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(en) US, The Red & Anarchist Action Network - RAAN - Principles and Direction II. (2/2)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.kazm.net/principles.html)
Date Wed, 2 Jul 2003 08:54:25 +0200 (CEST)


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> ANTI-SEXISM
RAAN rejects the blatant as well as underlying patriarchy of
bourgeois existence as a fundamental pillar upon which this
oppressive society rests, and strives to destroy it through an
understanding of the historical forces that have caused it to be. This is
not to say that we subscribe to the reactionary ideal that patriarchy
will be destroyed the moment our relations cease to be mediated by
property. Systems of domination have existed before primitive
accumulation, and will continue to haunt us after the fall of capital,
unless specific attention is paid to the way that they appear, even in
revolutionary societies and situations.

As anarchists and communists, we also reject the traditional
concepts, appearances, and roles of "gender" (while the existence of
gender isn't bad, the way it is enforced by the hegemony is). The
sexualist oppression exerted over us by capitalism does not only
affect half of humanity, but all of us simultaneously. We are feminists,
yes. But this does not limit our struggle to that for the liberation of
women. Freedom from sexism involves dismantling the assigned roles
forced upon every member of humanity.

QUEER LIBERATION

Inseparable from our struggle towards the abolition of sexism and
gender roles is the inherent freedom from sexual categorization that
these victories will bring.

We will not live our lives within the boundaries of "the" preordained
sexuality, set down for us by Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim)
morality. We seize the chance to associate in revolutionary
communities free from the cages of race, class, and sex; and in so
doing, to pursue our true natures and individual desires in a world
where homophobia and heterocentrism have ceased to exist not
because we have abolished them, but because they have lost all
meaning.

ENVIRONMENTALISM

In a system based on private property, competition creates
ever-expanding markets, making non-sustainable consumption of the
earth's resources a necessity for survival. The social relations under
which we live have made it impossible for us to exist, at least for any
substantial amount of time, in any sort of harmony with the earth.

Anthropocentrism has long been the cause of human alienation from
the rest of the world. This belief that humans are the center of the
universe is killing the earth and must be stopped at all costs. The
hierarchy of life that we have created, which holds humans to be
grander than all else, is no different (and indeed, in no way separate)
from the political and economic hierarchies which the ruling-class has
created to maintain its power. We must learn to understand that all life
is connected and therefore, all equal.

ANIMAL LIBERATION & VEGANISM

Developed capitalism has held a practice of malice reductionism. This
goes from the basic pre-capitalist urban-feudal tandem economies to
the present day globalized economy, turning from the most flagrant
abuse of power to the least perturbing. The greatest cruelty that has
remained unstripped in this streak is that towards animals.

Capital was born on the backs of the most exploited labor, from
indentured servants to slaves. This, for the most part, has ended
today, but still exists in groups external to humans. The cause for
discrepancies between proletarians and animals is capital's utilization
of class infighting to draw attention away from itself. In a society that
methodically oppresses animals, workers have been forced to choose
between taking part (and thus creating another division in the
oppressed), or refusing to buy into the exploitative process (which is
then often seen as betrayal of their own class). This fine-tuned
system of infighting is directly parallel to the subdivisions within the
working class that are given elevated status closer to the bourgeoisie.

The liberation of animals is necessary in the struggle to overthrow
capitalism. To venture to use animals is to stimulate overproduction,
an unstable economy, and disaster with which to further exploit and
manipulate the already exploited and manipulated. The unsaid
reasoning for the enslavement of animals is that of production,
accumulation, and profit. Be it not that we support animal and
ecological liberation out of ethic, then be it for mutual benefit.

RAAN supports and encourages all those who have made efforts
towards matching their lifestyles with their revolutionary goals (that
is, those who have refused to take part in the horrific system of animal
consumption). However, we recognize that only a social revolution
can dismantle the systematic murder and torture of all animal life, and
that in itself the lifestyle choice of veganism is not revolutionary.
RAAN also supports all attacks on the meat industry, which
represents one of the most brutal and exploitative sectors of the
capitalist system.

