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(en) Solidarita on economic, social and political situation in Czech republic Oct 2000

From worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 19 Dec 2000 14:18:16 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

   Interview with the Russian anarchist paper "Autonomist"
            published by Autonomous Action

1) Two words on economic, social and political situation in

Well, the Czech working class has been going through a very
difficult stage of capitalist development. An economic crisis
which started in 1997 has brought to an end a period, in which
protected national capitalist economy was constructed, and has
accelerated an integration of the Czech economy into the global
capitalist system. This, of course, means that traditional
industries are going bankrupt and unemployment has rocketed
to some 10%. Czech capitalists in troubles decided to go the
"Russian way" and do not pay wages to their workers for
months. For example, last Christmass about 130,000 workers
were without any income. A public sector is suffering from a
lack of money. Tens of thousands of railwayworkers and
steelworkers are in danger.

And in a political context this new economic stage finished a
period of rightwing governments, which were strongly linked
with Czech industrialists and bankers. A new social democratic
government has been in office since 1998 and has been
introducing quite painful neoliberal measures.

> 2) Tell something about anarchism in your country.

In the Czech Republic anarchism had a comparatively strong
tradition dating to the end of 19th century and the beginning of
20th century. But this tradition had been destroyed and buried
by leninists since 1925. So, after 1989 Czech anarchist
movement had to start anew. Its formation was indeed
spontaneous, but it has taken it quite a long time to emerge
from counter-cultural activities and gain a real organisational
form and political contents.

Now, there are basicly three different anarchist organisations in
our country. First, there is the Czechoslovak Anarchist
Federation, which is a "synthetist" organisation. It seems to be
decaying now very quickly. Second, there is the Federation of
Social Anarchist, the Czech section of the IWA/AIT with some
30 members and pretty productive publishing activities. And
third, there is the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists -
SOLIDARITA, which I personally belong to. We have got some
12 members and 50 supporters and publish a paper called
"Solidarity". We also produced several publications on
anarchism, but mainly we are very actively involved in industrial
and other struggles.

> 3) We heard about squatters and antifascists in Czesch.
What can you say?

Yes, there are still two squats in Prague. At the time when they
were established they were, at least to a certain extent,
political, but now they serve mainly as places for cultural
activities. As for the Czech anti-fascists, they have organised
themselves into the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). A development
of their political ideas has not been finished yet, but they are
mostly anarchists, so it is very probable, that AFA is going to
be a libertarian revolutionary anti-fascist group, consciously
rejecting and fighting leninism.

> 4) And how working class struggle is going?

Well, as I have already said, working class is now going
through a very painful period. So few months ago several major
industrial struggles errupted against nonpayment of wages and
mass redundancies. First these struggles had been evolving in
trade unions, but because of an absolute pro-capitalist stance
of the union leadership they had never got any further than to
demonstrations, protest meetings, strike alarms and one hour
warning strikes. Union bureaucrats had also been fighting only
for recapitalisation of some companies in troubles, but not for
jobs and wages, which had been the key questions for workers.

A big resentment among rank & file unionists and nonunionised
workers in individual companies had led to a series of
spontaneous protests and attempts at self-organisation. A
pattern for working class spontaneity and self-organisation was
set up by miners and machining workers, who challenged not
only their bosses but also their union bureaucrats. Miners of the
Kohinnoor mine formed the first strike committee independent
on union bureaucracy and in this way succeeded at radicalising
their local union branch leaders. They also staged the first
occupation strike in our country. This way they inspired
machining workers of CKD DS, who spontaneously picketed
government offices protected by riot cops.

On this examples ORA-SOLIDARITA was able to elaborate its
action programme for workers struggles and have intervened in
two other industrial struggles. We have been at least partially
successful. In two factories Workers Action Groups (WAG)
were established by the most militant workers. In one of them
the WAG strongly influenced by our ideas attempted at election
of an autonomous strike committee and about 1,000 workers
took part in a general assembly organised by the WAG.
Unfortunately, this attempt was supressed by an alliance of the
factory management and union leaders. Nevertheless, this
action frightened managers, union bureaucrats and even the
government, so they decided to silence these workers by
fulfilling their demands. A president of the largest union
confederation warned others who might like to follow this
example, that he did not support them and that "anarchy had
no place in our country".

