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Cross-post; original text here. Post concerns the conflicted nature of desire in the capitalist economy, specifically stating that it leads to a conception of necessary activity/”work” that must be presupposed before the notion of a “work ethic” can be established as well as the goals and “dreams” which correspond with the active participation in work. While not addressed in this post itself, there are additional implications to the things in this post: the ideology of work in a capitalist economy must always precede that of wage-labour so that wage-labour can be a justified relationship to our own activity. Any break-down of this ideology pre-figures the dissolution or break-down of wage-labour, and, arguably, wage-labour may be the last form of “work” to exist in history, since the bare-bones need to work is the last garment by which compulsory work can be legitimated.
In alienation, we are met with a sense of necessity. What does this mean, and why is this? We must understand, then, what alienation is, and what “sense of necessity” is. When desire itself becomes reified, and therefore it becomes an object of commercialism, the peculiar effect is the distancing of oneself from desire, but for the reproduction of desire in relation to this object-desire. But because this object-desire is a reification, it is never actually experienced concretely–rather, it always escapes the concreteness that exemplifies it. Thus with our choices come the desire for inauthenticity: it is in this case that we then become grabbed by what we must do–neither what we shall do, nor what we will do. But it is a peculiar “must“, for it is not a binding to our own will. Rather, it is a binding to this reification, in opposition to ourselves if need be, or in opposition to self-determination, to a way of “defining” ourselves. In sociology, this can be seen as the development of a given relationship between the social character and the person that is adverse.
Alienation: Its Various Senses
The idea of alienation is entangled with various areas of discourse, in such a way that the word itself seems to stand for several different things. My previous explanation is rather a general over-view of what I believe alienation involves. Nonetheless, it also parallels the Lacanian idea of “the phallic order,” or the “Law of the Father,” and “symbolic identification.” Lacan’s psychoanalytic ideas, however, we assume to be universally applicable. There must in that case be a difference between Marx’s concept of alienation and the connection we have just made between the function of alienation and the psychic inner relation of symbolic identification.
The first difference is that Marx’s materialist understanding of alienation finds itself as a literal distantiation between the labouring subject and his/her production and the object of his/her production, that can be analyzed in the realm of the relations of production. The more obstacles there are between the individual and his production or the object of that production, the more alienated s/he is. However, these have to be material obstacles. There’s of course one thing that must be made clear: Marx’s materialism isn’t simply one that involves the reduction to matter, or the use of matter as a primary determinate of everything. Marx’s materialism is one in which matter does not merely stand for itself, but which in its lived existence presents itself as a mere “appearance,” an appearance of which behind are hidden ideal orders, for which such matter could be accounted for. The sense in which, for Marx, material is primary is only in the sense that material is a precondition for the revelation, and through such means also the behavioural expression, of such ideal orders; after all, if we are to tangibly define the existence of this ideal order, material is in this sense its precondition. In which case, if materialism refers to this interrelation, materialism is more accurately described as social-relationalism, as Marx is simply describing what he considers the conceptual prerequisites for the analysis of social relations, and this process is for him found in history, and as a status, in society. This should make clear, then, that Marx’s concept of alienation as purely materialistic, also means it is purely social. But in being this so purely, it is clear that Marx intended his concept of “alienation” for dual purposes:
- A description of a historical moment as a “material status”–of the material prerequisites for an ideal-order
- A description of a historical moment as an “ideal relation” revealed by this “material status”–of the reproductive basis of the material order
On the other hand, Lacan has no concept of “alienation,” or at least did not use the term (afaik). But Lacan’s analysis is focused on desire, and his description of “symbolic identification” parallels with reification, and therefore with alienation. But we must bring out the nuanced differences. It would be too careless to equate “symbolic identification” with reification. Even if it is clear that “alienation” has often been used in a way that describes a psychic state. What is reification? What is “symbolic identification”? Then we may come up with a consistent outlook on this historical moment on a psychoanalytic level, and then we may proceed to our concept of “economic necessity.”
Reification v. Symbolic Identification
“Reification” has often been defined as the treating of an abstraction as though it were a concrete object. However, there’s much more to it involved; not all practices of such are reification and thus fallacious, or rather not all practices of reification are fallacious. And as a matter of fact, “reification” can aid in explaining an argument because it gives form to the concepts spoken of. The negative, or pejorative, use of the term signifies something much more specific. “Rei-” from which means thing, attached to “-fication,” which is to make or cause. It is the “Thingification” of a concept, or the making/causing of an idea/concept into a thing. The relevance of this term to Marxism is that it serves also, like “alienation,” the dual purpose of describing something which occurs both in the subjective and objective realm–the act of production is itself, in this framework, a “reification” insofar as the object of production is the reflection of the producer’s idea. Yet, the translation from the German does not find itself using “reification” to describe this process; the context in which the term often appears is when talking about the “underneath-ness” of the subject to some idea, concept, general/universal thing. Or, the former three’s rising above or moving beyond the subject or, we can say, the context at hand.
This can often correspond with our initial definition, since the “treating of the abstract as though concrete” is equivalent to using the concrete to stand in as though the universal, and thus to have it lose its universal quality, assuming a position subordinate to the given situation. In this case, the “loss of context” does not appear as a “loss of context,” but to the displacement of context so that the original determinations of meaning are lost, but nonetheless are managed by a proxy representation of it as though it were there in full. This understanding may come up against a lot of Marxist abuse of the term, for many Marxists treat “reification” as an accusation of sacrificing the particular to the universal, i.e. treating a historical moment as a universal state. The issue is really the other way around–it appears to us as the inverse only in that it has the effect wherein the historical moment nonetheless becomes the sight of totality, when the universal suddenly becomes immediately materialized to us and we perceive it to be as such. The key difference is how we arrive at this result. Given my construction, this means that the “treating of the historical moment” as universal is simply the reflective result of dealing with a concrete thing which takes it place but has indeed extinguished it.
One way to understand this is that the universal’s context is no-context, so once congealed into something which has numerous context, it has lost its character. Keep in mind that this is fundamentally different from what we had described as the “turning of the idea into a thing” via the example of a producer creating an object–this does not in-itself provide for loss of the character of a universal, nor does the idea get lost in the useful object necessarily; it is clear that the use of universals in this case is as the bringing of multiple equipment, for the determination of the object. They do not “hide behind” or “become the object”–they turn the material every which way, with the subject in mind by default first and foremost. Reification finds itself present, rather, when that object begins to “act like it is,” in an essential way, the universal, and gets handled as such; by consequence, it is when the object therefore exerts what would seem to be its own ideal determinations, for then it is the material that has determination of the idea by way of grabbing hold itself of what set out to capture it (the idea)–the crucial point in this, though, is that object is nonetheless not a subject. It can do this because, as it is truly given its determinations ideally, in appearing as though equivalent to this instance, it thus seems to behave as a subject of its own. And thus the original point of determination appears to behave like an object.
The Marxist project is thus not simply one of a historicist character; the Marxist project is the unveiling of universals that nonetheless get “contorted” this way and that, by material context. Without universals, we have no Marxism–we have no materialist analysis. The fact that Marxist analysis appears to always historicize, is a result of its sensitivity to how universals manifest.
It should already be obvious how significantly different this is from the structure of “symbolic identification,” but if it must be clarified: “Symbolic” identification, to explain it in its simplest term, is simply the transference of meaning from one context to another, in a proactive way–it is, after all, a theory to explain libidinal development. This “transference of meaning” however does not start with meaning as such; it is a “material” thing which binds desire–in unloosening it, or redirecting it, the material fixation already is manifest in the form of desire, and thus when the desire changes direction, it nonetheless ends up “meaning” the same, for now desire lives in a world of “symbols.” There is no need for this transference to manifest in the particular way of reification. Nonetheless, it seems that it could. What impact, then, does this have on the libido?
Preliminary Conditions for the Existence of Phenomenal Necessity
Rather than ask, on a metaphysical level, whether the subject has free will, or even phenomenologically whether the subject has freedom or choice, we shall ask: “How does the subject experience its act of choosing?” We’ve already seen clues to the potential answer to this question in our previous discussion of reification.
Nonetheless, we must develop this further. In capitalism, reification occurs in such a way, that way wherein the autonomous object separates from those essential features that tie it to its nature as creation, that it takes the form of alienation. Alienation then, as a “separation of things supposed to be harmonious,” fragments everything including, or especially, the subject. But this “separation” is one that can only exist with the backdrop of abstraction; to the extent that this separation is concrete, it is concrete as a social reality. Which is to say, it does not manifest as a property of the objects themselves. This would mean not only that universals get “contorted” as such and such a thing in capitalism, but that this contortion, a contortion in the concrete where there is an extinguishing of the universal by the concrete taking its place as itself universal, is accompanied by the separation of this in-its-stead universal (this “concrete taking the place of the universal”) from the universal as such. But this a misnomer, for the universal and the particular are already separated in the sense that neither can ever fully reach the other (by definition); this separation is something more specific: the in-its-stead universal and the concrete-as-particular (two concrete items) are what separate from one another. This separation is what constitutes “alienation,” and it is what makes the difference between reification and alienation.
Since this separation is a concrete occurrence–in fact, must be a concrete occurrence–it has–in fact, must have–concrete effects or related structures. Marx, of course, already gives us the historical description of alienation in capitalism, as “private property.” But how does this, again, affect the subject’s own experience of his or her decision-making? The process of making a decision must already presuppose the idea of a potential, and also an idea of an actuality–that is, it must, to begin with, recognize this division. If we embed this conceptual presupposition into this contextual alienation of action, the question becomes, “What does alienation do to these notions of actuality and potentiality in the subject?” There is an issue here, of course: that of how this potentiality can show itself in a concrete form. For, after all, while alienation entails a separation that must occur in the backdrop of abstraction, or must occur as a counterpart to such abstractions assumed at the onset (in this case, “potentiality” v. “actuality”), it nonetheless necessitates this separation to be a concrete event, for it is this event that informs us of the “ideational” configurations/interrelations of these abstractions in consciousness.
Perhaps the human being as such, as the decision-maker in this case, him- or herself represents potentiality by virtue of the fact that it is their consciousness that gives them the possibility of choice to begin with. Even while their choice is as such that it must be “futurist”–potential–they already have the potential for the conscious recognition of potential in their very being. Hence, the agent him- or herself is properly one of the objects of separation. But from what? In this case we are merely asking, then, what stands as actuality. If it is the agent that stands as potential, it is equipment which stands in for actuality; arguably the agent also signifies actuality in the sense that his or her being is the decision-maker. But this would be trivial, as this “actuality” then merely expresses the tautology that the potential for potential is an equipment needed for potential, thus for carrying out decisions. Which ultimately, takes us nowhere outside the subject–we presume a subject with a goal must have an inclination towards that which it does not conceive as attained, and if it is not attained, it is no part of this “actuality” we described. Thus, for the subject, the starting point is already this engagement with that which exceeds him or her–this something more. That is to say, things external to him or her. In sum, the agent, who is always embodied, is what stands in for potentiality, and, for the agent, what stands in as actuality is the environment–or, in this case, production, the production process. [We must continue to keep in mind that this "standing in for" in this paragraph is to say that they are "phenomenal expressions of" or "appearances of."]
