Our Opponents’ Actions Show We’re Winning

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Above and below: The People United Will Never Be Defeated, from the Free Farm.

When in the midst of mass social transformation, it is often hard to see progress until you have the benefit of looking back after success has been achieved. One way we measure success is by recognizing the growing popular movements across multiple fronts of struggle. Another way is by observing the actions of our opponents.

Just as movements organize and develop a strategy to build power, our opponents do the same to weaken popular power. Classic signs that a movement is getting closer to achieving victories are when our opponents try to co-opt the movement, mislead the movement, adopt the language of the movement and position themselves to claim they always supported the goals of the movement, called “victorious retreat.”

In our sixth class on How Social Transformation Occurs, we examine the obstacles that movements confront in achieving social change. One of the tasks of the movement in this stage is to achieve national consensus and overcome the obstacles of the power holders.

Co-Option Can Be Turned To The Movement’s Advantage

New resistance movements have emerged since the Occupy Movement rose up in 2011, including the Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter and Idle No More, to name a few examples of many. Popular Resistance grew out of the Occupy Movement as a vehicle to report on, monitor and help grow the resistance movement.

With the election of Donald Trump, a new “resistance” developed. One example is Indivisible, the activist group rooted in the Democratic Party, which was organized by former Democratic staffers. In May 2017, the biggest Democratic “resister” of them all announced her plans, as reported by CNN, “Hillary Clinton officially announced Monday her post-2016 election plans: A political organization aimed at funding “resistance” groups that are standing up to President Donald Trump.” It is called “Onward Together.”

Clinton lost the presidency because she was an establishment candidate running in an anti-establishment electoral year. The Clinton Foundation was a foundation funded by millionaires and billionaires as well as big business and trans-national corporations. She epitomizes what people are organizing against, yet now she calls herself a leader of the resistance.

It is sadly amusing but ironically makes the point that the resistance is winning. We have grown since 2011 to the point that establishment-elites want to claim to be part of the resistance.  Our job is to let those who joined groups like Indivisible and Onward Together know there is a genuine resistance that Democrats are emulating, which stands for true transformation and rejects the policies of Hillary Clinton and the economic and political elites she and both Wall Street parties represent.

Photo from Education Votes.

Stealing Our Language, Another Sign That Victory Is Close

On multiple issues, those in the power structure of elected officials and their think tanks are stealing the language of the movement.

One example is the campaign for National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). We use that specific language because every word describing it matters. Those who want to protect the status quo use the word “Medicare” to describe fake solutions that do not achieve the real goal. The Center for American Progress, the top Democratic Party think tank that is funded in part by the insurance industry and healthcare profiteers, has put forward “Medicare Extra for All.” This is not NIMA but a public option using the popular word Medicare to fool people. Another fake Democratic plan is a “Medicare Buy-In” or plans that would lower the age for Medicare. These are all false solutions.

Democrats are pushing NIMA-sounding like approaches because 85% of Democratic party voters support a national single-payer system based on improved Medicare. Republicans and businesses are also moving in this direction. If the movement does its job well, by the early 2020s there will be a national consensus across political affiliations and ideologies in support of the solution to the US healthcare crisis, National Improved Medicare for All. Learn more about this at HealthOverProfit.org.

Healthcare is one example. This week, the people of Missouri rejected another false policy put forward by big business in a disguise called “Right to Work.” By a landslide vote, the people of Missouri rejected a right to work voter initiative, which would have eroded worker’s rights to collective bargaining.

This vote comes at a time when the nation needs a national renaissance of worker power. It is time for unions to remake themselves after 80 years of decline. Unions need to become democratic in structure rather than hierarchical. Unions need to do two things to recover from decades of setbacks (1) break from the Democratic Party and build independent political power, and (2) they need to represent all workers and communities, not just members of their union.  The recent teacher’s strikes which occurred in multiple states showed teachers going beyond the limits set by unions. UPS, where workers voted 92% for what would be the largest strike in US history, is in the throes of debating a new contract, which Teamsters for a Democratic Union believes sells out UPS workers.