Extended analysis of the consumption of animals, how it fits into the
historical process of capitalist development, and why factory farming
must be eliminated in order to ensure that all humans can be fed in an
environmentally-sustainable way can be found in the Antagonism
Press pamphlet Capitalism · Animals · Communism, available for
free at
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/3909/beasts/index.html

All of this should not be taken to mean that RAAN is made up entirely
of vegans, or that only vegans are welcome in it. To elaborate further
upon this, we'll quote from the above pamphlet:

"In some areas there may be apparent contradictions. For instance in
Brazil, landless laborers are occupying land belonging to big
landowners and cultivating it, including rearing animals. This is an
expression of the communist movement too. But the communist
movement is not a monolithic entity united around a party line. It is a
dynamic entity composed of diverse, and sometimes contradictory
efforts. There are many issues on which a range of different positions
are possible - for instance the use of technology.

"Disagreements would continue even in the society that would emerge
as the communist movement developed to a stage where capitalism
was in the process of being abolished across large parts of the world.
Communism is not the application of a universal moral code, or the
creation of a uniform society, and there would be no state or similar
mechanism to impose, say, veganism, even if many people thought it
desirable. The question of how to live with animals might be resolved
in different ways in different times and places. The animal liberation
movement would form one pole of the debate.

"Others might take a different position, arguing perhaps for free range,
non-intensive domestication of the goat in the garden variety (although
this apparent idyll would probably still have to involve cruel practices
like castration and the separation of animals from their social units).

"We can say with confidence though that the status quo would be
untenable, and that there would be a radical transformation of the
relations between humans and other species."

PROTECTION OF THE EARTH

As anti-state communists and anarchists, we fully understand that in
order to shape a free world, we must save it from those who seek to
destroy it for selfish capitalistic gain. We acknowledge that the
working class are not the only ones to feel the pains of exploitation,
for this very earth that we all live and work on is being destroyed by
the few for their own personal profit.

Forests are logged by private businesses and governments, who
proceed to sell the earth itself to the highest bidder. Rivers are
dammed and polluted for the purpose of selling power to the masses.
And who are these people who, in their arrogance, feel that it is their
hegemonic right to divide the earth and divvy out its resources? They
are of the same class that feels it their right in "the natural order of
things" to exploit the underprivileged. The environment, the animals,
the workers - all are victims of oppression, and yet it is all that play a
vital role on this earth. It is necessary that we reject capitalist
morality along with its anthropocentric fallacy and learn to appreciate
all life.

A necessary part of the liberation of the working class and oppressed
animal species is the liberation of the eco-system. The relationship of
the aforementioned groups to the Earth is an inseparable symbiosis.
For a communist society to choose only parasite and not also host is
to subscribe to the capitalist and pre-capitalist notion of disasters and
tragedies as unsaid but "necessary" evils for the benefit of the
ruling-class. Capitalism will still exist under the charade of a
socio-economically libertarian society, and mankind will collapse
under the arrogance of its own accumulation.

We are all inhabitants of this earth. When a forest is clear-cut, it
affects us all. When a factory spews poisonous chemicals into the air
- it is us who are harmed. It is beyond essential that we not mimic the
actions of the capitalist class in our libertarian revolution. It is
necessary that we protect the earth from the ruling-class who seeks
to destroy it - for the planet, and for ourselves.

It is for these reasons that RAAN fully supports all defenders of the
environment; all those individuals and groups who promote earth
liberation through means of civil disobedience, direct action, and
education. As with all other topics discussed in this pamphlet, we
must emphasize that our devotion to the liberation of the earth is not
merely an ideological detail, but a vital and most central tenet of our
organization.

CHILDREN'S LIBERATION

This world is the free space of all who inhabit it, and not merely those
who are adults. Think about the chairs we sit in; designed to
accommodate only fully-grown humans, and think about the language
we use when we tell someone they are "acting childish". What's so
wrong about acting like a child? Does this mean there is something
wrong with being a child?

