The last shall be the first and the first last. – Frantz Fanon
The objective of a revolutionary is to keep everything exactly as it was but replace those in power with themselves, to become what they hate, to gain the approval of those they despise. The mark of a successful revolutionary is recognition and acceptance into the circles of oppressors.
A typical revolutionary is driven by a desire for justice and no imagination. They can see injustice, they see oppressors and oppressed, and they follow the obvious impulse to reverse the two without changing the system that allows for oppression. Revolution almost always sounds like a new system because revolutionaries almost always call themselves The People, or at least The [oppressed category] People, but in practice there is no change. Revolution follows a Good Guy / Bad Guy, Manichean morality and the goal is to kill all the Bad Guys until there is nothing left but Good Guys. Fanon replaces white with black, Marx replaces master with worker, no one replaces the paradigm. Malcolm X and Robert Mugabe desired a perfect negative image of the apartheid state. Feminists celebrate ‘what women have achieved’ along their path to be exactly like caucasian men.
A revolutionary outlook is binary. They see themselves, as they are usually elite or part of the large, cohesive block of powerful commoners required to keep the ruling class in power, and they see the ruling class. Anyone else is outside their consideration and will remain so. “I know nothing about her,”  says Fanon of indigenous African women as he derides the work where they detail their experience and describes the revolutionary desire to be a white woman’s master. Marx sees those below the proletariat and calls them “The “dangerous class,” the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society.”  When Marx speaks of the abolition of class, he means the abolition of all class except the proletariat.
Since people are never binary, revolutionary theory almost immediately has to start addressing the classification problem, who is black, who is white, who is bourgeoise or proletariat, who is male or female, and the rush to be at the extreme end of your side creates a new class war within the class war. If the last shall be first, the almost last have a new fight to be last. “Since the sole motto of the bourgeoisie is “Replace the foreigner,” … the “small people” of the nation… will be equally quick to insist that the Dahomans go home to their own country, or will even go further and demand that the Foulbis and the Peuhls return to their jungle or their mountains”
If, as Fanon said, “The black man wants to be white” then the justice sought is a very personal justice, for themselves only as Malcolm X proposed in his desire for a new black state within the US which would leave indigenous and others as unseen as always. Colonized revolutionaries seek to decolonize by becoming the colonizers as women seek to end subjection to men by entering masculinist establishment. Even if they have no wish to enslave their former masters, the revolutionary oppressed wish to master someone, to sit atop the patriarchy, to claim their turn as a matter of justice. As long as the paradigm remains, it matters not at all if those on top become the former oppressed, they are just branch managers for the empire and oppression continues uninterrupted. In no way did it make the world a better place or change the paradigm for the better to have Barack Obama as Commander in Chief of the world’s largest military or Condoleeza Rice as US Secretary of State. In no way did women holding 56% of the seats in Rwanda’s parliament, or having Louise Mushikiwabo, as Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation, make Rwanda a kinder, gentler state. In the end, the problems were not tied to gender, race or class, but to the paradigm itself.
In the middle of a revolutionary frenzy it is unwise to point out that oppressed may become oppressors as they are the Good Guys who must never be accused of wrongdoing, but we really don’t need any more Israels or Rwandas to prove the point. ‘You can’t be racist/sexist against the oppressor!’ shrieks the illogic from the revolutionary top, and any who question it are condemned as reactionary, racist and sexist regardless of their race or sex. Those lower in the revolutionary ponzi scheme of power are permitted be part of the revolution only by exact adherence to the utterances of power. Deviance is dangerous in a binary world.
Since the new power wants to be exactly like the old power, continuing revolutions have created a world where everyone of every race and gender strove to prove they were the same as powerful caucasian men. A world where everyone sought the top of the ponzi schemes of power, celebrity and wealth, where their desperate effort towards the centre created the centripetal force that kept the Great Men in power, that upheld the ponzi scheme of empire for all these years. Everyone is defined in relation to the caucasian man of power. It is the revolutionaries as much as the reactionaries that refuse to let the old system go.
