Who we are:
The world is on fire and screaming for systemic change. U.S. imperialism continues to ravage the world, neither party speaks to those of us who are colonized, bombed, imprisoned, killed by police or U.S. military, or starved by sanctions. U.S. capitalism is founded on settlerism (the forced conquest and expropriation of indigenous land) and white supremacy (genocide, slavery, jim crow, mass incarceration - and all the mechanizations that exist to maintain this.). The neoliberal ruling class seeks stable continuation of their onslaught on the world, while stirring up right wing populist sentiment to reinforce settler domination.
"If voting is the democratic participation in our own oppression, voting as harm reduction is a politics that keeps us at the mercy of our oppressors." -from 'Voting is Not Harm Reduction, an Indigenous Perspective.'
Red Machete is a revolutionary organization in Portland, Oregon that seeks the destruction of capitalist white supremacy and settler colonialism. We believe very strongly this needs to be done through a militant feminist praxis.
RM came together as a POC affinity group during the George Floyd uprising, seeking to engage in this movement in an intentional and strategic way. Through many discussions and meetings it became clear the need to build an intentional organization to develop and sharpen our analysis about what was happening around us, and to create a structure for accountability that prioritizes automonous horizontal organizing. This group turned into the now defuct organization Revolutionary Abolitionist Group.
We did, and continue to do, a lot of internal study and eventually launched the study group: Revolution In Our Time (RIOT) in the summer starting with reading J.Sakai's book Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, followed by Jackie Wang's Carceral Capitalism.
This document is to sum up some of the lessons we've learned in developing our collective political analysis and practice.
We are a Revolutionary organization.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
― Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
Liberalism focuses on how things look over the content therein, hiding disruptive/distractive tendencies behind respectability politics.
Liberalism emphasizes performative, peaceful protests that inherently neutralize and co-opt movements, calling for unity amongst the violent power structures that are designed to oppress and kill. Liberalism focuses on reform in an effort to keep the status quo, emphasizing their faith in the oppressive, violent systems that others are focused on abolishing.
Revolutionaries understand that violent, oppressive systems cannot be reformed. We recognize that calls for peaceful revolution amongst a violent ruling class only further oppresses those who are continuously harmed by the results of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy. Revolutionaries denounce performative protests while emphasizing the vitality of dismantling and abolishing the current structures in place.
Our project is to contribute and participate in building a revolutionary situation in the United States, to overthrow imperialist white supremacy and settlerism.
Revolutionaries look for weak points in the capitalist system, and look to investigate and understand the forces that we are opposed to and where to engage in antagonistic struggles the widen capitalist rupture and build dual power.
"Dual power is a situation in which two or more social forces assert power over the same territory and fight for it outside of the official political institutions (elections, parties, etc.). A dual power struggle poses a revolutionary or potentially revolutionary challenge to state power and it prefigures a new society in some way. It does not aim to create alternative institutions that live alongside the existing state, but to replace the existing institutions, through a great clash if necessary. Dual power implies civil war between the haves and the have-nots." - Joel Olson, Movement, Cadre, and Dual Power.
What We Believe:
Capitalism and Imperialism
“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”
― Antonio Gramsci
We see the United States and its government structures as a capitalist white settler colonial nation. The history of this "nation" is stolen land, stolen labor, and stolen lives. U.S. capitalism/Imperialism seeks to maintain its position of global dominance, built upon genocide, enslavement and ecocide. As the ultra wealthy elites tighten their reigns of control, we see the threat of authoritarianism becoming the new world order.
Capitalism has devastated the Earth in its short tenure and is threatening all life as we know it through climate change. Capitalism is the socio-economic order in the United States. It turns all life into commodities for sale and exploits our labor for profit. 10% of the richest people in the United States own almost 70% of the country's total wealth. The wealthy own the means of production, meaning factories, land, distribution networks, mines, railways, airports, etc... We only own our time and labor which we sell to survive. That wealth is ours and we aim to take it back and sieze their means of production for the benefit of all of humanity.