No, of course not. But that significant portion of our lives, childhood, is
spent under the direct control of our parent(s), our teachers, and our
environments. How damaging is it that in the most developmentally
crucial time of our lives, we are often treated as property? Is it any
wonder why most of us are so willing to passively accept the adult
role of a wage slave? Rather than seeking to direct and control the
development of our children, adults should provide a guiding and
nurturing hand to a free and natural development. Rather than being
trapped under the jurisdiction of their parent(s), children should be
seen as part of the greater community, and the responsibility of
accompanying them into adulthood, a common one.

Building and developing a free society means treating everyone with
respect regardless of age, size, or assumed intellect. It means giving
equal opportunity for all to exist in a world that will be partly of their
own making. It also means destroying what is arguably the single most
oppressive force in any child's life: school.

EDUCATION VS SCHOOLING

Institutionalized "education", both in the government and private
sectors, is inextricably tied to the capitalist system. Indeed its chief
function remains, as always, to feed and perpetuate that system by
grooming its children for membership in their assigned class. An
anti-capitalist development will do away with all forms of enforced
schooling, freeing us to seek knowledge not towards vocational, but
personal goals.

We believe that everyone should have free and unlimited access to
information and essential education such as the skills to read and
write. We stand for the abolition of the boring, standardized
indoctrination that passes for learning these days. We want to see the
buildings where we used to be made to attend school turned into vast
community centers full of spontaneous workshops and debate, and we
want the only papers we write to be those that make us jump out of
bed in the middle of the night, delirious with inspiration!

Such aspirations may seem utopian at best when it is taken into
account that around the world, many of us still struggle for even the
most basic standard of bourgeois education. These struggles cannot,
of course, be forgotten or de-legitimized.

We are confident in our inherent ability to educate each other and
ourselves through the course of natural human interactions and a
shared pool of knowledge. Not only will this be healthier for us, but (in
all seriousness) it will also be a hell of a lot more fun. Just imagine,
sharing ideas and dreams with your friends and companions, instead of
sitting in artificial rows with classmates, constantly reminded by an
authoritative figure that you are not allowed to interact...

Although these ideas have been placed under "Children's Liberation",
it is important to remember that finding new means and processes by
which to educate ourselves, independent of both the state and the
bourgeoisie, is the common task of all revolutionaries, and as a result
will also be of benefit and use to everyone, regardless of age.

INTERNATIONALISM AND THE FIGHT AGAINST
IMPERIALISM

"[One way to help us] ...Is to know or learn that the struggle of
Zapatismo is only a symptom of a worldwide struggle that exists of
the excluded groups to recuperate their place in history and that all
these people, men and women, that are in other parts of the world that
struggle within their nations and within their social groups, demand
also to take back the place that they deserve in the modern world." -
Subcomandante Marcos (EZLN)

Because labor power is exploited from the proletariat, workers will
never be able to buy back all that they as a class have produced. This
chronic overproduction is an organic flaw in the capitalist system,
which the bourgeoisie will try to ameliorate by spreading markets
overseas. Simultaneously, that same capitalist class will be on an
eternal search for the lowest wages and biggest profits in the world.

Thus, trade disputes and even wars between nations are simply part of
the process that makes up the "healthy functioning" of capitalism.
Even the so-called "Communist" nations of the past have revealed
their imperialist nature in response to the need for expanding markets.
Where a stronger capitalist nation subdues a militarily weaker one,
(either politically or economically) it is called imperialism. When the
former (or future!) ruling-classes of that weaker power take back
control, it is not "national liberation" but inter-imperialism.

The Red & Anarchist Action Network is an internationalist
organization, and opposes the notion of borders, nations, and all forms
of imperialism, especially those in which the bourgeoisie disguises
itself behind the veil of a "popular movement". Furthermore, we must
not become enamored and hypnotized by struggles in faraway places,
as we have a revolution to fight for right here! This is as true to a
worker in New York as it is to one in Sao Paulo, or Paris, or
Johannesburg, etc.

We must maintain and express solidarity with our comrades across
the globe, yes. But the most helpful thing we can do for them, and
ourselves, is not to distribute flyers about their struggles, but to
enhance and push forward with our own; as they are all ultimately
pieces of the same historical process. Where capitalism in its most
developed forms prevails, the old Left continues to "live" vicariously
through the movements of oppressed workers in the global South. This
is a trap that we must avoid at all costs. We fully understand the need
to learn from how our movement reacts to capitalism in different parts
of the world, but even the most detailed analysis will be useless
unless we make the revolution relevant and active in our own everyday
lives.