Another example is the constant killings of black and brown people by police across the country. National consensus is developing against this brutality thanks to Black Lives Matter and others, as can be the ‘take a knee‘ protests in the NFL. Despite pressure from President Trump and team owners, players are continuing to take action against racist policing by patriotically taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem.

Police violence against black and brown people is a long-term problem, going back decades.  In the era of Bill Clinton, the phony solution of community policing was put forward.  It is phony because it failed to give power to the community to reject police who have demonstrated racism and violence. What is needed is community-control of police and community-based solutions to crime and violence. When the people are in control, then the police will do what they should be doing, and some claim to be doing (and some officers actually try to do in a system that does not work) — serve the community.

Unity, Solidarity and a Movement of Movements Are Keys to Success

The most powerful tactic of the opposition is to divide the movement. The corporate-CIA group, Stratfor, most clearly described this strategy. They divide activists into four types of people: “radicals, idealists, realists, and opportunists.” Their strategy to defeat social movements is to isolate the radicals, offer the opportunists money and access to elected officials, convince the realists to compromise on a non-solution and push idealists to see their ideal cannot be achieved and accept something that looks like a step toward the ideal. The key group is the radicals, who focus on the root of the problem, push necessary transformational solutions and refuse to compromise. Movements need to make a place for radicals and listen to their views so as not to be taken off track. 

The problem is that the current system does not work for people but is designed to work for the economic elites. There may be good people in the system, trying to do the right thing, but they cannot overcome the system by working from the inside.

The movement must work to pull people from inside the system into the movement. A police officer’s family needs National Improve Medicare for All.  A black police officer’s son will face racism from police officials just like any other black youth. Youth face outrageous tuition, school debt and wages too low to live on. Business owners know their employees would benefit from health care for all and that they can’t compete with businesses in nations that have national healthcare programs. People in the media see the misleading reporting they are required to produce to advance in their careers and know this is not why they wanted to become a journalist. There are people in every segment of the power structure that see the problems and want to help put in place solutions.

Drawing people to the movement is one of the tactics in building national consensus and a movement that represents all the people while weakening the power structure. We need to develop strategies to keep movements unified, bring people into the movement and connect our different fronts of struggle to build a movement of movements.

We have written about how the next decade provides an opportunity for tremendous social transformation that puts in place progressive policies to meet the necessities of the people and protection of the planet. The people in power also see that change is coming, movements are growing and the status quo is unable to deal with multiple crisis situations that cannot be ignored.

Transformation is on the horizon if we remain clear in our vision for economic, racial and environmental justice, pull people to the movement from the power structure and undermine the tactics of those trying to co-opt, mislead and divide.

Together, we can create transformational change. We are closer than we realize.



  • Alan MacDonald

    Kevin, you very likely already know, as Christopher Hitchens said in 2000, “The Democratic Party is not so much dead as actually, visibly, palpably rotting on the slab.”

    So, here’s what I would consider a very effective counter-strategy (and
    strategic narrative) for a — peaceful Revolution Against the Elitist
    Racist Empire:

    While, the 2018 mid-terms may well be useless, the
    2020 (s)election sham process likely offering of the11th (count ’em)
    “least worst Voting” cycle between EMPEROR TRUMP from the ‘R’ Vichy
    Empire Party and another suitable entrenched elitist ‘D’ Vichy Party
    pro-Empire candidate to follow in the last (s)election’s unfortunate
    “Empress-in-waiting” and certified “War Hawk” [NYT Magazine Mark
    Landler] will hopefully cause even the dumbest and most
    media/propaganda deluded Lumpenproletariat citizen/‘subjects’ of this
    now so obvious Empire to reject the entire facade of this Voting sham —
    and move forward with the same courage, independence, and commitment
    that our fore-fathers, yeoman farmers, fishermen, and tradesmen did
    against the earlier, ‘Red-Coated’, and far more obvious ‘external’
    EMPIRE — as they will in committing their lives,treasure, and
    sacred-honor to non-violently confronting and quickly overcoming this
    ‘internal’ EMPIRE — by simply, loudly, publicly, ‘in the streets’, but
    non-violently firing a; “Shout (not shot) heard round the world” to
    re-ignite an essential continuation (and completion) of ‘we the peoples’
    American “Revolution Against EMPIRE” [Justin du Rivage] — hopefully
    by 2020 there will be these three recognized parties: the ‘R’ Vichy
    Pro-Empire Party, the ‘D’ Vichy Pro-Empire Party, and the Anti-Empire
    American “Revolution Against Empire” Green Party.

