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(en) Anarchist Communists and Mass Organizations by Federazione dei Communisti Anarchici (Italy)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 24 May 2004 22:24:29 +0200 (CEST)


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INTRODUCTION - Mass organizations differ from anarchist communist political
organizations in that they have different bases and purposes. They
do not have that clarity regarding the final goal that the political
organization can have, though they potentially have the same goal
as the political organization. History demonstrates that this goal
(anarchist communism) is produced by a certain type of practice
and consciousness within the mass organizations. These factors
are based on the two principles of social self-management in
struggle and in construction, and of the egalitarian and
intransigent defense of those who work for society.

These are both logical principles, so much so that they may seem
automatic; but history has shown that the dominant classes have
always acted in such a way as to render this logic fragmentary and
easy to suffocate. The utmost political clarity is therefore
necessary and should be applied towards the real needs of the
proletarians who are members of the mass organizations.

On the other hand, history has also shown that the revolution will
not be realized unless it is put into action by the proletarian
masses themselves who, as proletarians, discover their
revolutionary potential through the practices of the mass
organizations and who decide to set in motion revolutionary
practices.

In consequence, the anarchist communist revolution will be
successful inasmuch as the mass organizations apply that
revolutionary logic which is not a necessary prerogative of theirs,
but which is at the same time naturally inborn in them.


NO TO ECONOMICISM

The first obstacle to be removed are those types of ideas and
practices which serve to reduce the mass organizations a priori to
a role of simply making demands. This obstacle can take on the
form of inter-classism or Leninism.

Inter-classism is the belief that mass organizations recognize the
State as being unbiased and representing the entire people, the
essence of the (purely economic) categories which distinguish
one citizen from another. This means that the mass organizations
exist for the economic defense of any category of citizens, and
therefore can participate in the economic planning of society but
without questioning the State or its decisions – the workers
and the proletariat can only defend themselves, they cannot
change the current economic situation or engage in political
practices which alter the politics of the State.
Consequently, this type of union is excluded from all political
decisions and thereby implies acceptance of the system. The
clearest examples of this are the unions which are inspired by
political forces close to the dominant classes in countries with
classical capitalist systems.

Lenininist-inspired political theories, on the other hand, cannot
conceive of the existence of mass organizations which are not
explicitly political – thereby seemingly the opposite of
inter-classism. Infact, not only do these theories impose politics
on the mass organizations, they impose the politics of the
dominant class or its party. It derives that the masses can only
engage in political activity within the political organization and
that the mass organization must follow this political line. This
characteristic is also known as “trade-unionism”.

Both inter-classism and Leninism converge on one point: the fate
of the mass organization is decided and, if necessary, imposed
from without.

The result is economicism: the forcing of the historical interests
of the proletariat which is only allowed to occupy itself with
economic maters. But since it is patently absurd for someone to
be concerned with the money they receive without also being
concerned with the why’s and wherefore’s that money
exists and how it is shared around, there exists behind
economicism an explicit or implicit political imposition. In its
turn, this fact makes a mockery of any autonomy in purely
economic interests by limiting it politically. The circle is closed:
by being forcefully separated from politics, economics simply
means political subservience and results in economic
subservience.


OUR OUTLOOK

The proletariat’s mass organizations are, and will continue to
be, important historical entities which cannot be ignored. They
are different from political organizations and we must not deny
this difference, nor relegate them to the role of second-class
revolutionary organizations and seek to dominate them. Neither
must we reduce our own role to second-class status and submit
to the mass organizations. The relationship that we have with
mass organizations must be one of a continuous dialectic,
representing a real interchange and not limited to a one-way flow.
The first essential, but not unique, condition for there to be a real
interchange is that both entities be truly autonomous.

