On Revolution and Illegality



The Tubman-Brown Organization is a public organization that is for revolutionary action against capital and the state. We might publicly support certain illegal actions that take place in the struggle for a free society, but that does not make us an illegal, underground organization. 

It’s not illegal to voice your political agreement with illegal actions committed by other people. That’s what people are doing when they say they are in support of what happened in the American Revolution, in the French Revolution, in the Haitian Revolution, the Arab Spring, Ferguson, and Baltimore. They are saying that they are in agreement with actions that further the interests of humanity, actions that happen to sometimes be illegal.

We study and write. We do physical self-defense training. We have legal guns and licenses to carry them. We agitate for our politics within legal parameters.

At the same time, we recognize that revolution is not legal. Revolution is always a phenomenon of mass illegality directed against the status quo. Revolution is the process whereby an oppressed class of people overthrows a dominating class, and that never happens without masses of people disobeying the laws of the dominant social order. The power of the class that dominates you cannot be abolished in any other way. They will not give up their power voluntarily. People have to get ready to take it for themselves.

For a revolution to happen, many thousands of people need to directly participate in it and even more need to be willing to publicly stand in support of it. There needs to be an informal alliance between the people who are organizing themselves in their workplaces and neighborhoods, on the one hand, and the insurgents who wear masks and secretly break the law, on the other hand. 

Because we publicly acknowledge these truths, and because won’t back down from their reality, it’s not surprising that some people think we are an illegal (or semi-illegal) group. We might be in political agreement with sabotage actions against capitalists and police. We might fully support physical attacks on fascists and rapists. But these actions take place in a separate realm from the realm that our group operates in.

What we do has a different purpose—to build public organizational relations with people who are already defending themselves against the exploitation and oppression of capitalist society. We can do this by studying, training, building subsistence infrastructure, agitating and organizing in our neighborhoods and workplaces, while also contributing to the development of an insurrectionary struggle to abolish the punitive state (the police, jails, etc.) and ultimately the entire capitalist system.

           —Tubman Brown


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