To experience alienation is thus to have circumstances “extinguish” the universal, the abstractions, by having the concrete take its place entirely, and not merely “stand for” it as meant prior. Subsequently, to experience alienation is thus to extinguish actuality and potentiality. But what does this mean? If we have the agent and his equipment acting as actuality and potentiality and yet as their source of exhaustion, then the experience of present reality, of the actual, and the experience of one’s orientation towards the future, of the potential, must be one and the same in the realm of consciousness, in appearances, to that of agency (or “the agent”) and equipment. This unity of appearance is found itself in the separation, insofar as this separation is one of capacity to control material or resource and as such must be one inherently tied to society, for the social means of separation requires subjects which can only take part in society by separation (example: private labour [separation] mediated by money [a unity, but one which needs separation to exist--money, a universal equivalent of all commodities and thus monopoly representation of value, needs the polarization of value and use-value in concrete terms for it to exist as money, as a concrete item of unified concern for society that gives coherence to all interactions because of its extinguishing of the abstraction that is "value"]).
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Tags: American Dream, anti-work, antiwork, Capitalism, careerism, careers, desite, job, jobs, labour, Lacan, libido, mental, mind, necessity, phenomenal, Phenomenology, psyche, psychoanalysis, psychological, psychologiy, the Other, Work, work ethic, workaholism
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Hello! Colin Jenkins is founder of the Hampton Institute. He has been kind enough to make me a small part of that project and in turn I thought it’d be great to have him here as well. Gonzo has been through a dry couple years but I think we are slowly bringing back a group of regular contributors that reflect a measured, anarchist perspective. – Orion
“As the ruling circle continue to build their technocracy, more and more of the proletariat will become unemployable, become lumpen, until they have become the popular class, the revolutionary class.” - Huey P. Newton
In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napolean, Karl Marx famously laid out his disdain for a specific “underclass” of society – the lumpenproletariat. Marx claimed this group – which consisted of “vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux [pimps], brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, rag-pickers, knife-grinders, tinkers, and beggars” – was not only incapable of realizing the revolutionary class consciousness necessary to overthrow the bourgeoisie, but was also inherently counterrevolutionary. This reasoning was based on the role Marx believed the lumpen played as Napolean III’s “independent base of power” in France.
Over the years, Marx’s assessment of the lumpen has been challenged, and rightly so. Anarchist philosophers like Mikhail Bakunin, and prominent Marxists like Mao Zedong and Che Guevara, saw revolutionary potential in the peasantry, a sect that Marx was quick to discard. Frantz Fanon, in his ongoing analysis of neocolonialism, deemed the lumpen to be “one of the most spontaneous and the most radically revolutionary forces of a colonized people.” And the Black Panther Party, seeking to create consciousness among the poor huddled masses of America’s inner-cities, embraced the idea of a revolutionary class made up of displaced workers who were never given a chance in the workplace.
A majority of the American working class now resides in this “underclass.” Since 2007, the underground economy in the US has exploded. One sure sign of this explosion is the correlation between the amount of dollars in circulation and the worsening levels of employment (i.e. reported income). Due to multiple bouts of QE (Quantitative Easing), the amount of US currency in circulation has increased from $800 billion (2007) to $1.2 trillion (2013). However, most of the money released by the Fed has remained in the hands of business and financial elites. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is considered to be a reliable indicator of corporate activity, has more than doubled over the past 5 years – going from 7063 in February of 2009 to 15699 in January of 2013.
What this means: While the government (through the Fed) has handed out hundreds of billions to the elite, American workers have gained nothing. Wall St. has flourished to historical heights while Main St. has reached historical levels of despair. Out of necessity, and since they can no longer rely on employment, workers have turned to the underground economy, i.e. the “black market.” This consists of a wide range of activities – everything from dealing drugs, engaging in sex work, and running illegal gambling rings to getting paid off the books as landscapers, bartenders, nannies, and barbers. The estimated value of the illegal drug market is approaching $600 billion due to the rapid influx of prescription drugs. Illegal prostitution and pornography stands at a little over $122 billion, and illegal gambling at $110 billion (numbers from the Economic Research Center at Cal State Bakersfield). And the size of “off-the-book” activity is believed to have increased by up to 20% its previous rate.
“It’s typical that during recessions people work on the side while collecting unemployment,” explains Bernard Baumohl, an economist at the Economic Outlook Group. “But the severity of the recession and the profound weakness of this recovery may mean that a lot more people have entered the underground economy, and have had to stay there longer.” For the many that have lost unemployment benefits and given up on a lousy labor market, the “black market” has become a permanent home. It is now estimated that the underground economy in the US is up to 15% the official GDP – the highest ratio ever. This is no surprise when you consider that more people are unemployed or underemployed than ever before.
We’re all lumpen now. If Marx was correct in his estimation, we’re seemingly doomed. If the others were correct, we have a chance. Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist at Columbia and the author of a study of the underground economy, believes “too much off-the-books work is not good for the social contract,” and that “economies work best when people have some sense, however abstract, that they are all tied together.” Destroying the “social contract” may not be a bad thing. And if displaced workers can figure out a way to gain a sense of meaningful cohesion – being tied together through class struggle – then it will be all the better. Lumpen of the world, unite!
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Coercion is a word that needs to be studied before it is applied to everyday life. So before I launch my assault upon another part of our daily lives, I will break it down etymologically for you.
co·erce transitive verb \kō-ˈərs\ : to make (someone) do something by using force or threats : to get (something) by using force or threats
On the base level, it begins at work. You’re forced to work, even if you voluntarily take a job stocking shelves, loading trucks or performing customer service, this wasn’t an exchange based upon good faith. This is the basis of wage slavery, the result of private property being put in the hands of private interests.
Your job is your ticket to eat in this world, if you make enough and if you make enough you can live in comfortable housing. Otherwise you work, or you starve in the streets.
You’re under constant monitoring from your supervisors. You’re under threat of job loss, if you try to organize, strike or agitate at work.
This isn’t new, it’s always been this way.
If you strike, there will be scabs to benefit from your inability to settle for meager wages,lame benefits, and often Police will act like the Pinkerton’s they really are.
This is coercion in the labor market. It is time for you to get class conscious and challenge what doesn’t work for you and I.
In the age of austerity the working class have only one means of retribution to concentrated power. They have to organize themselves. With further cuts coming down the pipes from both Neo-Liberal parties in power, we have to realize how much of an effect it will have on food insecurity, health problems and the economically disadvantaged.
The problems in our society have always been prevalent but since Americans are solipsistic, so collective problems take time to address. Occupy brought the issues to the forefront. They brought the ugliness of our system to light.
They poked holes in Capitalism and with the help of people like you and I. It had such an effect that here in Columbus, Ohio our local legislative body made it illegal to camp on sidewalks. The only problem is, they believe as Liberals do that buying into the system would erode it’s power, which is typically not true. It is time to borrow from radical structures and apply it to your local area.
The first of which I propose if you do not have one, is starting a Foodshare. There are many running throughout the United States. One worth noting is a closed union shop, run by Fellow Workers, the North Country Food Alliance.
They have been on strike for 318 days from their former employers, who are union busters and employed shifty lawyers.
They have since created their own non-profit, it is worker-run in true wobbly fashion. Their main goals are increasing access to food for the needy. This is done by collecting produce from local co-ops which is then distributed in the Twin Cities. All the while they also have the resources to teach those how to forage for wild food sources. The last two programs provided are a community garden which will be prepared to plant in Spring and a meal program for mobile kitchens to serve the working class.
This is one of many ways you can serve your community and make mutual aid a reality.
It is time to recognize and cut out the cancer of Labor, the Business Union. Within these organizations, once a force for good were compromised by the Business and the Federal Government working in tandem. We are here now, because of legislation passed after WWII to make us obedient workers, in return for a contract chock full of wages that secure a comfortable life and a generous benefits package.
Our livelihood is under attack, the 40 hour workweek is a myth anymore, as the retail empire broadens it’s reach from sea to sea and the workers are paid poorly for the billions of dollars they rake in for the executives, the boards and the shareholders of each company.
While the business unions pay lip service to workers, they collude with the Businesses they are supposed to fight against, in disregard for the employees who pay dues, they negotiate bad contracts and sign away the rights of the workers. For example a Union and a local bottling company negotiate and the Union “leaders” sign away our right to strike. They have at that point betrayed the workers they’re meant to represent.
The UFCW represents many workers at local grocery stores in my area. Notably, Kroger and Meijer. While a contract is beneficial in regards to healthcare benefits, the wages are often low and on a tiered basis. They often start the workers at a ridiculously low pay grade. When I worked at Kroger, I was paid minimum wage to start and was Union. Meijer has a tiered wage system, which in origination was meant to bring in workers at a lower cost while combating high turnover rates, when it does neither. It is just an cost control to protect the business at the expense of the worker.
Harrison, Bennett and Bluestone, Barry.The Great U-Turn: Corporate Restructuring and the Polarizing of America,shows how a tiered system eventually leads to a low wage for an entire industry. Union leaders who negotiate these contracts should have been held accountable and dethroned from their cushy jobs and called what they really are: collaborators who are complicit in lowering wages and a lower standard of living for us all.
There is no longer a class-consciousness paradigm in the United States in mainstream organizing. The AFL-CIO, SEIU and UAW model posits that the bureaucratic hierarchy is more beneficial to the worker than the worker making decisions for themselves.
Workplace democracy is a rotten term for a business union, who negotiates in favor of both parties, who maintains the conservative motto: “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”. We should be advocating “Abolition of the wage system”.
To revive the Labor movement much has to happen and the fire has been lit, due to many strikes this year. The Black Friday strikes run by OUR Wal-Mart is notable, much like the Fast Food Strikes, these strikes run by Business Unions are notable in the fact they have the numbers to do it and are making progress in terms of bringing the employer to the table without a contract.
Which speaks to me as a (behind on dues) member, we need to educate all our fellow workers on syndicalism in the workforce and waging strikes with or without their unions approval. As the fist tightens on our life, we need to strike back literally.
Relieve us from the thralldom of the failed business union model. Replace it with us and lets see where we will take ourselves free from capital.
Russell Brand has been under attack over his recent article lately “Russell Brand on revolution: “We no longer have the luxury of tradition” But before we change the world, we need to change the way we think.”. The left took to him like vultures tearing up every opportunity we had to exploit this occasion and get real radical ideas discussed on a much larger stage. We can discuss the misogyny of his actions in this and in the past, but we also need to seize this moment to stand up for what was said.
Sadly if you are butt hurt he pissed on voting then you might not be as left or liberal as you would like to think, so maybe you should start questioning why it is you support this oppressive system.
For those of you who are still listening and talking you should understand that our system of electing rulers has failed us. It is time to call for revolution. I am not looking to reform our system this will only clean up the ruling class just enough for it to be slightly tolerable for a little while longer. We need to bring down the system.