Where the mass organizations are concerned, this means that
they must autonomously express the interests and consciousness
of their (proletarian) members. In other words, they must be
based on the self-management of those who naturally belong to
them. In the process of the anarchist communist revolution, it is
essential that the mass organizations can grow both operatively
and politically in order that the masses may have the greatest
possibility of expressing the strength and consciousness which is
necessary for the very life of the anarchist communist
revolutionary process. The mass organizations will also need to
be ever more capable of politically evaluating their actions and the
prospects that these open up. If these conditions are met, we will
be able to carry out our political duties of promoting political
consciousness within the mass organizations and receiving in
return its confirmation or otherwise. These conditions are
necessary if the masses are to have a chance of making the most
of the experiences of previous revolutionary experiences, of
producing a more advanced revolution and of realizing it with all
available forces. Thus far there emerges the fundamental problem
of the double aspect of mass organizations: on the one hand their
total autonomy, both in their experiences of the struggle and in
the evaluations of these, while on the other hand, the objective
need to evaluate everything in the light of the historical needs of
the masses. Neither of these two aspects of the question can be
ignored.


MISTAKES TO BE AVOIDED

Many comrades and organizations have in the past committed
and continue to commit errors where mass organizations are
concerned, even though they may be sincerely libertarian and
revolutionary in their outlook. We can divide these errors into two
basic types: the first, “spontaneism”, the second
“ideologism”. The former includes those ideas where the
mass organizations have an automatic ability to completely
sustain the revolutionary process. The basis of this idea is that the
very capitalist contradictions of any given period can spark off a
process of struggle which will be able to create for itself the very
political bases upon which a social revolution can be built. It is
like saying that to arrive at the revolution, it is sufficient to make
the proletariat’s struggle for the defense of its labor rights as
extreme as possible. An action against one employer is not the
same thing as an organic, comprehensive programme against the
bosses. A proletarian who defends himself, attacks, or whose
anger is redirected against his exploiter in a single action, is not
necessarily conscious that this action needs to be part of an
organic, comprehensive programme of action. An action is not
necessarily based on a programme, nor does it necessarily
produce a programme.

Neither is a programme of union struggle necessarily a
revolutionary libertarian programme. In fact, it is most unlikely
that a series of organized union actions corresponds to a
conscious programme designed to initiate the libertarian socialist
revolution. History has clearly demonstrated these points and
anyone who thought that unions have naturally anarchist and
revolutionary tendencies has been sorely deluded.

Historically speaking, even the continual preaching of direct
action and self-management within the unions has failed in its
revolutionary aims when, reduced to pure syndical method and
having lost its alternative, libertarian content, it has come up
against proposals for struggle which were supported by organic
political programmes, or when it has come up against the pure
and simple fact that the dominant classes were able to take over
what were by then empty methodologies which were often
reduced to pure extremism. This collapse has since dragged
libertarian methods along with it, methods which have often
seemed wonderful, but which did not have a practical historical
link or general prospects.

On the other hand, there is the second type of error which is in
effect the opposite of the first and which states that only
anarchists can fight as revolutionary proletarians and that
therefore the only correct form of union is one which is made up
of people who are fully conscious of the libertarian social
revolution.

This conception generates isolationist positions and sterile
vanguardism. The isolation derives from the pure and simple fact
that it has never been the case that the proletariat has first
become communist anarchist before it can move against capital
and weaken it, attack it and (at times) propose a libertarian
alternative. To wait for this situation, therefore, means
condemning oneself to isolation. Clearly, in this way there is a
great risk of becoming vanguardist: the logical reaction of those
who have isolated themselves from the masses, expecting to
model them in their image. It is not by chance that
“spontaneism” and “ideologism”, though
declaring an enormous interest in mass organizations, both end
up crushing the life out of these very same mass organizations by
forcing them into roles which are imposed on them from without.
Spontaneism holds that all manifestations and events which are
fundamental for the revolutionary process (ie. which are naturally
connected to the problem of revolution) are revolutionary in
themselves. Ideologism on the other hand expects these
manifestations and events to proclaim themselves revolutionary
even before the need for them is autonomously established,
gradually and through practice. Spontaneism stops the problem of
the consolidation of the revolutionary consciousness of the mass
organizations from being confronted in a serious way. Ideologism
stops the mass organizations from carrying out the work of
uniting the proletariat as exploited, and of their gradual growth
through struggle, something which is necessary for the transition
to anarchist communism.


