Saturday, September 12, 2015

5 Things to Know about Baltimore, Freddie Gray, Foco Theory and Contemporary American Urban Unrest

As the seasons change, the same old human drama continues to play out in Baltimore. The dialectic of: generate a problem, propose the solution, and implement the final solution continues apace. Inquiring minds will want to know: what is the intersection of some guerrilla warfare theorists and modern American urban (i.e. “black” or “minority”) unrest? How does this impact the Reader and inform as to the shape of things to come?

1. What is "Foco Theory" ?

Ernesto Che Guevara, darling of the modern American progressive movement,  published his seminal work in 1961, Guerrilla Warfare”. Its basic tenets were:

1-“popular forces can win a war against the enemy” 

2-“is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making a revolution exist; the revolution can create them” 

3-“in underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting” 

Guevara's work inspired French intellectual RĂ©gis Debray, who further developed the guerilla concept of "Foco Revolution".

Foco theory has two components: the "popular forces" and a Vanguardist cadre.

 2.  How does Foco theory influence Urban Organizers?

Foco theory states that small cadres of vanguards could generate the local conditions necessary for “revolution” by fomenting violent insurrection. Altering the social ecology through criminal and terroristic acts while simultaneously indoctrinating the local population, the desired end state was to replace the existing political structure to something “closer to the heart's desire” of the marxist ideal.

In Baltimore, the “popular forces” of foco theory are the street rioters and looters, aka the Thugs. The Mayor and State Attorney, playing the role of the Vanguardist Cadre have capitalized on the death of a petty low level drug dealer in a poorly veiled attempt to fabricate the conditions for a Che style "uprising". The only point of variation existing in Baltimore with traditional Foco theory is the urban setting. Guevara was committed to the rural areas, a preference from his days in the mountains with Castro. Baltimore is a jungle of a different type. Tellingly, there is no need for formal marxist indoctrination in Baltimore, as the state has already seen to that via EBT "entitlements" and public schools.

3.  Who was Frantz Fanon, and why is violence encouraged by urban activists?

The starting point to understand the manipulation and utility of human misery,  especially within impoverished and disenfranchised minority communities is the work of Afro-Caribbean intellectual Frantz Fanon.


Fanon, who died in Bethesda, Maryland in 1961, authored The Wretched of the Earth which outlined his analysis of the roles of class, race, culture, "black consciousness" and application of violence as legitimate means of achieving liberation. His concepts, especially the legitimization of violence, are said to have deeply influenced not only Che Guevera, but other well known marxist revolutionaries Malcolm X, Steve Biko and Ali Shariati.

The modern urban American incarnation of the Fanonian belief in the “catharsis of violence” and "black consciousness" is coupled with the iconic and laughably poorly executed “Focoist” theory of Fanon disciple Ernesto “Che” Guevara.  

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake orders police to "stand down" in order to give rioters "space to destroy" in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray death.

In Baltimore, as in Ferguson before it, one sees the orgiastic violence, looting and celebration of flame as fulfilment of the almost religious call in Fanon's "catharsis of violence". This mass emotional release and communal focus is an organizing activity in and of itself. In Baltimore, it was not paid outside agitators, it was locals led by mayor "Give them Space" Rawlings-Blake and the febrile delusions of the permanently aggrieved state attorney, Mosby who burned, looted and threatened.

4.  Is Foco theory working as a strategy?  What is the end goal?

For the scorecard of Baltimore, the mayor and the state attorney are batting 1.000 for fomenting insurrection. 

Criminal/terroristic acts? CHECK! 
Population indoctrinated? Long past CHECK! 
Upheaval? Call it done. 
Replace the existing political structure? ...  Wait, what?????

The ongoing and seemingly intractable violence and conflict in Baltimore and other urban hot spots is being fomented not to replace the existing structure as in traditionally understood Foco theory, but to enforce it on more areas. Foco theory is to foment revolution locally to impact globally. In keeping with Foco theory, the purpose of the insurrection in Baltimore and other "areas of tension" is to coerce compliance with progressive political programs from the Federal level down.  The pointy tip of the political spear is to have areas of urban unrest lead the charge in demanding federalizing the police in America and the manufactured "grassroots" insistence on disarming civilians.

5.  What is the role of propaganda and iconography in Foco theory?

The role of the insurrectionist of any stripe is not over when they die. Che was molded into a Christ-like icon as a means to symbolize the Revolution and provide an unassailable figure. What other figures in the modern urban organizing movement rely upon Christ-like iconography? 

This shameless use of religious iconography by modern politicians should always signal to thinking Americans that evil is afoot.

The standard propaganda staging composition in the photo below has been repeated throughout history. When examining political propaganda photos like this one, first look who is in the center of the composition. All else is stage dressing. All one needs to consider is: who is using whom? and - who will be the first useful idiot?

Compare this to contemporary similarly staged shots during recent political conflicts in the US.

Pay attention, this will be seen again... notice “Che” is in the middle of the composition, although he is 2nd in Command of the Cuban Revolution.  Any El Jefe Maximo worth his cigar does not tolerate sharing the stage.

You may fairly ask at this point what all of this has to do with “the Revolution”. Understand that the first duty of the Revolutionary is to MAKE THE REVOLUTION. 

The duty of every revolutionary is to make the Revolution. It is true that the Revolution will triumph in the Americas and throughout the world, but it is not for revolutionaries to sit in the doorways of their houses waiting for the corpse of imperialism to pass by.”

This was stated by none other than Fidel Castro at the Second general Assembly of the Cuban People, convened in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution on February 4th, 1962.

The role of Che was to “make the Revolution” as an immortal propaganda tool and icon.

Propaganda becomes an unpaid, 24/7, non stop revolutionary force. Castro himself stated   

"Propaganda is vital—the heart of our struggle. We can never abandon propaganda…Use a lot of sleight of hand and smiles with everybody. We must follow the same tactic we employed in our trial; defend our points of view without raising hackles. There will be plenty of time later to crush all the cockroaches."

Much like Che was eventually employed in death to "make the Revolution", the Trayvon Martins, Mike Browns, Freddie Grays and follow-on echelons will continue to be exploited to “make the Revolution”. Each one is a signpost on the road to perdition. They re-indoctrinate and re-energize the masses as a cultural dog whistle.

Foco theory is that the revolutionaries create the conditions locally in support of a global revolution. In life, or death, the form of the bloody revolutionary can be in combat fatigues and a beret, or a smart tailored skirt and suit jacket topped with a string of imitation pearls. Each is a Vanguard, leading the disaffected masses. Each will predictably move the checkers across the board inexorably.

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