37. Guerrilla tactics (2) The Fourth People’s Power uses its own weapons and tactics to prevent damage to the 99%

The 99% need a revolution to get a society in which all people have power and the same status, a society without a 1% and without a power and money pyramid. Leaders of revolutionary organisations want power to get a new society under their leadership. Then the new society contains still elements of the old society with a leading group and dependent masses. In a revolutionary guerrilla war the 99% learn how to use simple weapons and their creativity in a War of the Flea to defeat old leading groups. Their evasive and volatile weapons can also be used in the new society against any faulty leader to prevent that a greedy 1% ever get again on top of society.

Before the Chinese Revolution most revolutions started as revolts that became a revolution in which sitting powers were replaced by a new powerful group. Decentralised guerrilla actions hardly played a role. After the emphasis of the Chinese on guerrilla methods the struggle changed but guerrilleros were still subordinate to what was decided in the centre of power. The goal of the revolution was the replacement of the old leading group by a new one. All past revolutionary struggles gave only in words attention to the 99% (Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood or All power to the Soviets). Soon the power of new leaders became nearly absolute. The guerrilla did not create an independent people’s power based on what they had learned during the revolutionary struggle.

In the French Revolution there were some direct attacks on the ruling elite. The 99% knew who was responsible for their misery. These direct attacks hardly occurred in later revolutions. Guerrilla actions were used to weaken the army of the enemy and the revolution succeeded after a decisive fight between two armies. Jean-Paul Marat pointed to the importance of pressuring mighty people but his ideas are forgotten. Most fighting took place between parts of the 99%. Members of the leading class were hardly damaged and after successful revolutions they left the country with their money. The Golden Rule for Actions was violated, the private living sphere of the 1% was not undermined and the minds of the 1% not changed. A new leading group took possession of the old extravagant eliteworld or built new extravagant and exclusive living places. After some decades you could hardly distinguish them anymore from the old elite.

The principle of guerrilla war fare is attacking weak points. “Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected”. The weakest points can be found in the eliteworld where the 1% lives. There are some guards but there is no army in that world. So we avoid and circumvent the army. In our time continuous guerrilla tactics till the revolution has succeeded is the only way to remove a 1%. It is not possible to have safe base areas as in China, Vietnam or Cuba where a revolutionary army was built. But guerrilleros can still be like a fish in the water (Mao Tse-tung). We must use our own weapons and avoid a hierarchical organisation. Organisations give the opponent clear targets. When in Peru the leading group of the Maoist Shining Path was arrested, the struggle for a free Peru came to a standstill. Leaders and a centralised command are vulnerable. We need small groups in which activists themselves decide how, when, where, with whom and which leader they attack.

Organisers of mass actions know their activities have only a small impact. Still they do not change from defensive protest actions to offensive resistance ones. They refuse to propagate a War of the Flea. They want to remain part of the existing society thinking that political lackeys are reasonable people. Even when an old regime should be toppled by mass actions there is no idea how the 99% can control new leaders. The future society becomes a copy of the present one while a revolution is a jump to another kind of society with different power relations.

In 2005 the people in the Ukraine massively demonstrated against the corrupt president. They succeeded to remove the president but the new one was as corrupt and bad as the ousted one. In 2010 the old president was re-elected without any mass protests. A few years later new mass uprisings demanded less dependence of Russia and closer ties with Europe. They did not ask the Greek 99% what they thought of closer ties with the richer parts of Europe. Then they should have realised that they fought to solve the wrong problem. Remaining dependent of Russia or becoming dependent of North-Western European countries. In one way or the other they remain a neo-colony just as Greece is a neo-colony. The leaders of the mass uprising saw a bright future for themselves. The uprising was not a learning school for the 99% to oust any leader who became greedy and corrupt. The enthusiasm in Western activist circles for this mass struggle in which only the 99% are damaged can hardly be understood. Maybe there will be a new uprising when the Ukrainian 99% experience what it is to be dependent of rich European countries.

An independent Fourth People’s Power came never into being. The beginning of such a power was frustrated when the guerrilla war changed into a war between two armies. The power of the central leadership increased and the individuality and creativity of small guerrilla groups suppressed. In the last World War the Dutch resistance used guerrilla tactics which were for the greater part organised and controlled by the Dutch government in exile in England. The Dutch historian Lou de Jong gave in his book on the History of the Netherlands during World War II (14 volumes) hardly attention to individual resistance acts but emphasised official resistance ordered from the safe seats of the government in England. That resistance was part of a war between two armies. The sitting powers continued to control the situation to be sure that after the war they could regain their place at the top of the power pyramid.