TOWARDS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING

The mass organizations’ basic historical need for a libertarian
social revolution cannot be denied. Neither can the risks
connected with mass struggle be denied. The condition that mass
organizations be autonomous guarantees the possibility that it will
be the masses themselves, and only they, who carry out the
anarchist communist revolution. However, it does make it
possible for the revolution to suffer serious defeats.

This situation is not hopeless: its strength is its weakness. There
has been rich debate on the matter within the anarchist
movement – debate which has often violent but has above all
been open. The solution, in fact, cannot be found only or above
all by the movement of political militants. We must be perfectly
aware of this. Every time the need for a mass libertarian
organization has been ascertained, an organization which can
give birth to a practical revolutionary process out of exploitation
and of the exploited, the fact that syndicalism is not necessarily
revolutionary was demonstrated time and time again. Many
comrades have tried to demonstrate that unions are in themselves
reformist or revolutionary.

A great many comrades believe that the correct solution lies in
one or other of these two theoretical conclusions. We believe that
it is basically wrong to accept this line of thinking – to make
rigid categories out of risks, possibilities and possible tendencies.
It is a recipe for losing one’s way, for falling back on
spontaneism or ideologism. We try to be lucid, to be able to
accept complex, non-categorical facts for what they are. We try,
in other words, to base ourselves on certainties and it is on these
certainties that we must build, insofar as it is up to us. We must
be ready to accept new, more advanced notions.


THE CERTAINTIES WE MUST BUILD ON

Contrary to political organizations, mass organizations are not
based on an acquired consciousness nor do they explicitly seek to
promote consciousness. They are based on immediate and
objective material bases which arouse undeniable physical needs.
Consequently, the members of the mass organizations live
through the situation they organize themselves for. Their
economic role is the basis on which they can come together and,
given that exploitation gives rise to all manner of unsatisfied
needs (alienation), they come together to satisfy these needs as
best they can. This basis is the starting point, it is the basis of the
class autonomy of mass organizations. But in order to thrive, this
autonomy must be projected into action and into the real
possibilities of these organizations. If we wish, we can divide
these into two areas: the economic struggle and political growth.

The economic struggle concerns all actions designed to obtain
better material conditions for the workers and to manage the
economic apparatus after the destruction of central power.
Political growth is required to make the workers conscious
through the economic struggle, the class struggle, the
possibilities and needs of the social revolution and later to allow
them to consciously build the new society.

Clearly, the economic struggle and political growth are so closely
connected that, following the first actions of economic defense
which are born from the needs of the current situation united with
even a minimum will to defend oneself, they can support and
sustain each other reciprocally. Autonomy plays a fundamental
role, since the workers must be able to develop a clear vision of
how basic exploitation is to social domination and must be able to
develop freely the need for equality and radical change which will
appear as the only definitive solution to exploitation. There is no
point in the exploited coming together if there is no possibility of
fully developing the struggle against exploitation – a struggle
to eliminate exploitational social relationships. The dominant
classes may accept this coming together for the defense of labor
rights, but they will not accept this struggle developing to the
point that it eliminates the very need for this defense.

Autonomy is at the same time method and content. Method
because it can generate autonomous class content - content
because it is the constant product of the elaborations made by the
workers themselves. It must be said that autonomy as a basis is
necessary for the revolutionary development of the mass
organizations, for the abolition of exploitation and the
construction of egalitarian social relationships. Many comrades
and organizations have tried to define the autonomy of mass
organizations in terms of pure method or pure content. In so
doing, where the former is concerned, this cannot explain the
reason why the methods of autonomy are necessary and
fundamental for the revolution in the mass struggle, and those
who forget this often reduce this concept to the level of pure
extremism. In the second case, on the other hand, the problem of
consistency between means and ends is ignored and we end up
with the instrumentalization of mass struggle by authoritarian
programmes, thereby stopping the autonomous actions of the
workers from building the autonomous programme of the
workers. And this is the principal aim, from an anarchist
communist point of view. Autonomy is not a content which is
linked to certain specific objectives, it is the historical significance
of the workers’ revolutionary action. The significance of the
autonomy of mass organizations is that the masses can learn to
build a revolutionary programme only if they have complete
freedom to put the objectives of struggle into action, to choose
and evaluate them for themselves and without imposition from
outside forces. In a system of social domination, this freedom
means that the only obstacles to the masses’ action must
appear and be affronted by the masses themselves as conflictual
factors, as arms of the class enemy, as products of class society.
It is extremely dangerous for the idea to take root that there is
someone who knows more than the others, who can force the
struggle to be abandoned or be guided in a certain way, giving
reasons which the large majority of the masses cannot
understand. This path introduces the supremacy of
“objective” compatibility which needs to be respected, not
because there is not the required will or clarity to destroy it, but
for abstruse and contorted reasons. It must always be clear that
the road to social emancipation is scattered with obstacles and not
sophisms, and that we either remove these obstacles or they will
stop us.

