Sunday 9 September 2007, by
Today more than ever before, capitalism dominates the world. Throughout the 20th century, the economic system has clearly shown that it is not only unable to eliminate inequality, poverty and exploitation, but to the contrary, it feeds on them, and produces them. There have never been as many wars, massacres and famines. Years and years of colonialism and neocolonialism have speeded the plundering of the resources of the South, while entire populations are exterminated at the same pace. Technological development, designed to increase profits, has led to the slow but sure destruction of the planet’s ecosystem. Everywhere, the exploitation of the proletariat by an affluent minority serving the bourgeoisie that buys the services of armies of contingent workers forced into flexibility and constantly threatened with unemployment is increasingly flagrant.
We are for the destruction of this capitalist system. It is neither eternal nor the best of all possible worlds, contrary to what is contended by its advocates, of all leanings.
We are fighting for a society in which the means of production and exchange will not be in the hands of their present “legal owners” or by State bureaucrats, but will be directly run by the people who are primarily concerned, that is, the producers. This means management by grass-root meetings of factory, neighborhood, village, town and regional councils, composed of those women and men who live and work there, and who have the faculty to federate freely to determine the amount, quality and use of what is produced. A society in which the basic rule will be “From each according to her/his means, to each according to her/his needs” : an economically communist, classless society with no State.
The role of political parties and trade unions will not be to manage this new organization of production and distribution, but simply to make suggestions. These new structures will exclude all permanent forms of delegation of power without a precise mandate and the possibility of revocation at all times. Party leadership, Parliament and state structures will be replaced by the self-organization of proletarians.
We cannot decide in advance what forms libertarian communism will take. The structures will depend on the general context and on specific situations, on local culture, and on people’s possibilities and desires. That doesn’t mean that libertarian communism is simply some vague utopia. The history of revolts and of revolutionary attempts is full of examples of the concrete application of our revolutionary anarchist project, adapted to the particular situation of the time and place – the Paris Commune, the Russian soviets in 1917, the Makhnovist revolt in Ukraine in 1921, the collectivizations in Spain in 1936, the Hungarian workers councils in 1956, etc.
Our libertarian communist project is the radical opposite of the state communism that prevailed in Eastern Europe. We have every reason to rejoice at the collapse of that really existing communism ! For some eighty years now, libertarians have been denouncing the so-called communist regimes as bloody dictatorships, run on a state capitalist basis with private property replaced by the domination of a class of bureaucrats who ran production and exchange for their benefit.
The social democratic model, whose idea was to achieve socialism through a series of reforms, by taking over the State through elections, ran amok on the all-powerful capitalist system, which relies alternately on repression and integration. The “socialists” gave up long ago on fighting for equality and the abolition of exploitation.
But the oppression we want to eliminate is not limited to the strictly economic sphere. We are against all power relations. We want a politically libertarian society with no domination of any sort.
We are opposed to uniformization of any sort (of ways of life, cultures, production and consumption), imposed by capitalist development.
We fight for new relations between men and women, relations in which there would be no reason to value virility and submissiveness. Because a classless society does not necessarily lead to the eradication of the patriarchal system (the domination of men over women), patriarchy must be fought specifically, since it crosses all class lines and is pre-existent to capitalism. The fight against the patriarchal system is a fight for the deconstruction of both male and female genders, shaped and imposed by all pre-existing societies. Taking repossession of our personal identities means the refusal to accept a social status linked to our sex, it means refusing to have our lives coded by today’s norms (heterosexuality, monogamy...). We want to live our bodies and our desires freely.
We want to do away with this society in which work takes the form of salaried slavery aimed at producing any old rubbish provided it sells and capitalists can make a profit on it, rather than an activity that is shared on the basis of freely determined needs.
We have to demolish the old myths, including the necessity of economic growth, productivism, and the supremacy of the “economy”.
Many socialist currents have contended that communism is only feasible once material abundance is achieved. But the ideology of growth, both economic and demographic, is a race that is lost in advance. It simply makes people more unequal, and lowers the quality of living. Our planet cannot provide the wherewithal for the entire world population to consume as much as the upper classes of the richest countries.
There are some local attempts, in all sorts of places, to set up alternatives to the prevailing models of consumption and production. We view them as revealing the need for collectively taking repossession of our lives, since our space is increasingly being restrained by the productivists, even if the possibility for these alternatives to make a real change in our lives remains limited as long as there is no overall opposition to the entire system, and no political project.
Inasmuch as our political project has developed historically, along with and in the midst of social movements, revolts and attempts to establish egalitarian social relations, we feel that it is within these movements that we must continue the combat, including by protesting against those aspects of their ideas which would tend to reproduce the old order (or to create a new one) based on domination. The beginnings of a different form of social organization, which sometimes burst out spontaneously in some situations, are rooted in the contradictions and conflicts of present-day society. We believe that it is when people are “in movement”, partially breaking with the status quo, that they are vectors of ideas and practices that come closest to our own aspirations.