“One of the symptoms of revolution is the sudden increase in the number of ordinary people who take an active interest in politics”. (Lenin) The 99% know a lot and why should they become active when there is no prospect on success or real change?
People who fought in revolutionary struggles did not analyse society, did not read first the works of Marx, Bakunin, Lenin or Mao Tse-tung. Most 99% could not even read and fought with their heart. During the struggle they got more knowledge how to fight. Awareness actions without practical successes and without information how to use the new knowledge are superfluous.
Despite all awareness actions, awareness has not increased in the last fifty years. Awareness activists intend to make common people clear that something is wrong. But the propaganda apparatus of the 1% cannot be defeated by propaganda by activists who lack money to beat the 1% on their own grounds. We must use our own means and circumvent the defence apparatus of the 1%. Awareness increases when our actions are successful. We must not use words, placards or the hope that something appears in the media, we must develop power in actions, we must have the initiative and not copy what the enemy is doing.
For whom did Friedrich Engels wrote in 1845 “The condition of the working class in England”? Workers knew already that 4408 out of 10.000 kids died before they were five years old. That 1006 adults out of 10.000 died before they reached the age of 39. When you do not say what to do with this knowledge your are an academic or a journalist, not an activist. Telling people how rotten society is (awareness) and not offering possibilities for change does not bring revolution nearer. The revolts of 1848 were not caused by books but by the growing realisation that enough is enough. Awareness had not been necessary, the Parisian masses knew already that something was wrong.
Most actions are awareness actions. Telling people what is wrong in the world. When start activists to change from awareness actions to actions that force the 1% to behave differently? When 10 per cent of the people are aware, or 30 or 50? How do you know how many people are aware? Who are you to teach the 99%? Do you understand exactly how the 1% rule over the 99%? In sudden mass revolts as in the Arab Spring, the Ukraine, Thailand, Brazil etc. awareness under the 99% was already at a high level. Then people stand open for more knowledge. In quiet times it is superfluous to tell the 99% time and again how bad the world is without indicating what to do now with this knowledge.
The 99% have hardly time to listen to awareness actions, they have to secure their existence. They are the no-future generation that only lives in the present. Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols sang already in 1977 “When there is no future how can there be sin, we are the flowers in the dustbin”. They become active when a new future looms. Instead of awareness actions there should be actions how to get power.
Knowledge is only power when you have the means to exert power. Awareness should be combined with ideas how to use the new knowledge for concrete steps in the direction of a better world. Otherwise awareness becomes frustrating, again is told that we are poor and inferior, that we don’t get paid enough, that the world is racist, anti-women, full of corrupt people who plunder our world at our cost, that the climate is being destroyed, that ten million kids are yearly dying before they are five years old. We know that already but what can we do?
Why should you continuously tell people what is wrong in the world? Do you think the 99% are stupid, that they do not see that the wealth and power gap is growing, that corruption and privileges are rife in higher circles? Why should the 99% listen to you? Does more knowledge about what is rotten lead to improvements? Knowledge only grows and is used when the 99% see how they can use knowledge successfully.
In past years there have been many protests against the restriction of our privacy, camera’s all over the town, emails and telephone calls intercepted etc. Despite all protests still more laws restrict our freedom. This kind of awareness actions has not changed the situation. We need militant actions that pressure people who tighten control over the 99% to make them numbers in their accounting system.
Awareness actions remain within the borders of the present society. Occupy advanced demands outside these borders: “Occupy the Financial Centres!” That attracted many 99% who were already aware of the negative role of greedy bankers. When there were no actions interest in Occupy went down. Nothing was learned from the militant history of the Black Panther Party or the Malcolm X Movement. Successes were rare, there was no lasting improvement, so the 99% withdrew from Occupy. The refused to listen to people who wanted to make them still more aware.
We should not tell what is wrong but who is wrong and what to do against faulty leaders. Who makes these laws, grabs our money, deprives us of our work, does not protect our homes against hurricanes etc. Awareness actions are spilled energy when they are not accompanied by militant actions against the culprits. On Twitter, Facebook and other social media most messages are awareness messages. There are hardly discussions about how to get another Humane World. All energy used in protest and awareness actions could better be used in organising and carrying out actions against the 1%.
We should learn from the words of Jean-Paul Marat that we must control what leaders do, veto when they take wrong decisions and when they do not listen punish them who violate our freedom, privacy and well-being.
The 1% is our target but I see hardly any action that targets faulty leaders who live in extravagant mansions and do not have any idea about the problems of the 99%.
Joost van Steenis