HOW TO MAKE REFORM EFFORTS GAIN MAXIMUM PUBLIC SUPPORT
[Also related: "Let's Get Off the Treadmill of Defeat"]
People quite naturally and quite rightly engage in all sorts of reform efforts--from very militant labor strikes to petitions and everything in between--all the time. Sometimes people try to stop the rulers from making things worse in some particular way. And sometimes people try to improve conditions of life for ordinary people in some way. When the explicitly stated aim of the the effort is something short of all-out egalitarian revolution then this is called a reform effort.
PDR--Boston supports reform efforts. The WAY we support them is this. We strive to increase widespread public support for the effort by not only communicating to the public the particular facts about the reform demand, but also the fundamental values and aspirations that motivate the people who are waging the effort.
Invariably, when people engage in a reform effort, they do it because they want to make society closer in some particular way to being an egalitarian society; they want to make it more equal (in the egalitarian sense of no rich and no poor), and they want to make it based more on people helping each other (mutual aid, solidarity) instead of being pitted against each other, and they want to make it more genuinely democratic instead of just a fake democracy as it is today. People waging reform efforts, in other words, have egalitarian values and aspirations. Their motive for engaging in their reform effort is to bring the day closer when the goal of egalitarian revolution is accomplished: to remove the rich from power; have real, not fake democracy with no rich and no poor.
Egalitarian revolution means removing the rich from power so that people--the vast majority of whom want an egalitarian society--are able to shape ALL of society by their egalitarian values.
PDR--Boston wants people engaged in reform efforts to know something extremely important that is generally not known and even disputed. The fact is that their reform effort would GAIN, not lose, support from the public if they told the public what truly motivated their effort and its particular goal or demand--that they want an egalitarian society with the rich removed from power and with real not fake democracy and with no rich and no poor.
Videos of "person on the street" interviews in Boston show (here [a complilation] and here and here and here and here) that practically everybody (no cherry-picking in the videos!) says they would support a reform effort or organization MORE, not less, if it sincerely said it wanted to remove the rich from power to have real not fake democracy with no rich and no poor.
PDR--Boston encourages people engaged in a reform effort to tell the public explicitly about their egalitarian revolutionary values and aspirations. This will not only strengthen public support for the reform effort, but will also strengthen the egalitarian revolutionary movement by giving people greater confidence that they are part of the majority (not a hopelessly weak minority) in wanting an egalitarian revolution.
The rich, however, will remain in power, and class inequality will continue, and ordinary people will be treated like dirt forever, until we make an egalitarian revolution; and this can only happen when millions of people EXPLICITLY make egalitarian revolution their goal. Movements against the ruling elite can win what they explicitly aim to win; but they never win more than that. This is why we invite other reform-focused organizations to sign "This I Believe," as discussed here.
Reform efforts are not the opposite of egalitarian revolution or a substitute for it; they are a way that the egalitarian revolutionary movement gains strength and confidence from people learning that they are part of a large majority in wanting to shape all of society by egalitarian values, and in wanting to remove the rich from power in order to be able to succeed in this great effort.
Most Marxists Disagree With PDR--Boston About Reform Efforts
Karl Marx, and the modern Marxists whose thinking is based on his writings, have, in contrast to PDR--Boston, a very negative view of ordinary (working class) people (as discussed here.) These Marxists do not agree that most people engaged in reform efforts have, themselves, egalitarian revolutionary values and aspirations. Marxists believe that people in reform efforts are motivated merely by self-interest and have no desire to create a classless society. Nor do these Marxists agree that people engaged in a reform effort would gain, not lose, public support if they explicitly declared their egalitarian revolutionary values and aspirations (since the public likewise supposedly only cares about its self-interest.)
Marxists, therefore, view the motives of people engaged in a reform effort as being very different from their (the Marxists') motives as revolutionaries. Some Marxists see their role as persuading people engaged in a reform effort to change their goal (and their values) from a supposedly self-interest reform goal to the supposedly very different and more nobler revolutionary goal. These Marxists look down on reform efforts as "not revolutionary" and they take some pride in not getting involved in such efforts.
Other Marxists join and even try to lead reform efforts. They do this while down playing their revolutionary aspirations. Their aim is to persuade the people engaged in the reform effort that they (the Marxists) are good leaders, so that the people in the reform effort will follow the Marxists' revolutionary party in spite of the fact that they (the reformers) supposedly don't share its revolutionary goals. This way the revolutionary party will be able to seize power one day and then use that power (very un-democratically, of course) to re-mold ordinary people so they will stop just "thinking with their belly" and become (as Che Guevara put it) "Socialist Man."
The point is that neither of these ways of relating to reform efforts is useful. Marxists act as if people engaged in reform efforts did not want an egalitarian revolution. The Marxists get all tangled up in debating amongst themselves how to relate to these "un-revolutionary struggles." They miss the point entirely. Reform efforts are only "un-revolutionary" because the people waging them do not know that the majority of the public shares their egalitarian revolutionary aspirations. The role of a revolutionary is to help people (including those engaged in reform efforts) learn that in having egalitarian revolutionary aspirations they are in the great majority. When this is well known, people engaged in reform efforts will declare their revolutionary aims and strengthen both the reform effort AND the egalitarian revolutionary movement.