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(en) Chile: Anarcho-Communist Organization & the Needs of the Present

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 19 Dec 2002 04:37:08 -0500 (EST)


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ANARCHO-COMMUNIST ORGANIZATION & THE NEEDS OF THE PRESENT 

These days, we find ourselves in an extremely propitious moment,
not only because of the development of libertarian practices,
born from the fire of the various social struggles, but also
because of having to raise seriously the question of
anarcho-communist organization. For a couple of years now,
discussion on forms of organization and on the need for
anarchists to organize, has not just been a series of
philosophical speculations but rather a succession of equally
valid political possibilities. Since 1999, however, we have seen
an increase, unexpected for many, in the anarchist presence in a
certain number of social struggles and organizations. There have
been solid examples of libertarian organization in various towns
throughout Chile (Santiago, Concepción, Chillán, Temuco,
Valparaíso, etc.) as a result of the increased participation in
social struggles. Since then, discussion on anarchist
organization has left the realms of Olympus, and is based firmly
in reality. Now, discussion is not on the basis of abstract
elaborations, but has, by necessity, some practical substance,
based on the needs of our real situation. 

As a movement, are we up to the task that we have before us?
Will we be able to take advantage of this favorable context
without repeating the errors of the past and take the
opportunity to outline a serious, revolutionary and libertarian
way out of the capitalist system? 

Certainly, the movement has matured rapidly, in the light of
practical experiences. But much still has to be done within the
movement. It is our task to encourage a "theoretical-practical
revolution" within anarchism, which will give the movement some
dynamism, get rid of dogmatism, and take advantage of the
lessons we have learnt and our experiences over the last decade,
to give a final kickstart to a movement that has reached the
"ago of majority". Only then will we be able to advance and to
strengthen our influence among the people. 

THE ERRORS OF YESTERDAY THAT STILL AFFLICT US 

We must be able to face our history critically - the best
teacher anarchists have is history. From it we must learn our
strengths and work on them. But above all, we must learn from
our errors and overcome them, so as not to trip over the same
stone twice. We must be more self-critical still of the recent
history of our movement, of the last ten years, because it is
here that we can see most of the limitations that have so far
prevented us from advancing and growing faster. We must
transform self-criticism into a faithful companion, who helps us
to correct ourselves before each error and to understand that
self-criticism is never a bad thing, that it can always help us
to grow and to mature. 

The development of the anarchist movement during the '90s,
reflected the low period in the popular movement and the
fragmentation of the left, which tended, obviously, to set the
standard in many of the things that characterized us up to
today. 

The low tide of the popular movement to a great extent caused
the fights that were previously directed towards the regime
turned into internal conflicts between fractions and groups,
that badly affected the whole left, but were felt most strongly
by the revolutionary currents. This resulted in a strong
attitude of mistrust and sectarianism, which is a great obstacle
to revolutionary unity. 

Similarly, the fragmentation of the left was seen in the
appearance of an endless number of groups in the middle of the
last decade. It was not understood by certain comrades that this
growing number of groups was not a phenomenon which reflected
the revitalization of the left, but was in fact symptomatic of a
state of greater fragmentation and weakness. Of course the
collectives, as a phenomenon, reflected many positive aspects,
like the rejection of traditional politics, the bourgeois
patrimony and/or authoritarian parties, or the search for new
forms of organization. But these positive aspects have
frequently been blown out of proportion, leaving to one side a
critical analysis which would try to understand the necessity
today to go further on the level of organization. 