  • Bob Beal

    UPS, where workers voted 92% for what would be the largest strike in US history, is in the throes of debating a new contract, which Teamsters for a Democratic Union believes sells out UPS workers.

    UPS pays out $700 million to stockholders: An object lesson in the operation of capitalism
    By Will Morrow, 13 August 2018
    “UPS announced its corporate handout the same day that the Teamsters national conference voted to endorse contracts for UPS workers that enforce poverty-level wages and introduce major new concessions.”

  • Jon

    I like this “Our Opponents’ Actions Show We’re Winning” article. It gives a rational basis for the cautious optimism I too feel, understanding that the time is coming when the system unravels.

  • Jon

    Those unions and pandering organizations that give their uncritical support to the Dems are what I call “dancing with a corpse.”

  • Alan MacDonald

    Jon, “the time is coming when the Empire unravels”

    The word “system” is neutral, mild, has no meaning, and certainly will never birth a continuation or completion of our American “Revolution Against Empire”.

    As those yeoman farmers, and tradesmen headed toward ‘that rough bridge’ in Concord, we can be quite sure that neither they nor, Tom Paine, nor Patrick Henry, nor Paul Revere after spreading the alarm that the British Empire was coming rallied to confront the oppression and tyranny of the militarist ‘Red Coated’ Empire, urging each other on saying only the weak and meaningless — “come-on boys let’s steel ourselves in courage and rush to the Concord bridge to halt the advance of the ‘system'”.

  • Jon

    Alan, I understand class struggle every bit as much as you do. “The system” is simply shorthand for MIC and its related tentacles that do not have to be enumerated each time.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Jon, since you so crisply wrapped it up, why don’t you take a shot at “enumerating” just the big 7 sectors of this Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, which is only nominally HQed in, and merely ‘poses’ as, our formerly promising, and sometimes progressing country PKA, America.

    You’ve already very astutely named one sector of the Empire, the MIC, but now instead of just waving your hand (and mouth) about those “tentacles” how about having the ‘testicles’ to elaborate for our eagerly awaiting TD audience, as many of the other 6 you left precisely as ‘undefined’ as the suckers on those tentacles?

  • Jon

    Alan, I’ve read your posts many times and I suspect you have read mine. We are o the same side on this, so I do not understand this lava flow of snide remarks instead of mutual respect. I didn’t appreciate it. Try to be more respectful next time, OK?

  • Alan MacDonald

    OK. Try not to be dismissive of our most deadly cancer: Empire

  • Jon

    Alan! I often go to demonstrations with the sign” End the Empire.” I need no lecture from you on this subject–at all! Been at this since 1966.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Hey, Jon, great — nice alliteration too with “End the Empire”.

    Shoot me an image of your sign if you have a chance.


  • Jon

    OK, now that you and I are on the same page–the only camera I have is the kind with 35 mm film to be developed. I am low tech as much as I can be. My latest editions of the sign is “What time is it? Time to end the empire.,” use freely if desired. Jon

  • da6675

    The observation that the system supports the wealthiest is also shared by many on the right.
    Also note that the DC DEMs are as corrupt and beholden to lobbying groups for Pentagon offense contractors, Big Global Finance and AIPAC, as DC REPUBs.
    If you are promoting another Hillary organizatIon, you are no progressive. Hillary made it clear during the road to her crushing defeat that she wanted glacial incrementalism, meaning protection of the current status quo .
    Has there been any consequences for the grossly unethical actions of the DNC? And the Russia Hoax is a shameful distraction that could get us all killed.