In the final analysis we cannot conclude International Worker’s Day in Austin to have been a success, so this public statement must necessarily serve a dual purpose as a self-criticism. The Maoist method of analysis requires that we dissect things into two, that we sum up both failures and successes, and in this way we turn a failure into a success. This process of continuity and rupture is precisely how we learn to fight—by fighting.
We must also start at the beginning, summarizing events leading up to May 1st. For the past 3 years RGA has led the development of a militant coalition called the May Day Brigade which organizes street actions on May 1st. This year however activists to the right of our politics formed their own event which sat comfortably within the parameters of law and order, this second event “May Day All Day” or White May Day was organized after our event and, in content, in opposition to our event. Many NGOs and revisionist organizations were behind this as well as some groups we respect and have had the pleasure of working alongside on several fronts. In any event two May Day actions compromised our numbers and decreased our forces. While it is correct to accept other’s methods of organizing to a degree, it is incorrect to accept these uncritically. By organizing a second event the same day, “May Day All Day” contributed to hurting our numbers. This was a morale boost to the fascists who were able to bring many from out of town. We had no prior knowledge to the plans of the far right. We aim to correct this error in the future by struggling for unity around key issues such as antifascism and holidays celebrated by anarchists, socialists, and communists alike. Fear-mongering and rumors were started by the far-right due to an unrelated stabbing on the University of Texas campus which they tried to pin on ANTIFA earlier in the day.
We had organized and planned for a march on May First and we should have organized and planned for a confrontation with fascists, as all over the country reports have been coming in that fascists were trying to make the whole country Berkley. Our planned march was not reckless, it was not designed or intended to use tactics which could put attendance at risk. If communists fear marching on May Day then they have already lost the fight and thrown in the towel to the fascists. To revisionism anything that contains a revolutionary attitude is seen as reckless, “ultra-left”, etc. This has a positive aspect as well and we must understand that to be attacked by the enemy is a good thing; there is a reason fascists targeted our march and let the social-democrat event be (aside from minor heckling). The fascists are correct in determining us the greater threat and they were also correct in trying to break us— we are antagonistic opposites which cannot co-exist and as things go on this makes street clashes and eventually war inevitability. Only in the past year have we began learning the depth of what must be done to fight winning street battles, and we must be prepared to fail, we must have the courage to hold ground even against the odds. These conditions put us in a defensive position as normally antifascists are in the offensive position, nonetheless we held our position.
Our errors were many. We did not prepare those in attendance for a street battle. The police clearly were there as passive observers to protect the fascists. When fascists try to march the police send riot cops to protect them and when they attack our marches the police allow them to do pretty much whatever they like. The main thing is to remember that if a fascist tries to attack you or snatch what you are holding it is your duty to offer stiff and swift defense. If you have a stick use it to break their knuckles or noses. If you are arrested we will fight it in court. We failed to switch tactics from marching tactics to battle tactics due to a crisis of on-the-ground leadership for which we take full responsibility and are putting measures in place to prevent this error in the future. Several cadres and members of other organizations have already been criticized by their respective organizations and provided internal self-criticism. This process as well as the details of command cannot be made public due to security measures. Suffice it to say that there were both breaks in discipline as well as chain of command.
In the start the fascists outnumbered the revolutionaries, then our numbers were matched. We took streets, lost streets and held positions even though we were out gunned. The right has had extensive access to firearms and training and the left has been playing catch up. It is nothing but the influence of liberals and a tendency for rightist conservative thinking that causes the lefts aversion to guns. We must work toward and facilitate an armed and trained left which is also composed of experienced and confident street fighting units which should be armed with sticks or other blunt and close range weapons. This experience has further demonstrated that this is necessary.
Fascist Ken Reed, who was one of the main organizers of the “white lives matter” rally back in November, was one of the lead agitators on the right. Early on in the march a fascist named William Fears physically assaulted one of the comrades who was guiding chants and for this Fears came very close to forcing our units to use lethal force. Those in attendance could see fear in his eyes as the Partisan unit moved into the ready position prepared to chamber a round. The police themselves panicked at this moment and small ground was fought back from the fascists. Our intelligence units have confirmed that many of the armed fascists were carrying unloaded riffles by their own admittance, and several more were off duty police and military (or ex-military) personnel. A blood bath was narrowly avoided when the police were forced by threat of armed escalation to restrain their fascist cohorts. In confrontations such as this a principle and secondary enemy should be established and typical methods should be formatted to fit this understanding. There were those comrades in attendance who, perhaps out of habit, attempted to make the Austin Police Department the principle enemy, which failed to sharpen the contradiction between the fascist agitators and police who were ordered to deescalate. Communists must always seek to exacerbate the contradictions among the enemy and make use of their disunity. We attempted to correct this on the ground but its persistence only shows that there is still much theoretical work to be done to bring up intermediate comrades and win them over to these tactics.
We have come to the understanding that power only respects power, that the police engage differently when a group is armed for fear of escalation. With unarmed demonstrations they bark their orders and with armed demonstrations they tend to show more manners. We should not take this fact to mean that they will hesitate to defend fascism with lethal force, just as we must not hesitate to defend each other likewise.
