Tribute To Kevin Zeese: Life And Loss In The Struggle For Liberation

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Zeese never wavered in his opposition to the corporate duopoly, white supremacy, and the forces of militarism.

“His actions and ideological commitments were grounded in a deep identification with the oppressed.”

The pain of loss is immeasurable yet comrades across the globe have come to view it as an inevitable aspect of the fight for liberation. For the revolutionary, death is neither a secret nor a prophecy. The loss of life is as common as life itself for the oppressed and those who fight on the side of the oppressed. I didn’t know Kevin Zeese as well as I would have liked beyond a podcast interview and the honor of sharing a room with him at anti-war conferences. However, what I do know is that his legacy is, and will continue to be, a profound contribution to the world we are trying to build.

One of my few encounters with Kevin was at the impromptu memorial held at the Left Forum for Black Agenda Report’s managing editor Bruce Dixon in 2019. Bruce died just prior to the convening of that year’s annual event. Kevin and the rest of the heroic members of the Embassy Protection Collective were still in the midst of fighting federal charges for defending the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. from illegal seizure by the U.S.-backed coup regime.

Kevin’s words for Bruce were filled with a love for the people that can only develop out of a deep experience in movement politics within the belly of the beast.

“Kevin and the rest of the heroic members of the Embassy Protection Collective were still in the midst of fighting federal charges.”

In a stuffy Long Island University classroom celebrating the life of Bruce Dixon, I learned that Kevin Zeese’s role in the struggle was about opening space for oppressed peoples to achieve victory against their oppressor. His sacrifice for the Venezuelan people is the most well-known example. But those who worked with or followed Kevin knew that he did not discriminate when it came to solidarity with the oppressedHe never wavered in his opposition to the corporate duopoly, white supremacy, and the forces of militarism that endlessly seek to destroy nations such as Iran, Syria, Russia, and China. The hours Kevin spent strengthening the role of peoples’ movements as a force of history are plenty proof that no other path but a revolutionary one would satisfy him. He understood that the costs of anything less were too great.

Kevin’s ability to open space for the people of Venezuela and other oppressed nations to fight more effectively was never an act of charity. His actions and ideological commitments were grounded in a deep identification with the oppressed. It wasn’t separation from the people that motivated him, but the righteous conclusion that his own liberation wasn’t possible unless exploited and oppressed peoples were truly able to exercise their self-determination. The existence of war and imperialism means that the U.S. is doomed to a state of crisis that hits the working class and poor the hardest. We lost someone in Kevin who could articulate this ideological truth with clarity and put it into practice through disciplined political activity.

We can all learn much from Kevin Zeese’s life and the struggle he endured. He exposed the true character of U.S. imperialism in everything that he did. He gave oppressed peoples an outlet to counter the hegemonic lies of the empire. We learn from Kevin the lesson of solidarity. But most of all, Kevin taught us the immortal lesson that one’s humanity cannot truly be recaptured from the oppressive grip of US empire without a deep love for the people and a willingness to sacrifice your own life for the victory of your comrades. Power to Kevin Zeese! Long Live Bruce Dixon and every single fallen soldier of the struggle for liberation! Power to the people!

Danny Haiphong is co-coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace Supporter Network and organizer with No Cold War. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News–From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He is also the co-host with BAR Editor Margaret Kimberly of the Youtube show BAR Presents: The Left Lens and can be reached at wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com   and Twitter @spiritofho.