I choose to highlight two paragraphs.
Total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system is what interests me, but that’s not on the ballot. Is utopian revolution possible? The freethinking social architect Buckminster Fuller said humanity now faces a choice: oblivion or utopia. We’re inertly ambling towards oblivion, is utopia really an option? – Russell Brand
I am not sold on utopian revolution in the reality of a revolutions outcome, but that is the goal. Isn’t that the goal of every revolution? We can say that the outcome of revolution can far exceed the current system of the ruling class which is founded on and supported by murder and exploitation.
Along with the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business, this apathy is the biggest obstacle to change. We can’t alter the former without removing the latter. Can this be achieved? Obviously this is a rhetorical question and without wanting to spunk the surprise ending the answer is yes. – Russell Brand
Not only can it be achieved but it must. It can and one day will be done. The question is always will you wait for it or will it happen when things are worse? I fear that too many are complacent and true change will be later when it seems too late.
What is an answer or a goal? I cannot speak for Russell, but myself, I look to the vision of the anarchists who have lived and are living now offering alternatives. Not to be redundant, but the two biggest actions I feel are needed right now are education and organization.
The vote is a passive complacency. Direct action is the active participation in change. So, no a vote is not what will bring any answers but only through direct action will we change the world.
The clear and concise truth and message both behind what I am writing and what I get from Russell’s article is this: The system and our rulers will not bring us any answers. We must rise up and create the tomorrow we want.
The message is resistance and revolution.
I hear workers complaining about their situation. I attempt to agitate “Doesn’t that make you mad?” but if you cross that line to “Isn’t it time we do something about your situation?” it is too much for most.
I just want to have a slightly nicer financial situation and I’ll be okay with the system. Our representatives will make the rules and changes. Change will never happen. I’ll chase the capitalist carrot a little longer.
The United States is distracted, complacent, fat and happy. I am doubtful sentiments in the U.S. will change until we face a more tragic future that awaits us.
If you have your eyes on the end result it might help, but the sad reality is that with the decline of unions and the sick hierarchical structure of many the reality is that organization of the people is at a low. Where we have seen people taking power through organization in history it did not happen overnight.
I’ll be honest. My end goal is revolution of the people and the abolition of the state and capitalism. Let’s be clear here. If you unionize the state and capitalism will still be here tomorrow. The system will still be up against us, a monolithic impasse which seems overwhelming.
Organizing which is being done to raise minimum wage is facing far too much cultural opposition. Fear of the two dollar cheeseburger grips the nation. The system is not even being challenged. God forbid we challenge what is. Why should we? The U.S. is still living off of the labor and resources of workers and exploited people around the world. The parasitic nature of the U.S. and the element of privilege of the capitalist nation is fragile. When you start to talk about changing the system you threaten power and wealth. We don’t look at the multimillion dollar raises the CEO’s get as a threat, only the raise of the workers. Of course we don’t because empowering the workers is a threat to power and hierarchy. So the powers that be only perceive the threat of the empowered worker as they accept their supremacy without question. In turn many workers hear this dialogue and do not question it. They find themselves defending their masters and perpetuating their rhetoric.
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A bomb went off. Bombs actually, the plural, there were two of them, multiple blasts. This means war, of course, another one where we will create tomorrow’s bombers and arsonists, terrorists for the next generation. This war will cover even more ground than the last one, truly a blanket generalization of all things not us, terror, engineered xenophobia.Or maybe this war will be engineered against the citizens themselves, a sort of Cold-Civil War. Between the TV, the internet, our cell phones, all live feeds are flooded.
Because of this interconnectedness, this “globalization”, the whole world gets to feel the reverberation of the bomb blasts. Events like this cause a shift in the cultural consciousness; it is an almost visible movement away from before, in this case before the bomb, to after. The same phenomenon can be observed with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 9/11, it happens quicker now though; the pace has shifted with our consciousness. Because of this “globalization, the power of words and images in succession, the illusions of control, many more people can be affected by just one big event, just another way technology has made our lives cleaner and more efficient.
Hear that plane turning just a little too quick, engine sounds rising to sharpness rather than the dull roar of just another aircraft. Our eyes shift up, we don’t hide under our desks anymore when there’s a threat because we know it all now, know that if the bomb went off, if the plane hit, if the gun fired, that it wouldn’t really matter. We are the New Cold War Kids, and our paranoia is deeper and darker than that of the last. We understand now the implications of real life destruction. We understand that we no longer have all those other governments to fear but our own as well.
Things like this happen in Afghanistan and Iraq, places like Syria, every day. Some fire chief in Boston says something about only seeing things like this in the middle of a war. THIS IS A FUCKING WAR! It just doesn’t happen at home, only through the safe distance of our T.V. screens, our cell phone screen, our computer screens. We get the American version of war, like popcorn and watching the televised initial invasion and bombing of Baghdad way back when. Remember that? Of course you do. Just like we got to watch live as Saddam Hussein was hung from his neck until death, fantastic, justice has been served.
We have lost three innocent lives today. But thousands more innocent people will pay for these deaths with their own lives. Another eleven year war, hell let’s make it fifteen. No one has taken responsibility yet and no one has been blamed, but I rest knowing that whoever it ends up being, or whoever ends up getting framed, there will be retaliation. A violent backlash. The live feeds light up with phrases like someone must pay for this. We recall Bush’s ground zero speech; Obama gives a speech looking like a soul empty political cynic.
We are the New Cold War Kids, our fear is deeper, our anger is deeper, and our paranoia is stronger. We understand the implications of this. We understand, or we think we do, with pupils dialed black and faces awash in blue computer light from our tvs, our computers, our cell phones.
We are starting a working group to publish a pocket copy of Kropotkin’s “Conquest of Bread” that can be distributed freely around town and at political rallies and events. This is a mutual aid project. The idea is intended to model the Gideons who pass out bibles all over the world and the tea party who was passing out pocket constitutions at their events. The publication will also likely have an essay by Emma Goldman and an introduction to anarchism. It is intended to appeal to and reach those who are not actively seeking anarchism or looking to find the writings on their own. This is an effort to educate the masses and the more contributions we receive the more we can reach.
We are just now forming a working group to tackle this project. The group will be working mostly on promoting the fund raiser to make this happen. They will also have say in the final publication as well. If this effort is successful we may look at following it up with other publications of anarchist literature for distribution.
We are currently urgently looking for support in creating a video to promote the effort. If you have the equipment and skills to help us produce a short minute and a half to two minute video describing the project please contact us if you are willing to volunteer your time in making this a reality.
We are also seeking:
- Contributors to help promote the project online and push for donations.
- Help with layout of the book and editing.
- Help with graphic design.
- And more… Just tell us where you can help.
- VIDEO SUPPORT!!!! Click here to contact us
All contributors will be thanked in the the final publication unless they choose to be omitted from the list.
We have contacted printers and are in the process of compiling and laying out the book.
The publication WILL NOT be for sale after the publication. The project is going to be an effort to print and publish as many copies to hand out and the copies will be distributed to those who have contributed so they can do just that.
If you are willing to contribute to getting this off the ground please contact us here.
If this endeavor is successful we will look at distributing other works in the same manner.
In the last post I made I discussed the unwillingness of the left to go far enough to make real change. In this post I am discussing the failure of anarchists to educate and organize. Before we are even ready to make the bold moves that the left are opposing we must have organization. The IWW is one of the most organized organizations that exists which we can look to. Two essential key ingredients are necessary before any revolution can occur. These are organization and education.
Political parties will continue to out preform anarchist and red organizations if they continue to be organized so loosely and inefficiently. Many in our ranks hate the Church but, to look at what churches accomplish all the time and how they are able to organize such thriving communities. They are able to provide capital to function. They have processes for decision making and they have methods of outreach to the communities. It seems that all the institutions that most anarchists abhor and preach against seem to have what anarchists are lacking.
The Role Of Communication In Organization
One failure I have repeatedly seen within the current left movements such as the Occupy in an attempt to organize is communication. Often when groups gather they face many challenges in communication. Communication is essential to organization. One of the first things the organizing collective must look to is how to communicate with each other inside of the organization first and then outside of the organization in outreach second.
I have brought up Non Violent Communication (NVC) in the past in specific articles. One great step we should take in organizing anything is look for serious training in NVC. Before we can make any steps to really organizing in an efficient manner we must be able to communicate in an efficient manner. NVC provides us with the tools to listen to what is being said and translate this to the needs that are not being met. It enables us to frame what we are saying in a manner that can break down some of the hostility and begin to communicate without the breakdowns and conflicts creating the divides they are currently creating.
The Failure Of Outreach
The failure of outreach in the effort of reaching outside of our elite groups often falls on a failure to listen to people outside of our milieu. What this amounts to often are a lot of small splintered groups of anarchists who often fail to be diverse. Many people groups are often alienated or under represented in these groups.
I wonder if making organizations that look to things like churches for inspiration on how to reach others and organize might help the anarchist movement. Finding a place to hold weekly meetings for discussion and education over time may build a larger community. If we do this with some sort of weekly outreach to promote your weekly gathering could further build the community. Growth will not be over night. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations or pledges for the organization. We do live in a capitalist society so giving your group some capital is simply giving your group some power in a capitalist society because capital is power in a capitalist society.
The Hindrance Of Elitism
The working class is not on board and often feels alienated by self declared anarchists.
You have to read the right books, have the right ideas and fit in with specifics often within groups. Other outside ideas can be met with hostility. Everything from the way people dress to even music can take part in some of these issues. The movements and groups can at time be more social clubs than actual revolutionary organizations. We often fail to reach across lines of race, gender or age. We often claim to be reaching for an egalitarian society but this is not often reflected.
I hate sports, always have, but most of the working class are passionate about sports. Something as simple as forming sports teams and putting aside my personal bias to form a sports team to integrate into the local community would make for a wonderful step towards reaching the working class and the people we claim to be in solidarity with. Try an anarchist softball team joining the local league. You can have fun with it. Try communicating and listening to others you meet in something like this.
Elements of patriarchal attitudes and race division often creep up unnoticed. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin has directly addressed racism within the radical left movements:
https://www.wepay.com/stores/829693/item/the-progressive-plantation-660773“>He says the entire white Left harbors the worst kinds of internal racism and colonialism itself, and cannot provide leadership or even an example of a true revolutionary movement.
It may be the time we anarchists started to open up to others and let them teach us a while. We have extreme prejudices in the left. The attitudes towards the right and many people in many institutions we oppose is a hindrance. Yes we oppose certain things many stand for, but this is all the more reason we must be more strategic in approaching people. I am most guilty in being brash and offensive towards the right in most of my writings. Gonzo Times built itself on what I once referred to as ‘speaking blasphemy against the Holy State.’ And although I may have been speaking truth, I played a part in creating a wider divide between the working class and the anarchists.
Anarchists are the experts. Anarchists often play the expert on race and gender issues. We can play the expert on most issues that rise up and our ears are often closed to others. I am guilty of playing the expert. I have been writing on anarchism telling others how it is what to believe through my writing for years. While we should still be educating, we should be able to open our ears more and speak a little less. The ability to hear what we disagree with and focus on what unites us will bring us much further.