Along this path of autonomy, autonomous programmes can be
born. Consequently, mass organizations must have the capacity
to form their own objectives and the necessary methods of
struggle by basing themselves on needs and on the consciousness
of their natural members. Furthermore, they need to be able to
evaluate any action by basing themselves on the same criteria.

Historically speaking, when the principal ideas of anarchist
communism were formed, it was because there were mass
organizations with these possibilities of action. Action which, in
turn, can make the proletariat conscious of being the only class
which can carry within it the seeds of social revolution.

Autonomy is therefore a factor in the freedom fo the masses and,
as such, does not provide the necessary guarantee that it will
remain so or that it will lead to the social revolution. Freedom
knows no external impositions. The exercise of autonomy in
mass organizations has no infallible external guardians.
Therefore, in the same measure in which autonomy can open up
the road to social revolution, it frees itself of any inescapable
revolutionary fate. For anarchist communists there can be no
alternative to this. Just as the reformists must not impose
bourgeois compatibilities on the mass organizations, neither must
revolutionaries wish to or be able to impose their revolutionary
programmes. But we have an advantage over the
counter-revolutionaries: the development and exercise of the
autonomy of the mass organizations has always shown itself to be
a formidable revolutionary factor. We do not fear it, we support it.


THE FUNCTIONS OF MASS ORGANIZATIONS

We anarchist communists consider mass organizations on a
much wider and more complex level than the forces of
inter-classism and social democracy. We accept four fundamental
historical functions for mass organizations, based on autonomy:

1) defense and sustenence within class sociaty;
2) material attacks against exploitation;
3) the building of an alternative management of society;
4) the development of libertarian revolutionary consciousness.


Defense and Sustenance Within Class Society.

The foremost need of the exploited is to defend themselves from
the exploitation which progressively eats away their living spaces
and tries to tie them tighter and in ever more refined ways to the
economic needs of the dominating class. The correct
development of the mass organization is based on this first
function of labor defense. From a strictly economic point of view,
it is a matter of blocking and refuting the material arms which the
dominant class uses against the workers. The basis on which one
or more exploited workers set out on the road to social struggle
can only be the defense of the growing alienation caused by
exploitation. On the other hand, as long as one class holds power,
the mass organizations must be in a position to successfully
defend labor in order to ensure that the working class is not
bowed by a material attack at the moment in which the class
struggle becomes more political. We can truly say then, that
within class society labor defense is the basis on which the mass
organizations are founded. It is at this stage that the need for
autonomy is most clearly seen.

In order to be able to decide from what and how we should defend
ourselves, it is essential to:

- be subject to the very things we are defending ourselves from,
- be aware of and understand the ways in which these things
create alienation,
- choose along the way the most important lines of defense,
- know directly what absolutely must be obtained and what can be
renounced,
- really know our enemy, his weapons, his strength and his
weaknesses, and
- know our own strength and be willing to use it.

These requisites are only held by members of the exploited class.
They are the only ones who can develop them and use them
correctly. Nobody can know what alienation is unless they
experience it. Merely knowing about alienation from a distance
means nothing. Alienation cannot exist if the person does not
have to live with it and react to it (either positively or negatively,
mentally or physically) and therefore contribute to its
determination.

Those who only perceive the social alienation of the exploited
class can only have an attitude of solidarity towards them (much
as it may be useful and sincere), but can never substitute
themselves for the proletariat in their alienation, nor decide how
best to defend oneself from it.