A dual spotlight and those in the shadows
The history of revolution is the history of Great Men overthrowing Great Men. The revolutionary stories of oppression tell of the oppressiveness of unsated envy and covetousness. The glory that follows these revolutions is the glory of the new Great Man. Unheard forever are those condemned to just get on with it, the so-called lumpenproles who are understandably disinterested in who is currently atop the ponzi scheme they have no entrance to.
Fanon overlooked completely the effect of European patriarchy meeting matriarchal societies and what that did to class relations between men and women. He exhaustively examines European attraction to African indigenous men but he speaks not at all of any attraction to African indigenous women despite admitting almost all mixed race children had indigenous mothers. He attributes European fear of the African to a repressed homosexuality in the men and a desire to be raped in the women, but finds no such cause in the Antilleans fear of the Senegalese. Everything pivots around the point at which he exists. His myopic, binary gaze at the balance of power between African and European in a patriarchy disregarded the imposition of the patriarchy in the first place. Fanon described men who wished to overthrow other men and sit in their place.
Marx ignored the fact that his proletariats were part of a system of dissociation that recognized as workers only those who served the powerful, not those who served the weak or themselves. He also wanted to overthrow the oppressor without acknowledging the first oppressed or the true size of the oppressive structure itself. His ambition to flip the proletariat with their masters required that autonomous individuals be locked in an even more solid and cohesive block of commoners than before. His failure to recognize the block of commoners as a creation of oligarchy caused him and all communists after to strengthen the club which held oligarchy in place.
Engels felt women lost their social power due to their loss of property ownership instead of seeing that property ownership was created to remove their social power. The masculinist lens of Engels and Morgan was used to reinterpret matriarchal indigenous cultures as communist, as societies where everyone was assigned property and a place in society as birthright instead of as social approval. This owned property and its allocation must then be controlled by a patriarchal power or mini-state. The approval of First Nations women that for generations was essential, was suddenly to be disregarded as men were taught that to be a man meant to humiliate and degrade their own source of approval. The vicious degradation of women in formerly matrilineal societies served to destroy not just the old power but the old structure. Indigenous women were now last, their approval was replaced by control of currency, and colonial government structure was taken over by property thieves both petty and grand. Autonomy for First Nations in Canada now means following a colonial construct of band councils revolving around communist allocation of funds and property in formerly (mostly) moneyless gifting cultures. Management of nations no longer includes the most important authority, acceptance or rejection of individuals from the nation.
A perpetual motion pendulum of revolution
As long as it is people, not actions, which are classified as Good and Evil, we will maintain a perpetual motion pendulum of revolution. As every revolution is a simple reaction to the initial action, they are mirror images. Slave morality is a reaction to master morality, revolutionary militias are a reaction to a police state, feminism is a reaction to masculinism, men with guns are a reaction to men with guns. The centripetal force that creates power also creates the centrifugal force that destroys it. In every case, reactions will become what they destroy.
If you define yourself in relation to your enemy, you’ve lost. You cannot believe armed militias are a solution unless you believe in the worth or inevitability of a police state. You cannot be a Feminist without endorsing the gendered world of the Masculinist. The death penalty for murder reaffirms the right to murder. Mirrored reactions are a result of a lack of imagination to see outside the paradigm we live within. A reaction adds force to the initial action. Overthrow by men with guns will be followed with rule by men with guns. Justice through institutionalized bigotry will result in institutionalized bigotry. “The violence of the colonial regime and the counter-violence of the native balance each other and respond to each other in an extraordinary reciprocal homogeneity.” We will have equilibrium when we step off the pendulum.
Those that protest the revolution are told they must be reactionaries. Any criticism of the left brutality and you must support the right brutality. Self-professed US anti-imperialists are even more rigid than the imperialists because they discovered the second spotlight and think they’ve seen all that there is. Those that scream for solidarity ‘on the same side’ attempt to hide the fact that a ponzi scheme has no sides, only a top and bottom. They will cling to the messiahs of revolution and support revolutionary ponzi schemes until it becomes absolutely indisputable that the two are one again. As the revolution fights for and wins seats on the same panels and the same international bodies as the reaction, the same dark alliance is formed once more. Empire remains intact.
