On Revolutionary Mutual Aid and Economic Base Building

It’s common sense that for a revolutionary base area to be conquered and developed correctly there must be a strong revolutionary base for the production of food, clothing, etc. and supply of essential services to the masses of people under the leadership of the Party. We know from history that when revolutionaries conquer territory and hold it as a base that the forces of the enemy will seek to turn the masses against the revolutionary army and Party by cordoning it off and seeking to disrupt supply lines, services such as water, gas and electricity, and “making the economy scream”. Already in the United States, we see entire cities populated by oppressed nationality, colonized people deprived of essential services. Entire neighborhoods of my hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri do not have regular trash pickup. Across the Mississippi River in East Saint Louis, people must burn their trash. Flint still does not have clean water, nor do many reservations populated by indigenous people. Entire cities are food deserts. The only food available is prepackaged, microwavable junk or fast food. This leads to high rates of diabetes, obesity, and other fatal health conditions. Housing is slums where absentee landlords who in many instances do not even live in the same city charge exorbitant rents. The government does not solve these problems because the government at the federal and state levels are controlled by fascists with a vested interest in our incarceration or our collective death, and the government at the local level in cities such as Detroit, Gary, Saint Louis, East Saint Louis, Philadelphia, DC and Baltimore is controlled by neocolonial puppets who are paid by big colonizer capitalists to administer these places to the detriment of the masses of proletarian and semi-proletarian people. This means that revolutionaries must concretely study and apply principles of economic base building and mutual aid. 

Avoiding economism and falling into the nonprofit-industrial complex is, of course, a primary task for those of us who are Maoists, as we all have seen the pitfalls of getting trapped in such hamster wheels in our own work. Yet, nonprofits controlled by revolutionaries can be an invaluable fundraising tool and method for developing a network of contacts that will be useful for mutual aid and base-building work. It’s essential to move away from the amateurish methods employed by many holier and purer than thou “revolutionaries” if we are serious about revolution in our time. I’m constantly reminded of the example set by the Black Panther Party, which had several Hollywood donors for their legal funds and service programs. Having a nonprofit under the control of revolutionaries will make it easier to acquire storage and office space, donations of food, clothing and money, and acquire property that can be used to grow food. In a country like the United States which at least tries to maintain the trappings of bourgeois democracy (for now), it behooves the wise Communist to know about and make use of these legal opportunities to build a mass base. The Filipino New Democracy movement offers lessons in the use of legal opportunities as well. This provides settler comrades a way to assist colonized revolutionaries as well. There’s four ways for settlers to assist in the development of the revolutionary process in the United States, at this stage. One, join the Maoist party-building effort under the leadership of colonized Communists, submit to our organizational and political leadership and struggle to transform themselves from settler liberals to Marilyn Buck type Communists. Two, put their bodies on the line and use their privilege to help put a real wrench in the colonizer machine. Marilyn Buck did this by helping to break Assata Shakur out of prison and the comrades of the May 19th Communist Organization did this by serving as front line expropriators during the Brinks action in 1981. Three, donate funds, property and resources to efforts led by colonized people. Or, to colonized writers, cultural workers, and activists. This is a form of reparations and also demonstrating a willingness to go all the way. Anybody can talk, come out of your pocket if you mean business. Four, organize other settlers away from settler colonialism and join the winning team, which is the Third World and internal colonies.

We have seen in the past week an escalation of war danger with Iran. As of January 8th, the US ruling class is in a state of disarray and confusion, with Trump giving a confusing address where he appeared on the defensive and confused. The material danger of war in the Middle East to working-class colonized people on the ground in the imperialist metropole is rising gasoline prices which will lead to higher food prices and transit fares. This danger will not go away with Trump. Revolutionaries must not only mobilize against the war danger but also connect the Yankee role as wannabe world policeman to the behavior of the Yankee at “home” through our propaganda. Furthermore, the masses must see us actually doing something to allay the day-to-day concerns and situations that they face. I encourage colonized revolutionaries to continue to set up mutual aid networks city, state and country-wide. I encourage settler revolutionaries to donate to these efforts. Food shares and distributions are not just immediate work to meet a basic human need but also a way to establish face to face contact and learn about the specific concerns of the masses in a given area. Revolutionaries should not overexert or stretch resources too thin, but rather concentrate in one or two popular neighborhoods. Revolutionaries should recruit from these neighborhoods and comrades who live far away should be encouraged to move closer to other comrades, possibly even setting up a communal living arrangement. Ideally, comrades should live within a few miles of each other and the neighborhoods where they primarily organize. This makes rapid response to immediate situations, whether it be the necessity to transport a domestic violence victim to safety or mobilize to copwatch, all the more easier. 
Self-employment is another situation that comrades should look into, particularly if they have a trade or skill in high demand. We can all attest to the frustration of getting people to a meeting or to an event but everybody is at work. A core of comrades who are self-employed have more time on their hands and can dedicate this time to organizational work, along with being able to respond to situations as they arise. Furthermore, they can dedicate their skills by doing things such as repairing elderly mass contacts’ houses free of charge and other basic activities. Having a nonprofit under the control of revolutionaries will also be useful for this purpose. The notion that doing this sort of legal base-building and economic work is somehow “counter-revolutionary” or economist is a dogmatist boogeyman that will become more and more foolish as the material conditions of the masses worsen. This activity would only be considered an economist if it was being proffered as the revolution. This is not what I am proposing or advocating for. What I am advocating for is the development of a rock-solid material base of support among the people to improve in whatever way their material conditions in the here and now and also win them to the possibility and necessity of revolution not through parroting slogans and parading with weapons for the sake of doing so, but through demonstrating in miniature the opportunity and promise of Communism to transform their daily lives. Communists must be a force in the daily lives of the people. They must know we are of them, that we serve them, and that we can be called upon at any hour of need and will do whatever they ask without complaint or expectation of some favor in return. This work establishes that necessary connection more than any protest or demonstration will.