Oppression, Struggle and Tactics:
Tactics of the oppressed and Real Solidarity
To begin discussing any strategy for liberation we always have to begin with the fact that we are living in a society that has deep roots in systematic oppression of people: colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, hetero-sexism, capitalism-imperialism. One needs to begin with that understanding, if you are to engage in a discussion of “creating a better world.”
Within the context we have to acknowledge that this power structure and system has not only historically maintain their way of life through genocide, rape, occupation, and torture but they continue to do this today. There are oppressed groups of people who systematically are kept away from any real power: land and liberty.
Now we have the movement for social change, where you have many different organizations, individuals and political views, and not all have similar aims. In other words, not all of these folks want real fundamental change, and don't want to radically change power dynamics and social relationships (how people relate to each other – how people oppress each other or treat each other with respect and dignity). Some just want some social reforms, others want institutional power or political office, and others want to use people and the movement to take power (meaning take over ruling over the oppressed and humanity as a whole).
To a slave under this system, especially one who is conscious of his bondage and is in struggle against his oppression, he has nothing to lose, and he has no vested interested in keeping this system in tact. In fact, they will benefit from getting rid of this system once and for all, and creating a world that is just. We have clear examples of oppressed people rising up against their oppressors all over the world and here within the u.s. Empire. For us, the indigenous, the slaves, the people of color, working class, women, queer, trans, and all oppressed people these are instances where we have felt the most free: when we have forced our enemies who maintain this way of life in to retreat.
This instances when oppressed and colonized people have resisted and fought has not been pretty, especially when they are dealing with a system, power structure, and people who are the most ruthless rulers, who have lynched them, burned them to death, starved them, enslaved them, raped them, mass murdered them. In some cases, they've rebelled, and had to burn down the master's house, or have beaten down so much they had no choice to strike back in any way they could, sometimes putting their own bodies on the line for the price of freedom.
I agree with Franz Fanon, that when a colonized person lashes out in violence against his/her oppressor is a form of catharsis, or therapy, in other words it's liberating, because of the terrorism they've endured. In my mind, no privileged person, or settler, has the right to tell a colonized person how they should struggle for their liberation. They can have opinions, but in my opinion, they should keep them to themselves.
We have in the left also people who come from privilege who see themselves as saviors of oppressed people, and who want to build a legacy, I guess, doing charity work or saving the oppressed from themselves. This is what Paulo Freire called, “false generosity.” This is because an oppressor or privileged person, does not for the purpose of liberation, but to make themselves feel better or feel less guilty. They are not in solidarity with those who are fighting for their emancipation.
If someone who comes from privilege truly wants to be in solidarity they need to fight along side those in resistance, in a way that doesn't get in the way of those fighting. They should be organizing in their community, for people to do the same, not fight for leadership in the movement. As the oppressed we need to find our own way, and figure out ourselves, what will be the strategy and tactics that lead to our liberation, and the end of this system and way of life.