Fear Of Stalin
In the back of many anarchists minds we have the fear of Stalin. This is the looking back at the anarchists of social and political movements of the past. In Spain we remember aligning with other groups of the left. This lead often to the eventual betrayal and murder of anarchists by powers that rose. In Spain this was largely Stalin who provided aid in the form of troops only to use this to go after Anarchists they claimed to be fighting with. Yes, we must remember that many have historically betrayed anarchists for a power grab and yes this can be expected in the future. But, right now most other groups are as marginalized as the anarchists. And by not forgetting we are able to prepare and I do not see this as being a true threat until we have gained much more ground. There is time to address this problem.
¡No pasarán! (Not pass) Was the battle cry of the revolution. They stood alone against the fascists with no support from any capitalist nations. The Republic was formed of the people. Small trade unions had banned together and taken control of the cities and towns. ¡No pasarán! The militias were committed to defending the lines and keeping the fascists out of the freed territories.
We are not close to having a revolution in the United States. If there were a battle cry today it would be “More Submission!” The Occupy movement had potential. There was a rising, small in comparison to the population as a whole, but much could have come from this, and still may. The problem is that it is all too willing to submit. Nobody really wants to take land and throw the ruling regime out of a given territory, and if some do they are far outnumbered by those who are all too willing to submit to the authority of the state.
Spain got where it got by spreading the ideas of liberation through education. The seeds of revolution were in the hearts of the working class. The U.S. Looks a lot more like Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. Most people still seem to be preoccupied with meaningless distractions. The very same ruling class has gained dominant power over what is aired on television and radio. This leads to the reality that we are being educated, governed and entertained all by essentially the same interests. It is not some conspiracy, it is simply a reality of the power of capital. Capital is access to the masses through entertainment. Capital fuels political campaigns. Politics impact education and entertainment and news media all are beholden to the same capital. What fuels the decisions that are made in the state is capital, what fuels the entertainment and news is also capital and they are coming from the same select few capitalists who hold power world wide. They own the food, water and basic resources we need to survive. They own the means of production. Small business owners in this are often mostly there to serve the capitalist as well. Most small businesses install, cook or resell products from these capitalists.
In order to really begin to impact change and create a revolution we must begin to rise up against this power. First this occurs through education. We must be able to show the average citizen the reality of our situation. They must begin to challenge the powers that be instead of serving the ruling powers loyally.
The second step is to take control. Until the people claim the land and regions for themselves and throw out the ruling powers we will only see more of this game of watered down politics being played. To petition the ruling class and their servant the state will only lead to them allowing just enough to appease the people temporally while taking more power and wealth for themselves. You see the capitalist believes himself to be the source of liberty. The state is simply the enforcing arm of the capitalist.
The anarchists who did attempt to claim property were labeled criminals and vandals even by their so-called comrades within the occupy. There is no revolution within compassionate capitalism which seems to be the push of many who claim to be on the left. Some seem insistent on creating an ideal American Dream with the help of the politicians. Until the banks and workplaces are stormed by the people we will continue to serve the rulers who own them. The powers that be are large. The largest empire that has ever existed on the face of this earth is the United States. One group of students camping in front of a bank or at a park with a few signs will lead to little. This is why the first step, education and outreach is vital.
The Anarchists and Reds of the early 20th century did not sit around stuck in the futility of asking how they could obey the rulers while trying to make a point. They cried for revolution. The catch is that if a small splintered group does attempt any truly radical revolutionary action they are so miniscule and without any support that it only amounts to the masses seeing them as criminals, for that is what the state declares them to be. This is with good reason. The real acts of revolution are criminal acts because the state declares what a crime is and anything that can threaten the existing rule will be declared criminal.
The powers that be are not fools. They know if the burden on the people is too great they will rise. The United States is really good at giving just enough ease to keep people from revolution. We are distracted just enough to make it easy to not look at the options of real change. We are bought into the narrative of the capitalist and the idea of meritocracy which perpetuates their rule.
Sadly this means that before we have revolution things will have to get much worse. AND! Things are going to get much worse. History shows us this. As the state continues to wage endless wars it takes a toll on the people which it milks for power and wealth. Economics attempt to provide band aids as the people are submissive to being robbed. We are following a destructive leader down a path of poverty and destruction for most and wealth and power for a few. The need for revolution will arise. The task is to prepare the working class and the people to take power for themselves and reject the state and capitalists.
Please help us share and promote this on facebook, twitter, social media or just e-mailing it to people you know may be able to donate.
SoapBox Books is a new infoshop opening in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are looking for donations to help get started.
If you are unable to get to Cincinnati, Ohio you can mail donations to:
Saturday, May 4th they will be hosting a launch party starting at 3:00 pm with workshops led by RedBird Prison Abolition.
You can follow Soapbox books on facebook here.
For more about the May 4th opening you can see the event posted on facebook as well here. I hope to see you all there and I encourage you to help support SoapBox Books with your donations if you are unable to make it to Cincinnati on May 4th.
As posted on their site:
Books lying around you don’t read? Posters gathering dust? Have three different editions of Capital but still trying to finish the first one?
Luckily for you, SoapBox Books & Zines has set up a special donation hour this Thursday, May 2nd, from 6-7 pm. You can bring all your donations -books, zines, magazines, posters, buttons, stickers, rugs, lamps, coffee makers, anything!- that you want to get rid of that somebody else could definitely use.
Additionally, folks who want to help out this weekend with our launch day or learn about other volunteering opportunities are welcome too!
We are now accepting donations for:
- Books, zines, maps, posters, magazines, etc
- Coffee tables
- Printer paper
- Cash donations acceptable too
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- The SoapBox team
Steven Kurlander posted a piece on the Huffington Post that attempts to call anarchists terrorists. To begin with Kurlander shows a lack of knowledge of the anarchist movements or any anarchist history. He makes sweeping comparisons to people such as ‘Timothy McVeigh’ who have absolutely no connection to anarchism but somehow he is attempting to frame the bombings he was responsible as ‘anarchism’.
Back in the early 20th century, “terrorists” were referred to as “anarchists” (basically the same thing) and carried out what would be termed these days as “acts of war.”
-Steven Kurlander: A Lesson of the Boston Bombings: Stop Classifying Criminal Anarchist Violence as Acts of War
Kurlander’s most bold statement was “terrorists were referred to as anarchists (Basically the same thing).” Here Kurlander makes one quick accusation based on absolutely nothing besides his prejudice. Anarchists are self proclaimed as anarchists. In response to this those who oppose the political philosophies of anarchism have at times used anarchist as a negative much in the same way an angry republican screams ‘damn liberal’ or Joe McCarthy screamed ‘evil communist.’ He continues this by speaking of two people Leon Czolgosz and Luigi Galleani. As an anarchist who associates with many other anarchists I can truly say that I have yet to speak with anarchists who defend the actions of Czolgosz or Galleani. So, if we are to define every person of a political alignment by the actions of a select few minorities we should look at Kurlander’s political alignment. Kurlander campaigned for McCain / Pailin who actively promoted warfare and bombing of people. In fact their political party is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. In this sort of logic he was using it would really make sense that Republicans and terrorists are basically the same thing. They sure have far more acts of terror on their hands. Kurlander is able to point to specific individuals who held anarchist beliefs or in the case of Czolgosz attended an anarchist rally. He is able to point to specific individuals who committed these acts because they are an extreme minority amongst anarchists. I however can not begin to list the countless bombs and shooting inflicted by the party Kurlander supports because they are so common. As a whole anarchists tend to reject this type of violence and opposition to these kinds of horrors are why many align themselves as anarchists. The statement really only amounts to nothing more than a typical example of Orwellian doublespeak. And might I add that Orwell stood beside the anarchists and reds of Spain against the fascists.
The reality is that some anarchists have committed acts of violence. At the same time many communists, capitalists, republicans and democrats have committed countless acts of violence. Anarchists in general tend to oppose these acts of violence. The anarchists of the early 20th century opposed WWI and the acts of violence there and in turn faced excessive violence from the U.S. government. We have stood beside opposition to every war that has been waged and in solidarity with peace movements throughout the world. Myself as an anarchist I have been involved with peaceworks, Iraq Veterans against the War, Vets for Peace and countless other groups and efforts to promote the cause of peace and oppose violence on many levels. I have stood on the side of peace against citizens who perpetuate violence against citizens, against governments against citizens and every other form of violence. As an anarchist i have stood against bombing, shooting, violence against women, violence in media and accepted violence in society and the list goes on.
Kurlander goes on to state that ‘The Tsarnaev brothers were nothing more than immigrant anarchists…’. This statement is not based in anything but the misuse of the term anarchism based on Kurlander’s own prejudices against anarchists. There has been no actual evidence that the Tsarnaev brothers were even anarchists. This is coming from Kkurlander’s attempt to define anarchism as violence and then in turn using it to describe the Tsarnaev brothers as anarchists. Anarchism literally means no rulers. Anarchism is a diverse set of beliefs that oppose hierarchy and rulers of all sorts. This would include the use of bombs and violent acts against others. This shows a use of power to kill or harm others and stands in stark contrast to the philosophies of anarchism.
Steven Kurlander owes anarchists everywhere an apology. I hope the response by anarchists to his article will prompt Kurlander to at least research the history of anarchist thought and see that his own lack of knowledge fuels the accusations in this article.
Recently the internet has been a buzz with an interview with Peter Brabeck-Letmathe the CEO of Nestlee in which he says that water should be privatized not a human right. This video is the perfect example of what anarchists have been warning people about for centuries. At least since Proudhon.
The discussion of human rights is not the discussion we need to be having. It is one that frames the discussion within a paradigm that favors the ruling class. It is easy to discredit and argue against rights. They are an abstract concept that often rely on a certain authority to declare. The basis for human rights can be many and varied they are relative. The basis of this conversation should be kept within the realm of a discussion of the liberation of all from capitalism. Without challenging the concept of private property we are essentially accepting the capitalist system and simply begging for our table scrap rights from our rulers.
The plea for human rights comes from the oppression of peoples by capitalism, property and hierarchy. It is a plea for a few essentials people need to survive. The issue should be a push to abolish capitalism as opposed to submitting to capitalist rule and beg for a few ‘human rights’ under their authority.
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is the shining example of a capitalist. There are some who would claim to be capitalists by philosophy who are not in reality capitalists. A capitalist owns the means of production. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe frames his power as humanitarianism. He claims that the jobs he supplies are a humanitarian effort. The reality is that through his legal right of property he only serves as the ultimate parasite to the workers and the people. His sole purpose is to claim right or authority over resources and the product of the workers labor.
Privatization of Water
People are outraged over Peter Brabeck-Letmathe calling the view of water being a human right an extremist position. The fact is that he is right. The reality is that we have privatized water. Basic resources are owned either by the capitalists or in few cases still controlled by the state. The idea of water being anything but privatized is extremist because it is the opposite of the reality we currently live under. Many in the U.S. or other wealthy nations feel little of the impact of this. But there are those who are suffering a great deal under this capitalist generated scarcity.