ON LABOR UNIONS

"We want the unions to be influenced by the anarchists, syndicalism
to have a clear goal, the economic conception of the anarchist
communists, but the anarchists should not conduct themselves like
commanders from organizations outside the unions, imposing
themselves on the unions as though the unions owed their existence to
the anarchists. They should bring their revolutionary values and
effectiveness to the unions." - Juan Peiro

While still fetishized in some circles as the ultimate expression of
working class power, even the mere concept of the labor union has
become yet another addition to the grand capitalist structure. Far from
being the fighting organs of the proletariat that they had once been,
unions serve now only as the clumsiest of mediators between the
working class and those who own the means of production.

Weighted down by bureaucracy and internal hierarchies, unions exist
well within the sphere of bourgeois law, often acting as another
system of control over the heads of the oppressed. This is made all the
worse by the fact that, like the vote, capitalist trade unions provide the
illusion of power and representation, while at the same time
strengthening the bourgeois order by recognizing it as a legitimate
force to be negotiated with. Nevertheless, unions have been and
remain almost the single greatest single expression of
class-consciousness. Though we recognize the flaws and
authoritarian nature of top-down unions, it would be a fatal mistake for
us to completely ignore or reject these "workers' organizations".

We must be clear in our analysis: it is not the union that makes us
strong, but the self-consciousness of the proletariat as a class entirely
independent and with wholly different interests than those of the
ruling-class.

Any situation where involvement in a labor union may accelerate such
a realization of class-consciousness is welcome. Because unions are
capable of bettering the lives of workers, they must be supported in
their struggles against the bosses. However, the ultimate goal
towards which we strive is organization and consciousness along
class, not union, lines.

Furthermore, it must be clear at all times to both the organizer and to
the unionized workers that the union is only a vehicle through which to
attain this organization, and that the logical result of said organization
can only be the dissolution of the union, replaced by a fighting mass of
workers who will then be quite capable of representing themselves.

The question of our involvement in labor unions is one that must be
taken up individually in each unique situation. RAAN takes its cue in
this from the Worker's Solidarity Movement (WSM) of Ireland, which
states in its position paper;

"The rank and file movement is that movement within the unions of
militant workers who are prepared to fight independently of the
bureaucracy, and against it when necessary. Such a movement arises
when workers go into struggle and are attacked not only by the boss
but also by their own union officials. It requires the confidence to fight
on both these fronts, and to be generalized to the degree where it can
appeal for solidarity action over the heads of the bureaucrats.

"Within the rank & file movement we fight for our politics, we never
hide them. But we do not want to take over, the movement should be
independent of any one political organization. While we seek to
convince as many workers as possible of the need for anarchism, we
do not do this in an opportunist manner at the expense of the growth of
the movement. It should never be made a front belonging to the
revolutionary organization. Its role is to provide a focus for workers
moving to the left and wanting to fight.

"Rank-and-file movements usually come about as a result of struggle -
when workers see that the union leadership is an impediment to that
struggle. They cannot be willed into existence. The establishment of
solidarity networks can in the meantime draw people together on a
limited agenda where issues of democracy, strategies for the future
etc. can be discussed. We seek to build solidarity networks where
possible, as the first step towards the building of rank-and-file
movements." (Quoted from
http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ppapers/unions.html)

We believe that our involvement in unions, and the corresponding
struggle towards the creation of such rank-and-file movements, is
essential to the class struggle.

PERSONAL LIBERATION

As dictated by the bourgeoisie, working class upbringings alienate
people from the basic facts about the world around them and keep
them from the tools that would allow them to assert themselves
against the capitalist world. A fundamental part of being human is the
chance to gain an understanding of the world, and of the self, and to
use that knowledge as a base from which to pursue the limits of one's
own potential.

This, in turn, can only be realized if a person has a degree of autonomy
over the material parts of her or his life, meaning having freedom for
self-determination in the economic sphere as well.

