Strategy and the Political Center of Gravity Today
To focus on everything is to focus on nothing. The function of strategy is to determine the direction of delivering the main blow towards achieving a desired end or goal. Tactics are part of strategy, subordinate to it and facilitating it. The goal of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America is to build an organization of revolutionaries that not only helps shape the political and intellectual formation of the class, but also seeks to influence the ongoing revolutionary process in America. Where do we concentrate in order to push the process forward?
For many years the League has written about the emergence of a new class. A part of the working class, this new class is created by the qualitatively new, labor-replacing means of electronic production. These workers have been driven outside of, or to the margins of the economy. Without living-wage jobs, tens of millions of workers constitute this new class in America, and their numbers grow daily. These workers cannot secure the basic necessities of life until society as a whole owns the new means of production, where the fruits of social production are distributed to all according to need.
In his book, On War, the great military strategist Karl von Clausewitz wrote, “There is no higher and simpler law of strategy than to focus military force on the most vulnerable part of your enemy’s defense,” dubbed the center of gravity. For us, the center of gravity is a political concept. We use this concept as a means of developing an assessment and a strategic plan to address the overall struggle of our class.
Inside this new class we find the current political center of gravity. The progression of labor-replacing, automated production throughout the economy has now hit the center of American politics. The ruling class is being forced to strike at its own foundation, its base of political support. It is destroying the stable economic conditions of millions of formerly secure workers that politically tied the mass of society to the ruling class. Their economic stability and security was the foundation for their acceptance of ruling class ideology and their political support of ruling class policies. We call these millions of formerly secure workers the dispossessed section of the new class. They are that section of the working class that possessed things. They are being dispossessed. Because they had something, and because they were the political middle, they are the current political center of gravity that both sides have to fight over.
The Dispossessed: Current Political Center of Gravity
Those who make up the ranks of these dispossessed workers had secure jobs, many owned homes, had accumulated personal possessions, and had lived fairly stable lives. Some have been cast out of the economy altogether into the ranks of the most destitute, while others have entered the ranks of the marginally employed, finding only low-wage, part-time, contingent jobs. They are all colors and nationalities. They have been socially active in that they vote, attend church, and participate in different civic or community activities. They are educated (in that they have a least a high school education), and they are socially aware and used to organization. They are not at all a cohesive political entity, and have been pitted against one another along color, ethnic, gender, and religious lines.
Because they are part of the unraveling “middle” of American politics that supported the policies of the ruling class, many tend to be the most socially and economically conservative. Now the destruction of their economic position creates the conditions for them to accept new ideas, which revolutionaries must bring to them. The ruling class understands the significance of this dispossessed section of the new class, but it has nothing to provide them but ideology. They are no longer economically secure. They are not getting their relatively well-paying jobs back. They have no redress for their grievances. The ruling class has nothing for them. These dispossessed workers have been thrust into the growing, day-to-day struggles of the new class for the basic necessities of life.
At the same time, these dispossessed workers are that section of the new class that can pull the entire class forward. Their deteriorating economic position puts the dispossessed in a position where they have to move against their conditions. It is impossible to predict which way they are going to move, but when they do they are going to pull – by virtue of their position in society – a huge section of society with them. Because these dispossessed workers are the current political center of gravity, they are the strategic point of concentration for advancing this stage of the revolutionary process, and for building an organization of revolutionaries.
Growth of Dispossessed Section of the New Class
The 2008 financial meltdown and the years that followed resulted in massive economic destruction of tremendous proportions. Suddenly, millions of economically secure workers of all colors and nationalities became dispossessed. These millions of dispossessed workers instantly joined the ranks of the growing new class. Every sector of the economy was affected as millions were made jobless. Millions lost their homes, retirement pensions and life savings. Economic historian Adam Tooze vividly describes the sheer magnitude of this working class economic destruction in his September 2018 Foreign Affairs article, “The Forgotten History of the Financial Crisis.” He states, “In the United States between late 2008 and early 2009, 800,000 people were losing their jobs every month. By 2015, over nine million American families would lose their homes to foreclosure – the largest forced population movement in the United States since the Dust Bowl.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.7 million jobs were lost between the start of the recession and early 2010. The highest number of job loss was in manufacturing, at more than 2.1 million, followed by construction losing nearly 2 million. However, workers suffered job losses in most sectors of the economy. And job losses continued in many economic sectors in the years that followed. For instance, the job losses that occurred in the public sector was illustrated in the August 2012 report by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution: “Total government (i.e., the sum of state, local, and federal) employment has decreased by over 580,000 jobs since the end of the recession, the largest decrease in any sector since the recovery began in July 2009…In 2011 there were over 220,000 fewer teachers in America’s classrooms than in 2009, a reduction accounting for nearly forty percent of the decrease in public-sector jobs during this period.”
A 2017 study undertaken by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that within the next decade, up to 800 million of today’s jobs worldwide could be eliminated by robotic automation. And a 2017 study by the research firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), estimates that nearly 40 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence by the year 2032. Jobs in manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and retail are at the top of the list. Many of these jobs provide some measure of economic stability and security. The entire jobs economy is being rapidly transformed and restructured by the constantly advancing, labor-replacing, automated, technology. As these jobs are eliminated at an accelerated rate, the dispossessed section of our class grows daily.
A recent example is the announcement by General Motors that it will lay off 15% of its salaried workforce and shut down five production plants this year. It is estimated that 10 million self-driving cars could be on the road in the near future. And the trucking industry, with 8.7 million workers, is not far behind. Robots are increasingly replacing warehouse workers everywhere, and digital online shopping has already wiped out tens of thousands of brick-and-mortar retail stores that litter the landscape across the country. Across the U.S., 8000 retail stores shut down in 2017. More than 160,000 women workers lost their jobs in just that year alone.
The Dispossessed are Critical to Revolutionary Strategy
The first step is to unite the thinking of the dispossessed workers with an understanding of their actual conditions. They cannot become aware of their conditions until they stop thinking like the ruling class. The reality of their new situation creates the conditions that allow them to break with the thinking that formerly tied them to the ruling class. They have to be won over to think according to what they are. If revolutionaries do not win over at least a section of these dispossessed workers, they will be turned toward fascism. Politics today is being shaped by who influences this section. This was borne out in the 2016 general elections and the 2018 mid-terms, as contending forces appealed for the support of these dispossessed workers.
Class unity can only be developed through common activity based on an understanding of common class interests. Today the many different struggles for the basic necessities of life are tied together by common class interests that have a common cause. Class unity is achieved by intellectual struggle that is linked to the daily experiences of these common struggles for the basic necessities of life. Once armed with a class understanding and a vision of what is possible, the dispossessed section of the new class will be instrumental in bringing such an understanding and vision to the class as a whole.
As revolutionaries are produced by this moment throughout society, our task is clear: to fight for the growing consciousness of our class as a class for itself, whose historic task is to construct a new cooperative society on behalf of all of humanity. Today, this task requires that we focus on those who are the politically decisive force. That force is the growing dispossessed section of the new class. Concentration on this political center of gravity is a critically important part of revolutionary strategy and tactics. We must understand and grasp this reality and change toward it.
Recent economic forecasts by ruling class think tanks are sending warnings of an impending global economic crisis and resulting social uprisings. Such conditions are certain to unleash a full-blown fascist offensive. This reality confirms the urgency of developing class unity amongst the new class, with specific concentration on its dispossessed sector. The growing equality of poverty only creates the possibility of class unity – this unity still has to be fought for by conscious people.
March/April 2019 Vol29.Ed2
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011