Although they marked a necessary moment in the development of
the movement, the collectives only reinforced the mistrust and a
certain hostility towards organization (basically, the more we
spoke about anarchism being organization, the less there was of
it). They developed in us little bad habits like "assemblyism",
instead of a more correct federal principle. This translated
into a situation where the limits, in numerical terms, of the
organization, were thought about in terms of how many people
were able to meet and to reach agreement in a room, instead of
articulating different federative nuclei. They were responsible
for us remaining on the level of "domestic" politics,
propaganda, activism, and small struggles, and also for allowing
us to lose sight of the direction of the struggle in the long
term, and on a larger scale. Today, it is essential that we move
towards organizations on a greater level, not only as far as
numbers are concerned, but also as regards the method of
organization itself. And for this to happen, for this to lead to
greater levels of organization, it is necessary to leave behind
us that mistrust which originated in the policy of the "little
group of friends". We have to stop thinking in small terms and
start thinking about preparing an explosion of anarchism as a
mass phenomenon, through strong, solid organizations. We must
leave aside our prejudices on organization, which means
abandoning the idea of it as a purely idealistic phenomenon, to
have sufficient maturity and will to forge it in real terms, and
to facilitate the unity of libertarians on real and firm bases. 

UNITY: FROM BELOW AND IN ACTION 

Many comrades, impatient because things do not always go as fast
as we would like them to, want there to be unity simply in order
to tot up numbers of organizations, groups, collectives,
individuals, etc. We believe that the experience of previous
years teaches us very well, that such a premise can slow things
down, before speeding them up. 

Unity never comes about "just because", because we shared the
same flag. "Slogan unity" is always a weak unity, easily broken
before its first encounter with reality, ending up in disputes
and quarrels on all sides. True unity must come about from
below, and through action. That is to say, our aim should be,
instead, for unity and convergence of the different anarchist
sectors to come about as a result of our respective work in the
public arena. Only by uniting as a result of practice in our
various struggles (be they student, social or union), will we
see that our unity is necessary and productive. 

It is this phenomenon which has begun to appear in recent times
and which represents our main strength. It gives an immediate
sense to anarchist unity together with a real, solid base.
Certainly, this approach, this new perspective has produced
friction and has a somewhat vacillating nature, with highs and
lows, successes and mistakes - a very logical thing in such a
period of definition and transformation. This undeniable fact
has discouraged certain comrades and has caused others to keep
their distance or to show a certain reticence. But it must be
understood that the friction and conflicts that this new
perspective has generated are natural, given the characteristics
of the political development of our movement, which has passed
from a phase where we were used to functioning as a "tribe",
where we were used to the easy-going life of the collective.
Today, our goals are more ambitious and we are looking for our
own space, with the aim of forging mass struggles. But just as
the rise of friction was natural, it is also natural that it
should disappear as positions are gradually clarified, as our
real work advances, as unity is actually built from below. It is
natural that practical experience itself, struggle itself, helps
us to overcome the friction, because what is stronger still is
the conviction that we anarchists have, to join together and to
build in order to win. 

OUR UNITY MUST BE A REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL UNITY 

It is not enough, however, for anarchists to be able to engage
in a large amount of political and social work all over the
territory. It is fundamental that our experiences of struggle
and organization, which we develop in the social sphere and
which bear the mark of our unity, be seen on a revolutionary
political plane. Our frontline work, our practical experiences,
give meaning to a much more solid unity, and one of greater
influence: unity on the basis of an organization which unifies
those different tasks, based on a revolutionary program which is
coherent with our Anarcho-Communist principles. 

As anarchist militants, it is necessary today to keep this
perspective in mind always. However much work we do and real
presence we have among different social subjects, our presence,
as anarchists, is sterile and impotent if we are not able to
forge an "alternative". This can only be obtained by means of a
cross-sectional revolutionary political organization which
thrives on all the accumulated and ongoing experience, and which
produces a project of even greater reach. 

This has been demonstrated by our recent (and past) practice,
where many attempts at libertarian construction went adrift
through lacking the support which would have driven it on and
were taken over by authoritarian sectors, or simply vanished
after a short time. This has fully justified the appearance of
libertarian organizations who declare themselves to be
revolutionary, as a way to overcome these limitations. 

It is necessary to stress, once again, that this unity would
have no sense if was not based on practical experience, and if
it lacked the unity, tactical as well as ideological, to have
real substance and not turn out to be a splendid house of cards
which collapses at the first breath of wind. 

