives in the short run — but in the course of the struggle the strength of the old order begins to erode, the minds of people begin to change; the protesters are momentarily defeated but not crushed, and have been lifted, heartened by their ability to fight back.
I think this is an important quote to keep in mind as we progress deeper into the current sociopolitical era of increased nationalism, populism, and backlash to globalism—not just here in the US, but worldwide. As the white supremacist and Eurocentric foundations of our nations have eroded, their workings have been destabilized.
In fact, perhaps the election of Trump, the rise of others like him, and the uptick in hate against non- rich, landowning, straight, cisgendered male WASPy types are the result of existing systems and structures crumbling. Following the analogy of eroding foundations, the collapse of a building is not a pleasant experience, the same as existing in the current sociopolitical climate is not pleasant. But when the dust finally settles, we will be in a position to pick through the rubble and salvage what is worth saving before clearing away the debris of what didn’t work so we can build fresh.
When leftists speak of revolution and of tearing down, they ignore the requirement to mobilize the masses and the costs of revolution in terms of lives lost. They ignore how inept they’ve shown themselves to be at the former in recent times, and they ignore how the majority of society would rather avoid the latter. They ignore the authoritarian regimes following revolutions occurring in the last century which were, in many ways, as bad or worse than the systems they replaced. The leaders well-suited to revolution, it seems, are not well-suited to rule.
However, if the current system is buckling under its own weight, we may end up with the same opportunities they hope to be afforded via in-actionable revolutionary means. The key difference is we have the ability and opportunity to make reasoned choices about who our leaders will be when the time comes to build anew. And that, in essence, is why I’m an anarcho-socialist incapable of supporting candidates and movements which would sooner tear it all down than fix the problems they see. We won’t need a demolition team when the dust settles; we’ll need architects and contractors.
Tactically Radical is a blog at Deep South Voice. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author, and should not be assumed to reflect the views of DSV or its advertisers.