Authoritarian Reeducation: Questiones About The “White” Radical Left

Do white people need authority the same way some folks need a strict god to keep them from hurting themselves and others? I ask specifically about white people because of my own personal observation and not by any kind of statistic or study. It may be the organizing spaces I have moved in, both in Boriken and Portland, that just so happen to have a “white” person who proposes a strict chain of command system where no one can disagree with the leadership.

Is Authoritarian Socialism appealing to white people because white people feel a NEED for authority? Are Communism and Socialism western ideas with “white” people in mind and are they solutions for “white” people? Specifically are these systems for European/white intelligentsia? Although there have been leaders like Mao Zedong and Kwame Nkruma, were their movements necessary for people to organize themselves and provide community care? Do rural or poor people need government or do they need the safety to rule themselves? Is Authoritarianism for people that cannot self-govern but have more access to power and resources?

“The program does nothing to change the participants’ economic or political conditions but it does change their relationship with their economic and political system.”

There is a rehabilitation program called Hogar CREA (Comunidad Terapéutica de Reeducación y Crecimiento del Carácter or Community Re-education Therapy and Character Growth). For some folks it is an alternative to prison, for others is it where they are expected to go after prison. It is not uncommon to encounter people that have come through CREA that will gladly tell you the story of their struggle. Many of the stories will be of how brutal and intense the program is. Former participants will also talk about the new importance of god (Christ) in their life. Some people are told they need a higher “almighty” being to be accountable to for success. The program does nothing to change the participants’ economic or political conditions but it does change their relationship with their economic and political system.

Part of the recovery process is mandatory attendance to church on Sundays, the selling and distribution of pastries produced by CREA and community service. The participant, rather than building power with community, embraces their lack of self-worth while serving the organization.

In some radical left organizations regular organizing meetings and group discussions on theory are mandatory. Like community service and attending church, there is nothing wrong with these things. I question if everyone can attend organizing meetings or has time to study. Do folks that have to work to keep sheltered and fed have the time? In a crisis one can stop and look at the problem but is it a good time to study how a hurricane works? What does one do when it’s too late to prepare for the crises? What does one do when the crisis has been ongoing?  Of course these organizations must realize this. Then how does their studying result in actions that serve the people? Do people act in similar ways these groups do to serve the people without all the theoretical discussions or matching t-shirt?

Is Authoritarianism for people that feel too powerful but desire to do “good”? Are authoritarians both haughty and without self-worth?

Do communists and socialists give the impression that organizations’ members operate with the welfare of the organization above the welfare of the people they stand for? Is the intensity of some organizations’ processes ideal for people that have trouble with self-control and a desire for hierarchy?

Do these organizations have room for dissent? Similar to Hogar CREA participants, members of these organizations swear by this strategy and feel it should be applied to everyone.  Do authoritarians operate like a church? Is the practice of authoritarianism a way of keeping “men” in power and “women” on the sidelines? Is authoritarianism the back door for infiltrators that serve the state or radicals from the right?

As in CREA there are those that have been through these systems that do not feel they have not benefited or, at worst, been more harmed. The burden is again placed on the individual for the system to work. There is little to no room for a scenario where the system is at fault.

Then we have the people that never went through CREA or joined an authoritarian organization. There are those that, with the help of their social network, were able to change their individual and environmental conditions. There are people that have been able to organize themselves collectively without political education or forming a government. Humans will organize themselves into a strong collective with or without an ideology.

“Instead of serving the people the people are required to serve the institution. Any success belongs to the state or institution and any failing falls on the people.”

Perhaps that is why the campesino or subsistence farmer was so sought after in early communist revolutions. People in el campo where organized and took care of both strangers and neighbors in need of community support. It is still like that today. The authoritarian, whether they be communist, capitalist or socialist does not seem inclined to surrender power or does not feel that people can self-govern. Instead of serving the people the people are required to serve the institution. Any success belongs to the state or institution and any failing falls on the people.

People are separate from the institution and are therefore inferior and need to be improved or consumed by the institution. A familiar example is a minister that blames the congregation for the empty pews but the praise goes to the sky father when the church meets its fundraising goal.

People who possess whiteness, intelligentsia, and people that have access to power and resources that poor people do not, have no one except each other to answer to. They live in a state of enlightenment. They may not feel they have all the power but they do look down and see “uneducated” masses. Maybe that is why authoritarianism fits in so well with capitalist and some socialist and communist.

Communism, Socialism are all European constructs. The problems they confront are problems people all over the planet have to contend with. However, the tactics and strategies are not completely new. Collectivism, community aid and self-governing, like permaculture, are not new and modern ideas. They are new to the Western elites but not to the natives of Africa, Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe or the Americas.

So why do the communist and socialist not speak in the language of the people they claim to serve? Is it because they look down upon their cousins’ simple words? Why not master both the jargon and familiar speech? As a survivor of the CREA program once told me about singing, “If no one can hear you, you are doing it wrong anyway.”



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