Capitalism holds onto power in many ways, through direct repression and the carceral state to the creation of a hegemonic order around society that psychologically and physically protects it from the wrath of the working class. Social constructs and relations to one another are framed around our relation to production, and our relation to power (both social and economic). This capitalist Cultural Hegemony infects the beliefs and explanations, perceptions, values of working class folks in the United States and other countries. Civil society organizations (clubs, organizations, churches, media, etc...) all uphold these "trickle down" notions and "bootstrap" absurdities. This cultural hegemony also leads to many within our class to become class traitors and supporters of the capitalist state. In the United States, mixed with white supremacy, this has created a white nationalist vision of supremacy where nearly half the country licks the boot of the oppressor.
Imperialism is globalized economic conquest of other nations. It is neo-colonialist puppet governments to U.S. and western economic interests. It is Structural Adjustment Programs put in place by international capitalist bodies such as the IMF and World Bank. It is sanctions intent on disrupting the economic welfare and sovereignty of other nations. It is direct military involvement like the nearly 800 US military bases in the world, and Africom.
We aim to contribute to a world where capitalism is abolished and replaced with a socialist redistribution of wealth, resources, health and relationships. We want to return to conscious ways of honoring and respecting the earth and sovereignty of other nations. We want to build new ways of relating to production and distribution of our needs, and open up a world of ideas and innovation in service to the people.
“You can't have capitalism without racism.” - Malcom X, 1964 Speech
White Supremacy, Black Liberation, and Indigenous Sovereignty.
“White supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression on continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.” - Elizabeth Martinez, What is White Supremacy?
“Class without race in North America is an abstraction. And vice-versa. […] But wising up on race only means seeing all the class issues that define race and charge it with meaning.” - J. Sakai, When Race Burns Class
White supremacy is the glue that holds this settler nation state together. Black and Indigenous resistance against white supremacist settler ideas is the fire we look to for inspiration and guidance. Settlerism is the taking of land and replacing the original inhabitants with settler masses. The United States, Israel and South Africa are the primary examples of this racist, fascist logic. Indigenous fights for autonomy, sovereignty and land has taught us about the illegitimacy of settler empire and that we cannot ignore settlerism in our organizing. Both how we organize and what lens we see the world through is impacted by settlerism, and we seek to deconstruct these lenses and support the revolutionary leadership in toppling settler capitalism and demanding land back.
The Black Liberation struggle has always held the the vision, the spark, and the fire to shake this system to the core. From slave rebellions, to civil rights, to Black power and prison strikes. We center the Black Liberation struggle as a strategic necessity in destroying white supremacist settler capitalism. The Black Liberation struggle teaches us the willingness to disrupt business as usual and to provide for our communities as we move to engage and expand capitalist ruptures towards a revolutionary situation.
The U.S. Empire includes active colonies and neo-colonies, and we support the self-determination of the revolutionary left of Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and others in their effort to free themselves from U.S. Imperialism.
Any revolutionary politic in the United States that ignores Black Liberation, Native Sovereignty and Anti-Colonial struggle is not a revolutionary politic. Furthermore we believe any revolutionary politic that does not work actively to dismantle white supremacy and whiteness will hit dead ends. History has, time and again, shown that white folks and white leftists fall back on the privileges of whiteness over the liberation of us all. Performative allyship is yet another form of neo-liberalism and is counterproductive and detrimental to revolutionary practices. Do the work to be an accomplice or get out of the way.
"There can be no form of socialism where a majority European population still owns the land, makes the decisions, and does not recognize and accept indigenous nations right to exist, to land, and to culture. Any attempt at socialism without decolonization is social imperialism with a European face. It is not socialism, but the most vulgar and oppressive appropriation of all liberation movements."-AAPRP, Anti-Imperialism in the Metropole
Against Identity Politics but Not Without it
The current political climate often centers both Identity Politics and Representational Politics at the expense of actual politics. Understanding our identities, and our intersectional selves, as well as organizing autonomously is hugely important, and we can push that politic further. White folks consistently tokenize BIPOC folks in an effort to check off the boxes, and consider this "doing the work". BIPOC folks are not a monolith. We have amazing histories and powerful revolutionary leaders of past and present, but there are also folks in our communities with reactionary, neo-colonial mindsets, who seek bigger pieces of the pie or more social media clout through protest and struggle rather than the liberation of us all. There are those who seek assimilation with white capitalism over tearing down the systems that oppress us. A multi-racial president or vice president does not for us represent progress, but neo-colonialism in its most naked form.