Even when the struggle becomes political, there is no mechanism
by which alienation can be felt by non-workers - the struggle is
politicized only by reason of the quality of the struggle against
alienation. Therefore, alienation is the concern of the exploited
class alone and they are the only ones who can react to it. This is
also demonstrated by the facts. For this reason, we do not act
because there is the opportunity to do so, because it is better for
the workers to defend themselves from exploitation, because this
position also includes the possibility that it is the workers who
struggle and who decide. Our analysis forces us to say that the
exploited are the only ones who can fight against exploitation. We
must also deduce that the exploited class is unique. Either you
are exploited or you are not. Anyone who is not exploited can
only express solidarity.


Material Attacks Against Exploitation

The material attack on exploitation falls first and foremost on the
analysis made in the previous section. Certain important
considerations then need to be made. For anarchist communists
the only process through which the proletariat weakens and
destroys the mechanisms of class society takes place in the places
where the exploiting is done. The actions which can blunt the
weapons of exploitation and the structure which supports it can
only take place on the terrain of alienation caused by work and
the creation of surplus value. The only organizations which can
bring about this attack are the mass organizations. And there is
also another factor which gives consistency to what has been said
thus far: if the attack on exploitation is carried out by the
exploited class itself, this provides a strong guarantee of a parallel
growth in their consciousness given that once they have
understood the need to attack, they will have a solid base on
which to develop a new level of revolutionary consciousness.


The Building of an Alternative Management of Society

Mass organizations must be able to build the new structures for
the revolutionary management of society. Principally, this means
three things:

- the need for a capillary extension of the mass organizations,
- the need for these organizations to be able to gradually acquire
the prospects and possibility of taking over the control and
management of all social structures
- in order for the proletariat to take on the responsibility for the
management of society by direct democratic means.

Management based on the mass organizations is not the pipe
dream of one mind, but a practical indication of great proletarian
revolutionary episodes.

What was said above regarding labor defense and attack has the
precise aim of making it possible for the mass organizations to
transform themselves from union organizations devoted to the
labor struggle into organizations which can be the focus of the
revolutionary process. This connection demonstrates, once again,
the fact that we are not driven by opportunistic motives when we
state that the labor struggle must be based on direct action and
direct decision-making processes. This method of struggle –
which is necessary in its own right – also becomes an end and
alternative content at the moment in which the proletariat begins
to use the mass organizations to build the new society and make
it possible for all workers to participate in decision making. This
prospect, however, creates some big problems in the field of
practical realization. A guarantee of the possibility for
autonomous political growth is joined by the need for political
growth. If we go to the heart of the question, we will discover
however that it is not enough to continue with the logic of
struggle through a labor union in order to arrive smoothly at the
revolutionary management of society by the mass organizations.
As long as we are in a phase of firmly-established and dominant
class society, we can directly witness in practice only one link: the
one between the role of the exploited and the natural protagonist
of the struggle against exploitation. It is a situation which lends
itself to direct observation and verification in a phase which
precedes a future revolutionary transition. Furthermore, the
problems of labor struggle require a certain type of mass
organization, above all based on the structure of the exploitation.
Instead, when we move from the struggle against exploitation to
the construction of new social structures, we believe a huge step
must be taken. A step which we are searching for only because
the proletariat in its history has done so. In other words, we know
that it is necessary if the social revolution is to take place; we also
need to know that this requires an enormous leap in political
consciousness and in the operative capacity of the mass
organizations. There is a great risk that the mass organizations
weaken class society to its limits, stripping it of its power, but will
then be unable to reconstruct with the required clarity and ability.

If this were to happen, the revolutionary movement would meet
with heavy defeats. It is therefore essential to study how the mass
organizations can reach the moment of revolution in a position to
deal successfully with it. On the other hand, it must be noted that
the proletariat, in its most famous attempts at revolution, was
able to make this great leap. It required a change from mass
organizations with the aim of demanding concessions from the
dominant central power to mass organizations which themselves
constituted forms of power (or non-power, if one prefers) which
were different from those of the exploiters, to the extent of
suppressing the power (at least potentially). Other important
moments also provide valuable lessons – the Two Red Years
(1919-20) in Italy, the experiences in Chile in the ‘70s and in
Portugal in 1974.

