Carl Eugene Stroud
The Tendency to Learn
Today, the struggle for revolution suffers from insufficient capacity, on the individual, organizational, and societal levels. Our largest social movements, like our most passionate personal efforts, are in need of a militant thrust that can strategically connect disparate instances of action. Militancy allows mass movements to claim a legitimate pride and ownership of the most successful revolutionary actions. And militancy provides the active minority with a distinct purpose and place in the cultivation of social force. However, sustained militancy is an act of freedom, and today, most people find themselves “thrown” into militancy, not by choice but by circumstance. We, the people struggling for social revolution, want the choice to increase our capacity for militant action. We demand the option to engage in militancy because only then will the capacity of our revolutionary movements be sustained by the freedom of individuals.
Still, even with the freedom to choose militant action, the question remains:
Where should revolutionaries commit their actions so that they will be bound to the eventual reality of the people, instilling in them a sense of agency in History and an acceptance of the responsibility to act ethically in the present?
For us, the answer to this question is found in adult education which is a particularly fertile terrain for long-term engagement in the destiny of popular movements. People will always need to learn. For this reason, we propose the establishment, maintenance, and defense of a revolutionary educational tendency, in order to act as a point of confluence and exchange between people looking to learn and to teach, including members of the community, activists, organizers, dissidents, and militants.
The tendency to learn, which is typically associated with juveniles, beginners, students, and those lacking sufficient experience, should not be dismissed as a spontaneous form of organization. Often, after people have “learned”, they move on to doing “actions”, employing their knowledge but abandoning the learning space where they developed their capacity, not bothering to maintain lasting connections to its methods or its purpose.
We, however, insist that this space requires its own committed defense if it is to have an enduring impact on societal transformation. Primarily, the defense of this learning space, over time, will encourage the collective formation of militants who will be able to use their common education as a basis for a unified strategy and political program. Additionally, the persistence of this space will propagate an appreciation for militants in social struggles and an understanding of how necessary militancy is for the success of revolutionary movements.
The tendency to learn should serve both as a space where people are presented with the tools and community necessary for militant formation and as an informative space for the broader community to become more familiar with the concept and theory of militancy. Therefore, our objective is singular, but it has two distinct aspects that have to be developed simultaneously:
We must create an educational space for the formation of militants, and our frequenting of this space must establish dependable paths to and from militant engagement.
In this way, the tendency to learn will be a place for the most and least experienced to encounter and to educate each other.
With such clear aims, we will undoubtedly be evaluated by our own standards, those of commitment and endurance. The explicit definition of the tendency to learn will be realized only by our commitment to it, and its effectiveness can only be measured by its endurance in time and purpose.