Tag Archives: revolution

Those who want significant change have to fight every day in the short run. We fight for things like democracy, better wages, more rights, and fair treatment. Incidentally, nearly all of those battles are defensive. We rarely pick a fight. The bosses initiate nearly all battles.


In all these short run battles, we have had victories in the past. But as long as the bosses remain in power, we can lose everything we have gained.

What we have to do is win the long-run battle as to who is in charge. We have to overcome the bosses if any of our gains, short or long run, are to last.

So the short term is our battles, nearly always defensive battles, on immediate problems. The long term fight is for power.

How Are Long-term and Short-term Battles Related?

Most people don’t see the long term, and you can’t blame them. The short-term problems are too pressing. Union organizers like to joke that “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp.”

But nearly everybody nowadays is painfully aware of their particular part of the short-term battles. Those who hope to win in the long-term have to join everybody else in the short term battles.

Think about it. If some radical person or organization won’t help you with your pressing immediate problem, will you trust them enough to join them on something else? Thinking activists have to take the progressive side of every short-term battle.

Losing Doesn’t Motivate, Only Winning Motivates

Another important reason for joining short-term battles is to win them. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, people are not motivated by losing. The school of “hard knocks” may have academic value, but it doesn’t encourage people to “try, try again.” People are motivated by winning, and all the statistics in history prove it.

By winning smaller, short term battles, we educate and inspire people to win further battles. If we can do this long enough, everybody will be ready for bigger battles, and we can win them!

–Gene Lantz

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I’m completely optimistic in believing that fundamental change will come to world societies. Further, I believe it will happen before the present rulers destroy us and the planet. It’s because I realize that I’m not any smarter than others, and I’m not stupid. So they’re not stupid either, so we’ll get together and win some day.

Once I was sure that we will be victorious, I began to speculate as to how our victory might come about.

I think there are basically three versions:


  1. People will gather their torches and pitchforks and force the misleaders out
  2. We’ll elect better and better candidates until we actually have a set of good ones
  3. We’ll carry out a worldwide general strike

Torches and Pitchforks

Probably the idea of some kind of violent overthrow of the existing powers is the oldest scenario. It sounds the easiest and the fastest. It’s also the most dangerous, because it’s easy to start thinking that the rest of the world’s villagers only need some kind of a “spark,” — one heroic act of an individual or small group — and then they’ll grab their weapons.

So they try one ultraleftist act of terrorism after another, hoping to get the right “spark.” But it never happens and they just get a lot of people killed or jailed.

Electing Our Way to Power

When President Obama was elected, some people thought we had done all we had to do. He would take care of the rest. Other people thought electing Obama was good and that he could take us part way, then we’d elect somebody even better the next time. In the course of a few elections, we would end up with Judges, Legislators, and Administrators who would save us.

I imagine they felt the same way in 1931 when they elected Franklin Roosevelt. Maybe also in 1859 when Abraham Lincoln took the White House. George Washington?

I think it’s the most popular idea because one doesn’t really have to do much besides vote and a little bit, maybe, of phone banking or neighborhood canvassing. No risk in any of that, and it’s not too hard. If it doesn’t work, then they’ve still earned the right to gripe about everything until the next election.

Stopping the Economy Until We Get What We Want

The idea of a worldwide general strike isn’t as un-historical as it might sound. Workers actually tried it, with considerable success, in 1886. Railroad workers practically shut the nation down in 1877. They might have won their strike if the soldiers hadn’t started killing them. There have been successful city-wide general strikes in several cities, including Seattle and even Houston!

The Industrial Workers of the World was once a big organization that terrified the bosses. Their idea was to organize all workers at their worksites — in every industry — and then shut down the economy. Hundreds of them were deported, arrested, or killed in the bosses’ backlash.

I don’t want to pretend to know more than they did, but they might have done better if they had gone in for organizing communities, civil rights organizations, church groups, and other kinds of affinity groups instead of just workers at worksites. They might also have done better if they hadn’t been so hell-bent on not participating in politics and not forming alliances with other progressives.

The downside of this “stop the economy” idea is that a substantial number of workers and working families would have to be organized. There would have to be unions in critical work places, plus community groups and a lot of other kinds of organizations. And they’d have to work toward co-ordination with the others. It would take political work as well as organizing. That’s a tremendous amount of hard work.

The upside to all that hard work is that leadership would develop. Leadership would also be tested along the way, and we’d end up with the kind of leaders who could actually run a new, better society. Neither of the other two scenarios has that advantage.

What’s the Catch?

There are players on the other side.

It’s easy to think that everybody wants social progress just because we do and almost everybody we know does. But we don’t hang around with the Koch brothers, do we? We don’t hold memberships in the National Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers or the National Right to Work Committee. We’re not listed in the Forbes 500, but other people are, and they don’t want change just as much as we do want it.

If we were to grab our pitchforks, they’d grab their bombs and drones.

If we were to elect good candidates, they’d pour billions into electing bad ones.

The wealthy people clinging to the status quo know what they’re doing. Do we?