Personal liberation, a unique process for each human being, can
nevertheless be broken down into two categories: mental liberation,
which includes deprogramming, unschooling, self-directed education,
and ends with autonomous individuals prepared to pursue whatever
future mental life they so desire; and material liberation, which
includes freedom from the traditional roles that capitalism forces us
into, as well as the pursuit of lives which are less dominated by
capitalism as a whole. Material liberation ideally ends with economic
autonomy in the form of self-control over one's lifestyle and work.

This is not to say that we subscribe to the oppressive capitalist notion
of mind/body dualism, (the idea that the mind and body function
without interchange). Even if we approach mental and material
liberation separately, they are in fact one and the same, each
impossible without the other.

It is also recognized that cultures supporting liberation already exist.
These should be supported and expanded in all cases as essential to
both personal liberation and long-term goals. Bourgeois youth pursuing
personal liberation should be supported if they endorse
anarchist-communism as defined in these principles, and are willing to
undertake some "class suicide" by sacrificing parts of the bourgeois
lifestyle for an anti-capitalist one.

While the path to liberation can only be determined by the persons
themselves, a few guidelines can be drawn up for what is not
liberation. Two major examples of what is not liberation exist:

1) Drug and crime "cultures" where casual drug use and petty crime
turn into addictive and socially destructive lifestyles. We should add
that such problems do not actually constitute separate cultures of
their own, but extend beyond all cultures and are inextricably linked to
material conditions.

2) Bourgeois cultures. The goal of personal liberation should not be to
become a "little" bourgeois, or even "more" proletarian, but to
transcend all societal roles imposed on us by capitalism and class
societies.

We strive to strike a middle path, which takes us beyond the working
class in some respects, and keeps us rooted to it in others.

These cultures of liberation are facilitated by mutual aid in the form of
both personal aid and community centers, squats, community
education programs, discussion groups and infoshops, all of which
should be supported and enlarged, as should the culture in general.

Liberation is not just for youths. Often, groups of adults will be
empowered by community organizing around an external issue and
then go on to pursue personal liberation. Efforts that empower adults
in regards to community as well as popular education should be
supported. The culture of mutual aid that arises from such ventures
should, again, be endorsed and supported in all cases.

The things that facilitate liberation in youth communities, such as
community centers, squats, infoshops, and community action groups,
also apply to adults, and so should not be overlooked, as they are
relevant to all layers of society. For example: Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty (OCAP) squats to protest the housing crisis, a tactic
which started out with punk youth, is now being used to empower
people squeezed out of the housing market by capitalism.

In people's quests for liberation, there exists the possibility of
realizing in part the kind of society that we hope will one day
predominate. It should be recognized that although liberation can be
pursued by anyone, that the most productive and needed form of
liberation is that which workers pursue, and that this future society
would fundamentally be a proletarian society, although not in any
capitalist sense of the term.

This fits into the idea of an autonomous communist development in
that when alternative cultures are successful, they promote a
combination of brainwork and manual work, contributing to a more
well-rounded person than that which capitalism produces. They also
introduce lifestyles that promote work that is more meaningful to the
community and to the individual, while freeing said individual to pursue
personal interests and express his or her deepest creativities. Such a
development also combines a culture of solidarity with respect for
individual pursuits. Finally, any personal liberation is a strike against
capitalism and makes projects with more systemic changes in mind
easier to accomplish.

ACTION
(and an end to the boredom of the so-called Left)

For too long have left-wing ideas remained isolated in the dark prisons
of traditional "activism". Far too many organizations claiming to
represent a revolutionary tendency have never engaged in anything
more revolutionary than the distribution of their own Party literature.

The Red & Anarchist Action Network embraces at its core a true
diversity and freedom of tactics. The absence of a "Revolutionary
Programme" leaves the question of accepted strategy and action to
the membership itself.

