A common interest can unite people, superficially and temporarily. Apply any pressure to a union held together with nothing more than common interest, and you’ll watch it fracture and shatter.
So when we are talking about uniting the people, let’s stop with the nonsense romantic notion of a people united by a common interest.
Groups of people that can’t even sit in the same room for more than an hour without disrespecting each other’s very existence, cannot and will not ever build a robust, cohesive union even if they all want to destroy something like capitalism. This is because these groups are trying to build unions based on their mutual hate for something, even if it is something as contemptible as capitalism. Superficial unions built on a mutual hate can only accomplish superficial destruction, like storefront windows. But this does not make a revolution.
Revolution is not just the destruction of the old but the building of something entirely new from it’s ashes. You can destroy with hate, but you can’t build with it.
Stop romanticising destruction and fetishisizing hate.
You’re angry and that’s valid and useful, but anger will not move you forward. It can serve the purpose of jarring you awake from the slumber of apathy and it can also be that fire under your feet to keep you moving but it can offer no direction. If that anger is your only motivation, you will likely find yourself exhausted, after much labor, from furiously running around in circles.
But this isn’t revolution.
Someone famous once said, ‘At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality’.
You see, anger awakens and moves us, but it’s love that directs us. It gives us the proper orientation. For instance, a love for the people drives us in the direction of total and unequivocal liberation. It also galvanizes our resolve, commits us to a resolution. But even love has it’s limitations, it’s more of a compass than a road map and it lacks nuance. You can hate the system and love the people, but without the proper understanding you cannot set the correct course towards liberation.
It is understanding that binds us through thick and thin and illuminates an appropriate course towards revolutionary liberation. It is the key component to the success or failure of any relationship. And make no mistake, a revolution is not a people’s revolution if it is not about relationships. Our relationships to one another and to our environment. So at every turn, we must be actively seeking to understand each other and our relationships. This means becoming aware of the ways that these relationships are oppressive and exploitative. Because until we are able to understand how we each play a role in the oppression and exploitation of those we wish to seek unity with, we will not be able to form robust revolutionary cohesion. There can be no sincere expectation for me to work in conjunction with someone who is likely to be my next oppressor. And I cannot sincerely expect anyone to work in conjunction with me, if I am not fully committed to their liberation. With a proper understanding, or at the very least, an honest commitment to seeking understanding, we can begin to plot out a realistic path to the people’s liberation, one that all oppressed and marginalised groups can get behind.
We need to quit acting as if we are owed left unity. As if unity isn’t something that must first be earned.
Left unity is not something that needs to be aggressively pushed. When groups are really and truly committed to not only their own liberation but the the liberation of others, those groups will naturally begin to coalesce into a cohesive revolutionary effort. The fact that so many groups feel it is necessary to push for left unity so hard, should be a clear indication that the left has not yet earned the right to call itself a people’s revolution.