We understand identity politics are more complicated and that these things do shake some of the white hegemony that frames this society, but it's far from enough. Also, in regards to representational politics, it means very little, if anything, to hundreds of millions of Black, brown, Asian, and Indigenous people the world over. The easy acceptance of representational politics must be fought ideologically. We do not seek to re-entrench our oppressors as neo-colonial puppets.
Between Grants and Repression.
"When temporary shelter becomes a substitute for permanent housing, emergency food a substitute for a decent job, tutoring a substitute for decent public schools, and free clinics a substitute for universal health care, we have shifted our attention from the redistribution of wealth to the temporary provision of social services to keep people alive." - Paul Kivel
We see the massive rise in the the non-profit industrial complex as a systemic assimilation and integration of grassroots and revolutionary community programs into white supremacist settler capitalism/imperialism. The goal was and is to make them part of the system, chasing funding, rather than building to tear down this system. Not coincidentally this was at the same time the Prison Industrial Complex was also expanding it's carceral logic. So giving away free food in a park to your community is illegal, unless you have funding and documents approved by the government that doesn't provide the needed food in the first place.
To be clear, a generation of revolutionary leaders it would seem were put in prison or offered a salaried job.
While we understand non-profits can be part of survival programs, and tax designations towards fund raising for organizations, ultimately we understand them as a privatization of the welfare state. This is a mechanism that exists to prop the system up and only pay lip service to grasping things from the roots.
"The fundamental question is whether a new generation of organic intellectuals can emerge from the burgeoning radical social movements which can avoid the NGO temptation and become integral members of the next revolutionary wave" - The Revolution Will Not Be Funded
We embrace revolutionary communism and left unity. We are explicitly vague in our identity as "revolutionary communism" to embrace all those communists who don't easily fit into the Leninist or Stalinist conceptions of communist organizing.
By Leninist/Stalinist, we mean those that identify party building as the central task of communists, and typically identify work in trade unions as the primary task of communists. In the United States at this time, we do not believe there exists nearly the numbers to even work towards any sort of communist party and therefore its a moot point. Trade Unions on the other hand, while we whole heartedly support unions as a mechanism of survival under white supremacist capitalism, we see them as components of class containment and negotiators of the spoils of U.S. Imperialist policies.
We seek left unity with all communists who are anti-sectarian and anti-dogmatic. This means we are open to working with those communists, regardless of what hyphenated acronyms they use, that are seeking solutions and answers to destroy white supremacist settler capitalism and U.S. Imperialism. From anti-state comrades to those seeking transitional modalities (and all those understanding that none of us have all the answers); we see the left as being far from any position to even worry about squabbling about who is the "vanguard" or whose faction of communism has all the answers. We need to learn, we need to support one another, and we need to build.
We see the necessity of embracing a revolutionary left perspective because it allows us to understand what we are trying to win people over to. It clarifies what kind of world we are asking people to envision and engage with. It gives us an explicit took box from understanding libertarian communist, marxist, maoists, and autonomous marxist histories, theories, strategies and practices. We must engage in communist understandings in the U.S. specific context.
On Strategy and Practice:
“PIC abolition is a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment. From where we are now, sometimes we can’t really imagine what abolition is going to look like. Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about undoing the society we live in because the PIC both feeds on and maintains oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls millions of people. Because the PIC is not an isolated system, abolition is a broad strategy. An abolitionist vision means that we must build models today that can represent how we want to live in the future. It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead us all to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives. Abolition is both a practical organizing tool and a long-term goal.” - Critical Resistance
“If we are already persuaded that racism should not be allowed to define the planet's future and if we can successfully argue that prisons are racist institutions, this may lead us to take seriously the prospect of declaring prisons obsolete." - Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?
As communists, we also believe in abolition and abolitionist practices that support the dismantling and destruction of the white supremacist, settler state. Strategically we believe that to destroy white supremacist settler capitalism in the United States we must target the Prison Industrial Complex. We believe that this massive institution is a major pillar within white supremacist settler capitalism in the United States, and that by contributing to the mass movements to tear it down, we open up pathways to a more free society. As pressure builds it will allow breathing room for comrades around the globe to attack U.S. imperialist ambitions in their regions.