Revolutionary replacement of authority will co-opt resistance. Revolution looks up not down. It seeks approval and acceptance from the spotlight, not the shadows. Not only does revolution not bring change, it brings progression down the same path and frequently widens the window of acceptable oppression. All revolution has simply entrenched and strengthened the hierarchy of power, all revolutions will need to be followed by more revolutions unless they are immediately replaced with resistance.
Between reaction and revolution there is nothing to choose. Neither leave the track, they just allow different people to drive while the same people are run over.
Revolution fights tyrants, resistance fights tyranny
It is not revolution we need, another turn of the same wheel along the same path, it is resistance. Resistance uses the tyrant’s own power against them rather than strengthening that power by reaction. Resistance fights all forms of oppression and bigotry regardless of source by building and defending a tolerant society. Resistance to patriarchy is not feminism, it is removal of masculinism. Resistance to bigotry is not bigotry, it is diversity and tolerance. Resistance to capitalism is not unions, it is dismantling of the trade economy. It is not enough to weed, a new system must be planted or the old seeds of tyranny will instantly grow again.
Oppressive power of the size in place today will not be removed by the creation of revolutionary power. Even if one chooses to think a new leader would stop the oppression it is no longer in the power of a leader or leaders. Mass disobedience and a refusal to acknowledge the authority of the powerful are the only hope to collapse the current empire.
Anyone who occupies the old places of power in a hierarchical ponzi scheme is an enemy of those below, even if they just fought alongside them and ‘earned’ their place. It is the position that is the enemy and it must be constantly collapsed by a removal of support from every ponzi scheme of celebrity, wealth and power. It is not enough to remove oppressors, the system of oppression must be dismantled.
– – –
 Fanon, Frantz, Black Skin, White Masks (Peau noire, masques blancs, 1952
 Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), 1848
 Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth (Les Damnés de la Terre), Grove Press, 1961
 Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State: in the light of the researches of Lewis H. Morgan (Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats) 1884
This article has been stigmergicly translated into French.
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I have found your blog this morning through #OpDeathEaters. I am enjoying the read very much.
I agree with your fundamental premise here absoutely, but I think your argument is weakened by your generalised use of the term “feminists”. Whereas you speak specifically about Fanon and Engels (with a passing reference to Robin Morgan), which strengthens your argument by specificity, your reference to “feminists”.
Feminisms are very wide and diverse, across time and space. It would be fabulous if you would name those feminists whose position you are rightly critiquing.
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Ack! 6am sentence construction fail! Should read “your reference to “feminists” fundamentally weakens it.”
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Hi Elinor, thank you very much for your feedback. My use of the word feminists/feminism in general is because I am against the term in general. I would far prefer we fought masculinism than promoted feminism. If the problem is the patriarchy (and it is) I don’t agree we should be fighting for a place in it, we should be dismantling it. I have much more to write about it but some points are under An economy for all, Witches and how they are silenced, and Group affiliation.
Very happy to meet you.
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Very happy to meet you, too 🙂
There are many feminisms which are about dismantling patriarchy, but I can also see why you would feel the term has been co-opted. Perhaps it’s a generational thing (I am in my mid-40s).
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Marx would most probably agree with you. In Marx’s dialectics, there can not be a proletariat without a capitalist class. Thus a revolutionary tries not to put the proletariat into power but rather to remove the system that creates those two classes.
Binary thought process leading to an us vs tagainsthem mentality is the first step in anarchy. The sly will craft witty sayings ez to repeat and requiring no thought process.
The first step? There’s always more than one 1 solution to any given problem..
Step 2: turning your opponents big momentum against them and yes even with their own words
Step 3: never be afraid to play the bad guy… The consequences suck, but we all play our parts as best we can
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