The Two Red Years in Italy scared the bourgeoisie, as the
proletariat organized itself directly from below and managed itself,
immediately creating an alternative structure of production. The
government had accepted that the proletariat be represented by a
party (or several parties), but could not accept that it represented
itself. The answer given to the mass organizations by the forces of
counter-revolution was most clear and indicative: they were to be
denied the instruments of their own autonomy and functionality.
They would be denied any political function and all
decision-making powers and information would, by hook or by
crook, be transferred to the union leaderships and politicians.
This action was by far more effective in clipping the wings of the
proletariat.

Why was Unidad Popular (UP) supported in Chile, and why did it
fail? Outside this social-democratic government coalition there
existed an autonomous force which identified with UP only in
certain aspects. The entire movement of the mass organizations
of the peasants, the workers and the towns had strong
disagreements with UP and with the unions on one main point:
whether or not power should be delegated to the State. This new
force of the mass organizations had forms and contents which
could not be shared by anyone: not by the bourgeoisie which was
being removed from power, not by the UP which was being held
up by the people but which could not expect the people to govern
themselves. UP maintained its power even when the bourgeoisie
no longer supported it since it was this proletariat force which was
supporting it. And when UP fell, it was as a result of the process
of proletarian power which was in progress, despite UP’s
own strategy. The bourgeoisie reacted because the proletariat was
already building a revolutionary power which had nothing to do
with the central power. And the bourgeoisie won because this
new power – and not UP – was not yet strong enough to
defend its gains.

In Portugal, the revolutionary route to socialism failed before it
was born, and the reasons are simple: the forces which had
contributed to the fall of fascism did not have enough clarity
and/or will regarding proletarian self-management from below;
the proletariat, on the other hand, had only developed this need to
an extremely primitive and “naive” level. It was left to the
counter-revolutionary parties – inter-classist and
social-democrat – to snuff out the fires of proletarian
autonomy of the mass organizations, so that they would tear
themselves apart on the statist road to “democracy”.

We can see today in these clear examples that, from the times of
the Paris Commune right up to the present day, the road to
revolution passes through the mass proletarian organizations and
that the proletariat naturally chooses this way as soon as it is
practically possible. To draw conclusions, it is a historically valid
fact that the mass organizations, on the road to social revolution,
are destined to make a leap, to move on from asking for certain
things - from bargaining, from fighting the central power, an
enemy government which they themselves recognize implicity as
the dominant power – to substituting this government, to
becoming the power (or non-power). In this way, mass
organizations must face up to this passage in all consciousness so
that they can acquire the necessary operational abilities. The
fundamental objective necessities are:

A) the stability of the mass organizations, which must not submit
to partial goals, party directives or the logic of the State;
B) the full application of direct democracy;
C) federative relationships between the mass organizations, as
functional and fully-operational as possible.

The subjective conditions required regard the proletariat’s
consciousness of the mass organizations. For our part, we must
direct our attention to this problem in all the strategies and
historical tactics which we develop, in the full awareness of the
prime necessity of this point. Another fact derives from the
observation of history: the importance of the mass organizations
preparing for a substitution of Statist power so that they can move
forward, having already prepared what to do and how to defend
themselves. In other words, a capacity for an alternative
management of society and physical self-defense. This means
preparation in advance (or if not, at least rapid preparation) of all
the functions required to play an ever more important role and
defend it from enemies. Make it known to potential allies. This
fact has simply been derived from history, above all from the most
important moments of struggle of the 1970s, which we will have
also seen to be in line with our theoretical conclusions.


The Development of Revolutionary Libertarian Consciousness

In consequence of what we have stated above and of our Theory,
we are obliged to consider mass organizations also and above all
as a place where the political consciousness of the proletariat can
grow.

