An audio version of this article is available on Soundcloud
Ever since the election of Donald Trump, many people have felt an overwhelming urge to “do something.” This article will be an attempt to channel that sentiment into revolutionary projects rather than seeing it co-opted by various leftist organizations.
To begin with, it is important to take stock of what resources you have access to. For most people this will be comprised of personal skills while a lucky few may have organizational resources such as a shared office building.
Make a list of resources available and needed, matching what you have to what you will need. Likely you live near a working class area that is rife with problems begging to be tackled, whether that be underfunded schools or a problem of obesity. Next you will need to devise a plan as to how you can realistically meet the need you’ve decided upon using the resources you have access to. Finally, before actually working to meet the need, you must make people aware of the fact that you are attempting to meet that need. It should, but won’t, go without saying that in the process of meeting whatever need it is you have chosen you should politicize your activity. Point out how capitalism has caused this social problem and connect it to other issues. Rather than simply leaving you with that very vague template, I will trace the development of the group that I and others have founded, Red Tutors.
Red Tutors is an organization that exists to tutor students that want help with school. In the tutoring process we also talk about why we as an organization are necessary. Schools are underfunded, parents are busy working 2nd and 3rd shift so they are unable to help their children, parents may not even speak English and thus be unable to help their children even if they have the time. Students may have been arrested and held by ICE for deportation before being released causing them to miss a lot of school time. All of these obstacles are pointed out and connected back to the system of capitalism. We portray our work as class defense. Capitalism is trying to attack the education of the working class’ children. We are repelling that attack by assisting those children with school.
But we didn’t start with those intentions.
Initially a friend and I attended a local antifascist meeting with an eye to the section regarding protecting immigrants from ICE raids. We met with the speaker for that section and arranged another meeting later. We were interested in forming some sort of defense group, meaning physical defense from ICE and police more generally. What we found out from the meeting with the speaker was that such a group would have no purpose because the attack on immigrants was, at the time, more subtle than that and relied mostly on traffic stops to catch undocumented immigrants that didn’t have licenses. She gave us an example of an individual in high school who was arrested and held for deportation until the ICE deportation order was relented. He had missed a lot of school due to this. My friends and I immediately saw the opportunity in this and offered to help him with school work if he wanted. As it turned out, he didn’t, but we had found our activity around which we would organize. We sent the word out through family and friends that we were looking for students that wanted help with school work that we were offering ourselves as free tutors, with the caveat that the tutoring would be political as mentioned in the previous section.
What should you take from this? Capitalism has always, and will always, and will continue to attack the working class. Trump did not start this. The students we work with were struggling before Trump got elected, but it was Trump’s election that served as my personal wake up call to do something. There is a problem located geographically near you that you may or may not have the resources to help solve. You may be far away from me personally such that I cannot help you organize in a direct way, but I and the other writers for Anti-Capital are more than willing to help you brainstorm and come up with an organization that works towards the goal of working-class unity by combating an existing problem. The tutoring service I currently offer is one I feel could easily be emulated. Most of you reading this are communists or anarchists of some shape which means you likely have some college or even graduate school education. That, and time, are the only two resources you need to help tutor high school students. Ideally you could find space for a classroom and engage in an attempt at collective learning (we at Red Tutors are in the process of acquiring some classroom space ourselves).
It isn’t enough just to help tutor students, or tackle whatever problem it is you’ve decided to try and tackle. We need to point our organizations beyond the immediate problem they are solving. Capitalism caused the problems that we are working on fixing, all we are doing is treating symptoms with these organizations not the root cause, and we would do well to remember that and orient our groups appropriately. Your organization need not exist in a vacuum either, we at Anti-Capital are very eager to hear about your efforts at organizing the working class and will do what we can to assist you.
Please direct all comments to this Red Marx thread