“Like Jim Crow (and slavery), mass incarceration operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race.”
― Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
"Fascism is a revolutionary movement of the right against both the bourgeoisie and the left, of middle class and declassed men, that arises in zones of protracted crisis." (J. Sakai, "The Shock of Recognition")
"Fascism is a revolutionary form of right-wing populism, inspired by a totalitarian vision of collective rebirth, that challenges capitalist political and cultural power while promoting economic and social hierarchy." (Matthew Lyons, "Two Ways of Looking at Fascism")
* above quotes taken from the threewayfight.blogspot.com blog.
The Pacific Northwest was invaded en masse by settlers in the 1840s with the Oregon Trail. It was set up and declared many times over as a "white's only land", intent on building a white nationalist utopia. In the 1920's the governor of Oregon was an open Klansman, and nearly 20,000 Klansman were marching in Salem, Oregon. In the 80's The Order, a paramilitary organization of white nationalists rallied to establish an all-white homeland in the Pacific Northwest. Later in the in the 80's hundreds of nazi skinheads roamed the streets of Portland leading to the brutal murder of Mulugeta Seraw in 1988. This is all just a snapshot of the far right, and does not include the systemic decimation of Native tribes, redlining, police violence, and the purposeful, violent displacement of BIPOC populations.
This legacy of white nationalist terror and violence is still prevalent in the NW and in Portland. We are an active anti-fascist organization, and believe that because we live in this historical context and this region, it is the duty of every one of us to stand up against fascist terror and violence. We refuse to let them build their bases, and seek and support the disruption and dismantling of all far right organizations.
"Today White workers in Europe and the United States are pacified by a vicious cycle of cheap commodities. The national liberation movements of the Global South stood and stand opposed to this vulgar form of neocolonialism. It is the manganese stolen from Azania (South Africa for the settlers) and Gabon that feeds the batteries in cell phones and electronics. It is the neocolonial labor and industrial production in South East Asia that produces these electronics, over seen by the puppets of empire. And it is in the first world where these profits and commodities reach their destination, satiating the first world masses."-AAPRP, Anti-Imperialism in the Metropole
It's important for revolutionaries in the United States to understand themselves as part of the larger struggle against U.S. Empire. We are part of a global movement against U.S. Imperialism and must support and build with revolutionaries the world over in this context. We are against U.S. exceptionalism and seek to contribute meaningful praxis from within the metropole.
U.S. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, is the economic exploitation of over exploited nations (that capitalists define as "developing"), by utilizing finance capital and neo-liberal institutions (IMF/World Bank) to disrupt and destroy opposition to it's hegemonic rule. This bends the sovereignty of other countries governments to the whim of U.S. capitalists. When all else fails sanctions and invasion are close at hand.
The neo-Liberalism, of either capitalist political party in the United States, fosters privatization, commodification, extraction, free market reform, and competition as the hegemonic cultural vision for the United States. This set of ideas, which clearly ties it to U.S. imperialism, centers the individual. This culture of individualism leads U.S. workers to think only of themselves, distinct and apart from the global working class. The standards of living workers in the U.S. enjoy is directly tied to the hyper-exploitation the U.S. Imperialist/capitalist Class subjects the rest of the world to. We don't seek negotiation over the spoils of imperialism soaked in the blood of workers around the world. We seek and support sovereignty of all nations and people's against U.S. imperialist ambitions.
Revolutionary Intersectional Feminist Praxis
"Feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific group of women, any particular race or class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all of our lives...Feminism as a movement to end sexist oppression directs our attention to systems of domination and the inter-relatedness of sex, race, and class oppression. Therefore, it compels us to centralize the experiences and social predicaments of women who bear the brunt of sexist oppression as a way to understand the collective social status of women in the United States." -bell hooks, Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression
We believe in pre-eminant feminist praxis. This means from the inception of projects and work we come to it with a feminist lens, and try to implement protocol that requires checks on this in our work.
Our feminism is intersectional, materialist, trans, BIPOC, and above all else, revolutionary. We don't seek equality, we seek an abolition of the gender binary, cis privilege, male privilege, misogyny, and rape culture.
