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(en) From Freedom, Fortnightly Anarchist Newspaper 7th February 2004 - Building the new world...

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 10 Feb 2004 11:00:32 +0100 (CET)

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For some reason anarchists have a reputation for lacking
practical, constructive ideas. This is nonsense of
course. Anarchism is full of ideas on how anarchists can
apply its principles in the here and now. We can point to
actual developments which embody, to some degree, our ideas.
Historically, we point to such examples of popular self-
management as the neighbour assemblies ("sections") of
the French Revolution, the soviets and factory committees
of the Russian revolution, the collectives and unions of
the Spanish revolution, the workers' councils of
Hungarian revolt of 1956 and the factory occupations,
assemblies and action committees of Paris, 1968. Today,
the most obvious (and most revolutionary are the popular
assemblies and factory occupations in Argentina and the
Zapatista communities in Mexico. Then there are the
various syndicalist unions fighting the class war across
the world. All are examples of anarchy in action

But our ideas are being applied on smaller scale. For
example, Lowick, a Cumbrian village, is establishing the
first cooperative-run state school being told that their
150-year-old school must close in July due to falling
rolls. Pupils were expected to travel up to 11 miles a
day by taxi to the nearest school.

Campaigners for the school, including its pupils insist
that the school is vital to the community. They dismissed
the option of going independent, saying Lowick needs a
state school and have come up with the idea of running it
as a co-operative. The school would be state funded but
run by the community. The school's headteacher said the
school is the "focus of the community". The new school
aims to provide more services, including adult learning,
a centre for e-learning and child minding services.

They plan to call it the "Lowick Pioneers" school after
the founders of the co-operative movement, the Rochdale
Pioneers. In the words of one 10-year-old "We hope that
having a co-operative school will help us do what the
pioneers did - treat each other fairly and work
together." While state funding is hardly perfect from a
libertarian perspective, we can only hope that it works.
A functional co-operative school could be a model for
others to follow, a practical example that shows that
rejecting nationalisation and privatisation is possible
and viable.

The principles of co-operation can be applied everywhere
-- in industry, housing, credit, consumption. Take the
railways. Privatisation has (unsurprisingly) proven to be
a failure. Re-nationalisation will simply change the
boss. We should be arguing for workers' self-management
as an alternative. Impossible? Far from it. Thanks to the
syndicalist revolt of the 1910s, the railway unions used
to call for workers' control rather than nationalisation.
They can do so again. Unless we expose the fact that
privatisation and nationalisation are two sides of the
same (capitalist) coin the chances of a real anti-
capitalist movement in this country will be slim.

This is not to suggest that we can reform capitalism away
(the market places barriers to such hopes). Nor is it to
blind us to the limitations in creating islands of
anarchy within the sea of capitalism. It is simply to
suggest that it is in our interests to support
experiments in co-operation in the here and now as they
show that anarchism is viable. But we must never forget
that to fully develop, co-operatives must be part of
wider social struggle and movement. Without this,
capitalism and the state can easily tolerate them with no
fear of challenge.

Therefore, while co-operatives are an important area for
practical anarchy, they can be only part of our activity.
The full potential of co-operatives can only come about
with socialisation and that requires a revolution. We
also need to build a wider social movement which creates
the future society while fighting the current one.
However, as part of building such a movement we should
support co-operatives as a practical alternative to the
nationalisation (i.e. state capitalism) raised by the

>From Freedom
Fortnightly Anarchist Newspaper
7th February 2004

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