Photo: Andrew Dobbs accepts the proclamation of ‘Andrew Dobbs Day’ standing beside City Council and the Mayor of Austin.
By Ed Dalton
On Thursday Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool presented Andrew Dobbs with a distinguished service award and the proclamation of ‘Andrew Dobbs Day’. Dobbs is a notorious local revisionist and a former leader of the Austin Socialist Collective (ASC), which he was instrumental in rebranding as the Austin Revolutionary Organizing Collective (AROC), but which folded just last month. Dobbs attended the proclamation ceremony at City Hall to accept the award himself and give a speech.
While the Austin City Council mobilizes the police to arrest dozens of genuine revolutionary anti-gentrification activists, essentially eliminating their democratic rights to free speech and assembly, they feel it appropriate to award revisionists like Dobbs. Not only does Dobbs see no issue with accepting the award from such bourgeois cretins, worse yet he remained silent on the fact that the City Council was bribed by developers in spite of his posturing opposition to gentrification in the past.
Instead, he told the council, “I charge you Mr. Mayor, and Leslie, and all the other council members…to please stay the course on representing the public interest, please listen to the community advocates like Texas Campaign for the Environment.”
This revisionist who tarnished the word revolution with his failed organizing efforts could only make a polite request of the bourgeois politicians standing by his side. In addition, instead of acknowledging the revolutionary movement in Austin that is currently facing state repression for their principled refusal to collaborate with the bourgeois city process, he falsely framed his former employer, Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) as the ‘community advocates’ that hold the bourgeois city government accountable.
Dobbs, a middle-aged son of a US imperialist warmonger, is well known around Austin NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) circles as a former Membership Director of TCE. Less known is that Dobbs was a defender of the Iraq war, who expressed racist and anti-women views throughout college as something of a precursor to what today would be understood as the alt-right. His biography on the TCE website cites this reactionary period as part of being, “involved in Texas politics since reaching the University of Texas in 2002.”
Always an opportunist, he has remade his career as a “leftist” and drove the efforts to make over the social-fascist, police collaborating ASC into the revisionist, fake-communist AROC. Throughout its existence, AROC failed to organize anti-gentrification struggles, tailing behind the work of revolutionary organization Defend Our Hoodz (DOH). As ASC, Dobbs attempted to hold presentations on anti-gentrification organizing in the oppressed nation immigrant neighborhoods of North Austin, which were energetically confronted by DOH supporters.
Unlike DOH, which has organized many confrontational and successful campaigns and actions, AROC was unable to mount a single demonstration, action, or event over a long period canvassing the East Austin projects at Chalmers Courts. A resident of the projects, who is also a DOH supporter, told Incendiary that periodically Andrews Dobbs and another, “white guy…would come bother residents, but no one paid any attention to them.” His NGO training evidently failed to bear any fruit or meet its goal of organizing a rival anti-gentrification movement on Austin’s East Side.
AROC announced its demise on August 31 of this year after a string of total failures at organizing and bad leadership, compounded by the fact that they remained outnumbered and out organized by supporters of the Maoist movement in Austin, who for years have opposed ASC and AROC, as well as Dobbs personally.
Dobbs ended his award acceptance speech saying he was, “…grateful for the time and energy I spent [at city hall] and I will continue to hold my elected officials accountable, I’m truly grateful and honored for this today.”
How Dobbs sees accepting empty awards from those elected officials as holding them accountable is a logic that only revisionists and those nurtured in the NGO complex can rationalize. The opportunism of Dobbs motivates him to claim to be a revolutionary against gentrification, while simultaneously showing gratitude from the very city council that is bought by developers.
No clearer demarcations could be made between revolutionaries and revisionists than the Austin City Council proclaiming “Andrew Dobbs Day” the same day they had police patrolling city hall in order to resist the revolutionaries and community members outside fighting their attempts to push luxury development in the working class neighborhood of East Riverside.
In addition, the courts are going after revolutionary comrades in Austin, prosecuting bogus charges and sentencing them to probation, jail, and sometimes years in prison. The system can tolerate and even celebrate revisionists who, like their imperialist overlords, will always stumble from failure to failure. It can even proclaim days in their honor. On the other hand, to preserve its decaying order, it can only attack the revolutionaries with repression—this is a good thing, after all it is what nourishes revolutionary struggle.