At the same time, we must be clear in our rejection of unscrupulous
methods; that is, actions which may bring the very existence of the
Network into jeopardy. But in a world where the instruments of
repression are so varied, both visible and invisible, only a fluid
movement of free-thinking and autonomous individuals can truly effect
any level of change in the basic functions of our society, not to
mention in their everyday lives. RAAN provides those individuals with
the tools and contacts that may be necessary for the accomplishment
of these changes. Furthermore, it establishes a common bond with
other radical anti-capitalists, through which all may benefit.

Members of the network are encouraged to involve themselves in a
variety of activities that they feel to be fulfilling towards their political
consciousness (and more importantly, their immediate lives). RAAN
activists have achieved this in a variety of ways. Some have begun
work with visionary projects such as Food Not Bombs or the
Anarchist Black Cross Federation, in which they serve as
representatives of the network. Others have concentrated their
attention towards their own lives, devising ways to live without either
money or waged labor, so that they can then lead a freer existence,
and present a more all-encompassing attack on the capitalist system.

But it has been where RAAN members have come together to create
projects in the name of the organization itself that the most promising
results have been shown. At the time of this writing, RAAN has
supported imprisoned Earth First! activists, concocted spontaneous
street dances, crashed Trotskyist recruiting drives, and made
hundreds of radical books available for free online.

Instead of dealing solely with organization and the modes of discourse
involved in interfacing with the powers that assume themselves to be,
we choose to focus instead on material gains in the fields of
alternative institutions that have a tangible presence in our
communities and yet are completely independent of organizations
which already impose themselves so much on the community that we
feel obliged to enter their arena before constructing our own.

We confess to the intentional vagueness of these ideas, but feel that
not only would it be impossible for a group such as ours to produce a
general action programme at this stage, but that it would in fact be
counterproductive. As we grow, each member and regional collective
in RAAN will be able to decide what are the best uses of its
resources. We see nothing more hopeful and exciting then to leave the
development of the network to the individuals who will, by
participating in it, give it life.

The revolutionary ideals proclaimed by the network serve only as the
underlying current, and not as a rigid path, in the lives of our members.
For those who find themselves in agreement with these Principles and
Direction, RAAN presents itself as a vehicle through which to
physically manifest your ideas for a wholly different and better world.

CONCLUSION

We are a loose organization of freethinking individuals. We have no
intention of this pamphlet serving as a strict set of rules for this
network to follow, but merely a guide for us on our path towards
liberation. As the title states, these are merely our basic principles
and the direction we seek to follow to obtain these ends.

When Nachie and I thought of forming this network, we saw so much
potential from the left, along with the Internet as a means of
organizing it. There are so many collectives, leftist organizations, and
other anti-capitalist circles that are plugged into the web that it made
no sense to not utilize it as a tool for us to come together and support
one another. In no way do we want to replace the vast array of groups
that we all belong to on a local level. Rather, we wish for RAAN to
become a tool of these groups, as well as the individuals involved in
them. Together, utilizing our collective strength and our collective
resources, we can accomplish so much more.

By coming together to aid one another in our personal struggles, we
create lasting bonds that span cities, states, provinces, and whole
nations. And what better way to create a unified libertarian left than
through mutual aid - as opposed to empty words and empty promises.
This direct participation with one another cements these bonds - for
actions shall always speak louder than words.

And when these bonds become strong enough, the potential for
collective action comes to the forefront. This collective action shall no
longer be diseased by distrust for one another. No longer shall a green
anarchist be looking over his/her shoulder at a self-affirmed Marxist
(or visa versa), because the bridge of trust has already been put in
place by their direct support for one another.

In short, it is time for us to put aside our petty differences and look at
our common enemy, and our common goal, through the same eyes. The
vagueness of much of this pamphlet was purposeful as it reflects the
diverse beliefs of our members.

We are artists and we are dancers. We are students and we are
dropouts. We are hoboes and we are inventors. We are urban
explorers and we are tree huggers. We are lovers, farmers,
revolutionaries and curious children. Our diversity is our strength, not
a weakness. But only together can we take the steps to make a lasting
positive change in our world.

- Matthew Brehe
Co-founder of RAAN

"A revolution is an act of sovereign justice, in the order of moral facts,
springing out of the necessity of things, and in consequence carrying
with it its own justification" - Proudhon


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