Every natural resource even air will one day be owned and controlled by the capitalist if we continue on the path we are on. This is precisely what Proudhon addressed when he stated ‘Property Is Theft’. Proudhon saw water and air as being in unlimited supply, which we know now is not the reality. Under this assumption he mostly focused on property as in land. Now that the ability to harness and control air and water is here we see the same claim being made on these resources as we once saw with only land as property. The claim to property has been made. The ground water beneath you has been sucked dry by the capitalist and sold off for profit. I guess a home owners claim to property was a little less valid or maybe didn’t go that deep.
The fact is that the water that is consumed here in the U.S. is owned by a capitalist. There is either a monopoly on your tap water or it is distributed by a select few as bottled water. The resource is not public, has not been for quite a while. All of this is tightly controlled and managed with the power of the state by mostly a select few private companies. They are literally taking the ground water beneath you, claiming it as their property and selling it back to you.
So, yes the idea of water as a human right is extremist. It defies the reality of what is and has been. It is one that challenges capitalism absolutely, and without challenging capitalism absolutely it will remain the property of the capitalist.
Part One: “… the consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution”
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx writes:
“Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conception, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?”
In this statement Marx is arguing changes in material existence and social relations must produce changes in consciousness.
Based on his argument, we can assume when, in the German Ideology, he and Engels wrote capitalism gives rise to,
“a class which forms the majority of all members of society, and from which emanates the consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution, the communist consciousness”,
they were making the argument capitalism gives rise to changes in material existence, social relations and social life that produces a communist consciousness.
I ask this, because I certainly don’t want to be accused of “stringing quotes together”. I want to be sure these two concepts — one from the Communist Manifesto, the other From the German Ideology — actually are related. I want to be sure the two arguments form a discrete, coherent and continuous line of reasoning going through their life’s work. This is so when I ask dumb fucking vanguardist groupuscules (like, e.g., the SWP (UK)) why they exist, I am on solid ground. But. more important, I want to make sure I am on solid ground when I begin looking at the arguments of both Kautsky and Lenin on the issue of working class consciousness. I don’t want any silly mindless vanguardists to say I am taking Engels or Marx out of context when I rip Kautsky and Lenin new assholes.
This is a post from libcom.org. I thought these were wonderful resources so I am reposting it here.
Libcom.org’s reading guide on anarcho-syndicalism, a tradition of anarchist-inspired workers’ unions.
- Anarcho-syndicalism – an introduction – Short, accessible introduction written by the libcom.org group.
- Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th Century – Vadim Damier – The best one-stop overview of anarcho-syndicalism currently available in English, covering the well-known and not-so-well-known organisations and ideas from the anarcho-syndicalist tradition.
- Fighting for ourselves: anarcho-syndicalism and the class struggle – Solidarity Federation – Short book outlining the history, theory and practice of anarcho-syndicalism in relation to the mainstream workers’ movement and other radical traditions, and setting out their own approach.
- Anarcho-syndicalism: theory and practice – Rudolf Rocker – Classic anarcho-syndicalist text, strong on the early history and ideas of anarcho-syndicalism up until the Spanish revolution of 1936.
- A history of anarcho-syndicalism – SelfEd – A 24-unit self-education course on the history of anarcho-syndicalism and the workers’ movement, produced by the Solidarity Federation.
- IWA – International Workers Association, international confederation of anarcho-syndicalist trade unions, founded in 1922.
- CNT – Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union founded in 1910, which took part in the 1936 Spanish civil war and revolution.
- FORA – Federación Obrera Regional Argentina, Argentinian anarcho-syndicalist union founded in 1901 which played a leading role in the working class movement at the beginning of the 20th century.
- Friends of Durruti – Anarchist group founded during the civil war opposing the CNT’s participation in the Republican government.
- Mujeres Libres – Anarcho-syndicalist women’s organisation active within the Spanish CNT before and during the Spanish revolution.
- Emile Pouget – French anarchist and influential early advocate of syndicalism who was vice-secretary of the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) from 1901-1908.
- Rudolf Rocker – Prominent German anarcho-syndicalist who organised extensively amongst the Jewish community in the East End of London.
- Gregori Maximov – Russian anarcho-syndicalist and participant in the 1917 Russian revolution who wrote extensively both on anarchist involvement in the events as well as the Bolshevik counter-revolution.
- Buenaventura Durruti – Legendary anarcho-syndicalist rail worker, CNT member and military leader, killed during the Spanish civil war.
- Albert Meltzer – British anarcho-syndicalist who fiercely opposed individualist strains within anarchism and founded Black Flag magazine.
- Overview: the International Workers Association – Edited version of the article originally put together for the organisation’s page on Wikipedia and includes some content not available on that site.
- Revolutionary syndicalist internationalism, 1913-1923: the origins of the International Working Men’s Association – Wayne Thorpe – A highly detailed 1979 PhD thesis about the origins of the anarcho-syndicalist international, the International Workers Association.
- What is the CNT? – English translation of ¿Qué es la CNT?, introduction to the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union the CNT-AIT.
- Free women of Spain – Martha Ackelsberg’s book on the Mujeres Libres [Free Women], a group of anarcho-syndicalist women in the Spanish revolution.
- Durruti in the Spanish revolution – Abel Paz – Highly recommended book that is as much a social history as biography of the anarchist bank-robber turned-revolutionary unionist.
- Revolutionary unionism in Latin America – the FORA in Argentina – Excellent pamphlet outlining the origins and development of the Argentinian working class movement, focussing in particular on the anarcho-syndicalist FORA (Federación Obrera Regional Argentina).
- Syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism in Germany – Helge Döhring – Introduction to the development of German syndicalism from its beginnings in 1890 until the early 1960s.
- Anarcho-syndicalism in Peru, 1905-1930 – Steven Hirsch – Article about the Peruvian anarcho-syndicalist movement with details of its influential involvement in numerous strikes, its far-reaching network of cultural associations and its influences from other syndicalist movements in the region.
- Anarchosyndicalism in inter-war France: The vision of Pierre Besnard – Wayne Thorpe – Detailed look at the thought of anarcho-syndicalist Pierre Besnard (1886–1947), placing it in the context of inter-war French syndicalism.
- Syndicalists in the Russian Revolution – Gregori Maximov – Account of the effects Russian Revolution on the Russian syndicalists and anarchists, and vice-versa, by a leading Russian anarcho-syndicalist of the time.
- The union makes us strong? – Anarchist Federation – A three-part critical analysis of the theory and practice of syndicalism published in the Anarchist Federation’s Organise! magazine.
- Spain 1936, the end of anarchist syndicalism? – Subversion – Criticism of anarcho-syndicalism during the Spanish Civil War.
- Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39. Photo gallery of anarchists and other workers who attempted a social revolution after the military uprising of the right-wing General Francisco Franco in July 1936.
- Living utopia (documentary). A unique feature-length documentary (90 minutes; Spanish with English subtitles) which chronicles the origins and evolution of the Spanish anarchist movement and its important role during the Spanish revolution (1936-1939).
After a hiatus, HELLO.
This is an odd post from an old timer, but now something relevant. So let’s go line by line.
For years, your nice little Occupy correspondent had been sitting in Oklahoma, going on about well, this speech from a certain Disinfo.con. The speech was by media theorist Douglass Rushkoff. It was In reference to a quote from Tim Leary Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
Find the others. Seems simple enough. Going to find the others. They are out there.
But finding them in Oklahoma is hard. Especially handing this out in 2003 in OKC, on DVDs I burned with everything from Rev. Billy documentaries, NIN’s official “Broken” Video, and various soldiers and housewives on LSD, being that horrible horrible guy, who is just a little higher, a little drunker, but way to connected, learning new things ever day.
Yes, I wanted to find the others, find my friends, my family, and I never thought about how. I couldn’t travel the nation, or travel much of the city, figured it would just happen. Sat around and waited.
Didn’t know, it would happen. Or how it would happen. Just knew, that I was winning, or at least, treading water, miserably.
Yea, Fox News was something. A network in keeping the people dumb and afraid. but enough of us got over that. We saw something else. A new glimpse. 2003 we still had the Iraq war blogs may have dissolved, and the others.
So we went off. We got into art. Some of us joined up, cause we had to. Some of us, some of us suffered in other ways.
But we still kept looking or a way out of this. Blogs may have dissolved, but we were still our own leaders, looking for a pack. We thought ourselves wolves. Wolves ready to snap, bottling anger, trying to make ends meet, trying to just get to a place to fell comortable enough to somehow explode.
So we went on, broken relationships one after another, looking for, as Leary said, those others. We bumped into rocks stars and that ilk, we bumped into local art stars. We kept looking, and looking. Sometimes disheartened, at what we saw. Our lives had become finely sharpened blades. But we were not to be letting that out in public.
We were looking for maybe not anarchists, but anarchist bent. We were looking for artists. We were looking for those who didn’t care, but were pissed off. And we couldn’t find them. And if we did, they just gave lip service. They, those we thought that deserved the title of others, just didn’t seem as into our struggle. Today, we admit we may have been elitist.
Went to Vegas. Gave our hearts to lions and tigers. Toiled in shit jobs. Unaware, that at that time, a few kids were playing hackey sack, near Wall Street. A few kids in New York City. Where were they, and what the fuck why do I, we care.
These were the others. They were not special, but these fucks knew what the were doing. You wanna use an old line, fine. Blues Brothers. Sent on a mission from God. (use that Chicago accent). That’s how it started. In Zuccotti Park.
Then The Tents. I still shed a tear when I see a tent. Why? That’s when we all came together and found those others.
I still remember when I was told “ Hey, there are a bunch of people camping in NYC, in a park By Wall Street.” My head spun. I knew this wasn’t just people with tents. These were the people I was looking for. But it was NYC. Due to past knowledge of what the NYPD was capable of, I was not going to NYC at this point. Pussed out, and waited. I remember what happened at the 2004 RNC Convention. I remember that shit. NYC can wait. I’ll get there one day.
Two weeks later there was a planning meeting in OKC. To Occupy OKC. 200 people showed up. A while later, on October 10th, we would be setting up, in Kerr Park, OKC. A park, supported by the same idea as Zuccotti Park. This park was paid for by Sandridge Energy, much like Zucccotti was paid for by Brookfield Properties.
It was an odd place. We were a camp of people in a mostly stone park, our bar was called The Library, a Fox News watching place that welcomed us with open arms, and we made ourselves immediately known. But we were small. 40 turned to 20 quick. After a while, it was a makeshift homeless shelter, and Sandridge wanted to blow up the park to renovate. I wasn’t going to let this die, and formulated another plan.
Working at a Walmart, living with my parents didn’t really seem like something I wanted to do. I found the others, and it was time to leave oklahoma anyways. Reached out to the first person in oklahoma I knew with Occupy in her name, and made arrangements to go to DC. There was something going on, called Occupy Congress. Let’s do this. 3 days on a Greyhound can’t be that bad.