Did you receive separate fund appeals from “Our Revolution” and from “Brand New Congress” today? I did.


The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was a wonderful, mighty force and pulled millions of people together. If it stayed together, it had the potential to make significant changes in our democracy.

But the chances of its staying together began to diminish as soon as the formal campaign ended. Some of the Bernie-ites split because they didn’t want to pull for Hillary Clinton. Others, including most of the working people, agreed with Senator Sanders that the Clinton campaign was the best we could do in 2016. The split didn’t seem too bad.

Then “Brand New Congress” appeared and claimed to be the heirs of the Bernie movement. A short time later, Bernie himself announced “Our Revolution” to carry on the proud banners of the progressive Bernie movement. On his live-stream presentation, he didn’t mention “Brand New Congress” nor any other organization that might come forward and claim the Bernie mantle. Today, they each hit me up for money. Practically simultaneously. That’s not cooperation, it’s competition between fund raising organizations.

I had heard rumors that some Bernie-ite leaders had split immediately before the live-stream presentation. If the rumors are true, I don’t know why they left. But if they did, it’s fragmentation that the progressive movement can ill-afford.

A movement is more than fund raising

I was very pleased to hear Bernie Sanders mention forms of struggle beyond electoral work. So far, I haven’t seen any of it, but I think a national march or a series of regional marches might help pull people together. Activists aren’t going to participate forever with organizations that only raise money for electoral campaigns.

Unity doesn’t come easy

Even a great reform program like Bernie’s isn’t magnetic enough to hold a large, diverse political group together. Even a great charismatic leader like Bernie isn’t enough. People need understanding and theory that can lead us to victory, not just terrific slogans and terrific leaders.

How do you think the change you want can come about? Think it through and let your conclusions be your guide.

–Gene Lantz

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July 19, 1979, the Sandinistas triumphed over the U.S. supported dictator Anastazio Somoza and inspired the youth of the world!


Augusto Cesar Sandino, inspiration of revolutionaries in Central America and everywhere

Those old enough to remember know that Central America was suddenly ablaze with heroic revolutionary efforts. Here in Dallas, I helped form “Metroplex Citizens for Aid to Nicaragua.” We raised a trifling amount of money for the revolution, but we did a very good job of publicizing it and rallying public support.

A few months later, Americans were captivated by the fight in El Salvador, and a national organization, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), took over the movement. I helped start the Dallas chapter, which was one of the most successful in the nation. I could tell you stories.

But the Salvadorans and the Nicaraguans soon had their revolutions drowned in blood from Ronald Reagan’s illegal mercenary armies. Congress, the courts, and most of America looked the other way while this great international atrocity was carried out. Central America sunk back into misery and murder. Millions tried to escape to the United States. This part is still going on.

Without going much into foreign policy, two clear lessons should be learned from the rise and fall of revolution in Nicaragua:

  1. The fight for real change needs to be carried out at an international level, not just in any single country.
  2. Workers cannot make permanent gains as long as the bosses are in power. They will always and forever try to take our gains away.

There’s another lesson that all of history has proven and continues to prove: Revolutionaries will never stop trying!

–Gene Lantz

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The clearest lesson learned from the current election cycle is that Americans, especially young Americans, are out of patience with both halves of our electoral system.

ara-bernieWorking people have long dreamed of having a political party that consistently represents their interests. I’ve heard radicals blast union leaders because they haven’t stepped out alone to start a workers party. I’ve heard people so desperate for a workers party that they formed a pretend one.

Once, I was actually in a group that said it was a workers party. The American Workers Party was started by Tony Mazzochi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers 20+ years ago. The United Electricians were involved. I was on the Executive Board. They had a wonderful membership card with a great quote from Eugene Victor Debs on it: “As long as there is a working class, I am in it. As long as their is a criminal class, I am of it. And as long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free!”

What they didn’t have is a snowball’s chance of actually making any difference in America. Part of the deal that brought them some funding, Mazzochi admitted at the 3rd meeting I attended, was that they would not run candidates! As soon as I heard that, I quit. Never went back. It was a pipe dream.

What Would a Workers Party Look Like?

A real workers party would have significant support from organized labor. It would have a mass base. It would have a clear program. Unlike both of the bosses’ parties today, candidates would be under discipline to carry out that worker-friendly program! It might not be revolutionary in and of itself, but it would be a step on a revolutionary path.

Do We Already Have A Workers Party in America? Maybe!

As I wrote on June 5, I expect great things from the Bernie Sanders movement. I’m not sure what Bernie intends, but I think that a significant part of his young followers will stay together. I think they will endorse and work for down-ballot candidates in 2016. I think that, by 2017, they will be picking some of their own candidates in local races. By 2020, they may well be ready to run their own presidential candidate. Americans will be more than ready for them.

I don’t know what they might call it and I don’t much care. If it keeps the program it’s fighting for today, and if it continues to add supporters as it has up to now, and if the Communications Workers, Postal Employees and other progressive unions stick to their guns, — all of which seem likely — we are going to have a workers party in America!

–Gene Lantz