A SINGLE ORGANIZATION, BUT HAVING A FEDERAL CHARACTER 

We cannot continue to appear throughout the country as a series
of separate organizations without a clearly identifiable face
which it is possible to transform into a point of reference for
the people. We must overcome the reluctance to unite in greater
tasks, and this can only come about through a shared practical
trajectory. Furthermore, it is necessary to get rid of this fear
of organization, a fear which is rather difficult to understand
among libertarians. Many comrades have a phobia about speaking
in the name of an organization, and at times seem to have a real
complex about it, and so hide behind the generic name of
"straightforward anarchists", and sometimes not even that. We
cannot, in all seriousness, continue speaking as "anarchists in
general", given the heterogeneity of sectors that identify with
this epithet (which can be seen in the classic discussions which
lead nowhere on who or what is more anarchist). It is necessary
that we speak from our organizations, which are clearly
identifiable in their relative spaces and with their relative
political lines. Only in this way can we represent a real
presence. 

It is essential that anarchists who share common postulates and
practices form a single union, a single organization that can
drive ahead, like a big fist, with all the work that today is
carried on (with great tenacity) by many comrades spread
throughout the territory. This does not deny the right to other
groups and other sectors to organize themselves as they seem
fit, but we cannot ignore the right of those who think and act
similarly to create a single force, simply because of fear of
the old politics of the "single party".

If today we remain locked up in regionalism and are incapable of
uniting on a national basis, we will demonstrate to everybody,
to the whole political spectrum, that anarchism does not
represent a viable alternative for social organization. If we
are unable to unite with those we are near in terms of ideas and
practices, we (anarchists) will be demonstrating that
libertarian principles and action are unable to become the
powerful ideas that will unite revolutionaries in the movement
towards liberation. 

In effect, we need an organization which is established on a
basis of common principles and tactics, that it is based on our
concrete work with the people (be they students, workers, or
whatever...), that is unitary, and on a national basis (only
thereafter will we be able to think seriously of an
"internationalist" form). But, above all, it is most important,
being libertarians, not to forget the fact that the fundamental
principle that gives us coherent unity is the federal principle:
that is to say, that common policies are not adopted and
implemented mechanically and dogmatically over the whole
territory, or between all those involved, but that instead we
understand the specific peculiarities and conditions of each
locality. This does not reduce the force of the programme that
the organization has given itself as a result of struggle and
the experiences of struggle; this does not reduce the strength
of the principles of ideological and tactical unity. Rather it
strengthens them by feeding on the different conditions in which
the common policies will implement. Let us remember that we
intend to act in the real world, and not in some fantasty land
of models. It is therefore this federal model which, on the one
hand ensures that policies are not dictated from the centre
downwards but that they are spread from below towards the centre
and, on the other hand, ensures that these are applicable in the
particular areas where the anarcho-communist fight is
developing. 

Today, we must be up to what the circumstances demand of us.
When we anarchists begin to organize ourselves from below, we
must not lose sight of the aim of political-revolutionary
organization, which itself must not lose sight of goal of social
transformation, the only factor which can give it meaning. This
is necessary in order to avoid being overwhelmed by growth and
to avoid feudalist tendencies from becoming mistakenly
strengthened in the movement. If instead of strengthening the
political-revolutionary organization today we encourage the
growth of new collectives, of new fiefdoms, we would regress
instead of advancing. 


Jose Antonio Gutiérrez Danton
(militant of the Congreso de Unificacion Anarco-Comunista,
Chile) 

November, 2002. 


[This article will appear in the original Castillian in the
forthcoming issue No.16-16 of "Hombre y Sociedad", the oldest
Chilean anarchist communist publication. The writer, a member of
the CUAC, is on the editorial team of "Hombre y Sociedad", and
the views reflected in the article are those of the journal.
Translation by nestor mcnab. - ed.]


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