Then DC. Oh the fucked up District of Columbia. I think i found the others.
I found lots of others, that a year later, still are the others. Lots of activists, journalists, rabble rousers, what have you. We are unafraid, we are coming together.
Those raids just made us stronger. We are not afraid, but we know how to deal with those that want to separate us.
We have not stopped either. Nor has mother earth stopped. Mother earth, for all her beauty, tried to tell us, we need to stop and try.
Since so many of us, could come together, and save ourselves and each other, Sandy turned from a horrible bitch, to a mothering experience. None of it was in any sense was pretty, and we lost a lot of our sense of humanity, but we gained so much more then we could ever sense. Or deal with.
All we can do is pick up the pieces. Those of us who took the time too meet the others, we need to find more others.
NYC can’t be complete, and NYC needs to get ourselves together. NYC, we are the others. We need to rebuild and regroup. And NYC is not going to regroup just for Sandy. We are going to regroup and rebuild, we are your city. We won’t be nice about it, we won’t be kind, but we will spread the love.
This isn’t just about Occupy, this isn’t just about some cunt that came through and swept houses away like dust.
This is About Community.
How to be a community.
How to be a HUMAN race, in love.
We are still Growing,
We are still Evolving.
Let’s get working.
And you better have dishpan hands.
Those that were terrorized by this superstorm, and in some respects, the dangers Occupy was warning about, ie Global warming, this idea of endless growth, and that MAN is something that controls the planet, well…
Mother Nature, the Earth, will set us straight. She aimed for Wall Street. She got hers. We need to respect that. And for those in Staten Island, and the others in the NY NJ PA region, we need to rebuild. The government is as useless as ever, but a strange group has evolved. Occupy Sandy. The same group that brought you the 99% line of thinking is also bringing you, of all things, SUPERSTORM SANDY releif! We are still the others, and we know community.
There is still time. We will still be here. But if you are comfortable enough, and have some cash, or supplies, whatever, here is how to get involved.
It’s Christmas time again, and it seemed a perfect time to discuss the role of gifting within society. Nearly every child who celebrates Christmas will, at some point in their childhood, say something to the effect that “I wish it could be Christmas all the time!” and without fail, this wish is put down by parents. Obviously the parents wouldn’t be able to afford to buy presents for their children, as well as all their friends, relatives, etc every day, but that’s never the reason given. The reason given is something along the lines of “But then it wouldn’t be special any more.”
Communism is the idea that we should kick that view out of the water. Markets and capitalism are squashed into so much of our lives, but some of the greatest joy that people experience comes from the short times of the year when they reject all that: Christmas, birthdays, celebrations, etc. During this, we abandon notions of exchange and give gifts to each other. And we also gain a genuine sense of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’: the first time a child gives out Christmas presents, they probably haven’t given much, but it means a lot to them, and will inevitably be appreciated. In fact often children are very eager to give out presents; it gives them a sense of pride that they’ve been able to, and perhaps more importantly, a sense that they are just as much a part of the occasion as everyone else. No-one measures and quantifies their Christmas presents. People don’t make charts and check prices so they know the exact balance of how much everyone has spent on each other. In fact we’d laugh at such an idea.
So here is my question: why can’t we live our lives like this? Why can’t we make gifting the basis of everyday life? For what reason can the principles of gifting at Christmas not be applied all year round? Do we really want to keep the rest of our lives shit so that the times when we do feel special by comparison?
For the Christmas-isation of everyday life,
I have been asked a number of times the last few days about my stance or for a statement on the recent school shooting. I often try to remain silent in these issues, but, well if you read my stuff you know I never stay quiet.
When I was younger my grandparents bought a farm. My father was and is a gun enthusiast, a member of the NRA and a supporter of ’2nd amendment rights’. A tradition was born in our family where all the men would go down the field and into a little area back into the woods to shoot guns at every family gathering. The men would gather to show off guns and shoot at cans or targets. I was never fond of loud booming noises, I never knew a lot about guns nor paid much mind to them. My knowledge came from learning about the weapons I was shooting. As the years went on I would go on to shoot countless weapons, mostly my M16 A2 service rifle and the M249 S.A.W. in the U.S.M.C. as well as many other tools of murder. Over the years I had received first hand education on how to handle and use many weapons with little interest in them.
Over the years I saw violence and death first hand. Over many occasions I saw both the actions as they occurred and the aftermath and the bodies of the victims. My first realization of the reality of the death and destruction of the military was at a grenade range. We go back behind a walled off area to throw grenades over a concrete wall and be rushed off back to sit in the bleachers and wait. We were boots, all green straight out of boot camp, Parris Island. I had thrown my grenade and begun to walk out and back to the bleachers with the other Marines being quite used to the sound of the grenades I was not expecting to be startled by one, but was. It was closer, louder. I shook as I heard it. It sounded as if it went off directly behind me. People were screaming and running. I could feel adrenaline rushing through my body.
I remember little from coming out of the range and reaching my seat on the bleachers, but I do remember the Corpsman standing there outside of the range crying. Here was the guy who was responsible for our medical and physical safety in tears. I remember clearly the quietness and fear sitting on the bleachers with the other Marines as the helicopter came down right above us, feeling the wind on my face. I remember looking around seeing the other Marines crying. It all became very real that moment.
A PFC was being brought out on a stretcher. I remember thinking his legs looked like twizlers. I remember the way the just wiggled around red and bloody. I remember his boots, legs and trousers all seeming to merge in a bloody mess. I remember the Sgt face down as they rolled him out, face down with his BDU’s cut off his body and little specks all up and down his back side, little red specks where the shrapnel entered his body. The PFC had thrown the grenade at the wall as opposed to over the wall. It landed behind with them. I think this is one of my clearest memories of such violence because I was in the field and was not able to drink myself silly to cope. I would drink a lot when I left there. Each act of violence after that was often d rounded out with whiskey, and most of the others were not accidental like this one. And this one still stands so clear in my mind. The whiskey helped me deal with it back then.
I could write a book on the guns, mangled bodies and violence I was part of or witness to. I don’t want to go down that route. What I do want to talk about is how this impacted my ethics in the long run. Violence became the crux of what led me to becoming an anarchist. The use of violence to structure society must be abolished. It is the future of the evolution of our species.
The current headlines are filled with news of another school shooting and it became political of course, as expected. The right has responded in fear defending guns and weapons. They want to arm the world. Send every grade schooler to school packing heat so that they can blow away the bad guys. Really the gun debate is not the debate or discussion that is needed to solve the problem. Like all other times it is a band aid or a surface issue.
The Real Issue Is Violence
Fear leads to violence. The cycle of violence is being perpetuated by fear. The state itself exists because of fear. Fear of the other and our desire to have institutionalized violence leads to our mass militarism and police state. Fear of poverty, fear of our neighbors, fear of someones uncut lawn. Violence is the underlying answer which our state is built upon. It is the pivotal hinge for which the state and capitalism hangs upon.
Countless centuries men have asserted their status and place in society through violence. Some have been labeled heroes and others villains in their use of violence. The same action of causing harm and taking lives is labeled good or evil based on the outcome and how they impact us. When children in Afghanistan are murdered by our military we praise and reward them. When it is our children in the U.S. Being murdered we call the perpetrator a terrorist. Both perpetrators have the same addiction to violence.
Our society has an addiction to violence. Our media is saturated by images of masculine men shooting up people. It is often police or heroic acts of glorified violence depicted. We praise those. We look at villainous acts of violence by ‘gangsters’ and depict them as cool or manly. We are groomed by our media to praise violence, it is glorified and our children are being raised to want to participate in this violence and be seen as manly or tough because they are violent or some force you do not want to ‘mess with’.
There is no Good and Evil
Good and evil are labels we place on an action that are dependent on the outcome and how they impact us. It is a judgment not a reason for an action. People do not kill because they are ‘evil’ but people are labeled evil because of the outcome of the killing. As stated earlier the same act of murder is both heroic and villainous depending upon the impact it has on us. My Spouse often says “there is no good or evil only varying degrees of consciousness.” As people evolve to a higher functioning level of intellect and consciousness in the area of violence it is rejected. Evolution of society to a higher level of functioning eliminates violence. Many of my comrades have been frustrated in the past with my absolute rejection of the use of violence. There is always a better and more effective option to violence. Until we really start to challenge violence absolutely we will stay exactly where we are.
The closest thing I can see as an exception to opposition to violence is not even an exception. It is the fact that I will not condemn the use of violence by the violently oppressed to overthrow their oppressor. This is not to say that there was not a better solution, it is to say that I will not condemn them.
Until Violence is Confronted
Until we begin to confront violence we will not have an answer to school shootings. The state is like the parent who beats their children each night and tells the child not to use violence on others. How will this child know anything but violence if they have only been taught violence? As people evolve in consciousness we will continue to participate in this archaic practice. What we need to be doing is confronting the idea of the use of violence absolutely. We must raise a society that looks at the violence with shock and horror.
I am not a pro-gun type. I abhor weapons of all sorts. In reality we must not just look at guns and bombs critically but violence itself. Our desire for violence gives birth to swords, guns, atomic bombs and countless devices of murder, torture and destruction. The desire to slaughter, maim and destroy other sentient life is the problem. Even more so than the tools we have fashioned to so this task, for it is this desire that gives birth to our tools of death.
We may have a desire to use these tools of death for a specific person, target or reason, but as long as they exist others will desire to use them for another. As long as our society embraces violence we will not be able to move past this. We ask why specific children are murdered in a specific school while overlooking the fact that it is happening daily all over the world and we do not think twice about this. We accept that violence.
When I am asked what my stance is on this school shooting I have to point to the real and true problem we are facing. It is violence. Yes, a mental illness is to blame. But it is a mental illness our society as a whole suffers from. Most will reject violence and in return they will say ‘but’ and then give the exception to the rule where they believe it is called for. With so many ‘good’ people who hate violence having their justifications of violence in the case they see it as acceptable we find that violence is indeed not opposed but very much accepted. It is important to make the distinction here of my exception. It is not a time violence is justified, but simply a moment I will not condemn those who have chosen to use violence.
I do not accept violence as protection or defense for the vast amount of violence that occurs is done out of a sense of defense or protection. There is always a better solution. This does not say that I am specifically claiming to be a pacifist. For pacifism is often seen as passivity and I do not condone passivity either. I believe passivity is a grave evil. It is to say that protection do need to happen only they must evolve beyond the archaic use of violence. We must stop dumping our resources into more weapons, violence and the archaic way of structuring society and begin focusing those resources on alternatives to violence to begin to advance beyond violence.
My life has been in chaos. My recent move from Kansas City Missouri to Cincinnati Ohio took a lot of time and effort. As I pulled into the new neighborhood I was moving to without ever seeing it I was a bit shocked. I would say it was a mild form of culture shock. I went from a high migrant urban area to a much more suburban white area nestled behind clusters of malls and walmarts. In the ghetto we didn’t have walmarts and malls near by. We had tiny little shops ran mostly by migrants and locals. Here everything seems to be a major national chain.