Our lack of preparedness is what lead to the overall failure and what led to the fascists being able to collaborate effectively with the police. This is the principle aspect and the maneuvering of the social-democrats of White May Day is the secondary aspect. We have seen from past experience that a small or a matched group of committed fighters can win the day and have a decisive victory, that to win you have to fight. The fascist fighters tired fast and many out of town fascists dwindled off altogether, the vast majority of them lacked any discipline whatsoever. We must understand that this contradiction in training and commitment is a serious one and we must all take measures to correct this in our favor—this is how we transform a loss into a gain. We should understand that the far right has adapted to using traditional antifa style tactics and will attack even unprovoked, that we must fully prepare for this and see every demonstration as a potential street battle. We intend to both continue developing an antifascist united front that can struggle for tactical support with any antifascist, this will help to resolve the secondary contradiction. We will continue training physically, mentally, and with arms to resolve the principle contradiction.
We must take this loss standing and hold tight to our banners, we must never let them fall and we vow to apply these lessons and never accept sitting quietly on International Workers Day. While the social-democratic event went off in relative safety we understand that their methods are so acceptable to the state that they earn no repression and even the fascists know they do not constitute a threat worth responding to. We on the other hand do not fear fascists and we do not fear confrontation. We are prepared to lose certain brawls in the interest of winning the coming war. We stand for no platform for fascists and will never apologize for street confrontations. We will not sit back in our desk chairs and scoff off antifascist resistance. Supporters on the ground informed the social-democratic event that fascists were openly marching in Austin, the social-democrats failed to take up the call to help antifascists in Austin prevent this and in the final analysis gave the fascists what amounts to a marching permit. They chose to let other leftists be outnumbered out of their own cowardly reformism, which they pass off as a “sober decision”. They have failed to be antifascists in that instance. Others arrived to back up and defend the city of Austin against fascism, these include Oh Shit What Now?, Anarchist Black Cross, and a few members of Fight For 15. To these comrades we extend the greatest thanks and gratitude. We will return the favor and stand or fall beside you. It is our hope that the revisionists can come to their senses, abandon their dogmas of legalism and actually join into real united front organizing. To do this they must hold police collaborators in their ranks (including a leader of Austin Socialist Collective) accountable and drop their sectarian activity. They talk a big game on the internet but when blows are exchanged on the streets of Austin between Communists and Fascists they are nowhere to be found. Let it also be stated that regardless of our differences, should they be attacked by the far-right we will gladly show up and help to defend them against fascism—no one should be allowed to be attacked by fascists without stiff resistance, whether they be organizers who we disagree with, unpoliticized people, or even liberals. When fascism is concerned an injury to any of the people is an injury to all of the people.
The fascists specifically targeted people they assumed to be women with violence, at one point even attacking a comrade in a wheelchair who was defended by those around. One person was briefly arrested but was released without being taken to the jail. In spite of their best efforts and their importing of fascists from around the state, we suffered no major injuries and no charges stuck. We defended ourselves and one another and we will continue to do so. We successfully extracted all those in attendance with mobility impairments and made sure everyone else got out safely without being dogged by the fascists scum.
BETTER AN UNDERDOG THAN A RUNNING DOG
It must be mentioned that without hesitation social democrats and Trotskyites wasted no time using this as an opportunity to attack the Maoist left. Their ideology, like that of Trotsky, rushes to attack actual revolutionaries when the fascists make their move. Meanwhile they engaged in “civil disobedience,” voluntarily allowing some of their people to take arrests. These arrests were for show and no one was booked. We insist that getting arrested should never be something revolutionaries accept willingly, that while we should not fear arrest we should not volunteer for it—we should always resist arrest. The White “May Day All Day” event saw some minor heckling from a small group of fascists who were actually looking to confront the Red May Day event. Their leaders gloat that this was due to having larger numbers, we insist that it was due to not being targeted by the bulk of the fascists. It also must be made evident that they refused to utilize these “larger numbers” to actually halt fascists who were marching in Austin. Instead they left the revolutionary left to battle on their own then chose to use this for political ammunition. These cretins showed their true colors on May first and abandoned any claim to being antifascists they showed once again that social democracy, liberalism, and revisionism can often serve as the left wing of fascism itself.
The fascists themselves will probably be emboldened by this event and they will surely try to march openly in our streets again, even though most of them are not AustInites. We should all take this seriously and take every measure to shut them down. We must not hesitate to sharpen our specific fighting skills with the understanding that there are a number of ways to fight. We must persist in political education geared towards the masses themselves and we must learn from the people while we provide communist leadership. As the U.S. marches steadily toward the open terrorist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie we must fight inch by inch, with advances and principled retreats understanding that revolution never proceeds along the straight and narrow path, that there are set backs and losses and this is part of the class struggle. With heavy hearts but heads held high we proceed in careful training, preparation, and mass work so that when the fascists arrive in our city they shall not pass!
It is everyone’s duty to oppose fascism tooth and nail
Buy a gun, learn to use it
Without a people’s army the people have nothing
-Red Guards Austin May 2017
Source: Red Guards Austin