Guerrilleros should pressure the 1% and avoid contact with security forces who also belong to the 99%. Then only the 99% are hurt and split in warring factions while the 1% continue to live quietly in their privileged quarters. In a guerrilla activists should directly attack the 1%. Tactics of Moslem fundamentalists are also wrong. Targets are hardly the top of the power pyramid but mostly security forces or places where many 99% come together as markets or mosques. Many 99% are killed but the 1% are hardly under fire.

In a guerrilla not weapons stand central but the strategy. Guerrilla is a political struggle, an action method of common citizens without any specialisation. Weapons are hardly necessary because a guerrilla in our countries is not a war of a weak army against a strong army. It is a war of harassment, attrition and deception against the 1%.  “All warfare is based on deception and confusion, mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy”. 

“The guerrilla fighter is primarily a propagandist, an agitator, a disseminator of the revolutionary idea who uses the struggle itself – the actual physical conflict – as an instrument of agitation. His primarily goal is to raise the level of revolutionary anticipation and then of popular anticipation to the crisis point at which the revolution becomes general throughout the country and the people in their masses carry out the final task – the destruction of the existing order”. (The War of the Flea, Ronald Taber).

The basic ideas for a guerrilla formulated by Sun Tzu, Von Clausewitz, Mao Tse-tung, Guevara or Taber can still be used.  A continuous undermining of the enemy by harassing techniques leads in the end to the collapse of the regime. The central point is the exploitation of the weak points of the opponent. As Robert Taber says: “The guerrilla fights the war of the flea and his military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend; too small, ubiquitous, and agile an enemy to come to grips with.”

Guerrilla tactics, the War of the Flea, are the best method to get power. During the revolution the 99% realise they have an independent power they can use when necessary. Sun Tzu and Von Clausewitz were interested in wars between armies, Mao Tse-tung in a revolution but still in a society with a power pyramid. That is not complying with the same status paradigm. That idea forces the 99% to develop an own power. Irregular warfare of common citizens using their own creative means of action, harassing the enemy by many small actions and exhausting its resistance should become the standard of any action of the 99%. Mass actions hardly pressure people who live far away in cosy and extravagant mansions from street fights in town centres.

It is time for change, too many 99% have been damaged by the old action means.

Joost van Steenis

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About Joost van Steenis

My latest book "How to make Revolution, developing the Fourth People's Power", can be downloaded for free from my site http://members.chello.nl/jsteenis. It contains new ideas how to take the money and power away from the most powerful people, the elite. It strives to get a new society in which not money is the pivotal point of all discussions but the idea that all people have the same status. New action means are introduced to reach this paradigm shift (a revolution) that concentrate on direct actions in the living sphere of the elite.
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4 Responses to 37. Guerrilla tactics (2) The Fourth People’s Power uses its own weapons and tactics to prevent damage to the 99%

  1. Bruce Eggum says:

    Unless some form of Direct Democracy [DD] is formed for the people, it is rather likely a “new” group will form and use power to get their way. I suggest Participatory Democracy.

    • Bruce, I have read about participatory democracy but I do not understand how it works in practice nor do I understand how it can become the rule. I do not expect that the powerful will give away some of their power to us because power is the basis of their high incomes. So when you say that “some form of Direct Democracy [DD] is formed for the people” then I do not agree, that will not happen.

      I write only about the means how people can develop an own power and what they do with that power is their responsibility. We cannot look into the future so we cannot now already foresee how the future society is organised with a different power structure.

      When we see now in Europe that the powers that be only take decisions to curtail the well-being of the masses while the salaries at the top are rising you may understand that new means are needed to care for it that all people bear the burden of the crisis and not only the masses. Participatory democracy will not change that, only a few citizens are interested in some decision and the majority is not interested and maybe side with the powers that be. I propose a struggle between minorities of the 99% against minorities of decision-takers.

      • Bruce Eggum says:

        Joost says: I propose a struggle between minorities of the 99% against minorities of decision-takers. Everyone acting on their own to overcome “the powers” of representative democracy is good. However a strong Campaign would help guide these few activists. It has been proven a few can bring huge change. Participatory democracy would allow the people to decide their own fate and join together as a powerful force.

      • I looked at Wikipedia for participatory democracy and i have my doubts. Of course it can be applied in small groups as Occupy where nobody has excessive power (but even there I have seen the manipulations) but in the big society there are powerful people who take decisions and how to take the power away from the powerful I see not happen with participatory democracy. It is strange that in Trade Unions there are discussions about the height of the wages of the workers but there is no discussion even about the height of the salaries of the bosses. While most members will be against these excessive salaries the unions do not bring it forward in their negotiations with the bosses. (it is of course an example). The people feel powerless and accept decisions, therefore the change must come by developing means to exert power also for the masses.

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