I thought I was going to get less radical as I pulled into this little prefabricated neighborhood. It seems the opposite happened. I thought I would get online and write about my experience with going to a walmart the first night we got on the road, but as time passed and I experienced more of this environment I found myself getting enraged and frustrated with much more.
I had my first experience with an Ikea. This really sent me over the edge. I had bought furniture in northeast Kansas City in the past and the experience was quite different. The furniture stores were often in older buildings. The furniture you would buy would be right out there. Often it was old furniture someone had fixed up and put out. Lots of second hand stuff. A few places sold new furniture in these old buildings also. But they were reasonable buildings, the kind that had been in the city over a hundred years or so. I had never seen anything like the nightmare that I saw which was Ikea.
I was sent to the store to buy a couch that was $150 bucks. I was kind of shocked that a new couch would cost so little. Maybe we shouldn’t be buying couches for $150 bucks brand new. Maybe that is part of the problem. A couch made in china by slave labor. We in the U.S. like to think that we are somehow above and past slavery, yet we still depend and rely on it each time we buy cheap crap at Walmart or Ikea. The slavery is out of sight and out of mind so it’s okay. As long as it’s not happening here in our borders, we can import it from other countries. Perhaps we should expect to pay a worker more for the product of their labor. None the less, I live in a capitalist society and I am attempting to try and have a similar standard of life as my fellow prols.
I was lost. Ikea was an overwhelmingly massive clutter of cheap made in china crap. Everyone seemed to be distracted by all the consumer goods laid out. I just wanted to get the couch I was sent for and was getting more frustrated by the moment. I couldn’t walk in and just get it. The store was laid out like a maze. The idea behind it’s design was that you would walk through a seemingly endless winding path which was intended to take you by every cheap consumer good they had laid out and ready to be purchased. You can’t just walk in ask for the couch and get out. Everyone seemed to be overjoyed with the chance to browse and buy as much as they could. It didn’t go over well with me. I wasn’t expecting this unending winding path of cheap crap. I just kept trying to find my way out to this ‘warehouse’ where the worker told me the couch would be. I didn’t realize I had to walk through this whole place to get there.
I started to panic. I was walking and walking and trying to get out. I took turn after turn following the signs seeming to only go deeper into this dungeon of consumerism. I started to panic. I was getting quite a bit claustrophobic. I didn’t know how I got so deep into this place beside the massive box of toilet brushes for a buck. I was frantically searching for a way out. I was feeling like a caveman who just stepped into the twenty first century. I know a few of the things I was thinking in my panic came out my mouth. “My God! How do you get out?” “This is massive” “I’m lost”. I have been known to get lost in all these modern stores as massive as they are, and Ikea may be the most massive one I have ever seen. It was almost a parody of everything I found repulsive about the Walmart I visited earlier in the week.
I eventually made my way to the warehouse with the couch at the very end and came to realize that I was buying a couch in a box. Christ almighty. Here I had moved into the what was left of the Levvittown era prefabricated houses. Everyone was striving to live in these little balsa wood boxes, speed around in their little metal boxes, work in their little boxed cubicles to keep up with their boxes and buy furniture in boxes. Here I was standing in the middle of the culture that fears communism and anarchism and has become comfortable with increasingly lower wages and increasingly cheaper crap all prepackaged, boxed and shipped in from china. Here I was standing on the grave of every craftsman and worker that ever lived. Here I was staring at all the good little underpaid happy workers all in their little matching uniforms just waiting for their shift to end so they could go back to their little box with the stuff they want to wrap up in boxes and put under a tree they set up in their levvittown track housing box. Christ, I was in hell. Humanity is dead capitalism is worshiped and served and this is our culture.
The worker works to consume the product of the capitalist. The worker finds no joy in their work, because the work in itself is joyless. The workers passion for the work is gone for the product of their labor is Warren Buffets. And to think, I’ve heard some mindless conservatives accusing him of being some kind of liberal. I think that is funny. As a kid my parents described communism as being a world where all the workers had to wear the same thing and take orders from some ruler and all individuality was crushed. I was seeing my parents fear of communism right here in front of my eyes, the society I was living in and it was capitalism. Someone lied.
Every time I walk into these places overflowing with cheap crap I think of Kropotkin addressing expropriation in Conquest of Bread where he says “The landlord owes his riches to the poverty of the peasants, and the wealth of the capitalist comes from the same source.” Here I see so many struggling with so much money going into these massive capitalist corporations and all those laboring are paid the lowest wage possible as the Capitalist who rules the corporation is raking in unheard of amounts of money. Here I see the workers laboring for the wealth of the capitalist. Here I see that with this much wealth and production that we just might be able to reach a post scarcity society, we just have to stop letting the capitalist rob the workers.
The workers are in an interesting predicament. The capitalist must sell them the products to continue to consume their wealth. The capitalist must have them produce to continue to sell them the product of their labor. The capitalist must force their wage down to continue to amass wealth, but if the capitalist forces the wage down too much the workers will not be able to continue to consume the very products they produced in the first place. Wealth is the production of the worker.
And we slave away at meaningless joyless jobs. We slave away distracted by our little boxed lives. We sit in our little boxed houses on our boxed couches staring into the glowing box remaining distracted of the real situation we are in. We are sold more distraction. We work to afford to be distracted from the reality of our situation, place and reality of life under capitalism.
“A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?” – Opening lines of the Communist Manifesto
In the early 1840′s the Communist Manifesto was written as a way to bring together people of a certain political inclination, the Communists. It formed the basis for a polical movement of these same communists in which they sought to take some of the power held by the 1% of their day through means of organized politics. It was a way to lay out an idea of class struggle and to present a history of capitalism along with what the problems of capitalism are and how they manifest in the lives of everyday people. What it DIDN’T do is predict what communism would look like. It DID present a socialist approach to dealing with those problems though.
Actually communism is the period in history AFTER socialism. A place in time when we see a stateless, classless society. An end to hierarchial relationships to people and to property. But, like Marx and Engels said, “Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?”
The FMAA crowd is no different. They have a fear of communism and seemed determined to remain ignorant on the subject. If you really want to baffle them, bring up anything by Marx. The declare their anti-intellecutalism on the subject with pride and are on the front line in their opposition to communism, while at the same time declaring their admiration for a “stateless” society. And like all reactionary movements, they fall goose-stepping in line with all other facsist fronts.
And when you give them the information, attempt to enlighten them as to what communism actually is….
FMC – “communism is another word for it, but that term refers to state ownership.”
Kom-E Ron – Reactionary propaganda. Just because it has been granted that label (incorrectly) for a long time doesn’t change what communism is. Marxists tended to believe that seizing control of the means of production and centralizing production would be a good strategy to REACH communism, but that isn’t communism. It is Marxist Socialism, a revolutionary step on the way to creating a communist society. As a matter of fact, the communism of Marx can best be described as a utopian idea, because it has yet to exist. Marx, along with all other communists, see communism as a stateless, classless society, with “ownership” of the means of production being communal. And while Marxists see a transitional period from capitalism to communism, socialism, that is far from the ONLY train of thought on the matter. Lots of us see their “transitional phase” and their vanguard-ism as counter-productive and unnecessary. After all, the centralization of wealth/power is ALWAYS the enemy of freedom.
And they always revert back to their previous belief systems. Something that if they put a minute of effort into actually understanding, they would know has already been addressed.
FMC - “where is the incentive to perform well for the talented people if everyone is equal in the end? if humans lived this way we would never have evolved! cottage industries that provide services to a community in exchange for other services, goods or currency are our best bet for a society where wealth follows merit.”
Kom-E Ron – Where was the “incentive” to “evolve” before capitalism? Why do enterprising people often provide their goods or services free (anti-ip)? Why do people develop products, never knowing if they will ever sell one?
And again, when you refer to “cottage industry”, this is the petty bougies, a reactionary force when they feel they need to “defend” what is theirs.
People will work. If you have ever spent time on the disabled list, you know that sitting around is the worst thing in the world. Now imagine a society where someone can try their hand at whatever tickles their fancy. Instead of being forced to perform like monkeys just to meet their basic needs, they are free to pursue those things which interest them. Of course we all have to work to meet our basic needs, one thing that can’t be changed. But how we do that and how much time we spend doing it is very flexible. How many farmers would there be if they could farm without being forced out of the market? How many fishermen? How many teachers?
But this too was already addressed by Marx, which even a cursory examination of Marx or the Communist Manifesto would point out…
“It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.
According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything do not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology: that there can no longer be any wage-labour when there is no longer any capital.
All objections urged against the Communistic mode of producing and appropriating material products, have, in the same way, been urged against the Communistic mode of producing and appropriating intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture.
That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.
But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, &c. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.
The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property – historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production – this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of your own bourgeois form of property.” – Marx by way of the Communist Maifesto.
TRIGGER WARNING: If you think your opinion is the only possible legitimate opinion on the subject of Privilege, you probably should stop reading this post now.
I grew up in a family that had a color line. One of my brother’s is relatively darker than the rest of us, and another of my brother’s is somewhat lighter than the average. Being typical children who can always find ways to taunt and humiliate our peers, we often called my fairer brother “honkie” — although, when my parents were in earshot, we called him “hink” — he still has that nickname today.
On the other hand, my grandmother, who was as fair as Hilary Clinton, and looked a lot like her, once called my brother and sister and myself “you little niggers”, when we pissed her off. I have a family member who has been challenged or otherwise assumed to be white in social situations that were awkward to say the least — for instance, in a room full of black women, who were discussing issues of relevance to black women, and once, when picking out a black doll for her daughter, when she was redirected to a white version of the same doll by a “well meaning” (read, “racist”) white woman.
Tags: Privilege theory
For the FMAA crowd, “private property” is a sacred right that comes from nothing other than being born. Their thinking is that if you “own” yourself, than anything you do becomes and extension of your “self”. They have seized on the idea that a person should keep the “full product of their labor”, which of course we all agree with. But how they apply that is to call the product of their labor “private property”, something that can be exchanged for and hourly wage, with that wage being the ACTUAL product of their labor. For some people an “hourly wage” IS the only product they are producing. They are in jobs were no actual “product” is created. They are nothing more than a cog in the capitalist machine, dong “busy work” just to further the extent of power their employers hold within a capitalist system.
From Marx – “But does wage labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage labor, and which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new supply of wage labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor.”
So, as (probably) Marx put it, wage labor doesn’t create “property”, it creates capital. That capital might be exchanged for the product of someone else’s labor, and in a modern capitalist society that “property” is most often from the hands of some other exploited worker, often in areas that are most devastated by capitalist and state intrusion into the lives of the workers. A wage laborer (or more to the point, a wage slave) creates capital for their employer and gets a small piece of that to continue the class antagonism between capital and labor. The FMAA crowd falsely believes that they are creating “freedom and liberty” for themselves by being able to aquire property and meet their needs in a capitalist system. But “capital” is always in opposition to labor, freedom, and liberty. It is a social construction and nothing more, and it’s sole purpose is to divide the worker from the “product of their labor”. Far from getting the “full product of their labor”, the wage laborer receives only the minimum that their employer thinks will keep them from taking some kind of stand.
