Build the Power
New Revolutionary Organization Gets Off the Ground
by Kris Roehling and Heather Ajani
Recently, people from around the country met in Phoenix, Arizona to discuss
the creation of an organization around the "Bring the Ruckus" draft
proposal that was distributed nearly two years ago (http://www.illegalvoices.org/ruckus).
The meeting drew folks from places like Atlanta, Los Angeles, Portland, Washington,
D.C., and Massachusetts. The purpose of the meeting was to lay the groundwork
for a new revolutionary formation.
Over the past year, Bring the Ruckus
(BTR) has built its current membership through discussion and debate over the
draft proposal as well as through a "Fight the Power, Build the Power"
speaking tour in the spring of 2002, which included Washington D.C. and the
West Coast. Through developing interest via face-to-face interactions, we have
managed to slowly build a presence in the cities represented at the meeting.
The meeting took place on November
9-10, 2002. The first day was committed to political discussion and the second
day to building the organization. The meeting was made up of mostly men, though
people of color and women were represented. There were several people from Phoenix,
but representatives or entire collectives were present from various cities as
The political discussion encompassed
everything from our individual politics and political work to our analysis of
the world. Topics of discussion included the function of whiteness/race in American
society today and its relation to class, settlerism/colonialism compared to
the race traitor analysis, feminism/women's liberation, and intersectionality/avoiding
laundry list approaches to oppression. We also discussed the significance of
the creation of several new federation-type organizations around the country
as well as the anti-globalization and anti-war movements.
The second day's discussions addressed the formation of an organization. It
began with the participants confirming their political unity based on the previous
day's discussions and figuring out where that discussion would lead us in regards
to building the organization. Based on the first day's discussion, we established
six criteria for political work within this new organization-in-formation. These
- It must address systems that
attack working class people of color
By strategically focusing not only on the working class but also on people
of color within this class, we ensure that our work is focused on those most
- It must be consistent with
a feminist praxis
Our politics must include a gender analysis and our practice must consistently
challenge systems of patriarchy both in society and within the organization.
- It must attack white supremacy
Undermining the system of white privilege challenges one of the greatest barriers
to revolutionary consciousness among the working class.
- It must have the potential
to build a dual power
Our work must challenge state power or prefigure a challenge to state power,
it must pose a revolutionary or potentially revolutionary challenge to that
power, and it must prefigure a new society in some small way
- It must have the potential
to further the development of revolutionary consciousness among the working
We will measure success by the impact on consciousnesses on the people we
work with. We will work for the greatest amount of awareness of capitalism's
contradictions among the greatest number of people.
- It should stretch the boundaries
of political organizing
Rather than rely exclusively on the strategies and tactics of the past, we
will encourage creative methods of resistance.
When discussing our political work,
we found that a clear majority of us were doing work around police, prison and
immigration issues. Further, we also agreed that these issues most closely fit
the six criteria. We therefore agreed to focus on anti-police and anti-prison
work, with the understanding that a) locals are free to develop their own strategies
and ways of doing this work according to local conditions, as long as it's consistent
with the six criteria; b) other kinds of work that fall outside of these two
areas but meet the six criteria are also welcome; and c) these areas and the
specific work we're doing within them are all subject to critique at the upcoming
Once common criteria and work was
hashed out, a basic structure for the group was agreed upon. It includes a coordinating
committee, locals, and various work groups responsible for organizing the next
meeting, putting together another tour, and editing the discussion bulletin.
Once the committees were formed, the role of each was defined and their accountability
to the larger group established. We then filled the committees with volunteers,
except for the coordinating committee, which was nominated and chosen by the
entire group. There was some concern as to what the committee should look like
in terms of gender and race. We agreed that in filling these positions we would
not let ourselves be bound by stringent requirements based on identity because
that would be unfair to some members, forcing them into a particular role because
they happened to be a woman, of color, etc. We did agree that as the organization
grew we will have to make sure that various identities are represented and not
While BTR is no doubt a "revolutionary
political organization-in-formation," this meeting was a strong beginning.
We left Phoenix with political unity, a structure and a purpose (and a commitment
to coming up with a new name in the future!). We committed to continue engaging
in study and debate in order to expand our analysis and reflect on the intersection
between practice and theory. Other goals include creating new locals, organizing
a national meeting and a speaking tour, and to create a new document to reflect
developing politics. Within the next year, we seek to accomplish all of the
goals and projects we have laid out before us as a result of this meeting and
to officially found this new organization in the fall of 2003.
If you are interested in becoming
part of BTR or want more information, please visit our website at http://www.illegalvoices.org/ruckus