In the second factory the WAG and ORA-SOLIDARITA
organised a joint demo of some 300 workers and several
successful meetings. But as this dispute had already been
going on for too long and as the multinational, which owns the
factory, was officialy declared bankrupt, a lot of workers got
demoralised and simply started to look for new jobs.

It is very probable that there are further struggles to come and
we hope, that we will be able to do even much more in
popularising anarchist ideas of direct action and direct

> 5) Tell about your group. What you consider as platformism?

Well, ORA-SOLIDARITA is a political revolutionary
organisation. This means, that we do not pretend to be a
"revolutionary" union or do not want to become one. We are
simply an organisation of anarchists, who joined their forces to
be more effective in propagating anarchist ideas in all working
class struggles and this way trying to build a self-managed
working class movement based on direct action and libertarian

We base our politics on such documents as "Organisational
Platform of Libertarian Communists" by Nestor Makhno, Peter
Arshinov and Ida Mett, a manifesto of the Friends of Durruti
group and "Manifesto of Libertarian Communism" by a famous
French anarchist-communist Georges Fontenis. And these
documents form a core of a so called "platformist" tradition
within anarchism. Of course, we do not consider them to be a
final word in a development of anarchist theory, but rather as a
point of departure.

All in all, platformism means for us, that an anarchist
organisation in order to be effective needs to have a common
revolutionary programme and a common revolutionary strategy
and its members need to agree on a voluntary self-discipline. A
lot of anarchist believe that this means in fact a new centralised
political party, but nothing can be further from the truth. A
platformist organisation is a federation based on direct
democracy and all its politics and activities stem from below.
Members are allowed to have their own ideas and criticisms
towards particular decisions and policies, but if they want to
spread them outside of the organisation, they are obliged to
clarify that these are only their own ideas and not organisation's
ones. If an anarchist organisation wants to be effective it simply
can not speak with two voices and confuse people with what we
really stand for or do not stand for.

> 6) Was ORA-Solidarita a group, which organised throwing
eggs to Madlen Olbriet?

Not exactly. It was a spontaneous direct action of two of our
members, which was wholeheartedly supported by the whole
ORA-SOLIDARITA. It was meant as a protest against US
imperialism manifesting itself not only in wars against Iraq and
Serbia, but also in transnational institutions of global capitalism
such as the IMF, World Bank or WTO. This direct action was
highly popular among Czech workers and got a lot of media
attention through which we were able to make the public more
familiar with upcoming anti-capitalist protests against IMF and
World Bank in Prague.

> 7) Tell about role of Solidarita in actions againist IMF.

At the beginning ORA-SOLIDARITA was supporting an idea of
Czech class struggle anarchists joining an umbrella
organisation for the protests. We hoped that together we might
be able to make it as anti-capitalist and libertarian as possible.
But unfortunately we stayed alone in this effort, supported only
by few comrades of Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation.
Nevertheless, several members of ORA-SOLIDARITA joined
the Initiative Against Economic Globalisation (INPEG) to open
there a space for revolutionary anarchist ideas and
organisational methods.

Besides this ORA-SOLIDARITA called for an independent and
united class struggle mobilisation among working class people
for S26 demos in Prague. Again, unfortunately only few local
anarchist, radicals and libertarian anti-fascists were interested
in particular practical actions. We also tried to mobilise
anarchists internationally to either come to Prague or organise
their own local protests. We asked anarchists coming to
participate in Prague demos to form a "Red & Black"
Revolutionary Anti-Capitalist Block.

In our country we were organising anarchist infostalls, arguing
for workers joining the protests, distributing special issues of
our paper in front of factories, in which we already had some
recognition and organising an international pressure on Czech
unions to join the protests. At least in two huge factories we
were able to gain a support of rank & file workers, who
demanded a collective union participation to S26 from their
union leaders. Of course, they refused.

I would say that those few Czech anarchist of all organisations,
who were involved in this stuff, achieved quite a lot. There was
a united, though a bit disorganised anarchist contingent of
some 4 or 5 thousands people on S26, which effectively
disrupted the IMF/World Bank conference. Also up to two 2,000
young Czech workers, unemployed and students joined the
Prague demo. And thanks to international anarchist
organisational efforts and direct actions we were able to at least
reduce trotskyists and stalinists to a complete insignificance, if
not those "anti-globalisation" reformers of capitalism from
various NGOs.


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