It must be understood that once you confront the U.S. government with an armed presence, you have to acknowledge what you are placing into motion. From the standpoint of all government agencies, you are not going to be seen as peaceful protesters, regardless of how White you are and what rights you have convinced yourself that you think you have. In fact, this may have been the occupiers biggest error. They may have started to believe their own propaganda that the government was not going to move against them, but there is a very valuable history lesson here that I hope all serious activists for positive change do not miss. Many well meaning left activists were quick to make the point that if it were African Lives Matter activists, Indigenous activists, or anyone else carrying out an occupation, the feds/police would have moved on them immediately. History gives us more than enough evidence to underscore that point, but the reason why you didn't see any of that sentiment being displayed in any of our writings on the subject is because focusing on that disparity misses the primary point. The capitalist system doesn't give a rat's @ss who you are. Their interest is in controlling dissent, no matter what sector of the society it emerges from. If you think the FBI sits around talking about "these people are White so we cannot move against them with force" you are being very naive and a-historical. They proved with Waco in 1993 and Ruby Ridge in 1996 that when it comes to armed resistance against the state, once they feel the time is right, they will order their troops to attack that resistance with the same intensity and force, regardless of who makes up the resistance. They do need to care about public perception because controlling that is the capitalist system's most potent weapon. You see, despite what they want us to believe, they really don't have the military might to control everyone because working class people make up the ranks of their military and police. So, they realize they have to insure that with everything they do, the masses of working people are firmly behind them. So, a deeper understanding of the Malheur occupation would suggest that the feds, maybe recognizing that European lives hold more value in people's eyes than our lives, knew they would have to calculate their actions much more carefully than they typically do when they are moving against us. So they waited. Once they realized that there was no mass support for the militia occupiers, and that the longer the occupation occurred, the more the people of Harney County wanted the militia people gone, I can guarantee you the feds assessed that the climate was right for them to move in, and that's what they did. And when they needed to shoot and kill, they did so without the slightest hesitation. So, it may take them longer, but they will eventually move on Europeans too because the government's responsibility is to insure that the capitalist system's power is preserved so that means anyone who rises up to challenge their authority is going to have to deal with them at some point. They cannot ever risk giving you hope that you can win.
Going back to the earlier portion of this article when we said the lull period of fed/police inaction apparently emboldened the occupiers. It is interesting how the European militia movement bases it's existence on the premise that it represents a well armed populace that isn't afraid to confront the U.S. government in a military way. Unfortunately for them, this scenario from last week may have gone a long way in deflating whatever mystique they may have developed around this image. we say this because these occupiers seem to have been alarmingly amateurish and disorganized. They don't appear to have worked out even the most basis strategic questions. What was their plan to insure supplies could continue to be brought into the refuge? They had to realize that at some point the feds/police would block the roads. How did they think they would be able to go back and forth? Did they really foolishly believe they would be permitted to have free movement indefinitely without any federal/police response? The Native persons who took back Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971 engaged in consistent military fire and exchanges with government forces during that two year period. Yet, they had a plan for continued deliverance of supplies to and from the island that permitted them to endure there for two years. The American Indian Movement did the same thing in the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973. In that scenario, the feds/police attempted to block all the roads in and out of the town, but the Indigenous people were organized enough so that they seemed to had no difficulty moving around the fed/police checkpoints for an extended period of time during that ordeal. In fact, Mary Crow Dog even delivered a baby at Wounded Knee during that siege. The warriors from the American Indian Movement clearly had a plan and a network of support among the surrounding population and this is why they, being heavily over matched, were able to last as long as they did.
The points and lessons that can hopefully be learned here are that this model of dissent that keeps popping up where a few people are going to challenge the entire capitalist power structure really needs to be put to death for an eternal rest. The masses of people make history, not a few individuals. The Malheur occupiers were not interested in building any type of movement and their ignorance and arrogance around that illustrates why, despite the macho waving of AR-15s and AKs, they are being eliminated without even the slightest whimper. Assume for a moment that their claims had validity and were based around principles of justice. With the support of all the local residents, they could have stayed there for much longer with much different results. But, their movement isn't based on principles of justice. Its based on the same manifest destiny white supremacist dogma that Europeans like them have been evoking for decades. Actually, much of their rhetoric e.g. the federal government being a tyranny that the people must rise up against in the name of the constitution, is nothing more than a retread version of the tired program of the old racist Posse Comitatus from the 60s and 70s. So, their efforts, heaped in dishonest history and injustice, coupled with their complete disorganization and apparent incompetence, explains the results from last week. But, for those of us who see ourselves fighting for just causes we should still take note of these events. You cannot expect to defeat the most powerful entity on the planet with just a few people. You have to build a mass movement. It's about the mass movement, not how many guns you have or how well you can use them. Even if you are Rambo, eventually you will run out of ammo. You will get low on food, water, meds. Without a network of support, even if you are the whitest European on Earth, they will be able to wait you out and overpower you. Until we move to being willing to do work among the masses of people to build sustainable capacity, all we are doing is engaging in a rugged individualistic movie script similar to what we all have seen from Sly Stallone, Arnold, and Clint, for years. Works great for entertainment, but does not translate into people power and victory. So, although many people may see the work we do with six, eight, or ten children every morning during our breakfast program as tedious and non-eventful, in our eyes, it's the most important work we can be doing. The more work we can generate to create better understanding about our station in life and our ability to transform it ourselves, the better positioned we will be to have future generations that won't be afraid, selfish, or confused about who they are and whose interests they represent.
We continue to call upon everyone to stop romanticizing the struggle. Join an organization rooted in positive change for justice, and start doing day to day work to wake up whatever sector of the society you come from and/are organizing within. Use your organization to study victories. Let's understand how the Cubans were able to defeat a much stronger enemy because they had a solid July 26th movement in the urban areas of Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, etc. Frank Pais and Vilma Espin are as much the cause of their victory as Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara. It was this urban network that supported the efforts of the guerrillas in the mountains. This is the same for the Vietnamese fighters and their Viet Minh Front against the U.S. If we understand all of this, we realize there is no reason to romanticize guns. The best weapon for us right now is the book. That means if you are just talking about self defense and guns without revolutionary ideology and political education being your foundation, your program is based in romanticism. We can't mobilize effectively against the enemy when we can only turn out the same few faces into the streets while the masses of people are more concerned about the Super Bowl.
Although we have no common identity with the occupiers in this instance, we are concerned that as the memory of this incident fades into history, people are left with the perception that all militant efforts to challenge the system will end as the Malheur occupation is ending. Or, as one FBI agent expressed during a press conference "when you challenge the U.S. government, you can expect to face justice." Well, the criminal cannot hand out justice. Our only task is to do the work to convince the people exactly who the criminal actually is and to show them the examples of where we have organized effectively to defeat the enemy on any level. When the day finally arrives when we began to truly grasp the need to approach our struggles this way, and when we take a serious approach to doing the necessary mass work - instead of being satisfied to do posturing individualistic focused work, victory will appear quickly upon the horizon.