For the FMAA crowd, everything they purchase with the capital from their wage labor is “private property”. But “private property” only exists as a social construct. What the FMAA crowd considers “private property” is really nothing more than the representation of capital, and only a small slice of the capital created by their labor. These meager possessions are the “hard won” possessions of the worker that Marx addresses in dealing with the idea of “property”…
“Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.”
That “self-earned property” stands in opposition to the “private property” of bourgeois society…
As Marx stated, “”But does wage labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage labor, and which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new supply of wage labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor.”
So the difference between “possessions”, which is that hard won, self-earned “property” of the worker, stands in contrast to the “private property” of the bourgeoisie class. That “private property”, the property which “exploits wage labor, and which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new supply of wage labor for fresh exploitation” is the only thing we are concerned with, or even call private property. Like I tell people all the time, “no one wants your damn shovel”. When Proudhon famously said, “Property is Theft!” he was talking about the private property of the bougies, which is in stark contrast to the “hard won” property he was talking about when he said, “Property is Liberty!”.
So on with the show….
FMC – “ron whats wrong with private property rights”
The first problem is, what are “rights”? They are nothing but an agreement between certain individuals to behave towards each other in a certain way. They are not some universal “rule”. They are, when enforced against people who didn’t agree to be bound to those “rights”, nothing but another form of exploitation and enslavement. But the main problem is the disconnect of the idea of “property” with “possessions”. This falls back on the extreme lack of understanding of the anti-authoritarian (leftist) movement as a whole.
Private Property is property which can be used to exploit someone for “profit”. Possessions are those items you use to meet your needs. This might include just about anything, unless it is used in the process of exploitation of labor.
Sovereignty =/= freedom or liberation. Just gives the “sovereign” the self-proclaimed “right” to act in any arbitrary way to anyone they want.
“The proprietor, the robber, the hero, the sovereign — for all these titles are synonymous — imposes his will as law, and suffers neither contradiction nor control; that is, he pretends to be the legislative and the executive power at once . . . [and so] property engenders despotism . . . That is so clearly the essence of property that, to be convinced of it, one need but remember what it is, and observe what happens around him. Property is the right to use and abuse . . . if goods are property, why should not the proprietors be kings, and despotic kings — kings in proportion to their facultes bonitaires? And if each proprietor is sovereign lord within the sphere of his property, absolute king throughout his own domain, how could a government of proprietors be any thing but chaos and confusion?” – Pierre Joseph Proudhon
Marx called the group who wants their little “private property” the petty bourgeoisie. And pointed out that they were never revolutionary, always reactionary, because all they care about it their future prospects of “making it”. And because they could never produce enough on their own to wield any type of real power, they would continually be ground under the boot heels of whatever state or ruling class came along. That they are the precursors of fascism, because they have to basically become a reactionary force to their reality of loss and no REAL ownership or means of “making it”. Their fear is based on the reality that if they lose their “private property” they will end up back to being exploited by the ruling class. So they are a reactionary force to that. They claim “defense” of property as the basis of their use of violence, but again, that is based on “property rights” that they grant themselves.
In the current 2012 election the republicans are reciting the words of President Obama in an attempt to frame him negatively as some socialist. Fox news and the pro-capitalist types are really having fun with this one. The problem is that it shows that both sides have absolutely no idea of what is going on, what the real problems are and what the real solutions are.
The problem is the theft of the product of the workers labor by the capitalist.
The problem is not that the capitalist ‘made enough money’. The problem is that the state exists as the backbone of the capitalist to claim the labor of the worker as their own profit. The problem is that wealth is redistributed to the ruling classes from the working class. The amount of money the capitalist hordes is not the problem that needs to be brought up. The problem we need to bring up is the reality that the state defends the ability of the capitalist class to continue to continue to monopolize the means of production.
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth - wikipedia
The United States is good at taxing the working class to use a portion to direct towards a minimalist security net. This security net exists to ward off revolution. The security net was more properly referred to as a ‘pressure relief valve’ by Panclasta. It insures that a few needs reach a few of the exploited working classes to fend off poverty that would lead directly to the overthrow of the capitalist system.
The wealth monopolized by the state and the capitalist is the privilege of property. It is the right of investment which leads to the claim of property and dominion over the workers labor. Equality can not exist under the dominion of the state and capitalism. If the state falls capitalism can only exist by privatizing the functions of the state, essentially creating a new state. Taking the flag off the police and soldiers and replacing it with a company logo. To abolish the state completely and the functions of the state is a death sentence for capitalism.
The capitalist is specifically the one who has dominion over the worker and the means of production. The capitalist has the right of increase, or the legal claim to the production of the worker and the wealth generated by the workers labor. In turn the product of the worker belongs first to the capitalist then to the state which both claim the right to the wealth of the worker who builds society. After the wealth is claimed the capitalist throws a few table scraps down to maintain dominion and the state throws a few little scraps down to maintain some stability of this system of theft.
The statement “at some point you’ve made enough money” is a slap in the workers face. It is blind to the reality of capitalism as the problem and embraces the system that keeps the worker poor. But this statement was not isolated, what President Obama said before it is even more disturbing. He states ‘We are not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned.” The flaw in this statement is the assumption that the capitalist’s success was fairly earned. The inequality brought by the monopolization of the means of production itself is an unjust advantage built upon generations of exploitation and privilege limited to the ruling class. It takes money to make money in this system. Simply because investment is the crux to the claim to dominion over the worker. Those who have to invest for the most part are those who have maintained this edge over the worker, the ruling class. Fair is: Without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage. The capitalist system is an unfair advantage maintained by the gun of the state and the dominion of the capitalist. President Obama is simply trying to maintain the capitalist system.
By: Resistance Transmissions | Oct 18, 2012 Anarchism
Anarco-government?? We have the tools for co-operative politics, will we use them?
I will, from time to time sit back and catch tid bits of the facade that is the American election campaign, but I mostly just pick up the general feel of whats happening, the highlight reel if you will. I am genuinely concerned for the well being of my family, friends and all Americans. I just don’t believe it matters who wins (and I think a lot of people would agree). Voting for a party system is an action with little democratic consequence. Your voice will be just as equally unheard today, as it will be in 2 months. Its not just America, this is happening in all western democracies.
Amazingly, an idea has been born that address this need for transparency and accountability in government. Its an idea for a democracy that will fit our ever changing modern world, loosely its called open-source governance. Interestingly the model is pretty much a co-op, it decentralizes power while at the same time amplifying individual voices and giving the citizens the ability to shape the laws of the land and decide on budget spending. It is done on a collaborative open source digital platform. It is a cheap, easily accessible tool that is beginning to empowered a renewed belief in participatory democracy. Well… so maybe the idea of “participatory democracy” is not so much new, but we now have the tools that give us the ability to make it work… and that is new. Simply, it is a true democracy ‘of the people for the people’ with NO political parties and NO rulers!! (although there might be a need for some sort of leadership)
Before I attempt to explain to you how this vision of a modern democracy would work, I‘ll need to give you a little background info. Many people are familiar with open source collaborative building and learning projects, if not you should check some out. A few examples are:
Slashdot is a technology-related news website where users submitted and evaluated current affairs news stories about science and technology related topics. Each story has a comments section attached to it. each story becomes the topic of a threaded discussion among users. Discussion is moderated by a user-based moderation system. Randomly selected moderators are assigned points (typically 5) which they can use to rate a comment.
Zooniverse hosts numerous projects which allow users to participate in scientific research from classifying galaxies to collating climate data. projects require the active participation of human volunteers to complete research tasks.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.
Open Source Ecology is open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts. It’s a network of farmers, engineers and supporters, whose main goal is the eventual manufacturing of the Global Village Construction Set.
…but open source software is where most of the open source buzz is happening, and there is a ton of collaborating going on!! If you search “open source software” you’ll get a many o’hits. If you want a short and sweet read of the culture build up toward the open source movement, you may like this > The Varieties of Hacker Ideology
The lowdown on this vision of an open source governance or modernized democracy or whatever you may like to call it, is based on distributed version control systems (DVCS). It allows many developers to work on a given project without necessarily being connected to a common network. Github has taken this premise to a new level, creating a very easy to manage, user friendly platform for open source software development and code building. More specifically, it allows an individual or a working group to take a piece of a project that needs a solution, work on it until it seems a solution has been found, and then bring the information back to fit into the larger project. The revised project is then left up for debate. The big change with the git model is that two people on opposite sides of the world can pull the same file, make modifications and then merge the files together in the larger project without previous knowledge of the other persons existence, the result is UNcoordinated co-operation (and that’s a pretty big deal). There is an overall anarchic nature to this, no one is in true control, a projects end result is formed by individual decisions regarding quality and appropriateness of contributions. Some people have said this can’t be done, that adding more voices to a decisions making process will lead to more differences of opinion, inevitable arguing, and ultimately little to no accomplishments. It’s true, we humans tend to argue, but it is partly because of the vast cultural divides between us. Whats the saying? Arguments are 10% over content and 90% over delivery… sounds about right. However, this type of open source collaboration is actually proving to increase cross cultural understanding and it is producing a ton of fantastically innovated and inspired work. In fact, some Germans have started taking the first steps in this direction, applying this system to some current legal and political problems. Singpolyma opened a git with the purpose of keeping track of the Canadian Copyright Act, proposals for it’s reform, and accepted reforms, in a versioned way. Divegeek has opened a git containing the complete Utah Code; the laws of the state of Utah. Its purpose is to publish the state legal code in a way that makes it easy for interested individuals to access both its content and its changes over time. *side note> Last year Iceland began crowd sourcing itself a new constitution.
It is true, all the details of how this could evolve into some form of people powered self governance are still just theories at this point. The internet as we know it has only recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, the web is still in its infancy and its potential roll in cultural, and political revolutions is hard to grasp. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web has said this about the web, “ The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine. …We are just starting to see the results of what was once just a philosophy, a shared web experience… a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. …The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. …We create the Web, by designing computer protocols and software; this process is completely under our control. We choose what properties we want it to have and not have. It is by no means finished (and it’s certainly not dead). If we want to track what government is doing, see what companies are doing, understand the true state of the planet, find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention easily share our photos with our friends, we the public, the scientific community and the press must make sure the Web’s principles remain intact—not just to preserve what we have gained but to benefit from the great advances that are still to come.”. As an example, it has been proven that people really don’t want to live with war. Our leaders, and the few who are profiting from war are the only ones who want to continue this warmongering cycle. In theory then, since we have the technology in place, a nations citizens could demand the right to steer their country. If this were to happen, I believe one of the first big changes we would see is an end to war everywhere… its a nice idea anyhow. We definitely have the desire to make a fair, free world, but do we have the knowledge and gumption to go for it? In the meantime there are a few little things we can all do to advance this idea of modernizing our democracies: 1) share this idea, 2) speak out in defense of an open internet for everyone, and 3) in your spare time keep educating yourself… so when the day comes you will have something to contribute. We should be able to figure it out.