We seek an abolition of the patriarchal nuclear family unit to create a community empowered to nurture, raise, support and keep other people safe. We seek an end to the unpaid reproductive labor that folks do in the homes and in schools (cooking, cleaning, sexing, studying, etc...). This labor that capitalism profits off of must in the immediate be paid, and in a better world be shared and voluntary.
The intersection of white supremacy and feminism has taught revolutionaries many lessons about opportunistic liberalism and reactionary politics. The majority of white women throughout history have always sided with their own self interests, often with white men in defense of their "race". White feminism impacts the left in it's self serving, self identifying image, and negation of intersectional understandings of oppression. White feminists for instance stopped with Roe V Wade over fighting the larger struggle for Reproductive Freedom which would have had (and does have) direct impact for working class women of color. White feminists ignored the mass sterilization of Puerto Rican women in the 70's, with 30% of women made sterile by colonialist authorities. There are countless examples.
Today we see white feminism as a toxic cultural force, championing reformist policies that prioritizes their ability to move up in capitalism. We see white feminist saviors as championing performative allyship such as cheering liberal BIPOC capitalists in congress, or allyship in words and social media posts only. White feminism is tone policing the movement, and framing the discussion about gender to their own desire for power. White feminism is directly attached to Bourgeois cultural ideas, as whiteness and capitalism cannot be separated in the United States.
A truly liberatory feminism, has nothing to do with whiteness or capitalism, and actively fights against both.
Queer and Trans Liberation
“When using the term queer/trans politics, I'm referring less to queer and trans as umbrella identity terms and more to a political approach that questions, disrupts, and transforms dominant ideas about what is normal. Questioning the normalcy of the prison, a queer/trans politics not only helps identify the role of imprisonment in perpetuating gender, racial, and sexual violence, but also provides tools for developing alternative community responses that better address problems of harm.” - S. Lamble, Transforming Carceral Logics: 10 Reasons to Dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex Through Queer/Trans Analysis and Action. Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Ed. Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith.
Patriarchy, and particularly the nuclear family, has tied the absurdity of a gender binary with social and productive expectations. In our society there are set expectations of what men do, what women do, and the belief that nothing can or should exist outside of that. We believe in a world where there are infinite genders, sexualities, identities, and ways of experiencing life. Our productivity has nothing to do with genitalia, and we see all people as productive members of the revolution we seek. The work we put into existence should solely be based on desirability and need, and the sharing of skills to accomplish tasks.
Violence, discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ+ and two spirit identifying folks exists within every institution of our society- from employment, housing, healthcare, schools, workplaces, our policing system and immigration. Fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, particularly Black transgender women, and it is obvious that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are the driving force behind this violence. As a result of these forms of violence and oppression, BIPOC LGBTQ folks experience the highest levels of poverty, criminalization, health disparities, and exclusion. U.S. Black trans women and gender nonconforming folks experience the highest levels of killings, violence, poverty, policing, criminalization, and incarceration of any group in the U.S.
We believe that the LGBTQ liberation struggle for self determination and the destruction of the gender binary and patriarchy are critical for the new world we seek to build.
We Want a Better World
We envision a revolutionary communist movement of movements, globally attacking U.S. Empire on all fronts by any and every means necessary. We intend to participate in this ecosystem of resistance coalescing around this struggle. We seek to build with other revolutionary organizations in the United States and around the world in this fight.
We stand in solidarity with comrades around the world resisting U.S. imperialist bombs and economics.
We stand with the Black Liberation Movement.
We stand with Native communities fighting for sovereignty, land and resources.
We stand for reproductive justice and freedom and against cis hetero-patriarchy.
We stand for Puerto Rican Independence and against all colonialism and neo-colonialism.
We are against this system that seeks our end, and we intend to tear it up from the roots.
Abolish Carceral Society - Towards an Empowered Community of Safety and Resources.
Land Back and Reparations for Black and Indigenous Peoples.
Free Puerto Rico, and all colonial territories. For self determination, Decolonization and Indigenous Sovereignty
Destroy White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism and Fascism.
Solidarity with all oppressed people's around the world. End AFRICOM, End the Sanctions. Fight US Imperialism.
Fight U.S. Imperialism and Empire