This article is specifically intended for the people of the US Empire/United States of America where I live, but these ideas are eminently applicable wherever needed.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have openly stated that they are not for free universal health care/Medicare for All and the desperately needed Green New Deal (watered down from the plan originated by the Green Party). Biden has broken his promise to end hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – taking the taunting bait of the Republicans. Biden and Trump are outdoing one another at being tough on China – both springing another dangerous trap on our heads – as well as taking the exact retrograde tack on Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and North Korea.
We know the political histories of Biden and Harris. After the treachery of the DNC (anti-Democratic Nominating Cabal) against the moderate reformer Bernie Sanders (screwing him twice! – and not in a good way), we the people have no one at the top tiers of government advocating for us. On the contrary, both major US parties are nakedly taking the bucks in one hand and scratching the rich donors’ (insert body part of your choice) with the other, throwing us a bone now and then (to prevent revolution? In these United States? Seems like they have it all wrapped up – or at least the major parties think they do…).
Thus, we have to force them to give us what we need – there is no other way. The alternative is continued precipitous decline of civil/human (and non-human) rights, democracy, and the environment, and augmented extreme wealth inequality, never-ending wars, deregulation, police violence and unaccountability, racism/prejudice/bigotry, surveillance, along with abysmal health coverage (feel free to add your own categories).
Ah, health care – let’s focus on that. I don’t mean to invite attack from legions of readers – just please hear me out. The protesters blew it. I don’t think there should have been protests against police violence and racism right at this particular time.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course, there has always been police brutality and a different standard of – well, violence and murder – applied to African-Americans, as well as to Native Indigenous peoples, Asians, anyone who looks different, as well as women and Jews, to a greater or lesser extent in America at different times and places. (Before I was born, my mother and her first husband were driven out of St. Louis in the 1940s by the Klan, and the police were no help, also being anti-Semitic members of the KKK).
I assert that the full force and focus of the protests, happening during a pandemic and in an election year, should have been about universal health care. There is only so much energy, and cohesion, for a protest movement containing a broad mix of people acting over an entire nation. Yes, of course it is incumbent upon us to root out racism and transform this society. But we had our moment to push for total health coverage, and we missed it.
See how every corporate lobbyist and CEO is on the anti-racist bandwagon now? We are being co-opted. I’m not saying anything against the protests, except for timing. The spontaneous actions have been beautiful and profound, and the whole world has listened.
I do realize that the nationwide and wider protests against police misconduct and racial violence arose spontaneously from long-simmering anger and need. And I respect the historic nature and the power of these brave actors and forthright actions at this juncture in time, as we hang on a fascist precipice.
Anyway, we may yet flood the streets with millions of Americans from all walks of life and all shades of melanin – and we should, we must – to demand free health care for all, an end to extreme inequality, low-cost housing for everyone who needs it, peace, and a safe and clean(er) environment. And an end to racism, of course – at least in its outward forms; inward attitudes eventually.
But I haven’t even come to my idea yet.
The only way to force the government (nonviolently, of course) to do our will – what is universally beneficial for all – is to withhold the money the government operates on. Besides our de rigeur demonstrating in the streets, the legal and legislative battles, and all the rest of our repertoire, we must have tax revolt and work stoppage.
We have over four months from now until tax day, April 15, 2021. We need to begin and accelerate a movement for millions of US Americans to bravely refuse to pay federal income taxes for next year. In numbers there is power. They cannot effectively arrest millions of people – or more.
Likewise with striking. The wave of both “approved” and wildcat teachers’ strikes across the US was surprising and surprisingly effective, and an inspiration to the entire nation and especially to workers and to the labor movement, so eviscerated for decades. That spirit is still alive, and hopefully will engender scattered strikes leading to general strikes, to combine powerfully with tax revolt. Some labor quarters are already talking about general strikes.
We need solidarity around rent revolt, too, as needed – against the big property rentiers, not the little land” lord” and land” lady” – including negotiating with the personable ones who are in this (sinking) boat along with us (renters, that is – though homeowners are losing homes, too).
So it’s not too late to organize big-time across this giant, sympathetic nation, on the same scale as the protests sparked by yet another brother murdered by the blue – George Floyd, not to be forgotten.
We urgently need to come together as a people to agitate for universal health care, to out-organize the forces that insanely, short-sightedly value profit over a habitable planet, as well as needing to reinvigorate our peace/antiwar movement – especially to end the specter of nuclear annihilation – a nightmare forever embedded in our collective unconscious – until we ban those unthinkable, worse than useless weapons once and for all.
Along with Maria J. Stephen (US State Dept., NATO Headquarters, United States Institute of Peace), Harvard professor Erica Chenoweth studied hundreds of 20th and 21st-century revolutions, both violent and nonviolent. In the research data set, every campaign that got active participation from at least 3.5% of the population succeeded, and many succeeded with less. All the campaigns that achieved that threshold were nonviolent; no violent campaign achieved that threshold. More than twice the number of nonviolent revolutions were successful compared with violent ones, which tended toward tyranny; and historically, nonviolent ones have increasingly succeeded over time.
Considering Biden’s and Harris’ broken promises, we must force them and their upcoming regime to hear us and act. Time is running out. Organize we must – locally, nationally, and internationally. We may need tax revolt and general strikes just as much under a Biden presidency as under Trump.
(A great read: In Jack London’s 1906 dystopian novel The Iron Heel, the international organization of socialists succeeded in forcing the US Oligarchy and German Emperor to abandon a proposed war through a coordinated general strike in both countries – the complete nation-wide shutdowns written as occurring in Dec. 1912.)
We have to hit them where it counts, at their bottom line – so they cannot function without our direction – meaning the poor, minorities, the disadvantaged, disabled and vulnerable, immigrants, the oppressed, the working class who are the ones, currently citizens or not, who truly do the major work to keep this country running – not the small group of wealthy, privileged elites. We need to make our demands irresistible, and turn the tide in the opposite direction in which it has been flowing, toward ultimate destruction. We can do it if we organize.