How does this political consciousness grow? We know that there
is no automatic device for moving from the defense of labor to a
consciousness of the libertarian social revolution. We know too
that if one does not suffer exploitation, then it is not possible to
begin that process which (starting with the defense of labor) can
reach that of revolutionary struggle. We therefore need to keep in
mind these two points. There are three consequent lines of
action:

A) the action and elementary aims of the mass organizations;
B) the enrichment of the mass organizations’ autonomous
political characteristics;
C) the action of the political organizations through its militants
who are natural members of the mass organizations and through
explicit political propaganda.

A) In the elementary aims and in the elementary functioning of
the mass organization, the first objective factors of political
growth already exist in its members. It is a first very important
point and one which characterizes the actions of its members,
beginning with the simplest decisions. This is the case with the
key points of assemblyism, direct democracy, federalismo, the
practice of free discussion and practical observation, with regard
to the functioning. Instead, where the aims are concerned, it is a
matter of defense and of the natural affermation of the sole
interests of the exploited class and of total emancipation of the
exploited class from imposed exploitation and authority.

B) As the mass organizations gain political experience, occasions
arise for political evaluations which then become part of the
heritage of the mass organizations, with strong elements of
autonomy. This political heritage must (in the light of practice)
clarify the roles of the forces of counter-revolution
(inter-classism, social-democracy and trade-unionism) and the
necessity for the autonomous front of the masses to have these
characteristics which are essential in order to advance through
one’s own strengths; experience must also gradually clarify
the need for a libertarian socialist revolution if we are to eliminate
exploitation definitively. These lessons must be learnt also by our
comrades, the members of the mass organizations who will learn
them through their practice – not personally, but through the
collective struggles of the organization – so that they become
part of the official political heritage of the organization itself and,
finally, build precious material for the continuous political
education of its members, old and new.

C) Our political organization has no authority whatsoever over the
autonomous mass organizations, but this does not mean it has to
stop correctly expressing its evaluations. This can only take place
through our militants who are also natural members of the mass
organizations and through the propaganda of the organization
itself. Neither should we forget that these mass organizations are
an ideal pool of prospective political militants, for the obvious
reasons of the social position of the members and the
composition of the mass organizations. Political militants within
the mass organizations must, first and foremost, encourage the
development of the points A) and B) above. Secondly, they must
express their political ideas by linking them in a consistent way
with the experience of the mass organization.

The political organization, on the other hand, must carry out this
work from without, and concentrate on two goals in particular:

* gradually and consistently encourage the spread of our political
consciousness among the natural members of the mass
organizations, by convincing and demonstrating and not by force
or trickery;
* encourage as many as possible of these members to join the
political organization.
We have previously spoken of the interchange between the
political organizations and the mass organizations. But, to judge
from what has just been said, it could seem that the only problem
which has really been faced is the one regarding the flow of
political consciousness from the anarchist communists’
political organizations to the mass organizations.

But this is not the case, for two reasons.

Firstly, the aim of the political organization is only to provide the
mass organizations with the fruits of the historical consciousness
of the revolutionary proletariat (which do not include any detailed
line on the transition to revolution). They must be free to use the
historical consciousness provided by the political organization and
freely compare it with their own consciousness and their own
needs in order to make the best possible choices. The mass
organizations must, in fact, have their own autonomous ability to
make political evaluations. Furthermore, they are also free where
operational decisions are concerned, as they have – a priori
–no institutional links whatever with the political organization.

The second reason regards the fact that the political organization
must also be able and willing to learn from the mass organization.
This is because the political militants are not the proletariat –
they are part of it; their task is also to continually compare their
comprehensive political vision with the current experiences of the
class. Yet another fundamental task of the political organization is
to publicize and help spread the experiences of the autonomous
mass organizations.

The interchange lies in each learning from the other and
supporting the other – through autonomous decisions – to
the extent in which each organization finds a resemblance and
complement in the consciousness and knowledge of the other.

It is an interchange which both organizations must develop in a
coherent way and one which can be interrupted or can cease to
exist for various reasons.

This is also because the mass organization owes its existence to
totally different reasons than those of the political organization.


******************

This article is adapted from the FdCA's basic strategy document
on mass organizations which was approved at its 1985 Congress.
==================
Copied from the new website of NEFAC - The North Eastern
Federation of Anarcho-Communists



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