Formed in May 2017 and based in New York City, the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is a contingent of the Marxist/anarchist movement known as Antifa. RAM describes itself as “a political movement” of “revolutionary anarchists” who are committedto waging “armed” warfare against American “fascism” ― the term by which RAM refers to conservatism ― in “solidarity with the international antifascist and anarchist struggle.” Rooted in what it calls “the context of the abolitionist struggle against slavery” ― and “dedicated to freeing people from bondage and building resistance in the United States” ― RAM contends not only that America was “built on slavery and genocide,” but also that “modern slavery and mass brutality” against black people “persist unchecked” to this day. Because “the Civil War was never resolved,” RAM elaborates, “the system of slavery transitioned into the prison industrial complex” where blacks are inarcerated in disproportionately high numbers. On the premise that the United States government has conspired “with white supremacist organizations” to “ensure that the relations of slavery [remain] entrenched in U.S. political, social, and economic life,” RAM claims that “the [slave] ships” of yesteryear have been replaced by the “correctional buses” that transport African Americans en masse to prison cells across the country; that “the [slave] auction blocks [of the 1800s] are now the courtrooms” in American cities; and that black people today “are indelibly marked with prison numbers that remain etched on their records till they die.”
“The abolitionist struggle,” says RAM, must be extended and directed against “the state and capitalism,” which the organization cites as the leading modern-day “perpetrators of oppression.” Openly advocatingviolence against “fascists” and police officers ― the latter of whom RAM views as government-sanctioned enablers of fascism ― the Movement indoctrinates its members and allies by means of workshops bearing titles like “Introduction to Anarchism” and “Our Enemies in Blue.”
RAM statesthat “as fascist movements are expanding and the state becomes increasingly authoritarian,” various “[A]ntifa groups” should join other likeminded “revolutionaries” in creating an “Underground Railroad network” to rescue “those facing detention, incarceration, deportation, or white supremacist violence.” In its quest to “freepeople from [the] bondage” of “the modern-day slave system,”RAM “seeks to destroy the prison” as an institution in the United States.
By RAM's telling, “the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of a black man [Barack Obama] to the height of [America's] political machine,” triggered a “white supremacist” backlash that took the form of a “fascist movement” emblematized by “the ascendance of Donald Trump” to the presidency in 2017.
Central to RAM's long-term objective is the forcible theft and redistribution of property. “To begin the revolutionary process,” RAM explains, “goods, land, and tools must be expropriated, or taken away from those who withhold them,” and then must be “shared with those who lack them.”
Asserting that American fascists “threaten to ethnically cleanse Latinos, criminalize Muslims, destroy indigenous lands, and oppress the LGBTQ community while continuing to murder and incarcerate black people,” RAM seeks to “develo[p] militant strategies” and “a new global paradigm for revolution” that will “destroy state power” and its handmaidens: “capitalism, patriarchy, and domination.” And because“the same forces that put people in bondage also utilize gender roles as a source of domination,” says RAM, “overcoming imprisonment and liberating humanity from captivity must happen simultaneously with the abolition of gender constraints.”
RAM draws inspiration from the legacy of the Black Panther Party ― a violent revolutionary organization whose members engaged in widespread criminality and murder during the 1960s ― which purportedly offered “a solid political vision in such an intelligible and inspiring manner that they became … a model for revolutionary movements” all over the world. Among those movements, says RAM, were U.S.-based entities such as “the American Indian Movement, the Young Lords, the Weather Underground, and other militant organizations that were working towards abolition and a communal life.”
Among RAM's most visible individual heroes are a pair of Marxist cop-killers and former Black Panther Party members: (a) Mumia Abu Jamal, whom RAM characterizes as a shining symbolof “Philadelphia’s rich revolutionary tradition,” and (b) Russell Shoats, who characterized himself as “a runaway slave” when he escaped in 1977 from the prison where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.
RAM also greatly admires the Marxist revolutionaries Angela Davis, who in 1970 provided the gun that was used by one of her Black Panther comrades to blow off the head of a California judge, and Assata Shakur, who in 1973 fired two fatal gunshots into the head of a New Jersey state trooper. By RAM's telling, Shakur's subsequent incarceration ― which came to an end in 1979 when she escaped from prison and fled to Communist Cuba ― was not a consequence of the murder she had committed, but rather, was a result of “the sheer barbarism of U.S. Slave-society.” Shakur's only crime, says RAM, was her commitment to “fighting for general liberation.”
RAM cites “the Rojava Revolution, the anti-state revolution in northern Syria,” as a model that “provides us with a successful example of the strategies of organization and resistance we need to apply in the U.S. today.” Rojava, says RAM, “is rooted in the “freedom struggle” of Middle Eastern Kurds, “an oppressed minority group” that “initially adopted the traditional Marxist-Leninist framework for revolution” before it eventually “shifted direction and adopted anarchist ideas” designed to “render the State obsolete.”
RAM's ultimate political objective is to “burn down the American plantation once and for all” ― meaning all of the nation's institutions, traditions, and values ― and to “build,” in their stead, “a new world” that is free from “the oppressive power of white supremacy, patriarchy, the State, and capital.”
In August 2017, RAM announced that it was launching a new chapter in Philadelphia.
“The battles lines have been drawn and white supremacists are on notice. White nationalist statues are crumbling all over the US as our collective revolutionary power is growing. As the monuments of white supremacist society fall we must continue to make it clear that their reign of terror is coming to an end.
“For the occasion of Columbus Day, October 9th, one of the most vile ‘holidays’ of the year, the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is calling for collectives all over the country to take action against this day and in support of indigenous people in the US and abroad who have been victims of colonialism and genocide.
“We are calling for groups to ‘decorate’ their neighborhoods as they see fit: put up murals, wheatpaste posters, drop a banner, etc. On October 9th put a picture of your action on social media and use the hashtags [#FuckColumbusDay, #DestroyColonialism]. With these actions multiplied around the country, we will make it unequivocally clear that revolutionaries will always stand with the indigenous!”
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