Settler Opportunism in Communist Organizing: Interviews with FTP-OK and FTP-Bloom.

By: Rojizo

The leftist and Communist movements in Amerika have seen a resurgence in the past couple years. While many older organizations have seen an influx of members, many newer organizations have sprung up seeking to ignite a trend away from the revisionism and failed organizing styles of the 60s and 70s. This contemporary Communist movement is conscious of the intersectionality of class, race and gender, and seeks to abandon the old European Marxist-Leninist party building on class alone. This is because many are recognizing that class is not simply determined by wage or occupation, but societal position, status, and commitment to revolutionary change. In decades past, Settlers presumed leadership in the Communist movement, going so far as to claim to be “The Revolution” as with Weather Underground Organization in the 70s or the Communist Party of the USA in the 1920s and 30s. However, this claim falls short of the truth, and history shows that Settler leftists are often opportunistic in our organizing. What this means is that we organize in selfish, individualized, petite bourgeois ways that do not push the boundaries of radicalism beyond aesthetics. The following two paraphrased stories come from comrades in the For The People movement, a group of organizations that grew up along the Maoist Communist Party- Organizing Committee, as well as other party building efforts.

Picture of OPP from their Facebook

FTP-OK was the intermediate organization for the Oklahoma People’s Party in eastern Oklahoma and was started primarily to assert indigenous sovereignty of the Indian Tribal Organization for Native self-determination. The origins of this party began with multi-national organizing, meaning multi-racial, and immediately many Natives had misgivings organizing with Settlers. The OPP and FTP founders marched on Fort Sill, they set up community outreach tables, and had a free grocery program. The OPP/FTP began training members to defend the community from White supremacist reaction, as well as training to send a unit to the border to protect migrants and workers at the National Butterfly Center in addition to delivering humanitarian aid. Black and Indigenous leadership was struggled over in the organization, and the OPP/FTP tried to base itself out of the Indigenous/Latinx and New Afrikan community.

Settlers in OPP/FTP, meanwhile, did not put in equal effort to proletarianize themselves, nor did they suffer the same casualties as their Black and Brown comrades. While Settler members made themselves out to be nuisances through activity such as unprincipled criticism online, and repeating anti-Semitic and transphobic rhetoric after receiving criticism, all while their Colonized comrades were fighting legal battles for the aforementioned party actions. After many confrontations between members, the Settlers in leadership resorted to opportunistic efforts to expel one Latino member to avoid struggle. Using an excuse to escape accountability is a common tactic of Settler leftists, and very effective with other Settlers, because ideological struggle often makes Settlers uncomfortable. Overtime in the OPP, transparency evaporated and the Settlers in the organization began making decisions undemocratically, such as declaring alliances with electoral groups, working with DSA instead of the Black and Brown communities, dissolving the community defense aspect of the organization, etc. ultimately the Settlers abandoned the party when challenged by the remaining Colonized central committee members, splitting the party and using deception to create a new organization with the former student-wing of the OPP.

FTP Bloom logo

Across the country in Bloomington, Indiana, another FTP faced similar but qualitatively less damaging struggles with Settler reactionaries/opportunists. This FTP was founded by veteran tenant and labor organizers, former members of the Bloomington Solidarity Network. Bloomington has a higher percentage of Settlers than the communities that FTP OK organized in but FTP Bloom have made important observations about themselves in their own community. One observation is that often among Settlers of every class and political persuasion the main antagonism is not between their supposed class enemy such as a boss or landlord, rather they attack fellow Colonized tenants and workers. One example of this is when FTP Bloom members initiated a campaign to organize tenants of a complex owned by a notorious slumlord. After months of canvassing, the community planned an event that expected high attendance. One White tenant phoned the organizers, threatening to call the landlord and the police because they were afraid this crowd that included their Black and Brown neighbors would “get out of hand”. They were also afraid that an organization of tenants would threaten their standing with the Housing and Neighborhood Development, a city agency.

Putting these stories in juxtaposition shows the reality of the situation that Settler Communists face. We cannot rely on Settler nation for revolutionary movement building, regardless of supposed class position, espoused political proclivity, or even marginalized gender identity. Being a Settler in a Settler state predisposes the nation to defend the states interests at the oppressed nations expense. Settlers, as a nation, ignore efforts to build radical communities and bandwagon onto the efforts of Black and Brown folks. If you wish to be a revolutionary organizer, recognizing your concrete reality is imperative. Do you live in a radical community? What would it take to create one? What cultural, musical, athletic events can you and your organization put on to bring anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal principles to the masses of Settlers? These are the questions White organizers need to be asking.

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